by Brad Liberti
Say what you will about the work of visionary writer/director Baz Luhrmann – and many have throughout the course of his 20+ years as a filmmaker – but one thing is certain: the guy believes in the all-conquering power of love. So much so, in fact, that all of his films - from 1992’s deliciously zany Strictly Ballroom to last year’s lush and underrated The Great Gatsby - exist solely to extoll this greatest of virtues. Well, that, and to inject a little razzle dazzle into our often humdrum existence.
Thus it’s no surprise that the For The Record troupe – whose carnival burlesque celebrations inspired by the catalogues of modern-era auteurs like Luhrmann, Tarantino, and PT Anderson have been lighting up West Hollywood all year – chose to tackle the Aussie's breathtaking oeuvre...or that the show is a fizzy, frothy burst of true cinematic romance.
And talk about powerhouse performances. Though Rumor Willis is easily the cast’s most well-known star, each actor - Demi’s and Bruce’s daughter included - shines individually and collectively as they cover the broad plot strokes and unforgettable pop songs, including hits off of the soundtracks from all of Luhrmann’s films: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and The Great Gatsby. 2008’s Australia isn’t represented but still has a cocktail at the bar named after it.
Taking over West Hollywood’s DBA (7969 Santa Monica Blvd), cast members fly through the audience, jumping on tables, dancing on the large bar, and basically using every part of their theater-in-the-round to create a party that Mr. Luhrmann would no doubt approve of. Highlights include a jazzy rendition of The Cardigan’s "Lovefool" sung by cast member Lindsey Gort, a powerhouse redo of Lana Del Rey’s swooning "Young and Beautiful" courtesy of Ruby Lewis, and pretty much everything involving Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann’s hands-down funniest, most innocently DIY effort.
Buzzed on artisan cocktails with names like “Talk Show Host” and “Buchanan’s Old Fashioned”, and dining on gourmet pizzas from Churchill executive chef Michael Bryant (get there early if you’re hungry, because these go fast), you’ll find yourself lost amidst the unfettered imagination of Baz Luhrmann.
As well as stoned on magic, seduced by love, and above all else, wanting to run home and watch Moulin Rouge! for the millionth time.