With the simmering of theatre issues in Los Angeles coming to a boil, Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake continues to set a standard for what can happen when producing a variety of plays with professional actors and staff. Providing parking for subscribers and a friendly and efficient crew makes attending shows here a pleasure. CLASS by Charles Evered is set in a small acting studio somewhere in New York City. Francois-Pierre Couture’s classy set reflects a bit of what Brecht wanted to do with his plays: we see not only the suggestion of Elliot’s acting studio, but the bare walls of the stage where costume and attitude changes take place. It works in some ways and in some ways is distracting.
|Gildart Jackson and Callie Schuttera in Class
at the Falcon Theatre.
Photo by Jill Mamey.
Elliot (Gildart Jackson), breaking the fourth wall, assaults the audience that now becomes his acting class of wannabe artists who have come to study the ‘craft’ of acting with him. He’s animated and blustering: by his own definition a “ne’er do well, pretentious acting instructor.” There are no holds barred as he reminds us that none of us will actually ‘make it.’ His is a discouraging word that shall never be heard nor deter the spirit of the dedicated actor. Elliot’s ego blossoms with charisma that we later learn is bolstered by his former acting career where his work is remembered as “brilliant.” Now, in this spare space where the coffee pot is replenished often, actors attend to be better actors. Into his sanctuary bounces Sarah (talented Callie Schuttera, a ringer for Mary Hartman cutie DebraLee Scott), who immediately locks horns with Elliot. We soon learn that she is not a newcomer to the world of acting, but knows that there’s more to learn: more to experience: more to live to be a convincing actor. We are privy to the thrust and parry of two strong personalities whose synergy moves along to create a respect and friendship that seemed impossible at the beginning. Playing an actress who is not a very good actress is a skill that Schuttera mostly captures. Jackson’s Elliot has an arc that has its peaks and valleys, shocking us with anger and then cajoling us with compassion.
Director Dimitri Toscas’ decision to have the characters retire to off stage while still in view of the audience to indicate a passage of time slows the production down, with Elliot’s changes completely unnecessary and the adjustments for Sarah, though charming and indicative of her true station in life, should have been done in a more efficient way. However, the story moves apace and the acting is convincing with the dialogue at once humorous and touching. I would have preferred a magical moment in the last scene instead of the Toscas’ decision to indicate the very moving conclusion of the story again with Brecht in mind.
As always, additional fine tech credits for The Falcon: Terri A. Lewis’s costumes, Nick McCord’s lights, Robert Arturo Ramierez for sound: all well done. A special Thank You to Box Office Manager, Gordon Vandenberg for special seating accommodations.
CLASS by Charles Evered
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Wednesdays through Sundays
Closes April 19, 2015
Tickets and information:
818 955 8101