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Theater Review: Secret Rose's 'I, Caligula'

The play holds a mirror to contemporary society.

If you want a unique theatrical experience that makes your spirits soar and your senses spin, look no further than the musical I, Caligula, presented by Nouvelle Adaptation Productions in association with the Secret Rose Theatre at the running through Aug. 26 in the NoHo Arts District.

But there is more to this insanity than meets the eye.

The play holds a mirror to contemporary society and what the writer of the book and lyrics sees as the rise of a new modern fascism.

This story of a group of inmates confined to a mental asylum who mount a musical production of the story of Caligula, the Roman emperor, where mayhem ensues in the form of a comical Greek tragedy is funny, graceful and deeply poetic.

This one-of-a-kind historical romance combines energy, chemistry and talent for a rare look into a Roman emperor’s heart and soul.

Not one character here is farfetched or not rooted in reality. Indeed, the opposite is true. The acting and singing underline a very real humanity and a depth that belies the lack of substance usually associated with musicals.

Kai Cofer’s book and lyrics are piercing, potent and powerful, if not overly interested in rhyme over imagination.

Cody T. Gillette’s music and orchestration are unforgettable if not somewhat repetitive.

Cofer’s direction and Gillette’s musical direction mesh beautifully and tell a story both vivid and bold.

Dory Schultz (Caligula) combines stage presence, singing ability and a great deal of passion as the lead character.

Elizabeth Harmetz (Cesonia) sings and acts with sensitivity and feeling.

E. Scott Levin (Marco) sings and acts convincingly and purely.

Kelly Derouin (Drucilla) is funny and gifted asa musical actress.

Kevin Dalbey (The Director/Tiberius) is comical and believable.

Meredith Overcash (Halicon) is courageous and determined in her performance.

Carissa Lynn Gipprich (Nurse) leaves nothing behind.

But it is Josh Shaw (Skipio) who runs away with the play in a rare glimpse of genius in the song "Life is Beautiful."

Heather Lipson Bell’s choreography adds to the play.

I, Caligula proves to be a profoundly affecting experience that is not nearly as different or odd as it may seem.

 

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Sunday Matineeat 3 p.m.

The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601

Admission: $24 (Students/Seniors/Groups: $17)

Tickets: (323) 822-7898

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