Monday, October 24, 2011

SALLY SPECTRE The Musical, She's Ba-ack

Welcome to Purgatory. Sally Spectre the Musical by David P. Johnson has returned two years after its original production with a streamlined book, new music, and an intimate staging by director Janet Miller at NoHo Stages. The story about a little girl with an axe embedded in her head feels much cleaner this time around, though it is still not without its challenges.

The 50th anniversary of young Sally’s (Justine Huxley) demise is approaching, and before it arrives, she must remember how she died or be trapped in her bedroom limbo forever. Demons in the form of soul-collecting wraiths haunt her dreams and her loyal protectors (toys from her earthly days) spring to life to keep her from harm and help her recall the events of the night she was killed.

Their attempts to fulfill both of these actions make up the majority of the musical, along with Sally’s budding friendship with Timothy the Wraith (Paul Walling), who isn’t really that scary at all. While these storylines provide some nice moments of interaction - Matthew Hoffman’s toy soldier is stalwart and true, and Timothy the Wraith is reinvented in a much more handsome, likeable form - they do take the urgency off of the real conflict.

Sally ends up having little to do that relates to solving her own dilemma. Other than one unsuccessful attempt to leave her room at the top of the show, she spends most of the rest of the time playing and somewhat casually avoiding the task at hand. It's a lesson worth the exploration though; face your fears and it will set you free. Less time talking or singing about what she needs to do and letting us actually see her struggle with doing it could really transform this piece, which feels like it still hasn’t quite reached its potential.

Costumes for the wraiths (by Barbara Weisel, Gillian and Rebecca Lane, Kathy Schoeppner, and David Johnson) are outstanding and create quite a macabre effect, especially when combined with Yancey Dunham’s lighting in the opening prologue. Timothy’s robe detail is the best of the bunch, however all the costumes are thoughtfully designed.

Also featured in the cast are Hudsen Cy Schuchart, Robert W. Laur and Sarah Schulte, set design is by Dan Keough and Kathy Schoeppner, and sound design by Ellen Juhlin. Sally Spectre runs through November 20th at NoHo Stages, 4934 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood. Click Here for tickets or call 323-810-9476.

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Comedy Faceposted by Ellen Dostal, MusicalsInLA @
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