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“A Few Good Men” commands a solid salute to the meticulous and prestigious legacy of proflic playwright Aaron Sorkin. La Mirada for the Performing Arts is fortunate to craft a production that takes the best parts of the original Broadway run and the 1992 film version as the writer articulated his writing skills from both experiences. The pace is quick with the steady close-knit talking characters and grasping chemistry between actors that draws the audience into the powerful courtroom drama.
Those who are only familiar with the movie will have a different experience with the live stageplay. The drama is accentuated to be read and heard clearly across the open space and feeds off the audience reaction bouncing from playful humor to intense moments of awe. The show brings a handful of set-ups and payoffs that doesn’t ring the same as it would on a film medium. A couple of men drinking beer bottles from a baby stroller plays true for an audience who frequent the local theme parks. A scene between the colonel and the doctor is a setup that gives a different payoff in the movie version.
Fans of the film will get a different take upon experiencing the show with live actors and a live audience. The audience is transported and becomes a part of the drama from beginning to end.
From Academy-Award winning writer and renowned playwright Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing” and To Kill A Mockingbird), this Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover-up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in so doing, puts the military mentality and the Marine code of honor on trial.
The audition process narrowed down from 500 submissions into a final cast of 18. Doug Harris will no doubthgly be compared to actor Tom Cruise based on the film version for the character of Lt. j.g. Daniel A. Kaffee. But with Harris’ expressive presence, I particularly saw him more as Jim Carrey playing a lawyer in the movie “Liar Liar” with the dramatic gravitas of more serious roles. Leanne Antonio puts her own passionate stamp on strongly opinionated and eager Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway always on her feet to get the work done.
Andy Umberger makes an intimidating and imposing Col. Nathan Jessep who you do not want to mess around with. 2020 Ovation Award recipient for Best Actress Sara King as by the book Lt. Jack Ross. King expertly demonstrates how her character can be played beyond traditionally associated with a man.
This production will not attract those more familiar with grand musical spectacles. This show asks for the audience’s undivided attention to not only the drama of a court martial hearing, but also the drama that sets up before and takes place outside the court room. Although the main stage is solely set up as a court room, the upper level of the back reveals the Guantanamo Bay post and different portions of the stage split up as different locations with re-positions of tables and chairs.
The sounds and music undertones also contribute to separating time and space between scenes. This show will command the attention of those who grew alongside such court dramas as “Matlock” and “Diagnosis: Murder”. This show is not to be missed if you love stageplay court dramas like “12 Angry Men”
“A Few Good Men” is ready for final inspection from a few good audience members. Playing on select dates now until November 20 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Interestingly enough, the show runs appropriately during elections and a veterans holiday weekend.
Be aware the show is recommended for a mature audience. The show includes adult language, the portrayal of violence, suicide, and gun shot sound effects. For more information, visit www.lamiradatheatre.com