Monthly Archive for: ‘July, 2015’

Young Playwright Dazzles at 6th Street Playhouse

Photograph by Eric Chazankin

Photograph by Eric Chazankin

Review by Sandy Riccardi

A new play by Dezi Gallegos
Playing until August 2nd at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, and Aug. 7-16 at Lucky Penny Productions in Napa

“Playing with the idea that the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time, the new play portrays Bella and Eric as children, teenagers and adults—simultaneously.” Not an easy feat, but one done quite well by young local playwright Dezi Gallegos and rich in warmth, love, poignancy, humor, sadness and believability. The fourteen-member cast was one of the uniformly strongest I’ve ever seen in any local production.

I’ll start with the youngsters. Lucy London, Jack Wolff, Allyssa Jirrels and Maxx Zweers are as professionally talented as any young actors on the big screen these days. It has been a pleasure watching them all in various productions at 6th Street, Spreckels, and Cinnabar over the years, and seeing them develop into the outstanding talents they have become. They handle the frequently disturbing subject matter with great honesty and truth beyond their years.

The “adolescents”, Andy Templeton, Isaac Jay, Olivia Marie Rooney and Lyla Elmassian, provide some of my favorite scenes from the play–awkward college sexual encounters, desperately trying to find oneself while still trying to please one’s parents, trying to figure out what went wrong in our childhoods that could be holding us back from true happiness, gloriously co-dependent friendships and more. (The playwright’s age, 19, may have something to do with the ridiculously accurate insight into this college mindset.)

The “adults”, Sharia Pierce, Craig Miller, and John Browning, keep the story going with hope and pain (and tremendous talent, of course), and really leave us guessing how the story will turn out. As a matter of fact, I tried to guess the outcome several times. (I was dead wrong. Every time. Dezi Gallegos, if you ever want a really happy Proctor and Gamble musical theater ending, I have one for you.)

Then finally, we get to “the parents”. I can’t give too much away here. Let’s just say I have never seen Pam Koppel shine as much as she does playing this religious woman-in-denial. Barry Martin excels as the over-bearing control-freak religious father. Eric’s father, played to perfection by Marty Pistone, turns out to be the healthiest person in this play, even with dementia and palsy. He brings much needed sanity and wisdom to the show.

It is a play full of hope and possibility, with some darker themes being possible triggers for some audience members (abuse, sexuality, self-harm). Dezi Gallegos has been writing plays (one published) since he was 14 years old, and shows unlimited potential as a young playwright. I look forward to his future productions.

~Sandy Riccardi

Runs through August 2nd at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa , then moves to Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa (August 7th-16th)

Sherri Lee Miller (Director)
Dezi Gallegos (Playwright, Assistant Director and Co-Producer)
Natalie Herman (Stage Manager and Co-Producer)
Pat Fitzgerald (Costume Designer)

John Browning (Mark)
Lyla Elmassian (Meredith)
Isaac Jay (Adolescent Eric Baxter)
Alyssa Jirrels (Jamie)
Pam Koppel (Lisa Kadie)
Lucy London (Young Bella Kadie)
Barry Martin (Rick Kadie)
Craig A. Miller (Adult Eric Baxter)
Sharia Pierce (Adult Bella Kadie)
Marty Pistone (John Baxter)
Olivia Marie Rooney (Adolescent Bella Kadie)
Andy Templeton (Jasper)
Jack Wolff (Young Eric Baxter)
Maxx Zweers (Maggie)

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