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Theater review: 'Don Giovanni Tonight, Don Carlo Tomorrow' at Sacred Fools

September 23, 2010 |  6:30 pm

DonG "Don Giovanni Tonight, Don Carlo Tomorrow" is the umbrella title for a regional opera company's current festival. The bickering choristers who populate Dennis Miles' ambitious comedy at Sacred Fools don't always know which night is which. Neither does the play.

Working in post-Altman lines of multiple characters with overlapping dialogue, Miles has done his Opera 101 homework, factoids abounding. Whether the un-PC vulgarities also cropping up around Terence McFadden's impressive set mirror a provincial opera dressing room is debatable. They feel rather more typical of, well, an Equity-waiver theater, and the virtual absence of vocalizing scarcely evokes milieu.

Moreover, Miles' contrapuntal narrative doesn't cohere. Act 1 nominally follows a soprano (the valiant Kimberly Atkinson), fired by the harried manager (Joseph Beck) for mouthing her lines. Her rivals (Shirley Anderson and a bone-dry Jennifer Kenyon) covet the latest Lothario (Bob Simpson, underused). The arrival of star Luigi Pindarelli (a non-speaking guest role, Taylor Negron at the reviewed performance) heralds intermission.

Act 2 segues into increasingly surreal terrain, with Greg Walls' Gorky-flavored divertissement midway through almost another play altogether. Anyone who can explain the bioterrorism final coda deserves a box at Covent Garden.

You can't fault the large, talented ensemble, with Marianne Davis' sexpot, Gregory Guy Gordon's trivia-dropper, Ronni Valentine's overeater and Gregory Sims' hyper-intense artiste among the standouts. Director Kiff Scholl has few peers at keeping us intrigued, and his designers are adept, particularly costumer Niki Parrish and lighting designer Matt Richter.  But, as Mozart and Verdi repeatedly revised the titular operas, so Miles should rethink this promising but inconclusive imbroglio.

-- David C. Nichols

"Don Giovanni Tonight, Don Carlo Tomorrow." Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 17. $20. (310) 281-8337. Running time:  1 hour, 40 minutes.

Photo: Marianne Davis and Ronni Valentine. Credit:Kiff Scholl