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Theatre Review (LA): A Christmas West Side Story by The Troubadour Theatre Company

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Matt Walker and the Troubies (the Troubadour Theatre Company) have done it again, coming up with perhaps their best Christmas show ever. Every year Angelinos look forward to the latest mashup by the gang. Examples of their past Christmas work include, The First Joel, Frosty The Snow Manilow, A Christmas Carol King, and It’s A Stevie Wonderful Life, and that represents only their Christmas shows. This year they also performed A Wither’s Tale, Fleetwood Macbeth, and an adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Birds for the Getty Villa. As you can tell by the titles, their shows are a retelling of stories using music by pop composers or groups. The results are clever, but funny, sweet, and ingenious.


Photo: (l to r) Matt Walker, Brandon Breault and Suzanne Jolie Narbonne. Credit: Chelsea Sutton.

This year’s Christmas show is a mashup of the now classic movie A Christmas Story, which is the tale of one kid’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and Bernstein’s magnificent West Side Story. Will the boy’s parents ever believe “A Boy Like That” can handle a Red Ryder? What sets this production apart is the enormous amount of dancing required to pull it off. Walker and fellow thespians pay homage to the choreography of Jerome Robbins while at the same time sending it up. E.g., out of nowhere a character might leap into the air.

Matt Walker himself plays little Ralphie, the boy in A Christmas Story. Walker never hogs the stage but allows members of his company to star as well. On this occasion he has brought along several of my favorites: the crazy Rick Batalla who is as liable to go off on an improvised tangent as to say the lines; the super-talented Beth Kennedy as Ralphie’s younger brother (who could forget her scene rolling around on the floor dressed for winter?); and Lisa Valenzuela, a founding member of the company, who can really belt out a song. It seems that every year the company improves their individual skills, be it singing, acting, dancing, or tumbling. I look forward to every one of their shows but A Christmas West Side Story is exceptional. It is playing at the Falcon Theatre until January 15.

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