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Sunday, October 2, 2022

TO THE BONE.. OPEN FIST World Premiere


Open Fist presents a World Premiere: "To The Bone" written and directed by Catherine Butterfield. Opening night in the courtyard for Open Fist Theatre is always eclectic. It's Family and Friends Night.

We enter to Jan Munroe's simple and effective set including a beautiful backdrop of what I'm guessing is Boston Harbor, painted by Stephanie Crothers.  Munro's design is multipurpose and effective. 

"To the Bone" happens in Boston. It's 2013.   Twenty years earlier, in 1993,  the Red Sox suffered a major blow when they lost the pennant because a Yankees fan rushed the field, nullifying an Out that would have won the game for the Sox. Keep this in mind.

In their high school days, sisters Kelly Moran (dynamic! Tisha Terrasini Banker) and Maureen Dugan (approaching genteel Amanda Weier) were known as 'tough girls'.  

Amanda Weier and Tisha Terrasini Banker
Photo by Frank Ishman

Now, twenty years later having had some rough life lessons, the family still roots for the Boston Red Sox. 

Go Sox!

Butterfield's story turns on the social mores of Southie Boston and choices.  Scotty and Kelly laughed all the way through "Fatal Attraction." That's how Kelly knew that Scotty was the guy for her. When Kelly fell in 'lust' with Scotty, the situation became a baby who was given up for adoption.  Scotty took a hike, like to Texas or something, and Kelly, preggers and ready to graduate high school was on her own. "Adotping the kid out"  was a life saving move. She was only seventeen.

Butterfield has contrived a meeting for Kelly to,  at last, meet her now twenty two year old daughter,  Geneva Gibbs (lovely Alice Kors), the kid  whom she gave up after her unplanned teen pregnancy.  An ulterior motive slowly  and then abruptly emerges.

Kacey Mayeda, Amanda Weier, Jack David Sharpe,
Tisha Terrasini Banker and Alice Kors
Photo by Frank Ishman

At first light, we are off and running with heavy Bahstn accents and volume.  Make no mistake, Kelly is a nervous wreck and sister Maureen, who has had some training in social work now attempting to calm the waters, finds it a Fool's Errnad as we hurtle toward some diffcult truths. 

With a slight air of situation comedy and an  edge to the dramatic, this ain't no Neil Simon outing. Strong performances by all concerned, though somewhat forced by the nature of the material, we meet 19 year old Sean (sharply sullen Jack David Sharpe), Kelly's second kid with whom she is left when husband Scotty (they did finally get married) while working on a fishing boat is swept out to sea and drowned.  Factor in Geneva's Asian Emerson College (Go Lions!) roommate, film maker, Darcy (edgy, with allergies, Kacey Mayeda), who carves a nice niche for herself in the plot.

Pace and performances all move along nicely.

 In what must be typical working class Southie style, the accents are ovah da top and filled with energy: Earthy and mostly not apologetic. 

Butterfield's plot is slightly predictable with nice twists and turns.  The piece moves a pace.  

The laughs, especially,  are worth a go.

CAST OF CHARACTERS
KELLY MORAN :
Tisha Terrasini Banker
MAUREEN DUGAN
: Amanda Weier
GENEVA GIBBS: 
Alice Kors
DARCY CHWE: 
Kacey Mayeda

SEAN MORAN :  Jack David Sharpe

 Crew:
Scenic Design
Jan Munroe
Costume Design
Mylette Nora
Lighting Design
Gavan Wyrick
Sound Design
Marc Antonio Pritchett
Properties
Ina Shumaker & Bruce Dickinson
Scenic Artist
Stephanie Crothers
Production Stage Manager
Jennifer Palumbo*
Publicist
Lucy Pollok

 TO THE BONE  World Premiere

by Catherine Butterfield

Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Performances: Oct. 1 – Nov. 5:
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 30 (preview); Oct. 7; Oct. 14; Oct. 21; Oct 28; Nov. 4
Saturday at 2 p.m.: Oct. 29 ONLY
Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Oct. 1 (Opening Night); 

