It was an interesting bunch that crowded into the lobby of the Lee Strasburg Theatre in West Hollywood for the opening night of Nick Hardcastle’s, Orry, an enchanting romp through American cinema from the 1930s through to the 1960s as experienced by Orry-Kelly, the three time Oscar winning costume designer who worked on hundreds of movies and draped some of the biggest stars. The lobby buzzed with conversation as the excited theatre-goers sipped cocktails or champaign as a pianist fingered tunes at a piano. A photographer snapped pictures of every one, including this theatre critic and his date, while a videographer roamed among the crowd.
When an audience enters the intimate theatre, they are welcomed into Orry-Kelly’s funeral by a beautiful young woman, identified in the program as “The Soubrette (the golden voiced Danielle Heaton).” There, on a platform, is Orry-Kelly (Nick Hardcastle) laid out in the sleep of death in a beautiful white coffin, his face just slightly visible above the rails. Later, on video panels left and right, is a repetitious film clip of Jack Warner speaking what appears to be a eulogy, his lips moving in crude sync with a dubbed speech. Orry-Kelly, a lively corpse, has a spirit that no coffin can contain, getting in and out at will and regaling the audience with plenty of story and song as he reveals his Australian origins, his hard times in America, and his fraught sex life that included a guy who became one of the biggest Hollywood stars. Nick Hardcastle has a pleasing, light tenor voice and often sings in duet with the soubrette. The songs punctuate the action with numbers appropriate to time and place.
It doesn’t serve to detail the intimate events of Orry-Kelly’s life here. Suffice it say that Nick Hardcastle’s tale of Orry-Kelly’s rise from obscurity to fame, his fraught love-life, and his heroic consumption of alcohol is a great tale splendidly delivered. Throughout the show, the delightful Soubrette acts as his faithful aide-de-camp, singing and dancing with him and so much more. The splendid Anthony Zediker at a piano downstage left plays continually throughout the show.
Orry, based on the memoir, Women I’ve Undressed, by Orry-Kelly, is written and performed by Nick Hardcastle, and directed by Wayne Harrison, with music direction by Anthony Zediker. The creative staff includes scenic design by John Iacovelli; lighting by Jared A. Sayeg; sound design by Cricket S. Myers; and costume design by Kate Bergh. Wayne Harrison is the dramaturg.
Presented by Gentleman George Productions, Orry has a limited run through Monday, November 11 at the Lee Strasburg Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood. See it now while you can.