Review: ‘Fleetwood Macbeth’

Troubadour Theater Co., that irreverent band of modern-day commedia dell'arte players, once again proves a Shakespeare plot can stand up against anything, even a generous infusion of tunes from the '70s band Fleetwood Mac.

Troubadour Theater Co., that irreverent band of modern-day commedia dell’arte players, once again proves a Shakespeare plot can stand up against anything, even a generous infusion of tunes from the ’70s band Fleetwood Mac. Having honed his craft on such Bard stepchildren as “All’s Kool That Ends Kool,” “Romeo Hall & Juliet Oates” and “A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream,” Troubadour founder Matt Walker leads his wildly dedicated troupe of thesps, dancers and musicians into the breach. This time out, they take on misguided Scottish nobleman Macbeth, portrayed with brogue-spouting aplomb by Morgan Rusler, and his helpmate in dastardly deeds, Lady Macbeth, hilariously enacted by power-lunged Lisa Valenzuela.

The plot moves along at a relatively brisk pace in this outrageously loose adaptation of “Macbeth.” Shakespeare’s tragedy is liberally injected with commedia shtick, impressively staged slapstick battle scenes, improvised audience interaction and a slew of contemporary references, including turning Macduff (Guillermo Robles) into a Chicano homeboy with the title of the Thane of Eastside.

Director Walker also is the show’s narrator and portrays a wild-eyed Banquo. He and Rusler offer one of the show’s musical highlights as Banquo offers his suspicions that friend Macbeth has heeded the witches’ advice to move up the royal ladder by murdering the competition, to the tune of “You Can Go Your Own Way.” Over-the-top Walker also runs rampant through Macbeth’s coronation banquet as the ghost of the murdered Banquo.

There are not three but 10 all-singing, all-dancing witches, led by masterfully mirthful Troubadour vet Beth Kennedy as Hecate. Their second-act cauldron antics are effectively performed to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”

Also turning in solid perfs are Sean Connery clone Travis Clark as the lascivious but droll King Duncan, Guilford Adams’ flamboyantly effeminate Malcolm and Mike Sulprizio’s rollerblading turn as Macbeth’s gleefully murderous henchman Seyton (pronounced Satan).

The instrumental accompaniment from the onstage five-member band is solid, led by bassist/musical director Andre Holmes, supplemented by the adroit sound effects of Jillana Neiman. Kudos also to sound operator Bobby Knight for achieving the correct decibel balance between the onstage performers and the band. This synergistic relationship enhanced ensemble renderings of such Fleetwood Mac standards as “Landslide” and “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”

The musical highlight of the show, however, is Valenzuela’s taking over the show with her laser-like rendering of Stevie Nicks’ “Dreams.”

As long as there are works in the Bard’s canon and pop bands to emulate, the Troubadour Theater Co. probably won’t run out of material. Walker and his zany troupe have the legs to take their irreverent machinations to a larger arena, perhaps even Off Broadway.

Fleetwood Macbeth

Falcon Theater, Toluca Lake; 198 seats; $25 top

Production

The Falcon Theater and Troubadour Theater Co. present a musical in two acts, adapted from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" by Matt Walker. Directed by Walker.

Creative

Lights, Nick McCord; sound, Bobby Knight; musical direction, Andre Homes. Opened and reviewed Jan. 9, 2004; runs through Jan. 31. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

Cast

Narrator/Banquo - Matt Walker Macbeth - Morgan Rusler Lady Macbeth - Lisa Valenzuela Duncan - Travis Clark Macduff - Guillermo Robles Hecate - Beth Kennedy Prince Malcolm - Guilford Adams Seyton - Michael Sulprizio
With: AnnaLea Arnold, Antonia Bath, Denise Bradley, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Tim Groff, Tina Groff, Eric Heinly, Andy Lopez, Erin Matthews, Win Menyerson, Henry Philips, Caleb Rapoport, Jordan Savage, Jen Seifert, Audrey Siegel, Larry Thigpen, Dan Waskom.
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