Sunday, March 10, 2024


 Open Fist!!  

A cotton candy color scheme with a huge puppet  is an approach  to an examination of teen angst, science, sex  and stuff. 

It all rolls out in Becky Wahlstorm's  "A Frggy Becomes".

What I love about The Open Fist Theatre Company is that what they choose to put up is almost always a surprise and an example of how theatre is supposed to work.  It informs and challenges our perceptions of the craft: of Theatre.. note the capital "T."  Producer, Martha Demson's tastes are eclectic and with this choice,  it's a challenge.  

When the lights go down and the curtain speech comes from a recorded voice directing the audience to safe exit,  "just in case".. the simplicity of Jan Munroe's scenic design .. a pastel staircase and some area lighting, invites us to The Nineties?  Did The Bangles and Madonna rule our senses?  Was young love a mixed bag of boyfriend/girlfriend/just friends or friends with benefits?

Bumpy  Gritts, enthusiastic Sandra Kate Burck, opens the show directly through the fourth wall with  all her seventh grade vigor. Volume at ten and escalating! Her energy of youth, while hounded by her Ogre (Peter Breitmayer) dad: a huge disgusting, farting,  belching puppet, to "Bring Beer!" and berated by her older brother, Pauly (Bradley Sharper), we are off and running. The play is an over the top celebration that elevates the angst and adventures of being in junior high with the 'social popular kids' and the nerds all on hand with what may bave been for everyone in seventh grade a damderous  (sic)  dangerous right of passage.

The title of this heavy handed romp "A Froggy  Becomes"  must have come from playright, Becky Wahlstrom's  padlocked diary with a velvet cover. chronicled in  the late past century.  Every cliché event, jealousy and teen adventure is remembered with a sordid side story of unhappy marriage.

"A Froggy Becomes" takes a lwhil  to emerge as Bumpy's school science project. It explains the life cycle of an amphibian from egg to tadpole to frog... froggy... with the dangers of not "Looking Up" in order to escape the situation that may be holding you down rumbles and tumbles and unites us, at once mourning the passing of eight pooped out tadpoles all dried up and sticking to the sides of a steel bowl. Ick!

But!!? That One Lucky Guy/Gal/It: That little Froggy Emerges!  The One That Got Away! may make it to Eighth Grade where the Juices of Life are chomping at the bit...  

Ready to explode! 

Mihael Lenahan Peter Breitmayer Jenny Graham, photographer

 Fast paced and loud and filled with energy enthusiastically echoed by a home town crowd, the show serves up a snack with some underlying Truth that every frog in the world. every self anointed  Frog Prince or Frog Princesses  may take a lesson from:  

With any luck, we evolve.  We use the episodes of our lives to make sure that our next steps are.. at least.. awake  as Life and The World are stading by.

The energy in this show would generate a thousand points of light.. to coin a phrase.  It is a celebration that recalls for almost every person over the age of  thirty who lusted and longed for twirly kisses and.. boobs?  and Love..  a special time.

 The introduction of the Love that Dare Not Share Its Name.. (not That One.. Another One) seems oddly misplaced, but Munroe's tryst facilitating outhouse is worth the price of admission.  

Thanks to director Pat Towne, every actor is fully engaged and as disgusting  as  Ogre  (designed by Joe Seely),  may be.. he stops the show at least once with A Look through the fourth wall that is really a LOOK!  Kudos to the black clad kuroko (uncredited?) for essential and enthusiastic work.


Sandra Kate Burck plays Bumpy Diggs
Bradley Sharper plays Pauly Diggs (Bumpy's slightly older brother)
Johanna McKay plays Mother (Bumpy's mom)
Peter Breitmayer plays Bumpy's Dad - the Ogre (he is inside)
Carmella Jenkins plays Rita Miller - Bumpy's Best Friend
Tom Sys plays Allen Pokay - Most popular boy in 7th grade, Bumpy's crush
Kyra Grace plays Karen Simigliano - Most popular girl in 7th grade
Kyle Tomlin plays Pat Sweeney - a classmate
Mihael Lanahan plays Father Angelo (priest) & Mr. Luper (Teacher)
Deandra Bernardo plays Tiffany Jankowski - a classmate
Ana Id plays Tiffany's Cousin

The creative team for A Froggy Becomes includes scenic designer Jan Munroe, costume designer Mylette Nora, lighting designer Matt Richter, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, prop masters Bruce Dickinson and Ina Shumaker, and puppet designer Joe Seely. The production stage manager is John Dimitri, and the assistant director is CJ Merriman. Produced by Martha Demson.



 by Becky Wahlstrom
Directed by Pat Towne

Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

FREE parking in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater.

Performances: March 9–April 13
Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 8 (preview); March 15; March 22; March 29; April 5; April 12
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 2 (preview); March 9 (Opening Night); March 16; March 23; March 30; April 6; April 13
Sundays at 7 p.m.: March 3 (preview); March 10; March 17; March 24; March 31; April 7



     All performances except previews:

o    General Admission: $30

o    Seniors/Veterans: $25

o    Under 30: $20


Tickets and information: 

-; (323) 882-6912;