Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Angeles is back with another musical parody, and It is the place to be. Now that it’s mid-October, we’re well into spooky season territory. Lucky, the hilarious dinner theater has the perfect show to celebrate: It.
Not only does the show take elements from Stephen King’s acclaimed novel (and lovingly poke fun at it every once in a while), but the show manages to weave in jokes referencing the first movie released in 2017 as well as its sequel, which just premiered last month. Rockwell has had some excellent shows, but never has one felt more timely. Because the movie is still playing in select cinemas, you could easily do a fun and freaky double feature if you so desired, which is definitely a unique perk.
As always, the theater has assembled a top-notch cast comprised of Rockwell favorites and newbies alike, and with John Flynn’s hysterical script, they all get a chance to shine. There’s Sterling Sulieman’s Bill, who spends much of his time eulogizing the loss of Georgie (often while caressing Georgie’s severed arm), E.K. Dagenfield’s Ritchie, who spends most of his energy making “your mom” jokes and lurking around an arcade, and Trevin Goin’s Ben, who experiences a massive glo-up in the form of a t-shirt with painted-on abs and a blonde wig between acts one and two.
In true Rockwell fashion, many of the actors play double duty without missing a beat. Lana McKissack is both Eddie and Georgie whenever Bill imagines his little brother (requiring many costume changes, a fact she breaks character to lament at one point). Janaya Mahealani Jones truly gets a chance to show her range as ultra-nervous, ultra-Jewish Stan as well as big bad bully Henry.
Rounding out the Losers’ Club are standouts Gwen Hollander as Beverly and Erron Crawford as Mike. It is Hollander who gets to provide the most commentary on (and in some cases, gentle shade of) the source material on which the show is based, frequently reminding the audience of some of the more…interesting choices King has made in regards to his female characters. Crawford gets some of the biggest laughs of the night at the beginning of act two during a bit where he welcomes his friends back to Derry at a Chinese restaurant.
Though the entire cast brings their A-game, Garrett Clayton easily steals the show as Pennywise. Gut-bustlingly hilarious one minute and heart-poundingly scary the next, Clayton serves up some genuine frights with his laughs. His legitimately terrifying makeup and giggle alongside his flawless execution of Mallory Butcher’s challenging and mesmerizing choreography cements his place as one of theater’s most versatile, committed, and talented performers.
One of the best aspects of It is its seamless blend of comedy and horror. Nowhere is that clearer than during Clayton’s performances of Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” and iconic Britney Spears medley. The Pennywise/Henry rendition of Sia’s “Elastic Heart”—complete with Sia’s famous nude leotard and interpretive-style dance moves—is another highlight.
Still true to Rockwell’s brand of featuring many ‘80s and ‘90s hits (Michael Jackson, New Kids on the Block, Journey, and Queen all make an appearance), this show smartly incorporates newer hits as well, amping up the comedy with unexpected One Direction and Imagine Dragons bops.
Another thing that Rockwell always does well is using the smaller space and production budget to their advantage, getting the audience in on the act. Two of the best examples are when the Losers’ Club takes a blood oath with what is very clearly a plastic fork attached to a pink Sharpie and when Pennywise interacts with the audience to make extremely simple red balloon animals in the shape of “an eel” and “a dog penis.”
Besides a night of entertainment, Rockwell offers a variety of delicious bites. Keep it light with cheese boards and flatbreads or indulge with a burger or fish entree. The mac and cheese, truffle fries, and onion rings are can’t-miss sides, while the bread pudding and skillet-baked cookie are irresistible sweet treats.
In addition to a permanent drink menu, Rockwell also serves special themed cocktails that go along with the show. My table thoroughly enjoyed the January Embers, which includes bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and cranberry juice garnished with mint and blueberry. The You’ll Float, Too is another tasty and festive choice, combining Bailey’s pumpkin spice and ice cream.
If you’re (penny)wise, you’ll join the Losers’ Club, grab a red balloon, and float on over to Rockwell Table and Stage this fall. The show runs every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and every Sunday at 12 p.m. now until November 10th. Tickets range from $25 and $45 and are available on the theater’s website.