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Friday, February 23, 2024

ICT Long Beach presents 'MARILYN, MOM AND ME"

 A World Premiere is always exciting.  

caryn desai (sic) is an artistic director I have admired for years.  Internationl City Theare's gorgeous space is an important adjunct to the big guys in Los Angeles. 

Brian Rohan, Alisha Soper. Laura Gardner
Photo by Paul Kennedy

Luke Yankee directs his own play "Marilyn, Mom and Me."  A writer directing his own work is an idea that I resist. This is an autobiographical story. a personal memoir Yankee says is mostly true.. My personal bias  notwithstanding, I find it an interesting piece of theatre even as directed by the author.

Yankee's premise turns on his sainted mother, actress, Eileen Heckart and her friendship with the mysterious blonde: Marilyn Monroe.

In the 1956 film version of William Inge's "Bus Stop," Yankee's mom, Eileen (crusty Laura Gardner)  plays Vera, a waitress. Marilyn (Very Marilyn! Alisha Soper)  as Cherie is a singer in the joint..  How actors unite to create the illusion of any story is a challenge. As   Yankee brings it to life, we begin as Luke (Brian Rohan) slips in the back door, so to speak,  with a goal to record his mom's personal memories of Marilyn.   Reluctantly, Eileen   warms to the idea that everyone has begged her to share for years. 

Luke presents his story: sharing the love and conflicts  of a gay son and his  troubled mom as the truth unfolds. 

The structure of the piece plays out in a mostly presentational way.  We are greeted by an essentially bare stage with levels that conceal props in little cubbies. A clever devise. A couple of bent wood chairs and huge projections upstage delineate where each scene takes place.  This device puts the weight of the show on the shoulders of the actors. Mostly, they succeed.

With the actors, it's a mixed bag. As Luke, Rohan's performance is all acting. It falters with the challenge of presenting his character at different ages. This is a difficult chore for anyone.. as cute as a grown man in jammies to depict his very early age.. he's still a really big guy in jammies acting like a child. In one scene after watching Luke in a production of Cameot,  Eileen lays her copious notes on the young actor. It is devastating and uncomfortable.  Herckart was a tough broad.

As Eileen, Ms Gardner plays it close to her vest  with strong personal moments as we anxiously anticipate the arrival of 'Her!"  "They all want to know about Her," says Eileen.. Make no mistake when SHE arrives, though I might quibble with Ms Soper's Marilyn voice a little bit, her Marilyn is a gorgeous ringer for the "most beautiful woman in the world.."  

The bond between Eileen and Marilyn takes its time and the connection becomes genuine. 

 I encourage you to travel to Long Beach to see this play... However,  I must mention that the title, "Marilyn, Mom and Me" emerges toward the end of the show. Just when I thought the performance  was over,  It was not.  Yankee presents Luke in a denouement  a beat or two too long.  To discuss it would be a spoiler and though disappointing to me, the audience stood to applaud Yankee's unique memoir.

Plan a day in Long Beach. check for blocked streets and construction!!    Skip Islands for a meal!

The supporting cast, doubling is okay.  The audience is called upon to do some of the work. Kim DeShazo's costumes for Marilyn are spectacular.

 
CAST:

Marilyn Monroe: Alisha Soper
Eileen Heckart: Laura Gardner *
Luke: Brian Rohan *
Ella Fitzgerald/ Rosetta/ Paula Strasberg: Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield *
Joshua Logan and others: Noah Wagner

The creative team for Marilyn, Mom & Me includes set designer Dan Volonte, lighting designer Donna Ruzika, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey and prop designer Patty Briles. Casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA. The production stage manager is Don Hill.  

MARILYN, MOM AND ME

Written  and directed by Luke Santee

 

Marilyn, Mom & Me runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., February 16 through March 3

Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Feb. 14 and Thursday, Feb. 15, both at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets are $49 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except Friday. Feb. 16, opening night, for which tickets are $55 and include a post show reception), and $52 at Sunday matinees. 

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center at 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802





Monday, February 19, 2024

The Winter's Tale by you know who

There is much to be said about our local 'classical' theatre company: Antaeus.  The space on Broadway in Glendale is intimate. the work by this long established company, in a former a store front has in the past, made magic.

