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Thursday, February 8, 2018

OCCUPANT AT THE GARRY MARSHALL

Edward Albee (1928 - 2016) states that he was a long time pal of the American sculptor, Louise Nevelson.  The heady connections that we imagine in the world of the arts comes to life, more or less with his play, OCCUPANT.  Friends had told him that his imagined interview with Nevelson thirty years after her death, now on stage at The Garry Marshall, pretty much captured "her essence, her ambivalence, her sense of self."  The conceit that "Man" (James Leibman), who seems to have done his research very well on the long dead Nevelson (Martha Hackett), makes no bones about arguing the fine details of her life, conducting the interview and correcting her recollections from time to time.  
James Liebman and Martha Hackett
 Originally planned to star Anne Bancroft in 2002, that production was scrubbed due to Ms Bancroft's ill health. 

Nevelson was a 'self made' woman who says in the play that when she was a tiny baby that the great Shalom Aleichem lifted her to his eye level and declared, 
"... she is destined for greatness!"  From humble roots and hard working parents, Louise (nee Leah Berliawsky) grew up feeling that the prophesy would some how come true. 

Director Heather Chesley's choices for Liebman and Hackett have either been co-opted by the actors or she may have had a reason to allow the huge gaps of time and space to elapse between the characters as the play progressed.  Albee's style of having the characters address the audience from time to time is charming. The only impression left is that the energies of both actors seemed to be somehow compromised each by the other.  Liebman as a somewhat cynical interviewer works slowly and deliberately.  Ms Hackett misses opportunities to move things along with a change of pace. 

Ms Hackett presents Nevelson as a strong and capable woman in the words but less so in the performance. Who's in charge of the interview and where does its ultimate power lie?  In the text, it feels as though Nevelson herself is coming back from the dead to expansively share her story.  The premise must be of interest to anyone who loves her work, as she relates that she spent a better part of her life struggling for recognition. For the play it seems that in her inimitable style she would be presenting her life with vigor and panache.  The energy is lacking.

Nevelson discusses how the "eyes" are the most important part of her presentation, (though Paula Higgins' signature headscarf and flowing garments are perfect)  saying that she never went anywhere without two pairs of 'sable eyelashes.'  "Did you ever try three," the Man asks.  She did, she said,  but couldn't keep her eyes open and everyone thought she was going around asleep!

The strong statements of Nevelson's sculptures, an example of which looms over the second act, are impossible not to recognize.  She fell in love with wood and it's the wood that she'll always be remembered for.  The energy of the discussion between the living and the dead must come to life with passion and enthusiasm on behalf of the woman and for her art. There is a palpable energy when confronted by one of Nevelson's huge black sculptures in any art museum in the world.  For the play to work, that energy must be present.  It seems to be in the text and, hopefully, may be on the stage as the production moves along. This somewhat static 'two hander' is physically lethargic which no noe would ever have thought about the artist herself.  "Don't smoke!"

OCCUPANT by Edward Albee
West Coast Premiere
The Garry Marshall Theatre
4252 W Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Through  March 4, 2018
Tickets and Information 
818 955 8101
www.garrymarshalltheatre.org

 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

HOT! PINTER AT ANTAEUS


JD Cullum, Paul Eiding, Jocelyn Towne,
Rob Nagle, Peter Van Norden,
John Apicella, Graham Hamilton
Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photograph



When the wonderful local theatre company, A Noise Within, was essentially escorted out of Glendale, it took a couple of years for another wonderful company to come to town, to Broadway, no less, to bring professional productions to our fair City.  Having been a fan of Antaeus Theatre Company, a company of professional actors, and directors and designers for many years, enjoying their work in North Hollywood, it was exciting to see Glendale City luminaries attend the ‘ground breaking’ at the former electronics store just up the street from Brand to continue the Antaeus tradition of reviving ‘classic’ theatre. Embracing both ancient and relatively current dramatic literature, the appeal to those seeking to be enlightened and those just ready to be entertained is blossoming here.  What I’ve discovered, though having known it all along, is that when a community embraces an established theatre company, as Glendale did for years with A Noise Within, and is now beginning to embrace Antaeus, something happens.  There is a deeper feeling than just spending an evening to see a play.

