×

Of Grapes and Nuts

An affectionate send-up of 'The Grapes of Wrath' and 'Of Mice and Men.'

With:
Cat Driver/Mae - Jen Ray Tom Joad/Al - Ian Vogt Lenny - David Reynolds Jim Casy/Pa Joad - Lauren McCormack Ma Joad - Casey Kramer Company Man/Gus/Border Guard/Candy - David Ghilardi Curly - Kimberly Van Luin

For those who may have seen too many well-intentioned productions of “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men,” the SeaGlass Theater is presenting “Of Grapes and Nuts,” an affectionate send-up of the two plays, written by Doug Armstrong, Keith Cooper and Tom Willmorth. The show respects John Steinbeck’s intent, but gleefully deflates any moments of pomposity with plentiful jokes — some corny, some clever. The West Coast premiere at the Victory Theater Center is delightful, with Paul Stroili’s tight direction of a terrific cast mining myriad laughs from poverty and tragedy.

Tom Joad (Ian Vogt) has just returned home from a stint in prison with his simple friend Lenny (David Reynolds) in tow, only to find that his family is leaving Oklahoma. Ma Joad (Casey Kramer) and Pa Joad (Lauren McCormack) are hoping to get farm jobs in California, so Tom and Lenny travel with them. Upon arriving in the Golden State, they find work at a peach orchard, but quickly discover that things are no easier there.

Popular on Variety

Kramer steals the show as flinty-eyed Ma. She turns a monologue on Pretty Boy Floyd being turned into a “crazy chunk of mean mad” by the system into a comedic tour de force. Vogt excels as Tom, frequently staring soulfully at the horizon for no particular reason, and he nails the famous final speech: “If there are cops beatin’ a guy, I’ll be there…(hiding) in the bushes…” Reynolds makes for a memorable Lenny, especially when he tries to give a dead mouse mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and David Ghilardi is slyly hilarious in multiple parts.

Under Stroili’s direction, the production is swift paced, and joke after joke hits its mark. Armstrong, Cooper and Willmorth have crafted a very funny show, with several bits that feel like instant classics and dialogue about penny candy and bread loaves that take surprising turns to the ultimate resting place of Pa Joad.

David George’s handsome pseudo-wooden-board set adds appropriately rustic flavor, and Efrain Schunior’s sound design features some effects that add notably to the production.

Of Grapes and Nuts

Victory Theater Center, Burbank; 48 seats; $20 top

Production: A SeaGlass Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Doug Armstrong, Keith Cooper and Tom Willmorth. Directed by Paul Stroili.

Creative: Sets, David George; costumes, Jennifer May Nickle; lighting, Scott LeGrand; sound, Efrain Schunior; stage manager, Matthew Sandlin. Opened, reviewed Sept. 18, 2010. Runs through Oct. 24. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Cat Driver/Mae - Jen Ray Tom Joad/Al - Ian Vogt Lenny - David Reynolds Jim Casy/Pa Joad - Lauren McCormack Ma Joad - Casey Kramer Company Man/Gus/Border Guard/Candy - David Ghilardi Curly - Kimberly Van Luin

More Legit

  • The Prince of Egypt review

    'The Prince of Egypt': Theater Review

    In “The Prince of Egypt,” a swords-and-sandals epic minus the swords, no one speaks, they declaim; no one questions, they implore to the heavens. In a musical re-telling of the Exodus story that is bigger on plagues than on developed characterization, subtlety was always going to be in short supply. But did everything have to [...]

  • Katori Hall

    Listen: Katori Hall's 'Quiet Revolution'

    Playwright Katori Hall’s latest, “The Hot Wing King,” centers on a group of black gay men — a community so rarely depicted onstage in the theater that she can’t think of another example. Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below: Which means there’s real power just to see them represented. “Because there aren’t a ton of images [...]

  • Cirque Du Soleil Volta

    Volta: Cirque Du Soleil’s Latest Blends Themes of Self-Discovery with Street Sports

    Blending themes of loneliness, isolation and self-discovery with the magnetic culture of street sports, Cirque du Soleil’s latest iteration, “Volta,” is an eye-popping and psychically soothing spiritual journey experienced through a prism of jaw-dropping acrobatics and aerodynamics that leave one gasping for breath. The Montreal-based entertainment company has produced a steady string of awe-inspiring shows [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band review

    'Cambodian Rock Band': Theater Review

    Is there anything less politically threatening than a rock band jamming to its own vibrant music? Tell that to the Khmer Rouge, which descended on Cambodia in 1975 and killed off some three million people, including many musicians. In Lauren Yee’s play “Cambodian Rock Band,” the doomed, fictional band Cyclo is represented by actor-musicians with [...]

  • Protesters demonstrate at the Broadway opening

    'West Side Story' Broadway Opening Night Sparks Protests

    Roughly 100 protestors gathered outside the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” on Thursday night, carrying placards and chanting in unison to demand the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ramasar has got to go,” they cried while holding signs that read “Keep predators off the stage,” “Sexual predators shouldn’t get [...]

  • West Side Story review

    'West Side Story': Theater Review

    Whittled down to one hour and forty-five minutes, “West Side Story” – with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins — has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival from edgy Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. (Can [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content