“MOTEL 66″ theater review, the HEAD EAST evening presented by the Group Rep Theatre (GRT) at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Finally, some live theatre! Really live. In the flesh.
“Motel 66” is a selection of short plays, something The Group Rep does on an annual basis, a mixture of new playwrights and old. This year they set the plays around the theme of Route 66, actually several motels in various cities on Route 66.
A motel is quite brilliantly and realistically recreated on the lovely outdoor stage they have newly created in their parking lot. Cleverly christened “The Yard.”
You will sit in a parking space, under the stars and or circling helicopters, and the occasional flashes of the locals’ fireworks and a diversity of street sounds. Most assuredly the ambiance of the San Fernando Valley, rather than somewhere more suited to the nuance of outdoor performance perhaps, but none the less, warts and all, is an absolutely wonderful place to be…at last.
The plays are lovely, a good mixture of humour, pathos, drama and entertainment. All set in the motel, which is clearly a cheap one. But then that, of course, makes it all the more ripe for drama. “Motel 66” is 12 plays in all, plays in all, six plays Thursdays and Saturdays (HEAD EAST) and six different plays Fridays and Sundays (GO WEST). I saw the Thursday night HEAD EAST plays and the place was packed as you can imagine – full of blissfully eager and long-starved patrons giddy with excitement.
These plays, with their sweet humour and aching hearts populated by characters full of life and gritty realness gives plenty for the wonderful actors of GRT to sink their teeth into.
All of them are as eager as the audience for live theatre and the kind of connections that can only be made when people sit together and experience stories well told. GRT never disappoints.
“A Different Man” written by Lloyd Pedersen and directed by Larry Eisenberg with Fox Carney and Katelyn Ann Clark involves a middle aged and long married couple on a trip, shyly and comically exploring their sexual fantasies.
“Cleveland and Dallas” written by Steve Shaw and directed by Barbara Brownell with Paul Cady and Mark Stancato is a tender piece about a musician holed up in his hotel room after his house and his entire career burns to the ground. An old friend comes by to save him.
“Midnight Meeting” written by Denise Downer and directed by Linda Alznauer with Kelly Goode, Melissa Lugo, Manny Rodriguez and Sal Valletta tells the story of a young woman, during an illicit weekend away with her married boyfriend who meets the ghost of her long lost father.
“The Journey” written by JC Gafford and directed by Bruce Kimmel with Erica Bowman and Maria Kress is a lovely piece about long-time friends on a trip together. One of them has a big secret!
“Venus Flytrap” by Van Boudreaux and directed by Heidi Mendez with Todd Andrew Ball and Jennifer Whitney ponders some big questions about who we really are and why we keep repeating mistakes.
“Last Exit for Lodging” written by Bill Fitzhugh and directed by Melanie Lee with Jennifer Karraz, Chris McGahan, Cathy Diane Tomlin and William Wilson. A very clever take on the afterlife and the kind of call-centre style mismanagement we all have to deal with.
Really, “Motel 66” HEAD EAST is a brilliant selection of work lovingly presented and beautifully played. Everyone is giving their absolute all, clearly thrilled to be out in the open air once again.
If you want to ease yourself back into mixing with people, then this is perfect for you. It’s outside, with nicely spaced seating and no one will give you the side eye if you want to keep your mask on.
Also, and crucially, you are supporting GRT, a local icon of a theatre company!! Theatres need our love and support now more than ever as those of them that survived the pandemic dark bet the bank on their openings and do their best to spirit us back to our new normal.
HEAD EAST Show Times:
Thursdays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm.
(No Shows July 4th Weekend)
Extended through August 14
GO WEST Show Times:
Fridays & Sundays at 8:00 pm.
Extended through August 15
Lonny chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets & Info:
One evening of shows is $20.
Both evenings of shows is $30.
www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990
Check out the “Motel 66” GO WEST night theater review>>
Executive Producer: Kathleen Delaney
Producers for the Group Rep: Brooklyn Sample and Stevie Stern
Set Design: Bert Emmett and Chris Winfield
Costume Design: Angela M. Eads
Lighting Design: Douglas Gabrielle
Sound: Steve Shaw
Sound Engineering: Sammy Strittmatter
Sound Operator: Hisato Masuyama
Stage Manager: John Ledley
Assistant Stage Managers: Raquel Brooks and Alex Brown
Social Media/Marketing by Kristin Stancato
Photography: Doug Engalla
Public Relations: Nora Feldman
Box Office Manager: Julie Davis
Ticketing Manager: Cathy Tomlin
Graphic Design: Art & Soul Design