Book, Music & Lyrics by Kyle Jarrow
From a Concept by Alex Timbers
Directed by Steve Wilson
Musical Directed by Brandon Magid
Choreography by Ann Filmer
Produced by A Red Orchid Theatre
Youth is not always wasted on the young.
I have never been a fan, theatrically, of the end of the calendar year because the theatre scene becomes saturated with holiday cheer. However, if you look hard enough there is alternative programming with a hint of holiday spirit. A Red Orchid Theatre has created an experience certainly worth your time.
A Very Merry UNAUTHORIZED Children’s Scientology Pageant was, by far, one of the most memorable evenings I have spent in a theatre in a long time. The story follows the infamous L Ron (Hubbard) from his birth in a manger through the height of Scientology. I have to admit the writing is very thin, and it stretches 30 minutes of material into an hour. However, director Steve Wilson and his young ensemble more than make up for the writing flaws with passion and energy. The enthusiasm of the cast is contagious from the opening number all the way to the final moments. I must give a special shout out to Najwa Brown, the quasi-narrator Angel, for stealing the show with her extra-committed performance.
My hat goes off to Wilson for directing every member of the ensemble to be in the same (campy) play, while giving each character necessary dimension. Wilson kept the action moving in a light and fun manner, while giving the heavier moments their necessary weight. The success of this production also falls into the hands of John Wilson (scenic designer) and Karen Kawa (costume designer) for truly creating the school pageant atmosphere.
A Very Merry UNAUTHORIZED Children’s Scientology Pageant is not for everyone, but if you are adventurous and have an off-kilter sense of humor this is a play for you. I truly commend a play that will make me laugh and think in 60-minutes. Not to mention, I am sure at least one of these kids will do something phenomenal in the future, and you can say “ I saw ________ when….”
Reviewed by Chris Arnold
A Very Merry UNAUTHORIZED Children’s Scientology Pageant is playing at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 North Wells St. Tickets are $25, Half price tickets are available for children 16 yrs and under. Senior citizen and student tickets are $20 (with valid ID) for all performances. They can be purchased by calling (312) 943-8722 or online at www.aredorchidtheatre.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office. It runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Through January 3.