DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL AT HEARTSVILLE HIGH
REVIEW: ZANNA DON’T
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
Step into the topsy-turvy land of the sugary 2003 off-Broadway musical Zanna Don’t, by Tim Acito and with additional lyrics and material by Alexander Dinelaris, now playing at Chromolume Theatre. In this high school musical spoof homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is a taboo. So when a heterosexual romance blossoms between the school’s football team’s quarterback and the captain of the Girls’ Intramural Mechanical Bull-Riding Team, it’s the scandal of the century.
Director and scenic designer, Lauren J. Peters, and lighting designer Richard Fong transform Chromolume Theatre’s intimate space into the perfect playground for this musical. Audiences are taken from scene to scene with almost seamless transitions and subtle lighting. Director Peters’ successfully draws the material’s inherit zaniness seen in many of actors and the cast as a whole. Additionally, the cast is completely self-aware throughout the show making for a unique type of comedy where the audience gets to watch actors who are in on all the farce happening on stage.
The main character Zanna (Jason Bornstein) is an interesting choice as the fairy matchmaker who uses a magic want to help people fall in love. Bornstein’s larger than life presence and dopey voice takes some time to get used to and after a while does pass as charming. One character who easily stands out in the best way possible is Roberta (Vanessa Magula) who fully embraces her role and squeezes every bit of character and comedy out of every scene. Magula also proves that she’s an exceptional mover and singer. She effortlessly takes to the simple, yet energetic choreography and shines in her songs, such as “I Ain’t Got Time”.
Lilly Elliot is a master chameleon tackling three different roles changing costumes and personalities at the drop of a hat—fantastic energy and acting. Jillian Easton (Kate) brings a pseudo-dramatic television acting style, which works well for this piece, and she shows off her vocals in “Ride ‘Em” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. A favorite number of the evening is “Fast”, a tour de force of quick patter song, excellently performed by Michael Angel (Bronco), Ken Maurice Purnell (Tex) and Lilly Elliot (Loretta).
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC DIRECTOR?
With such an intimate theater the need for body microphones proves unnecessary and for much of the show the prevailing sound issues obscures much of the singing. Of course techechnical difficulties are to be expected on an opening night performance, and as time goes on I’m sure they will be remedied. However, what is more unforgiving is music director Daniel Yokomizo’s relentless pounding on the piano and the lack of balance of his three-piece band with the singers on stage. Additionally, although the vocal strength is mostly strong, the overall musical direction lacks finesse and unity.
The musical, both in conception and execution, doesn’t take it self too seriously making for an evening of theatre that is whimsical and fun. Zanna Don’t is a quirky gem with resounding messages of love and acceptance set to an upbeat pop score that will keep your head bobbing and a smile on your face the whole time.
TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION
Zanna Don’t runs Friday and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm through February 5. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased online at www.crtheatre.com or via telephone at 323-205-1617. Chromolume Theatre at the Attic is located at 5429 W. Washington Boulevard (between the 10 freeway and Hauser Boulevard), in Los Angeles, 90016. Ample street parking is available.