On Saturday evening, I was fortunate enough to see the AMAZING production of “Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins.” I was so speechless after seeing it that I couldn’t stay and wait at the stage door afterward – I thought being a blubbering idiot in front of the amazing cast would’ve been much too embarrassing to handle after such an amazing theatrical experience.
The story is about a young pre-teen (played INCREDIBLY by Wyatt Fenner – who I’d seen and loved before in “Dog Sees God”) who, unlike his small town family and neighbors, has dreams of college and knows that he’s different when the realization that he’s gay hits him after seeing Mark Spitz on TV. The show alternates between hilarious dialog and heartwarming scenes and literally had me laughing and crying so much that at the end, I couldn’t tell what kind of tears they were.
Tony Pandolfo and Jan Sheldrick are OUTSTANDING as Horace’s parents, defeated at times and not always ones to say the right things, they are well fleshed characters who show, in the end, that the one thing they do have is a strong love for each other and for their children.
Nick Niven is amazing as Horace’s older brother and really is the catalyst for all my crying in the show. His return scene with Horace was so touching and so unexpected, that I literally sobbed. As I’ve said before, I never cry for sad, but “touching” gets me every damn time. And that scene was the most touching thing I’d seen in a long time – and credit actors Mr. Fenner and Mr. Niven for that incredible moment.
The show itself was incredibly well written, taking us all on this journey as seen through young Horace’s eyes. The dialog is incredibly witty and the characters are very well drawn… almost to a point where we feel personally attached to them and by the end of the show we really feel like we have a personal stake in their successes / failures. I really believe that’s what incredible theatre does. And add to that heart wrenching and completely raw performances like the ones from this cast, and the combination is amazingly unforgettable.
I really do think some of the best LA theatre happens outside of the BIG productions at the major venues… Small theatres companies in Hollywood like West Coast Ensemble and Havok Theatre produce some of the best theatre I’ve seen in the last few years. If you are anywhere in the LA vicinity, I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this show – it’s truly one of the most amazing shows I’ve seen this year!!
And if anyone is wondering about my icon choice... It's because if this show doesn't get at least one of these... I'll be terribly disappointed!