Monday, June 13, 2011

Mysterious Bakersfield Mist

Bakersfield Mist, written and directed by Stephen Sachs is a brilliant new play having its world premiere at The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. It echoes the real life story of Teri Horton, a retired truck driver, who, in 1990, found a very large canvas in a thrift store in San Bernardino. The dumpster diving lady invested five bucks and her quest began. Over the years, she has been offered, ostensibly, nine million dollars for the painting. To date, she has refused to sell, citing the desire to properly vet the canvas to the abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock. “Bakersfield Mist” references Pollock's 1950 painting “Lavender Mist” currently in the National Gallery of Art.

Jenny O’Hara as Maude Gutman limns the tougher than nails, hard drinking and smoking former bar tender who buys a painting at a local thrift store bargaining the price from five to three bucks. O’Hara’s portrayal slowly builds but is hampered slightly because the script calls for Maude to smoke. The nasty habit is one that the actor probably does not have and it shows. Certainly, Maude could be tough and hard drinking without faking the smoking. It’s a nit pick in an otherwise beautifully evolving portrayal. As with Horton’s story, Maude greets the prim and proper Art Evaluator, Lionel Percy (finely tuned Nick Ullett). former director of the Museum of Modern Art (it’s in New York, you know) who arrives in a limo to see Maude's spattered canvas. It looks as though the business will take only a few minutes. Indeed, in a ‘blink’ Percy finds Maude’s painting to be anything but authentic. And, then the tussle begins. Maude insists that it must be real: a genuine Pollock. Percy insists that it is not. But, Maude’s desperate search for Truth evokes questions that lead to doubts that lead to an examination of personal taste and the true nature of Art.

Ullett stops the show as he channels Pollock, envisioning the artist as he creates a canvas: laid out on the floor, engaging it passionately. O’Hara’s potty mouth erupts naturally and uncontrollably throughout. Later we see past her crusty shell as she reveals the hardships she has faced, exposing a thoughtful inner woman.

Set designer Jeff McLaughlin’s single wide trailer bristles beautifully with tchotchkes and clutter, setting the scene for the dance that Maude and Percy tumble into. The whole question of what art really is… how it can move the Spirit of Man and capture the soul… unfolds in ways that thoughtfully enlighten. Visions of Yasmina Reza’s award winning play, “ART,” are brought to mind as the discussion of the painting deepens. It’s a pas de deux exploring the question of who really knows best and what, exactly, is ‘good taste’ as the play digs deeper into the characters’ psyches. Sachs directs with a steady hand and the actors bring not only strong comedic touches to the story, but moments of tension, angst and drama.

Ken Booth’s lighting works well except for one odd flare from off stage right. It may have been meant to be the setting sun. Or, it may have simply been a misdirected instrument which drew attention to itself by glaring in the faces of the actors. As the show progressed I thought the light might fade. Eventually, it does, but not quickly enough for that one lone spot. Technical glitches are forgivable, but should never be so obvious as to distract from the play itself.

After watching the Tonys on television tonight, I realize anew that it is only in the living theatre where an audience is directly involved with a once in a lifetime art filled experience. Every performance is unique. These professional actors mount the stage to create their own distinctive form of art. In the moment, O’Hara and Ullett, bring this quirky story beautifully to life. This is the Real McCoy. The Art of Theatre, when presented with such care, as this show is, is undeniable.

Written and directed by Stephen Sachs
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)
Tickets and information
323 663 1525
www .FountainTheatre dot com
Thursdays through Sundays
Closes July 31, 2011
$30 top (discounts for seniors and students)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Importance of The Importance

See below for information regarding screenings of this play just about anywhere in the Universe. Good show!

Produced by Julie and Robert Borchard-Young for BY Experience, Susan A. Loewenberg for LA Theatre Works and Harold Wolpert for the Roundabout Theatre Company, The Importance of Being Earnest ... Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners, shines beautifully after over a hundred years. The words are brought to life by a finely tuned cast with Brian Bedford at the helm as well as playing the completely genuine Oh So Upper Class Lady Bracknell.

As an ensemble, the excellent cast performs without flaw and should have been mentioned initially:
Jayne Houdyshell (Miss Prism)
Brian Murray (Rev. Canon Chasuble)
Jessie Austrian (Gwendolen Fairfax)
David Furr (John Worthing)
Paul O'Brien (Lane)
Charlotte Parry (Cecily Cardew)
Tim MacDonald (Merriman)
Amanda Leigh Cobb (Servant)

Desmond Heeley (Set & Costume Design)

All tech credits are professional. Seeing the play in high definition, certainly, is not 'being there' but the experience is very impressive. David Hyde Pierce hosts an interview with Bedford that may have played better after the show itself. Ditto for a glimpse of the actor's transformation to Bracknell at the intermission. I prefer the illusion first and then the insights. It was a little like a magician showing the audience how she does the trick and then performing it. Too broad an analogy, but you get the idea.

