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June 14, 2019:

Monkey Mind reviewed by Rob Stevens

According to Terri Weiss’s book for a new musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, a monkey mind is one that is overactive, one that can’t focus. I’m not sure exactly what frame of mind Weiss and her composer Gerardo E. Herrera Benavides and lyricist Bill Berry were in when they conceived and created Monkey Mind, but they are in desperate need of an intervention for the muddled mess they are presenting on stage at the McCadden Theatre. Teenage singer Lacy (Darcy Rose Byrnes) is afflicted with a monkey mind, or so her new singing teacher Jeanie (Karla Kelly) tells her. She actually seems to be a split personality with Monkey Negative (Fernando Christopher in a leather harness), Monkey Crazy (Tori Cott on too much caffeine and sugar) and Monkey Positive (JD Mata channeling the Maharshi) all vying for her attention. She doesn’t get much attention from her dad Frank (Corey Page) who is in debt and wallowing in self-pitying widowhood. Jeanie’s singer/composer nephew Brandon (Cameron Gilliam) evokes shrieks from Monkey Crazy whenever he steps on stage and he takes off his shirt when finished singing. A singing contest and a heart attack also figure into the bare bones plot. The songs are negligible and the taped music often drowns out the singers. Byrnes and Page display strong singing voices; you just wish they had something worth singing. John Coppola’s direction and choreography seem to consist mostly of just having his actors jump on and off the blocks that represent the furniture. If you have a mind that enjoys good musical theatre, you might want to focus it elsewhere and not on Monkey Mind.


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