Oct. 8; Oct. 15; Oct. 22; Nov. 5 (dark Oct. 29)
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 ONLY
Sundays at 7 p.m.: Oct. 2; Oct. 9; Oct. 16 ONLY

Tickets and information:

323) 882-6912 or go to www.openfist.org
 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

A GREAT WILDERNESS at the Matrix






 
 
Samuel D. Hunter's attempted polemic  is a story that examines a touchy topic: Homosexal Reversal for Young Men. 
Walt (John Perrin Flynn) has lived a life of dedicated service.  His cabin in the woods in northern  Idaho, provides an isolated locale for this old guy who has been a 'counselor' for troubled teens for many years. 
His is a system of Faith Based Counseling  
What RMT has done with The Matrix stage is highly creative.  Bruce Goodrich's beautifully rustic cabin   spans over forty feet from right to left, leaving some attendees in left field as some action evolves many yards away. 
Daniel (Jeffrey Delfin), is Walt's last client.  Daniel arrives alone. He is overly distraught. We begin at a snail's pace as director Elina de Santos allows the introduction of the confused and frightened Daniel's meeting Walt iitially  to take a considerable length of time to evolve. 
It must be slow and methodical for a reason. 
Inexplicably, after an intermission  and we have met all of the characters, each of whom is concerned about the disappearance of Daniel, whom we thought just took off for a short hike, we flash back to a chat that Walt and Daniel had, that provides some exposition, previous to the boy's departure from the cabin. It is a device to show that Walt was making progress. The two seem to have a genuine connetion, but this was confusing to me.

Hunter's play is commentary not only on the locale where these "conversions" are supposed to take place, but also speaks to the "wilderness" of the mind as we advance in age.   Walt's current state of mind seems to be mostly cogent and engaged, but his lapses of memory factor in. Difficult challenges in his own life and how he has lived and lives now are grist for the mill.    The subtext is subtle.
On an imagined television set  a DVD plays. We hear  Anna Khaja pitching the amenities of Shady Gardens, the expensive retirement community that Walt's former wife, Abby (Rachel Sorsa) has signed him up for. The DVD  plays at an annoying counterpoint to important dialogue on and off. Abby has arrived with her now husband,  Tim (Tony Pasqualini),  intent on carting Walt off to his new safe harbor: Shady Gardens.
 
When the extraordinary interstital music becomes equally memorable to the play itself,  there's something about the play that begs the question, "What about the therapy?" 
 
The story turns on several ways to focus on Walt's fading cogency, as well as the  angst of Daniel's mother, Eunice  (Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield), who has raced up the hill to confront the 'program'. 
 
And, then!! A sparkling ringer blows in.  Park Ranger  Janet (Tania Verafield), with her ebony braid and Smokey the Bear hat; sporting a crisp no nonsese demeanor, livens things up. Energy is what the story has been missing. It picks up considerably with Janet's arrival. We have confidance in Janet! We have hope that Daniel Shall Be Found and that all shall be well. 
 
The acoustics in The Matrix tend to absorb the more intimate dialogue on the stage, occasionally leaving the audience somewhat in the dark.
And, then,  literally, as the last line of the play sums up what this has all been about in the first place: it's lights out.  
This is a thought provoking  theatre piece.
I encourage fans of Rogue Machine to see it.
 

