Listen up! Parson’s Nose Theater is back with a delightful new production of Moliere’s The Too Learned Ladies in their beautiful, new “abbey” space on Marengo in Pasadena. This is a delicious evening of theatre, and not just because of the famous Pat Bell cookies served at the bar, but because of the overall cabaret style this company is famous for. The new space lends itself even more so to this ambiance of communal theatre where it really is less of a presentation as it is a soiree full of Parisian bonhomie.
When you enter the abbey through the lovely courtyard, the wine and treats are already flowing. Artistic director, Lance Davis, does more than welcome the crowd; he invites you to learn and participate. He recounted a story about the feeling he had recently singing with a group of complete strangers in a café in Montmartre and I’ll be damned if he didn’t have us all singing together after intermission!
Parson’s Nose is known for their fast-paced, accessible classics and Too Learned Ladies succeeds on multiple fronts. The time is certainly ripe for a story that lampoons the pretentions of the wealthy and pseudo-intellectuals and all their folly. Henriette and Clitandre are young and in love and wish to be married. Henriette’s hen-pecked father, Chrysale, agrees to the marriage but his domineering wife, Philaminte has other ideas; and feels strongly about them! She decrees that Henriette will marry a so-called scholar by the name of Trissotan; a charlatan who has bamboozled Philaminte into believing that he is a world famous intellectual. They hold literary salons at her bourgeois Parisian home attended by fellow fan girls of Trissotan including eldest daughter Armande and sister-in-law Belise.
Hilarity ensues as each is vying for his or her angle, punctuated with fantastically funny repartee by all the characters involved. Davis is absolutely hysterical as the whipped husband trying to stand up to his wife with all the machismo he can muster. He plots with his brother Ariste, the always passionate Paul Perri, who is caught in the middle of it all as he tries to help. Jill Rogosheske is a force of nature as Philaminte while managing to convince us that ultimately she really does love Chrysale.
The pretentious Trissotan is played with beatnik bravado that crescendos to the ridiculous by John Rafter Lee. And yes, by the way, they’ve set the piece in the early 60’s which really is a perfect fit for the preciousness of these would be intellects. Dorothy Brooks makes the kittenish most of her lustful and somewhat delusional aunt Belise who is convinced that young Clitandre is secretly in love with her. Frazier Perez-Yadon is charming as the handsome and determined love of Henriette.
Hannah Mae Sturges is a bright and spunky Armande and James Calvert is delicious in multiple roles including the loyal servant, Martine. Kyla Schoer is a breath of fresh air as the down to earth Henriette and stands in stark contrast to the rest of the family.
Moliere is serving you thought provoking social commentary and the company at Parson’s Nose wraps it up in a madcap, rollicking comedy at its best.
The Parson’s Nose Abbey is located at 95 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
Parson’s Nose Theater presents The Too Learned Ladies as part of their Full Production Series and runs through March 4. Ticket prices are $30 for Adults, $20 for Seniors, $15 for Students. Reservations online at www.parsonsnose.com or by calling 626-403-7667.
About Parson’s Nose Theater
Parson’s Nose Theater is a professional, critically acclaimed, not-for-profit, 501(c)3 theater organization dedicated to “introducing classic theater to contemporary audiences.” We emphasize language, story and actor, in the broad-stroke tradition of the Italian “commedia dell arte,” preparing audiences for future, full length productions of the world’s finest classical works. Our company of actors, directors, and designers with credits including Broadway, film, and television, is among the finest in Los Angeles. In our fifteen seasons we have introduced classical comedies to over 70,000 Angelenos