Saturday, July 21, 2018


MUTT HOUSE (Culver City)
In this delightful musical there’s an awkward young man, (Ryan McCartan), who talks to animals, and a bevy of his furry friends who talk back. All reside in a rundown animal shelter that the cruel lady-Mayor, (Heather Olt), wants to close down. This means euthanasia for the dogs, none of whom deserve to die. When a Best-of-Show French Poodle, (Valerie Larsen), arrives, she is the most elegantly popular Sniff of the Week! 
It’s a charming show, with joyous canine songs and superb dance numbers by Janet Roston. Creator Tony Cookson’s message is clear: If you love animals help support No Kill groups. Otherwise, adopt one yourself and discover the love that always gives back. 
So, bring the grandkids – they’ll love it too. And don’t worry, there’s a happy ending with catchy song “All You Need is One!” At Kirk Douglas Theatre.

THE LOS ANGELES THEATRE SCENE is home to a staggering number of companies, all devoted to keeping theater alive. From Hollywood to Long Beach, from Westside to Downtown, exciting new projects take the stage. Here are a few of the theatres developing new works.
In LA: Theatre West has an in-house writing group - I just saw their impressive one-act festival; 
Blank Theatre’s long-running Living Room Series is committed to work by diverse voices; 
Rogue Artists Ensemble are starting a writers lab to do a festival of new work.
In NoHo: Road Theatre Company’s Summer Playwrights Festival has 50/50 male and female playwrights;
Actors Workout writers group creates short plays on one theme; 
Group Rep presents plays from in-house writers. 

Sherman Oaks: Loft Ensemble gives new playwrights a production platform to explore and develop work; 
Whitefire has a theater development lab. 
Burbank: Garry Marshall Theatre has a new works festival. 
Topanga: Theatricum Botanicum's 'Seedlings' is a hotbed of development.

To Be Continued...
These comments are also in the August issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Friday, July 20, 2018



'Screwball comedy' refers to the American genre of story-telling which had its heyday in the 1930s & 40s. The elements included a male and female who are adversarial at first, but are ultimately ideal for each other; some farcical or slapstick action; a female with the upper hand in the relationship, snappy patter and crackling dialogue. And in this case, sexual tension!

With a superb cast that sparkle with audacity, this U.S. Premiere of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Screwball Comedy is both homage to as well as an example of the genre. 
The year is 1938 and aspiring reporter, Mary Hayes (Kate Whitney), is struggling to break into the male-dominated world of journalism. Jeff Kincaid (Lane Compton) may be the hottest reporter in the city, but his boss (Daniel Leslie) is fed up with his shenanigans so his job is on the line. Ambitious Mary might be the one to replace him if only she can resist his manly charm. 

Like the zany comedies with Gable vs. Colbert, or Hepburn vs. Tracy, let alone Rosalind Russell vs. Cary Grant, this delightful play crackles with wit and humor! Under Howard Storm's I-dare-you direction David Hunt Stafford almost steals the show as the Percy Dovetonsils butler and everyone else are at the top of their game. 

At Theatre Forty, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.


Lilya and Vladimir

In this new play, writer-director Murray Mednick explores two distantly connected relationships: that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his wife Nadya, and of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and his married lover and ‘muse’ Lilya Brik. The emphasis is on the tumultuous  days of the Revolution that affected the personal lives of very different people - artists and politicians.

It’s a dramatic character study incorporating historical footage and photos. Sadly, it focuses mainly on the brutal suicides of tormented Vladimir (Daniel Dorr) and raging Nadya (Casey McKinnon) that makes for a sad and rather grim two hours. Historically interesting, the image of Stalin (Maury Sterling) is unsurprisingly frightening, while the irrepressible Lilya (Laura Liguori) illuminates the carefree sexuality of the 20's and 30's. 

Stalin and Nadya
We learn how Mayakovsky was a giant rebel in 20th century Russian literature who was turned into a symbol of the repressive state when, after his death, dictator Stalin declared: “Mayakovsky is the best and most talented poet of our Soviet epoch.” Hailed as The Poet of The Revolution, Mayakovsky’s legacy was censored and intimate or controversial pieces were ignored. According to Boris Pasternak, this Stalin-sanctioned canonization dealt Mayakovsky a second death. 
At The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood.

Also noted in the August issue of Not Born Yesterday.

Monday, July 2, 2018


Review by Brian Murphy.

Comedy Sportz of Los Angeles is a comedic improv institution, performing in the North Hollywood Arts District since 1988.  Over the years they have organized groups worldwide and come together in various cities to have their teams compete, literally, for laughs. In the historic El Portal Theatre, packed with a cheering crowd of fans, the highly entertaining competition pitted city against city in a series of theater games that ranged from "Try That On For Size" to "Musical Comedy" and "Best Oscar Moments”!  All to comedic effect as energetic referees took suggestions from the audience, wryly commented on the performances, and enforced the rules.

The show is PG-13 and any player who dared utter an untoward comment, or slip in a dirty word, had a brown bag placed on their head for the duration of that game.  (They also had a special brown bag for an audience member who violated this rule.)  Also, when a player's action, dialog, or joke elicited a groan from the audience, their team lost a point. Singing, character work, and physical comedy were delivered spontaneously.  The secret of improve is listening, not denying, being true to the scene, and these performers tapped into that place where something magical happened each time.

This was a high-energy spontaneous demonstration of Instant Theater. It was fast, it was fun, and often hilarious enough to bring tears to many eyes. The crowd rooted for their favorites, the players pushed their limits, the refs keep things moving and everybody, performers and audience, came out winning. Over 25 cities from Los Angeles to Manchester, UK, were competing during this popular 3-day Comedy Showdown. The tournament culminated with the World Championship match and the winner was CSz LA, 28-25, over CSz Twin Cities fabulous team.