Ever since Milton Katselas died Gary Grossman has been trying to keep his plans for a theatre company associated with the Beverly Hills Playhouse alive. Using some actors from the Playhouse and presenting plays developed in the playwrighting ring of the school, Gary has managed to present a string of interesting plays. Not all are total successes but it does give the playwrights a chance to see their plays in a first tryout.
Such a play is Luke Yankee’s Jesus Hickey. Yankee is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart. Jesus Hickey has already won the Tru Voices Award as well as the Joel and Phyllis Erlich Award, given for “socially relevant commercially viable new works of theatre." Yankee also directs.
The story involves Sean Flynn (Harry Hamlin) whose daughter becomes an international celebrity when it is discovered that she has a “hickey” on her neck that resembles the image of Jesus. Sean is a down-and-out lazy slob who then exploits his innocent daughter for his own advancement. Inevitably the “hickey” fades and Sean and the family are left with no future. Well, the eccentric grandmother (Barbara Tarbuck) comes up with a solution and all is set right.
The rest of the cast includes Anastasia Lofgren, Roddy Jessup, Tom Killam, Aaron Leddick, and Greg Safel. Everyone in the cast did a good job despite a wavering accent or two. I especially liked Lofgren and Leddick as the daughter and her boyfriend. Tarbuck and Hamlin had fun playing leprechaun–like characters full of mischief and greed. One note, though: you will be distracted by the amazingly handsome haircut that belongs to Mr. Hamlin. It is perfect in shape and color, and is perhaps not right for a wastrel like Sean. I also regret that the theatre doesn’t have sufficient monies to put on a more dressed production in terms of set.
Mr. Hamlin will be leaving the show and Jasper Flynn (from Australia) will take over. Jesus Hickey plays at the Skylight Theatre until July 11.