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.