[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of Harold and Maude, originally written by Colin Higgins, directed for the stage by Larry Eisenberg for The Group Rep at Lonny Chapman Theatre through March 19.
I remember watching the 1971 film of Harold and Maude, which now has a bit of a cult following, and was directed by the late great Hal Ashby. It was probably on TV, since I was very young when it was released. It’s a quirky, darkly funny film about a slightly odd young man, Harold, who rejects his stuffy upper-class life and finds friendship and love with a much much older and wonderfully eccentric woman, Maude.
The lovelies at the Group Rep have made a habit out of staging adaptations of iconic movies. A tricky thing to do well, but they seem to have perfected it and their Harold and Maude is yet another success in a long line of their brilliant and memorable movie versions.
This story is full of wonderful, bold characters with plenty for compelling actors to sink their teeth into. And Group Rep’s accomplished and enthusiastic actors do just that. From Harold’s interfering mother and the three internet dates she sets up for Harold, to a couple of questionable local police, the ominous housekeeper and Harold himself. Weird, death obsessed, illusive and strangely charming, and then there is Maude of course, who is an utter revelation. As the story unfolds, we see more and more of who she is, where she comes from, and what makes her the fascinating woman that she is.
Harold and Maude is one of those stories that begins as one thing and ends up as something entirely different. A goofy comedy, a farce of sorts that becomes an astonishingly moving and heartbreaking existential drama about the importance of love and living life to one’s own beat, in one’s own time, and always guided by one’s own compass.
I loved it. Unsurprisingly. The cast is on rotation, but the actors I saw were absolutely wonderful….to a person. The staging is simple and gentle and very effective, leaving most of the work in the performers’ very capable hands. What a lovely way to spend a couple of hours…supporting NoHo theatre and the Group Rep’s film adaptation journey! Bravo!
Harold and Maude runs through March 19, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm
10900 Burbank Blvd, NoHo Arts District, CA91601
The Group Rep cast features the talents of Landon Beatty (Performs February 10, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, March 10, 11, 12), Fox Carney, Lareen Faye, JC Gafford, Kat Kemmet, Jessica Kent, John Ledley (Performs February 11, 12, 17, March 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19), Lloyd Pedersen, Susan Priver, Clara Rodriguez (Performs February 10, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, March 10, 11, 12), Steve Shaw, Janet Wood (Performs February 11, 12, 17, March 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19), and Gina Yates. Douglas Gabrielle (Father Finnegan U/S). The roles of Harold and Maude are double cast. Landon Beatty and Clara Rodriguez will perform together. John Ledley and Janet Wood will perform together.
The production team includes Mareli Mitchel-Shields (Set Design), Douglas Gabrielle (Lighting Design), Angela M. Eads (Costume Design), Christian Ackerman (Videographer), Patrick Burke (Puppet Design), Judi Lewin (Wigs/Hair/Make-up), Steve Shaw (Sound Design), Doug Haverty (Graphic Design), Kat Kemmet (Assistant Director), Ellen Burr (Stage Manager), JC Gafford (Props), Heidi Mendez (Covid Compliance), Mareli Mitchel-Shields (Set Construction Coordinator), Bert Emmett, Bill Fitzhugh, John Ledley, Lee Redmond, Clara Rodriguez, and Chris Winfield (Set Construction/Facilitation | “The Hive”) Kristin Stancato (Webmaster & Online Marketing), Denise Downer, Michael Gabiano and Jackie Shearn (Social Media), Nora Feldman (Public Relations), and Doug Engalla (Promotional Video & Photography).