Theater Review: MIDDLE8 (Stella Adler Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on January 11, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles


A middle 8 is a section in song structure — usually in the middle and consisting of eight bars — that is used to add some new content into the later part of a song to revitalize a tune that could get stale. It also breaks the repetition of verse/chorus, verse/chorus, which can become a little monotonous.

There’s much to recommend about writer/director Stefan Marks’s musical play, Middle8. Refreshingly original with even more exhilarative acting, the premise basically follows Adam (a vulnerable Matt Kaminsky), who in mid-life is still trying to create that great rock opera, which he falters at — even with the support of wife, Cassidy (a multi-dimensional Brittany Joyner).

Recollections of his failed one-time garage band from 20 years earlier come to the fore when a reunion of surviving members takes place. As Adam and fellow band-mates reminisce to us and each other for 150 minutes in two acts, Marks’s narrative gets a bit wonky as time-jumping and a seriously somber mood bring down some enchantingly droll, rough-hewed dialogue and terrifically upbeat music played and sung by the five band members (who are actually in a real-life band named The Four Postmen).

Along the way, the stories of each band mate fascinate — a marriage between Bobby (Brett Pearsons) and a deaf girl, Defloria (a resplendent Jules Dameron), is particularly touching — but we are left without a clear protagonist, so the play has many endings and fizzles out. Still, there wasn’t a soul on stage that I wasn’t glad to meet, a tune that I wasn’t happy to hear, and a story that I wasn’t happy to see.

I saw the last performance of the extended run at Stella Adler, so I recommend seeing this if it gets a re-mount, even if Marks — who absolutely awes as the cynical guitarist Chris — doesn’t fix the middle 8 of his play.

photos by Baranduin Briggs

Crooked Arrow Productions
The Stella Adler Theatre
6773 Hollywood Blvd. 2nd floor
ended on January 5, 2019
for possible extension,
visit Four Postmen

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