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Tolucan Times Review: THE EMANCIPATION OF ALABASTER MCGILL


I caught a wildly original and highly entertaining production on the weekend
By Pat Taylor

Naughty, bawdy and screamingly funny… it pokes fun at both politics and homosexuality… in the olden days. Funny, how little things have changed!

Still laughing after seeing this whacky and riotously raunchy play, Producer Bob Rusch has been telling me about this project for over a year. It is as hysterical as he promised! Loaded with outrageous political and sexual innuendos, the razor sharp double entendres attack your psyche like cerebral bullets!

The press notes state in part, “A Civil War border town is gripped by controversy when the dreaded ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ (setting free the slaves) threatens to redefine freedom as they know it. The city’s sea captain, the deacon of the local church brothel and the friendly neighborhood Klansmen are united by their hatred of that liberal pantywaist, Abe Lincoln.” Beyond that “wee peek”… I don’t want to spoil your fun!

A varied assortment of queerly quirky men sit on a porch sipping “sweet tea” and “swappin’ splinters” (whittling twigs), as they verbally debate with hilarious verve! Ingeniously written by the successful contemporary playwright, Jeff Goode, and playfully directed with precise timing by Eric Curtis Johnson… the whole controversial and kooky journey is a laugh riot! Kudos to Gideon Potter for his eye appealing set design!

A cast of seven excellent male actors bring their nutty characters to life… each one funnier than the last! James Sharpe plays the Captain, hosting the others on his porch, with classy comedic charm; Jude Evans is a scream as the overly authoritative Deputy Sheriff; Frank Ensenberger is annoyingly funny (as written) as the nerdy local grocer; Matt Valle and Brett Fleisher are lovably looney as two hayseed teen boys discovering their sexuality; and Arden Haywood is elegantly effective as the newly emancipated slave in the title role of “Alabaster McGill.” Saving my favorite stellar performance for last… Nathaniel Stanton is marvelously manic as the disheveled and “offbeat” Deacon Chickory… with his own zany “take” on life. Flawless!

This is a “titillating” team effort, driven by the skill of its entire cast, and “should” garner attention come “theatre awards” season. My guest Marla and I had a blast, and talked about the show all the way home! Not for the easily offended… but all others will laugh uncontrollably!

BONUS TIP: I just learned that this play was given a “GO” in the L.A. Weekly. Not an easy feat… Congrats!

Running through June 14 at T.U. Studios located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For seats, call (800) 838-3006 or go to www.skypilottheatre.com.

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