‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ comes to life at the Stage Door Repertory Theatre

In today’s bizarre world of Botox and fillers, lifts, tucks, and liposuction, the idea of selling one’s soul to the devil for the preservation of youth and beauty may seem highly illogical and completely unnecessary; however, from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes the Gothic horror story of a magnificently beautiful young man – whose aging, hedonistic evil, and corruption shows only in his portrait – and he audaciously transports the English literary classic tale into modern times. Is this too much of a risk?Does it lose value in its new translation? Visionary director Rose London adds her signature to the portrait along with a dedicated and strong cast, and SDRT’s provocative and clever rendition of the scandalous Dorian Gray becomes surprisingly relevant in spite of modern day advancements in medicine.We find ourselves in London, 1988. There is a hip, cool art world vibe in the air. Basil Hallwood is the talented young artist (Mark Rosier) whose unrequited love for his friend, Dorian Gray (Jason Cook) torments him and shakes him beyond desire.As an expression of his carnal obsession, he paints a jaw dropping portrait of Dorian, but Basil’s painting appears to go one step farther – it captures Dorian’s soul.With one wish, history is changed forever. Yes, the play itself is dark, but as London herself says, “…don’t be afraid to laugh at the funny parts.” And, although the story is one of sexual deviation, corruption, violence, and murder, the comedy that ricochets between the lines is worth a few laugh-out-loud chuckles including inside references about Cook’s previous role as Count Dracula at a local theater.All the while, the portrait that Basil has painted of Dorian is, for most intents and purposes, a basic illustration of photo-realism that has everyone who sees it feeling breathless and as awe-struck as though they’ve just caught a glimpse of a smirking Mona Lisa or a newly released never before seen Warhol exhibition.As time moves on and decades pass by, the painting creepily transforms. As the malevolent and evil Dorian commits more and more reprehensible and unforgiving crimes, the portrait begins to bear a resemblance to one of those scary B horror film clowns that brings back nightmares just thinking about the mockingly cunning evilness.The painting itself may have made an even bigger statement if some type of creative lighting or some type of special effects had been used; however, that does not deter from the storyline nor the entertainment value of SDRT’s latest must see production.While the acting by the entire ensemble is superb, what makes this production particularly special is the obvious mutual trust and admiration between Rosier and Cook. There is an undeniable sense of commitment and dedication amongst the talented cast with several members taking on multiple roles. Justine DeAngelo shows her range in her portrayal of five very different characters throughout the play.The other notable mentions are: Carlos Lopez as Harry, Adam Joseph Ferry as Alan/James, Wendy Karn as Victoria, Kevin Manalang as Rolf/Theodore, and Steven Teats as An American Senator. The bottom line? SDRT’sThe Portrait of Dorian Gray is worth the trip, and in case you’re wondering… it never gets old. Director/Set Designer: Rosemary London; Asst Director/Stage Mgr: Judy Mina-Ballard; Costume Designer: Heather Enriquez; Lighting Design: Marianne Papadopoulos; Executive Producers: Nick Charles/Julie Charles. The play runs through June 25.Stage Door Repertory Theatre 1045 N Armando St, Ste A, Anaheim, CA 92806. Phone 714-630-7378. www.stagedoorrep.org.

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