I went to watch LCC‘s “The Great Pretenders”. I went to both nights (Friday and Wednesday) even though it’s the same show. Well, they are still different because they are in different venues, and the improv segments are, of course, different. But the most important thing is probably that I had the chance to see different fellow alumni on different nights (some of them actually came both nights too, like I did).
It was quite a well-written show. In fact, I’d say it’s the best show that they’ve done in the last two or three years. The LCC shows that I think are great, instead of just good, are always written by mostly, if not all, veteran writers. They’ve come to know the format and what the fellow cast members are capable of really well, and they can use that as an adventage. Also it just takes time for writers to really get a hang of it. A fellow alumnus (who is older than I am) once told me that it’s a shame that once a writer start “getting it”, he or she graduates. But then, high turn-over rate is just the nature of a college theatre company. When the time comes, people graduate and the younger members take over. And that’s not always a bad thing. Sure, we might lose some experienced people, but then the group is always fresh and never gets stale. The writers this time, Nhi Hong, Angelica Bato, and Peter Ngaou have all had scripts produced. Nam Giao Do did not have a script produced yet, but I’ve been to cold readings and I believe she’s submitted her scripts before. So yeah, you really need to write, write, write to get better… and it shows.
“The Times They Are A-Changing”, written by Nam Giao Do and directed by Angelica Bato, was a story about a student whose parents were always fighting. With the help of a psychiatrist, a strange girl and her strange grandma (who were all related), he got the parents (who were hippies) stoned again (with pot, not rocks), because apparently that’s the only way that they’ll stop fighting and love each other again. It was a little random, but heck, I like scripts that are random. They have to be interesting though, or otherwise it’s just some chaotic events with no reason.
“Just Fartsy”, written by Nhi Hong and directed by Tobit Capati, was my favorite script for this quarter’s show. It told the story of a new playwright’s encounter with a bunch of artsy-fartsy types in a writing class. The main character initially thought these people were all really odd, but then eventually became like one of them (or pretended to be?) and got appreciation and acceptance. It was really funny, and was a sharp commentary on how art was conceived and interpreted, and the whole sub-culture formed around the craft. I also liked what the director did with the costumes, from the regular clothes to all black, to the writer’s glasses, hats, and mustaches. The lighting worked better the first night in Northwest Auditorium. The lighting wasn’t as good the second night due to the limitations of De Neve Auditorium, but the performance was still good.
“Take Two”, written by Angelica Bato and directed by Jerry Fang and Vanessa Yeh, was a story about a playwright’s attempt to write a good script for his agent to submit to producers. He couldn’t come up with anything good, but eventually realized that the best story was something that’s real and from the heart. Of course, a plot summary doesn’t really do this kind of story justice, but it was well-written, well-directed and well-executed with a good mix of drama and comedy. We tend to see more dramatic scenes from Angelica and she has become an important part of LCC’s creative output, in my opinion.
“The Westwood Action Tribunal (TWAT)”, written by Peter Ngaou and directed by Clara Sao, was a story about a local superhero league looking for a new secretary. They were faced with their nemesis, Dr. Nemesis, and eventually defeated him with the help of the secretary, who had the real superpower after all. It was one of the script that was more gag-based, and it certainly lived up to expectations in terms of making people laugh.
There were also the intro video, and a music video. I appreciated the extra effort made into producing music for the video. There were also improv segments that were entertaining as always. It looked like the new generation had already gotten really comfortable playing with the older cast. It was good when improv players had that familiarity with one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and the tightness of the group also helped. In addition, there was also a cool movement piece called “Writer’s Block” (about a writer’s struggle with the chaos in his head, of course) that I liked. Ever since Vanessa was in the group, we’ve been having these real cool movement pieces. And ever since we have Anthony, the costumes have been awesome. We are lucky to have all these really talented people in the group. Who knew what they (especially the new members) would come up with next?
It was fun. I’m glad I went.
(Photos by Elaine Chen)