Regardless, please find your way to the UCLA James Bridges Theatre (see below) or to other venues listed below for the ongoing HD performances. The play simply works. Bedford's broad strokes resound like listening to a favorite tune that one is happy to hear again and again. The sparkling wit of Wilde as he explores the issues of Class and Love in Victorian England is as fresh as it must have been in 1895.

Kudos to All Concerned for this bright idea to bring the Broadway stage to the country, indeed the whole world. Sitting in a theatre with a full audience, sharing the show with the New York audience is almost like being there. Video direction by David Stern is unobtrusive and though Bedford's staging has actors pictured at wide angles from time to time, closeups provide subtle insights that we would never see from the balcony.

The opening night audience at UCLA thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did I.

See the trailer at

Normally, I'll keep my reviews relatively succinct. At the request of the Roundabout Theatre Company the information for the entire series of these special HD Events is listed below. Feel free to copy and paste to friends, relatives and colleagues across the country, in foreign lands where the electricity may still be working and anywhere in the Universe they may roam.


Roundabout Theatre Company, L.A. Theatre Works and BY Experience
Announce dates & venues for international high-definition screenings
Roundabout Theatre Company’s acclaimed Broadway production of
Oscar Wilde’s comedy
Directed by and starring Brian Bedford

Global screenings begin on June 2, 2011
Hosted by David Hyde Pierce!

To view the HD trailer visit:

Roundabout Theatre Company, L.A. Theatre Works and BY Experience are thrilled to announce dates and venues for the upcoming screening of Roundabout’s critically acclaimed Broadway production of Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD will screen across the U.S. and internationally on Thursday, June 2, 2011 and varying dates through June 28. Digitally equipped movie theaters and performing arts centers throughout the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, and throughout Europe have signed on to host special screenings.

This high-definition event brings the best of Broadway to movie audiences, and includes the added bonus of host David Hyde Pierce taking viewers backstage for special behind-the-scenes peek! Mr. Hyde Pierce says: “This delightful production of Earnest shouldn't be missed, and for the people who can't see it on Broadway, Broadway is coming to them.”

Oscar Wilde expert Michael Hackett and actor Alfred Molina will discuss the writer and the man in an intermission special.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD was captured live in high-definition from Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre (227 West 42nd St.) and features the original cast of this new Broadway production.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a glorious comedy of mistaken identity, which ridicules codes of propriety and etiquette. Dashing men-about-town John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff pursue fair ladies Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Matters are complicated by the imaginary characters invented by both men to cover their on-the-sly activities – not to mention the disapproval of Gwendolen’s mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell.

A full list of participating cinemas, exhibition dates and ticket prices is available at New venues will continue to be added.


The Loft Theater (Tuscon, AZ) – June 5
Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ) – June 12

Downtown Independent (Los Angeles, CA) – June 9
The Gaslamp (San Diego, CA) – June 22, 23
James Bridges Theater at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA) – June 2, 5, 23, 26
La Mirada Theatre (La Mirada, CA) – June 26
Lark Theater (Larkspur, CA) – June 6
Mann Theatre (Hollywood, CA) – June 2, 7
Rialto Cinema Cerrito (El Cerrito, CA) – June 2, 13
Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (Berkeley, CA) – June 2, 7
Rialto Cinemas Sixth Street Playhouse (Santa Rosa, CA) – June 7, 14
Sierra Cinemas (Grass Valley, CA) – June 8
Sundance Kabuki (San Francisco, CA) – June 12, 13

Colorado Mountain College (Breckenridge, CO) – June 2

Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (Old Saybrook, CT) – June 7
Quick Center for the Arts (Fairfield, CT) – June 4, 10

Douglass Theatre (Macon, GA) – June 5, 19


Kahala 8 Theater (Honolulu, HI) – June 16, 19

McKendree University (Lebanon, IL) – June 2
Music Box Theater (Chicago, IL) – June 9, 12

Notre Dame Browning Cinema (Notre Dame, IN) – June 28

The Grand Auditorium (Ellsworth, ME) – June TBC
The Lincoln Theater (Damariscotta, ME) – June 2
The Strand (Rockland, ME) – June 2, 5, 7

Avalon Theatre (Easton, MD) – June 2

Amherst Cinema (Amherst, MA) – June 2, 18, 21, 26
Cape Cinema (Dennis, MA) – June 2
Coolidge Corner (Boston, MA) – June 2
Julie Harris Stage (Wellfleet, MA) – June 4, 11, 18, 25
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (Great Barrington, MA) – June 9
Shalin Liu Performance Center (Rockport, MA) – June 5
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA) – June 18

