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‘A Feast of Snacks:’ Theatre Review (Hollywood Fringe Festival 2016)

As an annual participant in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, LA-based theatre company Theatre Unleashed (TU) consistently stages phenomenal performances that span most every genre while never wavering in their quality or spirit.  Encompassing everything from westerns (Round Rock) to sexual politics and gender relations (Sleeping Around), TU remains a mainstay in the LA theatre community by providing a solid platform for talented creators to hone their craft and entertain audiences through a variety of artistic endeavors.  This year, the ensemble returned to the Fringe Festival with the 2015 hit, A Feast of Snackdemonstrating that even musical theatre is no match for the intrepid members of Theatre Unleashed.

In an anthology of four mini comedic musicals written by Michael Gordon Shapiro (Super Sidekick: The Musical) and Mark Harvey Levine, A Feast of Snacks packs a non-stop thrill ride of hilarity into a single hour that keeps audiences tapping their toes and grinning from ear to ear.  Each of the four mini-musicals centers on a different premise, ranging from a secret admirer manifesting “good luck” for the apple of his eye to a behind-the-scenes struggle for morality and self-respect that stems from an epic miniature golf championship match.  Plus, pirates.  You can never go wrong with singing pirates.  Although the show initially premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2015, this year noted the addition (and world premiere) of the courtroom comedy, “The Escape Artist,” detailing the efforts of an earnest young man as he endeavors to survive the voir dire process, only to meet his match in more ways than one.  Throughout, Shapiro and Levine’s dialogue and lyrics remained witty, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny, all while paired with the cheerful musical accompaniment of Deborah Berman.

As always, the superstar cast of Theatre Unleashed’s production contains a mix of its regular players and those relatively new to the company, providing audiences with the opportunity to witness the wide range of the ensemble’s talents.  While TU has previously produced incredible musicals outside of the Fringe Festival, including POPE! An Epic Musical and The Spider Project, I was truly taken aback by the high caliber of singers within A Feast of Snacks, with notable highlights including Heather Lake in “The Charmed Life,” David Foy Bauer and Jim Martyka in “Climb the Smallest Mountain,” Sammi Lappin in “HMS Headwind,” and a fantastically energetic all-around performance by Graydon Schlicter in “The Escape Artist.”  Every performer was utilized throughout the show to their greatest potential, and the show is without a doubt worth a second or third viewing to catch all of the antics of each ensemble member even when not the spotlight of the show.

While this year’s Fringe Festival has come to a close and the run of A Feast of Snacks saw its last performance on June 25th, I would venture a guess (and highly encourage the festival’s showrunners to consider) that the frequently sold-out show will return for an extension during the month of July.  If an extension is in Theatre Unleashed’s future, I strongly encourage you to get tickets as soon as you can . . . and for multiple performances! 

Be sure to stay tuned to Fanbase Press for news on A Feast of Snack‘s extension.  I certainly wouldn’t want you to miss this opportunity!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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