Monday, October 17, 2016

VONNEGUT, USA …at Atwater Village

I met Kurt Vonnegut in the 1980’s when I was Assistant to the Publisher at Dell. He was one of our authors and lived up the block, but never came into the office. He was very private. The only time we talked was at an Academy of Arts & Sciences event to install new members, where he wryly noted that the Academy President had kissed the women but didn't kiss the men. At a party to celebrate his newest book, when the room fell silent for his speech, he said, "Goodnight everyone!" and left. 

Loved his books, especially Slaughterhouse-Five.

In the 1950s he wrote short stories for Colliers and Saturday Evening Post about life in small-town America that were light and fun, but with flashes of his unique ‘dark’ humor. Director Scott Rognlien has adapted five that highlight the pitfalls of Progress as it storms across the country during the Post-WWII Industrial Boom. 

Filled with unique, hilarious, and touching characters, these stories flow in and out of each other and yet still maintain their integrity. Says Rognlien, "Vonnegut mentioned in his writings that he always felt adaptations were missing one key character – him! With this adaptation, his voice and persona is integral to the stories."

The cast includes Rob Beddall, Keith Blaney, Jason Frost, Marjorie LeWit, Carryl Lynn, Darren Mangler Paul Nieman, Eric Normington, Maia Peters, Paul Plunkett, JR Reed, Rob Smith and Matt Taylor.

A Next Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, LA, through Nov 20. Tickets: 323-805-9355 or Pay-what-you can at Sunday Matinees.

Photos by Maia Peters.

Also in the November issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A TASTE OF HONEY …West Los Angeles


As a young actress in the 1960’s, my first Broadway show was as understudy to Joan Plowright as a 17-year old in A TASTE OF HONEY. Since then, this is the first and only version I’ve dared to go to and, happily, seeing the play from a new viewpoint was a moving experience. 

The story of a young English gal from the poverty stricken Midlands, with a neglectful floozy mother, a black sailor boyfriend, and a gay male roommate, still holds up. Shelagh Delaney was famously only 18 when she wrote this poignant and meaningful play. The honesty of the story and the believability and likeableness of all the characters makes it as true today as when she wrote it.

In this new production, director Kim Rubinstein brings the scenario to natural life through a superbly individualistic cast. Kestrel Leah is ascendant as the poignant if impudent Jo; Sarah Underwood Saviano is delightfully trashy as her wayward mother (and also a marvelous saxophone player); Leland Montgomery is Jo’s plaintive but fiercely loyal pal Geoffrey; Gerard Joseph is sweet and sensuous as her sailor lover, and Eric Hunicutt is amusing as the mother’s smooth-talking boozer boyfriend.

 As in the original production, there are onstage musicians, Armando Wood, Mark Guiterrez and actor Joseph, to add comment to the action. The adaptable set of a shabby bed-sit by Nephelie Andonyadis, is lit by Katelan Braymer, with costumes by Denise Blasor. Music and sound design is by actress Salviano and Carlos Torres. Produced by Beth Hogan for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

At Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd, West LA, through Nov 27. Tickets at 310-477-2055 (Box Office ext 2) or

Photos by Enci Box.

Also reviewed in the November issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


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​

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 Don’t miss it!

Photos by Garth Pillsbury

Sunday, September 11, 2016


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:

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.