Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis
November 26th -
December 19th, 2010
Burien Little Theatre,
Vreeke directed the American Premiere of this unique holiday comedy
centers around an eccentric and hilarious collection of
Bolton, England misfits. Josie, a dominatrix who feels ready to hang it
all up, is dreading her 40th birthday - so her favorite client Lionel
throws a party with a special musical guest! But the real surprise
comes when a ghost from the past barges in, propelling this outrageous
mix of edgy comedy, heart-throbbing humanity, and sheer ridiculousness.
This holiday season John Vreeke directs it at Burien Little Theatre in
at Woolly Mammoth in Washington DC in 2006, and now in Seattle in
Martha, Josie and
November 26th thru
December 19th, 2010
Josie & The Chinese Elvis’ At BLT: Great Time(ing)!
Review by Philip Benais
Martha, Josie And The
Chinese Elvis; Directed by John Vreeke: Starring Kelli Mohrbacher, Geni
Hawkins, Alexandra Novotny, Gerald B. Browning, Ken Wong and Angelica
Duncan. Written by Charlotte Jones.
With a name like Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis, I expected the
latest production from Burien Little Theatre to be exactly what we need
for the holiday season; offbeat, quirky but ultimately heartwarming and
pleasant. What I got was even better than that. In all sincerity, I can
say that Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis made my day like no other
winter play has or probably will. Between the bold humor, the lovable
characters and the delightful performances, this is a play I would
recommend to anyone mature enough to deal with a holiday play as
unconventional as it is entertaining.
follows Josie Botting, a 40 year old ‘counselor’ who is coming to terms
with growing older. Joining her are Kelli Mohrbacher as Brenda-Marie,
(who plays a daughter that’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic) Martha
Clear, the obsessive compulsive maid and Lionel Trills one of her more
‘distinguished’ clients. When everyone figures out that it’s Josie’s
birthday, Lionel decides to throw her a party, full of drinks, music
and a special guest who turns out to be a Chinese Elvis. Throughout the
rest of the play we’re treated to wonderful writing, great music and
acting that cinches the deal. Make no mistake, every one of the cast
members for this play was spectacular and funny. From Geni Hawkins‘
neurotic Housecleaner to Ken Wong’s affable Timothy Wong to Gerald B.
Browning’s sensitive Lionel Trills, everyone is pitch perfect and it
contributes to a production that will bust your gut laughing and at
times even feel emotional.
The key to the play’s success is the timing. Sure the writing,
directing, acting and music are perfect for the subject matter, but
what pulls them all together is a brilliant sense of timing. There’s
never a stale joke or an action that goes without an audience reaction.
Everyone in this cast from Alexandra Novotny to Angelica Duncan is a
master of comedic and dramatic timing. The play functions on an
internal rhythm that is both wondrous and magical and without it, it
wouldn’t have been the same.
I could go on and on about how much I loved this play, but ultimately
it doesn’t mean a thing unless I say this; go see this play. Take a
friend or a family member and enjoy the wonderful treat that Burien
Little Theatre has given us once again. I know I did, and I guarantee
you will as well
posted by Dana Hunter
December 12, 2010
Chinese. F*#!ing. Elvis.
Need I Say More?
Apparently, I do.
Today, I braved rain, floods and landslides (oh, my) in order to go see
Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis at Burien Little Theatre. If
you live in the Seattle area, you have three more chances to see this
show, and if you miss it, you will be reduced to a pathetic wreck of a
human being, weeping with remorse until the day you die. I mean,
c'mon, how often do you get to see a show about a demotivated
dominatrix, an obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, a cross-dressing
drycleaner, a wanna-be ice dancing daughter, and an allegedly dead
woman? Not to mention, Chinese Elvis!
Maggie and Eric truly find some fucked-up shit to put on, but man, is
it ever good.
This is one of those moments I cursed myself for not bringing the
camera. There were some strikingly artistic, truly beautiful and
haunting moments in this play. When soon-to-be-former dominatrix
Josie Botting is standing at the top of the stairs, watching her
daughter try to walk in her stilettos on the hapless Chinese Elvis,
everything about her screamed noir. It was a moment worthy of
film. And it wasn't the only one.
I want to give a few particular shout-outs to the cast. Gerald B.
Browning, who plays Lionel Trills, had the hard job of making a balding
transvestite sub drycleaner come across as the most admirable man in
the universe - and he does. Loved him. Geni Hawkins, who
plays the very repressed housecleaner, does the best Irish accent
outside of Ireland, and let me just say she makes you root for good
girls wanting to go bad. Kelli Mohrbacher had a hard job playing
Brenda Marie Botting, the "simple" twin, but she made you want to run
her straight out for a pair of ice skates and a sequined costume
(you'll understand why, should you see the show). Angelica
Duncan, who is long-lost twin Louise Botting, played a difficult
character to perfection (and I shall say no more, least I spoil your
fun when you see it). They were all outstanding. They all
got and deserved center stage. Which makes me feel guilty
singling out the next two for special treatment.
But Alexandra Novotny... holy damn. I mean, honestly, she runs
through the shadings of an extremely complex character flawlessly, and
her expression was so fucking perfect. Some people can act
without saying a word, without even moving more than a few muscles in a
face. She is one. She left me breathless. And no, it
didn't have anything to do with that cocktail dress toward the end
there, although it was an excellent costuming choice. War paint,
I felt like bowing to her when I left. Seriously did.
And yet, she very nearly got overshadowed by Ken Wong, who is the
Chinese Elvis that Lionel hires for a birthday party that turns
bizarre. People, we are talking about an American who managed a
Cockney-Chinese accent even while singing just like Elvis.
Everything - his timing, his delivery, his expressions, his movements -
everything was perfect. I mean, look at his face up there.
Does that not look like a hapless, rookie Chinese Elvis who's been
having a horrible night of it, and is now wondering just how to fuck
he's gotten into this mess and wishes someone would come rescue him
He even delivers a line as corny as "Elvis has left the building" in a
way that was funny, fresh, and brought the fucking house down.
And in case you see the play and wonder: no, he's not
lip-syncing. That's really him, singing Cockney-Chinese Elvis and
sounding eerily like the King.
They couldn't have found a more perfect cast for this show. 'Twas
a delight, worth risking life and limb and missing the weekly phone
call with my best friend for. If you get a chance, go. Just
go. You've got all next weekend for it.
Do not end up spending the rest of your life moaning about missing it.
Posted by Dana Hunter at 11:50 PM
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