We realize that this performance is happening before our very eyes.  It’s Living Theatre and no two performances are alike.  Antaeus embraces the tradition of double casting. The Hothouse currently up and running, presents two separate casts: The Ducks and The Pelicans. (See the show and these references will be clear!)  They do this for good reason. Company members are working professionals. Most actors are members of Actors Equity and earn a living not only from their work on the stage but in television and feature films.  Company members: representatives of Deep Space Nine and The Big Bang Theory were in attendance and other recognizable folks are supporting members of the company.

Our Antaeus actors are professional.  This preamble is to point up that when you go to see Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse, and I highly recommend that you do so… or any of the other productions scheduled for this season at Antaeus, you will find yourself in the company of well trained professionals who love living theatre.. both in the audience and on the stage.  (Not sure that the audience is well trained, but you get the picture.) The classics are presented to keep the company sharp and steeped in the long tradition of dramatic literature. 

Pinter is particularly challenging because his biting British satire rides sharply on the ears. Literally, in this production.  The crack of hard soles and heels on the stage underscore the sharp edges of the institution, the hothouse, where the ‘patients’ are known only by their numbers. Why?  Because that’s the way we do it.  That’s the way it’s always been done.

  Director Nike Doukas’s “Ducks” cast finds a comfortable and realistic ground of British accents. The play’s crisp pace has an undertaste of cruelty, which may be the whole point.  Roote (Peter Van Noorden)  is the doughty director of the .. what shall we call it.. asylum? The Home?  He rails and is confused.  Subtly, Gibbs (Graham Hamilton) has his eye on things, mostly clever self-preservation.  Cutts (blonde, pert and pointy Joycelyn Towne) enjoys time with almost anyone who can keep her ‘satisfied.’  The ambiguity of who’s who as the story unfolds introduces us to Lamb (hapless JD Cullum) and Lush (bombastic Rob Nagle). Moving us through a mystery of whom the father of a baby boy born to an inmate might be, as well as the death of 6457: another confusing and unhappy chapter in a day at The Hothouse.  It’s Christmas, for Christ’s sake! 

Rambling on, it’s clear that mismanagement, alcohol and just plain incompetence must all build to a raucus climax:  introducing us to the conclusion with Gibbs and John Apicella (Lobb) on board to continue the status quo.  Paul Eiding’s (Tubb) delivery of a Christmas Cake is testament to how even brief parts are enlivened by fine actors. 

Kudos to tech and Julie Keen’s period costumes to a fine point!


The Hothouse by Harold Pinter
Performances: Jan. 25 – March 11
Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Jan. 23 ONLY (preview)
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Jan. 24 ONLY (preview)
Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Jan. 18 (preview), Jan. 25 (opening); Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22; March 1, 8
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Jan. 19 (preview), Jan. 26 (opening); Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10 (no 2 p.m. perf. on Jan. 20 or Jan. 27)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Jan. 20 (preview), Jan. 27; Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Jan. 21 (preview), Jan. 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4, 11
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Maryland Ave.)
Tickets and Information:
(818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org
  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lee Meriwether honored by Theatre West

THEATRE WEST TO HONOR LEE MERIWETHER!

LEE MERIWETHER has spent many years as a recognized and beloved member of Theatre West while working as a celebrated actress in TV and feature films.  Just yesterday I enjoyed an early Star Trek ("That Which Survives" 1959!) with Lee as an otherworldly beauty whose very touch disintegrates the cells of those unfortunate crew members whom we know will meet a sorry end when beaming down to 'the planet.'  