The Cast: 

Jeffrey Delfin as Daniel 

John Perrin Flynn as Walt  

Tony Pasqualini as Tim  

Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield as Eunice   

Rachel Sorsa  as Abby 

Tania Verafield as Janet 

Creative Team

Bruce Goodrich (Set Design) 

Chris Moscatiello (Sound Design)

Elizabeth A. Cox (Costume Design)

Vicki J. Scott (Lighting Design)

Anna Khaja (Shady  Gardens (Spokesperson/VO)

 “A Great Wilderness”

by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by: Elina de Santos

ROGUE MACHINE THEATRE
At the Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
(Street parking)

Opens at 8pm on Saturday, September 24 (previews 8/22 & 23)

Plays at 8pm Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays; 
3pm Sundays
(No performance October 10)
Closing: October 31, 2022

For reservations call 855-585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.net

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Babe at the Echo Theatre World Premiere

 BABE by Jessica Goldberg 

A World Premiere

The world of A and R: Artists and Repertoire in the land of music is ..or has been.. a 'good old boy's' club.  Toxic Masculinity (caps mine). Jessica Goldberg's damning examination of love, loss and  social politics blisters the senses.

Julie Dretzin and Wylie Anderson
Photo by Cooper Bates
EXA Records A&R heavyweight Gus (Sal Viscuso) has made millions finding, polishing and promoting musical talent.  His business savvy and star building powers have made him rich. All the while, in his looming shadow, Abigail (Julie Dretzin), the ever faithful 'go to gal,' who has probably done a lot of  work Gus has taken credit for, shrinks back for cause.

 Enter Kaitlin Becker (Wylie Anderson, who also plays the fallen rock star Kat Wonder) rides in on a wave of Feminism and Power; determined to be the Catalyst for Change that is still resisted in our Current Patriarchy.  Text or Instagram.. She does not speak on the phone.

Playwright Jessica Goldberg has a goal. She wants to make sure that her overkill is heard. In our age of women's anger and righteous indignation at the 'way things are' we see that one way to fix things is to virtually lie in wait for the bad guys and when they least expect it, stick it to them.  Gus can't change, even wth Abby's tutoring and true friendship.  Here in lies the tale. Gus declares that he may be an asshole (his behavior confirmes this), but will not be a hypocrite. Sammy Davis, Jr. singing "I Gotta Be Me.." could almost be imagined up and  under this scene.  Confronted with the changing times, Gus is simply not a candidate for social correctness. 

BABE is a brutal story of old school politics and the absolute intentional rise of the next generation.. especially of women.. here to clean house!  

We enter to boisterous pre-show  music that drowns out the opportunity to schmooze with other opening night attendees.   I suppose that this is to set the mood for what's to come.   

Amanda Knehans'  multi- purpose set and physical changes by the cast should add to the theatricality of the piece. For me, it did not. 

This story of how relationships develop and come and go is an effort that director, Chris Fields, pretty much makes work.  However, I found the pacing slow. The diverse acting styles are...  diverse.

Wylie Anderson transitions from her pretty Generation Z go getter, Kaitlin, and into the fallen rock and roll star Kat Wonder with ease.  Kat is the discovery that made Abby and Gus fast pals and A&R successes. Some odd information about Gus breaking Abby's hand when trying to take charge of Kat's raucous and drug riddled fame points to Gus's  heavy male dominance.

It's not all black and white.  While Gus is, indeed, a caricature of the insufferable chauvanistic asshole, Goldberg imbues him with moments of tenderness that may or may not be sincere.  The feeling of power shifting and shared by the two women evokes a visceral, even primal feeling of feminine kinship..

Viscuso's efforts, especially at the beginning of the play, miss the mark.  Abby is the one we must cling to and care about as she is caught between generations and traditions that  have subjugated her in a Man's World.  The arc of Abby's character works for me.  Sometimes the fantasy world that emerges  for Abby as the character of Kat returns to share moments with her.  

It's a polemic!  Certainly,  a call to arms for women to rise up and by any means necessary, find a way to carve a proper seat at the table where good old boy stories are no longer a thing and the power of women rising to become peers may emerge.

 

Cast:

Wylie Anderson as Kaitlin / Kat

Julie Dretzin  as Abigail

 Sal Viscuso as Gus

 

Creative Team:

Scenic designer Amanda Knehans;

Lighting designer Hayden Kirschbaum

Sound designer Alysha Grace Bermudez

Costume designer Elena Flores. 

Assistant director  Elana Luo

Associate producer  Elliot Davis

Production stage manager is Danielle Jaramillo. Chris Fields and Kelly Beech produce for the Echot Theater Company.
  

BABE  A World Premiere

Written by Jessica Goldberg


Directed by Chris Fields

Echo Theater Company


Atwater Village Theatre


3269 Casitas Ave


Los Angeles, CA 90039 



Performances: Sept. 17–Oct.24
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 14 ONLY (preview) 
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 15 ONLY (preview) 
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 16 (preview); Sept. 23; Sept. 30; Oct. 7; Oct. 14; Oct. 21
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 17 (opening night); Sept. 24; Oct. 1; Oct. 8; Oct. 15; Oct. 22
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: Sept. 18; Sept. 25; Oct. 2; Oct. 9; Oct. 16; Oct. 23
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 19; Sept. 26; Oct. 3; Oct. 10; Oct. 17; Oct. 24
PARKING:
FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater

TICKET PRICES:
Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34
Mondays: Pay-What-You-Want 
Previews: Pay-What-You-Want
Tickets and Information:

 310-307-3753  

www.EchoTheaterCompany.com

Saturday, September 17, 2022

EVERYBODY at Antaeus


 "EVERYBODY"
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins reaches six hundred years back in Time to mine the 15th Century Morality Play "Everyman".  It's hip and pithy.
Cherish Monique Duke ushers us to our seats.
A scary prat fall in Row B sets a tone.
All the rules and what to expect are a litany of safety. 
The actors each cast a colored ball into a Bingo Bird Cage to assign them which role they will play tonight.    

Anne Gee Byrd is out of the lottery as she limns only Death.. All men fear her!  Later comes Love (Alberto Isaac)  more about  him later.  A mystery character: The Little Girl is played by  Dawn Didawick who doubles as Time.
The challenge of learning the entire play for all of the Somebodys is a great acting exercise. Anteaus is up for the game!   It’s an actingTour de Force.



Gerard Joseph, Nicole Erb,
Anne Gee Byrd, Lisa Sanaye Dring,
Harry Groener, and Antonio Jaramillo
Photo by Jenny Graham

 
What Jacobs-Jenkins seems to have in mind, ultimately, is that folks need to lighten up and get down with kindness. 
God has tasked Death to grab Somebody and bring them to judgement.  Everybody (Nicole Erb for tonight) is recruited by Death to show up before God and own up with an accounting for her life on Earth.  Everybody asks for permission to bring a friend Death says okay.. and Everybody heads out to find a pal and meet her fate,
First she encounters  Friendship (Lisa Sanaye Dring) who is willing to march into Hell.. as long as she can make a return trip.. A lip sync 'device' here is really just for show, but pretty cool. Alas, Friendship exits down left.
Doing her best to find a traveling companion, Somebody greets Kinship   and Stuff (Harry Groener in a broad turn) and others... all of whom decline a trip to the Great Beyond. 
Spoiler Alert.  Something happens in the audience. The lady who took a header is okay, thank goodness.. but the show is interrupted and the playwright goes into an exhausting .. literally exhausting.. lesson. Ms Erb as Everybody, is  Humiliated and then Coached by Love (
Alberto Isaac),  collapsing after running nd chanting  "The Body is Just Meat!" (Alan Watts says we are just 'tubes' but basically, the same idea.) 

Everybody surrenders!
Everybody has reached out to others along with Friendship:   Strength, Kinship, Beauty, Cousin,  Mind, Stuff and Senses. As it was in the 1400s, poor Everybody is striking out.  Eventually, Love abides.
Suffice it to say that this is a fantastic bit of Theatre that challenges the audience to keep up and in the end come together.  The plea to just be kind is shared by Usher in her epilogue to wrap things up. She is sincere and direct. We can't go back and fix things after death, so.. it might just be time to take stock. There's some stuff that I don't understand: La Danse Macabre that's well choreographed, perhaps the Mouth of Oblivion? Black light skeleton suits are cool..
Suffice it to say that this is a huge acting exercise that deserves to be experienced.  From my early Humanties or maybe English class, the story of Everyman seems spot on.  Jacobs-Jenkins has made everyone hip and the random selection of who plays whom each performance is really very impressive.
There will be questions about 'what's next' that the playwright wants us to explore. 

