Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE BEAUTY, THE BANSHEE & ME …Sherman Oaks



In this honest and personally revealing one woman show, writer-performer Cathy Lind Hayes tells of her lifelong search for an elusive and enigmatic woman - her birth mother. Hayes was adopted at three months old by celebrated entertainer Peter Lind Hayes and his actress-singer wife Mary Healy. Although her life was happy and full of love, as an adult she was determined to learn about where she came from. State law forbid her access to her original birth certificate, and the New York Foundling Hospital would only give her non-identifying information.

 
Being unremittingly stubborn, and passionately committed to knowing the truth no matter what, Hayes takes us along on an astonishing decades-long journey. She brings her story to life with wonderfully eccentric impersonations of many of the people who helped and/or hindered her in her quest. 



Not to spoil the denouement, you will be surprised if not totally satisfied by the outcome, as Hayes is not the sort to leave us high and dry.

Directed engagingly by Michael Allen Angel, and produced by Mount Tom Productions in association with Racquel Lehrman of Theatre Planners. 

At the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, through October 23. Performances Thursdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. For reservations and information, call (323) 960-1055 or go to www.plays411.com/banshee.​

Photo by Ed Krieger.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

THE COUNTRY WIFE …outdoors in West Hollywood





In 1660, England’s Puritan ban on theater was lifted, and this 1675 sex romp by William Wycherley is perhaps the bawdiest of Restoration comedies. A satirical farce, the name of the hero, Horner, is appropriate for a horny guy who revels in putting horns on his male friends by openly seducing their wives. Even the title is a pun! Horner claims to be impotent so that husbands and guardians will suppose him a safe companion for their women. His ruse fools the men of London ensuring Horner his way with any and every woman, especially the beautiful, naïve and newly married girl from the country, Margery.
 
Even though we are outdoors we don’t miss a word, as the excellent cast hit just the right vocal and physical pitch. Michael Hovance as Horner is an elegant rascal; Rebecca Lincoln as the Country Wife is a delightful minx; Alexander Wells pompously funny as her jealous husband; while Mel Green is hilarious as a dopey fiancé to beautiful Lonnie Silverman who only has eyes for sweet talking Daniel Olson. Rounding out this terrific ensemble are Jean Gilpin, James Loren, Kathy Bell Denton, Donald Wayne, Christina Jacquelyn Calph and Virtic Emil Brown.

Director Suzanne Hunt superbly highlights the sense of fun amid these blatant sexual shenanigans.  Dazzling costumes by Tammie Merheb-Chavez, and wigs/make-up by Scott Ramp.

Presented by the City of West Hollywood and the Classical Theatre Lab at Kings Road Park, 1000 N Kings Road, WeHo, Sat & Sun at 3 pm through Oct 23. Free Admission but donations accepted. Reservations: 323-960-5691 or classicaltheatrelab@gmail.com. Don’t miss it!

Photos by Garth Pillsbury

Sunday, September 11, 2016

ONE WOMAN GONE WRONG …in Los Angeles






 
Emmy-winning writer and performer Leslie Caveny (Everybody Loves Raymond) pulls out all the stops in this madcap view of one woman’s screwed-up life and how, with grim determination, she intends to make it right. 


More stand-up comedy than legitimate theater, Caveny plays a troubled gal doing a one-woman show where she forgets the lines, the prompts, and eventually all sense of decorum. As she drags her mother (or two) up from the audience, the performance spins off into an ever-shifting confrontation with her presumed past.

Added to this are amusing conflicts with her girlish stage manager (Anne Leyden), her all-business lighting man (Frank Gangarossa), her hostile surrogate stage mother (Sheila Shaw), her reluctant 2nd mom (Seemah Wilder), and the Audience, until it’s all-out war. Having often experienced the reality of backstage conflicts during intense rehearsals, there is a recognizable sense of reality to this otherwise fanciful show.

The topical songs are aided by hidden accompanist Tom Adams, with clever lighting by Yancey Dunham, and colorful projections by Austin Quan. The improvisational tone is captured throughout by Maria Burton’s artful direction. Produced by Benjamin Scuglia.
 
At Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd West, Los Angeles, (near Universal City). Sundays at 7 pm through November 27. 

Reservations: 323-851-7977 or Online Ticketing: www.theatrewest.org

Running time 70 Minutes. FREE parking in lot across the street.

Photos by Garry Kluger.

Also reviewed in the October issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

CHARM …in Hollywood







You will laugh and even cry a little at this daring show, but I guarantee you’ll leave with a deeper understanding of the complex issue of Gender Identity. Chicago playwright Philip Dawkins takes us into a shelter/safe place for the LGBTQ community, where a glamorous black transgender woman attempts to teach the rules of proper behavior. Her ‘students’ are hyper-hostile young people, outcasts of society struggling to define themselves sexually and racially. 

The battle is on for this surrogate mother to humanize these firebrands through gentle rules of decorum and politeness. Will ‘Charm’ help them handle their daily battles with identity confusion, poverty, threats of violence and prejudice? Well, go and see for yourself.

Awesome cast: Lana Houston is tough-love Mama Darleena Andrews; Esteban Andres Cruz is Latina bombshell Ariela; Rebekah Walendzak is dedicated watchperson D; Armand Fields is gentle giantess Jonelle; Chris Aguila is heart-rending Lady; Shoniqua Shandai is affectionate Victoria and Tre Hall is her macho-mate Donnie; Ashley Romans is the sadly inarticulate Beta, and Alexander Hogy the gay curious-seeker Logan.

 
I first admired Michael Matthews direction on “Peter Pan, the Boy Who Hated Mothers.” Here again his brilliantly cinematic staging moves swiftly from laughter to rage to poignancy, separated by almost balletic scene changes. 

The wonderfully grungy set by Archer Boinkevents is well lit by Matthew Brian Denman. Dynamic sound by Cricket S. Myers and germane costumes by Allison Dillard. Produced by Rebecca Eisenberg for Celebration Theatre.  

At the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave. Hollywood, through October 23. Tickets: 323 957-1884 or www.celebrationtheatre.com
Photos by Matthew Brian Denman  

Also reviewed in the October issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Friday, August 26, 2016

PLEASE DON'T ASK ABOUT BECKET …in Hollywood







A young woman shares with us her bewilderment and confusion over her lost twin brother, Becket. He was the apple of her parent’s eyes, her own sturdy right arm, all of their hopefulness in life. Where did it go wrong? Did they love him too much, or was he somehow flawed? Everyone can identify with Wendy Graf’s sensitive and perceptive play. She gives no easy answers. People disappear. Some die, some move away, and some just never call anymore.

We are left with questions: did I care enough, did I say the wrong thing, should I go on searching? This play summons up these thoughts because here is a young man who everyone loves, but who somehow cannot manage to live up to theirs, and his own, expectations. It made me tear up for this family, haunted by the missing light in their lives, and for a few days I was close to tears thinking of certain people I have lost and still wonder about.

So, don’t miss this beautiful play, but don’t look for easy answers because there aren’t any. As in life, people do their best, but sometimes it just falls apart with no clear reason.

Bravo to the playwright, and director Kiff Scholl, for a wonderfully honest theatrical event. Plaudits to the superb cast: daughter Rachel Seiferth, father Rob Nagle, mother Deborah Puette and son Hunter Garner. Presented by Lisa Brenner of Electric Footlights, produced by Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners.
 
Sacred Fools Theater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (near Vine), through Sept. 18. Tickets: (323) 960-7745 or www.plays411.com/becket

Photos by Ed Krieger