Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Music from A Sparkling Planet"

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note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark

"Music from A Sparkling Planet"

by Douglas Carter Beane
Directed by Lesley Anne Moreau

Assistant Director Nicole Sparks
Costume Design by Lesley Anne Moreau
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkiewicz
Sound Design/Additional Voices by Andrew Hicks
Set Design by Lesley Anne Moreau
Graphic Design by Anne K. Austin
Run Crew Mike Budwey, Barbara DiGirolamo
Photographer Bruce DiLoreto
Program Design by Victor Shopov
Rehearsal Stage Manager Stacy Fox
Assistant Stage Manager Barbara DiGirolamo
ProductionStage Manager Lizette M. Morris

Tamara Tomorrow....Audrey Lynn Sylvia
Hoagie.................Michael Riffle
Miller.................Mikey DiLoreto
Wags...................Michael Fisher
Andy....................Victor Shopov

Confession: It was a shock when, at a comics-convention, I held in my hand a 30-year-old fragment of my pre-adolescence and leafed through a story I had enjoyed, thrilled-to, and kept referring to as an unsung classic. But I had pieced out its imperfections with my thoughts, and what I'd remembered through the years was not what it was, but what I thought it to be. (The comic books I read now are Infinitely Better. Honest!)

The Douglas Carter Beane script that Happy Medium Theatre brings to The Factory tackles the problems fame, trivia, nostalgia and reality have all crashing into each other. The "Music from A Sparkling Planet" of the title is both the glow that a "girl from the future" cast on her predictions, and the soft-focus memories of a time when kids could believe them. Beane's is a made-for-movie script that Director Lesley Anne Moreau gives a bare-bones production, with dozens of tight scenes cut against one another by Greg Jutkiewicz' quick lighting, flashbacks and flash-forwards, close-ups and establishing-shots. The dialogue is clipped and intense, and there is much more there than ever meets the eye.

Act one uses parallel-cuts --- from the present-tense story of three ageing Me-Generation wastrels, ritually meeting monthly in a bar to compare trivia, to the '70-something career of the one "star" they all remember and revere: Tamara Tomorrow. Audrey Lynn Sylvia plays that recently-divorced community-theatre player who (in gaudy micro-skirt, tights & boots, a cape and cleavage; lots of cleavage) introduced sci-fi schlock (Astro-Boy!), stirrings of sexuality, and improvised "predictions" about her "real home" in the future to the Philadelphia television-audience, including those three proto-wastrels on the other side of the stage.

This trio (Michael Riffle, Mikey DiLoreto & Michael Fisher) is a sorry lot trying to escape a pregnant girlfriend, a significant-other battling AIDS, and failure to make partner in a law-firm. But they bring on Act II by deciding to find that source of "sparkle" from their youth and, if possible, to re-ignite her long-past career.

The truth of Tamara's past stars Ms. Sylvia, and Victor Shopov as her producer/"discoverer"/weakling-paramour. Her off-camera life eventually smashed her career with a live on-screen blow-up that even A.A. couldn't repair. Trivial fame is a hard taskmaster. When this motel-receptionist and her adoring entourage finally collide, it isn't in the glowing "future" she predicted, but the harshly-lit non-trivial truth of real life. And yet the playwright manages to twist not the knife but his plot for one last triumphant trope it would be dastardly to reveal. But you can experience it at The Factory, any night this week-end.

( a k a larry stark )

"Music from A Sparkling Planet" (22 - 31 January)
The Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (???) ???-????

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