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'Los Otros,' An Interesting Experiment in Musical Storytelling

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If The Moth's storytellers performed their first-person narratives as extended musical monologues, the result would probably be something like Center Theatre Group's new show, "Los Otros," in which two apparently unrelated and unnamed characters each get a 40-something-minute turn to sing us the stories of their lives.

First up, Michele Pawk is a middle-aged Burbank divorcee who tells of sympathetic adventures with Southern California's Mexican community in both her distant and recent pasts. Julio Monge then incongruously but charmingly assumes the youthful self of a now-elderly prosperous gay accountant born in California to struggling Mexican immigrant parents.

Both characters' stories achieve significant narrative peaks, and veteran Broadway director/choreographer Graciela Daniele wrings the most out of every dramatic opportunity. But the structural novelty of composer Michael John LaChiusa and librettist Ellen Fitzhugh's experimental musical never quite loosens its hold on our consciousness of the production, subsuming whatever power its other elements might plausibly generate.

With two impressive performances and an intriguing musical score, "Los Otros" probably wowed small invited audiences in its workshop phase, but it doesn't quite work the room at the Mark Taper. It's still an interesting show, with ample material to like, but don't expect a crowd-pleaser.

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"Los Otros" plays eight performances a week through July 1. Full-price tickets $20-$65; check for discounts on Goldstar.