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A Los Angeles Theatre Review: ‘Celestial Events’

As in-person theatre is making more of a return throughout the United States and particularly in Los Angeles where I reside, there’s been a surge of plays that deal with traumatic topics of race when all or most of their cast members are that of Global Majority.

While I appreciate more diverse actors being hired in light of the ongoing conversations about race and inclusion that was sparked by the global 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, it is unfortunate that theatre companies forgot that utilizing diversity does not mean it is used only when traumatic stories need to be told.

Celestial Events is not that play. In fact, it is the absolute opposite with its earnest feel-good nature that incorporates Global Majority actors in meaningful roles. While it can be argued that it runs into cheesy sappy territory, it is a refreshing change of pace during these times and something I personally recommend if you are in the Los Angeles area during its short run.

Directed by Tom Amandes & Adrian Gonzalez and written by an ensemble effort by Deborah S. Craig, Christian Durso, Anna Rose Hopkins, John Lavelle, and Adriana Santos, this IAMA Theatre Company production marks a return for the company performing live in-person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ensemble
Photo by Jeff Lorch

And what better way than to create something entirely original and a change from the reflection of our turbulent world to the possibilities of what can be better? Celestial Events, at its core, is a play about 12 Angelenos whose paths cross in mysterious ways on the eve of a once-in-a-millennia meteor shower.

“This piece has turned out to be a wonderful, joyous collaboration among our multi-talented ensemble,” explain Deborah S. Craig and Christian Durso, who head up the writing team. “We worked together creatively across the board, and the result is, we think, an evening that speaks to our shared humanity. Here’s a chance to take a break from crisis. To go and feel something together, as a community.”

Kacie Rogers and Jamie Wollrab (L to R)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

Despite its simple premise, the entire weight of this play is carried by its actors and with such a mighty ensemble cast indeed. They are: Kacie Rogers, Jamie Wollrab, Sonal Shah, Melissa Jane Osborne, Adriana Santos, Tina Huang, Bailey Humiston, Ryan W. Garcia, Andria Kozica, Margaux Susi, Lexi Sloan, and Alex Alcheh. This required 100% from all actors involved and every single of them gave it all the way.

Sonal Shah, Melissa Jane Osborne, Tina Huang (L to R)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

With such a large cast, the play is actually quite intimate as majority of the scenes are done with two actors and how their paths cross. With efficient and yet imaginative production, lighting, sound, and costume design by Justin Huen, Bri Pattillo, Ivan Robles, and Manee Leija respectively, Celestial Events makes the most of its black box theatre space to tell its story.

Alex Alcheh and Lexi Sloan (L to R)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

If there’s only ONE fault I can wag my finger at is that the “everyone is somehow connected together” premise strains to the breaking point at times for particular stories while working much more organically for others. That being said, there is a tremendous amount of heart on its sleeve and I cannot fault the creators nor its actors for performing with such gusto that it is a wonderful reminder to see theatre at its most simplest form while being able to have so much of their ensemble reflect the diversity that is not only the Los Angeles landscape that it takes place in but the notion that it can and should be a conscious effort for all theatre companies to challenge themselves with.

Margaux Susi and Andria Kozica (L to R)
Photo by Jeff Lorch

WHAT:
IAMA Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Celestial Events, an ensemble-inspired play about friendship, love and shared experience in the city of L.A. The paths of 12 Angelenos cross in mysterious ways on the eve of a once-in-a-millennia meteor shower.

WHO:
Written, Directed, Performed and Produced entirely by ensemble members of IAMA Theatre Company
• Written by Deborah S. CraigChristian Durso, (co-writing captains), Anna Rose HopkinsJohn LavelleAdriana Santos
• Co-Directed by Tom Amandes and Adrian Gonzalez
• Starring Alex AlchehRyan W. GarciaTina HuangBailey HumistonAndria KozicaMelissa Jane OsborneKacie RogersAdriana SantosSonal ShahLexi SloanMargaux SusiJamie Wollrab
• Creative Team: Parvesh CheenaDeborah S. CraigAndria KozicaJohn LavelleKacie RogersLexi Sloan
• Production Manager: Josh Epstein
• Co-Produced by Terry Li and Geoffrey Rivas
• Presented by IAMA Theatre Company

WHEN:
March 5 – March 14
• Saturday, March 5 at 8 p.m. (Opening Night)
• Sunday, March 6 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• ThursdayMarch 10 at 8 p.m.
• FridayMarch 11 at 8 p.m.
• Saturday, March 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Sunday, March 13 at 7 p.m.
• Monday, March 14 at 8 p.m.

WHERE:
Actors Company LA
916 N Formosa Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

TICKETS:
$20

OTHER:
• Proof of full vaccination (including booster shot if eligible) and valid ID are required for admission.
• Patrons who are exempt from COVID-19 vaccinations due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of performance time.
• Masks, covering both mouth and nose, must be worn throughout the performance.

HOW:
www.iamatheatre.com

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