Friday, 03 October 2014 01:15

Theatre Review - Melissa Arctic

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The Road Theatre Company Presents 

Melissa Arctic, A play with songs


Witten by Craig Wright
Directed by Scott Alan Smith

This is the west coast premiere of this award winning, innovative and very American interpretation of Shakespeare’s heartbreaking play, ‘A Winter’s Tale’.

Craig Wright’s masterful reworking leaves none of the heartbreak to chance, I can tell you and he chose to set this tale of tragedy, love, loss and forgiveness in the ‘Fargoesque’ world of small town Minnesota. Our Kings, Leontes and Polixenes are transformed into Leonard and his childhood friend, Paul. The beautiful Hermione is replaced by Mina, who Leonard is just as possessive of as any King, and it is his fall into insanity, mistrust and jealous rage that sets the scene for this tragic tale.

There are, of course, many differences between ‘Melissa Arctic’ and ‘A Winter’s Tale’, but all the basic elements are held true. The original play by Shakespeare was based, and not so loosely, on the pastoral romance ‘Pandosto’, written by Robert Greene in England in 1588, so this actually is an adaptation of an adaptation, and who knows where Mr Greene got his ‘inspiration’!


Even the songs seem true to the original Shakespearean adaptation in many ways, at least in spirit. Shakespeare is strewn with songs and poetic elements to take us from one place or time to another and the sweet voice of what I concluded to be a the spiritual presence of the child Melissa, played beautifully by Alexa Hodzic, watches over the play, moving the scenes through time and elevating this cautionary tale to a beautiful and magical fable woven around the lives we see unfolding before us.

The actors performances were quiet magnificent. Tom Musgrave (Leonard) was a strange blend of the comical and tragic, and this made his personal journey throughout the story all the more real. Laurie Okin was sweet and heartbreaking as Mina and the connection with Hannah Mae Sturges who play the grown up Melissa was quite profound. Michael Dempsey was brilliant as Lindy, a strong and gentle man, who I quite believed could have beaten that bear, I was half expecting him to show up in the last act! Joe Hart (Alec) was warm and wonderful, such a lovely comic and passionate take on the adoptive father of Melissa, what a childhood she must have had! Lockne O’Brien (Ferris) was also great and the audience really felt for his tortured relationship with his father, (Paul) expertly played by Coranado Romero. Elisabeth Sampson was lovely, Danny Webber very entertaining and believable in the many roles he played and also a fabulous asset as the musician throughout the play, another nod to the bard!


The set design was gorgeous and along with the lighting and projections worked so well in keeping us in the moment of the story. And thank you to Desma Murphy and Derrick McDaniels for infusing the play with such magic. All the costumes were perfect and subtly suggested Minnesota, at times comically, well done! The props were wonderful (Heather Moss) and the fights very real, too real even…(Matt Glave). Sound was excellent too, a perfect balance of effects, music and voice (David B. Marling)


There was gun play, and even though we were warned ahead of time, I still jumped out of my chair, I was so absorbed by the storytelling!

I adored the interpretation of the ending of the play, I’ve seen some hammy versions over the years, but this was quite beautiful and I can assure you there was not a dry eye in the house. In fact I wept through most of the second act, much to my husband’s amusement…

If you are looking for magic, excellent performances, beautiful storytelling and a reason to get out your handkerchiefs, then look no further.

I thoroughly recommend Melissa Arctic, this was the first play I have seen by The Road Theatre Company, and I am determined that it be the first of many!

Tom Musgrave, Coronado Romeros, Laurie Okin, Brian M. Cole, Elizabeth Sampson, Michael Dempsey, Joe Hart, Lockne O’Brian, Hannah Mae Sturges, Alexa Hodzic, Samantha Salamoff, Danny Webber.


Set - Desma Murphy

Lights - Derrick McDaniel

Sound - David B. Marling

Projections - Kaitlyn Pietras

Costumes - Mary Jane Miller

Asst. Costume - TJ McNeill

Props 0 Heather Gonzalez

Stage Manager - Maurie Gonzalez

Assistant Director - Darryl Johnson

2nd Assistant Director - Michael Thomas Visgar

The Road on Magnolia
10747 Magnolia Boulevard
North Hollywood
CA 91606

Previews begin September 20th 2014
Play runs September 26th - November 15th 2014

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Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Writer, Filmmaker, Musician. Samantha has Produced over 60 short films and Written and Directed 20. She is the co-creator of 52 Films/52 Weeks and The Cinema Tribe Collective. She has written over 400 LA Theatre reviews and is partners in Xpress Records a Music Publishing Company in the UK.  This year she will be directing her first feature film which she also wrote, developing several others and is writing a children’s book. 

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