Johnny Guitar brings family fun to WCT

Johnny+Guitar+brings+family+fun+to+WCT

LALIG TARBINIAN

Whittier Community Theatre continued their exciting 2014-2015 season with Nicholas Von Hoogstraten’s book turned Off-Broadway, hit musical, Johnny Guitar with performances that began Feb. 20.

The musical starts by introducing Vienna, the aggressive, strong-willed Saloonkeeper, and her employees singing the opening theme song, “Johnny Guitar,” after the prologue while maintaining her bar on the outskirts of a wind-swept Arizona cattle town.

Although the town seems quiet, there is turmoil between the townspeople, led by Emma Small, and Vienna, who allows her former flame “The Dancin’ Kid” and his thuggish friends frequent her saloon.

As Emma Small rallies the townspeople, led by Cattle Owner McIvers, to evict Vienna and her comrades, a stranger finds his way into town to save the day, Johnny Guitar, (really gunslinger Johnny Logan), a former lover of Vienna’s. Will he save the day?

Mallory Kerwin portrays a different Vienna than the character played by Joan Crawford in the 1954 Western Drama.

Kerwin’s portrayal is more understanding, passionate and fair. She shows her kindness, independence and devotion to her saloon and friends while keeping her trigger finger close to her belt.

Kerwin not only does an amazing job acting, she makes the audience shake in their boots with her amazing vocal range with songs like “Branded a Tramp” and “Welcome Home,” a song she sings by herself while waiting for the inevitable.

Besides Kerwin, another actress stole the hearts of the audience with her obsessive behavior, hot temper and bully attitude.

Lindsay Marsh played Emma Small, the town owner who dislikes Vienna. This was Lindsay’s first time in a WCT production, and she dominated the stage with her strong leading performance and her eight-page song, “Who do they think they are.”

Her performance gave chills to audience members and made some wonder how someone so innocent looking could portray such a strong, dominating character.

Returning for his seventh production, Jay Miramontes played “The Dancin’ Kid,” and unlike his serious, romantic roles from before, he delivers some laughs with his unique style of dancing and rebellious attitude.

Besides keeping the audience laughing, Miramontes continued to show his diverse vocal range while singing songs like “What’s in it for me” and “The Gunfighter We’ve had our Moments.”

“The Dancin’ Kid” was not the only one who kept the audience laughing. The stranger who entered the saloon by the name of Johnny Guitar also contributed to the exciting formula that made the musical flow in a very enjoyable manner.

Matthew Berardi played the laid back, bad tempered, gun fighter Johnny Guitar, the stranger who tries to befriend everyone, but is love stricken by Vienna.

His laid back, cocky attitude, added some mystery to the musical while his singing took his character to a whole new level with such songs as “ A smoke and a good cup of coffee,” Old Santa Fe They were on Fire” and Tell me a Lie.”

Other members of the cast included Greg Stokes, who played McIvers, who gave a fantastic performance, being Emma’s right hand, and Richard Devicariis, who has appeared on stage at Rio Hondo.

Devicariis played two roles, Sam, the bartender at Vienna’s bar, and Ned, the banker who gets robbed by The Dancin’ Kid and his thuggish friends.

Jonathan Tupanjanin, a grad at Whittier College did an excellent job playing Turkey, the young boy who wants to be a man and Justin Murphy, who will be directing the company’s final production, of Neil Simon’s Rumors in June.

Murphy played three characters: Bart, Tom and Carl, all with his own twist.

Andy Kresowski also had the herculean task of playing four different characters in the musical: Eddie, Jenks, Bill and Hank.

Kresowski, and the rest of the Trio, did an amazing job complementing Johnny, The Dancin’ Kid, Vienna and Emma.

The live orchestra, with musical direction by Kevin Wiley, complemented the vocal abilities of the amazing singers taking the stage.

The choreography by Shannon Kane, gave a positive direction while giving every character its unique style and ability to grow and develop.

The costumes were believable and detailed. Without proper costumes and detailed sets, the musical would not have been as captivating as it was.

Nancy Tyler assistant director and Producer Karen Jacobson contributed to making the musical a hit.

Director Francis, known for directing such productions at WCT as The Music Man, A Fox On The Fairway, The Rainmaker and How To Succeed In business Without Really Trying, delivered a musical that not only keeps true to the story, but is fun for the whole family.

For the folks who have not caught Johnny Guitar, get on your horses and head on over. The last showing is on March 6, and March 7, at 8 p.m.

All performances will be at The Center Theatre, 7630 S. Washington Ave. Whittier.

For reservations or tickets call (562) 696-0600 or go to http://www.whittiercommunitytheatre.org for more information.