February 11, 2019 Radomir Vojtech Luza

Review of Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of WHOOPSIE DOOPSIE By Art Shulman Upstairs at the GRT in North Hollywood, CA

If you are interested in a charming, comic tale of two young people at a crossroads in their relationship and lives, run do not walk to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of

“Whoopsie Doopsie,” written and directed by Art Shulman, and playing in the Black Box Theatre Upstairs at the GRT in the North Hollywood Arts District through March 3rd.
This is the story of a young man who gets his girlfriend pregnant, but instead of having the baby, the young woman decides to have an abortion.
In-between the story of the two lovers, we, the audience, are treated to events happening to the young lad each year from age two to the current 17.

The writing is spellbinding and electric, keeping us on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
Nothing is assumed, and a real sense of innocence, youth and freshness awaits us at every turn.
The language and play are well-researched and flow like the Nile itself.
From beginning to end, the play says what it needs to and then moves on.
It is a clear day, a bright orange sun in its simplicity, its very sincerity.
Director Shulman allows the actors, especially the two leads, their own space and time.
The prolific playwright of at least 15 full-length plays has tattooed his vision all over this production.
This may be a comedy, but one dealing with many important and significant issues and themes from abortion to a woman’s right to vote.
Though the blocking does not always help get the point across and could use some tightening, Shulman has assembled a gifted cast who
comprehend his comical genius and truth.
Stand outs include:
Robert Michael Grant (Billy) who almost runs away with the play by giving a convincing turn that relies on his youthful innocence and exuberance
as well as his fresh faced honesty and generosity. The film actor and Lifebook at the Two Roads Theatre acting student displays an overpowering stage presence 
that helps define his character as well as himself as an actor.
But it is Lavanya Aggarwal (Joannie) who steals the show in a portrayal that is still shaking the walls and beams of the Black Box Theatre Upstairs at The GRT.
In a complete and compelling characterization that encompasses intellect, emotion and compassion, the Shakespearean actress (“King Lear,” “Merchant of Venice”) shows-off her 
range here in a role more difficult than it appears.  Her brunette locks and Indian heritage only further solidify her hold on this part and play.
Aggarwal should be acting downstairs on the Main Stage.
Her searing talent and effervescent empathy for others mark an actress very much on her way up with nothing but a bright future in front of her.
This critic hopes to see Aggarwal on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again soon.
All in all, “Whoopsie Doopsie” succeeds because of its celebratory comedic nature rather than despite it.
This is a celebration of not only comedy, but life and the human spirit.
Shulman deserves credit for nestling his version of informed comedy onto the second floor of the GRT with relish, zest, fervor and gusto.
On the second Saturday of the run when this critic saw the play, a full house witnessed what can only be described as a comedy revival meeting.
With co-artistic directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield no doubt making way for Shulman to park his social, economic and political laugh fest in their theatre,
all is harmonious and peaceful on Burbank Boulevard.
If these two AD’s really want to have a theatrical impact on the life force that is North Hollywood, they would allow Shulman to produce more of his work in their house.
That is what a well-known and respected artist Shulman is in North Hollywood.
Here and now, at least, the veteran playwright and director has a little fun on the run.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critichttp://atthetheatrewithRadomirLuza.com
Showtimes:Saturdays at 2:00 PM, Sundays at 7:00 PMTalk-back after the Saturday matinee on February 23rdTickets: $20/Students/Seniors with ID: $17Reservation/Information: (818) 763-5990The Upstairs is not wheelchair accessibleWHERE: Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre, second floor of theLonny Chapman Theatre,10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601   