Antaeus has tackled Shakespeare many times in the past, recently an innovative and  terrific presentation of The Tempest played to sold out audiences.  Wonderful double casts of King Lear went up when the company was still on Lankershim in a rag tag space that served them well.

The Winter's Tale.. a magical and manipulated tale, indeed, has a shot at magic and with Elizabeth Swain's direction brings my favorite part to life.   The Bear!

This short video that I found is a sort of crib sheet for understanding the play.  The tongue twister names, especially, do not roll trippingly .. to coin a phrase.. but once you figure out who's who, the story .. a little loopy and not the only  jealousy theme for the Bard.. moves on. 

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/3-minute-shakespeare/3-minute-shakespeare-winters-tale/

Copy and paste that link for a quickie..so to speak. version of the story. 

Of course to see the play in person.. the best way.. it helps to have a handle on the plot.  I only like the play, actually.. because of the bear!   well.. and the magic.. and the reconciliation..  All's Well.. etc..

 Motive is always a factor  or should be.. in why any of us.. especially characters in plays do what they do.  Essentially, in The Winter's Tale, we have Othello echoed in Leontes (Adam J. Smith), the king of Sicilia. He's married to the beautiful Hermione (Kaci Hamilton) and is the father of his young son Maxmilius (Sabrina J. Li) But!  here's the rub.  Poixenes (Ned Mochel) has been a guest in the palace and the chemistry between Poixenes and Hermione awakens that Green Eyed Monster in Leones's imagination to stir things to a terrible pass.

If you watch that little video, it will essentially guide you along the primrose  path to the plot of the play. Twists and turns and turncoats and, sadly, some dead folks along the way

The business of this production turns on choices made by Ms Swain.  My idea of a good time is to be guided through the story with specific focus on the forward motion of the story. In this production the staging and stage pictures had me distracted and misdirected time and again.  Some casting seemed sideways, meaning that in this cast of able actors, my choices for some characters would have been different.  With Shakespeare, of course, language and the ability to speak it well, especially for American actors a challenge.  

With few exceptions, the rhythms of the dialogue came in fast and furious and ... furiouser.  Bigger! Faster! More dramatic!!  In my notes I used the term 'chewing the scenery' more than one time. 

Certainly there are  moments. and some fun stuff that in reading the play I'd over looked.    JD Culluma as Autolycus, a slick con man, shines and the device that several of the characters used: breaking the fourth wall works. Soliloquies  to the audience  mostly worked..

It's a simple bare stage with a grand use of drapes to delineate settings.  When it came time for the bear,  the scene , though a bit gruesome, was a creative approach I wish I'd thought of.

As Paulina, Ann Nobel

Ann Nobel

rocks as she finds her stride when standing up to the king. .It's her rhythms and pace and variations that give her character three dimensions.   Success is on the actor.

In all, the play works better than other versions I've seen but the business of profile presentation by the actors and the split focus often  draws attention to itself. 

I recommend this production because the heart of the play is basically served and our local Glendale Antaeus Company deserves patrons who appreciate the effort that goes into presenting classic theatre with panache.  The costumes are sort of  Victorian in design with cutaway coats for the men and long dresses for the women.  Hermione's hair style is a departure. 

Please see this show informed and listen for this line, "It Is An Heretic That Makes The Fire Not She Which Burns In It." The lessons of the past may be prologue to the present.

Featuring:
EMILIA/PERDITA: Shannon Lee Clair*
AUTOLYCUS/LORD III: JD Cullum*
ARCHIDAMUS/JAILER/OLD SHEPHERD: Paul Eiding*
HERMIONE: Kaci Hamilton*
MAMILLIUS/TIME/SERVANT: Sabrina J. Liu*
ANTIGONUS/GENTLEMAN: Brian Kim McCormick*
FLORIZEL/LORD I: Peter Mendoza*
POLIXENES: Ned Mochel*
PAULINA: Ann Noble*
LADY I/MOPSA/CLEOMENES: Catia Ojeda*
LADY II/DORCAS/DION: Claire Simba*
LEONTES: Adam J. Smith*
CAMILLO/MARINER: Geoffrey Wade*
LORD II/SHEPHERD’S SON: Colin Ledwith



 

The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare

Directed by  Elizabeth Swain

 


Saturday, February 10, 2024

ARROWHEAD.. inspired by playwright Catya McMullen's stay at a lovely San Bernardino  mountains cabin, explores the stuff of our sense of self and sexuality.  

