Visitors

Monday, August 19, 2019

HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO

 In her interview with Carolina Xique, playwright Jiehae Park  discusses  how she came from being primarily an actor to finding her way to writing a play that eventually became the foundation of her Masters thesis. 
Jully Lee and Monica Hong
Photo by Jenny Graham

On Yee Eun Nam's beautifully functional set, we meet Monica Hong as Hannah who must be the doppleganger for Ms Park, as her mystery unfolds. Hannah addresses the audience directly and as the story begins, we meet Hannah's family: Janet Song, her over engaged with Craig's List mother; her dad, played by Han Cho, pedaling for all he's worth in the world of Seoul; hip and like happening, yo, Brother Dang (who refuses his given name Dong: for cause) Gavin Lee.  Like Alice down the rabbit hole, Hannah receives a mysterious parcel (literally, the Inciting Event) with a note written in Korean by her mother's mother whom we meet only in a flash, perhaps her leap to freedom? The parcel holds a small bottle containing a pebble: a wish.   
With the use of appropriate projections by designer Yee Eun Nam and the protean hopping back and forth from one character to another by shapeshifting Jully Lee,  a phantasmagorical polygolt unfolds. 
Has Grandmother actually committed suicide by leaping from the sixty third story of the Sunrise Dewdrop Apartment City for Senior Living into the DMZ that has divided North from South Korea for over fifty years?  Kin Jong Il is dead! Will there be nuclear war?? Can the family reclaim Grandmother's body... if there is one? Can Dong/Dang find love and purpose riding the subways of Seoul while encountering mysterious strangers including the incredibly cute Girl (really, really cute Wonjun Kim)?
Wonjung Kim and Gavin Lee
Photo by Jenny Graham
Is garlic the secret to long life and health and happiness? What about the origin story: The Tiger and the Bear?

Park's story moves apace with smooth as silk set changes enhanced by spectacular video projections.  How will Hannah's mother, anxious for her daughter to be married and to have the good life that she imagines for Hannah survive? AND!?? How will Hannah herself survive?  She, who has worked like anything through years of schooling and internships and residencies to become a board certified pediatric neurologist: her crucial final test looming in New York  only hours away, while fielding calls from her Argentinian lover intrude making life for this modern young woman a battle on many fronts? Well she does. 

Park's fluid script and smooth staging by director Jennifer Chang create an evening where suspension of disbelief is made relatively easy by the genuine quality of each of these over the top characters.  Occasional interaction by the Koreans spoken in Korean has no need of translation as the folks in power we encounter are pretty much all the same around the world.  We hear the familiar name of Grandmother's retirement home within the Korean discussions and experience the rooftop where she might have taken the plunge with bullets flying from the North. We find resolution in.. oh wait.. no spoilers... but we do find resolution and you may, too, by visiting https://www.amishgazebos.com .

The Fountain Theatre in partnership with East West Players again charms us with socially relevant issues that go beyond the obvious.  This experience is just right for Los Angeles... located only a few blocks from Koreatown, from where, we hope a native audience may come to enjoy native language, myth and fairy tale ... and garlic.  Everybody else should come, too.
 
Hannah and the Dread Gazebo 
by Jiehae Park 
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Opened Saturday August 17, 2019 
Performances: Aug. 17 – Sept. 22
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Aug. 14 ONLY (preview)
Thursday at 8 p.m.: Aug. 15 ONLY (preview)
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 16 (preview), 23, 30; Sept. 6, 13, 20
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Aug 24, 31; Sept. 7, 14, 21 (no matinee performance on Aug. 17)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 17 (Opening Night), 24, 31; Sept. 7, 14, 21
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Aug. 18, 25; Sept. 1, 8. 15, 22
Mondays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 26; Sept. 2, 9, 16 (dark Aug. 19)

Tickets and Information:
626 336 1525 / fountaintheatre.com


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Legends, Movement and Memories / LA Womens Theatre Festival


Hosted by Ms Marla Gibbs and Ms Florence LaRue, L.A.WOMEN’S THEATRE FESTIVAL presented an evening of entertainment diversity to bring attention to the good works of women in theatre.  An air of casual serendipity prevailed as raffle tickets were sold and a display of crafts greeted the audience at The Greenway Court tonight.  
Full disclosure.  This is not the type theatre that onstagelosangeles usually reviews.  An invitation came in from LA PR guy Phil Sokoloff that mentioned the dancer/performer Juli Kim.  

