Monday, December 22, 2014


Its very French! The wife will be away for the weekend so he has invited his mistress to visit. His best friend arrives, which shouldn’t spoil the fun, except that the wife is having it off with the best friend. 

Now this setup may sound okay to a European audience, but in America its called infidelity and is not considered a joking matter. (As I am also a paralegal in Family Law I can assure you its not!) Still, it’s a farce, and the actors give it their best try. The tangled web they weave is full of good humor and quite delightful complications, but all sadly negated by the underlying sleazy theme.
Patrick Burke is an energetic philanderer and Julie Davis is his not-so-naïve wife.  Patrick Skelton is his friend in-deed and Stephanie Colet his bewildered mistress. Stealing the show is Jennifer Laks as a hired cook who manages to make a proper stew, and J. Christopher Sloan is believably Gallic as her genial husband.

Written by Marc Camoletti (author of the acclaimed Boeing-Boeing), adapted by Robin Hawdon and jauntily directed by Drina Durazo. The charming country-home set is by Chris Winfield and plaudits to dialect coach Glenda Morgan Brown. Produced by Bert Emmett and Dan Sykes for the Group Rep.

At the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, through January 25. For tickets: (818) 763-5990 or Ample street parking.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Superstar Dame Angela Lansbury triumphs in this totally delightful revival of Noel Coward’s 1944 comedy. Set in an elegant English country home, a novelist has arranged a séance as research for his new book. 

He didn’t reckon with eccentric medium Madame Arcati (Lansbury) who, after cycling eight miles to the house,  accidentally summons up his dead ex-wife. This blithe spirit is not approving of his new spouse and is determined to win him back. So Madame Arcati is called on again to exorcise this ghost, a talent she obviously does not possess. However, she is quite willing to give it a try, and she does, with predictably disastrous results.

Lansbury is a bundle of energy, even doing the hokey-pokey to connect with the other world, and taking the stage so completely that the rest are in danger of becoming mere shadows. 

Charles Edwards is a gallant hero caught between warring wives; Charlotte Parry presents a stiff-upper-lip as his beleaguered present wife; Jemima Rooper is a kewpie-doll ghost with a sensual memory; Simon Jones and Sandra Shipley are a neighboring couple of skeptics, and Susan Louise O’Connor is the daftest maid that ever served high tea.

Directed with impeccably high style by Michael Blakemore, the exquisite set is by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Mark Jonathan and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. The costumes are exquisite, with Lansbury’s colorful outfits by Martin Pakledinaz. Delightful interlude vocals of Coward songs by Christine Ebersole.

After winning accolades in London the show is being launched at the Ahmanson Theatre for its North American Tour. At Los Angeles Music Center, 135 North Grand Avenue, through Jan. 18. Tickets: 213-628-2772 or or CTG Box Office.

 Also reviewed in January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY

Monday, December 8, 2014


Poland, 1928. Strangers on a train meet and chat and, even through the veneer of small talk, we soon get the picture. The handsome young man is a successful businessman from Russia, and Jewish. The chatty peasant girl is a Polish army nurse and blatant anti-Semite. She boasts that she can spot a Jew from across the room, but he has slipped under her radar. Angry, and with amused contempt, he plans to draw her to him and after their first passionate kiss (or more) tell her he’s Jewish. Ah, the plan is a good one under the circumstances, a well deserved reproof, until he recognizes under her naiveté a fragile girl and falls in love with her. They spend three days in Zacopane, a luxury resort, and the secret that divides them becomes an ominous shadow.
Based on his own father’s youthful true story, Henry Jaglom has created a simple yet persuasively real situation where we are like flies on the wall observing people as if in real life. All this is overshadowed by our modern awareness of what the blatant anti-Semitism in Poland led to during the Nazi occupation. Here it is the elephant in the room, and the final confrontation is a powerful statement on the tragedy guaranteed by racism.

Tanna Frederick is superb as Katia, blossoming from a frowsy chatterbox into a passionate vulnerable woman; Mike Falkow matches her as Semyon, a sophisticated charmer opening into an emotionally honest man. Also excellent are Cathy Arden as a worldy-wise actress, Stephen Howard as a bigoted priest, Jeff Elam as a wary doctor, and Kelly DeSarla as a fun-loving flapper.

