It’s Monday Morning. I’m sitting in the middle of the line up and over the sound of the waves rolling and the movement of the ocean I hear “I, am an F.B.I. Agent!” This Northern San Diego surfer is not only quoting a classic surf film Point Break, but he is quoting the live-action stage show about the iconic surf film, Point Break Live!
Point Break Live! is an interactive-improvisation-stage-show-party that is hilarious, extreme, massively entertaining, incredibly impressive, and 100% pure adrenaline! Point Break Live! is a spoof on the 1991 classic film, Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, a former football player / undercover FBI agent, turned surfer bro by a group of adrenaline surfers who double as bank robbers to pay for the search of the perfect wave. This group of Ex-Presidents, (their bank robbing group name) is led by Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze, a wise Zen-master local surfer with hair flow like no other, who lives to search for that once in a lifetime opportunity, man! Point Break reached cult like status because of its crazy plot line, outrageous acting, and insanely quotable dialogue. Point Break Live! takes this iconic cult film and put a unique spin on the movie and classic theatre all together by engaging the audience during the show and allowing a random person chosen by the crowd, to play Keanu Reeves.
The show starts with the “director” of the movie Point Break, leading the crowd through the selection of the star of the show. Anyone can go on stage to try out, and it ranges from people who brushed up on their Keanu impressions that day to men who can’t even speak English. While the chosen Keanu is guided through the show by cue cards, the real reason that this random audience member is able to survive an entire play and pump out the role of a lifetime, is because of the insane amount of talent that the surrounding actors have on stage.
Scrimshaw got a behind the scenes look at Point Break Live! and was able to talk to the show’s director Thomas Blake Jr. and some of the show’s actors. The cast consists of Thomas Blake Jr. (director and Roach), Christi Waldon (Keanu’s savior and cue cards), Charlie Farrell (Bodhi), John Moeslein (Grommet), Luke Royer (Surfer #2), Joya Italiano (Tyler), Scott Crawley (Pappas), David Simon (Harp), Amber Hubert (Kathryn Bigelow), Kevin Bone (Bunny/Lights) and Tim McKeown (Rosie/Sound). Point Break Live! has been running for 10 years now and almost half of the cast has been with the show since the beginning. It is easy to see that the cast is family at this point both on and off stage and can adapt to any scenario because of their familiarity with each other. Thomas explains it by saying, “These actors can adjust to the vibe of the show and the calculated chaos that is backstage, and make this theatrical party something really special.”
Their conversations and improvisations are seamless as they cover each other’s backs in any scenario. Luke Royer (Surfer #2) explains it great by saying “We are a really strong fabric. A funny way to put it is we are somewhat like a trampoline. You know when you get those epic double bounces. You’re jumping along, and then all of a sudden a cast member will set you up perfectly and then Boom, you are just out there and floating so high and you realize that you could have never gotten to that spot without them catapulting you or without them helping you. We rely on each other so much and we are such an awesome team.” Their energy and love is palpable and this is only slightly out staged by their quick wit and talent. While they seem insane and crazy on stage, behind the scenes they are as professional as one can be about their craft (and still a little crazy). From preparation to practice they understand how to give the best performance possible that night. Christi Waldon, Johnny Utah’s Jiminy Cricket and cue card extraordinaire, explains that “it is what I live for. When I do these shows, with these people, I am in my element. I light up the most and I feel home, and that’s so rad. Doing it for so long and it still being this way, with everyone in the cast giving so much of their heart, is magical.”
Thomas, started working on Point Break Live! in 2006 in a black box theatre and helped transform it into the interactive party play sensation that it is today. He goes onto explain that “it’s also good for us, because we have been doing it for 10 years, and we will never have the same show twice. Sometimes the crowd is hammered drunk or sometimes they can’t speak English, but it’s at the will of the audience. Also, every audience is different. Some audiences feel the need to heckle, which we encourage because we have been doing it for so long, that we can dish it out better than they can.” This on stage performance resonated so much with Thomas, because as a child growing up, he had a personality where one side was dedicated to surfing and the other to theatre. “My goal was to direct and create performances that both my friends and I could be proud of. I love to take my vision that day and transform the theatre around that.”
After all these years of Point Break Live! engaging with audiences, playing Bonnaroo, and selling out theatres, the show is coming to a close (WHAT?!?!). “PBL is something special. Why so many people like that movie and I feel like our show is because we have true passion for the project and put our own blood, sweat and heart into it” says Christi. While Thomas and the cast are continuing to adjust this style of theatre and move to a new chapter in life with Terminator Too: Judgement Play, their years as cast members of Point Break Live!, will always leave a legacy. Charlie Farrell (who plays Bodhi and is a constant presence on stage) phrased it best by saying “When this is over, years from now, I think we will realize that there is only so much stamping you can do in your era of performance or in Hollywood. Some people make classic movies, or great rock anthems, or are reality celebrities, but to me, it’s amazing to know that we were here. We were here during a 10 year period, where people knew and supported us as we all put our effort into this project we loved so much. For that we are eternally grateful.”
It is obvious upon seeing the show and cast for their characters and the true actors they are, that there is a special bond between them all. The passion they pour into Point Break Live! shines through in their excitement and commitment to the show. This cast channels their inner Bodhi because “if you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” The actors of Point Break Live! love what they do and are going out on top.
Ps: If you wish to see Point Break Live! they will be doing one more show in San Diego at Belly Up on June 19th. They will also be playing in San Francisco May 6th and June 3rd while playing Saturday’s in LA until June 25th. Don’t miss your chance to see this stellar cast and performance! You should also be stoked to hear their new show, Terminator Too: Judgement Play will be pumping out shows soon! They will be playing Belly Up on May 1st and continuing this unique interactive theatre party!