Theater Review: I, Caligula: An Insanity Musical at the Secret Rose Theatre
August 9, 2012 - By Annemarie Donkin
PHOTO BY ED KRIEGER
From left, Dory Shultz as Caligula with his sister, Drucilla (Kelly Derouin) in the world premiere opera "I, Caligula, An Insanity Musical" playing now through August 26 at the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood.
Its quite a feat for a tiny store front theatre to mount an opera, but that is what happened at the world premiere of I, Caligula: An Insanity Musical at the Secret Rose Theatre on August 3.
Overall, it is a strange, surreal and yet compelling production as operatically trained actors realize this musical adaptation of Albert Camus classical play, Caligula.
Think I, Claudius meets Marat/Sade with a little of Shakespeares Titus Andronicus mixed in.
The musical was written and directed by Kai Cofer with music and orchestrations by Cody T. Gillette.
With a spare, Greek-inspired set, the opera is set in a modern mental institution where the inmates are convinced to mount a musical production as part of their therapy.
Cofer said that his inspiration was a parody of fascist dictators past and present. For me, the mental hospital would represent the insanity of modern fascism, he writes.
As the musical score drones on with a sinister waltz, the patients dutifully mount a play depicting the insane and egregious exploits of Romes most depraved Emperor, with dangerous and unpredictable results.
Baritone Kevin Dalby plays the director who convinces the patients that playing these characters may somehow cure them. He also doubles as Tiberius, Caligulas equally insane grandfather.
As the deranged and self-obsessed Caligula, Dory Schultz projects a psychotic air, one that will send chills down your spine. Prancing around in gold shorts, he carries the show with an impressive tenor that portrays his depraved carnal desires as others nightmares.
With a classically trained voice, Elizabeth Harmetz as Cesonia performs a powerful and surreal solo number as Caligulas spurned wife, who harbors dangerously unrealistic fantasies about her marriage and who wields a bunch of poisoned grapes like a pro.
Caligulas sister, Drusilla, is played by the comely Kelly Derouin with a terrific soprano voice and a perfectly tanned body clad in nothing more than a shiny silver bikini.
Other cast highlights are tenor Joshua Shaw as Skipio and bass/baritone Scott Levin as Marco.
Choreographer Heather Lipson Bell moved the actors around the tiny stage well, which filled out the production with well-orchestrated dance numbers.
While all of the actors would have been better off performing in a more substantial and weighty production, they pulled off I, Caligula admirably well in spite of the thin material.
Nouvelle Adaptation Productions, in association with the Secret Rose Theatre, presents I, Caligula: An Insanity Musical with direction, book and lyrics by Kai Cofer, music and orchestrations by Cody T. Gillette with choreography by Heather Lipson Bell.
Performances now through Aug. 26, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Admission: $24; Students/Seniors/Groups: $17.
Tickets: www.icaligulathemusical.com or (323) 822-7898. Secret Rose Theatre, 1246 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601. Metered street parking until 6 p.m.; residential parking on side streets (please read signage) and allow 15-20 minutes to park.