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A subversive delight awaits you with A Noise Within’s MISALLIANCE | The South Pasadenan

PHOTO: Craig Schwartz |  South Pasadenan |  Josey Montana McCoy, Frederick Stuart, Dan Lin and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.
PHOTO: Craig Schwartz | South Pasadenan | Josey Montana McCoy, Frederick Stuart, Dan Lin and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.

What I love about A Noise Within is that they consistently bring us lushly designed, beautifully produced classic works that, more often than not, are rarely edited in the greater LA area. We are indeed blessed to have such a phenomenal repertory company in our backyard. And once again, this is the case with their latest production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Misalliance,” now playing through June 9.

It is 1910 and we are sitting in the conservatory of the large, chic English country house of underwear magnate John Tarleton and his wife. Shaw is particularly verbose in Misalliance, but if sparkling, witty jokes along with political and social debates mixed with an exciting good time is your idea of ​​fun, then pull up a chair and spend the afternoon with this extraordinary cast of characters. The story is really secondary to the stimulating, and certainly subversive for the time, discussions about feminism and class, which are cleverly presented here by director Guillermo Cienfuegos’ top cast.

PHOTO: Craig Schwartz |  South Pasadenan |  Josey Montana McCoy, Deborah Strang, Riley Shanahan, Frederick Stuart and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.
PHOTO: Craig Schwartz | South Pasadenan | Josey Montana McCoy
Deborah Strang, Riley Shanahan,
Frederick Stuart and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.

This story centers on Tarleton’s daughter Hypatia, who longs to escape the rarefied atmosphere of her upbringing to experience something extraordinary. That in the end something literally falls from the sky due to an emergency landing by the dashing pilot John Percival and his co-pilot, the Polish acrobat Lina Szczepanowska. The men are rendered helpless in the presence of Lina’s overt strength and beauty, including Hypatia’s fiancé, the meek Bentley Summerhays, and Tarleton himself. Meanwhile, Hypatia is immediately taken by the pilot and pursues him breathlessly.

PHOTO: Craig Schwartz |  South Pasadenan |  Trisha Miller and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.
PHOTO: Craig Schwartz | South Pasadenan | Trisha Miller and Peter Van Norden in Misalliance at A Noise Within.

The first act is wonderfully long-winded and sets up all the relationships, while the majority of the antics take place once the pilots arrive on the scene. There is a newly completed Turkish bath in the center of the room that will ultimately hide a whole new storyline, character and wryness in what should have been a dull afternoon.

PHOTO: Craig Schwartz |  South Pasadenan |  Frederick Stuart and Erika Soto in Misalliance at A Noise Within.
PHOTO: Craig Schwartz | South Pasadenan | Frederick Stuart and Erika Soto in Misalliance at A Noise Within.

Cienfuego expertly weaves the sometimes chaotic story into an endlessly engaging, often laugh-out-loud romp that not only makes you feel smarter, but thoroughly entertained. Trisha Miller is captivating and powerful as the irrepressible Lina, while Erika Soto is a sulky and passionate Hypatia. Josey Montana McCoy is an absolute hoot as the sniveling Bentley with a height problem, and Frederick Stuart gives the older Lord Summerhays a sweet nostalgic dignity. Riley Shanahan is a smug and extremely watchable Johnny Tarleton (son of Tarleton and brother of Hypatia) and Peter Van Norden gives Tarleton just the right amount of bombasticism and annoyance. Joshua Bitton makes an intriguing and mysterious Julius Baker and the always delightful Deborah Strang stirs things up with her cunning and motherly Mrs. Tarleton.

Especially if you’ve never had the chance to see a play by Shaw: this production is a wonderful play by this prolific playwright, with a cast perfect in this style, performing on a breathtakingly beautiful set by Angela Balogh Calin in beautiful historical costumes by Christine Cover Ferro. It’s an excellent performance from top to bottom.

Misalliance playing now through June 9 at A Noise Within at 3352 E Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (626) 356-3100 or visit www.anoisewithin.org.

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