Magruder High School's production of Steve Martin's play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" was a high-energy, well-timed production, and a brilliant cast performed the zany comedy on an amazingly constructed set.
The show takes place in a bar in Paris called the Lapin Agile. Martin takes us into a fictional meeting between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso when both young men are on the cusp of creating their masterpieces: before Picasso's inspiring "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" changes modern art and before Einstein's theory of relativity makes "Newton's apple jump back into the tree."
These two famous men, along with the other colorful characters found at the Lapin Agile, discuss the dead past, the brilliant future and the influence of science and art in the 20th century. At the end of the play, the viewer is left hoping this meeting did occur, simply because the conclusions are so beautiful.
The Magruder cast did a wonderful job of energizing their characters, and hitting most of the subtleties and puns that litter the play. Andre Soussan, as Gaston, was hilarious in delivering his observations on the female form, while Colleen Smith as Germaine, a waitress, and Laura Pickeral as Suzanne, Picasso's love interest, lent strong and sultry opinions throughout the play. Kirk Waldrop as Sagot, Picasso's art dealer, and Casey Tilton as Freddy, the oblivious bar owner, both delivered excellent performances, grasping the wit and cynicism of their characters.
Jason Crammer, a strong match for Pablo Picasso, gave the artistically frustrated artist a fierce intensity, and Matt Hotez gave Einstein the quirky edge and sense of wonderment that is synonymous with his character.
Finally, the set was a work of art in itself. It reflected the bohemian style of the time and was painted in a Picasso-symbolic style. The combination of superior technical elements along with terrific performances by a talented cast sealed this show as a complete success.
Einstein High School
The Magruder High School Drama Club's take on Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" was a refreshing and superbly executed comedy that lacked none of the "wild and crazy" shenanigans expected from the comedian.
The setting is Paris in 1904 at the Lapin Agile, a bar that still serves the artsy crowd of the Montmarte. Martin creates a fascinating story in which three of the 20th century's geniuses bump heads on one incredible October night.
An eccentric line of characters pours into the bar, and they are undeniably from different worlds with rather peculiar outlooks on life. Gaston (Andre Soussan) is an older Frenchman who believes himself to be quite the expert on women. Albert Einstein was brilliantly played by Matt Hotez, who portrayed a wild and crazy side of the famous scientist that no one could possibly have seen. He is, obviously, a genius, despite his confusion about art and women.
Suzanne (convincingly played by Laura Pickeral) is a sultry, man-controlling woman who knows Picasso "personally." She is obviously used to having men throw themselves at her, but holds on to true love for someone who can reach her through her intellectual side. Sagot (Kirk Waldrop) is a quick-witted quack of an art dealer who rambles on hilariously about why no one should hang religious paintings in their bedrooms.
Schmendiman (portrayed in brilliant Steve Martin-style by Jamie Bianchi) is a fraudulent low-caliber inventor who thinks his toilet plunger will take the world by storm.
Jason Crammer's turn as Picasso as a handsome yet conceited artist and self-proclaimed Casanova is right on. A meeting of the minds occurs when Picasso and Einstein clash over whether art or science is going to dominate the 20th century. Suddenly, an explosion out of the men's bathroom brings Elvis Presley (Alphonso Antonio) to the bar with a posse of groupies dancing to "Blue Suede Shoes." Antonio's depiction of Elvis was the most accurate I have seen in a long time. Elvis's entrance into the play is far-fetched, but Martin obviously wanted Picasso and Einstein to get a glimpse of what the future was really about.
Smaller roles, such as the female admirer and the Elvis groupies, (Kaitlyn Powell, Alyson Klein, Lauren Vogel and Caroline Wolfson) were as well developed as the leads and never failed to make the audience burst out in laughter.
The technical design by John Ovington superbly supported the brilliant direction of the actors who didn't miss a beat or a comedic moment. The lighting and sound were wonderful, and the special effects were excellent. Magruder Drama continues to produce superior theater. Don't miss this one if you get the chance to see it.
Kennedy High School