Friday, November 07, 2008

The Tolucan Times Review

Originally posted on 30 October 2008, at In The Extreme:

(l to r) Sylvia Anderson as "Lottie", Alana Dietze as "Wilma, and Pamela Moore as "Helen." Photo by Chris Cortez.

Another good review, this time from a paper much more local to North Hollywood, where the play is being produced (Toluca Lake is a bordering township.)

Mallory reviewed the play at face value, rather than projecting any preconceived notions or outside baggage onto it, and for that I am thankful. I would disagree with her point about "too many subplots." You can count the subplots on one hand, they all resolve, and the play is an hour and forty-five minutes long. For a play as fast-paced as "Pin-Up Girls" anything less would make the show seem simplistic. There's a wonderful weaving of these subplots into the main plot towards the end of Act II that makes any perceived chaos worth the trouble to keep up.

The misidentification of one of the romantic leads is a bit disappointing. Lauren Burns turns in a wonderfully layered and understated performance as Tillie; she really sucker-punches you with the reality of her character's story late in Act II. (I've been intimately involved in this project forever, and have seen the show more times than I care to recall right now. Sunday night, her final scene brought tears to my eyes.) But it is indeed Sarah Cook, as the pining pilot Ruby who "nurses a true love for Scotty."
"Pin-Up Girls" Takes Off On Love

by Mary Mallory

An intriguing tale of what love means to people and how they show it, Theatre Unleashed's production of "Pin-Up Girls" features fine acting and production work.

The play focuses on the daily struggles of the members of a burlesque troupe struggling through romance, sexual identity, and work issues. Helen (Pamela Moore), is in a relationship with Scotty (Seth Caskey) who is away overseas during World War II, realizes that she wants excitement and not steadiness in romantic relationships. Her troupe mate Tillie (Lauren Burns), contrary to Helen, nurses a true love for Scotty.

Writer/Director Andrew Moore keeps the action moving and realistically brings to life the irritations and closeness of any performing troupe, but it occasionally seems disjointed with too many subplots going on and one character that seems to have escaped from a Saturday Night Live skit.

Acting is uniformly excellent, with outstanding work by Moore, Caskey, and Burns. Moore goes full throttle as the hard charging yet emotional Helen. Caskey touchingly underplays the wounded vet Scotty, positive and steady through turmoil. Burns brings sweetness and vulnerability to the warmhearted, loving Tillie.

Starlet Jacobs' set design is a wonder to behold, a cluttered, busy dressing room. Christine Guilmette's gorgeous costumes and hair wonderfully capture the 1940s.
Bringing to life the dramatic and hilarious goings-on backstage to comment on how values impact the choices we make, "Pin-Up Girls" provides an entertaining look at the big changes brought on by World War II.

"Pin-Up Girls" plays Fridays through Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 7 PM through November 23 at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood. Tickets are $20. Saturday's performances feature a bonus show "The High Jinks Burlesque" at 10:30 PM that costs $10. Both shows cost $25.

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