Theatre West's planned celebration of Lee and her career and her work on behalf of the theatre will take place Saturday February 10, 2018.  See below for details.

Please reference Onstagelosangeles if you make reservations to attend this wonderful tribute.  And... please pass this invitation on to friends who understand the importance of 99 Seat Theatre in Los Angeles!  
Forgive the odd spacing.. this from the Theatre West PR representative Phil Sokoloff:
CELEBRITY-STUDDED TRIBUTE AS THEATRE WEST PRESENTS LOVE LETTERS TO LEE MERIWETHER ON FEBRUARY 10
            Theatre West is celebrating its 55th Anniversary this year as Los Angeles’ oldest continuously operating professional theatre company by honoring one of its most famous members, someone who has been active with the company since its very inception.
            Lee Meriwether first became a national figure when she won the Miss America pageant in 1955. Following that, she was the first “woman’s editor” on The Today Show with Dave Garroway. Prime time series followed, including roles as a series regular on The Time Tunnel, Mission: Impossible, The New Andy Griffith Show, The Munsters Today (succeeding Yvonne De Carlo), Barnaby Jones (with Emmy® and Golden Globe nominations) and All My Children. Her thirty-plus feature film credits in a career spanning almost six decades include Batman: The Movie (in which she became the first feature film Catwoman, opposite Adam West), The Undefeated (with John Wayne and Rock Hudson), The Legend of Lylah Clare (with Kim Novak), Angel in My Pocket (with Andy Griffith), 4-D Man and Namu the Killer Whale (both with Robert Lansing).
            Live theatre, however, has long been Ms. Meriwether’s first love, and her many memorable appearances at Theatre West include its very first production, Spoon River Anthology with Betty Garrett, returning to that show four decades later for its 40th anniversary production; Aesop in Central Park with Richard Dreyfuss; Ladies of Hanover Towers with Carroll O’Connor; Pop.7, Passionate Ladies; Nunsense; A Short Stay at Carranor; and more, plus numerous appearances in regional theatres around the country, including productions of Follies (with seven former Miss Americas), The King and I (with George Chakiris); Plaza Suite; Hello, Dolly!; Mame; Last Summer at Bluefish Cove; The Odd Couple (female version); and her solo show Women of Spoon River: Their Voices from the Hill.
            Now, just in time before Valentine’s Day, Theatre West gets to return the love shown by Lee for the company with a special evening of performances, song and dance. The show features appearances and/or performances by Jim Beaver (Deadwood, Supernatural, Justified), Doug Jones (The Shape of Water, Star Trek: Discovery, Hellboy), George Chakiris (West Side Story), George Tovar (Magic Castle magician) , Michael E. Knight (All My Children), Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat, Get Smart), Adam Huss (Power), Robert Colbert (The Time Tunnel), Chad Darnell, Barbara Minkus (I’m Not Famous), Anthony Gruppuso (off-Broadway musical The Babies), Kiki Ebsen (daughter of Buddy Ebsen), Garrett Parks and Andrew Parks (sons of Theatre West co-founder and MGM legend Betty Garrett),  Lori Gangemi (CEO of Lee’s favorite charity, Ability First), more to come.
            Ms. Meriwether will also be presented with an award from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
            Saturday, February 10, 2018 is the date of the gala occasion with festivities beginning at 6:00 p.m. with a reception featuring hors d’ouevres and beverages, as well as a silent auction.  The show begins at 8:00 p.m.
            The event is presented by Theatre West.
            At Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is near North Hollywood, Universal City and Studio City. There is parking available in the Panasonic Lot across the street (fee is charged). 
Admission: $55 (includes reception). Advance reservations are suggested, as a sell-out is anticipated. For tickets, go to www.theatrewest.org, or call (323) 851-7977 (and reserve with a credit card).
Proceeds from the evening support the ongoing artistic and educational activities of Theatre West, a 501c3 non-profit organization.

