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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

‘Lizard Boy’ balances scales between poignancy, lunacy

How can a musical theater production be absurd, ridiculous and monotonous and at the same time so damn sweet that it secretly sucks in the audience?

Lizard Boy, which runs until October 31st at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, courtesy of TheaterWorks Silicon Valley, is all this and more, thanks to a diverse cast of three participants.

Musically “Lizard Boy” is hard to catch. His indie, rock and folk songs contain meaningless, crazy, beautifully rhyming lyrics, played on everything from ukulele, cello, guitar, kazoo, castanets and xylophone.

The show comes from the fertile, slightly demented mind of Justin Huertas: playwright, composer, lyricist and protagonist of The Lizard, whom he plays with scaly skin. Much of the script stems directly from Huertas’ life, including his childhood shyness, his acting as a gay Filopino, and his love of playing the cello.

Huertas and her co-stars Kirsten “Kiki” deLor Helland and William A. Williams work together so closely that they are like a tiny symphony orchestra moving and swaying under the baton of director Brandon Ivey.

The quartet have been working together for several years now, and Ivy said rehearsals are a cross between a garage orchestra rehearsal, a brainstorming session, and a house party. The free format can be confusing to the public, as it is not immediately clear if they are faking them or if the story is as dumb as it seems. It.

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When Trevor (Huertas) was a child, an unusual playground incident involving the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington in 1980 caused scaly flares on his skin. He becomes a lonely hermit, willing to leave his little apartment for only one day a year: MonsterFest.

Trevor meets Carey (Williams) through Grindr – a social network for the LGBT community – and they go to see Siren (Helland) perform at a local bar.

The rest is best seen because it is almost impossible to describe. And in more than 90 minutes without intermission, there are moments that drag on. Then something unexpected happens and the audience is pulled back into the show.

Lighting design by Robert J. Aguilar adds several dimensions to the scene, and Eric Andor’s suit design is unique (take a look at the tight spandex suit Helland wears). Jeff Mock’s sound design is robust and much needed.

There is one important production element that misses the mark: Huertas’ transformation from insecure Trevor to Lizard Boy deserves a proper superhero costume, not just a background indicating change.

Lizard Boy runs until October 31 at the Performing Arts Center at 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Tickets start at $ 30 at www.theatreworks.org or 650-463-1960.

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