By Brianna Ross @itsbriross
Old time music plays in the background as a crowd enters through the double doors of the Black Box Theater – leaving behind the familiarities of the year 2017 and stepping into the Depression era world of Eugene Jerome.
Las Positas’ talented theater students are continuing their 2016-2017 theater session with “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, a semi-autobiographical comedy written by Neil Simon, under the direction of Ken Ross.
“Brighton Beach Memoirs” is a timeless classic about family dynamics and life challenges. It sends a message that above all, family is most important.
This Las Positas production is entertaining and well executed. The entire cast does a great job in welcoming the audience into their Brighton Beach home circa 1937.
First year student Arsalan Khan, who is making his LPC production debut, plays Eugene and narrator of his own story. In doing so, he breaks through the wall that separates actors from the audience.
Eugene, who dreams of becoming a writer, covers the trials of his family as if he were a reporter. Khan is exceptional with his quick-witted sarcasm that easily invites the audience into the story. He does an excellent job at capturing the essence of being a young boy dealing with puberty and familial issues – something that a handful of people in the audience could relate to.
In his second theater production at LPC, Kody Forbes plays Jack Morton, Eugene’s father.
Jack is an overworked man in his early forties that is struggling to make ends meet, but still manages to be head of a two-family household.
Through his mannerism and body language, Forbes puts on a convincing front to show how much Jack is warn out, but remains attentive to his family’s needs.
In her seventh show at LPC, Kaitlin Bailey plays Eugene’s mother, Kate Jerome. Kate is a strong woman who is dedicated to the well-being of her family, but like most moms, constantly nags Eugene and passes her judgment on other family members’ choices.
Bailey’s presence on stage is impressive. The way she delivers Kate’s snappy one-liners with ease and effortlessly graces the stage, it is clear that she is a seasoned actress with a gift for theater.
Christopher Granlund is another actor who made his LPC debut with this play as Stanley Jerome, Eugene’s 18-year-old brother.
Stanley is supposed to be the cool, older brother who has his life all figured out, but sometimes his foolishness gets the best of him.
Granlund is comical in the way he coaxes Eugene through puberty, but he also portrays the hardships his character faces during his transformation to a responsible adult. He successfully depicts the difficulty of transitioning from being a teenager to a young adult.
In her first ever theater performance, Kaitlyn Davenport plays Blanche Morton, Kate’s younger sister and Eugene’s aunt. Davenport’s character is insecure and struggles with the capability to stand on her own two feet as a penniless, single mother during the Great Depression.
Davenport successfully portrays her character’s journey from being a dependent woman with a weak mindset into being a confident, independent human being.
Stephanie Reinheimer who is in her senior year at Tracy High School performs in her second show at LPC as Laurie Morton, Blanche’s youngest daughter. Laurie’s comments are so offhand, that one can’t help but love and laugh at her responses.
Laurie is a sassy character and Reinheimer is a joy to watch on stage with a promising future in the Las Positas theater community.
Pursuing film actress and sophomore at LPC, Geneva May Colcol, plays Nora Morton, Blanche’s eldest daughter and Eugene’s biggest crush. Nora, like Eugene, is the strong-willed dreamer of the family, wishing to dance on Broadway instead of finishing high school.
Colcol lights up the stage as her character’s passion to fight for what she wants comes across through her voice and her actions. Nora’s struggle, such as connecting with her mom is something Colcol powerfully expresses in her on stage demeanor.
Set designer Rajiv Vijayakumar gets to see his first scenic design come to fruition as he creates a traditional period home with furniture pieces resembling the 1930s.
Two platforms represent the living room and dining room on the first level, while the upper platform showcases the bedrooms.
The overall layout makes for good movement throughout the stage from the main floor to the upstairs.
The feeling of being transported back to the 1930s was enhanced by the brilliant work of costume designer Lenee Madera who dressed the actors in traditional time-period pieces.
Lighting designer, Mike Rinaldi who has been a stage technician at LPC for more than 12 years, enhances the set with his skillful lighting production. He uses bright lighting to highlight certain actions on stage, and a dimmer, soft light to set the mood during more serious scenes.
Overall, the production team does an amazing job of setting the scene for the audience and actors to really feel like they are in Brighton Beach in 1937.
The show runs through April 9. There are performances at 8p.m. on April 7 and 8 and a 2 p.m. matinee for the closing performance on April 9.