Hollywood is full of Dead Dreams
Just as we are hearing the worst about Hollywood, Annex Theatre, has produced Last Stop on Lilac, a spoof on Hollywood, Hollywood movies, cult movies, killer movies, the TV show Dragnet, the Sixties and Hollywood legends, which was literally to die for. (Get it!) With a lively crowd to increase the enjoyment of a thoroughly engaging script, Last Stop on Lilac by Kelleen Conway Blanchard opened Friday, Oct. 20th. Under the expert and highly creative direction of Keira McDonald, the performance kept the audience in stitches from beginning to end.
Set in 1964, the play opens with a long monologue by Danielle Daggerty as Veranda Mink, an aging screen idol from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s recounting that a neighbor, a young rising starlet, Bunny Le Blanc, has been murdered on their street. Ms. Daggerty’s performance was the perfect parody of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, a Hollywood movie about a murder and an aging screen idol. The audience roared, as there was just that small amount of doubt (in my mind at least) that Ms. Daggerty just might be a man in drag.
Using flashbacks, an investigation follows, led by a dim police detective, Larry Bruce, played by William Zimmerman and his female sidekick, Kimberly Prentice, a ballsy ambitious female reporter, played by Alaji. A number of neighbors, friends and a roommate are interviewed, scenes depicting the conflicts among the characters are portrayed on stage as the detective and the audience learn about the underbelly of Hollywood; the jealousies, the emotional depravity, the vanity and of course the brokering of sex for power.
What struck me was how well-structured and coherent the plot was, and how incredibly funny. It was also extremely well-directed. Working creatively with a small budget and limited space, director Keira McDonald, used simple but effective special effects and lighting and managed to fill the numerous scene changes with amusing antics. Embedded between the hilariously funny lines was some physical humor, which generally brought the house down with laughter.
Kayla Walker, as Yvonne, put in a stellar performance as Veranda Mink’s maid. Her character was as campy as it gets, but she never played her part for laughs, but did she ever get them!!!! Mit eine perfekte deutsche Aussprache ( With a perfect German accent) and stylized physicality her dry delivery was right on the money. At times her accent was a tad too strong so some lines were incomprehensible, but her comic timing impeccable.
My only criticism was that at times, the cast played it too much for laughs, although that in no way diminished my enjoyment and the rest of the audience seemed to be laughing even more than I did. People often tell me that my sense of humor is a little under the radar, because I found myself laughing at lines that nobody else did. The sheer number of uproarious one-liners filled my notebook.
A lot of credit goes to the costume designers Keegan Wreden and Sam Gilworth. For anybody who was around in 1964, they will be amazed at how authentic the costuming, make-up, hair-styles and even colors of the costumes were. The A-line dresses, the empire waists, the semi-ratted hair, the heavy eyeliner, beatniks, Go-go boots were all there. Also the vintage dances by choreographer Joshua Williamson were completely authentic. The impressive Ann-Margaret spoof performed by Kenna Kettrick and written by Rick Miller, took me down memory lane.
All in all it was a very fun evening; the play was not only amusing, but the experience of sharing the humor with an “expressive” crowd made it even more enjoyable. Get your tickets now; it was sold-out on opening night.
Last Stop on Lilac. Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike, Seattle 98122 (corner of 11th Ave E and E. Pike-Pike/Pine corridor, Capitol Hill) Thurs, Fri, Sat 7:30. thru Nov. 11. Industry Night. Mon. Oct. 30 7:30 Tickets https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/970150 or www.Annex.org