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Review: Elements Theatre Collective’s ‘Aspirations’ Are Well-Realized

Elements Theatre Collective, Santa Barbara’s progressive theater company dedicated to providing free, accessible and professional quality theater, continues to wow its audiences, and its current offering, Aspirations, A Musical Revue, is no exception.

For the first time, Elements is presenting original material, written and directed by the company’s executive director, Rob Grayson, in the form of a framework of narrative around lesser-known songs from beloved Broadway shows such as Wicked, Annie Get Your Gun, Catch Me If You Can, Once, The Wild Party, Mack and Mabel, La Cage Aux Folles, Baby and City of Angels.

When four friends — two actresses, a director and a composer — gather in New York City to watch the 2009 Tony Awards, they can’t help but do some impromptu performing of their own.

William Simpson is Danny, the host of the party and once-director of the Tonys. He has aspirations of his own, and Simpson gets the lion’s share of laughs with his over-the-top flamboyant portrayal, while also displaying an incredible vocal range. Quinlan Fitzgerald is dynamic as Molly, the young, aspiring Broadway star whose sparkle and sass are rivaled only by her phenomenal voice. Molly and Danny’s ribbing and riffing on each other are priceless.

Anne Guynn and Richard Lonsbury are sweet and down-to-earth as Sarah and Mark, a couple who share a love of Broadway as deep as their love for each other. Mark is a composer and spends most of his stage time at the piano accompanying the others, but Lonsbury has a few moments in the spotlight to share his rich, warm voice. Guynn provides the perfect balance to the wildness around her, with her earnest, though not humorless, manner and clear, expressive voice.

Clocking in at just an hour, this delightful evening of musical theater packs a lot into the time, with this reviewer’s only complaint being that it was over too soon. But you know what they say on Broadway: “Always leave 'em wanting more.”

Remaining shows will be performed at 8:30 p.m. this Friday, April 18, at Better Days Yoga, 7433 Hollister Ave. in Goleta; and at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, both at Java Station, 4447 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara.

All Elements Theatre Collective shows are free, but it is necessary to reserve seats by clicking here.

Elements’ current season, with the theme of "Gender & Sexuality," will close in July with Orlando by Sarah Ruhl. Watch its site for information on dates and venues by clicking here.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

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