Thursday, August 22, 2019

NBY.Sept. SISTERS IN LAW, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, DRIVING WILDE, ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO, FEFU & HER FRIENDS



 

SISTERS IN LAW (Beverly Hills)
Tovah Feldshuh portrays Democrat Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephanie Faracy is Republican Sandra Day O’Connor in this play that celebrates the friendship – and conflict – between two modern day legends. As the US Supreme Court’s first female justices, they are confronted by a case that, by pitting them against one another, lays bare their most deeply held personal and political beliefs. Based on the book by Linda Hirshman, and written by Jonathan Shapiro, director Patricia McGregor has an all-female design team. At the Wallis Center, 9390 Santa Monica Blvd. Tkts: (310) 746-4000 or www.TheWallis.org/Sisters.
THE JOY LUCK CLUB (Sierra Madre)
In San Francisco, four elderly Chinese women meet regularly at this club to play Mah Jong but, when one passes away, they invite her American-born daughter to join the group. Soon all of them struggle across a seemingly unpassable chasm of culture, generation and expectations to find common ground. Based on the novel by Amy Tan and adapted for the stage by Susan Kim. Director is Tim Dang, Artistic Director Emeritus of East West Players. At Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. Tkts: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. Free parking.
DRIVING WILDE (Hollywood)
In this surreal adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, playwright Jacqueline Wright transforms the gothic horror story into a contemporary meditation on the pursuit of beauty. Here the beautiful young Dorian awakens from a coma, unaware of his past, and seeks the perfection of nature in a corrupting aging world. In this existential view can beauty be kept or will it fade into death? Directed by the always imaginative Bart DeLorenzo, Founding Artistic Director of Evidence Room Theatre. At Theatre of Note, 1517 N. Cahuenga, Hollywood. Tkts: 323-856-8611, or visit www.theatreofnote.com.
ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO (Venice)
Pittsburgh folklore has it that there is a working-class bar where a teenage Andy Warhol drew on napkins in exchange for Coca-Cola drinks, and he also splashed a bold painting on one wall. Playwright Vince Melocchi states: “While drinking in that same bar, I began to see it… as an exciting, mysterious place.” In his intriguing and thought-provoking play, Melocchi explores the mystery that is art through the interactions between a budding eccentric genius and a hard-working, seemingly unimaginative, bar owner. Derek Chariton is brilliant as Warhol, a sly child with the wisdom of a sage. Keith Stevenson is deeply moving as a man whose dreams have been crushed by harsh reality. The play reveals the effect that their brief friendship has on each of them. Directed with sensitivity by Dana Jackson. At Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd. Venice. TKTS: (310) 822-8392 or www.pacificresidenttheatre.com.
FEFU & HER FRIENDS (West Los Angeles)
Playwright Maria Irene Forn├ęs is hailed as “the early feminist giant of the avant-garde” and this 1977 drama, still relevant today, shows her at her most fascinating and provocative. Fefu is the eccentric hostess when seven of her friends arrive for a women’s do-gooder event. At first what seems to be a drawing-room comedy, soon darkens into an exploration of the tremors that beset women regarding their relationships with male dominance and female powerlessness. All the actresses superbly embrace the quixotic demands of the script. Outstanding are Tiffany Cole as the dynamic Fefu; Sandy Duarte as emotionally damaged Julia; Cynthia Yelle as social outcast Paula, and Sydney A, Mason as vivacious yet troubled Emma (and eloquent saxophone player). Directed with passion by Denise Blasor and produced by Ron Sossi in association with Gloria Levy. At Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. West LA. Tkts: (310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

Friday, August 9, 2019

LOOSE KNIT (North Hollywood) Review





In Theresa Rebeck’s potent comedy, five New York City women meet once a week to make sweaters and scarves but, apparently, do everything but knit! 


It’s a delightful play with a fabulous cast: Margie (Julie Davis) is a loquacious wanna-be actress desperate to find Mr. Right while blasting men. Gina (Lisa McGee Mann) is a lawyer who, after being made redundant, tries to knit her way back to authenticity. Paula (Cathy Diane Tomlin) is a therapist who wonders if she helps, or damages, her clients by anything she ever says or does. 

Lily (Stephanie Colet) is an Earth Mother attempting to save the world, and her friends, when all seem about to crash and blaze. Liz (Marie Broderick) is the dynamic glamour gal who men adore because she is such a fabulous challenging bitch. Bob (Doug Haverty) is happily married to the perfect wife, but still panting after the girl of his dreams. 
Miles (Todd Andrew Ball) is the blind date from hell – a suave, rich, highly connected, handsome bachelor who threatens to break up their weekly knit circle. He’s quite a catch, but clearly a shark when it comes to business and women. Still, the prize he seductively dangles brings our gaggle of knitters to philosophically question their own lives and purposes. 

Directed boldly and keenly by L. Flint Esquerra, and produced by Katelyn Ann Clark for Group Rep. At the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd. NOHO. Tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990.


