Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Chromolume Theatre at the Attic
Through February 5
There’s a lot of singing about love in Tim Acito’s musical fantasy, Zanna, Don’t! which is set in a high school in the Midwest (Heartsville High), where homosexuality is the norm and being hetero prompts wrinkled noses and grossed-out looks.
At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the brouhaha about romance and broken hearts and the surfeit of songs about them wears a bit thin. Nonetheless, the score and lyrics are catchy and there are some engaging performances. Most importantly, the play’s illustration of the inanity and cruelty of prejudice, leavened by cartoonish humor and upbeat rhythms, compensate for many of the production’s limitations.
Zanna (Jason Bornstein), the pivotal character, is a sort of androgynous teenage fairy godfather with a magic wand that he flourishes to bring lovers together. He’s been instrumental in hooking up the school’s chess champion, Mike (Everjohn Feliciano) and its football star, Steve (Jacob Zelonky). (In the world of Heartsville, the school idol is the chess champion not its top athlete.) He’s also fostered a romance between assertive Roberta (Vanessa Magula), hitherto unlucky in love, and the reserved Kate (Jillian Easton), a committed student and super-responsible participant in school affairs.
All four are happy for a while until Steve and Kate are cast opposite each other in the school play where they’re called on to kiss. After that, despite their efforts to resist, the pair find themselves desperately and inextricably attracted, to the great dismay of their official mates and the disdain of the student body in general.
Zelonky and Easton are especially engaging as the guileless star-crossed lovers, and Lily Elliott displays solid comic chops in a variety of supporting roles. It’s a respectable, if unmemorable showing, overall, under Lauren J. Peters direction, although Bornstein’s Zanna struck me as apprehensive on stage and his vocals (and others) need work. Michael Marchuk’s zesty choreography, executed with great enthusiasm, adds lots of fun, while Michael Mullen’s costumes furnish comic color — Zanna’s candy pink T-shirt and matching sneakers are their own statement. Musician and musical director Daniel Yokomizo contributes rousing percussion.
Chromolume Theatre at the Attic, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through February 5. www.crtheatre.co, (323) 510-2688. Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.