Juli is from a Korean background.  I have recently purchased a zither that looked like one that Korean musicians were playing on Youtube. So.. I contacted Juli to see if she could help me get information about my new Korean zither: a gayaguem.  Are you with me so far?
Juli connected me with Korean masters of the gayaguem who told me that the zither I have is NOT a gayaguem!  But, Juli was so nice in our email exchange that I wanted to see her performance and meet her in person. 
Tonight's program was hosted by two legends in the world of entertainment: Ms Florence LaRue, formerly of The Fifth Dimension, who opened the show with singing that raised the roof. Ms Marla Gibbs, best known for The Jeffersons and her own series, 227 bantered with marginally written information that both ladies were seeing for the first time.  Introductions were totally charming as they credited LAWTF for the good work the organization does. Our patient audience took it all in with good humor.

Following Florence LaRue's opening number, my connection, Juli Kim, presented a beautiful  Korean dance  accompanied by her son on cello and daughter on piano. 
The grace and fluidity of her dance was beautifully  engaging.
Scene changes by stage manager Ms Brandi Johnson and her crew were somewhat tentative, but the entire time, the audience was totally engaged.  
Amy Milano's "Dancing With Crazies" began with an energetic dance routine that led to a somewhat labored one woman presentation that chronicled events in her life evolving into a tap dance routine! 
We skipped momentarily the scheduled intermission with an additional song by gorgeous Florence LaRue who, after being a part of the Fifth Dimension so long ago showed that she has only improved with age.. 
Then..  intermission and the hawking of more raffle tickets! Florence predicted that she'd win something! AND.. she did!  Hmmmmm....
After intermission we were treated to an amazing display of rhythm with Juli Kim and a five drum dance.   Ms Kim exhibited the elegant calm of her introductory dance enhanced by acrobatic percussion using five decorated frame drums that came to life with her expert drumming. 
The beauty of this evening's diversity was the professional presentations seasoned with our beautiful hostesses weathering through the required dialogue.  I was fortunate to reconnect with actress Dagmar Stansova whose "Loose Underware" show I reviewed recently as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  Her shared insights as the program progressed pointed up the spontaneous quality of the evening.   
With an onstage musical trio: Rahan Coleman: keyboard, Michael Saucier: bass and Quentin Denard on drums,  Ms Freda Payne paid tribute to her childhood idol, Ella Fitzgerald. Ms Payne presented Fitzgerald's personal history with familiar tunes with some scat mixed in.  
Such diverse entertainment was well received with my personal surprises brought by Ms Kim.  This was a one time only event, but should opportunities to see Ms Kim perform, her bringing the Korean culture to the western stage is truly impressive. 
 Finally!
I've learned that the zither that I have come into is probably NOT Korean, so if anyone knows anything about a Chinese zheng or guzheng, please contact me. 
This zither has sixteen strings, with friction pegs and sixteen triangular bridges that the strings are strung on, any information shall be appreciated. I need more bridges! 
Thanks to producer / LAWTF co-founder Adilah Barnes for a most unique evening of theatre. For more information about the workshops and activities of LAWTF go to  http://www.lawtf.org/ and support these dedicated artists. 
Michael Sheehan
onstagelosangeles

Monday, July 15, 2019

BRECHT! ANTAEUS: CHALK CIRCLE

It's a long way to go to tell the old Bible story of the wisdom of Solomon. What Bertolt Brecht has done in one way or another with most of the many plays he's written has been to set a standard for production that makes the show itself not just a play.. not just a few hours in a dark space with a story, but a polemic .. the undercurrent of the times.. the strong cast of characters.. and Anteaus's cast of thousands.. well.. a few dozen played with aplomb by sixteen protean professionals... starts with a preshow that sets the tone for putting on a play! 

