Elizabeth Marshall Black, portraying the titular character Beebo, is swarthy, masculine, sensual, and surprisingly compassionate. While Laura and Beth are the focal points of the show, Beebo serves as a both mentor and guide for each of these women. She is tender as an educator and fiercely passionate in her love for Laura. Despite being Laura's first real lesbian romance, she is forever caught in the shadow of Laura's first love. Add in Laura's cheating and Beebo's jealousy, and there is just no way that the women could work as a couple. Elizabeth Marshall Black's Beebo is layered in richness and complexity, especially in her emotionally raw and powerful performance scenes where the audience witnesses the toll Laura's infidelity takes on her.
Autumn Clack is delightfully wicked as both Marcie and Lili. She plays both dubious characters in ways that guarantees the audience loves to hate her.
Jennfier Doctorovich plays the narrator and Nina. Both portrayals are simply fun and interesting. She easily earns laughs during Laura and Beebo's first night together and when, as Nina, she sardonically hits on Beth.
Steve Bullitt plays Jack, the gay best friend, adroitly. He is sincere and loyal, doing everything he can to help Laura along her road to self-discovery and realization.
Blake Alexander's Charlie doesn't get much time on stage, but he captivates in his confrontation scenes with Beth. He exudes palpable grief and heartbreak, trying to understand the situation he is in.
As Burr, Taylor Biltoft, is a misogynist that attempts to cover his dislike for women with humor. Only having one scene in the beginning of the play, he helps set the stage for the exploration of powerful social commentary in the show, explaining that a good man could fix the lesbians with one lay.
Craig Allen's set design is sparse and versatile, allowing the scene to be easily set and reset to showcase the different apartments and New York locales the characters inhabit. An inspired part of the design is the painting on the floor that serves as both a boundary for the performance space and a New York sidewalk. It's a simple touch that is used cleverly.
Justin Campbell's light design is fantastic. It utilizes bold and vibrant washes of reds and blues to mimic the shading in style of art that graces pulp fiction covers. Lighting is not always perfectly realistic, which also works well with the piece.
Costume design by Reba Kochersperger, with assistance from Barbara Terry, is phenomenal. The costumes purposefully and perfectly capture the fashion of the era and look great on every member of the cast. There is no telling how long and hard the search for each piece was or how many were handmade or hand-tailored for the production, but the work pays off beautifully.
Wigs are done by Chris Martin. Hair design overall, including wigs, is great. The only piece I have a problem with is the blonde wig worn by Autumn Clack when she plays Marcie. It just doesn't look good on Autumn Clack and stands out as a wig. While an eyesore, it doesn't detract from the performance.
A few minor weaknesses did exist in the performance I saw, which was their final preview. Set change choreography was not always sharp and times between scenes were sometimes a bit long. With that said, I'm sure their choreography will tighten up. Also, a couple of lines were flubbed, but I feel that will be remedied before the show officially opens tonight (November 9).
Knowing that THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES was pulled from pulp fiction, I was not sure what to expect when I entered the theatre to watch the show. Undoubtedly, I was pleasantly surprised with how humorous and thought-provoking the show was. If all of the social issues presented in the show last night are in the source material, Ann Bannon was undeniably ahead of her times in writing the novels. Everything in the show seems fresh and relevant. None of these social problems have been truly overcome, making the show an empowering experience for women, the GLBT community, and GLBT allies. The show is completely enjoyable and fascinating.
The Houston Premiere of THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES runs at Obsidian Art Space until December 1, 2012. For tickets and more information please visit http://www.celebrationtheatrehouston.com/ or call (832) 303 – 4758.
All photos by Dalton DeHart, courtesy of Celebration Theatre.
L to R: Margaret Lewis and Elizabeth Marshall Black.
L to R: Steve Bullitt and Margaret Lewis.
L to R: Darin Montemayor and Margaret Lewis.
L to R: Margaret Lewis and Autumn Clack.
L to R: Elizabeth Marshall Black and Steve Bullitt.
L to R: Autumn Clack, Taylor Biltoft, Steve Bullitt, and Margaret Lewis.