By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
David Grant and Michael Javier are remarkably inoffensive doing the stereotypical "inscrutable'' thing as Wu and Gong Fei. Javier's pretty dishy in that ice cream suit. Gorgeous Brandi Riggs, sleek in colorful cheongsam dresses as Mah Li, looks like Beyoncé Knowles and gets a huge laugh and well-deserved applause for her big line in the trial scene. Mark Stoddard is impeccably British as Lord Allington. When he emerges bare-chested, sprouting hundreds of acupuncture needles, Lady Sylvia shrieks, "You look like a hairbrush!''
As an East-meets-West comedy homage to '30s movies, Shanghai Moon is a jolt of Orient espresso.
Instead of Jets and Sharks in Manhattan, we get Greasers and Socials in Tulsa. Greasers are poor, wear T-shirts and have names like Ponyboy, Sodapop and Two-Bit. The Socials, Bob and Randy, spend Daddy's money on cars and dates with twin-set-wearing chicks named Cherry and Marcia. The opposing gangs taunt each other at the drive-in and engage in the occasional violent rumble.
It's un-Happy Days.
One performance stands out in The Outsiders, Emerson Collins as Ponyboy, the play's narrator and lead Greaser. Quoting Dickens and Frost, Ponyboy starts out naïve and ends up an ambassador between the two gangs. Collins makes him a likable and believable teen. Other cast members look too old to be in high school or too young to be playing doctors, nurses and teachers.
Ponyboy's doomed pal Johnny is played by Johnny Sequenzia with an edgy, Sean Penn-ish tension. Nice work from these two actors in a production that otherwise fails to engage.