Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 3:57 pm | Fair 71º


Review: ‘Light Up the Sky’ at SBCC Sets the Stage for an Enlightening Evening

SBCC’s newest production is “Light Up the Sky,” complete with a wacky cast of characters.
SBCC’s newest production is “Light Up the Sky,” complete with a wacky cast of characters. (SBCC photo)

Written by Moss Hart, who also contributed to You Can’t Take It With You and A Star Is Born, Light Up the Sky is considered to be a reflection of himself as a young playwright from an older, more experienced perspective. Beautifully directed by R. Michael Gros, it's a love letter to the world of theater and the wacky cast of characters who will do anything for a show they believe in.

The opulence of the 1940s shines gorgeously through the set, designed by the award-winning Patricia Frank, and in Marcy Froehlich’s costumes.

Stephanie Erb’s Irene, the star of the show, is like the love-child of Edina and Patsy from AbFab, unapologetically flamboyant and delightfully dramatic. A dedicated diva, she is delicious in the role.

Marisol Miller-Wave channels a plucky dame from the screwball comedy era with great panache — her Frances is glamorous, but unmistakably a tough cookie, given to dancing about with her fists up when conflict arises, “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!”

As her producer husband, Sidney Black, Raymond Wallenthin is the ultimate high-roller — a fast talker with a sharp suit and a smooth line. He also seems to have stepped out of a 1940s comedy, and is a perfect foil for Frances.

As the first-time playwright, Joshua Daniel Hershfield is earnest and often silent, but when he does speak, it is eloquent and with passion. David Holmes is solid as the often emotional and superstitious director.

Sharp and elegant, Susie Couch plays Irene’s mother and Frances’ nemesis at gin rummy, while David Couch portrays a visiting playwright with assurance and quiet authority.

Terry Li is wonderful as Miss Lowell, a ghostwriter working on Irene’s memoir. Often in the background, she provides moments of subtle hilarity in her reactions to the others.

Matthew LaVigne has a winning cameo as a theater enthusiast, animated and rubber-faced, and Stuart Orenstein makes several too-brief appearances as a rabble-rousing Shriner. E. Bonnie Lewis makes a memorable but invisible “appearance” as the voice of the resident parrot, Orson.

This is indeed an enjoyable and en"light"ening evening of theater, in the grand tradition.

Light Up the Sky runs through March 21 in the Garvin Theatre at SBCC.

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

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