From the East Bay Voice
Not Quite Opera's current production, Musical Genius, is a musical comedy playing at the Portrero Hill Neighborhood House in San Francisco. It has an immensely talented cast, laden with great energy and enthusiasm.
The play takes place during the 1930's Depression Era. John Crumbe, a songwriter, composes music in a storefront church. There, he meets and falls in love with Violet Rose, a singer. They are being kept hostage by a gangster who's seeking redemption, Carrot Cohan. Also being held hostage are a closeted minister / cowboy-wannabe, Reverend Roach, a destitute diva, Helen of Troy, New York, who chases after the minister, as well as Paddy the Cop, who tries to capture Cohan. What follows are each character's journey into self discovery and identity.
Another subplot involving Paddy, who's a Guardian Angel, and Cohan, as his charge trying to enter the Pearly Gates, plays out during these other antics which leads us into the drama unfolding in the church. Carrot is sent back to Earth to seek redemption in order to become part of the Heavenly Choir, as he is also a violin player.
Douglas Mandell is wonderful to watch as Carrot Cohan. Tom Flynn is also adept as the cop / Guardian Angel. The two of them play off of each other with great skill. Also paired off are the hilarious team of Kay Arnaudo as Helen of Troy, New York, and Rich Richetta as the very closeted minister / cowboy-wannabe. The two new lovers are also played with great zeal by Len Shaffer as John Crumbe and Gina Latimerlo as the lovely singer, Violet Rose. The chemistry between all three pairs is only matched by the chemistry among the cast as an ensemble. This chemistry makes for great fun.