Reviewed by Amalisha HuEck
In the brief intro preshow, Romy Nordlinger (writer and performer) in Garden of Alla: The Alla Nazimova Story, states, "There is a very thin line between where you are (the audience) and where I am," as she incarnates herself as Alla Nazimova.
The Russian girl, often lost in the music which lifts her heartbeat, does not see herself as a woman or a man, tall or short, attractive or not, but as an artist who must 'act without acting and is only dead when the last person remembers her'. The fond memories of the plays she has performed take us back in time hearing about Grushenka in Brothers Karamazov, Nina in Seagull, Ibsen's 'Dollhouse' where she was made into a doll but not to be toyed with, to being Hedda Gabler, in the Cherry Orchard and other plays of the Moskow Art Theatre. Her motto was always, 'As you think so you are', and you must see and learn to be, 'The Art in Yourself, not Yourself in the Art'.
The play's setting follows Alla Nazimova from Russia to New York City to Hollywood, and to the Garden of Allah on Sunset Blvd. By remembering the Hollywood star elite such as Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, Rudolf Valentino, Mary Pickford, Orson Wells, Marlene Dietrich, Nancy Reagan, and many others. Romy skillfully brings these characters to life. Her portrayal of Lee Shubert, the Broadway impresario, was very creative and entertaining. Her diva persona goes well with her costume choices which adds to her captivating presence.
The synchronized projections of clips from Alla's films on the screen carefully follow her storyline including the connected link to the Statue of Liberty as she goes through being a new immigrant in New York.
Presented by Theatre West and Georganne Aldrich Heller, the production of 'The Garden of Alla: The Alla Nazimova Story
' is produced by Anne Leyden and Benjamin Scuglia (Behind the Bar Productions).
Under the strong direction of Lorca Peress (director), all the pieces for the successful play were created by adding the score and sound design by Nick T. Moore, lighting design by Malcolm Wilson, and the stage was managed by Liv Denevi. The key art created by Adam Jesse Burns (video & graphic design) for the story is perfect.
This production is dedicated to Mari Lyn Henry, a fierce and brilliant advocate of theatre and a dear friend of Romy, who inspired so many to look to the legacy of unsung actresses and all theatre history and to have a keener awareness of their present.
The running time for
Garden of Alla: The Alla Nazimova Story
is 80 min with no intermission. The performances continue at the Theatre West
through July 23, 2023,
Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
July Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles, CA 90068.