Thursday, April 25, 2019


Anyone who remembers the fun times upstate New York, in the Catskills, will enjoy Michael’s madcap routines as he impersonates beloved celebrities such as Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, Louis Armstrong, George Burns and Ed Sullivan. He also sings, plays the harmonica and juggles a bit and, if you dare to sit close to him, he will even draw you into his act. 

Ah! I remember my young days there, when I directed and performed live theater, at The Woodlands! Look for Michael at your nearby Senior Center or contact him at (323) 654-6505 or
In this new dark comedy, a famous writer dies and, as his family gather to box up his belongings, secrets come to light and old conflicts revive. Playwright John Bunzel was inspired to write about family by the conflicting emotions he experienced when his parents died, saying, “Love can be defined in many different ways and the serious substance underneath makes the comedy authentic.”  Directed by Jack Stehlin, at New America Theatre, 1312 N Wilton Place, Hwd. Tkts: (310) 424-2980 or Ample street parking.
This 1908 drama by British suffragette Cicely Hamilton, a friend of George Bernard Shaw, turns the Cinderella myth on its head. Diana, an Edwardian shop assistant, is awarded a small legacy. When she decides to spend it all on a Taste of the High Life, she learns a bitter lesson about love, money and society. Says director Casey Stangl: “This is a play about the overworked and underpaid workers who maintain the very separate world of privilege that surrounds them.” At the Gindler Arts Center, 110 E Broadway, Glendale (Between N Brand & Artsakh). Tkts: (818) 506-1983 or
JULIUS WEEZER  (North Hollywood)
“Beware the Ides of March… in May!” warns The Troubies! It’s Rome 44 BC with Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ mashed up with funk-rock riffs by the Weezer band. This show is part circus, part improve, part rock concert, and a loony adaptation of the classic play. A unique experience for theatre-goers of any age – so take the grandkids! Adapted, choreographed and directed by Matt Walker, artistic director of Troubadour Theater Co. At El Portal Theatre, 11206 Weddington St. NoHo. Tkts: (818)508-4200 or (866)811-4111 online
In this wacky John Patrick comedy, a famous actress leases a house in Vermont to write her autobiography. To shoo away nosy neighbors, she invents a mad, homicidal sister (herself in a fright wig) who scares off visitors. However, a local handyman falls for ‘Sister Sadie’ and some local ladies decide to save the poor woman’s soul. When Myra says her demented sibling has gone off to Boston she comes under suspicion of murder! Directed by Larry Eisenberg, produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40. In Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S Moreno Dr. BH. Tkts: (310)364-0535 or Free Parking.
It’s a Battle of The Sexes comedy by local playwright Jerry Mayer. He asks, can mistakes between husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, fathers and sons, ever be fixed? Dick’s mistake: He let a sexy, blue-eyed doll threaten his marriage. Jeff’s mistake: He turned down a dream job, then heard screams, “You idiot!” Mel’s mistake: He hired a famous money manager, who stole his money. Dick’s wife’s mistake: She trusted him, then learned of his affair so had one too. And that’s just the beginning! Directed by Chris DeCarlo. At Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St, SM. Tkts: (310)394-9779 or

May 2019 Theater Column for NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

BIRDLAND BLUE - Robey Theatre, Downtown L.A. - Review

In 1959 the biggest star in jazz was trumpeter, bandleader and composer Miles Davis, and New York’s nightclub, BIRDLAND, was the center of the jazz world. This drama with music takes place there, one evening in August, 1959. 
You cross the threshold of the Robey Theatre and are transported back into an actual nightclub with round tables and chairs, a tiny stage, and surrounding you rough walls of brick and plaster. Somewhere in the gallery there is soft jazz playing and soon various men wander by carrying music cases or musical instruments, pre-occupied with their own thoughts.
Far to your right, in a small ante-room with a sofa and desk, one man sits alone, his head drooping, a trumpet hanging loosely in his hand, his demeanor sad and thoughtful. When he stirs and rises he plays a short riff on the instrument that resonates through the space with a mournful sound. Yes, here is Miles Davis and for one brief night you get a backstage peek at the reality of the pressures faced by this innovative artist and see that music is not his only challenge.
As the leader of his sextet he must deal with five rebellious musicians, a devious club owner, a smirking racist cop, drugs galore, and a shapely young woman journalist who is not averse to discarding her objectivity and flirting with a legendary genius. Still, when the sextet finally plays its promised set the club reverberates with a nostalgic reminder of the time when jazz was the ultimate musical trip.
Heading the superb cast is Marcus Clark-Oliver as the mythic Miles Davis; Damon Rutledge is an amusingly philosophical Julian “Cannoball” Adderly, and Jermaine Alexander a serious John Coltrane. Eddie Goines as Wynton Kelley, Micheal David Ricks as Jimmy Cobb and Rogelio Douglas III as Paul Chambers are impressive. Noteworthy are Charles Isen (club owner), Tiffany Coty (reporter) and Darrell Philip (sleazy cop).
Plaudits to author Randy Ross, PhD, who also plays sax offstage with drummer Ricardo “Ricky” Mowatt and bassist Marion Newton. The show was developed in the Robey Theatre Playwrights’ Lab, and has strong imaginative direction by producer Ben Guillory.
At Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Downtown. Tickets: (866) 811-4111 or
Color photo by Ian Foxx