The writing is spellbinding and electric, keeping us on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
Nothing is assumed, and a real sense of innocence, youth and freshness awaits us at every turn.
The language and play are well-researched and flow like the Nile itself.
From beginning to end, the play says what it needs to and then moves on.
It is a clear day, a bright orange sun in its simplicity, its very sincerity.
Director Shulman allows the actors, especially the two leads, their own space and time.
The prolific playwright of at least 15 full-length plays has tattooed his vision all over this production.
This may be a comedy, but one dealing with many important and significant issues and themes from abortion to a woman’s right to vote.
Though the blocking does not always help get the point across and could use some tightening, Shulman has assembled a gifted cast who
comprehend his comical genius and truth.
Stand outs include:
Robert Michael Grant (Billy) who almost runs away with the play by giving a convincing turn that relies on his youthful innocence and exuberance
as well as his fresh faced honesty and generosity. The film actor and Lifebook at the Two Roads Theatre acting student displays an overpowering stage presence 
that helps define his character as well as himself as an actor.
But it is Lavanya Aggarwal (Joannie) who steals the show in a portrayal that is still shaking the walls and beams of the Black Box Theatre Upstairs at The GRT.
In a complete and compelling characterization that encompasses intellect, emotion and compassion, the Shakespearean actress (“King Lear,” “Merchant of Venice”) shows-off her 
range here in a role more difficult than it appears.  Her brunette locks and Indian heritage only further solidify her hold on this part and play.
Aggarwal should be acting downstairs on the Main Stage.
Her searing talent and effervescent empathy for others mark an actress very much on her way up with nothing but a bright future in front of her.
This critic hopes to see Aggarwal on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again soon.
All in all, “Whoopsie Doopsie” succeeds because of its celebratory comedic nature rather than despite it.
This is a celebration of not only comedy, but life and the human spirit.
Shulman deserves credit for nestling his version of informed comedy onto the second floor of the GRT with relish, zest, fervor and gusto.
On the second Saturday of the run when this critic saw the play, a full house witnessed what can only be described as a comedy revival meeting.
With co-artistic directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield no doubt making way for Shulman to park his social, economic and political laugh fest in their theatre,
all is harmonious and peaceful on Burbank Boulevard.
If these two AD’s really want to have a theatrical impact on the life force that is North Hollywood, they would allow Shulman to produce more of his work in their house.
That is what a well-known and respected artist Shulman is in North Hollywood.
Here and now, at least, the veteran playwright and director has a little fun on the run.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critichttp://atthetheatrewithRadomirLuza.com
Showtimes:Saturdays at 2:00 PM, Sundays at 7:00 PMTalk-back after the Saturday matinee on February 23rdTickets: $20/Students/Seniors with ID: $17Reservation/Information: (818) 763-5990The Upstairs is not wheelchair accessibleWHERE: Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre, second floor of theLonny Chapman Theatre,10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601   

If you are interested in a charming, comic tale of two young people at a crossroads in their relationship and lives, run do not walk to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of

“Whoopsie Doopsie” written and directed by Art Shulman and playing in the Black Box Theatre Upstairs at the GRT in the North Hollywood Arts District through March 3rd.
This is the story of a young man who gets his girlfriend pregnant, but instead of having the baby, the young woman decides to have an abortion.
In-between the story of the two lovers, we, the audience, are treated to events happening to the young lad each year from age two to the current 17.
The writing is spellbinding and electric, keeping us on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
Nothing is assumed, and a real sense of innocence, youth and freshness awaits us at every turn.
The language and play are well-researched and flow like the Nile itself.
From beginning to end, the play says what it needs to and then moves on.
It is a clear day, a bright orange sun in its simplicity, its very sincerity.
Director Shulman allows the actors, especially the two leads, their own space and time.
The prolific playwright of at least 15 full-length plays has tattooed his vision all over this production.
This may be a comedy, but one dealing with many important and significant issues and themes from abortion to a woman’s right to vote.
Though the blocking does not always help get the point across and could use some tightening, Shulman has assembled a gifted cast who
comprehend his comical genius and truth.
Stand outs include:
Robert Michael Grant (Billy) who almost runs away with the play by giving a convincing turn that relies on his youthful innocence and exuberance
as well as his fresh faced honesty and generosity. The film actor and Lifebook at the Two Roads Theatre acting student displays an overpowering stage presence 
that helps define his character as well as himself as an actor.
But it is Lavanya Aggarwal (Joannie) who steals the show in a portrayal that is still shaking the walls and beams of the Black Box Theatre Upstairs at The GRT.
In a complete and compelling characterization that encompasses intellect, emotion and compassion, the Shakespearean actress (“King Lear,” “Merchant of Venice”) shows-off her 
range here in a role more difficult than it appears.  Her brunette locks and Indian heritage only further solidify her hold on this part and play.
Aggarwal should be acting downstairs on the Main Stage.
Her searing talent and effervescent empathy for others mark an actress very much on her way up with nothing but a bright future in front of her.
This critic hopes to see Aggarwal on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again soon.
All in all, “Whoopsie Doopsie” succeeds because of its celebratory comedic nature rather than despite it.
This is a celebration of not only comedy, but life and the human spirit.
Shulman deserves credit for nestling his version of informed comedy onto the second floor of the GRT with relish, zest, fervor and gusto.
On the second Saturday of the run when this critic saw the play, a full house witnessed what can only be described as a comedy revival meeting.
With co-artistic directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield no doubt making way for Shulman to park his social, economic and political laugh fest in their theatre,
all is harmonious and peaceful on Burbank Boulevard.
If these two AD’s really want to have a theatrical impact on the life force that is North Hollywood, they would allow Shulman to produce more of his work in their house.
That is what a well-known and respected artist Shulman is in North Hollywood.
Here and now, at least, the veteran playwright and director has a little fun on the run.
By Radomir Vojtech Luza

Theatre, Film and Book Critic

http://atthetheatrewithRadomirLuza.com

Showtimes: Saturdays at 2:00 PM, Sundays at 7:00 PM. Talk-back after the Saturday matinee on February 23rd. Tickets: $20/Students/Seniors with ID: $17. Reservation/Information: (818) 763-5990. The Upstairs is not wheelchair accessible. WHERE: Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre, second floor of the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.   

Get in touch Radomir!