By Barry Willis
A diehard fan creates her own romantic production in My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical, at San Francisco’s Top of the Shelton through July 30, with a possible extension to August 20.
A solo show developed and composed by playwright/actress/lyricist Eloise Coopersmith, the production stars the writer as an inveterate viewer of feel-good films on the Hallmark Channel—a pandemic burnout who sustains herself on dark chocolate, red wine, and an insatiable appetite for upbeat escapism. Her character is so immersed in it that she’s become her own writer/director/producer. The concept is brilliant. So is the execution.
…an incredibly clever and charming production…
Flanked by two large video screens, with a larger projection screen behind her, Coopersmith interacts with an ongoing romantic comedy musical performed by a sizable cast of professional L.A. actors including Nina Herzog, Benny Perez, Andrew Joseph Perez, Jim Blanchette, Tess Adams, Monika Pena, Maggie Howell, and Samantha Labrecque.
She talks to them, and they respond—to her and each other—and they sing some really infectious tunes (music by Roxanna Ward, lyrics by Coopersmith). The recorded video is presumably always the same but with the aid of her technical wizard, Coopersmith can pause it whenever she likes to interject commentary and jokes, some of them laugh-out-loud funny.
A unique multimedia production, it’s also a solo show in that Coopersmith is the only live performer onstage. She gears her performance to each audience regardless of number—she says she has done My (Unauthorized)Hallmark Movie Musical for single viewers and for large houses, including a 900-seat theater in West Virginia.
Performances in mid-July at the Shelton (former longtime home of SF Playhouse, before that company moved to Post Street) were not sold out, and that’s a shame because My (Unauthorized)Hallmark Movie Musical is an incredibly clever and charming production—both a spoof of and an homage to an enduring genre. Most spoofs tend toward vicious satire but this one is a love letter from a real devotee. As the Hallmark tag line puts it, “Love always wins.” Coopersmith delivers that sentiment with aplomb.
|Production||My (Unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical|
|Written by||Eloise Coopersmith
Music by Roxanna Ward
|Directed by||Anne Runolfsson|
|Producing Company||Top of the Shelton|
|Production Dates||Thru July 30, with possible extension to Aug. 20|
|Production Address||Top of the Shelton
533 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA
|Tickets||$20 - $40|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review Pick?||YES!|