Monday, November 20, 2017

FUNNY FORUM AT THE GARRY MARSHALL

The Company of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum  Photo by Chelsea Sutton
When Bert Shevelove, Larry Gelbart and Stephen Sondheim rolled out the idea for A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM fifty five years ago, winning Tonys and starting something that has been fodder for laugh after laugh ever since,  every Psuedolus (Paul C. Vogt... to be shared with Joey McIntyre on odd dates) since has hoped to touch the hem of Zero Mostel's toga.  Classic lines and 'Comedy Tonight' leaps at that hem currently playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre.  Taking a cue from Restoration Farce this spunky cast mounts Fred Kinney's excellent set, complete with Roman columns and flashing lights, spiral staircases and an actual dancers' pole to make us laugh.

It's a story of three houses and their occupants, a couple of slaves and some ladies at the beck and call of Licus (E.K. Dagenfield,) the guy in charge of the House of Some Repute stage left. In the peppier second act Dagenfield stops the show... literally, as Erronius, the really old guy whose children ... years ago.. were kidnapped by pirates.

But back to Pseudulos and the loosey goosey plot. Pseudulos is a slave and works for the house of Senex (Kevin Symons) who is brutally whipped .. so to speak...  by his harpy spouse, Domina (Candi Milo) whose appearance as a broken bust has one of the best lines in the show. Senex returns from a journey early to get the broken nose of Domina's bust re-sharpened! 

Stars of this production are three of the hardest working whores in Lycus's stable:  Shamika Benn, Liz Bustle and Vanessa Nichole.  These protean princesses change character at the drop of a hat and never lose a beat. Strong dance moves and excellent timing!

Pseudolus wants his freedom. Senex's son, the moony Hero ( Michael Thomas Grant) has fallen for a gal that we think might be in Licus's stable, but nooo.. She, is, in fact..  the very blonde Philia (Nicole Kaplan) whose takes to the audience rival every Disney bunny that was ever surprised. She's a virgin! And, has been sold to the Captain: Miles Glorius (Clayton Snyder) whom we meet as he bounces in to save the second act! 
Courtesans (Liz Bustle, Shamicka Benn, and Vanessa Nichole), Miles Glorious (Clayton Snyder) and Pseudolus (Paul C. Vogt) in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum at the Garry Marshall Theatre. Photo by Chelsea Sutton
All Pseudolus has to do is figure out how to wangle Hero and Philia together and collect his freedom.  

It takes a while for the team to get rolling, but thanks to familiar tunes and the brilliant script, mistaken identity, female impersonation (Ethan Cohn as Hysterium), quick changes and an attitude of Sans Souci .. just about everyone gets what they deserve. 

In his program notes Director Joseph Leo Bwarie mentions Titus Maccius Plautus, an early.. really early.. Roman playwright for the inspiration that evolved into Commedia, on into Vaudeville and Burlesque (much of which is on the chopping block right now.. but we may recover) that we recall with joy in the opening number, "Comedy Tonight!" Corny jokes and physical silliness need big, big energy to play properly.  This one will rise to Zero's toga as the run runs on. 

SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
By Bert Shevelove, Larry Gelbart 
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim 
Through December 31, 2017
Garry Marshall Theatre
4252 W Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Tickets and information
www.Garrymarshalltheatre.org 
Note:
Apologies for the wonky way the captions for these photos show up.  Figuring out the spacing has eluded me. ms

 


 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH

Thank goodness for John Perrin Flynn and the hearty band of true theatre folks at The Rogue Machine Theatre who are unafraid to move the envelope .. sometimes from within and sometimes outside, in harness, to drag it along, kicking and screaming.   Whether "bled for the household truth," a play by ruth fowler (note the lower case?), may fall within or without the envelope of dramaturgy is a question that seeing the play may answer.  I'm guessing that it's still inside and doing its best to make a comment that is rather cloudy but has moments of clarity. We are now in the age of 'pussy grabbing.'

