Steven Stanley’s StageSceneLA is changing, with exciting new features and an all new look by debuting August 12.

In the meantime, thank you for visiting this temporary site, on which you will find reviews of all currently running productions, as well as some which have closed recently.

Visit the new StageSceneLA starting August 12 and the first thing you’ll find will be all the latest reviews and interviews, beginning with the most recent.

All reviews will now be “tagged,” allowing StageSceneLA readers to make a quick list of each and every “Now Playing” production as well as those tagged with a “WOW!.” You will also be able to find reviews by “genre,” “location,” and other tags. Interviews will be tagged as well, allowing for quick accessing of all StageSceneLA interviews.

A brand new search function will allow readers to find any play or musical by name, as well as any reviews in which a particular actor performed, which a particular director directed, or which a particular designer designed, etc.

The new StageSceneLA will continue to feature complete lists of all StageSceneLA Award winners over the past six years—with our 2010-12 Awards to be announced mid-September. StageSceneLA will no longer feature listings of upcoming and unreviewed productions, the better to concentrate on its forte: Spotlighting The Best In Southern California Theater in its reviews and interviews.

Review archives will be restored gradually—hopefully by the end of September 2011. In the meantime, please feel free to send an email request for a PDF file of any previous StageSceneLA review to

Thanks as always for visiting Steven Stanley’s StageSceneLA: Spotlighting The Best In Southern California Theater. And thanks especially for your patience during this exciting period of transition.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011



Five 20somethings work on resolving personal issues via "free group therapy" as Mechanicals Theatre Group presents Out Of My Head, Ryan Scott Oliver’s highly enjoyable “song-cycle about breakdowns and breakthroughs.”

Though technically Out Of My Head's Los Angeles Premiere, all but three of the songs come from Oliver’s Making Beautiful, which played the Powerhouse Theatre back in 2005, about the time the Pasadena native and UCLA grad moved to New York to pursue his MFA studies at NYU. Unlike Making Beautiful, however, Out Of My Head gives each character a more clearly defined storyline thanks to Kirsten Guenther’s and Oliver’s fresh new book (and several new songs).

Under Jacob Harvey’s nuanced, imaginative direction, Out Of My Head introduces Angelinos to fourteen RSO creations as performed by an all-around terrific cast.

Jeni Incontro is the The Therapist (the only character who doesn’t sing), to whose “Facing Our Issues Head-On” therapy group our quintet have come, each with different issues to face.

They are (in order of first solo):

Anna Bowen as Woman 1, a painter struggling to get her inner thoughts and feelings out of her head and onto canvas, a young woman seeking to find herself as both artist and human being.

Gary Brintz as Man 2, a “Love Killer” who’s looking for someone “smarter and funnier and better” than he is, yet so unwilling to lower his standards that he ends up cheating on the perfect woman—because of her “cankles.”

Saro Badalian as Man 1, a young gay man attempting to reconcile his religious beliefs with his sexuality, someone who hears sexual innuendos everywhere, all the while dreaming of finding a Jesus Freak who’s “hot as hell.”

Emily Clark as Woman 3, who calls herself the “Helen Keller of gaydar” for her inability to distinguish between straight and queer. Although she’d rather date “someone who’s not homosexual,” it may be easier to be rejected for being the wrong gender than for being the wrong woman.

Robyn S. Clark as Woman 2, a hypochondriac’s hypochondriac, who imagines how perfect her life would be if she could find someone who’d love her in spite of her “Overly Dramatic Ways.”

Over the course of Out Of My Head’s seventy-five minutes, these five very different young people sing their hearts out—and grow stronger and braver and more fulfilled in the process.

Song highlights include the opening ensemble number “Making Beautiful” (“I can make something out of me. I’ll show the world that I’m making beautiful.”), Anna’s “Crayon Girl” (“She said it was the neatest bird a sky had ever seen. And I said ‘Mom, it’s not a bird at all. It’s me.’”), Gary’s “Love Killer” (“I’m a love killer, cause I kill love”), Emily’s “Perfect” (“Justin, Blake, Timmy, Beau, they were perfect … and they were perfectly queer.”), Saro’s “Deny Your Creation” (“How can you deny your creation? Why put the apple there and forbid it?”), and Robyn’s “Hypochondriac Song” (“If you can catch it, then I’m sure I’ve caught it, or at least I’ve thought it.”).

“Quartet” has Emily, Gary, Robyn, and Saro revealing all their doubts and confusions about love in gorgeous four-part counterpoint. The amusingly titillating “Kama Sutra” has Saro reading from the infamous love manual as the three woman (faces hidden by feathered masks) undulate to Sydney Blair’s cleverly choreographed moves. “Some Other Way To Feel,” sung in Making Beautiful by the gay character and Woman 3, is now a duet between Men 1 and 2, thereby expressing even more effectively that love is essentially the same for us all, regardless of our sexual orientation.

By the end of the evening, Out Of My Head has allowed us to know all these characters a bit better, even as they themselves have done the same. We’ve also gotten a glimpse of songwriter Oliver’s talents, and those of the all-around terrific ensemble, each of whom couldn’t be better cast, or perform his or her role with greater finesse and pizzazz.

Ryan Cantwell provides impeccable musical direction, accompanying the cast on offstage piano with help from Brian Boyce on drums.

Maxwell T. Robin has designed a splendid therapist’s office set which looks great on the Pico Playhouse stage, especially as lit by the oh-so talented Ric Zimmerman. Cantwell gets additional snaps for his excellent sound design. Kudos too to costume consultants Kathie Urban and Alexander Cole Gottlieb. Out Of My Head is produced by Courtney Bell. Sabba Rahbar is stage manager.

If I have any gripe with Out Of My Head, it’s with its choice of setting. Since there’s nothing intrinsically Big Apple-esque about its characters or songs, why not set it here in L.A., particularly since it was originally written here, by an Angelino no less, and is being performed in Los Angeles by an L.A. theater company? Robin’s excellent projections could just as easily have shown the Los Angeles skyline as Manhattan’s, so why not?

Other than this minor caveat, I heartily recommend Out Of My Head as an introduction to Ryan Scott Oliver’s clever songs, and to some particularly talented young triple-threats, most or all of whom may be new to you, but certainly won’t be for long.

Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. Through August 21. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 7:00. Reservations:
--Steven Stanley
July 29, 2011
Photos: Matthew Murphy