Thursday, November 21, 2019

It was a dark and stormy night at Geffen Playhouse

Andy Garcia

By Darlene Donloe

Andy Garcia leads a stellar cast in the Geffen Playhouse world premiere adaptation of Key Largo currently playing through Dec. 1, 2019.

This latest incarnation of Maxwell Anderson’s Broadway hit that became the iconic 1948 noir film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is full and satisfying in many ways, but also feels leaden.

The story begins in 1946 when Frank McCloud (Danny Pino), a disillusioned World War II vet travels to a hotel in Key Largo because he wants to pay respects to the widow of one of his fallen comrades.

Although there are several seedy characters inhabiting the hotel, McCloud is told that it’s closed. That's fine with him because he only plans to stay there for about an hour.

While there he meets Mr. D’Alcala (Tony Plana) the hotel’s owner, an amiable guy who happens to be blind but can see better than a sighted person. It’s his fallen son that McCloud came to Key Largo to pay respects to. D’Alcala’s daughter Nora D’Alcala (Rose McIver) is also there. She helps him around the hotel.

The seedy characters, led by Johnny Rocco (Andy Garcia), happen to be mobsters who are there to conduct an illegal transaction.  Rocco also has a battered and disrespected tart named Gaye Dawn (Joely Fisher) along for the ride. His henchmen include Curly (Louis Mustillo) and Toots (Stephen Borello).  Rounding out the ensemble is a sheriff (Richard Riehle) on the take and a drug dealer (Bradley Snedeker).

As tough as Rocco would like everyone to believe, every time some thunder crackles – he jumps.  When he reaches his limit, he begins to shoot his gun into the air as if to challenge the storm with a shootout.

Although McCloud wants to leave, he can’t because there is a hurricane barreling down on Key Largo, stranding him in the hotel. He has some issues he needs to deal with, which is why his personality is always just moments from blowing.

Key Largo is the setting for Rocco’s drug deal.  While waiting for it to go down, he waxes lyrical about how tough and satisfying it is to be a drug boss.

The direction works, the acting is OK, but the scenic design nearly steals the show with its expansive shuttered lobby.  The sound design is also impressive and effective, although the sound of the buoy’s clang is a bit annoying.  

Garcia’s performance holds this show together.  There are some delicious moments in the show. Joely Fisher shines as she leaves herself on the stage – as does Plana who delivers an authentic blind portrayal.

Some of Tony Award-winner Doug Hughes’ scenes drag, but overall he delivers a good night of theater. The show isn’t much different from the classic Key Largo movie, which means it’s a winner!  Hughes makes good use of the stage – using every inch.

Key Largo stars Andy Garcia as Johnny Rocco,
Stephen Borrello as Toots, Joely Fisher as Gaye DawnRose McIver as Nora D’Alcala, Louis Mustillo as CurlyTony Plana as Mr. D’Alcala, Danny Pino as Frank McCloudRichard Riehle as Sherrif Gash and Bradley Snedeker as Ziggy

Original music is composed by 10-time GRAMMY Award winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Arturo Sandoval.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable) O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Key Largo gets an O (oh, yeah).

Key Largo, Gil Cates Theater at Geffen Playhouse, 10866 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles; Tues., 8 p.m.; Sat, 3 and 8 p.m. and Sun. 2 and 7 p.m.; $30 – $145; 310.208.5454 or Fees may apply.
Rush tickets for each day’s performance are made available to the general public 30 minutes before showtime at the box office. $35 general/$15 student.

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