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There was a stage. And there were actors. And there were songs. And it was good. It was very, very good.
What an incredible return to live theater is Blank Conversations Theatre Company’s production of “The Mad Ones,” by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk, which opened this past weekend at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main St. in Downtown, and continues for two more weekends.
The production is a triumph at every level; mostly, as it should be, because the cast is brilliant.
Victoria Cox, Peyton Womble, Bryan Berard and Della Bustamante fill the entire space with energy and grace and the incredible magic that is live theater as people of great talent make it happen. If I gave out gold stars as they were earned by this ensemble, I would need a boxful for each one.
The singing and the acting were superb and the chemistry among the four was amazing. It was as if they passed among them a bright jewel throughout every minute of the performance: Victoria brought it on stage with her when she opened the show; then she passed it to Peyton; then they had it together – how I loved their dance choreography; then Bryan had it – the sweetness and charm he brought to “Run Away With Me” was one of the highest of this show’s many highlights; then Della had it – and there is almost no one I would rather hear sing and watch perform than Della Bustamante.
Victoria and Peyton are like twin souls in this show – great joy and unbearable sorrow that makes you laugh and makes you cry and makes you truly glad to be alive.
The story is about Samantha Brown (Victoria) as she graduates from high school. Should she listen to the voice of the one who has died but tells her to live like the mad ones (credit: Jack Kerouac)? Or should she listen to the voice of the living that cautions her not to die on the dangerous and erratic road trip of life?
I strongly encourage you to take this journey with these four exceptional guides and discover Sam’s choice with her, and enjoy the great songs and powerful script in this 90-minute wonder, which has no intermission. It deserves a full house, and so does the magnificent Rio Grande Theatre.
Co-directors Xodia Choate and Victoria Cox (in addition to performing) deserve abounding credit for bringing this cast and crew together, including costumes (Yamilex Holguin and Virginia Phillips), set design and props (Topher Lininger), lighting (Frankie Gomez and Brianna Miranda), sound (Dani Miller) and choreography (Esther Rogge). Kudos also to producers Peyton Womble and Topher Lininger (also the stage manager), photography and videography (Ryan Robson, Julian Cavvett and Kent Harkley) sounder operator Carissa Galban, light board operator Frankie Gomez and stage crew Hannah Valdez and Jack Black.
Remaining performances of “The Mad Ones” are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, July 9-10 and 16-17, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, July 11 and 18.
Tickets are $15.