Monday, August 5, 2019

NOT BORN YESTERDAY. JULY AND AUGUST, 2019 Columns

NBY. AUGUST, 2019 COLUMN
THE LAST DAYS OF DON JUAN (West Hollywood)
The character of Don Juan was first created in 1630 by Spanish playwright Tirso de Molina, as a tragic drama about a libertine on the pathway to Hell. Now the Classical Theatre Lab has transformed what was then a grim tale into a totally hilarious farce. Adapted by British playwright Nick Dear, this tale of a notorious cad getting his come-uppance is a total delight. In a shady outdoor garden, Carlo Figlio as Don Juan heads a superb cast of proud royals, sullied maidens, and saucy attendees. Plaudits to director Suzanne Hunt for capturing the exact tone of merriment while making sure, even in the outdoor setting, every word and gesture resonates clearly. Elegant costumes by Susan Deeley-Wells and daring swordplay by choreographer William Hickman. Presented by City of West Hollywood at Kings Road Park, 1000 N. Kings Road, WeHo. Info: classicaltheatrelab@gmail.com or (323) 960-5691.
LOOT (West Los Angeles) Review
Last month I listed this Joe Orton play and, after seeing it, I guarantee you’re in for a delightful surprise. An outrageous, farcical and absurdist writer, his characters seem in many ways more believable than what’s often presented onstage as real life! In this madcap romp two young men rob a bank, try to hide the money in an occupied coffin, gain a beautiful shrewd accomplice, and are hunted down by a maniacal police inspector. All the actors are marvelous, with impeccable accents from various regions of the British Isles, and project loudly so no dialogue is lost. Bart DeLorenzo directs with the carefree flair of one born and raised in a madhouse. At Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. West LA. Tickets: www.OdysseyTheatre.com or (310) 477-2055 ext.2. Not to miss!
 LOOSE KNIT (North Hollywood)
Once a week in New York City five women gather in a knitting circle but, as the scarves and sweaters pile up, their lives unravel. Gina loses her job, Paula is having an identity crisis, Liz is having an affair with her brother-in-law and Margie just wants to find a man. When a handsome millionaire shows up looking for a wife the circle becomes a dating game. On a series of blind dates, Miles and each woman go head to head, humorously attempting to figure out what they really want. Playwright Theresa Rebeck outlines this battle between the sexes with wit, ferocity and insight to create a contemporary comedy of manners. Directed by L. Flint Esquerra and produced by Katelyn Ann Clark for Group Rep. At Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd. NOHO. Tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990.
PASS OVER (Atwater Village)
In this modern take on Waiting For Godot, two men stand on the corner talking boisterously and aggressively, passing the time, hoping that today a miracle will come. Award-winning playwright Antoinette Nwanda crafts their everyday profanities into poetic and humorous riffs, to expose the human spirit of young black men who dream about a promised land they’ve yet to find. Historical, religious and pop culture references collide in this meditation on race, manhood, and the cycle of violence that prevents so many from realizing their full potential. According to Nwanda, “This play asks us collectively to consider the value of the lives of young black men who are not entertainers, or athletes, or secret math geniuses.” Deena Selenow directs for Echo Theater Co. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave, LA. Free on-site parking. Tickets: www.EchoTheaterCompany.com or (310) 307-3753.

NBY. JULY,2019 COLUMN
THE PRODUCERS  (Hollywood)
Celebration Theatre, under the artistic direction of Michael A. Shepperd, presents the hilarious Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan’s hit musical about two luckless Broadway producers. Based on Brooks’ 1967 movie, it’s the story of a sleazy theatrical promoter and his neurotic accountant who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway show that’s sure to be a flop. Complications arise when the show, that makes fun of homosexuals and Nazis, turns out to be a roaring success. Director Michael Matthews (I still remember his fabulous work on “Peter Pan; the Boy Who Hated Mothers”) brings his take to this; as does choreographer Janet Roston (likewise her “Mutt House” musical). Anthony Zediker is musical director. Presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and produced by Andrew Carlberg and Rebecca Eisenberg. At Celebration @ the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave, Hollywood. Tickets: 323-957-1884 or www.celebrationtheatre.com
LOOT  (WEST LOS ANGELES) 
Joe Orton was a young British playwright whose outrageous dark comedies scandalized theater audiences in the 1960s. After winning a scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met actor-writer Kenneth Halliwell who became his lover and mentor. In his rapid-fire writing Orton wrote shocking and unconventional plays examining moral corruption, authoritarian abuse and hypocrisy. Tragically, in 1967, his life was cut short when Halliwell killed Orton, then himself. In this darkly comic masterpiece, Hal and Dennis rob a bank next to a funeral parlor and hide the money in the coffin of Hal’s recently deceased Mum. But her corpse keeps reappearing at the most inopportune times. Nothing is safe from Orton’s savage wit, whose targets include religion, attitudes towards death, police brutality, corruption, and everything in between. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo. At Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles. Tickets: 310-477-2055 ext2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com
DEATH OF A SALESMAN  (Santa Monica)
Since its initial opening in 1949, when Arthur Miller’s drama won the Pulitzer Prize, numerous name actors have portrayed Willy Loman (from Fredric March to Dustin Hoffman). Considered by many to be the role-of-a-lifetime, now TV star Rob Morrow is making his Los Angeles theatre debut as Willy in the Ruskin Group Theatre’s production. More than a museum piece, the play is strikingly relevant in our times as Willy desperately tries to hold on to his “American Dream” in spite of personal and financial failures. Director Mike Reilly says: The Loman family struggles with the same social, economic and environmental pressures that we seem to keep experiencing in our own lives. Yet, at the center of this story is the deeply personal human tragedy of Willy Loman and his family. Produced by John Ruskin and Michael R. Myers. At Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Ave. Santa Monica. Tickets: 310-397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com. Ample Free Parking.
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE  (Topanga Canyon)
In Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama, the water in a popular tourist spa in Norway, at the heart of a local town’s economy, is discovered to be contaminated. When powerful people decide to put commercial interests above the health of visitors, the town doctor speaks out against the town leaders. For this he is declared the enemy and is soon threatened with violence. A timely play that adapter-director Ellen Geer has reset the events in the small town of South Fork, South Carolina in the 1980s, where issues of race further compound the economic concerns at stake. At Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Topanga, CA. Tickets: 310-455-3723 or www.theatricum.com. Performances continue through Sept. 28.