Saturday, January 25, 2014

DAY TRADER …Los Angeles


Nothing is what it seems in playwright Eric Rudnick’s wacky tale of double and triple cross in modern-day Hollywood. If we accept the truth of what is before our eyes, e.g. a loving if eccentric father, a delightfully bratty kid, a talented wannabee actress and a sympathetic neighbor, then the trick is on us. 

Here’s the plot as it unfolds: an unemployed writer is married to a rich woman he cannot divorce without losing everything. He hatches a plot to get her to divorce him by having his mistress impersonate a psycho-analyst who, through auto-suggestion, gets his teenage daughter to recall him sexually abusing her when she was six. Hi Ho, apparently the scheme works – he gets the divorce and $7 million pedophile-separation pay. However, in the end, the scam turns on itself and one discovers this jigsaw puzzle was not assembled honestly.

Still, the confusion is amply relieved by a wonderful cast that glow under Steven Williford’s brilliant direction. Danton Stone is delightfully shy and devious as Dad; 14 year old Brighid Fleming is amazingly sharp and self-contained as his outspoken daughter; Tim Meinelschmidt is a genial cipher as his supposedly helpful friend, and Murielle Zuker is beautiful, enigmatic and sylph-like whether as waitress, therapist, or lover. Mo Gaffney is an offstage voice warning about Day Trading, and effective emphasis is added by onstage drummer Josh Imlay.

Undaunted by the Multi-Media, Jazz-Bar, Warehouse-at-the-Bootleg experience, the Scenic Design by Stephen Gifford, Lighting by Jared A. Sayeg, Sound by Ivan Robles and Costumes by Michele Young capture the LA scene succinctly.

This World Premiere co-production is from Bootleg Theater and Small American Productions, and plays through February 16th.  At The Bootleg Theater 2220 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles. Tickets at (213) 389-3856 or


In playwright Scott Carter’s intriguing new play, these three famous men of literature and politics meet after death to argue over their individual fascination with the Gospel. In life, each one edited and created his own version of the New Testament and we are witness to a delicious clash of personalities and game of words. Here is a haughty Thomas Jefferson, an egotistical Charles Dickens and a pugnacious Count Leo Tolstoy, locked in a room where they can debate for all eternity. Then, as they are confronted with the hypocritical secrets in their personal lives, we are faced with the question – does the good they brought to mankind excuse their bad behavior? Well, according to the author, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

Under Matt August’ stylized direction, Larry Cedar, as Jefferson, gives emotional depth to a man ruled by his keen intellect; David Melville, as Dickens, is humorously bombastic and eccentric; while Armin Shimerman portrays a grim Tolstoy with a hair trigger temper – no fault to the actor but hardly fair to the man whose pacifism influenced Gandhi!

The stark set by Takeshi Kata is given dynamic life by Luke Moyer’s lighting, Cricket S. Myers sound and Jeffrey Elias Teeter’s projections. The fine costume design is by Ann Closs-Farley. Produced by Kevin Bailey of Noho Arts Center Ensemble, Independent Shakespeare Co. & Efficiency Studios. 

At NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, through February 23. For tickets: 818-508-7101 ext.6 or

Reviewed in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.



 This musical comedy revue is directed towards Baby Boomers and Beyond with the emphasis on staying alive and enjoying it! The ALL in the title is LIFE itself and librettist-humorist-songwriter-director Saul Ilson knows from where he speaks. At the opening performance, Ilson himself stepped in for a missing performer, explaining drolly, “I’m the only person who knows the show well enough.” Actually, even alongside three musical comedy pros with Broadway credits, his cool manner added to the charm of the sweet songs, brief sketches, and rather dear old jokes.
      Leading the cast is the glamorous Marcia Rodd, who we last saw locally in “The Beat Goes On,” humorously singing that “Age is Not A Factor” and “Another Wrinkle,” while looking barely 40 years old; the charming John Shull, reminding us of the memorable “Ed Sullivan” days, then becoming a doting grandpa in “My Grandchildren and Me”; the piquant Barbara Minkus, giddily reporting on “A Singles Cruise,” then grimacing over holiday gatherings of the dreaded “Relatives.” Ronnie Schell’s numbers, “You’re A Boomer” and “A Wonderful Life” were ably crooned by Ilson with a wry smile and a shrug that endeared him to the packed house.
      Produced by Diane Baroni, who co-produced the NY production with its creator. Dexterous piano accompaniment is by musical director Ron Rose.
      At the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, Sundays only at 2 pm, through March 30. TICKETS: (800) 838-3006 or
      Reviewed in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY