Punk Rock meets Musical Theater in Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce at Artworks Theatre/Fringe Central.
Review by Tracy Lynn Schafer
When many think of musical theater, it often includes a roll of the eyes or some unpleasant form of mockery. Generally speaking, musicals tend to be designed for specific types of theatregoers. In an attempt to break this preconceived notion, Artworks Theatre presents Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce by mixing multi-media, punk rock and musical theater.
While I can appreciate the desire to put your own spin on something, to re-design the age-old musical production, one should not attempt to do this unless your tale possesses all it needs to possess to bring the audience along for the ride. Regrettably, Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce left me confused. There is not a simpler way to state it.
The basic premise is this: A rock “™n”™ roll reporter, in the midst of the punk rock era, does a lot of drugs and develops a conspiracy theory concerning a music group he watched earlier in the evening. Now, I had no trouble with this much of the story – it is, in fact, unveiled within the first ten minutes. However, what I found myself struggling with was – why? Combining musical pieces on the microphone, with spoken dialogue off microphone was just a muddled mess. At times, it was so inaudible I found myself scribbling a number of question marks in my notebook.
This is not to say that elements of the show are not noteworthy. The choreography, however sparse, was great. The two men responsible for the dance accompaniment, Joe Schenck and Greggory Barnett, offered a bit of control within the overall chaos. Charlie Max, played by Robin Hall was fully committed to his character as the drug induced news reporter. Even in the moments when I was unable to hear the words he was attempting to deliver, you could feel the life of his character from the stage. This is something every actor should strive toward – if I was as lost as I was, but still able to connect to Charlie, then Hall must have been doing something right. In the same vein, Kelly Mantle”™s presence as the powerful, drag queen, Kitty Glitter was wonderfully comedic and dominating. She, too, was completely inaudible at times over the background music and commotion, but I cannot bag her performance in its entirety. She brought energy with her that momentarily paralyzed my confusion and reignited my interest.
“Bizarre” does not seem to appropriately capture my overall experience when it comes down to summing up Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce. However, in an attempt to support the arts I will say this: if you are looking for a unique, rather weird performance, set to music, film, dance, and dialogue, I will suggest you spend your Friday night at the Fringe Festival, with Charlie and the gang.
Charlie! The Death of Nancy Fullforce
6569 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, Ca.
Friday, June 17th & 24th, 2011
Approximately 50 minutes
Purchase tickets here
Or call (323) 455-4585