David: The Musical, A Theatrical Review
David: The Musical by Craig Costanza is currently running at the historic Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles through October 17, 2010, and stars Dale Bowman. As my readers know, I will find any and every positive available to share with them regarding a production, and because of that, I shall start there.
Playing multiple characters, predominantly Prince Amnon, J.D. Driskill has the opportunity of playing a gothic version of the prince. Not allowing him much opportunity to display any of the talent and ability that he has shown in other productions until the second act, ‘David: The Musical’ is surely one of the larger challenges in his theatrical career. J.D. has a wonderful voice and a powerfully handsome/boyish look that cannot be overshadowed by even this escapade of chaos. This fact shows that J.D. Driskill has the raw skills to shine even when the production he finds himself in turns out to be far less than he had hoped. Keep an eye out for this young man fellow directors and producers, he has the acting chops, vocal talents, and leading man looks to succeed in anything he does, this production proves that.
The character of Prince Amnon’s brother, the more historically renown Absalom, is also masterfully portrayed by another powerful young actor, Jonathon Lanni. Again held back until the second act, Jonathon has the opportunity to show off a powerful voice, solid acting chops, and the ability to outshine the roll that he finds himself in. A strong featured young man that is certain to eventually come into his own with a leading role as someone’s bedroom eyed lover, Lanni gives a strong performance that overshadows most all the actors in the production and is matched only by the role of J.D. Driskill.
As a director and producer myself, I can honestly state that I found myself highly impressed with these two capable young men, and while watching them began desperately running through the filing cabinet of my mind for a production I could bring to stage where I could offer both of these young actors roles worthy of their abilities. I am certain that should either or both of them appear before me the next time I cast a show, the likelihood of their landing key roles is great.
This production offers the onstage musical accompaniment by a local four-piece band, Pullman Standard, making the most of a bad score. It would have been wonderful to have had the opportunity to see them engaged in the production, though sitting through it every night gives an amazing respect for the professionalism they must have as a band.
The Hayworth Theatre, named for Rita Hayworth, is an old world elegant little theater with an attractive and comfortable atmosphere, very comfortable seating, clean restrooms, close parking, and congenial box office personal. It is located at 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90057, and the show runs Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 PM, and Sunday7PM.
Now for the facts, which sadly are exhaustingly poor! With a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes, ‘David: The Musical’ fails at almost every other level. Not only does it fail in telling the story of David in any understandable manner to those not familiar with the Biblical story, its constant jumping from idea to idea with a desire to bring a ‘Godspell’ style current era to the production keeps all but the Biblically literate from having any idea of what is actually happening. Add to this the fact that the lead (which should likely not be a lead in anything) is not the character or David, but rather a multi-role playing narrator of sorts who seems to literally steal all intelligence from the production with his constant caterwauling and angry facial expressions.
With the exception of those mentioned earlier, many of the vocalists fail to deliver anything enjoyable to listen to; the set is sparse and frustrating to the eye; and the use of hand held microphones steals away any and all credibility this production attempts to have, making this production literally a tour through Hell itself on stage. The script is bad, the score is difficult at best, the casting was predominantly wrong, the stage fighting looked as if the characters had been told what to do the previous day with no practice or practical guidance. And the constant deluge of Dale Bowman’s screaming and anger in your face causes the audience to want to leave at the break, which is heart wrenching as the best of the show is in the second act.
I love this venue and respect the cast and crew who have obviously worked very hard to make something out of absolutely nothing; however, this is a production that should never have been given a stage. I would love to help promote J.D. Driskill, Jonathon Lanni, Pullman Standard, and the Hayworth Theatre, however, with this production I would be short changing my readers to ask that you see it . Due respect to the hard work that went into this show, one has to ask the question, Why? Why would anyone write this juvenile production not worthy of a third grade cast? Why would anyone choose to do this production when there are so many other wonderful productions available? Why would anyone cast some of the persons that were selected to do anything on stage? Why would a theatre like the Hayworth allow their otherwise strong reputation to be damaged by allowing this production on its stage? Why would someone choose to slaughter the truth and power of the true Davidic story in such a worthless manner? Why?
In the true Davidic story, David has to allow and understand the death of his dream to build a temple for God. His sin, his pride, his evil desires, and his selfishness cause him to loose this right. Perhaps the creators of this production could learn a lesson from the true story itself. To bring the story of David to stage would be an amazing and wonderful thing. To attempt to do it poorly just so you can say that you did it is a proud and haughty slaughtering of the truth and value of the story, to say of the total disrespect to God Himself. Allow the dream of this production to die! Go back to the drawing board and start again, preferably after learning the lessons that not everything written is worthy of a stage.
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