Clockwise from Top L: Nate Smith,
Amielynn Abellera, Kathleen Littlefield,
Lindsay Coryne, and Kacie Rogers
Photo by Jeff Lorch.jpg

Caveat.. 

Google has flagged this review for language. I'm editing for content so that you can imagine the naughty words that I had spelled out.
 

 

Imagine, if you will.. An  abortion party for a self declared lesbian  who, drunk, evidently,  succumbed to the muscular advance of a man.  "He was rough and pulled my hair.. but it didn't hurt..I liked it".. and the story unfolds with not all of the characters saying the names of the other characters, but there's an attractive black woman and the attractive Asian and the pregnant breast pumping woman also attractive and the cheated upon lover really cute and the manly boys who may or may not be gay or bi or ?? because the story  steps off the cliff at an eight and quickly escalates to a ten, I imagine thanks to Jenna Worsham's decision as director to  . more or less.. present "Friends" with benefits and choices and applied sexuality  on Speed..or caffine. or both. Fast and faster!  Faster, bigger, funnier?

The breakneck pace and rapid delivery evoked laughter from the  opening night audience  for this World Premiere and because of the rapid fire dialogue..was anyone listening? were they? or just getting the juice flowing and some hot sex batting a thousand and inquiry and betrayal and hot stuff baby baby baby and the cat palace and what a retreat to Lake Arrowhead .. away from the bright lights.. might bring.

The characters are well defined (the guys are sort of not)  and the actors who portray them are all about the same twenty something age?  thirty?  and the set is gorgeous and the wham bam lights and sound literally rock the theater. The money is on the stage! Big time..  and I am sure that an age appropriate fwording audience whose vocabulary is also loaded with the now ubiquitous use of fword and  "poop"  without dropping a stitch is totally acceptable and representative of the way so many  folks communicate these days.. 

but.

The rapid pace and the John Mashita dialogue/speeches.. with few exceptions.. cranks up to eleven ala Spinal Tap.. and  pretty much left me exhausted.

Not having access to the QR program to line up the characters with their actor selves, it is a compliment ..as best I can manage.. that each is true to whomever author, Catya McMullen has created for them.. the Cat Lady appears in an off stage / on stage bit with her giant kitty palace and is adorable in a ditzy naive way .. The dialogue is punctuated with laughs that the audience enjoyed while I was still beats behind. That's on me.

So...  for the  generation that lives with their noses pretty much buried in one iPhone  or another, while  multitasking and stands to applaud while getting back on line or texting or such.. this is the play for them.  

Having vacationed at Lake Arrowhead, with an actual family, I can attest that the isolation truly does have an effect of bringing people together.. This cast IS together and then some.. Some of the sex is hot.  Okay. it's all hot and depending on what turns you on, there's bread and butter and toast and bagels and the idea that one thing an Arrowhead vacation can do is inspire connections. 

Amazing tech that literally vibrates the space and the gorgeous set and dedicated company of IAMA which I still don't understand what it really stands for.. has gathered an idea and professionally mounted it with pretty much a gayish theme that is well presented.  Bring a seat belt.

Cast:

Amielynn Abellera, Stefanie Black, Lindsay Coryne, Adrián González, Kathleen Littlefield, Kacie Rogers, Nate Smith

The creative team includes scenic designer Carolyn Mraz; lighting designer Kai Hirota Magee; sound designer Eliza Vedar; costume designer Danae Iris McQueen; properties designer Nicole Bernardini; intimacy director Celina Surniak; and casting director Jordan Bass. Rosalind Bevan is associate director; Daniel Cyzpinski is the technical director; and Zaira Paredes-Villegas is the production stage manager alongside assistant stage manager Isabella Gomez and wardrobe supervisor Athena Saxon. Quinn O'Connor produces and Katharine Means co-produces for IAMA Theatre Company 

IAMA Theatre Company 

 World premiere of Arrowhead 

 by Catya McMullen

Performances: Feb. 8 – March 4

• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 8 ONLY (Opening Night)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 9; Feb. 16; Feb. 23; March 1
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 3 (Preview); Feb. 10; Feb. 17; Feb. 24; March 2
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Feb. 11; Feb. 18; Feb. 25; March 3
• Sundays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 4 ONLY (Preview)
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 19; Feb. 26; March
4 (dark Feb. 12) 

• General Admission (except Feb. 19 and Feb. 36) $40
• Mondays, Feb. 19 and Feb. 26: Pay-What-You-Can
• Previews: $25

Tickets and Information:
iamatheatre.com
(323) 380-8843
 

Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
FREE parking in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater.
 



