Casa de Fuego and the Eclectic Company Theatre's joint production of Joe Camareno's romantic play with music, "Delia's Song" at the Eclectic Company Theatre, has some effective scenes and features some beautiful, tight harmonies, but the script lacks a smooth narrative flow.
Set in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, two Latina sisters own a nightclub where they perform as part of a trio, the Gardenias. Besides some Spanish phrases tossed around and the making of holiday tamales, the Latino angle is largely unexplored.
World War II was hardly a time of enlightened racial attitudes. We are informed through radio voice-overs of the Japanese American internment, yet there is no indication of any racial tension involving Latinos.
The elder sister, Delia (Rebecca Luchy), marries a soldier, Manny (Ricardo Molina), on his last night of civilian life. His brother (Danny Molina) is conveniently dating the younger sister, Estela (Nicole Vasquez), but he's not ready to pop the question that she eagerly awaits in the show's funniest scene.
The third member of the Gardenias, Sara (Daphne Ashbrook), has looser and lower standards--finding something like love with an abusive sailor (Paul Michael Blair).
Martin Morales' clever set makes good use of the tight quarters. But Bryan Schulte's lighting doesn't always enhance the action, particularly during Manny's soliloquies, when hard shadows obscure his face and emotions.
The acting isn't bad; there's simply not enough depth to the material. The cast and director Taylor Ashbrook can't salvage this script. The most touching scene is one of suggested death, juxtaposing an elegant Delia poignantly singing the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me" as her husband, his company out of communication with the command post and surrounded by enemies, runs off-stage.
The well-sung melodies of yesteryear are more likely to haunt you than any scripted action on the stage.
* "Delia's Song," Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Nov. 19. $15. (818) 508-3003. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.