Frank and Ava

ensemble theatre · mahoobla productions · Ages 21+ · world premiere · United States

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ROBERT PATRICK · June 15, 2013
The story of this segment of the love- and professional-lives of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner is so strong and moving that when the lights came up on the unexpectedly sentimental last scene, the audience started applauding and just wouldn't stop. It's good that there are no lines in that scene, because we wouldn't have heard them over the applause. We had come to care deeply about the fates of this long-dead couple. Playwright Willard Manus has gotten right into the heart of Frank Sinatra (shown at a moment when his career is bottoming out) and actor Rico Simonini grabs hold of every well-chosen word and squeezes all the juice from them. Beautiful Stefany Northcutt's role as Ava is underwritten, but with vocal intonations, facial expression... full review

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JESSE P · June 18, 2013
What a perfect show for this fresh new 3 Clubs fringe venue! The woman playing Eva was hypnotic - though she stumbled over some lines in the preview, i couldnt take my eyes off her. The "Frank" was very comitted and showed nice voulnerability. There were a couple spots where his accent got in the way of his words and he sounded like a muffled mouth Tony Danza but that was only when he was acting as Frank reading from the script of From Here To Eternity and I'm not sure if that was intentional. Anyway, I got the sense that the writer had really studied these characters and though it was repetitive with every scene ends with them kissing, I constantly felt endeared to them as a couple. ... full review

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JACK FRY · June 19, 2013
Wow, I was blown away by the writing, acting, and directing of this piece. So far my favorite. This is must see. I really felt these must have been the real conversations between these two icons. Both parts beautifully written and portrayed as they love, dance, and go at each other's throats, then kiss and make up. Surprisingly moving. ... full review

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BOB LEGGETT examiner.com · June 14, 2013
I have always loved back stories about Hollywood celebrities, and this show did not disappoint. The show was staged at the Three Clubs, which added the perfect setting to a stellar show. I was especially impressed with the actors and their ease in portraying these two larger than life icons. A definite MUST SEE!... full review

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JOY BENNETT · June 14, 2013
This one is a gem, definitely check it out. For a complete review, please see my writer's website at joybennett.com. Enjoy the Fringe Fest! Joy Bennett... full review

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LARRY GROBEL · June 21, 2013
Playwright Will Manus is slowly becoming recognized as a local treasure in L.A. His plays are shown in venues throughout the city, and he seems to specialize in hour-long pieces that hold the audience's attention to the end. Frank and Ava is no exception. As someone who has met Ava Gardner, and just completed a book of Conversations that I did with her in 1988, I knew a lot of her stories about Frank Sinatra. Will Manus has got it right. Theirs was a tumultuous relationship that couldn't work because they were too similar in temperament. Sinatra was at a low point in his career, and hers was at its zenith. The actors capture the events in their lives accurately, and as the play warms up, so do they. It's tough to try to portray such iconic ... full review

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LISA K. WYATT · June 21, 2013
This is a gem. Well-performed, well-written, well-produced and well-directed, Frank and Ava offers us glimpses into the lives of two icons we only thought we knew well. It's a brilliant marriage of piece and venue with nuanced and committed performances. Sitting in booths, cocktail in hand, makes the audience feel like we just heard Frank at a secret gig. Truly appreciated the care with which the Sinatra numbers were chosen to bridge scenes.... full review

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JIM BLANCHETTE · June 24, 2013
Will Manus has forgotten more about playwriting than most of us will ever know. Frank and Ava is another feather in his cap. The production, which is housed fittingly at the Three of Clubs, takes you inside the lives of two entertainment icons at their most visceral level. It was simply but expertly staged. The director guided the actors on a emotional journey and let the events unfold naturally. Both actors were great but Stephanie Northcutt was mesmerizing. When many shows rely on a gimmick to get butts in the seats, this show insists on excellent theatre craft. ... full review

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ANONYMOUS certified reviewer · June 17, 2013
This was very well done. The venue was perfect for the setting. Loved the costumes. I did not like how the audience was encouraged to come and go during the scene changes. The show is short enough that everyone should sit and be quiet. The producer should start the show on time so that we can get to other shows with more time.... full review

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