November 17, 2010
This is a dramedy, offered by SkyPilot Theatre Co., and you may have seen their work around town or at our local Toluca Lake Sidewalk Theatre. In August, they made an exciting move forward. Now the "resident company" at The Luna Playhouse, they've remodeled the theatre (it's gorgeous), held auditions (doubling their membership,) and have a full roster of "premiere" productions scheduled. Tonight was their "maiden voyage" here... and I, for one, look forward to sharing their journey. Yes, Svetlana takes place in a bustling Russian newspaper office in the 1950s at Christmastime. Compellingly written by Jeff Goode, with a complex, yet personal look at the Soviet Union's regimented mentality at the time...
I found some of the plot to be confusing. It seems a technical glitch on opening night omitted a pre-show video, setting up the story... which now sorted out, will be helpful for the audience.
Based on facts, the "new regime" removes all references to Santa Claus, and instills an alternate "Grandfather Frost," in celebration of the Russian New Year. Two official state brutes barge into the office during the holidays with frightening threats and accusations. Combining the conflicts, emotions, and complexities of running a Russian publication freely in the '50s, under glaring "official scrutiny," they meet many obstacles. A tricky and truthful balancing act at best... Dangerous at the very worst. This worthy holiday story unfolds with wit, spirit and a lot of heart. Directed with well-timed, passionate focus by Gideon Potter (who also designed the appealing set), and performed by six flawless actors, whose Russian accents were impeccable, this is a top notch production! Lisa Younger as the naïve young office assistant, Devuchka, positively lights up the stage, and Erika Godwin as Madame Editrix, the editor-in-chief, is mesmerizing.
Tyler Rhoades, as the flirty in-house journalist, offers playful diversion from the serious nature of the story, and Morry Schoor as the senior journalist is heart-wrenching. Powerfully rounding out the cast as the intimidating intruders from the security committee, stating the paper's infractions, are Ken Lyle and Bob Rusch. A very strong cast all around! If this production is any indication of "things to come" from SkyPilot... we're in for some mesmerizing theatre offerings. Check them out!
The show runs through December 19th at Luna Playhouse - 3706 San Fernando Rd. in Glendale. For seats, call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.skypilottheatre.com.