|Alley Mills & Orson Bean|
BAD HABITS (Santa Monica)
Having spent ten years living among nuns in a British Catholic Boarding School I must admit none of them had such bad habits as these Sisters of St. Cyril. This bevy of virgins often curse like truck drivers, make snide comments about their young school charges, have a drinking problem, and in general behave more like Hollywood tarts than the nuns I knew. But, as my friend director Fran Freedman quipped, “Morna, perhaps you should have recused yourself!”
Yes, the audience clearly loved it, especially when they were drawn into the action as stand-ins for little kids in school. The cast, even though all in imminent danger of excommunication, were excellent. Even Orson Bean, as the shrewd local Bishop, entertained delightfully with jokes that were perhaps rather risqué for a man of the cloth.
Alley Mills was the humanistic Mother Superior over Sisters’ Mouchette van Helsdingen, Jacquelynne Fontaine, Lee Garlington and Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield (who I wish could have finished her soaring solo that threatened to bring down the house). Kelsey Griswold dazzled as the mysterious visitor and Jennifer Sagiao was a formidable secretary and deft furniture mover.
Humorist Playwright Steve Mazur claims to be “the proud product of a parochial school education” and I suspect he got caned on his knuckles quite a few times. Director Mike Reilly says, “This is, ultimately, a life affirming, joyful play” and he certainly brought it to life for the matinee audience.
Imaginative set by Brad Bentz was perfect framing for Michael Mullen’s elegant traditional nun’s costumes.
At Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Ave, Santa Monica. Tkts: (310) 397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com. Free parking.
SUNDAY DINNER (Beverly Hills)
Michael Matera, a young priest stationed in Chicago, returns to his parent’s home in the Bronx after his grandfather’s death. As the Matera clan gather at the family home for Sunday dinner dark secrets of sin, secrecy and shame start to unravel. When his father confesses a crime to Michael he refuses to give him absolution yet has guilty secrets of his own to deal with. This world premiere drama is written and directed by Tony Blake and produced by David Hunt Stafford. At Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Bevely Hills. Tkts: (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org. Free Parking.
DISPOSABLE NECESSITIES (Venice)
In this play, the disposables in the title refers to people aging and dying but, due to the wonders of the digital world, it’s possible to download one’s soul into another host or body. However, only the very rich can afford this and can even choose to be anyone they desire. Playwright Neil McGowan takes a comedic look at greed, the value of life… and even death! Directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos and produced by John Perrin Flynn. At Rogue Machine Theatre, 1416 Electric Ave, Venice. Tkts: (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com
THE GIVER (Westchester)
This multimedia presentation takes us to a futuristic community where life is idyllic, with designated mothers, appropriate family units and assigned partners. Here is a precisely choreographed world where a young man finds everyone obeys and no one thinks to ask questions. Jonas’ journey is filled with heightened sensory experience as he goes from this place of no choice,… to where? Adapted by Eric Coble from the book by Lois Lowry. Directed by Harold Dershimer. At Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave, Westchester. Tkts: (310) 645-5156 or firstname.lastname@example.org