Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Black Suits Rock at the Kirk Douglas.

If you’ve ever been a teenager.  If  you’ve ever had a band.  If you’ve ever been deep in love and the next day not so sure. If you’ve ever had a passion and believed with all your heart, you’re not alone. You'll find yourself in the right place for The Black Suits (world premiere musical).  Joe Iconis’s music and lyrics partner with his and Robert Emmett Maddock’s book bringing us, Ladies and Gentlemen… a rock and roll extravaganza.   

Sitting next to a man who smelled of peanut butter and tobacco who touted himself a ‘real critic’ added to the experience for me.  He seldom applauded at the end of the multitude of expository numbers and informed me that he and his writers write ‘real criticism,’ whatever that is!  Of course, we all know the difference between a lowly ‘reviewer’ and a ‘true critic.’  Or do we?  To be taken to school by a smelly middle aged guy who did not deign to applaud nor rise with the standing ovation at the curtain certainly put me in my place, boy!  If these brief insights of mine inform or enlighten a bit, that's my only goal.  

That said, a packed house at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City (CTG’s extended venue) enthusiastically absorbed the high tech teen angst with glee.  Derek McLane’s scenic design  is brilliant. Ben Stanton's elaborate light design must have the meter spinning off the wall!  All the elements of a Broadway Musical (emphasis mine) are in place.  Charlie Rosen’s orchestration is double covered by his offstage orchestra led by him while doubling on bass. Steven Feifke, Keyboards; Austin Moorhead, Guitar;  Taylor Murphy, Drums and Aaron Schuman, Guitar/Keyboards supplement beautifully.  Our onstage musicians are each spot on.  On bass we have the ever horny and frog kissing Nato (Will Roland); Berkeley Acceptee, Brandon (Harrison Chad) sits on his throne with drums;  Lead guitar, handsome Jimmy Brewer as John  and, the man with the band, singer/titular leader, Chris (Colby Getzug). 

A group of pals are drawn together.  A garage band. A girlfriend,  also looking for artistic expression (“Photography is not an art,” says, Brandon, the drummer, comparing years of study to become an accomplished musician). Crafty Lisa (pretty Veronica Dunne) becomes a photojournalist and her art blossoms even through a phase with rather fetching blue hair.

Chris’s angst takes him to neighbor Mrs. Werring’s (Amazing Annie Golden) kitchen.  She’s had her own brushes with greatness in the Music World.  She becomes a literal cheerleader for Chris and his band.  Golden’s outstanding voice kicks out the jams. At times I could virtually feel my socks being knocked off!

The predictability of the uncomplicated story is simply a comfort. Obvious issues evolve. Summer pals hone their chops; struggle through their first real gig out side the safety of the garage. Their roller rink gig moves them along to finally compete in THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS!, but not without girlfriend issues, ego issues, missing parents issues and issue issues.  Somewhat over written, the book and score blast us through teen age memories and some decent music. None of the tunes much stick as we’re headed out the door, but the memories of youthful angst and passion are all available and well played by The Black Suits, for sure, yo.  

The Black Suits
CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theater
9820 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
November 3 through November 24, 2013
Tuesdays through Sundays (No Performance on Mondays)
Tickets and Information: 213 628 2772

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