The best thing about Waiting for Johnny Depp is the title. It peaks the interest and makes one want to check it out. The two-act, one-woman show directed by Holly Friedman, with script, music and lyrics written by Janet Cole Valdez, the performer, Deedee O’Malley, and Holly Friedman, is a series of vignettes detailing the life and ambitions of a New York actress improbably named Rita Sophia Adelina Donatella Zeitz whose future hinges on a possible contract to star in a film with Johnny Depp. With this tantalizing prospect looming on the horizon, she foolishly quits her day job and descends into poverty when the project is cancelled.
The show has some humorous songs, best among them, an extended riff in which the actress sells off her stuff on Craig’s List. For the most part, however, the lyrics are predictably rhymed and the music generic. As for the book, there is an over-reliance on New York stereotypes to generate laughs and the over-use of gratuitous profanity, especially in the second act doesn’t help. The flow of action is impeded by blackout scene changes with energetic stagehands moving furniture and props while the star is off-stage for the show’s many costumes changes. And it doesn’t help that Ms. O’Malley wanders out of her light.
Ms. O’Malley sings well enough, although her sound is a bit raspy. She reveals a more polished voice in a spoof of an opera in which Jacqueline Kennedy sings in the moments just after a bullet shatters the martyred president’s head.
The opening night audience was heavily stocked with what seemed to be friends and acquaintances that laughed and applauded with abandon. There were a few noticeable defections at intermission.
I don’t doubt the earnest sincerity of the creators, but this show, despite rapturous pull-quotes from its premiere in Houston, is DOA in Los Angeles.
Waiting for Johnny Depp, produced by K.I.S.S. Theatricals, plays Friday nights at 8pm through April 29 at Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks.