Backstage West/Critic's Pick!




Southern CA April 17, 2002

The Rainbow Revue

Reviewed By Les Spindle

"The Rainbow Revue"

Theater:Ivar Theatre, 1605 N. Ivar Ave., Hollywood.
Phone:(310) 289-1875
Starts:April 05, 2002
Ends: May 28, 2002
Evenings:Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun., 4 p.m. p.m.

Old-time vaudeville and the vintage TV variety show (shades of Sunday night with Ed Sullivan) are reincarnated in this charming and unpretentious entertainment, conceived and produced by Matt Gatson, who devised this project as a vehicle for talented gay and lesbian performers: singers, actors, musicians, comics, musicians, and even a fabulous juggler/mime (Pinky Aiello). As head writer Chrisanne Eastwood tells us at the outset, this is a show populated with gay talents, not a "gay" show. Yet there's no shortage of camp and plenty of gay-oriented humor amid the diverse bill of fare. Gatson, director Kevin Vavasseur, and Eastwood have assembled a stellar group of gifted, mostly unknown entertainers and have staged their efforts with few frills but with energy to spare and an irresistible sense of fun.

We meet the cast in an opening sequence that skewers the hedonistic Hollywood party scene in a series of Laugh-In type gags, attended by a motley crowd that includes nuns, men in togas, and even the busted psychic fraud Miss Cleo. David Pavao's ruminations on the trials and tribulations of a gay would-be athlete highlight the sharp series of standup comedy monologues, with choice bits also delivered by Zina Camblin, Carmela Nudo, and Eastwood (who does an amazing on-the-spot song improvisation based on audience suggestions). Comic Dick Post delivers an inspirational and touching ode to gay freedom and self-pride. Martin Kunz offers the wry lament of a wannabe straight man to the tune of a song from Disney's "Little Mermaid." Sandy Lawson's uproarious sketch "Con-versations with a Diva" makes mincemeat of self-important celebrities.

Without exception, the solo singers click, highlighted by Charley Geary's gorgeous English-and-Spanish rendition of "Sensual Rain," punctuated by sexy, hyper-energetic dancers to a seductive Latin beat, with choreographic credit to Bart Doerfler. Other superb romantic ballads include David McNutt's "You Don't Know Me" and Ryan San Diego's "Shine." Garrett Bell does a mean Elvis-inspired "Heartbreak Hotel," and Jennifer Moore's sultry take on Peggy Lee's "Fever" is embellished by her flair with a trumpet. Ronn Jones serves up a stylish delivery of "Surprise" (from the film version of A Chorus Line), with the red-hot dancers once again upping the temperature. County & western also has its moment in Darryl David's foot-stompin', shit-kickin' "Forever and Ever, Amen." Cole Porter's naughty "Love for Sale" gets a hip new interpretation by a singer called Sire, and Jackie Moreno's "Paraiso" is another showstopper.

The staging is bare-bones, most of the visual pizzazz deriving from David Raybould's clever and versatile lighting effects. Kudos is also due the rousing onstage band and music directors Benjamin Bundt, Nancy Peterson, J.D. Sebastian, and Moore. We'd be remiss not to mention a hilarious running gag in the person of William Thompson, who posts placards identifying current performers on the side of the stage, grasping every opportunity to steal centerstage and break into a wild break-dancing routine. It brings to mind the audacious Lucy Ricardo and epitomizes the spirit of this endearingly nostalgic show.

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