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Autobiographical and Racy "Who's Your Daddy?" Shines at The Victory Theatre

Posted By Karen Young On November 30, 2011 @ 12:58 am In Arts & Culture,Featured,My Daily Find,spotlight,Theater | No Comments

BY TOM WALDMAN

In this age of creative families, the desire of a single male Irish bisexual with a history of strange liaisons to adopt a Ugandan toddler should not come as a great surprise. Nor should it surprise residents of hip urban communities, anyways, that the man brings the boy back to his Hollywood home, triumphing over Uganda’s bribe-driven bureaucracy in the process.

Johnny O’Callaghan

The story, which took place six years in the past, is recounted in Johnny O’Callaghan’s one-man, one-act autobiographical show “Who’s Your Daddy?”, which is at the Victory Theatre Center (in the Little Victory) extended through February 19. “Daddy” plays like a taut, well-written personal essay, with seamless transitions between countries, people, and subjects, droll observations, and quite funny asides. Only in the final few minutes, when O’Callaghan adds detail after detail of his effort to get his then three-year-old son out of Africa, does the narrative display any signs of fatigue.

Along with his other identifiers, O’Callaghan is an actor/writer who we are led to believe has experienced more career disappointments than successes. But his professional challenges are nothing compared to the day he arrives home early to find his live-in boyfriend of two years having sex with twins, a scene graphically depicted in the production. O’Callaghan moves out immediately, taking few possessions with him.

Not long after, he has a chance encounter on Sunset Boulevard with an actress/friend. In the breezy and confident manner of her type, she asks him to accompany her to Uganda, where she is going to film a documentary on an orphanage. The actor says yes: Could there be any better place for a heartbroken man to escape?

At the orphanage, O’Callaghan is surrounded by dozens of children who have either been abandoned or had a parent or parents horribly killed by rebels or government forces. It is here that he draws the same conclusion as stressed-out lawyers and bankers who walk past the destitute in downtown Los Angeles: “My life really isn’t so bad, after all.”

The act of adoption, which drives the show’s second half, is a case of love at first sight. The three-year-old, who will eventually be named “Odin,” emerges from the pack of children to hop on the lap of a startled O’Callaghan, as if the two were already a family. It’s the kind of cute meeting that you would think could only be conceived at a Disney writer’s retreat.

When would-be father and son have a similar bonding experience later, O’Callaghan is left with no choice but to begin adoption proceedings. Since the audience is now invested in this child’s future, it is hoped that O’Callaghan is past his days of hard partying and casual sex and ready to become a responsible father. Perhaps the answer will be provided in “Who’s Your Daddy, Part 2?”

In his performance, O’ Callaghan draws a stark contrast between his X-rated Hollywood lifestyle and his G-rated quest to legally adopt a loving child. We get to know the stud and the dad.

The action takes place on Lucan Melkonian’s sparse stage, decorated in shades of blue and brown, which along with Carol Doehring’s subtle lighting vividly conveys a land of brush and wide-open, dusty space.

“Who’s Your Daddy?” is performed Fridays at 8. Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 4 through February 19. Tickets range from $24 to $34, and may be purchased by calling 818-841-5422 or going online at www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org. The Victory Theatre is located at 3326 W. Victory Boulevard, Burbank.

Tom Waldman is co-author of “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll From Southern California”, which had its second printing in 2009, and author of “the Best Guide to American Politics, “We All Want to Change the World: Rock and Politics From Elvis to Eminem” and “Not Much Left: The Decline of Liberalism in America”. He currently serves as Director of Media and Communications for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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