Frank and Ava

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

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June 23, 2013 certified reviewer

My overall impression

I went not expecting to much, because two character plays are usually hard to pull off,and then when I finally found the venue at 1123 Vine St, I was more turned off. You enter in this rowdy bar. There was loud talking and two females laughing loudly and hysterically like laughing hyenas, and they didn’t let up. I asked the guy taking reservations, where the theatre was, and he pointed to a door right next to all this going on in the bar, and I was sure I’d would be hearing more of the bar than the play. Well, that was the bad part, but when I finally got in this beautiful little intimate space, it was like Alice going into the Looking Glass.It was charming with tables on the top and seats around the set of the living room. It was the perfect venue for this intimate play about Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. When the lights when down and the actors came on the set, you felt like you were evesdropping and being peeping toms to these two famous people. I learned so much that I didn’t know about these famous icons, and being cramped up with these two in their living room you felt more of their frustrations, and problems. Of course we all should have such problems, but the actors were so good, that you felt for them. Frankie was down on his luck after having a career already that people would die for, and Ava complaining she was not an actress, and she just got hired for her body and looks. These are problems I would have loved to have had, but the actors brought them to life, and showed us the inner souls of these wildly talented, egotistical, and narcisistic persons, but the actors were able to make us feel for them, and that folks is good acting. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you more of the story, but just say that it was fascinating. Think I’m running out of quickly Ric Simonini as Frank was wonderful and Stefany Northcutt, was excellent. It took me alittle while to warm up to her, I think because I have this image in my mind of Ava as this statuesque unapproachable beauty, but of course that is what the studios created, but Miss Northcutt brought more of the inner Ava, not to say that Miss Northcutt is not a beauty in her own right, which she is. I liked Willard Manus’s script, and within the confines of the one set and two characters it was remarkable. I would love to see him expand this into a screenplay, which I think would be incredible. The direction, by Kelly Galindo, I think was right on., though some of the blocking got repetitious by the end of the play going back and forth to the bar, but I wonder what else the director could do with the limited amount of space Kelley had to work with. One minor thing, there were no playbills, quite shortsighted, I thought. How are people going to know about people involved with this excellent production. A very interesting sidelight, I’ve been told Rico Simonini who plays Sinatra has an interesting day job. He’s a cardiologist at Cedar Sanai. This young man could easily end up fluttering many young ladies’s hearts. I reccommend it heartily. I think the last performance is June 30th. Sincerely, Bix Barnaba
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