 
Highly recommended. 

The Cast:
Anne Gee Byrd as Death
 Dawn Didawick as Time
 Lisa Sanaye Dring as Friendship
 Cherish Monique Duke as God (&Usher&Understanding
 Nicole Erb as Everybody
 Harry Groener as Stuff
 Alberto Isaac as Love
 Antonio Jaramillo as Cousin
 Gerard Joseph   as Beauty and  Cousin.
.  
Production crew:
Scenic and props designer Nicholas Ponting,
Costume designer Adriana Lámbarri,
Lighting designer Bryan Ealey,
Sound designer Salvador Zamora,
Projection designer Yi-Chien Lee
Choreographer Annie Yee. 
Dramaturg  Ryan McRee
Assistant stage manager  Jess Osorio,
Production stage manager is Trixie Hong.
 
 "EVERYBODY"
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed Jennifer Chang
Anteaus Theatre Company
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.)
Performances: September 16 – October 17
• Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 13 ONLY (preview)
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Sept. 14 ONLY (preview)
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 15 (preview), Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 16 (Opening), Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Oct. 15 (no matinee on Sept. 17)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Oct. 15
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 11 (preview), Sept. 18, Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 26, Oct. 3, Oct. 10. Oct. 17 (dark Sept. 19)
 Tickets and Information:
(818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org
 
Formatting on this page went wonky on me.
Apologies if it runs off the page.




Sunday, September 11, 2022

archy & mehitabel at the whitefire


 

who'd a thunk that an old timey newspaper column might be fodder for a far out play with two humans (bill chott) The Boss and perfect atmosphere on the on stage piano dan west.  well, dan gilvezan for one. 

full disclosure, i met this guy years ago and to see that he's active and  has chosen a pretty obscure pair of critters for a theatre piece is . well.. admirable.  

don marquis's columns featuring archy (gilvezan) the typing cockroach and his pal, mehitabel, the cat, (gorgeous and fully feline: carolyn hennesy) in the "sun dial"column of the new york evening sun a hundred or so years ago rang a bell with me.  Don Marquis wrote the articles. he's the guy archy calls "the boss". archy's pithy insights and director moosie drier's smooth direction lends itself to this engaging and really funny presentational approach to sharing these odd  anecdotes. It is at once charming and philosophical melding with the metaphysical and spiritual. 

i am a fan of typing which drew me to this project in the first place.  with apologies to e.e. cummings, this review is typed ala, archy.  

"discovered" by Marquis in about 1916  archy is, in fact, a reincarnated poet (no relationship to gregor samsa.) 

archy's inability to press the shift key down, also a failing of mine now and then, this delightful romp hits the whitefire stage in such a way as to engage and entertain. Gilvezan's casual approach as the author and the the somewhat cocky critter are undeniably spot on.

for what it's worth? don marquis ('markwis')had a battleship named for him & he was really prolific.

i digress.

what makes this "audience in person" production truly deserve a rave? it's a combination of a well constructed script;  tight direction and absolutely fully committed actors. toss in an opening night audience ready for a love fest and the energy in the room is palpable. 

we meet the boss,

Bill Chott
Photo by Bill Dow

a ringer for a younger wallace shawn (bill chott) who tells the story of discovering the philosophy of a now dearly departed poet, who has left him messages by hopping on the keys of his big old remington. the audience is sworn to secrecy. I did not raise my hand!

Kelly Stables
Photo by Joselle Celine

the show moves a pace with adorably delicious
Kelly Stables as a rat, a mayfly, a moth and a flea with a major attitude. 

equally versatile with a coterie of critters to play is richard horvitz who almost stops the show as the old cockroach minutes after the curtain goes up.

