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Theatre Review (LA): Voice Lessons by Justin Tanner at the Zephyr Theatre

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Justin Tanner has given us another totally zany, off-the-wall comedy, Voice Lessons, now playing at the Zephyr Theatre. His plays have been a hilarious staple over the years and include Pot Mom, Zombie Attack, and Coyote Woman. They are nearly legendary in Los Angeles and have attracted a stable of nutty actors to bring them to life. In Voice Lessons we have Laurie Metcalf, French Stewart, and Maile Flanagan, all Tanner alums.

The story concerns an unlikely romance between a deluded (maybe insane or ADD-driven) community theatre actress named Virginia (Metcalf) and the over-educated vocal coach (Stewart) whom she hires to transform her into a star. She has no range, can't sing softly, and sings off pitch, but the famed teacher takes her as a student when she offers triple scale and refuses to leave or take “no” for an answer. The lessons are a riot, and you can feel nothing but sorrow for the put-upon teacher, until it is revealed that he too has a dark, loopy, secret nature.

Maile Flanagan plays his secret lover who is flipped out in her own right but proves no match for the loud, aggressive Virginia. The talent is top-notch and I can’t imagine how the actors keep a straight face. The secret to Tanner’s plays is that they are played with the dramatic seriousness of a tragedy. Tragedy is always a distinct possibility in them but somehow, through the quirks of the characters and plot, everyone survives gleefully.

Voice Lessons is ably directed by Bart Lorenzo, one of our finest local directors, with some assistance from Tanner himself. The set and lighting design is by Gary Guidinger, with sound by Kristian Hoffman, both of whom have previously worked with Tanner. The hilarity lasts for a brief 90 minutes at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood until May 17. See it!

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About Robert Machray

  • walker

    Hello Robert.
    I enjoyed your article/review but you better get your facts right. It’s ”Bob’s holiday office party” and it was written by Rob Elk and Joe Keyes, not Justin tanner.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    The commenter is correct and the erroneous reference has been deleted from the article. – Ed.