Saturday, February 3, 2024

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN / THEATRE 40

Review by Guest Critic Saratoga Ballantine

Theatre Forty is a busy bunch with their recent production of  The Manor followed closely by Craig Warner's "Strangers on a Train."



 Having been a fan of the Hitchcock film with Farley Granger and Robert Walker, I was eager to see how  “Strangers on a Train” would be presented on stage at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. 
Interestingly,  the play was more inclined to lean towards the original story by Patricia Highsmith. If you are familiar with “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, you have a sense of the penchant Highsmith has for complicated plots and psychopathic anti-heroes..

We are introduced to our two leading men who indeed are strangers.  They meet on a train, which we thoroughly believe thanks to  the screen projection behind two cushy chairs center stage, designed by the always creative Jeff G. Rack.

It's impossible to miss how different the two characters are. Charles Bruno (MIchael Mullen) is not just the chattier of the two, but also the more obvious drinker.   Guy Haines (Joe Clabby) presnets an ambitious bespeckled architect  in the midst of a divorce. He's reading philosophy.  Slowly, with endless questions and hip flask always pouring, Bruno draws Guy out of his shell. 
 As the train hurtles to their destination, they begin to speculate on what it would be like to commit the perfect murder.

I found myself getting a little creeped out as the story unfolded!

Bruno is a Mama’s Boy who resents his father for withholding his allowance, and has an almost unholy relationship with his former show-girl mother,  deliciously sensual  Sharron Shayne. Their scenes together reveal even more of Bruno’s drinking problem, and deep psychological issues.
 
Guy goes home to his fiancé, Anne (Anica Petrovic) who is impatiently counting the days until Guy’s divorce is final so they can be wed. Anne's wardrobe was exquisite, and right on point for the 50’s.  Michael Mullen is also credited with the play's excellent costume design.
In a nutshell,  a murder is committed by the end of Act 1!  Act II sends us on an even darker ride, exploring how a serendipitous meeting on a train has now irrevocably linked Bruo and Guy together.

The rest of the cast includes: Todd Andrew Ball as Frank Myers), Michael Kerr as Best Man at the wedding of Anne and Guy (Robert Treacher) and the totally believable private eye Arthur Gerard well timed with humor and great skill by Larry Eisenberg. Gerard puts all the puzzle pieces together,

 Director, Jules Aaron, with countless plays under his belt, directs  with his usual savvy. The tension builds to the very end.  Some of us in the audience were visibly shaken as we left the theatre!!

 Cast: 

Todd Andrew Ball, Michael Mullen, Sharron Shayne, Anicia Petrovich, Michael Kerr, Joe Clabby, and Larry Eisenberg.

 Crew:

Stage manager: Paul Reid. Set design: Jeff G. Rack. Costume design: Michael Mullen. Lighting design: Derrick McDaniel. Sound design: Nick Foran.

Stramgers on A Train

by  Craig Warner

Directed by  Jules Aaron

Theatre Forty 

241 S, Moreno Drive

Mary Levin Cutler Theatre 

 Beverly Hills, CA 90212. 

January 18-February 18, 2024. 

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

ADMISSION: $35.

RESERVATIONS: (310) 364-0535.

ONLINE TICKETING: http://theatre40.org

 



Friday, January 19, 2024

Theatre Forty presents.. The Manor

Review by

Guest Critic:  

Saratoga Ballantine

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MANOR

 Simply arriving at Greystone is the start of a unique theatrical experience!

Walking from the parking lot to the mansion I began to get goosebumps. To think that a family actually lived here in this astounding mansion and what their lives must have been like stirs the imagination before the audience is even seated.

