I’ve known many a librarian in my life. One of my dearest friends (Z”L) was a librarian, and she had an inner something that made you not want to cross her… or you would pay the price. I’ve got corporate librarians on my van; again, don’t let their exteriors fool you about their toughness. I even know librarians that can dance people until they drop. So, when I saw a show in the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) catalog that was described as “In this action-packed comedy, a shy librarian is recruited into the thrilling world of professional assassinations, international intrigue, and forbidden romance”, well, I was sold. That show was All The Best Killers are Librarians (FB, TW), and it was the second show we saw last Sunday.
Before I go into the show itself, I’ll note that this show was the winner of Season Ten of “Serial Killers” at Sacred Fools Theater. Serial Killers (FB) is a Sacred Fools (FB) late night production where each week, three continuing stories face off against two new tales. At the end of the show, the audience votes for the three stories that will continue on to the next Saturday night, where their subsequent episodes will then be pitted against two completely new storylines. The season culminates in a head-to-head battle royale between the sixteen top serials, including the eight longest-running serials plus audience-choice selections!
All The Best Killers are Librarians (written by Bob DeRosa (FB)) tells the story of Margo, a shy librarian, content to hide out at the research assistance desk in the back of her library. But then she meets Lancaster, a man who hires and trains the best assassins in the world. Lancaster is convinced she is a natural born killer, and he proves this by sending in three trained assassins to kill her. She dispatches them quickly, for she has the gift to instinctively kill when her life is threatened. Lancaster then recruits Margo into his action-packed world of professional assassinations, international intrigue, and forbidden romance. There’s only one problem: Margo doesn’t really like to kill, and she has started to fall in love with the cleaning man. You know, the cleaning man. The man who disposes of the bodies. Before the show is done, Margo’s hands will be stained with blood and she will know the truth: all the best killers are librarians!
The acting ensemble, who I’m presuming are drawn from the Serial Killers regulars, are aptly directed by Alicia Conway Rock (FB), who keeps the pace brisk and the action non-stop. She takes advantage of blackouts and sound effects to have stage violence that isn’t too violent, focusing instead on the fun of the story. I think this is one part of why this show is so successful.
Another part of the show’s success is the acting ensemble itself, led by Lauren Van Kurin (FB) as Margo, the librarian. Van Kurin’s Margo is sexy, smart, and damn good with a throwing knife. She’s playing this show for fun, and it is clear she enjoys this very physical role. That enjoyment comes across to the audience, who is rapidly drawn into to her dilemma and adventure. She’s just a hoot to watch, and I truly could not take my eyes off of her.
Paired with her as her recruiter and mentor is Eric Giancoli (FB) as Lancaster. Giancoli’s Lancaster is the classic handsome strong silent type, who gives the great impression that there’s something more there that (say it slow) he (pause) is (pause) not (pause) telling. Nice deep voice, very well played.
Margo’s love interest, Henry, is portrayed by Pete Caslavka. Caslavka seems to be having fun with the role, although I think he missed a spot up to the right :-).
Rounding out the performing ensemble were Jennifer C. DeRosa (FB) as Eleanor, Carrie Keranen (FB) as Crane / Mrs. White, Mike Mahaffey (FB) as Belinda / Numerous Killers, and Monica Greene (FB) as Sally / Numerous Killers. All of them were great and it is hard to single out specific supporting roles (especially as the two sacrificial killees are killed so many many times). DeRosa was fun to watch as Eleanor, Margo’s supervisor. In general, the amount of physical work that these cast members go through must be exhausting!
That leads us to the production and creative credits, and at the top of the list must be Mike Mahaffey (FB)’s fight choreography. Knives were popping out everywhere, and I just couldn’t see how it was done; there were loads of physical fighting moves and punches, and yet no one got hurt. Remarkable choreography, especially when you realize that Mahaffey was there in the middle of it. Also noticeable was Ben Rock (FB)’s sound design — a significant part of what made this production work were the sound effects, perfectly selected and timed. Matthew Richter (FB)’s was very effective (especially considering that one cannot always get the lighting one wants or needs at a Fringe venue), making maximum use of blackouts to create the illusion of extra violence. Rounding out the production credits: Jennifer C. DeRosa (FB) — Producer; Rachel Manheimer (FB) — Stage Manager; Blake Gardner (FB) — Photographer.
There are four remaining performances of All the Best Killers are Librarians (although some may already be sold out, including this Friday): Friday 6/10 at 8:30 pm; Wednesday 6/15 at 10:30pm; Saturday 6/18 at 4:00 pm; and Saturday 6/25 at 3:30 pm. I’ve been telling all my librarian friends about this. You can learn about the show and get tickets at http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/3510. You’ll enjoy this show quite a bit.
I should note that the Serial Killers team that is behind this show is also behind two other Fringe shows: Lamprey: Weekend of Violence and Serial Killers at the Fringe. We already have tickets to the former; and don’t have room in our schedule for the latter. You might, and you should probably go to those as well.
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Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.
Upcoming Shows: Ah, June. Wonderful June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows (for shows in the past, ✍ indicates writeup is in progress; ✒ indicates writeup is complete and links to the writeup):
- ✓ Sat, 6/4: Alien vs. Musical (230p) (✒) • Code 197 DWB (Driving While Blewish) (400p) (✒) • Toxic Avenger: The Musical (600p) (✒)
- ✓ Sun, 6/5: Tell Me On A Sunday (600p) (✒) • All The Best Killers are Librarians (800p) (✒)
- Sat, 6/11: Pali Hi All Year Picnic • Einstein (400p) • The Boy from Oz – the Celebration Theatre (FB) (800p)
- Sun, 6/12: Titus Andronicus Jr. (700p); and then the Tony Awards when I get home.
- Sat, 6/18: 30JJ or Bust: The World is My Underwire (1130a) • Lamprey: Weekend of Vengeance (200p) • Mark Twain Answers All Your Questions (600p) • The Old Woman (800p)
- Sun, 6/19: Sweet Love Adieu (100p) • All Aboard the Marriage Hearse (400p)
- Sat, 6/27: Squeeze My Cans (400p) • My Big Fat Blond Musical (830p)
- Sun, 6/28: Temple Israel Reunion • Hamlet (Las Vegas Style) (630p)
Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, a HOLD for Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.