Program notes tell us that playwright fowler saw an ad on Craigs List that prompted the creation if her idea for this play.  Deliberately leading us out of the comfort zone is accomplished in spades, though mostly gratuitously.  Director CAMERON WATSON (note the caps) is well known for 'creative' takes on the shows he directs. Most recently for me, was his use of full frontal male nudity in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Antaeus.  In that play, Brick gratuitously displays himself for no apparent reason.  
Alexandra Hellquist and Benjamin Burdick   
 

  Photo Credit John Perrin Flynn

In fowler's play, inappropriate sexual behavior is high on the list of what happens when the premise that may underlie the whole idea is framed around an abandoned child; when sexual boundaries are murky; when respect and love are waiting somewhere just out of our grasp.   

Lonely and possibly 'on the spectrum' we meet Keith (Benjamin Burdick), a successful liar who works too much and because of his eclectic proclivity for watching porn on his computer and his need for companionship (even though he declares he has lots of friends), advertises for a live in woman. His inability to touch or be touched introduces us to the brassy Pen (Alexandra Hellquist) who virtually forces herself on Keith to occupy his extra room with private bath and all she has to do is be there.  Mostly.  

Playwright fowler is not Edward Albee. That bar is one that is way too high for most writers to approach.  However, the conflicts that arise with the duplicitous Pen, breaking a 'rule' (no male visitors!)  by having studly Billy (Nathaniel Meek) over for a bit of telly and titillation that gets out of hand with a condom absent rape is just the beginning. Billy exits, leaving her ragged on the floor with an abrupt "I've gotta go." This leads Pen to 'douch' with a left over slice of pizza. 

The dance of fowler's play disappoints somewhat with what at first light is a gorgeous New York City high rise apartment by accomplished scenic designer, John Iacovelli: Irving Place between 18th and 19th. Pen's and Keith's rooms are stage right and left respectively, fully furnished and luxuriously appointed with full windows obscured by mini-blinds. Iffy sight lines and the rooms' interiors well obscured is a sad truth here.  A program caveat revealing that this play includes 'nudity' puts us on notice, but there are no shades of Oh, Calcutta.  Pen is an attractively thin Brit (Manchester, England, England, across the Atlantic Sea) who occasionally appears in bra and panties.  Her Manchester accent charms, but makes understanding most of her dialogue difficult at best, though her "shits" and "fucks" are impossible to ignore. 

If rape, masturbation, something to do with the scent of previously worn panties, masturbation, again... and fondling of an unconscious woman are stepping stones to 'love,' then "bled for the household truth" has a long way to go for any kind of honesty, though the effort may be appreciated.  Every single character is a liar and in one way or another, with the exception of a short encounter with Monica (Rachel Brunner) who has a brief party with Billy and Pen. Pen overdoses on cocaine. When Pen passes out, Monica has the good sense to reject Billy's advances and hit the trail. 

Program notes declare that it is the play's intention to take the audience out of our comfort zone.  The discomfort of Mr. Burdick's waffling behavior between his unusual shyness butted up against outbursts of rage for a broken rule and his love and disgust for his mother who abandoned him as a child, contrasts with the difficulty in understanding Ms Hellquist's Manchester accent. The kernels of 'truth' here may be only beginning to pop as the curtain falls on the final scene.  

The World Premiere of
bled for the household truth 
a play by ruth fowler
Rogue Machine  Theatre
1089 N Oxford Avenue, 
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Opened November 18, 2017 
Plays at 8:30 pm on Saturdays & Mondays 3:00pm on Sundays 
Closes December 18, 2017
Tickets and information:
855 585 5185
www.roguemachinetheatre.com

 

 

 

Monday, November 13, 2017

BIG BIG FISH at Pepperdine

Full disclosure.  
I don't often review college productions.  The grandmother of one of the actors in Pepperdine's production of John August and Andrew Lippa's Big Fish: the Musical is a dear friend. It  was an opportunity to see old pals and to see a show I had a great curiosity about.   