“The Manor” is in its 19th season, and is a fictionalization based on real events that occurred in the mansion over 95 years ago. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The audience is brought in to the elegantly furnished  living room,  by James, the Butler, convincingly played by the elegant and well spoken  David Hunt Stafford.

It’s the late 1920’s and a wedding party is going on  in full swing.

The wealthy patriarch of the McAlister family, Charles (played with proper pomposity by Darby Hinton) is happily leading Prohibition toasts of “ice tea” (wink wink nudge nudge) up the wazoo, and is the proud father of the groom, played here with grace  and charm by Peter Mastne.   Abby, his blushing bride (beautiful Nathalie Rudolph) is giddiness personified, especially when she spots the handsome Gregory Pugh (Eric Keitel) who has returned to the manor as a guest at the celebration.

The wonderful conceit of the play is that the audience is now divided into three parts, and depending upon which group you are in- you are led by either James, or Ursula, the Housekeeper (played with great energy and spirit by Katyana Rocker-Cook) or the silent maid, Ellie, (essayed by the creative and sprightly Gail Johnston, who uses dinner bells and arm gestures to signal the audience when it’s time to move to the next room.

Getting caught up in the inciting incident, which depicts momentous changes in the family fortune, I learned was based on surrogates of the oil-rich Doheny Family. Charles makes an illegal, though well intentioned loan to Senator Alfred Winston (strongly played by Daniel Leslie with “good ‘ol boy” panache).   Winston is based on the then Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall.  Both men will face imminent disgrace in the oncoming Teapot Dome bribery scandal which brought down the Warren Harding administration, because the loan was made with cash, and there was no proper record. The family's close friend and lawyer, John Combs, (Frank Parsons) does all he can to help, but Charles McAlister is in too deep.

Abby meanwhile seems  more than ready to lose her virginity, and we are privy to an intimate glimpse into her boudoir as she prepares to receive the gifts of womanhood  while the wedding party is still merrily going on in other parts of the mansion! Thank heavens her Mother- in- Law (an honest and surely once dazzling Carol Potter)  happens to come into the bedroom to put the kibosh on this wreckless behavior just in the nick of time.

The fly in the ointment is that Abby, while loving her new husband, also has very strong feelings for Gregory Pugh, who has been away  and has returned to the Manor with his new over-sexed and  tarty wife (raucously played by Kristin Rowers-Rowles)

After a brief intermission, the audience returns to the main living room and the time is now 10 years later.

Lots more action in Act 2, as the family status and fortune is in ruins. The wife of Senator Winston, Cora (played with great sympathy and humor by Amy Tolsky) has a touching scene with Mrs. McAlister. She is not unaware of her husband’s slimy motives.

I really can't reveal the highlight of Act 2, but the shocking events only go to drive home the lesson that having money and status really does not bring one happiness in life.

The play is written by Kathrine Bates and directed by Martin Thompson, You don’t want to miss this limited run and won't soon forget your visit to Greystone and “The Manor”

Crew:

 Sound design: Bill Froggatt

Stage manager: Craig Hissong
 
Cast:
John Combs as Frank Parsons
Darby Hinton as Charles MacAlister
Gail Johnson as Ellie the maid
Eric Keitel as Gregory Pugh
Daniel Leslie as Senator Alfred Winston
Peter Mastine as Sean MacAlister
Carol Potter as Marion MacAlister
Katyana Rocker-Cook as Ursula the housekeeper
Nathalie Rudolph as Abby MacAlister
David Hunt Stafford as James the valet
Amy Tolsky as Cora Winston
Kristin Towers-Rowles as Henrietta Pugh

 

 

The Manor 
Written byKathrine Bates. 
Directed by Martin Thompson. 
Original production directed by Beverly Olevin. 
Produced for Theatre 40 by David Hunt Stafford.
 Greystone Mansion, in Greystone Park, 
905 Loma Vista Drive (above Sunset Blvd.), Beverly Hills, CA 90210. 
Free parking onsite.
January 18- February 3, 2024.
Thursday and Friday Evenings at 6:00 p.m. on January 18, 19, 25, 26, February 2.
Saturday and Sunday Matinee at 1:00 p.m. on January 27 and 28. Other performances are sold out.
ADMISSION: $75.
RESERVATIONS: (310) 364-3606. No one will be admitted without advance reservation. Please reserve early, as many performances will sell out.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.theatre40.org 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

MERCURY AT THE ROAD ON MAGNOLIA

The Road on Magnolia presents another take on death and homosexuality and 'what if' in Steve Yockey's 2015 play "Mercury". It's a West Coast premiere.Whatever prodded Yockey to this edge of the Universe, the cutting dialogue and the absolute ensemble works.  If Alfred Hitchcock Presents meets Rod Serling meets One Step Beyond in any iteration, you have an inkling of where this adventure will take you.