"We'll put on a play!" exclaims John Apicella as an Expert who is responding to a situation in a mythical village in the Caucasuses.  The play will be called..  "The Caucasian Chalk Circle!"
Liza Seneca, Alex Knox, Turner Frankosky,
Gabriela Bonet, Steve Hofvendahl,
Claudia Elmore and Troy Guthrie
Photo by Jenny Graham

Brecht's telling   of the chalk circle reportedly goes back to an ancient Chinese tale that echoes the Bible telling of Solomon and the two mothers.  What Brecht does and has done and Antaeus does  beautifully is to expand the idea of positive political action as well as revealing wrong doing in nations and in courts with a polemic that speaks directly to what the United States is experiencing today. Corruption and rule by force all come to light with a slight tongue in cheek while our sixteen actors interchange  characters on the fly. 

The ever moving basic set pieces by Frederica Nascimento and Erin Walley's props work beautifully. Scenes evolve smoothly as the characters all change,  accompanied by actor/musicians on a multitude of odd instruments to uplift each scene. I particularly liked Apicella's banjolele.

Brecht drops the fourth wall and makes no bones about keeping us informed that this is not just a show but an examination of ideas dramatically expanded.  The acting is sometimes deliberately slightly off kilter or maybe that actor has not fully engaged with his role? Regardless, it's a play: a theatrical. It's transformational and current. Stephanie Shroyer's direction is so smooth that the ensemble seems to guide itself through the paces!

Played with a particularly casual quality, Steve Hofvendahl as The Judge (having attained his position with no qualifications whatsoever!) reveals that 'the law is the law!" and his rulings are final, adding an ironic twist to how the law might work. La Dee Dah..
Steve Hofvendahl
Photo by Jenny Graham




















The ensemble:   
John Apicella Noel Arthur Paul Baird
Gabriela Bonet Claudia Elmore
Turner Frankosky Troy Guthrie
Steve Hofvendahl Connor Kelly-Eiding
Michael Khachanov Alex Knox
Mehrnaz Mohammadi Madalina Nastase
Liza Seneca Janellen Steininger George Villas

Caucasian Chalk Circle by
Bertolt Brecht
Antaeus Theatre Company
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.)
Performances: July 11 – Aug. 26

Thursdays at 8 p.m.: July 11 (opening) ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 5 (preview), July 12, 19, 26; Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 6 (preview), July 13, 20, 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 7 (preview), July 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 22, 29; Aug, 5, 12, 19, 26 (dark July 15)

 
(818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org
 


DANCING AT LUGHNASA / OPEN FIST

 Playwright Brian Friel's reputation as the Chekov of Irish drama seems deservedly so. Open Fist's "Dancing at Lughnasa" (Loo nasa) poetically invites us into his 1936 memory play narrated by Michael (David Shofner)
David Shofner, Ann Marie Wilding, Lane Allison
Photo by Darrett Sanders
who returns in memory to his childhood: his loving sister/aunties more or less governed by elder sister Kate (Martha Demson) who rides herd on family fantasies. Michael's mother, Chris (Caroline Klidonis) has had her 'love child' with the rascally Gerry (Scott Roberts) who stops by now and then with promises that are seldom kept, but an Irish charm that is irresistible. Maggie (Lane Allison) is the tease whom Michael remembers for her wit. Agnes (Ann Marie Wilding) and beautiful Rose (Sandra Kate Burck) with their sisters all want to attend the Harvest Dance that's on the horizon.  Dancing shoes are constantly being changed and we get a little dancing in the mix.  
Martha Demson, David Shofner, Caroline Klidonas
Photo by Darrett Sanders


Father Jack (Christopher Cappiello) has returned from his service as a Catholic priest in Africa and slowly emerges to his old self and with a mighty monologue extols the virtues of the natives with whom he celebrated a religion more true that the one that sent him there.

