I shouldn’t like the people at Celebration Theatre. Several years ago, I discovered they’d chosen a play of mine (a pretty good one, too!) for production, but then, due to internal politics, it was dropped in favor of another show. Boo hoo! How dare they? Yeah, I should be mad at them.
But how can anyone be angry at people who have given Los Angeles theatregoers the gift of so many terrific productions? Especially when this one – Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy – is simply stupendous.
The program for Bootycandy includes a list of the scenes, each of which has a title. Strange, I thought, it’s almost as if it’s a series of sketches – and, indeed, the play began life several years ago as an evening of unrelated short plays by Mr. O’Hara. Over time, he reworked the scenes and the characters, and created a sort-of through-line, so while many of the scenes can still stand on their own as extended comic sketches, by the end, we feel as if we’ve indeed seen a play rather than a revue.
Given its cobbled-together nature, Bootycandy isn’t neat, it isn’t tidy, it’s actually sort of a mess. But I’ll gladly trade neat and tidy for this kind of gorgeous, glorious, wild mess. The first scene, titled “Bootycandy,” introduces us to the central character, a young black boy (played by a grown actor, Anton Peeples), as well as to the meaning of “bootycandy,” which, according to his mother (Travina Springer), is a nice name for his… um… member. The scene is outrageous, the actors are hilarious, and we know right away we’re in for craziness.
More guffaws in Scene 3, titled “Genitalia (A Phone [Land Line] Conversation)” in which Ms Springer and Julanne Chidi Hill play four – yes, four – distinct and distinctly stereotypical black women in a series of phone conversations. That they’re able to do this while never leaving the stage is a tribute not only to their formidable acting talents, but also to the sly and flamboyantly inventive costumes of Allison Dillard.
With the aid of top-of-the-line tech credits – set by Stephen Joshua Thompson, lights by Matthew Brian Denman, sound by Rebecca Kessin, props by Michael O’Hara, and Ms Dillard’s costumes – Mr. Matthews has created a magnificently over-the-top theatrical event: this is a party, a celebration, a joyous exclamation. It’s spectacular in every way, and deserves to run for years.
(Oh, and guys, if you promise to do my play as well as you did this one, it’s still available. Just sayin’…)
Written by Robert O’Hara
Directed by Michael Matthews
Through December 20
Celebration Theatre @ The Lex
6760 Lexington Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: 323-957-1884 or www.celebrationtheatre.com