Musical comedy celebrates empowerment

Musical comedy celebrates empowerment

by David Dixon

In the last couple of years, the School of Theatre, Television & Film at San Diego State has produced musical revues that have paid tribute to some of the greatest lyrical icons, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin. An unconventional production is now playing on campus called “A…My Name is Alice.”

The show is comprised of original tuneful numbers and sketches that celebrate female empowerment. Some of the themes the vignettes deal with are sex, friendship, breakups and parenthood.

What immediately stands out the most about “A…My Name is Alice” is the use of humor throughout the show. Viewers will find themselves laughing frequently at the many broad and raunchy jokes.

Audience members shouldn’t assume that everything that happens onstage is fun and games. Some songs, such as “The Portrait,” “Friends” and “Wheels,” deal with bittersweet issues including family members passing away and how strong bonds can be both positively and negatively affected over time.

Director Roxane Carrasco handles each short scene with precision. Her command of the mood, which can go from breezy to melancholy, is one of Carrasco’s biggest strengths as a storyteller.

Her choreography is full of physical gags, especially in the ditties “It Ain’t Over” and “Bluer Than You.” The dancing is sometimes full of ironic visual imagery, even when the ensemble wows the viewers.

The players all effortlessly depict many different characters. While there isn’t technically a lead, Ashlee Espinosa has the most material. The triple threat performer’s range is endless and believable in every single role.

While Chanel Lucia is not featured as frequently, she is exciting to watch during her big moments in “A…My Name is Alice.” Whether playing a likeable old lady or a competitive Spanish-speaking mother, Lucia has a commanding presence.

Erika Appel’s offbeat comic timing makes her a strong addition to the cast. Her most memorable skits are the poems entitled, “For Women Only,” which get significantly sillier with each subsequent installment.

What makes Ron Councell’s music direction so distinct is that he’s able to give the small band a grand sound. Featuring Councell on keyboards, Bradley Nash on reeds and David Rumley on drums, the trio’s tone feels epic in scope as opposed to intimate.

“A…My Name is Alice” manages to be frequently sidesplitting and heartfelt. Both ladies and gentlemen should see this upbeat celebration of women at SDSU’s Experimental Theatre.

Also read: ‘Earnest’ isn’t a cookie-cutter play 

Photo courtesy of SDSU School of Theatre, Television & Film