“King Liz” Scores @ The Geffen

The career of a successful sports agent is a dream, yet the path to get there is fraught with stress , drama, and a bit of humor tucked in, as well.  Elizabeth (Liz) Rico, portrayed by Sabrina Sloan, knows this all too well; and her impeccable performance draws the audience into her world, where the tension in the air onstage is palpable.  Her dream is to create a new star, a legend out of Freddie Luna (Evan Morris Reiser), who ironically reminds her all too well of herself, so the two form an innate bond from the start.
Character development, thanks to the stellar direction of director Jesca Prudencio, and writer, Fernanda Coppel, shines through, as each character reaches his/her potential by show’s end. The goal of a making a mark on the sports world, despite the pressures of substance abuse, and lack of complete mental focus, resonates universally in every profession, thus making  a strong impact and is, essentially, the premise of “King Liz.”  The supporting actors, Michele Ortiz, as Gabby Fuentes, and Ray Abruzzo, as Mr. Candy, add the needed levity to such high powered situations. Now in its run at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, just blocks away from UCLA’s renowned Wooden Center, this play will attract both sports fans/enthusiasts, and others alike. The moments that will stay with us, long after show’s end, is the power of friendship, family, home, roots, despite change, power plays, manipulation, and competition, ultimately makes the inner growth of each ensemble member all the more sentimental. The show begins with Gabby hobbling onto the stage, barefoot, clutching her stilettos in her hand, showing her ability to multitask right from the start. Her ultimate goal is to step into the (very big) shoes of her boss, Liz, so she attentively follows her every move, whether she agrees with her tactics or not. Freddie Luna enters the scene, midway through, with large scale dreams and high hopes  of becoming a major superstar, always thinking of his  beloved roots, and mother, whom he wishes to buy a house with his fortune. The strong ties that bind between these characters is indicative of the nature of the industry and will endure all long distances, way beyond the court and basket . Significant throughout the show is how the actors evolve, with definite range of emotion and character development.

States writer Fernanda Coppel, “The play is very personal, but it’s not necessarily autobiographical.  King Liz is very much about one’s journey towards a commercial sense of success.” The phrase “follow your dreams” rings true, as Liz and Freddie  slowly realize and reveal their sense of connection as they bond, both professionally and personally. Each character wishes to get ahead, advance in the world of professional basketball yet maintain friendships without burning bridges, against all odds. Despite personality differences, the show proves that honesty and respect is  always most powerful and motivating.  As so many Americans relate to the power and enjoyment of going to games together, a theatrical production on this subject matter is just the ticket. The rapport and chemistry between all actors is evident. States Coppel: “You can feel when people are on the edge of their seats…theatre is a process of creating a moment in time.”  “King Liz” is a real gift to the Los Angeles theatre- going community, a new, original play, with characters we get to know, as they get to know themselves! Basketball fans of all ages will universally appreciate the heart and soul of this show, and will come to appreciate what world athletes, and their agents  go through on the highest level. ‘Sports is religion,’ to so many, and “King Liz” connects on so many levels.


About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at www.examiner.com and www.tolucantimes.com my email is bonniedeb13@hotmail.com
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