Lodestone cast bares their souls in “Closer Than Ever”

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amylyons110BY AMY LYONS

The Lodestone Theatre Company’s penultimate production, “Closer Than Ever,” is a musical revue that doesn’t go for simple, smiley, feel-good numbers.  Divorce, multiple mid-life crises, a quest for physical perfection and other provocative topics take center stage in the piece, resulting in a rare breed of pessimistic revue.

With lyrics penned by Richard Maltby Jr., and music by David Shire, the musical won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway musical in 1989.

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"Closer Than Ever" is a close-up view of life's trials and tribulations, with plenty of comic relief that comes off as an essential facet of the human condition.

Lodestone is the perfect company to tackle this unorthodox songbook, and it’s fitting that they’ve taken it on in their 10th and final season. It’s a swan song of sorts, and the solid cast shows up with their souls bared. This emotional nakedness has been a hallmark of the all-Asian company for the last decade, and we’d expect nothing less as they near the end.

Paul Nakauchi comes up with particularly strong characterizations, and his full-bodied singing voice serves the bold characters well. In “I’ll Get Up Tomorrow Morning” Nakauchi is a put-upon husband and businessman, who laments about his daily stresses during a nightly teeth-brushing ritual. He’s stuck in the ho-hum life and dreads the next day’s lineup of duties. It’s painful and hilarious to watch this strapping actor cling to his toothbrush in an intimate display of human anguish.

Sharline Liu hits a home run on the comedy front with “Miss Byrd” a number about a plain Jane office girl with sizzling secrets. Erin Quill does much of the emotional heavy lifting in the more serious numbers, bringing a pathos to middle age that’s hard to pull off in song. Chil Kong, who also directs, likewise has a few of the more touching moments, particularly during his sweet rendering of “One of The Good Guys,” an ode to those men who treat their wives well, behave respectfully at all times, and carry a sense of longing that bad boys find foreign.

It’s a close-up view of life’s trials and tribulations, with plenty of comic relief that comes off as an essential facet of the human condition.

Through August 30 at Lodestone Theatre GTC Burbank, 1111-B West Olive Ave., in George Izay Park. Call (323 993-7324). www.lodestonetheatre.org

Amy Lyons is a professional freelance journalist and theatre critic and a member of the Drama Critics Circle. with a degree in Theatre Arts and English from UMass, Boston. She started her journalism career at The Boston Globe. Her articles, theatre reviews and photos regularly appear in numerous. publications, including the Beverly Press, Valley Life Magazine, the Santa Monica Mirror and www.nohoartsdistrict.com


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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • http://www.jackiehouchin.com Jackie Houchin

    I’m always sorry to see another theatre closing. Thanks for telling us about this final show, Amy. I tend to like the more light-hearted, romantic-comedy musicals, but I know the serious, provacative productions are more of a challenge to produce. I hope the actors will find other venues in which to show their talent.

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