by Angela Imperial

Staff Writer

pLAywriting in the city

As the band plays some rocking tunes, I sit tapping my foot to the music and take in the red velvet curtains as I eagerly await the performers of Captured Aural Phantasy Theater (CAPT) to take the stage. Captured Aural Phantasy Theater is an entertaining group of actors, dancers, and musicians who bring comic books, some as far back as the 1940’s, to life. CAPT shows often have a holiday theme to them, the last show was the Valentine’s Day “Panorama of Love”, which featured original comics from the 1950’s, with titles like “I Joined a Teenage Sex Club” and “The Irresistible Lois Lane”. CAPT was originally started in the 1990’s by Ben Ziola and Ben Dickow in Chicago and made their way to Los Angeles in 2000. Ben Dickow continued CAPT’s mission to entertain audiences with a vaudeville style that can make anyone watching yearn for past times.

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater: “The pop culture variety show that would happen if Garrison Keilor, John Waters and Stan Lee all hooked up after a night of hard partying.”

After many years of commuting back to Chicago to perform and being unsure if he would be able to find a “group of actors who weren’t just interested in shameless self-promotion” here in Los Angeles, Ben Dickow was finally able to put together a multi-talented collective. The collective has performed throughout Los Angeles, including the Improv Olympic West in Hollywood and they also just completed a two year residency at Company of Angels. As Nicole Ortega, a member of CAPT for almost four years puts it “we are a family, we know each other’s strengths, we have fun and we really mesh well.” All of that is evident when the troupe is on stage and off. Many of them work on other projects together, and are close friends. That closeness creates a very welcoming environment for the audience. When it comes to the musical elements of the show they are led by the musical goddess Laurel Robinson Dickow, whose voice is sultry and sexy. Having a holiday theme to their show adds a certain element of thrill, knowing you usually only have one night to catch the show, you make it a point to get there. CAPT has a devoted fan base here in LA, me included. As a member of the audience, the excitement and intensity that the performers exude make for a delicious evening of light-hearted fun!

“The Valentine’s Day Panorama of Love” is one of CAPT’s holiday themed shows.

CAPT has found a rare formula that combines well known comic book heroes and obscure stories with the raw talent of several individuals who have fun while telling these stories. The theater company consists of thirteen devoted artists; the cast is incredibly talented and always impeccably dressed! The men are always in suits and the ladies add a touch of class with gowns that replicate the era they are portraying. They took a very original concept and have managed to turn it into a comedy filled orgy of singing, acting, simple props, and live music. All of these elements, combined with a lack of this kind of theater here in Los Angeles, create a perfect combination for the kind of troupe that will continue to bring amusement and laughter to audiences everywhere.

Although they have not set the date for their next show, you can find out when and where at or on Facebook. This is a troupe that will grow and bring new ideas to their shows, and I look forward to watching these actors as well the show itself evolve! So in true vaudevillian style, next time they pass through your town be sure to get a ticket and hold on for an exciting night of humor that will make you say “Holy Birdhouse Batman!”