The evolution of a script is not something we all are privy to. Rarely do you get the treat of tracing a script through development. Diva is one that I've watched grow from little solo play at United Solo to flashy production at Theater for the New City. With book and characters by Sean Patrick Monahan and music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen, Diva: Live From Hell is the quintessential show for musical theater lovers.
|photo by Russ Rowland|
Director Daniel Goldstein helped guide Monahan and his characters through hell and back. Goldstein kept the tempo snappy and the audience on their toes. Desmond is a naturally comical person but he doesn’t necessarily find his situation comical. And that’s where the humor shines. There’s a newfound moment of vulnerability for Desmond in his arc. And Goldstein has Desmond strip away to reveal his vulnerability. Literally. And it felt completely out of character. Rather than expose a new side of the character, you were left wondering why. With a lounge in hell, ambiance was integral. The scenic design from Dan Geggatt and Caitlyn Murphy was perfect for Desmond. This diva needed her stage and her runway and he got it. With headshots and photos through the ages, red string lights, and cabaret tables galore, the smoky lounge was elevated even further through the pristine lighting from Paige Seber. It all came down to color and the blues and reds worked wonders. Tyler Kieffer maintained the feeling of hell by incorporating the crackling embers at moments. Perfectly placed echoes helped Desmond transform into storytelling flashbacks but the school “bell” wanted to be a little more universal and less buzzy. Desmond would not be Desmond without the flashiest of flashy outfits. The shiny suit and bowtie matched the character. It was a great choice by costume designer Tilly Grimes.
Diva: Live From Hell is a theater lover’s dream. If you find yourself asking if you have a little Desmond Channing in you, it’s totally ok. Just hopefully it’s not the psychopath part of him. The journey for Diva: Live From Hell is far from over. Desmond Channing has a lot more show in him.