The Faux/Real Festival of Arts kicked off its slate of theater productions Nov. 5, and highlights include Terminator: The Musical, Uncle Vanya: Quarter Life Crisis and Looking at a Broad. The festival runs through Nov. 22. Visit www.fauxrealnola.com for information.
Terminator: The Musical
Each installment of James Cameron's Terminator franchise has featured newer and more fearsome cyborg assassins. In Terminator: The Musical, the early models have been retrofitted to sing and dance. Local writer Breanna Bietz entertainingly combines the first two films, and it's a fast-paced, hilarious show from directors Cammie West and Christopher Bentivegna of See 'Em On Stage.
The musical matches the films' nonstop action with a mix of mayhem, including stage fighting, gun play and exuberant choreography for such songs as "Chase Scenes." Not every bit is a knockout substitute for the films' action, but the show never lulls.
Sarah Conner (Ashley Rose Bailey) is looking for a good man when the Terminator arrives to kill her. Sean Richmond is buff enough to play Arnold Schwarzenegger's career-defining Terminator, and he is entertaining when hamming up a robot struggling with human feelings.
Songs provide some of the funniest moments and the show is a boisterous parody and slightly campy celebration of the films.
Terminator: The Musical runs at 7 p.m. Nov. 19-21 at Old Marquer Theatre (2400 St. Claude Ave.).
Uncle Vanya: Quarter Life Crisis
Goat in the Road Productions took Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and condensed all the characters into a single generation of twentysomethings figuring out the next steps in their lives. They all live or crash together in a home in Louisiana following the financial collapse of 2008. Alexandra (Darci Fulcher) has become full professor at a university, writes prolifically and is currently in a relationship with Yelene (Matthew Thompson), who is bisexual. Vanya (Brian Fabry Dorsam) and Sonya (Leslie Boles Kraus) toil to create an online business. Astrov (Dylan Hunter), a doctor, is a frequent visitor, and he is dedicated but not particularly satisfied by his work.
They're all open minded about what they value in life, as well as about gender roles, sexuality, monogamy, spirituality, drug use and more. They breeze through some days drunk or stoned but take their lives seriously, keeping the work from being about malaise.
Kraus is impressive handling Sonya's painfully revealed longing for Astrov. Thompson is wonderfully serene as the confidant of many of the friends and lovers. Hunter also is entertaining as the conflicted physician. But the entire cast is strong and the ensemble piece is compelling from the beginning, well before conflicts heat up in the second half.
Uncle Vanya: Quarter Life Crisis runs at 8 p.m. Nov. 19-22 at Ether Dome (3625 St. Claude Ave.).
Looking at a Broad
Rebecca Mwase's autobiographical, often poetic, solo piece is informed by a unique life. Though born in the U.S., she connected with her extended family in Zimbabwe at an early age and has lived in China. The piece isn't entirely linear, but the work is a travelogue of discovery, both personal and cultural.
Her experiences in China ranged from being flattered by those who saw her as exotic to being discriminated against by others. One vignette about teaching Chinese children is particularly poignant. The work also evaluates pervasive exploitation of black women, and denial of LGBT people's rights and dignity in many nations, including Zimbabwe.
Mwase uses evocative props, including suitcases, ropes and flags, and there are video projections and recorded voiceovers. There also are several interludes of substantial audience contribution and interaction. It's a polished work full of stark and raw moments. Her experiences and openness on stage make it a unique and compelling piece.
Looking at a Broad runs 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20-22 at The Theatre at St. Claude, 2240 St. Claude Ave.