THE BIG EVENT
I’m not afraid of anything!! Do I look scared?
Let’s face it. The Kennedy assassination is a well-known, timeless slice of history; it sparks creativity to recall the story with a fresh approach. Playwright and actor Christian Levatino has written a 3-volume opus on Kennedy’s death and the players involved. His approach is the most inventive I’ve seen so far. He starts with the heavy-handed interrogation of Kennedy’s killer Lee Harvey Oswald (Sunny Afternoon) continues into the meeting between former president Richard Nixon and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley (King Dick) and lastly the bungled theft inside the Democratic National Committee office inside the Watergate complex (…meantime at HoJos).
Each story connects to the next in perfect correlation. Levatino plays three highly different roles in the vignettes. The story begins at the Dallas Police Department where Captain Will Fritz (loved Darrett Sanders) interrogates “suspect” Lee Harvey Oswald (Andy Hirsch was wonderful). As soon as Captain Fritz is about to get answers from the skinny and highly educated young man, more chaos ensues the police station. When the FBI come crashing in and take over the questioning, hell shattered into microscopic pieces. Detective Richard ‘Dick’ Simms (Gregory Crafts) is the first to bombard Oswald with endless questioning. Oswald finds them amusing and starts to laugh. He admits flatly that, yes, he did live in Russia for three years and yes he supports the Cuban revolution. Oswald has an answer for everything, which annoys the hell out of the G-men. They don’t have neither the patience nor sense of humor to appreciate Oswald’s responses. Oswald is knowledgeable in movies. The men gather around and begin to discuss who acted in which movie. Captain Fritz ends this interruption abruptly and continues questioning the accused. In walks Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels (Jeff Doba was very amusing) with his clothes all rumpled up with blood stains and a bloody face. Sorrels confirms that Oswald attempted two prior attempts to kill the President.
Oswald confesses to speaking to the mysterious Eduardo (Derek Manson) whether it was an imaginary conversation or not, Oswald tells it like a good midnight story filled with secrecy and intrigue. Captain Fritz has enough of the drama. He calls it a shituation, shit and situation. The poor man is fed up. During the questioning, someone reads “A calculated Risk” by E. Howard Hunt. Captain Fritz demands the case stays in Dallas the FBI insists on having every file, document be turned over to them, now. That’s a shituation!! After hours on questioning Oswald with the hopes of tripping him up, he doesn’t, his attorney John Apt (Derek Manson) arrives. Oswald gets transferred over to the county jail. Then, pandemonium hits. Oswald is shot on camera by nightclub owner, and possibly a wise guy from the mob, Jack Ruby. The ending is a brilliant twist to an otherwise complicated scenario. Next, comes the infamous meeting of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley.
Jesus ain’t got nothing to do with it, Jerry.
~ Elvis to Jerry
The infamous 1970 photo of then-President Richard Nixon and rock idol Elvis Presley shaking hands in the Oval Office is legendary. Who would have thought that the President and Presley would have anything to talk about, but they did. After Kennedy’s assassination, Presley (Christian Levatino is exceptional) decides he wants to contribute in ending the drug culture that has infested the world. He reaches out to childhood friend and music producer Jerry Schilling (Derek Manson doing another amazing job) for help. Jerry sweetly refers to Elvis as “E.” E needs to meet J. Edgar Hoover. He feels that Hoover can best help him with his new mission. As he sleeps, he dreams about his twin brother Jessie, he was older by 35 minutes and was stillborn. Jessie (Darrett Sanders is hysterical and wonderful) strongly urges Elvis to talk to Richard Nixon (wonderfully played by Jeff Doba). Both he and the former president have similar characteristics.
First, they’re both crazy. Second, their ideology is not that far apart. Elvis comes into the oval office in his red velvet crush jumpsuit, with cape, a gun holster with two pistols. How he got past security is another mystery. Presley meets with Nixon and politely demands to be a Federal Agent at Large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and wants a badge. His ulterior motive for having a badge would allow Presley to legally possess guns and drugs. Because of King’s reputation for using drugs, attorney Egil “Bud” Krogh (Andy Hirsch is amazing going from prisoner to major player) and Deputy Assistant Dwight Chapin (Patrick Flanagan) asks if Elvis is using. He casually responds by admitting that he pops Demerol and Dexedrine like M&Ms. The president mulls this over as if, this can actually work. Doba’s version of Nixon comes out as creepy, racist and a joke. He plays Nixon as far out as a human being can. His facial expressions are priceless. The way his eyes pop open and voice deepens whenever he hears good news, are hilarious. He does a solid job as the shady president.
… meantime at HoJo’s
A Calculated Risk by E. Howard Hunt and lavender
A book that shows in all 3 parts and a word mentioned in all 3 parts
The final installment of this fabulous production is the meeting of Nixon’s eight key people, called the Plumbers, waiting at a Howard Johnson’s motel for news. The covert organization’s goal is to stop the leaks of confidential papers to the world. Frank Sturgis a paid snitch (Scott Mosenson), Rolando (Adam Duarte) and Virgilio (Villo) R. Gonzalez (Isaak Gracia) all wait with anxious anticipation if the president will remain in office. Macho (Patrick Flanagan) uses binoculars to see across the street where the Watergate complex sits. He sees figures moving all about. “We’re on the eve of a penetration,” he says. G. Gordon Liddy (Christian Levantino) is the ring leader of the motley crew. He comes louder and unwound when he sees the situation going south really quick. Though talked about but not seen is former CIA agent James Walter McCord Jr. He apparently is nervous as the crackdown ensues. Suddenly, the operation is exposed and it’s every man for his damn self. At HoJo’s, the men prepare to pack as quickly as they can. They got classified documents, listening devices and other spy materials they need to collect so they can flee the scene.
And then….. we all know how that story ended. People went to jail, but not for too long. President Nixon resigned before they could fire his dumb ass. A lot of shady dealings happened during his reign and the world was shocked and appalled but eventually accepted it as another blemish on America’s iffy past.
Major applause to Levantino for coming up with a precise, accurate, thoughtful and thought-provoking show. He really gives the audience something to discuss afterwards during a meal or over a cup of Starbucks. He really did his research well and his story-telling skills rock. All around great show with a wonderful cast and great topic. I strongly advise to see all three shows. You’ll learn something new and find that history left out a few, major points. It’s worth watching it in its entirety. Levantino has succeeded to tell a repetitive story with a fresh approach and ingenuity. Can’t wait for his next creation.
King Dick plays Sunday, Dec. 2nd and 8th at 5:30 and 7 p.m. …meantime at Hojo’s plays Sunday Dec. 2nd at 8 p.m. and Dec. 9th at 8 p.m. The Big Event (triple feature) plays Sunday, Dec. 2nd at 9th at 2:55 p.m., Sunny Afternoon plays Sunday, Dec. 2nd at 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7th at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 9th at 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7th at 8 p.m. playing at Flight Theatre inside The Complex Hollywood, located at 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., in Los Angeles. For tickets and reservations visit http://hff18.org/5463 (King Dick), http://hff18.org/5520 (The Big Event) http://hff18.org/5464 (Sunny Afternoon) ….meantime at HoJo’s http://hff18.org/5462 or http://www.thebigeventlive.com.