PAT LAUNER - Emmy Award-winning theater critic.
THEATER REVIEW: “OUT OF THE BLUE – A Miraculous Musical” written and performed by Eli Hans
He’s endured loss and death, illness and humiliation. But Eli Hans is a song-and-dance man, and that — coupled with his extreme self-awareness, spiritual sensibility and boundless sense of humor — is what got him through.
He’s a natural entertainer, and though telling his personal story of heartbreak and healing may bring tears, his relentlessly upbeat outlook will leave you smiling, laughing, refreshed and inspired.
“Out of the Blue” is a “mostly” solo play. His husband, Joseph Bennett, who serves as stage manager, also appears onstage to help Hans with costumes and clever props, and to join him in a singing, dancing finale duet.
As Hans recounts his tribulations, trepidations and aspirations, he plays 25 characters, and intersperses his memories and insights with songs, mostly ballads, with a brash musical-theater opening and closing number.
An alumnus of the Stella Adler Acting Academy, Hans has done it all for this piece. He’s credited with writing the book, music and lyrics for the show, as well as creating the set and lighting design. The recorded music was arranged by Konrad Pluta and the uncomplicated choreography is by Christie Olvera, with skillful direction by New York-based Meridith Grundei.
Hans’ narrative skills are his strong suit; his roller coaster life-story is the crux of this stirring work.
He grew up in Mexico City (where often males, including Jewish ones like him, were encouraged to visit a brothel at age 12 — the mark, along with a Bar Mitzvah, of becoming a man). But though young Eli didn’t yet acknowledge that he was gay, he came up with a zillion excuses not to go to the whorehouse.
When his family moved to San Diego, he had to learn a new language and culture, come out to his parents, go camping with his straight-boy crush, find a bona fide boyfriend. And then, the real horrors began.
How he found ways to heal and discover love and love himself back to health is nothing short of breathtaking (and how he got ‘married,’ before it was legal, is a spectacular story in itself).
As a theater critic for 30 years, I’ve seen thousands of shows. I’ve been moved and touched and intellectually stimulated. But never has a piece of theater so affected me personally. I’d call it a transformative experience. Maybe the timing was just right for me. Maybe it will be for you, too.
Among his amusing characters, Hans has two that keep him from being his best self. Call them his naysaying Jiminy Crickets, the very opposite of Guardian Angels. One is Shame; the other is Fear (or, Fearella).
It was Fear — the one who constantly holds you back by agonizing over the “What if, what if, what if” — that felt painfully familiar. Hans offers strategies to stop listening to those voices of negativity. I think I may carry some of his insights with me for the rest of my life.
Maybe there’s a message or lesson here for all, but it’s delivered in a relentlessly charming and delightful way — full of heart, humor and hope.
Even though perfectly-timed miraculous things happen repeatedly to Hans ‘out of the blue,’ his 90-minute musical is not excessively “woo-woo” or out there. His insistence on having faith and trust in his own ability to make good decisions is downright contagious.
Hans is hell-bent on spreading his words and thoughts and methods of healing to groups that need to hear them most: gay youth, those struggling with suicidal thoughts, those with HIV, AIDS or cancer. And those who are depressed, or those whose fearful or shaming voices keep them from moving forward.
This show is for everyone, but if you, or anyone you know, fits into any of those categories, encourage them, push them, bring them or drag them to see “Out of the Blue.”
“Out of the Blue” will be performed at the Hollywood Fringe Festival on June 10 (7:30pm) and June 11 (5:30pm) at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood.
Pat Launer, a long-time member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and the American Theatre Critics Association, is a San Diego arts writer and Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her features, previews and reviews can be found at www.patlauner.com.
A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Out of The Blue – A Miraculous Musical,” written and performed by Eli Hans, at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.
“Out of The Blue – A Miraculous Musical” is my first Hollywood Fringe Festival show this year! A beautifully balanced musical set around Eli Hans’s own journey through life, childhood up to present day. Born in Mexico City, Eli is a gay Jewish man trying to understand his place in the world.
It’s a gorgeous performance from a very talented actor. Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully sung.
The story of his life so far, is really quite something. Through finding himself as a gay man, finding love and losing him to suicide, navigating through the birth of the AIDS crisis in the 80s, and finding love again, triumphantly. And all this taking place before he hit 40. It’s a retrospective of a life lived with passion and honesty, lived out loud as it were.
What struck me most about this show is the joyfulness. Through his darkest moments, Eli looks toward hope and the love that brought him there. He has a really tremendous musical theatre presence, all light and magic and sweetness.
His wonderful voice carries beautifully the funny and often heartfelt songs written so honestly about his experiences, good and bad. He has a gentle way of connecting to the audience that’s really quite riveting.
He is confident and charming and thoughtful. As if each of us is the only one in the room. That’s the key to being a gifted performer I think. To make us all feel special, as if this story is just for us.
Eli has an impressive background in musical theatre. He has 20+ year career as a voice-over actor. He has also worked in theatre at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, La Jolla Playhouse, The Fritz Theatre, and is the cofounder of San Miguel de Allende’s infamous improv troupe, The Improv People.
Eli cleverly navigates the 25 characters he plays, leaping nimbly from person to person. Funny, engaging, and always grateful for his truly unique life.
This is an almost solo show, his husband of 20+ years, Joseph, makes a couple of guest appearances. As if this story needs any more magic! Love this show. Eli is a genuinely fascinating person and his life as he tells it is full of poignant and compelling twists and turns and some very tough mountains to climb. But everything he shares with us is in the spirit of a life adventure. He has overcome so much, but as we watch him on stage he makes it all seem so effortless, so full of reason and purpose.
We’ve all had a couple of dark years. So, Eli Hans’ “Out of The Blue – A Miraculous Musical” is the perfect reminder that the human story is worthwhile and that our future is what we choose to make it.
The Hollywood Times - THEATER REVIEW - OUT OF THE BLUE - A MIRACULOUS MUSICAL
by James Gilles
On Saturday, June 10, at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood, Eli Hans presented the U.S. debut of his charming musical Out of the Blue – A Miraculous Musical, a one-man mini-Broadway show, with a whole lot of help from his partner Joseph Bennett.
As part of the line-up of shows in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, there were only two performances of this charming staged musical, featuring writer-composer-performer Eli Hans, who portrays some 25 characters along the storyline of his life journey as a Mexican-Polish-Jewish gay man.
After a dire cancer diagnosis in 2014, Eli realizes that in order to truly heal, he must make peace with his past as a gay kid on a quest for love. In the musical, he navigates his several identities, dealing with his parents and learning to accept himself through shame and fear, coping with tragic loss, navigating through the burgeoning AIDS crisis in the 80’s, miraculously finding true love only to then get cancer, yet managing to turn all of those challenges around and thrive. Sounds a bit sentimental? Yes and no. The wonderful stage presence of Eli Hans doesn't give one time to get too sentimental.
Eli’s tale quickly skips ahead, but not without some cleverly written songs which the actor sings with Broadway panache. Eli starts the show with a glittery, soft-shoe opening number to the show and, at the very end, indulges himself and the audience in a similar closing dance number, which includes his husband Joseph.
Eli’s romantic and sexual experiences form part of the narrative – discovering he is likely a gay boy and teenager, eventually finding love only to lose it – once tragically in a heart-breaking suicide – but they are recounted with heart, much humor and pathos...
(This is an excerpt. For full review, click here.)