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Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

The Many Faces of Chocolate



Joan Freed may have come late to doing theater, but now that she’s found her calling, Freed is making a “sweet” sensation everywhere she goes. Freed’s latest one woman musical comedy, “Chocolate Confessions,” is coming to the Helena Civic Center Tuesday, Feb. 13, for a luncheon performance at 11:30 a.m. and a dessert performance at 6:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Helena Civic Center Improvement Fund.

“I always did a lot of singing, and I loved public speaking,” said Freed, explaining how she managed to stay offstage for so long.

Freed earned an M.A. in mathematics at UCLA and co-managed the actuarial services department of a large financial services firm for many years without any thought of performing. When her kids began taking classes at a local theater, Freed felt a pull to get involved herself and auditioned for a production of “Kiss Me Kate.”

“I got in – and it was like my eyes were opened for the first time,” Freed says.

She worked her way up through the ranks and ultimately got to the point where she was frustrated with the lack of available roles for adult women. Undaunted, Freed set to work on creating her own one-woman show, utilizing lesser known tunes from Broadway shows she’d been collecting.

“They each told a really interesting story,” says Freed. “These are not songs that one single character could do.”

“Crossword Puzzle,” a show about a woman attempting to finish the New York Times’ crossword in a café, eventually grew into “Make Mine Mocha.” Freed developed both shows with the help of music director Craig Jones. She started out small, performing at retirement homes and other places before graduating to larger and larger venues. In 1999, Freed said goodbye to her day job, and has been writing and touring ever since.

“I just thought, you know, ‘I’ve gotta give this a try,’” said Freed.

Even greater success has come with “Chocolate Confessions,” which deals with a subject that’s a little more after Freed’s own heart.

“I’m not really a coffee drinker, but I love chocolate,” said Freed, who says she’s loved the stuff since she was “knee high to a box of truffles.”

“I don’t know what it is,” she said, adding that she doesn’t even need to be eating chocolate to enjoy it.

“I can just be thinking about it and enjoy it. I do think about it.”

At the soft center of “Chocolate Confessions” is the character of Coco Bliss, sort of a chocolate bartender who listens as each customer relates her chocolate-y tale through song and monologue. There’s the chocoholic, the chocolate historian and the chocolate dreamer. One is a biker chick and chocolate junkie.

“She’s just about to rob this store. She has to get her chocolate,” says Freed.

Recently, Freed has taken a hiatus from “Chocolate Confessions” to perform in a run of “Menopause the Musical” at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. She says that working with a group and having to perform five days a week has revitalized her as an actress and even given her some fresh ideas for “Chocolate Confessions.”

Sometimes, Freed says, she’ll have moments in performance where she’ll think: Why am I doing this? I must be crazy!”

The benefit of being part of a cast is that when those moments come, Freed can look over at her fellow actresses and think “Oh – and they’re crazy, too!”

Tickets to “Chocolate Confessions” are $35 for the luncheon performance and $22 for the dessert performance. Call 442-4000.

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