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Thomas Hampton Reviews KEN ROHT’S SAME-O, A 99¢ ONLY ELECTRIC BALLAD

Image Courtesy of Bootleg Theater

Lovers of frivolity, unique costume, powerful music, and great choreography have been enchanted by the 99 cent only productions brought to life by the consistent core of Ken Roht, John Ballenger, and Ann Closs-Farley for the past seven years.  The newest production, KEN ROHT’S SAME-O, A 99¢ ONLY ELECTRIC BALLAD, is an especially personal look at finding love and happiness in a world that seems at odds with one’s own sense of self.

Our protagonists, Fred and Eddie, each find the world around them antagonizing their personalities and core beings.  Likened to square pegs attempting to fit in to round holes, they struggle to make sense of the societies and towns they were born in to.

In a touching scene that sets up their personal struggles, Fred and Eddie’s mothers attempt to soothe their troubles, assuring them that what differentiates them from the crowd is actually what makes them unique, special, and worthy of success in the world around them.  Ann Closs-Farley’s costumes for the scene are especially inventive, doubling as the sets of each family’s home.

In a way well known to any attendee of any previous 99¢ Only production, one stunning musical number follows another, leading to a crescendo of gargantuan proportions as the finale brings to a head what Thee Hands of Fate have set in motion for our protagonists.

Every element of the production builds upon each other, from Brandon Baruch’s lighting, Closs-Farley’s paper wardrobe, Roht’s lyrics, direction, and choreography, to Ballenger’s score.  The production team at Bootleg (big props to Jessica Hanna) was working overtime to keep the most serious minded 99 to date as light, fun, delicious (and cohesive) as a gourmet confection for the audience.

While Fred and Eddie, their mothers, co-workers, and the townsfolk around them all claim they (Fred and Eddie) are different, that they do not belong in the worlds they are born to, they actually find themselves seeking the most basic of needs.  They want to belong to something and be loved by someone.  And it is in the realization that they have found this in each other that we realize that regardless of Fred and Eddie’s differences, they are just like the others whom they consider to be so foreign and horrible.

This 99 reassures anyone who thinks that they are different, that they do not fit in, that even the smallest of worlds may hold hope for a fulfilling future.  Rather than hit the audience over the head with an anti Prop 8 diatribe, this 99 skillfully places the audience at the emotional center of those who are cast out, who are a minority, and how they, and all of us… how we are deserving of love, contentment, and togetherness.  That we are all the same-o, regardless of what socio-economic or ideological divides we believe keep us at odds.

Thematic content includes:  Redemption, Love, Singing, Dance/ Movement, Humor, Bring Kids.

KEN ROHT’S SAME-O, A 99¢ ONLY ELECTRIC BALLAD $25
students $18, 90057 residents 99¢
12/4 to 12/19 then 1/6 to 1/30
T,F,S 8pm Sn 3pm
Purchase Tickets online or by phone 213 389-3856

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