It’s all about me
The Green Room: A College Musical
Sacramento, CA 95816
This little musical will no doubt become a favorite among the musical theater community, if for no reason other than how well it mirrors the experience of so many young actors. The Green Room: A College Musical follows a foursome of close friends as they learn about stagecraft and life in the green room of the St. Nordoff’s College theater department. The show, penned by the Los Angeles-based team of C. Stephen Foster and Rod Damer (book) and Chuck Pelletier (music and lyrics), opened last May for a short run at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse. This production by fledgling company Friends of Dorothy Productions is The Green Room’s Northern California premiere.
The pop-based score has some outrageously funny (and smart) lyrics, notably an anthem to virility (“Nothing Can Stop My Boys”) and an extremely snarky riff on the politics of theater (“Destination Stage Left”). Under the direction of Kevin Caravalho, the well-paced show includes some fantastic media work in the form of videos and still photography by Tony Singingeagle. In particular, the video that accompanies the aforementioned “Nothing Can Stop My Boys,” featuring an Esther Williams-does-sperm-and-eggs synchronized swim, is an amazing feat and ought to be YouTubed immediately.
And, because the entire premise of the show rests on the youth and naiveté of the characters, it leaves plenty of room for a little awkwardness as the kids try to navigate late adolescence. Still, there’s at least one gaffe big enough to drive a car through—we’re supposed to believe that a kid’s going to drop out of school to become an architect? Please.
But ultimately, it is just a musical, which requires a willing suspension of disbelief, and for the most part, this production of The Green Room is hitting on almost all cylinders. As nerdy Cliff (an obvious sock puppet for the show’s authors), Jacob Montoya does a fantastic job when he’s suddenly found desirable and devirginized by the backstage bad girl, but his lovesick-puppy shtick in the second act leans too much on the pathetic. As his prim and proper sister, Anna, Jessica Goldman nails it, down to just the right amount of discomfort—complete with blushing—when she walks out in a leather dress that might have been salvaged from Carhops in Bondage and sings “I Go to Extremes.” Lafras Le Roux plays John, the jock who’s supposed to become an architect, with the truest sense of conflicted youth that is offset by a powerful low tenor. The cast “misfit,” Divonne, is played by Courtney Parks. She comes across as a rebel, but her voice, though strong, has a harder, more mature edge that undercuts the vulnerability of her character. She also takes the “diva” element of her character a bit too seriously, verging on camp in a few scenes.
The fully detailed (right down to cold, leftover pizza and enough Diet Coke to float a warship) set is, if anything, a bit nicer than the typical college green room. It is also arranged so that the live band, under the direction of Jane L. Viemeister, is both immediate and unobtrusive.
For those of us who spent any time around the theater crowd in college, The Green Room is a trip down memory lane. This show, both because of its small scale and its emotional wallop for musical theater companies, is sure to enjoy a happy life as a frequently produced musical.