Theater Review: A FEW GOOD MEN (La Mirada Theatre)

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by William C. on October 30, 2022

in Theater-Los Angeles


Many are familiar with A Few Good Men, the 1992 courtroom drama film starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and Demi Moore, which uses clashes of egos and attitudes to bluntly raise provocative issues, including the self-justifying arrogance of power and the complacency of a society that assigns its security to people whom it distrusts for the very obsessiveness that brings them to their jobs. But Aaron Sorkin’s script actually came from the stage, and it is in many ways better than the film. The entertaining, slickly crafted courtroom drama, a 1989 Broadway hit, now combusts at La Mirada Theatre in a top-flight production.

Isaac J. Cruz, Gabriel Bonilla, Patrick Stafford, Aaron Pae Klein,
Michael Ocampo and Kodi Jackman (in back in front of fence)

An 18-year-old marine is hazed to death on the U.S. outpost at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Torture by the military? A cover-up by officers desperate to blame underlings? Soldiers’ religious fervor threatening discipline?

Michael Ocampo, Brandon Engman and Doug HarrisPatrick Stafford, Doug Harris and Sara King

The story involves two low level marines — Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson (Michael Ocampo) and Pfc. Louden Downey (Brandon Engman) — at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, accused of murdering one of their own: Private First Class William Santiago (Rodrigo Varandas). The Court Martial appears to be an open and shut case, and Lt. J.G. Dan Kaffee (Doug Harris), a smart ass, inexperienced and minimally dedicated attorney is assigned to defend the pair. He does defend them, following the twists and turns of the evidence to an unexpected verdict. Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Leanne Antonio) is O’Keefe’s female co-counsel, tensely trying to measure up in a masculine environment without surrendering her identity or her integrity.

Karole Foreman, James Ripple, Gabriel Bonilla, Andy Umberger and Rodrigo Varandas
Matthew Bohrer and Doug Harris

Casey Stangl’s crisp direction effectively and powerfully guides the audience through the action’s swift shifts between past and present, ensuring we get completely lost in the suspense of the play; her live fireworks trump the movie. The entire ensemble shines with Andy Umberger a standout as Gitmo commander Col Nathan Jessep — he captures the essence of the iconic character without simply relying on a military hardhead trope.

Matthew Bohrer and Doug HarrisCorey Jones and Andy Umberger

Sorkin’s masterpiece is aided by a winning design team. The set design by John Iacovelli is paired perfectly with the lighting design by Karyn D. Lawrence. Cricket Myers’ sound design is excellent as the dialogue is clear and the music fit perfectly in the transitions. Honestly, this production reminds me why I love theater. Do not miss this fantastic cast.

Doug Harris, Matthew Bohrer, Leanne Antonio, Karole Foreman, James Ripple,
Andy Umberger, Gabriel Bonilla and Rodrigo Varandas

photos by Jason Niedle

Aaron Pae Klein and Andy Umberger

A Few Good Men
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada
Thurs at 7:30; Fri at 8; Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 1:30 & 6:30
ends on November 20, 2022
for tickets, call 562.944.9801 or visit La Mirada Theatre

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