October 22, 2009
Downtown Los Angeles is perhaps the last place one would go to find a good ol' honky tonk bar, but thanks to the Sacred Fools and "Savin' up for Saturday Night", the spirit of the South may be closer than we think.
The Sacred Fools theater is situated in a less-than-desirable neighborhood among a cluster of other buildings. However, upon entering the theater and being greeted with a warm "Howdy there!" it was as if I had walked into my favorite bar and was among friends. Aside from the cleverly designed set - fully equipped with small dinner tables, a cheesy stage for the band to play on and the ever-present Pabst Beer neon sign glowing in the corner - the audience is welcomed into the bar by the actors roaming the audience. Some are trying to get a drink order and others just want to chat.
The play's action begins seamlessly, almost to make the audience wonder, "Oh wait, is it starting now?" Lively country rock music fills the bar along with exciting dancing thanks to choreographer Allison Bibicoff. While this is Allison's first time working with this group, she is no newcomer to the stage.
"Savin' up" is a new musical, and that brings with it many exciting possibilities and many challenges.
"It's not like doing 'West Side Story,'" said Bibicoff. "We had to figure out what the numbers would be and where we were going with the numbers."
Allison admits that one of the luxuries to working with a new piece is having the writer and composer available.
Other challenges that were addressed were how to cater the choreography and dance numbers to those members of the cast who were not strong dancers.
"With the numbers we try to tailor them to (the actor's) strengths," said Bibicoff. Some of her dancers were strong partner dancers while others were strong musical theater dancers; it was finding the common ground in the middle that would make this a great show, and they sure succeeded.
Fully equipped with kicks and flips, "Savin' up" left nothing to be desired for the dancing, and the entire cast looked fabulous.
What is next for the show? "We love the show" said Allison. "It has a great appeal and we want it to move to bigger theaters to keep the show going."
"Savin' up for Saturday Night" is playing at the Sacred Fools theatre through Oct. 31. Go to www.sacredfools.org or call (310) 281-8377 for tickets.