American Misfit: Review Rundown

latimesCRITIC’S PICK “With ferocious satire, time-bending surrealism and songs fiercely throbbing to the wild heart of early rock ‘n’ roll, Dan Dietz’s darkly brilliant “American Misfit” defies easy labels — as befits a full-volume celebration of the dissonant chord of rebellion sounding throughout our nation’s history. In the show’s striking inaugural production from the Theatre @ Boston Court, Michael Michetti’s staging hits all the right notes.”

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lastagewatch“If all this sounds somewhat abstruse or confusing, the rockabilly score by Dietz and Phillip Owen, with musical direction and arrangements by Omar Brancato, keeps everyone wide awake and eager to figure it all out. [Banks] Boutté is an alarmingly seductive fulcrum of the production, playing a role that’s not too far, dramatically if not musically speaking, from the role of the emcee in Cabaret.”

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stage and cinema small square box JPG“Dan Dietz’s American Misfit is the kind of smart, provocative entertainment that stimulates the best part of an audience: its appreciation.  As produced by the ever-resourceful Theatre @ Boston Court, this play furiously delineates some mixed results of the American experiment with historical footnotes that illuminate our present with the flickering light of our past.  Via songs by Mr. Dietz and Phillip Owen, painstaking and inventive direction by Michael Michetti, and the enthusiastic participation of a four-man rockabilly band and a cast of eight (some overlap there), this show shouts encouragement to those who would participate in a collective political and spiritual evolution.  If the show were a person, I would make violent love to it.”

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lifeinla“The first step I took into Pasadena’s Boston Court Theatre was an impressive one. The building was brand new and decorated with minimal yet artsy décor and decked out with a professional “will call” area employing staff that were friendly, knowledgeable and highly organized. However, this theater is not your regular theater.  Part of Boston Court’s vision statement is to “challenge both artist and audience”—and Dan Dietz’s American Misfit, a world-premiere play directed by Michael Michetti, does exactly that and more!”

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la_weekly_logo_265x70“A 1950s sock hop is the unlikely setting for playwright Dan Dietz’s formally daring but sometimes bewildering meditation on this country’s foundational heart of darkness. Based on the grisly, real-life predations of the Harpe brothers (Daniel MK Cohen, AJ Meijer), who terrorized Tennessee’s backwoods in the 1790s, this fanciful ode to both Tocqueville and Sun Records employs a rockabilly-fueled original score (by Dietz and Phillip Owen), irreverent impersonations of famous founding fathers (by Larry Cedar and P.J. Ochlan) and a somewhat politicized reading of the Harpes to argue that, for better or worse, civilization — and America in particular — finds its richest expression in its most contrary and disruptive discontents. And if Dietz’s nomadic reasoning holds more water as political theory than as engaging stage narrative, the combination of Michael Michetti’s fertile direction, Lee Martino’s thrilling swing choreography, Ann Closs-Farley’s vividly imagined costumes and Omar D. Brancato’s four-piece band (fronted by a smoldering Banks Boutté) goes a long way toward shoring up the leaks.”

stagesceneladotcom2RECOMMENDED: “America’s first ever serial killers come back to surreal life in American Misfit, Dan Dietz’s overreaching yet frequently entertaining historical dramedy with music, now playing at The Theatre @ Boston Court under Michael Michetti’s imaginative direction. The killers in question are the Harpe Brothers, an unmatched pair of siblings whose killing spree through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Mississippi in the post-Revolutionary years of our country’s infancy was either a misguided attempt at small-scale counterrevolution or a simple case of blood lust. As for the music in question, it is 1950s rockabilly, performed live onstage by a sensational three-piece band and sung by the evening’s narrator, the charismatic Banks Boutté as Rockabilly Boy.”

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laist07350“Following the Revolutionary War, brothers Little Harpe (Daniel MK Cohen) and Big Harpe (AJ Meijer) are disgruntled. Their father, a monarchist, was hanged, and this has inspired the siblings to a counterrevolution, which consists of murdering innocent people, slitting them open and filling them full of stones. They’re joined in their endeavor by sisters Betsey (Karen Jean Olds) and Sue (Maya Erskine), but things really change when they meet minister’s daughter Sally (Eden Riegel). When one Harpe finds love and the other wants to continue the war, tragedy awaits.”

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