PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Niedle
Written by Patrick Chavis
Mystic Pizza is the little film that could and did in the late 80s. When you grow up with a sister who loved watching Julie Roberts movies, Mystic Pizza was one you couldn’t miss. Sometimes, you have stories that are intriguingly woven and complicated, and the actors rise to the occasion and help tell that story. In other cases, sometimes simpler, more straightforward fare can be elevated by the actors that played the parts and made it iconic. For me, Mystic Pizza was the latter.
LA Mirada’s production of Mystic Pizza lacks the small-town charm of its source material but replaces it with a heavy dose of 80s nostalgia and fun. Mystic Pizza centers around three young Portuguese American women living in the small town of Mystic, Connecticut. Two of the women are sisters, Daisy Arujo (Krystina Alabado) and Katherine “Kat” Arujo (Kyra Kennedy). Josephine “Jojo” Barboza is a very close friend and acts very much like a third sister. In coming-of-age story fashion, we see these three young girls mature in three different romantic situations.
The creators of the show leaned heavily on the late 80s nostalgia with this production — from the songs to the bold costume choices in some moments. The set also has this very clean, manicured amusement park aesthetic that hammers the audience right back into the 80s. Thematically, in a lot of ways, the production is right on the mark with this show.
It’s a jukebox musical, so the songs used are well-known tunes from the 80s and remain popular in some circles. The songs actually work quite well with the narrative and make a lot of sense, which isn’t always the case with these kinds of musicals. We revisit the moments from the movie, but because of the musical choice and the elaborate settings, the small-town charm gets lost in the mix. This small romantic story would have possibly been better told with original lyrics and music. Still, as it is now, the show does a wonderful job of bringing back a lot of the fun and spicy moments that made the film such a surprise hit when it first arrived.
The scenic design from Nate Bertone was detailed, flashy, and clean — just right for the type of show they put on. The placement of the pit performers makes them visible but also a part of the atmosphere. It was lovely.
Did the music sound great? Did the songs go off without a noticeable hitch? Yes, and yes. This live rock band — led by Music Director Kristin Stowell and associate musical director Jennifer Lin — played the tunes tight and with a good feeling.
The main actresses do a good job with the material. Gianna Yanelli (Jojo) has a lot of spunk on stage, which is perfect for her character. She delivers some great vocals, and her performance, in the limited time she had on stage, was delightful.
Krystina Albado’s portrayal of Daisy was charming, confident, and insecure at just the right times.
Kyra Kennedy performs a memorable rendition of “Lost in Your Eyes.”
Mystic Pizza is light on the backstory, but it might just melt your heart.
Story7.5Acting8.2Set & Design8.5Costumes8.5Entertainment7.5
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Good Show! OCR Recommended! JANUARY 19 – FEBRUARY 11, 2024
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