Los Angeles Theater: SALVAGE (Revival at Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood)

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by Joan Alperin on October 2, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles

A popular country-infused musical reviewed by Stage and Cinema is being remounted October 9, 2021, after two previews October 7-8 at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood. The revival of Salvage retains original cast members DAVID ATKINSON as Preacher and LEONARD EARL HOWZE as Johnson, plus two exciting additions, NATALIE LLERENA as Destiny and SAM O’BYRNE as Harley. Musical Direction is by Colin Linden. We reprint our review below.

Salvage
Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood
October 9 thru November 14, 2021
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 3
for tickets, call (323) 856-4249 or visit Salvage

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GET YOUR SOUL SALVAGED

The minute I sat down at the Lounge theatre and saw the rundown bar on the stage equipped with a few tables, a jukebox and several guitars hanging on the walls along with a photograph of a famous country musician named Floyd Whitaker, I was transported to some small rural town which could exist anywhere in America.  I also got a feeling that I was about to have a remarkable theater experience and that’s exactly what happened.

When Salvage opens there are two men in a bar. One is the bartender/owner Johnson (Leonard Earl Howze) and the other, a once-handsome bearded burnout named Preacher (David Atkinson). From his face and his gruff voice, we can tell that Preacher has been through a lot.

In between guzzling down several bottles of whiskey, he picks up his guitar and sings while expertly accompanying himself. His first song, “I’m So Tired of It All,” shows a man filled with deep heartache, profound regrets, and secrets that are tearing away at his very being. Preacher has given up on life.

Just before his song comes to an end, Harley (Christopher Fordinal), a handsome and outgoing twentysomething enters carrying his guitar case. He is about to pawn his guitar so he can provide for his wife who’s carrying his child. As soon as Harley sings, the Preacher knows this is the last thing the amazing singer/songwriter should do.

When Harley finds out that this bar is where the great Floyd Whitaker got his start, he is so excited that he can barely contain himself. He won’t leave until he finds out every detail about Floyd’s life from Preacher.

Later, Harley’s wife, Destiny (Nina Herzog) — who has a great voice of her own — surprises Preacher when she begs her husband not to pawn his guitar…not to give up on his dream.

Director Damian D. Lewis does a fantastic job blending the music with Tim Alderson’s authentic dialogue. This is a play that not only has amazing songs — by Mark Heard, Pat Terry, Randy VanWarmer, and Alderson — and riveting performances, but it’s one that digs deep into the characters’ past revealing secrets, drawing us in with palpable vulnerability. This is a must-see.

Sets by Joel Daavid, lights by Matt Richter, sound by Christopher Moscatiello, costumes by Wendell C. Carmichael, and music direction by Stephan Terry.

photos by Ed Krieger

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