A clever revolving set brings us to a series of vignettes that devolve deliberately into questions that emerge.  What if?? What if people behaving badly had eternal penalties?

Google's take on "Mercury in Retrograde" a term I've sort of understood for years, says, 


(0.27 seconds) 
"Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion which means it looks as if the planet is moving backward from our view here on earth. Astrologers believe that during this perceived backward motion, technology and communication could get disrupted, putting a damper on anyone's summer mood. "

 Yockey's play and communication regarding how I got to see the show all reflects this astrological phenomenon. 

Meeghan Holaway and Danny Lee Gomez star in the Road Theatre Company’s West Coast Premiere production of “MERCURY” by Steve Yockey, directed by Ann Hearn Tobolowsky and now playing at the Road Theatre in North Hollywood.  
 

"While the 'official' end date is 1 January, (2024) there's a shadow phase that continues through to 20 January (2024) as Mercury returns to where it started this whole retrograde shenanigans, in the sign of Capricorn."

For The Road to tackle this loopy approach to 'what if' is a brave undertaking indeed.  We are all in the business of communication and frankly, this one is a mystery. The mystery of life.  AND DEATH.

Shows I've seen over the past several months as we emerge from death and pandemic, have turned on homosexuality, race and death.  All the folks in "Mercury" are basically white bread, so any racial theme is missing, though the gay aspect rears its head.  And, some folks die! Sort of.

As Pamela (Meeghan Holaway) and Heather (Andrea Flowers) open the play, for some reason the feeling of Leave it to Beaver meets Johnny Walker fueling the banter comes to mind. What Heather and Pamela have been up to is not all that unusual ..but in Oregon?  A next door neighbor tryst?  Heather's dog, Mr. Cuddles, has gone missing. Sadly..

The play revolves and evolves in episodes that at first seem unlikely to meld. Please stand by   It ain't pretty, but, the energy and the 'what's to come' are loaded.. literally.. for Bear!

Nick, played by Justin Lawrence Barnes whose mother is ailing and in the hospital goes off to work.  Boyfriend, Brian (Danny Lee Gomez) has has moved in with Nick.  Casting, to me might have the boys switch parts.  Downstairs busybody neighbor Olive (Christina Carlisi) has the hots for Nick and plots to have him for herself in spite of an age difference and that Nick is gay. 

Factor in bad blood (lots of blood!) and jealousy and vengeance and this romp takes us down a rabbit hole that smacks of an illustrated novel and then some.

Occult 'shop' owner, Alicia (Gloria Ines) sells magical products to 'fix' problems presented by her clientele.    Sam! (Billy Baker) barks on the intercom from..? Where?  It's an interesting very long term relationship!  You can get anything you want at Alicia's occult shop. The lethal stuff she sells comes with a warning!

There's a trip to the Netherworld and  back? For someone? and Karma and ..did I mention the blood? 

Director Anne Hearn Toblosky has her hands full of what some might call "Grand Guignol". It is truly an offal situation.. There are props and physical action bringing this to high drama, no fooling around.  Every Theatrical  succeeds or fails on how the director interprets the text and guides the cast to find the nuances and the blow ups.  Toblosky nails it as the opportunities for over the top  presentation are reigned in.  Dramatic effect enhanced by Katrina Coulourides 's beautiful revolving stage and well apppinted sets, along with spot on Tech and an impressive sort of planet projection upstage, bring this odd ball play along beautifully.  Hints along the way. Murder most foul. Sex and the strange netherworld couple all congeal with Alicia and Sam facilitating a reconciliation and a kicking and screaming addition to their bizarre collection.  All of this in Oregon where there may be bears!  I had a thought as I left the theatre.  If this show continues to sell out, having the actors swap parts might be a stretch, but what an acting exercise.  


