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Theater review: ‘David: The Musical’ at the Hayworth Theatre

September 16, 2010 | 12:35 pm

DAVID THE MUSICAL - 1If you’re looking for an act of atonement during High Holy Days, sitting through “David: The Musical” should score points with even the most wrathful God. Chronicling the life of King David, the Hebrew warrior-poet credited with penning the “Book of Psalms,” this painfully earnest “Jesus Christ Superstar”/“Godspell” wannabe rock musical is a disaster of biblical proportions.

Co-creators Craig Costanza, Tim Murner, Rich Lyle and Michelle Holmes skirt the familiar Bible study topics (Goliath gets barely a passing mention), and instead focus on more lurid narrative elements: the steamy affair between David (Dane Bowman) and his married next-door neighbor Bathsheeba (Sara Collins); the rape of his daughter (also played by Collins) by his Emo eldest son (J.D. Driskill); his other son’s (Jonathan Lanni’s) retaliatory fratricide and armed insurrection, and so on.

Director Adam T. Rosencrance tries to up the timeliness with a pastiche of contemporary imagery (from Uzi-toting rebels in Che Guevara berets to underlings sporting Bluetooth headsets), with bewildering results.

Despite the makings of a tragically flawed character, Bowman’s David has all the charisma of a stone tablet. Like most of the cast, he also has no feel for rock 'n' roll’s requisite cut-loose emotional and physical abandon.

Exceptions are Collins and old-school belter Electra Barakos, who provide sporadic vocal resuscitation. The production highlight is the onstage musical accompaniment by local four-piece band Pullman Standard, making the most of a gig from hell. Otherwise, the staging is a Dead Sea scroll from top to bottom.

–- Philip Brandes

“David: The Musical,” Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 17. $20. (800) 838-3006) or Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Photo: Sara Collins and Dane Bowman. Credit: Temple of the Cave Photography.