Written by Henry Jaglom and directed with great sensitivity by Gary Imhoff. The complicated yet  exquisite sets are by Chris Stone. Produced by Alexandra Guarnieri and presented by The Rainbow Theatre Company in association with Edgemar Center for the Arts. At the Edgemar Theatre, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica. Tickets: (310) 392-7327 or Don’t miss it.
Also reviewed in the January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Elizabeth June (Ethel Waters) & Tiffany Coty (Lena Horne)

In the 1930s and 40’s, the Dunbar, was the most prestigious hotel in Los Angeles' African-American community, with a nightclub that hosted jazz legends Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Lena Horne and many others. Notable visitors there also included Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Ray Charles, Thurgood Marshall and heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. 
The play covers the tumultuous decades of protest before and during WW2, to when the color bar was lowered and blacks were finally allowed into mainstream hotels. Compressing this dynamic history into 3 hours, playwright Levy Lee Simon mainly focuses on the lives of the staff, with poet Paul Laurence Dunbar as a genial ghost-host.
Julio Hanson as Dunbar
Under producer Ben Guillory’s imaginative direction we visit with Dwain A. Perry as the creative hotel owner, Lucius Lomax. Melvin Ishmael Johnson is his delightfully peevish hotel manager; Petal d’Avril Walker is his patient wife; Vanja Renee is a flirtatious waitress; Rhonda Stubbins White is a no nonsense attendant; Ashlee Olivia is a reluctant maid, and Kyle Connor McDuffie is her loyal sweetheart.
Dwain A. Perry, Sammie Wayne IV, Melvin Ishmael Johnson
Meanwhile, excellent actors portray the historic figures: Jah Shams is an amazing look-alike as Paul Robeson; Tiffany Coty is an imperious Lena Horne; Eddie Goines is Duke Ellington & Joe Louis; Elizabeth June is a fiery Ethel Waters; Tommy Hicks is a calm W.E.B. Du Bois; Sammie Wayne IV is riveting as angry writer Chester Himes; Kem Saunders is a jovial Jack Johnson; Cydney Wayne Davis is passionate as journalist/activist Charlotta Bass; Jovan Adepo is young pastor Rev. Clayton Russell; Doug Jewell is community leader Dr. John Somerville; Jason Mimms is a lothario as editor John Kinloch, and Julio Hanson is impish as the poetry-reciting Dunbar. 

The beautiful set and lighting are by Micheal D. Ricks, with dazzling costumes by Naila Aladdin Sanders. Presented by Robey Theatre Company in association with LATC.
At Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Downtown LA., through December 21. For tickets: (866) 811-4111 or
 Photos by Tomoko Matsushita.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates has written this series of ten monologues by a variety of women in a desperate search for love. Some are sketchy, others are almost mini plays, but all are powerful statements about women’s confused relationships with men. There is some onstage nudity but Oates is mainly concerned with revealing emotional nakedness. Director Gloria Gifford cleverly has them all as party attendees, in a blood-red room, where they share their stories with us. 

Genevieve Joy is the hostess writing checks to save a world she despises; Cynthia San Luis is riveting as a teacher sexually misinterpreting the advances of a boy of 15; Sabrina Won is a total loon waiting for Armageddon; Abigail Kochunas is a receptionist whose façade hides a hidden rage, and Davia King is a wife seeing her husband weeping and realizing it’s over. 

Pamela Renae is moving as a happily pregnant women with a malignant talking fetus; Kelly Musslewhite is delightful as a featherbrain married to a serial killer (see today’s headlines); Kasia Pilewicz is trying for invisibility thru bulimia, and Leana Chavez, Raven Bowens and Nancy Chavez are disfigured with love bites. Most impressive is Jade Warner as a murdered stripper who walks us through her terror and asks the question, ‘why do you hate us?’ that female victims of violence ask everywhere.

Produced by Chad Doreck, Lauren Plaxco and Jade Warner for Jamaica Moon Productions and Ggc Players. At: T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St. (off Lankershim), North Hollywood.  Tickets at 310-366-5505 or

Also in the December issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.