 CAST:

Meeghan Holaway “Pamela” 

Andrea Flowers  “Heather” 

Justin Lawrence Barnes  “Nick” 

Danny Lee Gomez  “Brian” 

Billy Baker  “Sam” 

Gloria Ines  “Alicia” 

Christina Carlisi “Olive”

CREW:

Scenic Design  Katrina Coulourides 

 Lighting Design  Derrick McDaniel

 Sound Design  David B. Marling

 Projection Design Ben Rock

Costume Design  Jenna Bergstraesser

Production Stage Manager  Maurie Gonzalez. MERCURY is produced by 

Taylor Gilbert & Danna Hyams.


MERCURY BY STEVE YOCKEY

DIRECTED BYAnn Hearn Tobolowsky

MERCURY will preview on Tuesday, January 9; Wednesday, January 10 & Thursday, January 11 at 8pm; will open on Friday, January 12 at 8pm and run through Sunday, February 18 at the Road Theatre, located in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood.

 

Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm.

 

Ticket prices are $39; Students and Seniors are $15.00; Previews are $15.00.  Sunday Performances are Pay-What-You-Can.  Special group rates available for parties of 8 or more.  For tickets, please call 818-761-8838; visit www.RoadTheatre.org or https://ci.ovationtix.com/35065/production/1177882?performanceId=11373078 to purchase tickets online or to view complete schedule. 


Saturday, January 13, 2024

IT'S ONLY A SHOW ! PAUL LINKE AT THE RUSKIN

 

 

(Click on the photo and you will find Paul!) 

Every monologue that Paul Linke has presented has been pithy and personal.  "It's Only A Show!"  is no exception. 

Full disclosure.. I've known this guy for a long time.  I'm a fan.  He's present and accounted for.    

Last Saturday, I was up in Barnsdall Park in Hollywood.  I stood where an audience sat on the lawn, peeling free oranges, to enjoy local talent. Paul and a group of artists had developed the Garden Theatre Festival in a friend's back yard.  Paul was the emcee. Somehow they got the City of LA to bring the Festival to Barnsdall.  It's Theatre History! 

I had an adventure there with an exploding prop!

Linke is a natural. It's that quality that makes his monologues special.  That Paul was pals with Charles Nelson Reilley brings him to the stage again. Today is Charles's birthday! January 13th!  At once it IS a show!! .. but there's something special going on with the pictures that Paul paints with words and those moments when the pace pauses and the images come to life in the audience's imagination.

Most folks recall Charles as a charming panelist the TV game show, Match Game.. He presented sort of a laid back Paul Lynde?  Charles was also a respected director, working with Burt Reynolds on Burt's show "Evening Shade."..  Linke extols the life and times of ths legendary guy in such a way that we can see Charles's early beginnings in New York and how the 'bug' blossomed.

Linke brings Charles back to life with great good humor and a warmth that I'm sure Charles would approve of and  enjoy. Of course, they wrote the show together!

Once Paul steps on stage.. He owns it .. We are all  transported.  Anecdotes and the story of a long friendship unfolds.  From time to time the rhythms change which proabably lands on the shoulders of director Edward Edwards. 

A warm moment at the close from Emily Dickenson that prays for doing no harm and making a difference in the lives of others.. Interestingly, this echoes the admoniton of David Dean Bottrell's show I reviewed on Wednesday.  

Be alive. 

Be grateful. 

Acknowledge the folks whom you love.  

To that I shared a special moment  with Paul after the show to remember 'the little guy' Dennis Rhoton. A good friend who was there for me.

Ed Salas created  the Lighting & Sound Design

Nicole Millar is the stage manager and prize wrangler.

“It’s Only a Show!”
Created and Performed by Paul Linke
Written by 
Charles Nelson Reilly and 
Paul Linke
Directed by Edward Edwards
Opening at 5pm Saturday, January 13. 2024 
Additional Performances 
5pm Jan 20, 27, and Feb 2, 2024
Ruskin Group Theatre 
3000 Airport Avenue, 
Santa Monica, CA 90405

For reservations

 http://www.ruskingrouptheatre.com 

 (310) 397-3244