Set in the mythical Irish town of Ballybeg, Friel poetically envelops us in the love he renders probably from his own childhood.  Born in 1929, Friel wrote the play in 1990, recounting his poetic tale from a considerable distance in time. The depth and distinct personalities of his characters all ring with a gentle kindness that reminds of Martin McDonaugh's "Cripple of Inishmaan." 

Set in Donegal: Northern Ireland: Ulster...  the accents that director Barbara Schofield has chosen are more Limerick than Donegal. Stage pictures and the easy flow of the work are well done.

A beautiful set design by James Spencer was solidly constructed by Jan Munroe.


Dancing at Lughnasa  by Brian Friel
 Opened Friday, July 12 
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 4 p.m. 
 Mondays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 18. 
One additional Friday performance 
Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.   

Atwater Village Theatre  
 3269 Casitas Ave  
Los Angeles, CA 90039
On-site parking is free. 
For reservations and information
 (323) 882-6912 

Friday, July 12, 2019

WRONG IS RIGHT AND 'OOPS' INSPIRES!

Ironically. .. my first attempt to load in a photo for this review is hanging up.  
Cast of The Play That Goes Wrong / Photo by Michael Sheehan

Well. on with the show, so to speak.
For those of us in the theatre, we have had moments of forgotten lines, missed cues, a prop gone missing,  or an exit or an entrance that happened, should have happened, happened too soon.. happened too late,, didn't happen at all..  well you get the picture.  And, the darned picture is still loading!  
(I tried again and there we are.)
 "The Play That Goes Worng"  a masterwork of theatrics, comes to life deliberately over the top while tasking the audience to actually read their programs, should they want to know who's who in the cast.   See above.

Of course it's silly to attempt to out silly amazingly silly stuff.  However, when art inspires us, well... then...   there you go.  
The Cornley players of The Cornley University Drama Society are a somewhat ragtag band of players under the mostly unsteady hand of Chris Bean (Evan Alexander Smith) who also plays Inspector Carter in the play within the play.  

By turning your program pages past the ads for Merrill and Mission Tile, we find the cast list which may then be coordinated with the characters playing the characters who then, on another page may be coordinated with the actual actors playing the actors who limn the characters in this evening's performance of "The Murder at Haversham Manor!" 
Light cue! Sound/Sting!  
I was going to make a reference to Great Expectations with a clever aside, but a Dickens pun seems somewhat of a stretch.  

Sketchilly "written" by Susie H.K. Brideswell, (in fact by Henry's Lewis and Shields and Jonathan Sayer) Society President, Chris Bean, is credited with scenic design and every other credit including voice and dialect coach. Mr. Bean's  amazingly complicated set (actually the incredible design is by Nigel Hook)  becomes another character in the show enhanced by Ric Mountjoy's lighting design and Andrew Johnson's sound.

Pre-show antics engineered by the Stage Manager, Annie Twilloil (Angela Grovey) aided and abetted by production lights and sound guy, Trevor Watson (Brandon J. Ellis) include audience participation with Annie hiding behind Trevor in attempts to secure the crumbling set before the play begins. 

After Director Chris Bean's curtain speech laying the groundwork for the mayhem to come, lights up as the dead body of Charles Haversham (as Jonathan Harris played by Yaegal T. Welch) almost makes it to the chaise lounge and the beautifully acted bad acting ensues.  
From this point on, the uncomfortable silliness escalates with broad physical moments that defy explanation. There are more sight gags than a litter of Golden Retrievers. It's delicious. 

In his attempt to steal the show, Ned Noyes as Max Bennett playing both Cecil Haversham, the cad!  and  Arthur the Gardener in Act II may think that he gets away with it, but we know it's you, Max. 

