The Rainbow Revue
Ivar Theatre
Through April 28
Somewhere over the rainbow there's an entertainment pot of gold, and Matt Gatson appears to have found it. "The Rainbow Revue," which Gatson conceived and now produces in conjunction with Chrisanne Eastwood, was launched as a vehicle for gay and lesbian performers to showcase their talents as singers, actors, comics, musicians--you name it. There's even virtuoso juggler Pinky Aiello amusing the crowd and classic vaudeville shtick as a pre-show warm-up. "Showcase" is sometimes a dreaded word in Los Angeles theatre, often signaling self-indulgent vanity trips that are nothing more than would-be stepping stones to film and television. But Gatson and director Kevin Vavasseur had the sense and taste to seek out cream-of-the-crop talent and dovetail their skills briskly and confidently in an unpretentious format that's a glorious reminder of vintage TV variety shows. There's not a weak link in the ensemble, and the evening is so full of showstoppers that it's hard to pick favorites. The entire cast is introduced in a hilarious opening sequence lampooning the Hollywood party scene in a series of "Laugh-In"-type gags, peopled by the likes of nuns, men in togas and even Miss Cleo. The standup comedy routines of Zina Camblin, Eastwood, Carmela Nudo and David Pavao are choice. Dick Post's ode to gay freedom and self-pride is not exactly a comedy routine, as it's billed, but whatever you call it, it's divine. Another highlight is Martin Kunz's uproarious "Ballad of the Oppressed Gay Man" to the tune of a song from Disney's "The Little Mermaid." Solo singers deliver the goods, with special kudos to the soulful renditions of "You Don't Know Me" (David McNutt), "Surprise" (Ronn Jones), "Shine" (Ryan San Diego), "Love for Sale" (Sire), "Sensual Rain" in English and Spanish (Charley Geary), and "Heartbreak Hotel" (Garrett Bell). Jennifer Moore dazzles in a sultry rendition of the Peggy Lee classic "Fever," punctuated by her flair with a trumpet. Bart Doerfler has choreographed a bevy of sexy, hyper-energetic dancers to a seductive Latin beat, adding heat to the solos and production numbers. The superb onstage band adds to the vibrant ambiance, with salutes due for musical directors Benjamin Bundt, Nancy Peterson and J.D. Sebastian. There's no current energy crisis at the corner of Ivar and Selma in the heart of old Hollywood, and one hopes this exuberant show shines its light on gay, lesbian and straight audience members long past its announced monthlong run.


Frontiers NEWSMAGAZINE  Vol 20 Issue 26 - By Les Spindle

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