Monday, June 20, 2011

Top of My List - The Trouble With Words

Ryan Wagner, Julianne Donelle, Josh Eddy, Sarah Phillips,
Christopher Roque, and Aimee Karlin
Photos by Kevin McShane

When a theatrical production gets it right; when its artists pour their collective heart and soul into the creative process and meticulously craft a work that fulfills its own prophecy…magic is born. It is beyond exciting to see the fulfillment of such a piece in a tiny theatre in the midst of the Fringe Festival where Coeurage Theatre Company’s The Trouble With Words has proven that it’s not the size of the theatre, but the quality of the work that leaves a lasting impression.

Categorized as a song cycle, The Trouble With Words by Gregory Nabours is a moving exploration of our relationship with words and how those words impact others. The evening is a series of “story songs” that are breathtakingly beautiful, filled with Nabours’ lush harmonies, complex progressions, and an artistic sensibility that transforms this piece into something extraordinary.

No other Fringe production can boast a six-piece orchestra – piano, violin, cello, reeds, percussion, and guitar, playing its score. Their location onstage may be dictated by the size of the space but it creates an intimacy with the audience that music lovers will adore. It’s a gorgeous effect with the musicians framing the stage; Nabours leading them up center in a soft light.

There is an inherent vulnerability in The Trouble With Words and director Patrick Pearson has found every nuance within it. Some of the images and sounds I can’t forget:

The picket sign and the pain in Aimee Karlin’s “Busiest Corner in Town”…thank you for your time (photo: above left)

Julianne Donelles haunting tale “Johnny” and the pin spot of light on her face as she sings in perfect stillness.

A completely inspired and cynical “Ballerina’s Lament” with Sarah Phillips in a ghastly pink tutu

Ryan Wagner on his knees singing in desperation during “The Silence and the Rain”

Josh Eddy’s ballad “Never Let You Fall” delicately sung to an unseen child

The ensemble, from a distance all in white shirts, watching Chris Roque sing “Raincloud”

Josh, Ryan and Chris comically bemoaning that they “Gotta Get Laid” (still makes me laugh)

These artists have paid attention to every detail of the production and it shows.

I get asked all the time if I've seen anything that is good. What would I recommend? This show - The Trouble With Words. It is sophisticated, seductive, mischievous and an all-around satisfying experience. Go!

Remaining Fringe performances are June 23, 24 and 25th however there is already talk of extending its run. They have also been in the studio so a recording will be forthcoming. For more information and tickets go to

Photos above:
1. Julianne Donelle
2. Chris Roque (far right in group photo)
3. Ryan Wagner
4. Josh Eddy
5. Sarah Phillips

The Trouble With Words is part of the Fourth Annual Festival of New American Musicals. 

For more Musicals in LA news:

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