Home to not only a number of up and coming local bands, but also a variety of theater productions, the intimate Bootleg Theater is presently hosting an electronic ballad, Same-O by Ken Roht. This surreal performance done by a cast of talented young singers, dancers, actors and actresses delivers an uplifting message through a series of visually stimulating and abstract scenes.
Beginning abruptly, the audience is immediately thrown into the world of Same-O. It is a world wrapped inside elaborate costume design, beguiling videography, and thought provoking lyrics. The story follows two young men from two very different places who eventually find common ground, but the story is a mere pretense to the onslaught of vivid imagery throughout the show.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the costumes. Ann Closs-Farley does a brilliant job at creating captivating clothing using gift bags, newspaper, cardboard, whatever really. Upon first sight of the intricate designs, the logistics of them become mystifying for the application of the show, however, that is soon lost to the wonderment and charm they eminate.
The music is invitingly fresh and fits well into each scene. John Ballinger, who has worked alongside Roht and Closs-Farley for nearly every one of the 99¢ Only productions, creates a uniquely engaging arrangement of song and dance numbers. The singing is all acoustic and melodic, although at time lost to in the music.
This is the seventh 99¢ Only themed production choreographer, writer and director Ken Roht has been involved in since 2002. “I was walking through the isles of the 99¢ store after I got my morning coffee and noticed all of these amazing items that I could use in a theater production.” Roht tells me about his inspiration for the first play. “I contacted the store headquarters and they were immediately cooperative.”
“I saw the documentary called ‘The Age of Stupid’ and realized that we can’t use plastic ever again for another play. It’s just irresponsible at this point. I knew that when we used all paper it would change the aesthetics of the production. It woulnd’t be as glossy as all of the plastic that we’ve used. We tried to employ the concept of sustainability here, which involves people being conscious of their environment and their relationship to it. These two guys in the show that are trying to address their growing consciousness while being caught in the process of being the same.” Roht summarizes, adding that the play is also a reaction to politicizing human rights and Prop 8.
You can catch Same-0 at the Bootleg Theater, located at 2220 Beverly Blvd in LA, until December 19th.