Wednesday, February 22, 2017

946: THE AMAZING STORY OF ADOLPHUS TIPS …Beverly Hills







  
If you’ve never seen a Kneehigh production then  prepare to be dazzled, amused, heartsick, shocked and inspired by a truly marvelous show. It’s a celebration of human optimism, a swinging dance romp, a romantic love story, and ultimately a tear producing tragedy. Here is my synopsis of the story: A young English girl in World War 2 loses her cat, Adolphus Tips, and two black G.I.‘s stationed nearby try to find it for her. That’s it! But how this effects the lives of hundreds of decent people caught up in a cruel war is a message for our time.

The amazing 11 member cast portray numerous characters, men play women, women play men, most play musical instruments, and all sing and dance up a storm. 

Katy Owen is dynamic as the awkward 12 year old, while Mike Shepherd who founded Kneehigh in 1980 is hilarious as a motorcycle-riding grandmother. 

The rest of these extraordinary folk in alphabetical order: Nandi Bhebhe, Seamus Carey, Emma Darlow, Ncuti Gatwa, Kyla Goodey, Chris Jared, Craig Johnson, Adam Sopp and Akpore Uzoh. Pat Moran is music director. Tips the Cat and other farmyard creatures are by puppet director Sarah Wright.

Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, who co-adapted with director/choreographer Emma Rice, who notes, “946 allows us to remember the intense passions, senses and fears of being a child, and through this deceptively simple lens a global, timeless and political vision appears.” 

If you have a passion for live theater do not miss it!

At Wallis Annenberg Center, 9390 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, through March 5. Tickets: 310 746-4000 or Online – TheWallis.org.

Photos by Steve Tanner.

Friday, February 17, 2017

FAMILY ONLY …Los Angeles






Be wary of your relatives if you want to show them how well your life is going because they might start comparing their lives unfavorably with yours. In  Darryl Vinyard’s delightful comedy, that’s the lesson learned by our hero when he invites family over to celebrate his big beautiful new house, well earned from years of study and hard work. 
Dad will be so proud of me! Yeah. 
 
Will (Frank Gangarossa)  has finally seen his dream come true: a beautiful home in Sherman Oaks, a loving wife (Riley Rae Baker), a good job, financial security and maybe babies in the future. So why does his success cause such havoc? Shouldn’t Dad (Roger Kent Cruz) be proud, sister (Anne Leyden) be congratulatory, grandma (Dianne Travis) be impressed, and Dad’s new wife (Sheila Shaw) be supportive? He should only hope.

Dad, you see, had his youthful dreams, but they all shattered so why should he be celebrating; Step-mom lovingly sides with Dad whatever his delusions are; Sis is too busy desperately searching for a light at the end of her tunnel of losses; and as for loquacious grandma – sure she has lots of cash but also lots of grievances that she can’t shut up about. You get the picture. Don’t invite the relatives into your dream house as they  might wreck it.

A fun play, directed with gentle humor by Arden Teresa Lewis. Produced by Benjamin Scuglia.
At Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. LA, through March 19. Tickets: (323) 851-7977 or www.theatrewest.org. Free parking.

Photos by Garry Michael Kluger.

Also reviewed in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

WHITE GUY ON THE BUS …North Hollywood






A white businessman has a perfect life - a loving liberal wife who teaches in a ghetto school, a young neighbor who is like their adopted son, his new wife with a baby on the way, and the peaceful world of affluent suburban living. So, why is he taking a bus once a week out to a maximum security prison and befriending a young black woman, a single mom with ambitions to become a nurse? Well, you will have to see the play to discover the secret that author Bruce Graham artfully reveals.

With the subject of white privilege now in the headlines, this play is a perfect illustration of it. There is a mystery here, and the resolution starkly brings a deep racial divide into sharp focus. To heighten the tension, author Graham cleverly plays with time, pulling us back and forth so the revelations hit with greater impact. He gives no predictable answers, but leaves all of us shaken by the disclosure of the fragility of our presumed safe worlds.

Brilliantly directed by Stewart J. Zully, the cast are flawless. Kevin McCorkle smoothly goes from button-down financier to raging avenger; Kacie Rogers meets his overtures with total ironic detachment before buckling under the weight of her desperate need; Amy Stoch is the admirable outspoken wife; Crash Buist the idealistic yet ambitious young neighbor, and Teagan Rose his fiery and indignant young spouse.
 
Produced by Carlyle King and Michelle Gillette for Road Theatre Company.

At The Road On Magnolia, 10747 Magnolia Blvd, NoHo, through March 18. For tickets – visit www.roadtheatre.org or call 818-761-8838. 

Photos by Michele Young.


Also reviewed in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

THE LAST VIG …West Hollywood






If you’re looking for verisimilitude you can be assured that is exactly what you get every second that Burt Young is onstage and he’s there almost the entire show. He plays an aging mobster now working out of a shabby back room in a Chinese take-out and the years of being in charge permeate his very being. However, he’s now an old man, his wife is ill, he needs a last vig (the take from a gambler charged by a bookie) that will give him a chance at retirement in Florida. But, as we know from films about mobsters, things rarely go according to plan and when the scheme implodes we feel the anguish and bitter regret of a man who has lost his power.

Even though it’s often difficult to hear his words, you can’t take your eyes off Burt Young, his facial expressions and body movements tell all. This mobster is at the mercy of his followers and Young’s Big Joe can barely hide his impotent rage. The rest of the cast are superb: Ben Adams as his assistant; Gareth Williams as his old money-running pal; Paul Li as the overworked chef and, especially, Bruce Nozick as a corrupt detective.
 
Well written and directed by David Varriale. The grungy storage room setting by Joel Daavid is lit by Kelley Finn, with sound by Will Mahood. Costumes by Mylette Nora. Imaginatively produced by the ubiquitous Racquel Lehrman of Theatre Planners.

At Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose, West Hollywood, through Feb 19. Tickets: (323) 960-7712 or www.TheLastVig.com

Photos by Ed Krieger

Also reviewed in the February issue of not born yesterday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

THE MANOR …in Beverly Hills






This site-specific drama, performing once a year at Greystone Mansion, is now in its 15th season and not to be missed. Haunting the halls of this classic Beverly Hills mansion is a murder mystery and the brilliant script by Kathrine Bates is based on actual incidents that took place in the very rooms and halls where we are witnesses. It starts out in the halcyon days of the roaring twenties when the MacAlister (Doheny) family are celebrating the wedding of their son and heir to the girl of his dreams.


 

 

However, all is not as it seems. As we move through the glorious building in separate groups, we enter private rooms and witness dramas that do not bode well for the future. There is intrigue afoot: a corrupt Senator is calling in a dubious favor from his rich old friend; the caretaker’s brooding son is in love with the eager bride, and a foreign housemaid ominously predicts tragedies to come.



Ten years later it all comes to a shocking climax in the very rooms we tiptoed through, as some people fall apart, others rally themselves, and still others die. Go see for yourself - and enjoy the journey with a brilliant cast, glorious setting and fabulous costumes.

Directed by Flora Plumb, from Beverly Olevin’s original staging, and produced for Theatre 40 by David Hunt Stafford. At Greystone Mansion, in Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills. Free parking. Reservations: (310) 364-3606.
Photos by Ed Krieger.
Also in the January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY