Atwater Village Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

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Tragedy meets hilarity and King Lear gets a happy ending in a madcap musical romp à la Mel Brooks and Monty Python. Open Fist Theatre Company revives its smash hit production of this award-winning play-within-a-play by Second City’s Ron West and composer Phil Swann, Ron and Phil are writing about King James I and Shakespeare — who in turn are writing about the legendary King Lear. Phil gets sick of Ron’s laziness and womanizing; King James gets sick of Shakespeare and demotes him to working on the Bible; and King Lear gets sick of everyone and goes crazy. Great songs, a clever story and lots of laughs! Open Fist Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039;  Extended through Jan. 27: $30; (323) 882-6912;


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"Under the capable direction of Ron West – who also had a hand in the book, music, and lyrics and acts in the piece besides – the ensemble cast does a bang-up job of poking fun at all things Shakespeare. While they’re at it, they take a few satirical shots at religion, social and sexual norms, and almost anything they can target about the flaws and foibles of people past and present."

"This take on "King Lear" is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a boon for those of us who love low-level buffoonery, but less would have worked a bit better. Far too much noise while punning and dancing for those with gentle ears. Still... how much do we ever get from using tragedies as jumping-off points of humor? Not often enough, as it turns out."

"Although a piece as elaborate as “King Lear” is not the easiest thing to musicalize, nonetheless, the show’s creators have enviably managed to do just that conjuring copious amounts of bold-faced glee, while still staying amazingly true to the source material; by the same token, they present a story you may have presumed you knew in a side-splitting new light!"

"WICKED CLEVER… West's material is smart, the company is winning, and it's always a grand occasion to "brush up our Shakespeare" via verse, affectionate spoofery, or both. The more you know King Lear, the higher the fun quotient. Booze will also probably help."

"The production contains three storylines in three different time periods twisted together in a fast-paced, boisterous style that was an award-winning hit for the company in 2008. Nine years later, it still packs in more story than you can possibly keep straight but it also offers up plenty of laughs to go along with it….The jokes are hit-and-miss, as are the performances, but the cast plows through with so much enthusiasm that the fun is infectious regardless of the show's shortcomings."

"I must admit I was getting a bit delirious watching deLEARious, “a madcap musical” (their words not mine), at Open Fist Theatre Company because I thought it would never end. This interminable attempt to outdo Mel Brooks and Spamalot fell on its own sword, repeatedly... Oh to be Gloucester and have mine eyes plucked out. But only if they would also seal my ears. See deLEARious at your own risk."

"deLEARious will certainly appeal to Mel Brooks fans: silly humor, clever jokes and puns aplenty. Well-written but too long, it’s the kind of show you need to see many times to appreciate its sheer volume of wit. But its songs become repetitive and the numerous plot details overwhelming. Also, many of the women are oversexualized."

"Regardless of your preparation, this laugh- and music-filled ride comprised of three story lines in three time periods in an intertwined mash-up, which may leave you straining to keep up at times, will keep you laughing all the way and realizing it doesn’t matter if you miss a few details here and there, you won’t be tested on it later, so relax and enjoy the laughs, the music and the clever twisting of the plot lines. The singing and acting talents of the cast are commendable and bring it all to life with in-your-face, catch-me-if-you-can style."

"Director and composer Ron West ably directs the large cast through fast paced antics and also appears in the cast himself. Music director Jan Roper holds the action together as she deftly accompanies the actors on the piano."

"...the tireless cast of deLEARious seamlessly transitions between plots and centuries at breakneck speed, which makes this ambition production impressive, hilarious, and even informative!"

"A focus on one or two of the stories might have upped the ante on the show’s humor quotient, but, as it is, deLEARious buckles under the weight of its complications and its two hour-plus running time."

"In many ways deLEARious is complex and thus not that easy to define except to say that if their goal is to entertain then Open Fist and its cast of players has undeniably delivered. You really owe it to yourself to go and enjoy this show."

"I loved deLEARious the first time I saw it back in 2008 and it’s even better in 2017. The ideal antidote to traditional holiday fare, it is once again a deLEARious delight."

"The intellectual humor stays out of pompous territory because it’s tethered to silliness. The silliness stays out of childishness because it mocks American culture. The lyrics are so deliberately bad that they’re ingenious. The choreography (presumably director West’s) is so deliberately derivative that it’s hilarious. Stage combat and even costuming (again, presumably West’s) get carefully skewered."

"Make no mistake, deLEARious is a singing, dancing, musical extravaganza. The singing is righteous and the dancing fast and furious. Musical Director, Jan Roper at the piano, is the lynch pin of the entire enterprise. Her playing is flawless and her bitter, aggrieved relationship with the Playwright is tart and spicy. Kudos!"

"Song, dance and a good laugh all on one stage, "Delearious" should definitely be on your radar this holiday season."


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