Theater review: ‘The Story of My Life’ by Havok Theatre Company


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Musicals are like people. Some are lively and outgoing, others are quiet and inward-looking. ‘The Story of My Life,’ performed by two actors in just 90 minutes, is most definitely the latter, which goes a long way toward explaining why it was so out of place a year ago on Broadway, where it opened and closed in four days.

It seems right at home, however, in L.A.’s small-theater scene, presented by the Havok Theatre Company at the Lillian.


Script writer Brian Hill and composer-lyricist Neil Bartram tell a tale that is, by turns, mournful, sprightly and shimmering. Tom, a celebrated, still-youngish author, is struggling to write a eulogy for his friend Alvin. Something went wrong between them, and as Tom retraces their lives back to boyhood -- with help from the materialized Alvin -- he watches for moments of separation.

As embodied by Robert J. Townsend, Tom has the preppy good looks that make for a great book-jacket photo, and an easy charm to match. Chad Borden’s Alvin is quirky and funny, the sort of person who would have been teased mercilessly in school but grew up to be entertainingly fascinating.

Their experiences together -- the inspiration for much of Tom’s writing -- are relived in a ghostly bookstore of the mind (set by Tom Buderwitz). The recollections set it aglow (lighting by Steven Young).

Concealed behind the scenes, Michael Paternostro, at the keyboard, conducts a three-piece ensemble that also includes reeds and cello. Layered atop them, Townsend’s voice is like a horn; Borden, another reed.

For a show about life’s subtleties, this one sure uses a sledgehammer -- especially in all the symbolism it gleans from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Still, director Nick DeGruccio keeps most everything feeling grounded as Tom and Alvin explore the complex and sometimes uncomfortable moods of love and creativity.

-- Daryl H. Miller


‘The Story of My Life,’ Lillian Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends April 4. $34 and $38. (818) 505-1875 or Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.