THE WOMAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCHBy Kevin Grammer
Original Music by Justin Locklear
Original Lyrics by Carla Parker, Kevin Grammer and Justin Locklear
Ochre House Theater
Directed by Kevin Grammer
Music Director - Justin Locklear
Scenic Artist - IZK Davies
Set Design - Matthew Posey
Costume Design - Amie Carson
Props Design - Mitchell Parrack
Lighting Design - Kevin Grammer
Carpenter - Mitchell Parrack
Stage Management - Korey Parker
House Management -Cynthia D. Webb
House Staff - Ruth Fajardo & Ellen Shaddock
Photography - Trenton Stephenson
Graphic Designer - Jeremy Word
Violet - Marti Etheridge
Max - Justin Locklear
Yvonne - Olivia de Guzman
Emil - Ivan Jasso
Marguerite - Carla Parker
Edgar - Chad Spear
Roxanne - Cassie Bann
Lewis - Chris Sykes
Bass - Aaron Gonzalez
Percussion - Stephan Gonzalez
Guitar - Cory Kosel
Keyboard - Kate Fisher
Reviewed Performance: 2/10/2018
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Mr. Grammer's script plays with this ambiguity in a skillful and highly entertaining fashion. And while it is possible to find similarities (for some reason Dennis Potter's "The Singing Detective" comes to mind, where the songs, though not original to the piece, reflect the characters' state of mind), this play is very much its own creature. I am not going to go in the storyline much because I fear giving away too much. There is a great deal to discover in this production, so I will leave the next attendees in suspense regarding plotline.
The main area is the nightclub, The Jade. It is co-owned by Max (Justin Locklear) and Emil (Ivan Jasso) who started the business as friends but now distrust each other. Emil runs the business side and wants to keep things on the up and up, but Max, the head of entertainment, sees ways of getting more from the club. He allows Marguerite (Carla Parker) to run her 'girls' in the place and takes a cut of that. Two of the 'girls' are Yvonne (Olivia de Guzman) and her sister, the before mentioned Violet. Running throughout all of this are waitress Roxanne (Cassie Bann), Marguerite's 'heavy' Edgar (Chad Spear) and the lurking Lewis, menacingly stalking Violet through the club.
Violet is a huntress and any game she stalks is in danger. And the area in which she hunts is a wonder to behold. Matthew Posey's set is all green curtains and art deco and populated by the cast and a mural of painted patrons living the dream in The Jade. The Ochre House Theater is a small space but Kevin Grammer's direction isn't hemmed in. There is dancing and singing, and it feels like the space is so much bigger. The Jade is the dream, of those who want it and those who populate it and the set lets us understand that.
The songs allow us to peer into the thoughts of our characters, particularly Violet, and are fun. I'm not sure if you will be humming them on your way out (though I still have "If I Were in a Dream" running through my head), but they will get you attention. All the singers were strong and the band behind them was excellent. Justin Locklear is to be commended for his musical direction and it was great fun watching lead the band during some of the songs.
Marti Etheridge plays the femme fatale Violet with relish. Her face shimmers with desire and hunger and she is equipped with razor-sharp verbal comebacks. Ms. Etheridge oozes danger and is determined to catch her prey. Her facial reactions may seem a little over the top near the end of the play, but it makes sense for the character, trust me.
The antelope to Ms. Etheridge's lioness is Max, played with grace and a James Cagney delivery by Justin Locklear. His Max is extremely likable, and we feel his desires and dreams. He is not averse to using force, done by someone else, to attain his dreams but Mr. Locklear's charisma keeps us rooting for him.
Ivan Jasso's Emil is also very likable. Emil is the bartender and Mr. Jasso gives him the ease and friendliness needed. Olivia de Guzman as Violet's sister is strong and more than a match for her sibling. Carla Parker plays Marguerite with the authority needed for a Madam, all business. Chris Sykes gives the appropriate amount of menace as the lurking Lewis (Violet calls him a cop but is he something more to her?). And Chad Spear as Edgar, the dense strongarm with a heart of gold, and Cassie Bann, the singing waitress will steal your heart in the duet, "Ain't Lucky".
So, put on your trench coat and fedora and start down the alley that is "The Woman Who Knew Too Much. But be careful where you are going, for the path is cloudy and dreamy and at any moment, someone may wake up and you'll disappear. And Kevin Grammer has given you a great play to disappear into.
Ochre House Theater
Wednesday - Saturday, February 10 - March 3rd, 2018
All performances at 8:15PM
825 Exposition Ave. Dallas, TX 75226
Tickets - $17 at the door
or for tickets and reservations www.ochrehousetheater.org