Richard Horvitz and Dan Gilvezan
Photo by Bill Dow

 

dan gilvezan & Carolyn Hennesy Photo by Bill Dow



what Gilvezan and company have done is to reveal the culture and politics of the days of woodrow wilson to announce the death of planet earth...  yet, there's still a glimmer of hope as the notion of reincarnation up or down the 'ladder of importance' lies beneath the basic message. 

"the secret world of archy and mehitabel" is an unmitigated hit that can only blossom as the run continues. 

playing only on saturdays: matinees and evenings, this cast has a message that is dripping with love and lots of fun..  

find your way to this stretch of ventura boulevard. find parking! find food! and please pass it on that for a good time sign up to get to know a bug and a cat and their amazing pals.  

 the  c a s t:

bill chott

dan gilvezan

carolyn hennesy

richard horvitz

kelly stables

dan west music

the secret life of archy and mehitabel (a world premiere)

by dan gilvezan
produced by joselle celine

directed by moosie drier

whitefire theatre

13500 ventura blvd

sherman oaks, calfornia 91423

saturdays only at  8pm

september 10 thru october 15, 2022

tickets and information

818 687 8559 

whitefiretheatre.com




 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

ANIMAL FARM: THE PLAY AT A NOISE WITHIN

 

Bertolt  Brecht 1928 

 Peter Brook 1967

 National Theatre  George Orwell Peter Hall 1984

Cirque de Soleil   Forever..  

A NOISE WITHIN 2022 Julia Roderiguez - Elliott.


Animal Farm The Ensemble


Angela Balogh Calin's open and engaging set greets the Opening Night audience at A Noise Within's return to live theatre.  The stage  is broad. An upright piano is seen up left.  Other music will come from other side of the stage. The Union Jack hangs limp down right.

The idea in the ironic year 1984 for Peter Hall and the National Theatre to decide to take up a pithy allegory  and by adding music and heavy physical staging, create a show that would  not only be topical (in 1984 Margaret Thatcher was the conservative PM of Great Britain) but would call out the idea of a despot lying through his teeth. (or big fat piggy nose) to swindle those who have elevated him with the best of their  intentions to high office. It is a  failed idea that finds them in harm's way...  and,  worse.

Whether the name George Orwell.. a Nostradamus for the Twentieth Century, rings a bell or not, the resources of the Brits to bring his excoriating 1945 novel,  "Animal Farm" to the stage with music is a very interesting surprise.  Orwell's novel, "1984" certaihly has been a harbinger of things to come, as, perhaps has "Animal Farm: The Play" in 2022 

Metaphors that come with this staging  are prescient and chilling any way you look at it. The premise in this production sticks pretty much to the original novel.  The idea  of disadvantaged "Animals" seeking a better life for themselves as it was with Russian peasants so long ago, soon find their lives compromised.  It is diffcult to not think of  MAGA supporters of the 45th president of the United States while observing how these critters are manipulated by the crafty and charismatic leader, Napoleon (Rafael Goldstein), as the politics of their times unfolds and...  unravels. 

The allegory moves with reflections mostly of Stalin's Russia.  From production notes we see that Manor Farm (Russia), where the livestock are treated poorly by the cruel farmer, Mr. Jones (Bert Emmett: nice whip work!) begin to discuss self rule. (Marat / Sade: We want a Revolution.. Now..). The animals begin to listen to a wise old pig,  Old Major (Geoff Elliott later returning as the sycophantic draft horse Boxer) reflecting "The Communist Manifesto" via the teachings of Engels, Marx and Lenin. Old Major  declares the idea that a Revolution may be the only way for the downtrodden critters to survive.  Old Major (Lenin) dies but is brought back with his skull hung in the  Barn Yard as a tribute to his idea of a Utopian Society.

Slow moving at the get go, the piece is tightly choreographed and presentational. Echoing the original production, the animals who are led to chant, "Four legs good. Two legs bad" use various props to create four limbs. Somehow the chickens are given a pass.

After agreeing by consensus that a list of egalitarian 'rules' will govern the new collective, what evolves can only be described as mass hypnosis or  hysteria. The workers in the barnyard  now must either go along with the 'program' that the dynamic screamer, Napoleon, has created or face dire consequences. As Napoleon gains power, the original idealistic 'manifesto' of rules all agreed upon by the democratic collective have been adjusted to fit the agenda of the now ruling society: the Pigs! The chant has been changed: "Four legs good. Two legs BAD!" becomes "Four legs good, Two legs better!" The pigs all now strand up straight. "All Animals are created Equal,, but, some Animals are more equal than others."

Without a score card it's difficult to tell the players. Standout Cassandra Marie Murphy as  Moses, the crow,  flies to the flag pole to proclaim that there's a better land waiting for the true believers.   Deborah Strang as the motherly mare, Clover, delivers as always. There were glitches that fall mostly to casting, but over all,  this ensemble is totally dedicated to Julia Rodriguez-Elliott's imaginative  direction. Unless there's a choreographer credit that I've missed, she should be credited with the excellent ensemble staging.  

Fight Choreography by Kenneth R.Merckx, Jr. and Assistant Fight Choreographer Marc Leclerc. 

Live music on the stage: always welcome.

Music Direction:  Rod Bagheri
Musician 1: Woodwinds: David Catalan
Musician 2: Trumpet, Flugelhorn: Nathan Johnson

Tony Valdès's Wig & Make-Up Design with Dillon Nelson's masks are great. Costumes also by set desinger Calin!  bring the story to life dramatically. 

The Elliotts and A Noise Within have blown out the stops to create a spectacle. It is  an allegory for our times?  Or,  perhaps just a very imaginative show?  It must be seen. 

CAST
Napoleon . .  . . . . . . Rafael Goldstein*
Benjamin . . .   . . . . . . . . Jeremy Rabb*
Snowball/Mr. Whymper:  Stanley Andrew Jackson*
Squealer. . . . .  . . . . . . . . . Trisha Miller*
Clover  . . . . Deborah Strang*

 Moses/Minimus/Hen/Pigeon/ Dog/Cow: 

Cassandra Marie Murphy*

Mollie/Hen/Pigeon/Dog/Cow. . . . . . .Nicole Javier*
Old Major/Boxer  . . . . . . . . . Geoff Elliott*
Muriel  . . . . . . Philicia Saunders*
Mr. Jones/Sheep  . . . . . . . .Bert Emmett*
Cat/Mr. Pilkington/Hen  . . . . . Sedale Threatt Jr

The Stage Manager is Pat Loeb. Hello, Pat!

ANIMAL FARM :  THE PLAY

Adapted by Peter Hall

A Noise Within
3352 E Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107

Performances September 3–October 2
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.: Sept. 1 (Preview) and Sept. 29 ONLY
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 2 (Preview), Sept. 9**, Sept. 16**, Sept. 23**, Sept. 30
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1 (no matinee on Sept. 3)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 3 (Opening Night), Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Aug. 28 (Preview), Sept. 4, Sept. 11**, Sept. 18, Sept. 25, Oct. 2
*Pre-performance symposium with noted scholar at 6:45 p.m. prior to the preview on August 31 (included in ticket price)
**Post-performance conversations with the artists on Fridays, Sept. 9; Sept.16; Sept. 23; and Sept. 30, and on Sunday, Sept. 11 (included in ticket price)

Tickets and information:

(626) 356-3100 

 www.anoisewithin.org

 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

BEACH PEOPLE AT THE CITY GARAGE AT BERGAMOT STATION

 Timing is everything. This we learn from the handsome bartender, Rex (Kasey Esser),  near perfect in his red bikini whom I'll get to in a minute.  I've said in the past that my reviews are actually a broad report on my experience of the theatre when I go to see a show.  Tonight was a real experience.

