Eloise Coopersmith’s ‘My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical’ – A Dream of a Show

By Ernest Kearney My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical, currently onstage at Broadwater Main Stage, has all the signposts of a truly disastrous evening in the theatre; a musical spoof of one of those maudlin- drenched Hallmark movies performed as a one-woman show by the actress-lyricist-playwright (Argh! Too many hyphens!!), with a pre-filmed “supporting cast” as a multimedia assisted appendage.

I’m sorry, but the concept conjured up images of disasters, akin to the Hindenburg plunging into the Titanic which sank taking with it all the passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 who were sneaking into America to vote for Donald Trump.

Multimedia? Musical? A solo show with hyphens? Each one of those categories is a hard nut to crack. Heaped together? Well, as this old agent I knew would say, “Lota Wallendas on that wire.”
But you know, it’s amazing what you can pull off when there is talent, skill and imagination on hand, and My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical has no lack of those commodities.

We open appropriately, with Eloise Coopersmith (the aforementioned actress-lyricist-playwright) watching Love, Romance and Chocolate, a TV movie romance, cheesier than a block of Brooklyn pizzerias. Eloise is a writer whose lifelong dream has been to write a Hallmark movie for the Hallmark Channel. We find her struggling with the creative muse, and the muse is kicking her butt as she is just on the verge of pounding out a warm and fuzzy schmaltzy ending for her script, The Heroine’s Holiday when it hits her that every Hallmark Movie has a warm and fuzzy schmaltzy ending. But she doesn’t want to be another formulaic lemming hurling off the precipice of predictability. She wants originality! She wants truth! And who better to turn to for help in finding the perfect ending to her story than the eight characters in it.

And so begins Eloise’s “hero’s journey,” a quirky, entertaining, toe-tapping chimera that’s a little Six Characters in Search of an Author, a little A Christmas Carol and a good part Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton’s 1924 classic).

These characters, of course, only exist in the movie rattling around in Eloise’s imagination; so all her interaction with them – including the occasional duet – is done via projections on either a large screen placed at the rear of the stage or a pair of monitors on either side.

For this arrangement, two directors are on deck, Anne Runolfsson for the live elements, and Crissy Guerrero for the two-dimensional cast members. Together they, and producer Jon Peterson, have side stepped every conceivable problem of a very problematic show and crafted a staging of understated elegance that succeeds in allowing Coopersmith’s talents to shine forth, and shine they do.

Of Coopersmith’s “hyphenated categories” the slenderest is centered in her script. Setting the bar high for herself, Coopersmith undertakes to illustrate with her tale the paths needed to be navigated in order to find a harmony in life, and while the counsel given is a tad banal the sincerity of the giver wins one over.

In the two remaining categories, however, the audience will find true gold.

The collaboration of Coopersmith with composer Roxanna Ward has produced both solid tunes and utterly delightful ditties that has one wishing a CD had been on sale in the lobby.
The on-screen cast has been assembled with an eye to performers with musical theatre backgrounds and plain talent each of which pops off the screen and monitors with grand razzle-dazzle.

The enticing Nina Herzog plays Eloise’s on screen alter-ego, with Andrew Joseph Perez as her maladroit prince. To ensure that the course of true love hits the required speed bumps, there’s Benjamin Perez as the Maestro and supplying the “best friends” exposition and endearing grumpiness, there’s Tess Adams, Maggie Howell, Samantha Labrecque, Monika Peña and Jim Blanchette.

It is another feather for the bonnets of Peterson and Directors Runolfsson and Guerrero that the blending of the live and recorded aspects of this production, such as the duet between Coopersmith and Herzog, are absolutely seamless in execution.

My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical was Eloise Coopersmith’s dream.

Now, at a theatre tucked away in Hollywood, a lovely little show is showing us just how grand some dreams can be.

To learn more about the show, its creators and cast

Go to:

My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical

To purchase tickets for

My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical

On stage thru December 19


The Broadwater Main Stage
1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Go to:

Purchase Tickets

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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