Anyone who’s ever worked as a Hollywood assistant, or temped, or had an entry-level job, or known someone who has done any of the above (which is just about everyone I know) is bound to enjoy Bryan Blaskie and Manny Hagopian’s fresh, funny, smart, tuneful new musical Assistants, now playing at the Hollywood Fringe.
A dozen and a half Blaskie-Hagopian songs follow four 20somethings over a game-changing year of their Hollywood lives.
These are Nick (Daniel Amerman), who finds both plusses and minuses in having a famous movie director dad; Liz (Ali Axelrad), freshly arrived from Ohio with dreams of Hollywood stardom in her eyes; Tara (Abigail Eiland), an aspiring TV writer with a pilot to sell to the highest bidder, if only she can find someone to bid; and Isaac (Christopher Renfro), who’d like nothing better than to parlay his low-level job at a mid-level talent agency into a high-power position at CAA, WME, or UTI.
Over a series of mixers, the foursome get to know Hollywood and each other a bit better. Two of them fall in love, though one perhaps more than another. At least one realizes that Hollywood dreams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. One discovers parts of his or her heart that may have gotten buried in the pursuit of fortune and fame. And one gets precisely the success he or she is looking for, damn the consequences on that little thing called a soul.
Under C. Ryanne Domingues’ assured direction, charismatic StageSceneLA favorites Amerman, Axelrad, and Renfro once again impress with their acting, vocal chops, and star quality, and Eiland proves real a find with her powerhouse vocals. (Andrew Thomas plays Nick on June 28.)
Though additional dialog scenes would make Assistants a more fully fleshed-out musical, Blaskie and Hagopian’s songs are a catchy bunch. (The love ballad “On Top Of The Word” is a standout.) The onstage band couldn’t be better.
Lindsey Norris is stage manager and Federico Cibils is assistant stage manager/assistant director.
Already a sold-out Fringe Festival hit, Assistants is a musical you can expect to be hearing a good deal more from. I certainly am.
June 20, 2015