I owe a huge apology to ,the playwright / producer / production designer Mr. Charles A. Duncombe and the patient  director, Frédérique Michel and the terrific cast of "Beach People."  I got lost on the way to the theatre and rolled in just at curtain time.  It's embarrassing. I am truly sorry.

That said, The City Garage: announced in Red Neon! at the far end of Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is a gorgeous jewel box with a comfortable seating arrangement, just the right size for this World Premiere Experience. Apologies to the audience for my awkwardly bumbling in and losing the contents of the Press Kit all over the place.

But! What about "Beach People?" Take about a pound of Pirandello and a pinch of Beckett,  add zest of Zen and.. and.. then start the discussion with what turns out to be the second act.  Blend , hot Existential Angst.. shake well.. add more angst and try to figure out what Rex, the bartender, is doing as he stacks Jenga blocks on his bar.

We meet the apparently married couple: Anna (Angela Beyer) and Paul (Henry Thompson),   lounging on the beach. It is a hot summer day on Duncombe's beautiful set. 

Whoa!!  Anna is spoiling for a fight! 

Toss in a gorgeous  teeny weeny string bikini filled to perfection by Diana (Naomi Helen Weissberg) and beneath a sky filled with beautiful scudding clouds, we have Lift Off.  

Let the playwright's philosophy filter its way into the mix as he evidently becomes his own shrink. That said, the challenge now comes to director, Frédérique Michel, who has taken what is essentially a talky roundabout discussion of "what's it all about anyway?" and keeps it moving as we meet the text head on, thanks especially to an alliterative diatribe perfectly slammed by Angela! Masterful.

 Billed as a farce, be ready to define and defend your own essential philosophy of life while either nodding in agreement or scratching your head as Duncombe's notions about infinity and the essence of 'Essence ' surface and stew...  more or less...  in their own juices.

Frederique Michel's direction of her actors in what is essentially a static and intellectual conundrum, reminds of Beckett and the existential errand of Waiting, especially in the second half which tells the story that we got the gist of in the first half... 
Are you with me?
 
Paul and Anna bicker. To Anna's chagrin, Paul engages the gorgeous Diana with a simple explanation of the endlessness of Infinity.
Patience and a fine tuned ear may catch moments of personal truths as they flitter by.
Life? 
What IS it all about? 

(Left ti right: Henry Thompson, Naomi Helen Weissberg, Angela Beyer. Photo Paul Rubenstein

 
What is Happiness? Well we may ask.
In Act II (the show runs without an intermission) we learn how Paul and Anna 'found' one another.  The notion of serendipity and carpe dieum,  prodded by Rex as he coaches Anna in her pursuit of Paul, questions the business of what happens by design?  What by chance?  Or..could Design actually be in charge of Chance?
 
Where would I have been had I not opted to drive to Santa Monica for the World Premiere opening of this terrific show? (Well, I would not have been late, that's for sure.)  The actors are all having a terrific time and thanks to director Michel, their timing works nicely with a really, really impossible alliterative monologue by Anna and a melt down by Paul which brings the couple truly together, making for an  opportunity for us to question our own philosophical trip.  
Also? What's up with Rex and his Jenga Blocks?
 
The Metro stops directly across from the theatre.  Take a ride and don't miss this challenging and very enjoyable show. 

Cast:    
Angela Beyer  :  Anna
Henry Thompson  : Paul
Naomi Helen Weissberg : Diana
Kasey Esser : Rex
 
Beach People:  World Premiere
 by Charles A. Duncombe

Directed by Frédérique Michel

Producer/Production Designer:    

Charles A. Duncombe

The City Garage 

2525 Michigan Ave. Building T1 

Santa Monica, Ca. 90404

Opened:Saturday, August 6, 2022
Plays Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00pm  

Sundays @ 4:00pm
Through Sunday, September 11, 2022

General Admission $30

 Students/Seniors w/ID $25
Tickets and information: 

(310) 453-9939
 www.citygarage.org