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Theater | Theater Review

Where the 'Wild Things' Are

Dance-happy musical takes fever-dream journey to Hollywood and back

June 20, 2002|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Wild Things" at the Ivar Theatre is really more a dance piece than the world-premiere musical it is billed as. The story concerns Max (Brian Kimmet), a young film-production assistant who escapes from his boring job in flights of music-stimulated fancy.

Falling asleep at work, Max imagines himself in the magical land of the Wild Things--a hallucinatory version of Hollywood populated with hookers, drag queens and street people of the most extravagant order. There, Max defeats the Homeless King (Clyde Ince) and assumes his throne.

But Max soon tires of his newly acquired splendor, bids farewell to his fawning followers and returns to the real world.

Waking from his offbeat reverie, Max quits his job and sallies forth to do "something creative" with his life.

A flimsy premise, to be sure (give an uncredited nod to Maurice Sendak), but it serves the purpose, which is simply to entertain. There's little grit or seaminess in this mix. Even the hookers and homeless people are a surprisingly wholesome lot who would pass muster on a Saturday-morning kids' show.

Max's foray into a gay bar is not presented as an indication of his sexual ambivalence but as a pretext for lively disco dancing by guys in modified leather attire.

Creator Lorenzo Medrano, who co-wrote the piece with Eric James, also serves as director and choreographer, expertly guiding his cast of 30-plus through their paces. Under the musical direction of Lyon Rowland, driving live music keeps the action percolating. Don Hill's original music is noteworthy, as is Stephen Davis' lighting design.

Elizabeth Anderson's whimsical costumes and Keith Mitchell's set are essential components of the eye-catching whole.

As for the performers, they strut, leap, cascade up the aisles and spiral down from the balconies in this slight but pleasing diversion, a short shot of highly distilled glitz guaranteed to lift your spirits.

"Wild Things," Ivar Theatre, 1605 Ivar St., Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 and 7 p.m. Ends June 30. $15-$30. (323) 655-8587. Running time: 1 hour.

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