A rock star and his biggest fan -- a nerdy 12-year-old -- learn something about the seductive and fleeting power of fame and the need for a strong sense of self in "The Legend of Alex," an entertaining, muscular new musical from the Mark Taper Forum's P.L.A.Y. (Performing for Los Angeles Youth) company.
Written with a well-integrated mix of comedy and drama by Doug Cooney, and given an irresistible pop-rock beat by composer David O, the show will be at several venues in a free series that began last Saturday at the Ivy Substation in Culver City.
When preteen Alex, a straight-A student with few friends, wangles himself into rock star Royce's dressing room at a concert, Royce assumes him to be a radio contest winner and allows him to tag along to a party. The pair end up stranded on the streets of L.A., where Royce's arrogance toward "uncool" street vendors, homeless people and bus riders makes Alex realize that he admires an image, not the flawed reality behind it. Royce, meanwhile, learns that fame is fleeting and that character counts.
Director Corey Madden's vigorous staging, with choreography by Ameenah Kaplan, is a kick; in one uproarious scene, a former child star turned convenience store clerk breaks into song, fronting a chorus of snack-cake puppets.
Charles Bodin as Alex and David Brouwer as Royce do ace jobs, while Carla Jimenez, Jarret LeMaster, Patrice Pitman Quinn and Christopher Sullivan shine in multiple roles.
'The Legend of Alex'
Where: Saturday, 1 p.m., 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., L.A., (213) 745-6516; April 5, 1 p.m., Rosemead High School, 9063 E. Mission Drive, (213) 972-3186; April 12, 3 p.m., Ritchie Valens Recreation Center, 10736 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Pacoima, (213) 972-3186; April 19, noon, Leo S. Bing Theatre, L.A. County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., (323) 857-6010; April 26, 1 p.m., Ivar Theatre, 1605 N. Ivar, Hollywood, (213) 972-7587.
Cost: All performances are free, but reservations are advised at smaller venues.