YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THEATER : Musical Foresight : In 'The Story of Nowhere Island,' composer Rody Oddos predicts the course of his marriage. The show, though, has a happy ending.

March 12, 1993|JANICE ARKATOV | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Janice Arkatov writes regularly about theater for The Times.

Art imitates life--except for the happy ending--in Rody Oddos' "The Story of Nowhere Island," a two-character romantic musical making its American premiere at the West End Playhouse in Van Nuys.

"Originally, I wrote it for my wife, Genevieve Robin," explains the French-born composer. "It kind of foresaw what was going to happen to us." Although the couple in the story split up when careers get in the way, they ultimately find their way back together. In real life, Robin is touring with a play in France, and she and Oddos are separated.

"She was frightened to come to L.A.," the actor, 45, says in his heavy French accent. "I do not understand this kind of fear. And it's a pity, because I would have loved to do it here with her."

Actress Liz Davies has stepped into the breach, co-starring with Oddos in what she calls "a dream role: acting, drumming, singing--it encompasses all my favorite things."

It is also Davies' first time working with a computerized musical score, something she admits has taken getting used to. "The pros are that you can encompass so many sounds at your fingertips," she says. "The cons are that there's no changing the sound. So it's a precise challenge. But I'm up to it."

"Liz really carries the story," acknowledges Oddos, who plays a musician to Davies' actress character. "It's a series of monologues, not easy to carry. But these American girls--I'm amazed! I never thought I'd find an actress who can play drums. It's even better than with Genevieve, because with her it was always the relationship of husband and wife, which is not helpful to the work: 'Since we are living together, I cannot take orders from you when we are at work.' "

Born in the south of France, Oddos traveled with his parents to North Africa as a child (his father was in the police force), and lived from ages 5 to 10 in Casablanca and from 11 to 16 in Algiers. "Learning the different cultures," he says, "had a profound effect on my life." Migrating to Paris as a young adult, Oddos spent 20 years working as a musician and actor; his acting teachers included John Strasberg and Michael Chekhov. In 1991, he ventured to Los Angeles.

Although Oddos and Robin had toured "The Story of Nowhere Island" to the south of France, Switzerland and Italy for three years before he came here, "I knew I wanted to do this show in the United States," says the writer-performer, who has supported himself composing television and film music. "The feeling is more United States than France; part of it is set in New York. And the form is a little special. We are acting, also singing, also playing instruments."

Oddos is especially proud of his eight-song score, which is performed via MIDI (music instrumental digital interface), a process that he says "permits two synthesizers to speak to each other through computer language. Part is pre-programmed, but we can dialogue with the computer, have an interaction. So it's not like having a tape; it's more like having a base (line), like performing with a soundtrack."


* What: "The Story of Nowhere Island."

* Location: West End Playhouse, 7446 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

* Hours: 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, indefinitely.

* Price: $16.

* Call: (818) 904-0444.

Los Angeles Times Articles