Friday, March 2, 2018

THE ALAMO (Santa Monica)


In an Italian-American section of Brooklyn sits a rundown local bar called The Alamo. The place is fighting to keeps its doors open and welcomes the arrival of young artists wanting to adopt the bar as an entertainment hangout. 

However, the aging customers, eight working-class neighbors, don’t want to surrender their bar, much less their neighborhood, to these neo-carpetbaggers. 

These are vivid characters who carry scars of the past - from Vietnam to 9/11 - and they are ready to fight for their place in the world.

Says director Kent Thompson, “I love this play, because Ian McRae writes with such passion, compassion, and humor, about a forgotten group of people - blue collar Americans!” 

At Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA through March 31. Tickets: 310-397-3244 or Free parking.
Photos by Ed Krieger

Also in my column in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.


Shakespeare’s tragedy has it all: romance, passion, sex, heartbreak, the fascination of royalty, war, politics, the epic sweep of history and one of history’s most celebrated love stories... of Roman Mark Antony, and Cleopatra Queen of Egypt. 

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in the film "Cleopatra"

In case you missed the famous film, but remember one of Hollywood's most celebrated love stories, here’s a chance to enjoy the original stage version live. 
In one of her signature moves, director Gloria Gifford retains Shakespeare’s text while expanding the proceedings with a modern song score and a dazzling 35-member cast.

Executive produced by Gifford and produced by Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco and Chad Doreck for Jamaica Moon Productions and The GGC Players. At Gray Studios, 5250 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, through March. Tickets: 310-366-5505 or

Also in my column in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

THE LAST WIFE …in Beverly Hills


We all know from books, films and TV that England’s King Henry VIII had a bad history with his six wives. #1.Divorced; #2.Beheaded; #3.Died; #4.Divorced; #5.Beheaded; #6.Survived. This is a play about Katherine Parr (Olivia Saccomanno), the one who survived him. 

Playwright Kate Hennig has taken the conceit to move the story into the 21st century. Biographers have described Parr as strong-willed, outspoken and physically desirable. In Hennig’s version, she is also a forthright feminist, standing up to her pompous King-husband (David Hunt Stafford) in ways that could cost her her head.

The facts are verifiable as Parr, in her early 30’s, did successfully advocate for the rights to succession of Henry’s daughters Mary (Nathalie Rudolph) and Bess (Lily Daugherty) that led to them following Edward VI (Andrew Grigorian) on the throne. 

Here she is teacher to the boy Edward, a friend to the sullen Mary, and mentor to lively Elizabeth (Bess). She has a lover, Thomas Seymour (Caleb Slavens), and manages to keep him hidden from her possessive husband (others weren’t so lucky). However, since the panoply of Royalty is missing, the relationships seem more Orange County than Elizabethan and the modern tone and style robs it of the terror of Henry’s reign.

Directed by L. Flint Esquerra, with impressive set by Jeff G. Rack. Produced by David Hunt Stafford.

At Theatre 40, in Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 s. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. Through Feb 18. Tickets: 310-364-0535 or
Free parking.

Photos by Ed Krieger.

Friday, January 26, 2018

THE CHOSEN …in Hollywood


In the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn in the 1940s, two young Jewish males meet with hostility at a local baseball game. Due to an accident they become unlikely friends. 

Their fathers, one Hasidic the other Orthodox, represent two opposing value systems. We witness the complicated relationship between parents and their children, and how fathers who care can both dominate and inspire their sons.

This deeply moving drama is based on the 1967 novel by Chaim Potok. It was adapted by Potok and Aaron Posner into a stage play that has had many reincarnations. This one, directed sensitively by Simon Levy, is as fresh and meaningful as today’s headlines. 

The story begins in 1944 when the protagonists are fifteen years old. It’s set against historical events: the death of President Roosevelt, the end of World War II, the revelation of the Holocaust in Europe, and the struggle for the creation of the state of Israel.

Sam Mandel, as Reuven, is so likeable you understand why the stern Rebbe (Alan Blumenfeld) accepts him into his home.  Dor Gvirtsman, as Danny, is touching as the emotionally guarded acolyte, while Jonathan Arkin, as activist/philosopher, brings clarity to the questions that haunt both young men.

DeAnne Millais’ set design, of two households with book-lined studies side-by-side, helped to emphasis the underlying contradictions that exist in their worlds.

At the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. LA (at Normandie), through March. Tickets (323) 663-1525 or Parking $5.

Photos by Ed Krieger.

Also in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.