Friday, March 17, 2017

APRIL, MAY & JUNE …in Beverly Hills







Being the youngest of three sisters I can easily identify with Gary Goldstein’s brand new light comedy where three monthly-named sisters meet to clean out their dead mother’s cluttered home. 

Throughout the play, while they reminisce, we see that the woman who bore them is still an enigma to them. 

Its non-stop chatter, and laughter, and sometimes bickering over a memento one wants to keep, or what a packrat their mother was, and how someone’s marriage fell apart, and why mom ever stayed with that drunk called dad. Meanwhile, shelves get emptied, books get stacked, boxes get filled, and a few plates get broken. We are witness to the moment when suddenly a discovery, hidden in a closet, gives them all a new insight into who their mother really was.

The three excellent actresses never let up the pace, with Jennifer Lee Laks as responsible-sensible-bitter April the eldest; Jennifer Taub as warmhearted-happily married-forgiving May the middle sibling, and Meredith Thomas as mischievous-outspoken-unconventional June the youngest.

Director Terri Hanauer deserves a special round of applause since, while keeping the story of the bond between sisters flowing energetically, she has a room full of knickknacks cleared and packed and ready for Goodwill in under 2 hours.

Amazing set is by Jeff G. Rack, lighting by Ric Zimmerman and sound by Joseph ‘Sloe’ Slawinski. Costumes by resident costume designer Michèle Young. Produced by David Hunt Stafford.

At Theatre 40, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 S. Moreno Drive, B.H, through April 16. Tickets:310-364-0535 or www.theatre40.org

Photos by Ed Krieger.

Also reviewed in the April issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

STILL LIFE …in Hollywood







This intriguing play by Alexander Dinelaris, Oscar-winning co-writer on the 2014 film ‘Birdman,’ shines a light on choices we think we make, but actually make us. In this earlier play, produced in NYC in 2009, he had already probed the question of defeat versus creativity. It’s a haunting subject yet, in this play’s moving finale, we see that the ultimate challenge to death itself is in living life fully.

At the opening a successful woman photographer (Laurie Okin), whose work is hailed worldwide, delivers a bitter speech to aspiring college students about loss and disillusion. At the same time a brilliant young trend analyst (Lea Coco), hired by a crude advertising mogul (Jonathan Bray), suggests a message of hope and family bliss as a means to sell fried chicken. These disparate views of life intertwine and implode when photographer and analyst meet and fall in love. In contrast to their finding meaning and joy in each other, the mogul falls victim to his own cynicism and insatiable lust for sexual one-upmanship.
 
The memorable cast also includes Susan Wilder as her college mentor; Nardeep Khurmi as his doctor-friend; Tania Verafield as her aspiring protégée; Frank Collison as her disillusioned father; plus Alexandra Hellquist and Jennifer Sorenson both excellent in multiple roles.

Under Michael Peretzian’s superb direction we are drawn into their lives yet still kept at an observant distance.

Produced by John Perrin Flynn and David A. Mauer for Rogue Machine.

At the MET Theatre, 1089 N Oxford Ave, nr Santa Monica Blvd. through May 1st. Tickets at (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Photos by Perrin Flynn.

Also reviewed in the April issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

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.