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LA Theater Review

Season of Change

Without polemics, singer-songwriter Ed Munter gently addresses the ideas of social consciousness, spiritual renewal, and grass-roots political change in this presentation of music and multimedia. He is supported most ably, subtly, and tastefully on keyboards by Rashid Lanie, who has worked with the likes of Paul Simon, Macy Gray, and Hugh Masekela, and provides keyboard accompaniment to Munter's two guitars.

Munter's singing voice is sometimes reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's or John Hiatt's -- a raspy, heartfelt edge slips in, emphasizing his lyrics. In "Heavy Weather" and "The Big Game," he is very effective in his ironic skewering of corporate greed and geopolitical domination by captains of industry and political leaders -- more effective than toward the show's end, when well-intended but straightforward songs about love, unity, and goodness take on a less involving, more familiar ring.

Season of Change is a musical concert that dips its toe into theatrical waters, and although Munter's rhymed commentary between songs is nicely done, one wonders if monologues about his own experiences with transformation or awakening societal involvement would have served him better. Bryan Rasmussen directs Munter well, keeping him moving and integrating the images and phrases on a large screen upstage. This multimedia design works well when there are plays on words, such as the acronym FEAR, which stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. An image of the civil rights march on Washington, D.C., in the 1960s is far more galvanizing than some of the other phrases projected.

Because Munter's talent as a singer and songwriter is clear, as is his ingratiating presence, he should be encouraged to rethink the overall presentation of the work. A "town hall" interaction with the audience, as well as an unspecific appeal for activism, blur the already unfortunately indistinct lines between musical performance, theatre, and political agenda.

Presented by Innerpath Productions at and in association with the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Sep. 1-30. (818) 990-2324.

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