Michigan Theater (Ann Arbor, MI) – June 2

Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) – June 6

Tivoli Cinemas (Kansas City, MO) – June 13, 19

Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center (Lincoln, NE) – June 9, 12

Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth (Hanover, NH) – June 24, 25
The Music Hall (Portsmouth, NH) – June 2

Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University (West Long Branch, NJ) – June 4

The Lensic (Santa Fe, NM) – June 2
Taos Community Auditorium (Taos, NM) – June 8, 17

Cinema Arts Center (Huntington, NY) – June 2
Cinema 123 (New York, NY) – June 2, 5
Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY) – June 22
John Drew Theater at Guild Hall (East Hampton, NY) – June 2
Kew Gardens Cinemas (Queens, NY) – June 2 two showings
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (New York, NY) – June 11
Spectrum 8 Theatres (Albany, NY) – June 2, 5, 12, 13
Staller Center, SUNY Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY) – June 2
Time & Space Limited (Hudson, NY) – June 2, 4, 11, 12

Hanesbrands Theatre (Winston-Salem, NC) – June TBC
Lumina Theater at UNCW (Wilmington, NC) – June 2
Sunrise Theater (Southern Pines, NC) – June 2 two showings

Cedar Lee Theatre (Cleveland Height, OH) – June 22, 26

Circle Cinema (Tulsa, OK) – June 9

Newport Performing Arts Center (Newport, OR) – June 24
Third Rail Rep at the World Trade Center Theater (Portland, OR) – June 2, 12

Allentown Symphony Hall (Allentown, PA) – June 2, 10
Ambler Theater (Ambler, PA) – June 2, 5, 12
Bryn Mawr Film Institute (Bryn Mawr, PA) – June 2, 5
County Theater (Doylestown, PA) – June 2, 5
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA) – June 2
Oaks Theater (Oakmont, PA) – June 2, 5

Jane Pickens Theater, Event Center (Newport, RI) – June 2


Paradiso Cinema (Memphis, TN) – June 12, 14

Angelika Film Center (Dallas, TX) – June 8, 9
Angelika Film Center (Plano, TX) – June 12, 14

Catamount Arts (St. Johnsbury, VT) - June 2, 4
Town Hall Theater/Opera Company (Middlebury, VT) – June 12

The Paramount Theater (Charlottesville, VA) – June 4 two showings


Shakespeare Theatre Company, Sidney Harman Hall (Washington, DC) – June 28

The Lincoln Theater (Mount Vernon, WA) – June 2, 12
Rose Theatre (Port Townsend, WA) – June 4, 11, 12, 18
SIFF Cinema (Seattle, WA) – June 2, 5

Sundance Cinemas (Madison, WI) – June 25, 27

The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD cast features the original company of this new Broadway production featuring Dana Ivey as “Miss Prism,” Paxton Whitehead as “Rev. Canon Chasuble,” Santino Fontana as “Algernon Moncrieff,” David Furr as “John Worthing,” Tim MacDonald as “Merriman,” Paul O’Brien as “Lane,” Charlotte Parry as “Cecily Cardew,” Sara Topham as “Gwendolen Fairfax” and Amanda Leigh Cobb as “Servant.” The design team includes Desmond Heeley (Sets & Costumes), Duane Schuler (Lights) and Drew Levy (Sound).

Elysa Gardner of USA Today says “Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway production of Wilde’s most famous play is delightful! Bedford proves a perfect fit for Earnest's juiciest character”. Charles Isherwood of the New York Times says: “The great actor Brian Bedford is brilliant in this funny and effervescent production. It’s one of the great performances of the season; to miss it would most definitely look like carelessness.” Scott Brown of NY Magazine says Earnest is “Funny as hell!” And Charles Spencer of the London Telegraph exclaims: “Brian Bedford’s production is the finest ‘Importance’ I have ever seen.”

The Importance of Being Earnest: Live in HD was filmed and is being distributed to movie theaters and performing arts centers globally by New York-based BY Experience.

Executive Producers for cinema are Julie Borchard-Young and Robert Borchard-Young for BY Experience, Susan A. Loewenberg for L.A. Theatre Works, and Harold Wolpert for Roundabout Theatre Company.

Lead funding for this project is provided by the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.

Due to demand, the critically acclaimed Broadway engagement of The Importance of Being Earnest was extended 17-weeks through Sunday, July 3rd, 2011. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival presented an acclaimed production of The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, in 2009.


Tickets are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212)719-1300, online at or at the American Airlines Box Office (227 West 42nd Street). Ticket prices range from $72.00-122.00.

To become a Roundabout subscriber visit or call Roundabout Ticket Services (212)719-1300.


