Sunday, September 18, 2022

Babe at the Echo Theatre World Premiere

 BABE by Jessica Goldberg 

A World Premiere

The world of A and R: Artists and Repertoire in the land of music is ..or has been.. a 'good old boy's' club.  Toxic Masculinity (caps mine). Jessica Goldberg's damning examination of love, loss and  social politics blisters the senses.

Julie Dretzin and Wylie Anderson
Photo by Cooper Bates
EXA Records A&R heavyweight Gus (Sal Viscuso) has made millions finding, polishing and promoting musical talent.  His business savvy and star building powers have made him rich. All the while, in his looming shadow, Abigail (Julie Dretzin), the ever faithful 'go to gal,' who has probably done a lot of  work Gus has taken credit for, shrinks back for cause.

 Enter Kaitlin Becker (Wylie Anderson, who also plays the fallen rock star Kat Wonder) rides in on a wave of Feminism and Power; determined to be the Catalyst for Change that is still resisted in our Current Patriarchy.  Text or Instagram.. She does not speak on the phone.

Playwright Jessica Goldberg has a goal. She wants to make sure that her overkill is heard. In our age of women's anger and righteous indignation at the 'way things are' we see that one way to fix things is to virtually lie in wait for the bad guys and when they least expect it, stick it to them.  Gus can't change, even wth Abby's tutoring and true friendship.  Here in lies the tale. Gus declares that he may be an asshole (his behavior confirmes this), but will not be a hypocrite. Sammy Davis, Jr. singing "I Gotta Be Me.." could almost be imagined up and  under this scene.  Confronted with the changing times, Gus is simply not a candidate for social correctness. 

BABE is a brutal story of old school politics and the absolute intentional rise of the next generation.. especially of women.. here to clean house!  

We enter to boisterous pre-show  music that drowns out the opportunity to schmooze with other opening night attendees.   I suppose that this is to set the mood for what's to come.   

Amanda Knehans'  multi- purpose set and physical changes by the cast should add to the theatricality of the piece. For me, it did not. 

This story of how relationships develop and come and go is an effort that director, Chris Fields, pretty much makes work.  However, I found the pacing slow. The diverse acting styles are...  diverse.

Wylie Anderson transitions from her pretty Generation Z go getter, Kaitlin, and into the fallen rock and roll star Kat Wonder with ease.  Kat is the discovery that made Abby and Gus fast pals and A&R successes. Some odd information about Gus breaking Abby's hand when trying to take charge of Kat's raucous and drug riddled fame points to Gus's  heavy male dominance.

It's not all black and white.  While Gus is, indeed, a caricature of the insufferable chauvanistic asshole, Goldberg imbues him with moments of tenderness that may or may not be sincere.  The feeling of power shifting and shared by the two women evokes a visceral, even primal feeling of feminine kinship..

Viscuso's efforts, especially at the beginning of the play, miss the mark.  Abby is the one we must cling to and care about as she is caught between generations and traditions that  have subjugated her in a Man's World.  The arc of Abby's character works for me.  Sometimes the fantasy world that emerges  for Abby as the character of Kat returns to share moments with her.  

It's a polemic!  Certainly,  a call to arms for women to rise up and by any means necessary, find a way to carve a proper seat at the table where good old boy stories are no longer a thing and the power of women rising to become peers may emerge.



Wylie Anderson as Kaitlin / Kat

Julie Dretzin  as Abigail

 Sal Viscuso as Gus


Creative Team:

Scenic designer Amanda Knehans;

Lighting designer Hayden Kirschbaum

Sound designer Alysha Grace Bermudez

Costume designer Elena Flores. 

Assistant director  Elana Luo

Associate producer  Elliot Davis

Production stage manager is Danielle Jaramillo. Chris Fields and Kelly Beech produce for the Echot Theater Company.

BABE  A World Premiere

Written by Jessica Goldberg

Directed by Chris Fields

Echo Theater Company

Atwater Village Theatre

3269 Casitas Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90039 

Performances: Sept. 17–Oct.24
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 14 ONLY (preview) 
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 15 ONLY (preview) 
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 16 (preview); Sept. 23; Sept. 30; Oct. 7; Oct. 14; Oct. 21
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 17 (opening night); Sept. 24; Oct. 1; Oct. 8; Oct. 15; Oct. 22
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: Sept. 18; Sept. 25; Oct. 2; Oct. 9; Oct. 16; Oct. 23
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 19; Sept. 26; Oct. 3; Oct. 10; Oct. 17; Oct. 24
FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater

Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34
Mondays: Pay-What-You-Want 
Previews: Pay-What-You-Want
Tickets and Information:


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