Timing, physical gags that make the audience gasp and truly terrible acting make this production out perform Noises Off! at every turn. Noises Off! used to be the standard for really silly theatre but! No longer! TPTWG is now at the top of my list and as the promo that suggests that "Monty Python meets Sherlock Holmes" isn't far from worng! For another silly reference, I mention  the very silly Firesign Theatre just to see if this gets a mention in another on line venue.  See this show!!

“The Play That Goes Wrong”
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Tour Directed by Matt DiCarlo
Original Broadway Direction by Mark Bell

Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre
The Music Center

135 N. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.  
 Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.  
Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.  
No performance on Mondays.  
Exceptions: Added 2 p.m. show 
Thursday, August 8. 
No 6:30 p.m. show Sunday, August 11, 2019



 

Monday, June 24, 2019

THE SIXTH ACT / SCORPION AND FROG

As luck would have it.. and it was a lucky mistake.. I arrived for the aforementioned Loose Underware at the New American Theatre two hours early!  Who should appear, but 6th Act artistic director and all around good guy, Matthew Leavitt.  He invited me to his 'time-killer' "The Scorpion and The Frog" that was just about to go up in the NAT's black box. What the heck? 
 
Alex Parker and Christine Sage 
The beauty of the Hollywood Fringe Festival is that it's a shotgun blast for theatre that makes no bones about its simple approach and out of the dozens of little shows popping up with pals and afficianados lining up to pay a couple of bucks with the hope of finding a diamond in the rough, I joined in. It's tough to review these shows fairly because they seldom present fully produced work.  "The Scorpion and The Frog" is no exception. 
Picture, if you will.. a blank space. A cardboard sun shines on a 'river' of blue flowing from a cardboard river bank. 
Oh wait.. there's this big guy (Thomas Bigley.. imagine that coincidence!)  with an eye patch playing a cardboard ukulele while Matt plays an actual guitar and the Big Guy sings a sea chanty.. sort of.  Stuff happens. 
If playwright, Spencer Green, had been recently to see Waiting for Godot or the terrific Happy Days at the Taper, he may have come under the spell of Samuel Beckett and thus, taking the story of the frog and the scorpion or the scorpion and the frog to heart as an exercise in futility to create what he calls a 'time-killer' seems reasonable.  The beauty of this piece, directed by Matthew Leavitt is it's complex simplicity.  As the Scorpion we meet the cuter than cute Christine Sage.  Playing the cute card.. well, cute and a little hot, actually. Scorpion encounters Frog (Alex Parker) wearing a bowler hat that immediately made me think of Godot.. He may be cute to girls, but not so much to me. 
However!! the familiar story that Green unfolds though we know the story well, as it unfolds, is really fun to watch. "I can't help it. It's my nature." Glub, blub, glubbb.

Lights out. 

Lights up.. Christine now appears as Frog in her cute little hat while Scorpion/Alex goes all smooth and cool: denim sport coat sleeves rolled up and cool...  coaxing a ride to the other side of the river. The sometimes existential exchange as we go back and forth a couple of more times is, indeed.. a "time-killer" but totally enjoyable as the inevitable story unfolds ... again.  Watching the actors manipulate and in finality succumb to the nature of Scorpion and the inevitable naivete of Frog is food for thought as well as focused and dedicated timing and fun. 
Bigley has a deal with Penny Peyser.  Now, just forget I mentioned Penny.. Okay? 

Dedicated performances with slight tongue in cheek that will make you laugh and nod in accord as we witness the sinking of the good ship ScorpiFrog or FroPio. I loved it. I can't help it...  well, you know.  
Parking can be a hassle. Arrive early and schmooze with the folks who love new theatre.

World Premiere! 
The Scorpion and The Frog: A time-killer
by Spencer Green
Final weekend:
June 27, 2018 and June 28, 2018 at 7:15PM
June 29, 2018 at 2PM
New American Theatre
1312 N. Wilton
Hollywood, CA 90028
Tickets and information
The6thAct@gmail.com 
Michael Sheehan
 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

LOOSE UNDERWARE.. Fringe

Complete disclosure.. 
I'm not one much for solo performances.  Mostly, they are way too self indulgent and more fun for the performer than for an audience.  Had it not been for my director pal, Debra DeLiso's invitation and an open slot in this busy time of year and because I like Debra and recalled meeting Dagmar Stansova at one of Debra's directed performances, I might have not gone to see Ms Stansova and her Loose Underware.  She is not actually wearing loose underware... as far as we know. 

The New American Theatre has two spiffy spaces on Wilton that are well appointed, even if parking is sometimes problematic.  That's probably the only criticism that this review will have. 

Stansova takes stage.. literally owns the stage, in the simple black box side of  the theatre  that was running a little like a Chinese Fire Drill with one show out and the next one in, Zip Zap.  The beauty of this space is that the no frills staging leaves it all up to the performer.  Her program has a few simple lighting cues and sound that rocked with Dagmar's love of James Brown as she grew up in Czechoslovakia. Her love/hate relationship with her mother, her love of family and the joyous way Stansova recalls her grandfather who recommended Loose Underware so that the 'boys' could swing free all underscore her eventual move to the United States and...  Adventure!

The most interesting thing is this actor's performance was her ability to effortlessly switch from one character to another, bringing them  all to life in voice and attitude.  The full joy and respect, even in the tough relationships she's shared, is present and as the piece advances, she relaxes and has more fun that is probably legal in Czechoslovakia.

Anecdotes are the key to the success of any great story teller. Ms Stansova, working with director De Liso, finds  nuance and romance; loss and resolution.. redemption, even.. all in her autobiographical presentation. With only one performance remaining, the house will probably be sold out soon, so.. for insights and delightful stories, don't miss this one. Ride, Dagmar, Ride!

LOOSE UNDERWARE
Written and performed 
by Dagmar Stansova
Directed by Debra De Liso
The New American Theatre
1312 N.Wilton 
Hollywood, CA 
Final performance
Saturday, June 29, 2019
5PM
Tickets and information
https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5795?tab=tickets
 
Leave time for finding parking. 

DEATH OF A SALESMAN


Director Mike Reilly's staging of Arthur Miller's 1949 "Death of a Salesman" on the tiny Ruskin Stage with Rob Morrow as Willy Loman is a mixed bag. Starting with Lee J. Cobb starring on Broadway as the downtrodden sixty-something salesman at the age of 37, Morrow, not yet sixty misses the mark.  He is well known for his role as Dr. Joel Fleischman on CBS's "Northern Exposure" and more recently as FBI Special Agent Don Eppes on "Numb3rs". And,  so in memory he is still the youthful leading man. The challenge of overcoming his dewy past with a cast of mostly strong stage actors might work if the business of 'acting' took a back seat to allowing the character to simply come to life. 

The Ruskin stage is tiny. Forty nine seats in the audience. Arthur Miller's notes imagine the City of New York looming threateningly over the Brooklyn home where Willy  and his adoring wife, Linda Loman (charming and letter perfect Lee Garlington), have raised their two sons. Biff is the older one.. (Robert Adamson) and Happy, the younger:  (Dylan Rourke). 
 
Lee Garlington and Rob Morrow Photo by Ed Krieger
Garlington accomplishes in a subtle gesture, a sigh.. her devotion to her husband with moments perfectly timed and seasoned to buffer the rants and over the top reactions that Morrow brings to his character. 

We hear the dejected ring of failure as Morrow clumps in,  burdened with the weight of the entire story. Instead of building a foundation, this entrance  only calls attention to itself. 
Charley (spot on Jack Merrill), is the Loman's perky next door neighbor, a caring relentless tease.
In memory, Willy's older brother, Ben (Donovan Patton) boosts the energy level with appropriate bombast. Bernard (Lucas Alifano), amazingly transforming from youth to successful attorney, impresses with succinct moments that, in this intimate space, rebound beautifully.

