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The Fix

International City Theatre presents a well-balanced, beautifully acted production of this dark musical about American politics.

By Los Angeles
Sal Mistretta, William T. Lewis, David Michael Laffey, Stephanie Hayslip, Adam Simmons, Carrie St. Louis,and Jay Donnell in The Fix
(© Carlos Delgado)
Sal Mistretta, William T. Lewis, David Michael Laffey,
Stephanie Hayslip, Adam Simmons, Carrie St. Louis,
and Jay Donnell in The Fix
(© Carlos Delgado)
There are so many vicious characters in the political musical The Fix, now at International City Theatre, that the audience needs a compelling lead with whom to connect.

Luckily, Adam Simmons projects enough naïveté, pain, and earnestness -- along with a pitch-perfect voice -- in the role of presidential hopeful Cal Chandler that the audience can identify with someone in this world of schemers and derelicts.

Even more fortuitously, director Randy Brenner (who helmed a previous production of the show at Musical Theatre Guild), manages to balance the book's melodrama and the satire. He makes sure that the actors on the stage aren't mouthpieces, but convey that they believe every line they say and sing.

Much like Kander and Ebb's Chicago, the show -- which debuted in London in 1997 -- was ahead of its time. Now that America has encountered George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, and has seen a Congress on both sides of the aisles that vote for their personal pocketbooks instead of for the greater good, The Fix feels ever so prescient.

The score by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe is suitably melodic with piercing, often clever lyrics. Rowe mixes different musical motifs within a vast array of genres, while Dempsey has a wicked way with a rhyme scheme, tickling the audience's brains with not only the words chosen but their tongue-twisting frequency.

The supporting cast is excellent. As Call's political advisor and uncle, Sal Mistretta perfectly portrays an evil creature who, despite a polio-ridden body, has real deformities in his soul. Although he begs for mercy and compassion in two songs, his cruelty and machinations illustrate why the man deserves little.

William T Lewis is dripping with charm as Cal's father, a JFK-like figure who would have been king, while Alix Korey stings as the manipulatively focused mother of Cal, who will sacrifice anyone to live in the White House.

Melanie Fernandez sultrily sings several of the great torch songs in the show, including "Lonely is a Two-Way Street" and "Mistress Of Deception." Portraying 20 or more characters, Jay Donnell, Stephanie Hayslip, David Michael Laffey, and Carrie St Louis quickly swap roles and give each one spin and definition.

If none of the cast showed up one night, audiences would still understand every theme through the ambitious set by Stephen Gifford. The stage is painted with American stars and stripes that have been so scratched and sullied you can barely recognize it. A red curtain sits in the center. and columns (from the Capitol building maybe?) have been ripped apart as if by bombs or wild beasts. On the back curtain are outlines of people, who might be shadows of the puppeteers or the faceless manipulated American public.


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