By James Bartlett
Cast of Manson's Girls
For decades the Manson name has fascinated the public, and so any story featuring him and his family will always garner some interest - though taking it to a musical place is something different.
On entering the theater, the Family members - absent Manson - are on stage hanging out, playing the bongos, writing protest signs or tripping, while a frightened-looking girl clutching a swaddled small baby stands nearby, thumbing a lift.
Cast of Manson's GirlsThis girl is Linda Kasabian (played by Erinn Elizabeth O'Sullivan), a new arrival at the Manson Family Ranch and our ersatz representative as she meets other members, all of whom are devoted to the still-unseen Charlie.
There's fierce Sadie (Megan Rose Ruble), clucky Big Patty (Lia Peros), twitchy Squeaky (Lauren Dewey), bad cop enforcer Tex (James Schueller), and good cop bandana-wearing Bobby (Randle Rankin).
They all seem charming, dedicated and far out - at least at first - but when Charlie (Troy Armand Barboza) first appears, the Godspell-type greeting the others sing shows what they think of him - and he reciprocates in kind to their worship.
But soon enough "Little Girl Lost" Linda and the other fictional character Zephyr (Karlee Squires) become disillusioned with the near-poverty lifestyle, the jealous infighting and the "creepy crawl" burglaries that turn sinister.
Cast of Manson's GirlsZephyr leaves - it seems - but Linda is hesitatingly committed, their final action being the raid on the home of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. It's prompted by an angry - fictional - confrontation between Manson, the Family and Tate.
All the Family Members get their moment in the spotlight at the side of the stage, the highlight there being Big Patty's sexy/deadly plea to "Color Me Red," and the flapper-style ensemble number "Help Yourself" (complete with swinging machetes).
The Sharon Tate (Lauren Byrd) cameo when she sings a near-hymn to her unborn baby seems rather overplayed though: we all know what happened.
at least make it a more lyrical and exuberant journey to the dark side.
Book by Scott Guy
Music by Ron Barnett
Lyrics by Mitchell Glaser
Directed by Scott Guy
Produced by New Musicals, Inc
At the Broadwater Mainstage, Hollywood as part of the Hollywood Fringe 2018