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Capital Fringe Review: ‘La Voce to Me’ by Julia L. Exline

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS

Did you know that Ursula was inspired by a real-life drag queen?

Pace Productions presents the enthralling drama La Voce to Me, a play that highlights similar themes between the fairy-tale classic The Little Mermaid and the overall gay experience. Think it may be a stretch? Within minutes, this ensemble manages to unearth amusing, profound, and even harrowing parallels between these interconnected subjects, easily making this production one of the most unique and interesting shows at the Capital Fringe this year.

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Jeremy Pace plays himself, an actor and playwright who grew up feeling a personal, if unconventional, connection to the classic tale. Joining him are George Anthony Tralka Jr. as The Little Mermaid’s original author Hans Christian Anderson, Brendan O’Connell as Howard Ashman, who was the lyricist for the award-winning Disney film, and Natalie Ann Piegari as the mermaid herself, often reciting from Anderson’s text in a meaningful, melancholy tone. Together, they narrate their eerily similar lives, each suffering through hardships such as love, sacrifice, death, and revival. These men are gay, and like the mermaid, they find themselves in impossible and challenging situations. Tralka Jr. is wonderfully wistful and prim as the haughty Hans Christian Anderson. O’Connell gives a fiery performance as the angry yet hopeful Ashman (who profoundly shouts into the audience, “Hey, America! A faggot is the one telling your children their fairy tales!), and Pace sets the stage alight with seamless passion and wit.

While the plot does tip towards the melodramatic at times, the overall effect of this piece is one that will stay with me for a long time. The acting iand direction by K.w. Kuchar are excellent, and the connections are poignant and revealing.

La Voce to Me plays though July 27, 2013 at Goethe Institut-Gallery – 812 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performances and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.

Read the Capital Fringe Show Preview Article.

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