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Best Dope in Town Ricardo Borelli's solo show. At the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles.
Tuesdays, indefinitely

Noted but not reviewed:

Ricardo Borelli was a good boy, the son of middle class immigrant parents, both doctors from Argentina, he grew up outside Chicago, was a Boy Scout, got good grades and wanted to be an actor, even taking classes with Second City. Somewhere, the bug that bites many of us who grew up in middle class suburbia - that there must be more and that we want a piece of it - bit young Master Borelli hard, so hard that he began selling drugs to finance life in the fast lane. This goes the way you think it might: Mr. Borelli gets busted for stupidly selling a large amount of coke to a undercover agent, gets serious jail time (it was during the Reagan era after all) and comes out chasten and chastised. BEST DOPE IN TOWN, Mr. Borelli's one-man show about his life and times, running indefinitely on Tuesday nights at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose, rises above the mundane (life is supposed to be more mundane than art, isn't it, even when painful) thanks to the perfect pitch of Mr. Borelli's gifts as a mimic and the ruthless honesty with which he examines his own shortcomings.

The range of characters who inhabit Mr. Borelli's world - from his demanding father, vaguely hysterical mother, drug dealing friends, gang leaders, prison guards etc, are all etched with a three-dimensional acidity that renders them indelible to the mind. His analysis of his life, refreshing in its lack of self-victimized whining, ultimately reminds us, and I think Ric Borelli himself, that the good little boy of the suburbs didn't get lost, just lost his way for a while. Theatre is, at its best a redemptive act, and BEST DOPE IN TOWN shows that even the stupidest of actions can sometimes result in enlightenment, forgiveness and understanding


The Barber of Seville Los Angeles Opera presents Rossini comic opera. At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles Music Center. Through 22 Feb. 2003

The current revival of Rossini's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, at the Music Center until February 23, is a bit of a puzzler. If you look at the cover of the opera's program you will see these splashy Spanish yellows and reds and oranges, all very festival and full of light. The the curtain goes up on Mauro Pagano's set, and it looks like Eastern Europe from the 1950s: grey, held in by prison bars, with characters dressed in black, white and grey as well. It is very had to get laughs in grey, let me tell. Now, not to speak ill of the dead, Mr. Pagano passed away in 1988 (which tells you how this revival must be) but couldn't some one have gotten out the spray paint? Re-thinking light operas for their socialist realism was all the rage in Europe in the 80's but, I think we're past that now. Michael Hampe's direction doesn't help. His staging teeters uncomfortable between occaisonal bits of schtick and determined realism. Gabriele Ferro doesn't help in the pit, either. His conducting always strikes me as too loose and unfocused for a house the size of the Music Center. Still, the singers manage to rise above it all. Vladimir Chernov is a slippery-smooth barber, getting in and out of jams; John Osborne is the fun-loving yet dashing Count Almaviva; and Carmer Oprisano (while given over to mugging a bit too much) is the happless Rosina who waits for the boys to rescue her from her lecherous old ward, Dr. Bartolo (played with Zero Mostel-like aplomb by Bruno Pola). (There will be an alternate cast later in the run). BARBER OF SEVILLE should be, and could have been, a light hearted romp. Instead, it merely trips along.

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