The Happiest Song Plays Last

Critics

LemonMeter

71 %

Reviews: 7

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

Set to the joyful sounds of traditional Puerto Rican folk music, this poignant play — the final installment in Hudes' three-play “Elliot cycle,” which began with the Pulitzer Prize-finalist Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue and Pulitzer Prize-winner Water by the Spoonful — chronicles a year in the life of two kindred souls as they search for love, meaning and a sense of hope in a quickly changing world. At the dawn of the Arab Spring in an ancient Jordanian town, an Iraq War veteran struggles to overcome the traumas of combat by taking on an entirely new and unexpected career: an action-film hero. At the same time, halfway around the world in a cozy North Philadelphia kitchen, his cousin takes on a heroic new role of her own: as the heart and soul of her crumbling community, providing hot meals and an open door for the needy. Directed by Edward Torres, who directed the world premiere production at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and featuring live music by Grammy Award-winning tres guitar player Nelson González. Feb. 22 through March 19 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013; $24- $52; For reservations and information, call (866) 811-4111 or go to http://thelatc.org.

Reviews

Avatar

This cast is full of lively and loving characters....Head to the Los Angeles Theatre Center to see this triumphant end to a fantastic trilogy.

sweet - Julia Stier - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

The actors touching performances brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience, but also left lead Pasco in tears as he came to the stage still moved by the piece. A fitting end to the trilogy created with heart and insight, “The Happiest Song Plays Last” is more than worth the effort to go downtown for both viewers of the previous two plays and newbies to Hudes' work.

sweet - Laurel Busby - Palisades News - ...read full review


Avatar

As with the other Elliot cycle plays, music figures prominently in the proceedings. Hudes isn't interested in using it as underscore. For her it's another character in the narrative. The singer and guitarist Nelson Gonzalez appears at various points to sing lovely Puerto Rican ballads. For the audience, it's a few moments of grace before the playwright delves back into the lives of the conflicted, fundamentally decent characters she so clearly loves, has thought about so intently, and presents with so much respect and humanity.

sweet - Bruce Feldman - Politics, Money, Culture - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

If in Water by the Spoonful I had the sense that Hudes was trying to make us work to fit the moving parts together, I also felt the effort paid off. In Happiest, which serves as a kind of summing up of the trilogy—though also written to work independently—I left not one hundred percent convinced that the jigsaw pieces come together, or even if they all came in the box. (This one didn't receive a Pulitzer nomination, for what that's worth.) An undercurrent in the play is the network of rivers and streams, mostly now covered by concrete, in the city of Philadelphia. With all the characters' baroque criss-crossing lives to focus on, I simply found these subterranean waterways too much information, too removed from the personal stories except on the most symbolic plane, and I couldn't invest any more of my brain's energy into it. I wonder if in her drive to pile up and mix up the narrative so erratically she became overwhelmed by her own artistic license.

sweet-sour - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Erin Conley

Ultimately, The Happiest Song Plays Last is not incredibly notable on its own—the whole of the Elliot Trilogy is greater than the sum of its parts in this one instance. The ending felt a bit neat and contrived, perhaps striving a bit too hard for a “happy” conclusion as advertised—although I will admit, the place where it ends up is indeed the happiest relative to the often bleak events depicted in the rest of the trilogy.

sweet-sour - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

A fitting (and as its title suggests) hopeful conclusion to Elliot Ortiz's journey as a soldier, a son, a Puerto Rican, an American, and a man, The Happiest Song Plays Last does Elliot Ruiz and his cousin Quiara proud.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

Compared to the previous plays in the trilogy, The Happiest Song Plays Last lacks focus and seems to wander in their stories to little effect. It doesn't help that at some times in some scenes the dialogue is hard to follow.

sour - Paul Myrvold - ...read full review


Avatar

This cast is full of lively and loving characters....Head to the Los Angeles Theatre Center to see this triumphant end to a fantastic trilogy.

sweet - Julia Stier - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

The actors touching performances brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience, but also left lead Pasco in tears as he came to the stage still moved by the piece. A fitting end to the trilogy created with heart and insight, “The Happiest Song Plays Last” is more than worth the effort to go downtown for both viewers of the previous two plays and newbies to Hudes' work.

sweet - Laurel Busby - Palisades News - ...read full review


Avatar

As with the other Elliot cycle plays, music figures prominently in the proceedings. Hudes isn't interested in using it as underscore. For her it's another character in the narrative. The singer and guitarist Nelson Gonzalez appears at various points to sing lovely Puerto Rican ballads. For the audience, it's a few moments of grace before the playwright delves back into the lives of the conflicted, fundamentally decent characters she so clearly loves, has thought about so intently, and presents with so much respect and humanity.

sweet - Bruce Feldman - Politics, Money, Culture - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

If in Water by the Spoonful I had the sense that Hudes was trying to make us work to fit the moving parts together, I also felt the effort paid off. In Happiest, which serves as a kind of summing up of the trilogy—though also written to work independently—I left not one hundred percent convinced that the jigsaw pieces come together, or even if they all came in the box. (This one didn't receive a Pulitzer nomination, for what that's worth.) An undercurrent in the play is the network of rivers and streams, mostly now covered by concrete, in the city of Philadelphia. With all the characters' baroque criss-crossing lives to focus on, I simply found these subterranean waterways too much information, too removed from the personal stories except on the most symbolic plane, and I couldn't invest any more of my brain's energy into it. I wonder if in her drive to pile up and mix up the narrative so erratically she became overwhelmed by her own artistic license.

sweet-sour - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Erin Conley

Ultimately, The Happiest Song Plays Last is not incredibly notable on its own—the whole of the Elliot Trilogy is greater than the sum of its parts in this one instance. The ending felt a bit neat and contrived, perhaps striving a bit too hard for a “happy” conclusion as advertised—although I will admit, the place where it ends up is indeed the happiest relative to the often bleak events depicted in the rest of the trilogy.

sweet-sour - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

A fitting (and as its title suggests) hopeful conclusion to Elliot Ortiz's journey as a soldier, a son, a Puerto Rican, an American, and a man, The Happiest Song Plays Last does Elliot Ruiz and his cousin Quiara proud.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

Compared to the previous plays in the trilogy, The Happiest Song Plays Last lacks focus and seems to wander in their stories to little effect. It doesn't help that at some times in some scenes the dialogue is hard to follow.

sour - Paul Myrvold - ...read full review