Monday, April 23, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
It's happening early in the day, but it will be worth the effort to make it to Pasadena to see Theatre at its best.
This from Patty Onagan and Joel Hile, Publicists for The Playhouse:
The Second Annual High School Theatre Festival is on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at The Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Avenue).
The event is from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and the doors open at 8:30 a.m.
All tickets are $5.00 general admission, and are available for purchase online at www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529 or by visiting The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office.
For more information, contact The Pasadena Playhouse Development Office at HSTF@pasadenaplayhouse.org or 626-921-1156. Information on all current Outreach and Development events is available by visiting www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Joe Besecker’s dramatic romance with the life of playwright Tennessee Williams directed with a fluid hand by Sal Romeo currently comes to life at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre in Toluca Lake. I have not vetted how accurate Besecker’s research has been, but the creative effect of showing Williams as the boozy egomaniac he might have been and simultaneously as a sexually charged barefoot nymphet clad only in a slip lends electricity and insight to Tom’s journey.
Lacey Anziec’s simple set with empty picture frames, shabby furniture and mottled gray walls is strewn with discarded pages; well illuminated by Paige Selene Luke’s simple lighting design. The pages, ripped from his old Remington, are rejected attempts by Williams (powerful Jack Heller) and his alter ego, The Woman, (lithe and sexual Tamara Braun) to continue to work as he struggles with drugs and alcohol; success and failure. The pressure of Williams coming from a family of lunatics at once gives insight into possible sources for Amanda, Blanche and Maggie the Cat: each of whom appear here in other forms. Rose (Williams’ psychotic sister) is portrayed gently by Louise Davis who also limns the Nurse and Tennessee’s mother, the equally batty Edwina.
Set initially in 1972, Williams struggles with issues of bad reviews of his Small Craft Warnings and is taunted by his alter ego, The Woman, posing seductively in a window facing out from a New York hotel room. She lures a boy to come up to play. The voice of Williams seems to be channeled by Besecker using phrases like “my writing is the universe” and “I want to get my goodness back” which may have been direct Williams’ quotes. Romeo’s pacing and stage pictures, especially the image of the crucifixion of The Woman confined in a mental hospital for his over indulgences ties the work together.
Robert Standley finds three strong attitudes with his Youngman, Frankie (Merlo) and Dakin, Tom’s brother. Frankie and Tennessee meet at a party where the young Sicilian hunk offers himself to the writer on a silver platter. They stay together for fourteen tumultuous years with Frankie at once a trifle and also the Love of Tennessee’s life, though shared with a myriad casual lovers who never seemed to quench the writer’s insatiable sexual appetites.
Not for the prudish, the work in this production is professional and deserves an audience. The closeness of the seating to the stage allows for subtle and moving moments as well as literally feeling the heat of the characters as they smolder and occasionally burst into flame.
Whether or not to take the story literally is optional. For any student of Classic American Theatre, even the casual mention of “Streetcar” or “Menagerie” are enough to become immediately enveloped in the larger than life characters who, at once, are familiar and completely honest and truthful to their stories. It’s about the drama of the Drama, after all, and Tennessee Williams will remain, himself, a Classic American Dramatist.
The turmoil suggested in Tennessee in the Summer is testament to where the Drama must have come from. The play presents an equally fervent illustration of the passions, not always uplifting, that created its tragic hero.
TENNESSEE IN THE SUMMER
By Joe Besecker
Directed by Sal Romeo
Sidewalk Studio Theatre
4150 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 3PM
April 13 – May 20, 2012
For information and tickets: 800 838 3006
818 558 5702
Monday, April 9, 2012
(l-r foreground) JD Cullum (Mascarille) and Michael A. Newcomer (Lelie) PHOTO CREDIT: Craig Schwartz
A Noise Within, it seems, has to the Restoration been and dedicates two plays: this Bungler by Molière and coming up Illusion by Corneille which sadly does not rhyme, but in good time will be revealed that couplets rule The Bungler and not unlike George of the Jungl(er) swings in farce, some Commedia tossed in for which director Julia may try to fool ya with some fair tricks, the outcome of the which may leave her audience in stitches, if not rolling in the aisles as her company beguiles.
Richard Wilbur’s translation of Molière’s The Bungler begins sans mots justes with Tuba Guy (could it be David O Composer/Musical Director??) on his tuba heralding what’s to come: French farce and then some. A nod immediate must be bowed to John Iacovelli (design quite swelly and Ken Booths lights, forsooth.) Their festive scenery that sets the stage with silly moving greenery and quick unsubtle tech works by Andrew Ellis whose many cues he never shirks . I just now found a credit for the tuba man. With Mr. O I'm now engaged and have became a fan.
The argument’s impediments are few. The actors are not new to farce and Wilbur’s sentences all parsed with couplets carry on quite well of course.
Okay.. The Bungler, Lelie (Michael Newcomer plays the part) is a fun play with all the elements of farce that made Molière a star. Costumes, lights, mixed up stuff all folderol with rhymes and fine use of the somewhat Brechtian approach moves apace. You can’t tell the characters without a program and even then, remembering who is whom may be a challenge. It’s all tied together by charming and conniving valet Mascarille (fluid and funny J.D. Cullum) whose every scheme to help his master, Lelie, find his way to love and happiness is thwarted one way or another by the poor Lelie himself.
For the life of me I cannot put the other actors with their characters, but encourage lovers of Molière to make their way to Pasadena (where the grass is greener) to applaud this romp. If the original play in French was in rhyme, translator Richard Wilbur has captured that essential element beautifully. Director Roderiguez-Elliott keeps the flow flowing flowily and a good time is had by all!
By Molière (Translated by Richard Wilbur)
In Repertory with Antony and Cleopatra and The Illusion
Through May 27, 2012
A Noise Within
3352 East Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
Tickets and Information: 626 356 3100 Ext. 1