Monday, June 23, 2014

BRIGHT LIGHT CITY …reviewed by Anthony R. Maldonado

In a seedy Vegas motel a young thug, Wally, fresh out of LA Trade Tech, and possible parole, is waiting to break his 26th B-day cherry. His elder roommate, Larry, is all about the $50-G'z his mobster boss is paying him to rub out a certain cocktail waitress turned prostitute. After Larry reveals the plan, and promises something special to his impatient delinquent, Wally splits open the stagnant air with his own version of Elvis Presley's “Jail House Rock.” 

Wanting to have sex with his first victim, Wally becomes sexually and emotionally excited when beautiful Audrey saunters onto the stage. Now a high class call gal she is all about style and sex but, after she breaks into a song about her lives misery, Wally falls hard and invites her to run away to Canada with him. After that, events smolder like a cigarette about to start a blaze because if he doesn’t kill Audrey he will himself become the selected victim.

 As Alfred Hitchcock would never give away the ending, I'll follow suit. The title comes from the Elvis Presley hit song about Las Vegas and the suggestion that it takes place in Vegas was there but I didn't feel it. There were no signs of Elvis on black velvet décor, or blaring neon lights from a window, no busy local street life or a siren or two - little things that could afford this dynamic play an air of authenticity.
They say great actors are hard to come by but “Bright Light City” brings three of them to this stage with Garrett Michael Langston as young Wally, Leon Russom as merciless Larry, and Heidi James as victim Audrey. 

This is the world premiere of Nate Rufus Edelman's dark comedy, that he also co-directed with Angie Scott, and it is produced by Los Angeles Theatre Center.

At LATC, 514 S. Spring St., Downtown Los Angeles, through June 29. For tickets: (866) 811-4111 or 
Photos by Ed Krieger. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

THE LAST CONFESSION by Anthony Maldonado

Had a wonderful time at the Ahmanson Theater seeing David Suchet in "The Last Confession." This remarkable play’s revealing of ecclesiastical malfeasance made me think of poor Galileo Galilei, a man of science and faith. He learned the Church's message the hard way and evidently so did Pope John Paul the First. This almost forgotten Pope, a humble man who was about to overturn the old order, died September 28th 1978, age 65, after a reign of only 33 days. If this sounds like the trappings of a great murder mystery it is. The play, a first by lawyer Roger Crane, brilliantly defines the web of intrigue and the Vatican's brutal enforcement of church doctrine.

However, "History always has a witness" and here it is Suchet’s Cardinal Benelli, racked with guilt because he left this gentle Pope to the mercy of the Vatican wolves. It is after all history and the seeds of who did it are still embedded in this tree. 

I think the Bishop from Chicago, who controlled the Vatican Bank, was a Windy City mobster and clearly belonged to the political underworld. He was about to be fired from a pure cash job, no more double dipping into the Vatican's coffer's. Then, because the head Cardinal wanted the old council back, all the evidence mysteriously vanished, and left no clues, mere hours after the Pope's death

          Richard O’Callaghan is heartbreaking as the Pope who naïvely thinks of himself as the country priest for the people. This dynamic Chichester Festival Theatre Production was directed by Artistic Director Jonathan Church. Set design is by William Dudley, lighting by Peter Mumford. The costumes by Fotini Dimou were limited by the reality that most of the cast were in similar red robes which made it difficult to identify each one. Still, it’s a not-to-be-missed evening of theater.

The Ahmanson Theatre is at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown LA, through July 6. Tickets at (213) 972-4400 or online at

Photos by Craig Schwartz 

Note from Morna: Some years back I starred Off Broadway as Maria Feodorovna, the Czar's mother, in Anthony Maldonado's historic drama THE LAST ROMANOV. Anthony is a Renaissance man, being not only a devotee of Theater but also an expert in the Art and Antique World. He recently moved to live in LA and chose to settle Downtown. He is a columnist for the DTLA newspaper GALLERY ROW/ART WALK NEWS (

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FLOWER DUET …North Hollywood

Max and Stephanie, who were once passionately mad for each other, have settled into a polite domesticity, while Sandy and Maddie, who were once ingenuous sweethearts, are now suffocating under the weight of parenthood. Amid bright chatter and clever talk both couples give an appearance of harmony. Yet, two of the partners are involved in a sexual escapade while the others dream of escape. Playwright Maura Campbell briliantly shows how these hidden needs threaten to destroy both marriages. It’s an intriguing play, with a Chekhovian view of modern relationships, where the image we project is in direct contrast with the yearning child within.

All in the ensemble cast are riveting: Avery Clyde and Adam Mondschein are the sophisticated couple with an apparent perfect marriage, Jessica Noboa and Patrick Joseph Reiger are in constant conflict as both parents and wary allies, while Kara Hume is an almost supernatural being as their child carrying the weight of her parents angst. 

Hume also displays a beautiful voice when she sings an aria suggested by the play’s opera title.

Directed with bold energy by Jeffrey Wienckowski, the garden-like set is by Christopher Scott Murillo, with lighting by Boris Gortinski, sound by David B. Marling, and flower-bedecked costumes by Halei Parker. Produced by Zeljka Z Gortinski and Ellie Jameson for Road Theatre Company.

At The Road on Magnolia, NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, through July 26.  For tickets 866-811-4111 or

Photos by John Lorenz.
 Also reviewed in the July issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


In Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man in Victorian England makes a pledge with the Devil. Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, he expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure his portrait will age rather than him. When he subsequently pursues a life of debauchery, his wish is fulfilled, and the portrait ages with each sin he commits. While keeping close to the details of the novel, this show highlights his double life by adding a demonic character to illustrate his downfall.

            In its day the subject was considered scandalous, but in our modern world Dorian’s hedonism would barely raise an eyebrow. Attending male or female brothels, losing himself in opium dens, even killing in a petulant rage, unfortunately seem rather ho hum today. Also the show confuses us by placing it in no clear time and place. However, author, musical director and songwriter Chris Raymond manages to bring some passion to the play through the often dazzling musical numbers choreographed by Tania Possick.

            It’s an ambitious musical with a huge and earnest cast led by Michael D’Elia as Dorian; Toni Smith as the Demon; Cassandra Nuss as the doomed Sybil; Kelly Brighton as snobbish (Sir) Henry; Lauren Hill as no-nonsense Madeline; Jeremy Saje as the artist; Michelle Holmes as an hysterical mother; Tony Graham as her vengeful son, and some delightful bits by Andrew Diego and Kevin Corsini. 

            Energetically directed by Marco Gomez with set by John Iacovelli, lighting by Jean Yves Tessier, sound by Julie Ferrin, and costumes by Michael Mullen. Produced by Mike Abramson and Dolf Ramos as a DOMA Theatre Company and Requiem Media Productions LLC world premiere co-production.

At the MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave, Hollywood, through July 20. Tickets: (323) 802-4990 or

Photos by Sylvia Spross. 
 Also reviewed in the July issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY