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Theatre Review (LA): The First Jo-el by Matt Walker at the Falcon

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If it’s Christmas, the fabulous “Troubies” (The Troubadour Theatre Company) will be at hand to offer their off-kilter take on the season, reframing familiar Christmas stories through the comic mind of their muse and Artistic Director Matt Walker, and incorporating the music (with altered lyrics) of pop composers. Their productions have included A Charlie James Brown Christmas, JACKson Frost, Santa Claus is Coming to Motown, It’s a Stevie Wonderful Life, and my favorite, A Christmas Carole King. Each in their own way has offered a new perspective on the holiday. This year is no exception: the company brings us The First Jo-el, the nativity story (sort of) using the music of Billy Joel. Billy Joel is, of course, the composer of such hits as Piano Man, Movin’ Out, She’s Got a Way, You May Be Right, and The Longest Time.

Bethlehem is getting ready for a birth, not by Mary, but by Letty (Katie Nunez) and her slacker husband Manolo (Matt Morgan). Letty is the daughter of innkeepers Nicholas (Jack McGee) and Greta (the irrepressible Lisa Valenzuela) who decide to capitalize on the signs in the sky and the arrival of three “wise men” Myr (Brandon Breault), Frankenstein (Morgan Rusler who has his monster down), and Gold (Matt Walker). Everything is thrown topsy-turvy when the real Mary and Joseph (Katherine Malak and Matt Walker) arrive. Add into the mix three Angels (Katherine Malak, Jackie Seiden, and Christine Lakin doing their girl group best). There are even characters from past shows, Tiny Tim (my favorite) and Winter Warlock from The Withers Tale (the marvelous Beth Kennedy, who has a wicked sense of humor—and she performs on stilts!).

The show isn’t exactly politically correct, I heard someone ask, “Where are the Jews?” But that misses the point since this is satire and the first Noel is the object of the evening. I had a great time. What is amazing to me is that the shows seem to be getting better and better. Richer costumes (Naomi Yoshida), better singing, and some terrific choreography by Molly Alvarez help make this very enjoyable evening. In the past not everyone was of equal ability but this time they were. It’s at the Falcon Theatre until Jan 16th. Most shows sell out, but try to catch it.

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About Robert Machray

  • robert machray

    As I said it was based on the songs of Billy Joel with slightly changed lyrics. Read People Read

  • bdriscol

    yes but how was the music? Who are these reviewers that review musicals but say nothing about the music? Unbelievable!!