Diva: Live From Hell
So yesterday, I saw a piece of theatre because my friend, and former roommate, Luke McGinnis was working on it. I like to support my friends as often as I can, and I love seeing new works and works in progress. Oftentimes, I leave the theatre enjoying having seen my friends perform, but I can be a tough critic. I tell my friends how good they did and I keep my criticisms (if I have any) about the piece itself to myself.
Yesterday, however what I saw was different. Yesterday what I saw was new, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Diva: Live From Hell, was a 90-minute tour de force that I won't soon forget. Sean Patrick Monahan gave a performance that just blew me away. He portrayed all of the characters in the show in addition to writing the book. His performance was so polished with well-defined characters and fluid transitions between scenes with never a dull moment. The concept is great: a young boy who committed atrocities is forced to relive his mistakes in the form of what used to be his passion, musical theatre. The antihero we'll call the protagonist, Desmond Channing, is so fabulously flawed, while still remaining relatable, that anyone who has participated in high school theatre will see a bit of themselves in him. They may even feel compelled to call old classmates to apologize for behavior from a decade ago. Though, hopefully none of us went as far as Desmond, his teenage angst and brashness is certainly palpable in the theatre.
Since I've moved to the city, I've had the privilege of seeing a few of Alexander Sage Oyen's other works (in which he has also collaborated with my friend Luke), and I have to say he has outdone himself this time. The contemporary score really adds to the ambience of despair and hellishness, while sometimes getting into farcical territories without ever going too over-the-top. Throughout the show, I was rocking out and cracking up to the lyrics and wishing I could buy the soundtrack by the end of it.
The band was absolutely killer. If you couldn't see them onstage, you wouldn't believe it's just a three-piece. There are times where the bass part is written like a cello, and where the Luke forgoes the piano for a guitar, in a score that is stylistically eclectic and requires a lot from this band. These gentlemen were an active part of the story and a constant presence on stage that made me wonder, what did these guys do to end up in hell playing in a pit for a diva that keeps changing the key. The bands reactions to the "last minute changes" seemed so real, I wasn't sure if it was set ahead of time, or if they were really changing keys on the fly. Either way, they are a hell of an ensemble and really added a lot to the piece for me.
If you have a chance to see Diva: Live From Hell, I highly recommend it. You won't be sorry.
Check it out at Theatre for the New City.
Get your tickets here