How could Tim Burton's film "Big Fish" written by John August, who also wrote the script for this musical, translate all of the amazing effects onto the stage.  The biggest surprise. literally,  is Karl. You may remember him as the giant whom the residents of Ashton, Alabama were ready to take up torches and pitch forks against. Played by Noah Archibald, Karl towers over the rest of the cast in excess of eight feet in height!

Taken from Daniel Wallace's book, "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions" and made into a wonderful film in 2003 by director Tim Burton using August's script, with Mr. Lippa pushes the envelope by creating a musical that takes elements of both the original book and the movie to create two acts with pathos and love. Emphasis on Love. 

The Smothers' Theatre on the Pepperdine Campus sits on a gorgeous campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.  It feels expensive because there's a lot of dough here.  Appropriately, this production, creatively realized with Cathy Thomas-Grant's sharp direction; exquisite scenic design by DT Willis, it all works.  The show has major over tones of a full on Broadway production.  A live orchestra sits in full view stage left. Cast, orchestra, all: these kids nailed it. 

The basic plot delivers us into the lives of Edward Bloom (Evatt Salinger) and his often over the top and fantastical stories.  His son, Will (toe headed Ryan Robinson age seven and later as an adult Angelo Silva) absorbs his gusto and exaggerated version of the truth at face value as a child and later with some embarrassment as a grown man about to be married.  The beauty of Bloom's character is that his loving and lovable outlook permeates everyone who meets him.

As Edward's wife, Sandra, Audry McKee shines, especially with I Don't Need a Roof. 

As Jenny, Natalie Leonard, Edward's teen love, shows both strong voice and strength of character. 

One can't help but think of the Burton film as the show unfolds.  The lesson of love and joy and a little larceny shared by Amos Callaway of the Calloway Circus (Fernando Grimaldo) reminds us that "Secrets are the backbone of society!" as he employs Edward for years. 

Outstanding moments include the introduction of Kate Klimist as the Witch who predicts Edward's death and shines with "I Know What You Want!" Sandra and the Alabama Lambs rock in their audition for the circus. 

Heaping praise on a show built on the idea of peace and love and reason is easy. That these college kids spark to the text and are totally professional with the music is a tribute to a program that Pepperdine should be very proud of.  I collected one autograph after the show, with the idea that it will be famous not long after this actor graduates.

BIG FISH: THE MUSICAL
The Luciene and Daniel Forge Fall Musical
Book by John August 
Music/lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Smothers Theatre on the 
Pepperdine University Campus
24255 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90263
Thursday - Saturday at 7:30
Sunday at 2PM
Closes Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tickets and information:
310 506 4522
arts.pepperdine.edu

KAIDAN: An immersive, site specfic, multi-sensory experience

Kaidan Project:!  WALLS GROW THIN

From Wikipedia: 

Kaidan (怪談) (sometimes transliterated kwaidan) is a Japanese word consisting of two kanji: 怪 (kai) meaning “strange, mysterious, rare or bewitching apparition" and 談 (dan) meaning “talk” or “recited narrative.”

Photo credit Chelsea Sutton

Rogue Artists Ensemble's extraordinarily expansive and creative journey with stories  inspired by Japanese folk tales (kaidan) is unlike virtually anything you, as a theatre goer may have ever experienced.  Environmental and existential, small groups of "searchers" are guided (more or less) and sometimes herded through a secret warehouse where their goal is to find  a missing woman: Kana Mori, played with extraordinary skill by Tane Kawasaki.  This is a visceral play that reaches into the actors as well as the audience.

Kana has been the victim of possession by a fox spirit, Kitsune. As she tells of her unfortunate experience, we are exposed to fantastic video projections, inventive puppetry and individual scenic designs that include one-on-one encounters that both frighten and inspire. 

