- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
The Fix boasts a first-rate cast of singing actors, an on-stage band that can almost make you believe in the show’s less-than-electrifying rock score, and a production that is professional and creative.
But it doesn’t even try to overcome a story line that is, at its best (which is not often) perfectly predictable and at its worst (in its secret heart) seriously believes in concepts that Adolf Hitler endorsed in the 1930s: a less-than-pure bloodline will lead to evil and a polio victim is always a villain.
The oddball story was a hit in London in the late 90’s (you’d think the Brits had learned about racial purity the hard way) and now, at International City Theatre in Long Beach, it is being presented in a new guise, full of clever production twists and intriguing performances, but still a heartless shell with an impossible story that takes the American electoral process and builds improbability on improbability until the very cliched end.
It’s the story of the Chandler family, a powerful (and fictitious, Los Angeles audiences need to hear) American dynasty whose head Reed Chandler dies having sex with his mistress just before he wins his party’s presidential nomination. His wife decides that if she can’t be a president’s wife she will be a president’s mother, and begins the lengthy program of grooming her son for the presidency. That’s a problem, because the son is a lazy no-good whose illegitimate father was a serial killer who dies in the electric chair at least three times on stage, and whose uncle, crippled by polio at age seven is as manipulative as Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister with a club foot. None of that matters. They will make him president anyway, even if he has to marry a Chicago hoodlum’s very cold daughter.
If this were done as a knock-about musical it might be funny. Certainly some the lines are hilarious. (“Of course he’s a mobster. That’s why he dresses that way.”) But it is done as a serious play with characters you don’t like and it never takes off, despite the very good cast.
That cast includes Sal Mistretta as Graham, the polio-suffering brother and uncle of the putative presidents. He works his way around stage with two metal crutches and you can’t take your eyes off him as he plots his nephew’s rise to the governorship. Alix Korey is Violet, the mother who wants what was taken from her by her husbands’ death, ignores her dead lover’s ghost to forward her son’s career.
That son is Cal (Adam Simmons) and he does the best he can with a role that takes him from impotent drug addict to the Governor’s mansion in two hours, and ends up with him dead from the sharkskin-suited gangster when he finally refuses to compromise. International City Theatre gives the production their usual shine, and Director Randy Brenner and Musical Director Darryl Archibald make it a clever production, but it has no heart. If this is what the British think our political system is like, we are in big trouble.
Tickets are $29-$44. Performances are Thursday, May 3 at 8 p.m., Friday, May 4 at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 5 at 8 p.m., Sunday, May 6 at 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. through May 20.
Venue: International City Theatre
Details: (562) 436-4610, http://ictlongbeach.org/
Location: Center Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach.