Wednesday, June 30, 2010


After having had a marathon of culture with back to back productions of King Lear at Antaeus, I should let you know that the company has lined up a summer of interesting readings starting July 6th. Works in Process and First Looks are ongoing examinations of plays that Antaeus is dedicated to explore and audiences are invited to attend. Check the Antaeus website for titles and times. or call them at 818 506 1983

Supporting this theatre company and all dedicated local venues is part of what OnStageLosAngeles is all about. However, make no mistake, the reviews are not fluff. Check out the Antaeus schedule for the summer and stop by for a little culture. These folks are dedicated professionals. For lovers of classic theatre, this is an opportunity to see works in progress and then, perhaps, see a finished product in the future.

Michael Sheehan

Friday, June 25, 2010

Madmen at Anteus

King Lear Director, Bart De Lorenzo must have a strong constitution. To tackle King Lear for one production is daunting at best. To do two versions of the same play at the same time is a major challenge. The up side is that, for the most part, he has turned his Antaeus crew into a well tuned machine that, pretty much succeeds in both presentations: The Fools alternating with The Madmen. Seeing two productions of King Lear back to back gives one the opportunity to observe not only production strengths but their weaknesses as well. It’s impossible to not compare the performances.

Harry Groener as the Madmen’s Lear approaches the king from a more physical aspect than Dakin Matthews does. Groener’s dementia advances viscerally and his mad scene toward the end of the play at once elicits sympathy and some well earned laughs. After a somewhat slow start, the performance moved a pace with the unapologetic Cordelia again well limned by Rebecca Mozo. Mozo’s contrast to her conniving sisters, Regan and Goneril (Jen Dede and Allegra Fulton each spot on and nicely textured) is reserved and cool. Very impressive is Gregory Itzen as Lear’s loyal and loudest Earl of Kent who is banished and then returns in disguise to help his king. His not so subtle aside to the audience when he reappears is a nice touch.

Stand out JD Cullum as The Fool, like Mr. Bo Jangles, lightly touches down with his lyric observations in song and dance. He’s a welcome grace note, as he should be.

It should have been mentioned in the first review that A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s well crafted costumes land somewhere around Edwardian, Victorian, and Desert Storm, purposely obscure and excellently done. Principals in each production have custom tailored wardrobe that works well.

The wicked storm in both productions has some issues that may be for a reason, but it’s tough to figure out what Lighting Designer Lap Chi Chu had in mind by draping tangled orange extension cords around tin lamp shades hanging from the flies. They are visible from the time the audience enters the theater. A couple of them drop down and swing into action during the raging storm. In nature, we see the flash and then may hear the thunder. Sound Designer John Zalewski has chosen to make the flash and thunder crashing simultaneous. The wildly swinging tangles of orange more distract from the storm than enhance it.

John Sloan as Edgar and Daniel Bess as his bastard brother Edmund have big shoes to fill. Ambitious Edmund cons the loyal Edgar who runs off and disguises himself as “Poor Tom” to avoid capture. The brothers' father, the Earl of Glouster, well played by Madmen’s Robert Pine, has now been prejudiced against his true son, Edgar. Glouster now embraces the evil Edmund in a sub-plot that addresses filial loyalty and parental gullibility. Ideally, the sons might rise to the fine aspect of Pine's Glouster. Neither really does.

TJ Marchbanks’ staged fighting is virtually the same as it is in The Fools version of the play. Stiff and barely in step with the beats laid down by DeLorenzo’s tight direction, it needs a dose of reality. Any real danger in this combat looks more about the acting than the fighting.

To experience age appropriate actors, many familiar faces from features and television, working for the love of theater itself is a gift to our community as well as an important present to the tradition of classical theatre itself. The feeling of ensemble permeates this cast as it does in the cast of Fools. Each deserves an audience ..

See both shows and make your own comparisons.

Through August 8, 2010
Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
NoHo 91601
$34.00 Top

What Fools!

What Fools!

Antaeus Founding Creative Director Dakin Matthews and well known actor Harry Groener each hold forth as King Lear in the current Antaeus dual productions of the play at Deaf West Theatre. In an unusual move, the company presents the play in alternating performances with two essentially different casts. The Fools (with Matthews as Lear) opened last night. The Madmen with Harry Groener as the King open tonight, Friday. That review will follow closely to this.

King Lear is the first full Shakespeare production by this talented theatre company with impressive individual credits. Fools opening night found Matthews with director Bart DeLorenzo’s well coordinated cast ready for battle. Individual performances from this cast were all on the same stage, the same page and for the most part all at the same time. Basically, the story of an ancient British king with three daughters, Goneril (Kirsten Potter) and Regan (Francia DiMase) both and each conniving, enlist to enhance their personal greed falls to the overly dramatic. Loyal Cordelia (Rebecca Mozo), refusing to flatter their aging father, falls into disfavor. And, off we go!

The professional quality of the entire production is such that you practically forget that you are in a storefront in NoHo. The tiny Deaf West space is barely thirty feet wide with seating for fewer than 99. Tom Buderwitz massive and protean set with the company’s dedication to crisp production values works. Lighting designer Lap Chi Chu has created an effect for the storm that’s a bit bizarre, but we have a contract with the players to suspend our disbelief and when we do, then storms and battles and all are immediate. T.J. Marchbanks’ stage combat and brief grand guignol with Glouster need to rise to the bar set by the whole production. In such a tiny space, perhaps, drawing back from that edge was on purpose. The knives and swords look real. The fighting not so much.

The actors, most seasoned professionals, keep the action moving. Out of the gate, Stephen Caffrey as the Fool is a little over the top, but energy is high on opening night and things fell quickly into place. This fine cast works evenly as an ensemble. Shakespeare’s language is not always easy to absorb, but the ease with which the actors comport themselves, physically and emotionally, words are not always necessary to convey meaning. We owe it to ourselves to indulge the rougher Bard from time to time and this is an opportunity to observe not only “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.” but, perhaps to imagine ourselves in situations where saying the right thing may not always be the right thing to do?

Through August 8, 2010
Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
NoHo 91601
$34.00 Top

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Iris Rose is an artist, director, playwright, performer whom I've known a long time. If she says that her friend, Brian Dewan, is worth going to the West Side to see, that is enough for me. Evidently, there will be no tickets at the door.

* * * ** *** * ** ** * *

Brian Dewan Filmstrips and live music

Friday, June 25 & Saturday, June 26
7:30pm & 9:30 pm shows both nights

Museum Of Jurassic Technology
9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

all tickets $25
very limited seating
purchase tickets online at
(tickets unavailable at the door)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sweet Grapes

Los Angeles poet/playwright/author, Jack Grapes, will play Shakespeare in his play CIRCLE OF WILL opening at the Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, 90069 on July 16, 2010. Watch this space for more news.

Previews July 15 at 8 p.m. Opens Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8 p.m., runs through Sunday, August 15. Regular show times: Thurs.- Sat. at 8, Sun. at 7.

ADMISSION: $30. Preview $20.

RESERVATIONS: (323) 960-7822.


ESTIMATED RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broad Stage in Santa Monica

The Broad Stage is an exciting venue which I've only just discovered. Currently, they present Daddy Long Legs on the Main Stage as well as the interesting show discussed below in The Edye. The "I Wonder" presentation I reviewed a couple of weeks ago with Artistic Chair Dustin Hoffman, David Milch and Herman Leonard was one of the most interesting times I've spent in the theatre in a long time.

Stand by for reviews of the Anteus double productions of King Lear. One with Daiken Matthews as The King and the other with Harry Groener as Lear. Two completely separate casts.

This "In Their Own Words" at The Broad sounds like fun.






(Santa Monica, CA – June 18, 2010 ) The Edye Second Space at The Broad Stage will be entirely transformed into a stylish boĆ®te, complete with tables, mood lighting and a well-stocked bar, when “The 21st Century Cabaret” takes up residence for intimate evenings of singular voices breathing new passion into a beloved genre. The smash New York hit “Celebrity Autobiography” makes its home in The Edye repeatedly throughout the year.
The 2009 Drama Desk Award winner and 2010 Bistro Award winner Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words will perform shows on Monday, June 21 at 7:30pm and 9:30pm and Monday, July 19, at 7:30pm and 9:30pm at The Edye Second Space at The Broad Stage. The 7:30pm shows are sold-out!

A Critics Pick in New York, this “merry compendium of the witlessness and wisdom of the rich and famous” (New York Times) returns home to LA with a rotating roster of comedy titans. Kristen Wiig, Rita Wilson, Laraine Newman, Brooke Shields, Rhea Perlman, Fred Willard, Rachel Dratch, and Ryan Reynolds are among the A-listers channeling the tell-all memoirs of noted authors Sylvester Stallone, Star Jones, Elizabeth Taylor and Mr. T. And let’s not forget the poetic stylings of Miss Suzanne Somers. The hit comedy show where celebrities perform the actual memoirs of other celebrities! Created by Eugene Pack, winner of the 2009 Drama Desk Award for “Unique

The casts are scheduled as follows:

Monday, June 21 at 7:30pm and 9:30pm
Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty" star), Rita Wilson, Fred Willard, Eugene Pack, Laraine Newman, Dayle Reyfel, Brooke Shields, Florence Henderson and Alan Zweibel

Monday, July 19 at 7:30pm and 9:30pm
Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Lesley Ann Warren, Fred Willard, Dayle Reyfel, Eugene Pack, Brooke Shields and more.

The comedy sensation Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words features a line-up of rotating performers who interpret the actual words and stories written by the famous and the infamous, in both solo and ensemble “chamber” pieces. Some of the “authors” that are featured include Ivana Trump, Vanna White, Mr. T, Star Jones, Kenny Loggins, Tommy Lee, Sylvester Stallone, the Jonas Brothers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, David Cassidy, Neil Sedaka, Britney Spears, Madonna, Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson, as well as the infamous memoirs of Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, which are edited together to create a Rashomon-esque playlet in the participants’ own words.

New books are being added to the Celebrity Autobiography repertoire for 2010 including Tiger Woods’s How I Play Golf and Carrie Prejean’s Still Standing.

Celebrity Autobiography is playing to sell-out audiences and rave reviews at the Triad Theater. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called the show “big-yuks entertainment” and a “merry compendium of the witlessness and wisdom of the rich and famous.” Joe Dziemianowicz of the Daily News called it a “potent comic cocktail…you weep with laughter.” The New Yorker called it “inspired.” And Sam Thielman of Variety wrote, “Audience members hyperventilate. It should lead a long and happy life.” The show has been featured by numerous media outlets, including ABC’s “The View” and “Nightline,” NPR’s “Morning Edition,” CNN’S “American Morning,” New York 1, WNBC’S “News for New York” at 11pm, and Bravo’s “A-List Awards.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Native Voices

Native Voices is an important venue for the theatre from All Nations of First American People.
We review their work when we can. If you attend, please submit your impressions here.



Saturday, June 26, 1 PM and
Sunday, June 27, 1 PM and 4 PM
followed by Panel Discussion on “Modern Natives in Media” at 6 PM


Native Voices at the Autry, America's leading Native American theater company, continues its tradition of excellence in developing works by new and established Native American playwrights at its highly regarded PLAYWRIGHTS RETREAT AND FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS, culminating in public readings of three new works on Saturday, June 26, 2010, 1 PM, and Sunday, June 27, 1 PM and 4 PM, at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. A special panel discussion entitled “Modern Natives in Media” featuring noted members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) concludes the festival on June 27 at 6 PM. (The retreat is held at San Diego State University, and earlier readings of the plays take place at the La Jolla Playhouse.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

I WONDER at The Broad

The Broad Stage at Santa Monica City College, 1310 11th Street in Santa Monica is a unique and comfortable venue dedicated to the performing arts. In my experience, interviews, even with adept moderators are often a love fest for the interviewee. The beauty of the discussion with Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman and writer / producer David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood and the new HBO series Luck with Hoffman) on June 5th , which included photographer Herman Leonard, was that these guys are peers. Their mutual respect and the depth of their individual approaches to creativity was, at once, engaging and inspirational.

Topics ranging from belief in God to the tragic Gulf oil spill brought anecdotes from the participants and later brief audience participation.

Anecdotes were pretty much the order of the day. Spinning from Milch’s guaranteed key to inspired writing to Hoffman’s retelling of an Isaac Bashevis Singer story and discussing his experience as an attendant in a mental hospital the scheduled ninety minute program went on for over two hours.

The discussion turned from Hoffman’s telling of a Singer story to Milch vaguely comparing the Holocaust to his dealing with ants in his kitchen. Mention of the Holocaust may sound like a moment for a reverential pause. However, Milch’s logic regarding the vastness of the universe and beyond, without being irreverent, gave food for thought. Milch discussed his notion of how each of us, either as individuals or as groups ranging from sports fans to theatre audiences to national entities become “anthropocentric”

“Wait a minute,” Hoffman interrupted. “What’s anthropocentric??”
“Self involved,” said Milch.
“Why couldn’t you just say ‘self involved?’”
“Because it’s not exactly the same thing.”

At first I thought that Milch had made a reference to his ants: “antropocentric” but, as he made his point, it occurred to me that not unlike ants, we all march to the beat of whatever tribe or herd or colony we may be attached to: wired for survival. Which led to the discussion of how British Petroleum seems to be, as a group, if not as individuals involved in pumping oil, as sociopathic in nature. Wired to do business and make money at any cost.

Herman Leonard’s contribution brought visual art into the picture, literally, with his telling of how as a young man he was apprenticed to the Canadian photographer, Yousef Karsh. Leonard has gone on to photograph luminaries, many in the world of Jazz. Unfortunately, thousands of Leonard’s prints were lost in Hurricane Katrina. Some, which were framed, sustained partial damage from the flood. Mold advanced only part way into the frames, making them “works of Herman” collaborating with Mother Nature, which Mr. Leonard said was fine with him.

The Broad Stage continues with programs of professional theatre and events. Hopefully, producers will invite Mr. Hoffman (a SMCC dropout) to engage other creative colleagues to continue what may become an “I Wonder” series of events in the future.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dusty and David

Next Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 4PM at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Dustin Hoffman will discuss with David Milch the sources of creativity in a program called "I Wonder." To hear these two giants of the entertainment world discuss their work should be insightful and very interesting. My report on the talk will appear here next week.

For reservations call:

The Broad Stage

1310 11th St.,
Santa Monica, CA 90401