A large foreboding freight elevator delivers audience members high up into the spooky narrow passageways of this industrial space creating a literal disassociation from reality all watched over by director Shawn T. Cawelti. Strong performances and dedicated ensemble members create an other worldly experience. Amazing tech and design credits are all listed on the company's page: 

https://www.rogueartists.org/about-the-artists-kaidan-project-walls-grow-thin

Because there are many actors playing the same parts, it's impossible to list individual performers. It is also impossible to try to explain the episodes that the audience is let to, with the exception of what seems to be simply magic as we come to the final ceremony with Kana.  And, that is really something! 


This is not a sit down and observe a performance  production.  Totally immersive, it is not, not, NOT! for the faint of heart.  

Required: comfortable shoes and being okay in confined spaces and total absolute darkness. The complete absence of a fourth wall makes this show very personal.   No fooling. The list of caveats is long and will be included in an email confirming your interest in seeing this production. 

Written by Chelsea Sutton and Lisa Dring along with the Ensemble, this ambitious project deserves an audience ready to explore beyond our imaginations... Imagine that!  Highly recommended.
KAIDAN: WALLS GROW THIN
By Lisa Dring and Chelsea Sutton 
and the Rogue Artists Ensemble
Secret Location: Los Angeles, CA
Extended
Tickets and Information:
213 596 9468
tickets@rogueartists.org



Saturday, November 4, 2017

DANGEROUS TIMES AT ANTAEUS!

 
Henri Lubatti and Reiko Aylesworth
Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

Playwright Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the 1782 novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses comes to Antaeus midst a 2017 firestorm of sexual accusations, innuendo and Hollywood intrigue.   Sex is the catalyst for this production, make no mistake.

Director Robin Larsen's "Libertines" cast confronts the audience in tableau at rise as if to include us in the unsavory goings on.. perhaps we are accomplices?  Set in the years just preceding the French Revolution, we meet the  extraordinarily sensual Reiko Aylesworth as La Marquise de Merteuil in her sinuous form fitting gown by Joycelyn Hublau Parker (whose unique costumes beautifully serve the production). And, as complicated as that sentence might be, the intrigue, also complicated, moves forward apace with the entrance of Le Vicomte de Valmont  (Henri Lubatti), a true rake with a reputation to uphold.  


The tangled web of revenge and sexual deceit sparkles with Yee Eun Nam's somewhat austere scenic designs and spectacular projections that announce the progress of the story supported beautifully by the meticulous orchestration and sound designs by  Jeff Polunus.  The affluent aristocracy embodied in Merteuil and her former lover,  Valmont, blossoms in a plot to take revenge!  The novel written as epistles to and from the principals in the story come to life in Hampton's play.  One needs a program to keep the characters straight. The younger lover,  Le Chevalier Danceny (Josh Breslow) who tends to slightly resemble Valmont in some of the under lit scenes fooled me for a minuteHowever, mistaken identity is never really an issue as the dance of intrigue plays out over the course of the weeks that transpire.

Excellent as Valmont's valet is Aaron Lyons as Azolan.  When a relatively small part shines, it's because the director, Robin Larsen, understood that sometimes it's the seasoning that really makes the repast terrific.  The over all direction in concert with the truly incredible tech that moves the plot along is spot on.  Another bright spot, Nadege August as Emilie, Valmont's courtesan, shamelessly steals her moments ...  as she should

The tangled web of deceit and revenge and switchbacks along the length and breadth of the play are unpredictable, though not a surprise. 

This excellent Antaeus production maintains their own reputation for fine theatre. Nam's stark scenic design helps to bring the story, dark and oddly rich in color to life.

 Les Liaisons Dangereuses
by Christopher Hampton
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
Thursdays and Fridays @ 8 p.m.
Saturdays @ 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays @ 2 p.m. 
Performances continue through Dec. 10, 2017
Tickets and Information:
818 506 5436
info@antaeus.org