2005

the 'ol razzle dazzle

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I wanted to do something special. I needed to prove myself to me.

In college I worked in the Drama Library. I card catalogued hundred of plays one semester. Balm and Gilead's cast of Twenty-Eight stood out. They called it the Mount Everest of plays for a theatre director. I wouldn't argue with them.

This is how it turned out.

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the cast of balm in gilead (dig bobby the dog front and center)

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BALM IN GILEAD

LA WEEKLY Recommended

Leon Shanglebee’s superb direction distinguishes this revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1965 play about the patrons of a seedy Needle Park diner. Updating the action to 1973, Shanglebee adeptly captures what Wilson found so fascinating about street life but wisely refrains from sentimentalizing or glamorizing the characters. The opening scene is highly engaging: The colorful clientele flit from one table to the next, squabbling over drugs and money. While the café functions as a haven for pushers, pimps and prostitutes, the owner (Tee C. Williams) isn’t averse to ejecting a desperate barefoot addict (James Gilbert) or enforcing a 50-centminimum per table. Amid the various clusters of characters and conversations, the main plot follows the burgeoning romance between Darlene (J.J. Pyle), a naive new arrival, and charismatic dealer Joe (Gary Poux). The huge ensemble handles the overlapping dialogue well, and live music, seamlessly incorporated into the play, adds to the ambiance. Many of the performers shine in smaller roles, most noticeably Christian Levatino and Mary Kelsey. Gangbusters Theater Company in association with the MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hlywd.; Tues.-Wed., 8 p.m.; thru July 6.

Written 06/02/2005 (Sandra Ross)