The Importance of Being Earnest plays Tuesday evenings at 7:00PM, Wednesday through Saturday evening at 8:00PM with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00PM.


Roundabout Theatre Companyis a not-for-profit theatre dedicated to providing a nurturing artistic home for theatre artists at all stages of their careers where the widest possible audience can experience their work at affordable prices. Roundabout fulfills its mission each season through the revival of classic plays and musicals; development and production of new works by established playwrights and emerging writers; educational initiatives that enrich the lives of children and adults; and a subscription model and audience outreach programs that cultivate loyal audiences.

Roundabout Theatre Companycurrently produces at three permanent homes each of which is designed specifically to enhance the needs of the Roundabout's mission. Off-Broadway, the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, which houses the Laura Pels Theatre and Black Box Theatre, with its simple
sophisticated design is perfectly suited to showcasing new plays
. The grandeur of its Broadway home on 42nd Street, American Airlines Theatre, sets the ideal stage for the classics. Roundabout's Studio 54 provides an exciting and intimate Broadway venue for its musical and special event productions. Together these three distinctive venues serve to enhance the work on each of its stages.

American Airlines is the official airline of Roundabout Theatre Company. Roundabout productions are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties; and the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, LDC and the City of New York.

Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2010-2011 season features Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, starring and directed by Brian Bedford; Tennessee Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore starring Olympia Dukakis, directed by Michael Wilson; Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster & Joel Grey, directed & choreographed by Kathleen Marshall; David West Read’s The Dream of the Burning Boy, directed by Evan Cabnet; Dart, Stoller, Butler’s The People in the Picture, starring Donna Murphy, directed by Leonard Foglia; Stone, Meehan & Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday, directed by Doug Hughes.

Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2011-2012 will feature Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, directed by Graciela Daniele; Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet, directed by Peter DuBois; John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, directed by Sam Gold.


L.A. Theatre Works (LATW) has been recording award-winning audio versions of stage plays, musicals, and novels for nearly three decades. Founded in 1974, LATW, under the leadership of Producing Director, Susan Albert Loewenberg, is a non-profit theatre and media arts organization which marries innovative forms of technology with timeless and compelling stories. LATW's long-running weekly radio show, L.A. Theatre Works, is heard on NPR stations nationwide, and its unprecedented collection of over 400 recordings is available in thousands of libraries, via iTunes, Amazon, in bookstores and direct from Plays are recorded in front of live audiences (The Play's the Thing) with America's top actors as well as in the studio, and the company tours nationally with its radio-style productions. L.A. Theatre Works recordings are made available for secondary education (Alive & Aloud, for middle and high schools) and to under-served communities (Library Access), and now to higher education through its recently launched The Play's the Thing for Higher Education project, a digital database of plays indexed for use in scholarly research and college and university instruction.

Recent recordings include Lucy Prebble’s Enron, starring Steven Weber, Greg Germann & Amy Pietz, directed by Rosalind Ayres; Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth, starring Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hamilton and Missy Yager, directed by Mark Brokaw; Terry Johnson’s The Graduate, starring Kathleen Turner and Matthew Rhys, directed by John Rubinstein; Tartuffe starring Brian Bedford, directed by Rosalind Ayres; Arcadia starring Kate Burton, Peter Paige, Gregory Itzin, directed by John Rubinstein; Jon Robin Baitz’s The Paris Letter, starring Ron Rifkin, Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Radnor and Patricia Wettig, directed by Peter Levin; and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun, starring Judyann Elder, Corey Hawkins and Rutina Wesley, directed by Lou Bellamy.


BY Experience kicked off the digital revolution of live events to movie theaters and other locations globally with David Bowie’s 2003 Reality album launch and since then, nearly 10 million tickets have been sold worldwide for events BY Experience has distributed and/or produced. BY Experience introduced the live in cinema concept to the Metropolitan Opera, and from conception of the Live in HD series in 2006 to the present, has served as the Met’s Worldwide HD Distribution Representative. In 2009, BY Experience began working with the U.K.’s National Theatre as International (ex-UK) Distribution Representative for National Theatre Live, now in its second season. BY Experience teamed up with The New York Times on its speaker’s series, TimesTalks LIVE for select cinema events with authors John Irving and Steven King, and the creators of ABC’s hit series Lost (2009 - 2010). Additionally, BY Experience has produced, distributed, and executive produced several highly successful unique one off events for cinemas, including the public radio shows A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor (February and October 2010) and This American Life – Live! with Ira Glass (April 2008 and May 2009), several high profile concerts includingThe Big Four: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax (June 2010), BBC Electric Proms: Robbie Williams (October 2009), David Gilmour: Remember That Night — Live from the Royal Albert Hall (September 2007), and the classic music celebrations BBC Last Night of the Proms (September 2009 and September 2010). For more information, visit:

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