Alex is an awesome, awesome theatre guy that I would love to spend more time with, but our schedules and geography are always pulling us in polar opposite directions. He's got a rigorous schedule at Cal State LA and I'm, you know, galavanting all across the LA theatre community every chance I get. So I was totally stoked that we FINALLY nailed down meetup for Theatre of NOTE’s completely female run production of Gina Femia’s For The Love Of. Also stoked to be seeing the work of one of my new favorite LA directors, Rhonda Kohl, who never stops creating and is really making her mark on the theatre community. I’m a big fan of the diversity of her work as well as the way her style stays true to herself in the content she chooses. You GO girl!
We had no idea what we were in for, so the surprise ahead was absolutely thrilling. I got a little sentimental while waiting to use the bathroom in the tiny venue, which is literally attached to the stage. This was where I put up my very first Hollywood Fringe Festival show, and as crazy as those days were, I do miss those days. The space is important here though, because Rhonda's team really transformed the little joint. I was skeptical going in that a play about a rollerskating rink could happen in this...little room. But oh boy does it! Design-wise they really transformed the space and drew the audience closer to the action, which again, there is a lot of. You kind of need to jump in just to know what I'm talking about here!
The ensemble of For the Love Of is key, and kills it in this production. Every girl matters and this cast has proved it. As someone who has had a secret little dream of becoming a derby doll for a little while now, the team really nailed the roller girl aesthetic, from physicality to fashion to vocal delivery. Everyone in this cast is committed to the game in a major way. But I would also like to make a shoutout for the heartfelt, emotional performance of Crystal Diaz; I was always drawn to her time on stage. The choreography was also exceptional. I can't even begin to imagine the hours of rehearsal to make it look as clean, sharp and authentic as it did on opening night. Rhonda’s background in dance combined with a detailed study of the roller derby environment really shines through in a way that you have probably never seen on stage before. These girls work their asses off, bringing the reality, roughness and relationships of the rink even closer to the audience.
Theatre is not easy. And seeing this show reminded me of that in a different way than I am used to. Instead of sitting around a living room, weeping, spewing emotions (which again, is my typical, BORING taste in theatre) these girls use their bodies, their brains and their voices to tell this story. The text of the play makes clear that everyone has a different story, that everyone rolls for a different reason. Good to remember, when comparing yourself to others in any industry.
For The Love Of has been extended for an additional two performances at Theatre of NOTE through Tuesday May 29th. You've got just TWO more chances to catch these bad-ass babes tear up the rink, so don't miss out!