A vibrant musical experience – The Trouble with Words

A vibrant musical experience – The Trouble with Words

Trouble with Words ensemble - photo by Laura Crow


Winner of the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival “Best Musical” award, the run of the stunning and musically-infused show The Trouble with Words has been extended through August 27th, 2011, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.

Review by Pauline Adamek

Conceived by Gregory Nabours (who wrote the book, music and lyrics) this captivating show is not so much a musical; rather it”™s a song cycle for three men and three women that explores the fractious relationships people have with words as well as with each other. While this two-act evening of fine music and scintillating song features superb performances from a sexy cast with magnificent voices, backed by a marvelous mini-orchestra of six musicians, it”™s easy to imagine the show as being even more mind-blowing if it were developed to incorporate a storyline or plot (aka “book”).

The uniting thread of the show”™s nineteen songs is the notion of “˜miscommunication”™ (i.e. the trouble with words”¦) Songs such as “Listen,” “Tongue Tied, “ and “Never Let You Fall” universally investigate our relationship with language, friends and lovers.

Crammed onto the tiny stage are the six musicians, with Nabours placed upstage center behind the piano, conducting as he plays. Brian Cannaday does double duty on a full drum kit, switching to xylophone when necessary. Daryl Black on violin teams well with Benjamin Coyte on cello. David Lee shreds on electric guitar while orchestrator Brian Morales plays saxophone and additional reed instruments.

With their strong and powerful voices, the six performers are all excellent. Current cast are: Julianne Donelle, Josh Eddy, Aimee Karlin, Sarah Phillips, Christopher Roque and Ryan Wagner. They look hot, are stylishly dressed (each with fantastic haircuts) and command our attention with their stage presence.

Subtly placed radio mics permit mobility, but at times sacrifice quality (regrettably, distortion was evident a few, brief times when a solo performer was really belting out their song). As an ensemble, they all work well together with their gorgeous harmonies chiming in from time to time. Yet everybody gets a chance to shine.

The show makes good use of the tiny stage and theatre balcony and the singers manage well despite competing with the close proximity of the musicians.

The second song of the night, “Listen” reminded me vaguely of Tracy Chapman”™s hit “Fast Car.” The jazzy style of the funny song “I Need to Get Laid” has the upbeat appeal of a song from A Chorus Line. One sexy song has a tango flavor backed by expert choreography and a quick-change from the cast into even more alluring outfits.

Six singers, six musicians and 19 songs – The Trouble with Words has humor and charisma to burn. Catch the original cast while you can.

Trouble with Words - Julianne Donelle and ensemble - photo by Kevin McShane

The Trouble with Words

Coeurage Theatre Company

Actors Circle Theatre
7313 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046


Runs until August 27th, 2011

Fridays and Saturdays, at 8:00pm

Tickets are PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT. (yay!)

Tickets available for pre-purchase here, or try your luck at the door.



The Coeurage Theatre Company exist to make impassioned theatre accessible for all audiences through Pay-What-You-Want admission and fresh, challenging productions.


Our ensemble is inspired by an imaginative understanding of Courage: Coeur, French for heart, and Rage, meaning fervor, on fire; together, Coeurage is a heart enflamed with passion, which we bring to each and every production.


Coeurage Theatre Company began in the summer of 2009 with an idea shared by a group of artists in the back room of a pie shop. The group, many of whom had trained together at Cal State Fullerton, wanted to make high quality theatre accessible to everyone with PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT admission. Coeurage premiered with resident playwright Eric Czuleger”™s play Head Over Heels the following February; the young company went on to mount seven productions in its inaugural year, re-mounting two in the first Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Artist-operated since its inception, Coeurage Theatre Company remains committed to excellence in theatrical production with audience determined ticketing.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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