Monday, December 26, 2016


 For those who remember the 2001 movie, “Amélie” is about a painfully shy young girl alone in Paris, the odd characters she befriends, and her mission to bring joy to others. When she falls for a troubled boy she flees, but when the boy chases her she puts him through a number of tests and, when he persists, Amélie finally must decide whether to open the door to her home, and her heart, to him.

The French film was nominated for 5 Oscars and is listed among all-time favorites by many film critics. I never saw it and, in this otherwise charming stage version, I had difficulty figuring out what was going on, so perhaps one had better see the movie first.

Most of the song lyrics, that clearly are intended to carry the story along, were difficult to comprehend in the huge Ahmanson. In a smaller theatre one might more clearly understand the lyrics, and see the facial expressions, but here much of it was miniaturized into a distant pantomime.

Leading the large and excellent cast are winsome Phillipa Soo as Amélie, dynamic 10 year old Savvy Crawford as Young Amélie, and spirited Adam Chanler-Berat as Nino.
This pre-Broadway run is directed by Pam MacKinnon, with book by Craig Lucas, music by Daniel Messé, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Messé, choreography by Sam Pinkleton, musical direction by Kimberly Grigsby, and orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin.

At the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N Grand Avenue, through January 15. Tickets: (213) 972-4400 or

Photos by Joan Marcus.

Friday, December 16, 2016


This delightful play has already been getting rave reviews from all the LA critics and here’s my addition to the accolades. The story is simple, full of witty humor, but moving. A woman in a trailer park has bought a supposedly original Jackson Pollock for $3 in a thrift store. It is certainly good enough to interest a renowned art expert from New York to travel to California to appraise it. 

As should be expected there is a clash between the blunt and saucy ex-bartender and the snobbish and repressed ex-director of the Metropolitan Museum. Who actually knows the truth and, in the end, does it really matter?

Author-director Stephen Sachs probes the hearts of two people passionate about the genuine article – whether in art or humanity. Inhabitants of different worlds, they dodge and parry over far more than a mere painting. With two brilliant actors at full gallop, we witness a magnificent battle of wills as Maude (Jenny O’Hara) fiercely challenges Lionel’s (Nick Ullett) complacent surety that he is the ultimate expert on authenticity.

The fabulous trinket-filled-trailer set is by Jeffrey McLaughlin, with subtle but effective lighting by Bill E. Kickbush, and sound by Peter Bayne. Costumes by Shon LeBlanc, and props by Terri Roberts, cleverly illuminate the class differences. Produced for Fountain Theatre by Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor.

At The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave, Hollywood, extended through January 30. Tickets: (323) 663-1525 or  
Pay-What-You-Can every Monday night!

Photos by Ed Krieger.

Also reviewed in the January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.