Director Mike Reilly, pares what was a fully staged Broadway play, winning both the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, down to the Ruskin's tiny arena, but the scope of the story demands more than the playing area can deliver. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's bare bones set is angular and difficult.

However, the poetry of Miller's well delineated characters is not altogether lost in the small venue.  The text speaks to the desolation of what may have been the loss of the American Dream of many men post WWII. We see the undercurrent of what small time cheats and big time lies radiate into Willy's family.  Only Galrlingon is straight and true: long suffering and supportive in the face of failure; perhaps deluded or in the times simply playing out the hand that she was dealt and may have anticipated all along?  As Willy brags about his popularity and imagined multi-gross sales, the ennui of never really getting started rears its head as in memory he begs big brother, Ben, to tell him the secret of success. Ben walked into the jungle at the age of seventeen and by god,  at twenty one, when he came back out:  He was rich!  
Long ago, Willy pawned the watch fob set with a diamond, gifted from Ben.

Lee Garlington's performance is worth the trip to The Ruskin all in itself alone.  If Morrow finds his way and allows Willy to emerge, we may be pleasantly surprised. His success as a screen actor is extensive. We can appreciate his giving himself a challenge to go against type and hope that there's a happy compromise that will bring Willy Loman from caricature to life.
Nicely rounding out the cast, Kerry Knuppe (The Woman), Sara Young Chandler  (Ms. Forsythe) and Emily Anna Bell (as Letta/Jenny).


DEATH OF A SALESMAN
by Arthur Miller
8pm Fridays and Saturdays
2pm on Sundays 
Through August 4, 2019
No performances July 12 - 14
Ruskin Group Theatre
 3000 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tickets and Information
(310) 397-3244   
www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

WORLD PREMIERE COMEDY: BESTSELLER

Bestseller by Peter Quilter fits nicely into the long time home of producer / Artistic Director caryn desai's Long Beach International City Theatre, in the Beverly O'Neill Theatre. 

Eric M. Myrick, Wendy Worthington,
Alexandra Ruth Wright and Ian McQuown
Photo by Tracey Roman

Christopher Scott Murillo's well appointed 'Sprawling living room' features a wonderful clickety clacking manual typewriter wielded by   Damien (Ian McQuown) who has come for a stay by the lake in search of inspiration for his noirish and bloody tales.  Maureen Sprawling (the ever lovely Wendy Worthington) maintains her home alone after the strange disappearance of Mr. Sprawling years ago. It's a retreat for writers.  Bodice ripping romance writer, Shelley (Alexandra Ruth Wright) is unabashedly sexy and appreciates Alex, the newcomer (Eric Myrick) who arrives soaked to the skin and somewhat unprepared for his visit.
The use of the conceit or the 'device' in theatre is always interesting... when it works. Thanks to Male Ensemble and Female Ensemble (Sam Spanjian and Julie Davis) who appear to literally bring to life some of the stories written by  the visiting authors, we have High Drama within the drama, which director Jane Page stages in ways that are painful to the necks of the audience. The ensemble actors are tasked to outact the characters within the context of the play. Given the conceit that it's all just a roaring farce, it's acceptable, but is sometimes difficult to bear. Histrionics as the writers' characters come to life is  appropriately over the top. The choice for the setting to be somewhere that folks have English accents is a choice that  made some of the dialogue difficult to understand. But, the show moves a pace and there are moments of pure fun. 

BESTSELLER A World Premiere
by Peter Quilter 
Directed by Jane Page
INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE
Long Beach Performing Arts Center
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

Performances: 
• Thursdays at 8 p.m
June 20, June 27
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: 
June 14, 2019 (Opening Night), 
June 21, June 28
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: June 15, June 22, June 29
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: June 16, June 23, June 30 
Tickets and information: 
562-436-4610