Entertainment » Theatre

The Blvd.

by Obed Medina
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Apr 1, 2010
Lana Luster and Quentin Elias
Lana Luster and Quentin Elias  

The Blvd can easily be called a guilty pleasure. It's camp at its best and this full-length play that combines two iconic films of yesteryear would feel right at home in a late-night slot at any of the smaller theatres in L.A. with the capacity to elevate high camp into a work of art. In this case, it finds its home right in West Hollywood at the MACHA Theatre. The play, written by Joseph Castel and Danny De La Paz, breezes through the wittiest lines from Sunset Blvd and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? with a few alterations to fit this new hybrid. Is it perfect? No, but the performances for the most part are over the top and the overall production team manages to provide an evening of laugh out loud moments that come directly from the script and a lot that don't - making it a well-rounded comedy.

The premise is taken almost directly from the Sunset Blvd script, changing Joe Gillis to Joe Kirkwood (Quentin Elias) and making him an employee of the Nude Maid Service. The Betty Shaffer character is now Nick (Miguel Angel Caballero), a screenwriter. Norma (Lana Luster) in this parody fading drag queen Norman who is poised to take the lead in John Waters' bio pic "Simply Divine," about the late and great Divine. Unfortunately, Norman can't bring himself to re-enact the famous dog pooh scene from Pink Flamingos, that made Divine a household name. But that's not a problem, she can simply have it re-written and she can go on with the movie. However, things don't turn out that easily for her. The second act incorporates Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Norman's butler Max (Joe J. Garcia) dresses like Baby Jane and torments her throughout the rest of the play with hilarious results.

As stated before, some of the performances are played with high camp in mind and that works wonderfully. Ms. Lana Luster and Joe Garcia play well off of each other with deadpan seriousness... All for laughs, of course. There are moments, though, where he biggest laughs come from the quieter moments not found on the script, whether it's a knowing look or a missed cue. It's not a polished production, but that's the genius of such a play. To dissect this play with a theatre snob approach would be to miss the point of the play completely. Where it does falter is in the love story between Nick and Joe. Perhaps with a stronger actor to anchor the play, these moments would not feel like they lag, but in the meantime Mr. Elias fills the role, as well as the CK underwear, nicely as eye candy for the WeHo crowd. But Mr. Garcia is definitely the stand out in this production. His Max in drag is absolutely hilarious and as a skilled actor, he plays off the camp to perfection, allowing room for ad-lib that sends the audience laughing.

It's hard not to like this play. All the elements are there to make it a true cult hit with a few changes here and there. For those seeking a frivolous night out, this play surely fits the bill: big laughs, hot bodies, and a reluctant poop-eating has-been drag queen bent on a comeback!

The Blvd is playing at the MACHA Theatre, 1107 North Kings Road, West Hollywood through April 18. For tickets and reservations: (323) 960-1055 o online ticketing at www.plays411.com/theblvd.

Obed Medina is a playwright & theatre director in Los Angeles.


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