Monday, July 29, 2013


Risking criticism for gushing, I want to remind LA Theatre folks that this show is terrific.  This take on J.M. Barrie's familiar story is not Disney redux.  It's fresh and dark and worthy of an audience.


Peter Pan: The Boy Who Hated Mothers by Michael Lluberes

 NOW EXTENDED THRU Sunday August 18, 2013

Thursday / Friday / Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm

ADMISSION: $30             

Available online at

or by calling  (323) 661-9827. 

The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre  

6500 Santa Monica Boulevard

Sunday, July 21, 2013

El Grande es ExtendedO. Mui Bueno!

Extended AGAIN and 
Yet   A G A I N!!
 through December 14, 2013!

Los Angeles and Santa Monica Adjacent folks. Or Salt Lake City?  This is a hit.  Don't miss it! 

El Grande de Coca Cola unfolds as the story of Primo Emcee and entrepreneur Senor Don Pepe Hernandez (co-author Ron House) announces that his big time cabaret show will feature famous entertainers. Events take a left turn when the celebs don’t show up and Don Pepe presses family members into service to perform the show.  Written by House with Diz White, John Neville-Andrews and director/musical director Alan Shearman over forty years ago, House is now approaching a time when House may be age appropriate for the flamboyant role.  Having run for over two years in New York in the seventies and taking over the Whiskey A Go Go after that, the show remains a romp, a ballyhoo, a sleazy, crazy wonderfulness that must be seen.  Don’t miss it, even if you have to drive a ways to get to the Ruskin.  Do NOT follow Google maps to find the venue.  But, when you do find it, the parking is free.

Preshow antics by the blonde excellence of Lila Dupree  as Consuelo Hernandez, daughter of El Primo Emcee Don Pedro, gets the ball rolling.  For anyone who has wandered into a Juarez or Tijuana night club can tell you, the entertainment might land directly in your lap. 

Enter dos mas excellente hombres, Miguel Vasquez (multi-talented David Lago) and Jim Carey clone Aaron Jackson as Juan Rodriguez.  With Lago on piano and Jackson on drums, we are off on a whirlwind Technicolor adventure.  The truly talented ensemble is completed by  raven haired versatile Nina Brissey as Maria Hernandez.  Paul Denk appears briefly as Alfredo.

In a non-stop ninety minutes we are bombarded with not only the Spanish language exuberant patter of Don Pepe, but Los Gigolos from Italy and Hans, the German hip hop rap star complete with sexy bitches.  This tireless cast of five performs every act to the hilt with quick changes and accents and seldom is heard a true English word and yet it’s all clear as a bell.  The action never stops and it really doesn’t matter when some of the dialogue gets lost in major laughter through out.

Great theatre, to me, is about the melding of the audience with the play.  When the audience so loses itself that applause and appreciation become a part of the action, it becomes one big love fest.     El Grande de Coca Cola o’er steps the boundaries of nature (Guillame Shakespeare says something about that when Hamlet advises The Players, right?) and the excess results in mas y mas hilarity.  Mucho mas entertainmento.

What a pleasure.  Only attend if prepared to have a really good time.

El Grande de Coca Cola by
Ron House, Diz White, Alan Shearman and John Neville-Andrews
Directed by Alan Shearman
Ruskin Group Theatre
3000 Airport Road
Santa Monica, CA 90405
July 19 through September 28, 2013
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 2PM
Tickets $25 ($20 for Students, Seniors and Guild members)
310 327 3244 /


First produced at The Public Theater under the guidance of Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Last Days of Judas Escariot has heavy roots.    Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play is a mash up of Jesus Christ Superstar (sans musical numbers)
with The Devil and Daniel Webster.  A rag tag cast of sixteen in thrift store wardrobe assembles to create an imagined trial of notorious Judas Escariot (Robert Walters), the turncoat apostle who has been given a second chance.  Defense attorney, Fabiana Aziza Cunningham (passionate blonde Sarah Ruth Ryan) calls witnesses on Judas’s behalf while Robert Paterno as the prosecutor rants, sometimes unintelligibly, in questioning witnesses.  Director Josh T. Ryan may have had a handle on his actors in rehearsal, but it’s a mixed bag in performance.

The familiar story (to Christians, anyway) of Judas selling out the messiah for thirty pieces of silver is standard Sunday School text.  However, the story of Judas going back to Caiaphas, the leader of the Jews, in league with the Romans, to recant his betrayal and return the bounty was less familiar to me. Guirgis brings to light the notion that if Judas was truly sorry for his betrayal (he did hang himself, after all), that his condemnation to the depths of the Inferno may be undeserved.   In the first scene, impassioned Dee Smith as Mrs. Escariot (Judas had a mom!) presents the story of burying her son, bringing the miscreant more into human terms.

Overamped John Falchi as Judge Frank Littlefield shouts a lot over the proceedings. In life, evidently, Littlefield was a forty year old Confederate general who hanged himself at the end of the Civil War.  Just a sore loser.

Overlong and in some cases over acted or under acted, the history explored is extensive.  The religious and philosophical questions that are part and parcel of what really happened are examined at length, culminating in the ultimate scene with Jesus (charismatic Cooper Daniels) who has mostly been lurking around the stage in a Trayvon Martin hoodie,  being rejected by Judas even as Jesus offers his love.

Annie Terrazzo’s spectacular backdrop of collage panels seem to have little to do with the story, but add a certain contemporary feeling to the proceedings that are filled with present day language that is sometimes difficult to take.

The Last Days of Judas Escariot  
by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Hudson BackStage
Hudson and Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood Theatre District
July 19 to August 24, 2013
Tickets and information
323 960 7738  /
$30 / $20 Students and Seniors

Sunday, July 14, 2013



Communication with the PR person for Daniel Henning's Blank Theatre Company Second Stage Theatre broke down and though I had not confirmed that I’d be reviewing Peter Pan on Friday, seats were set aside for me.  I failed to come to see the show.  This is a tiny theatre and every seat filled helps them to continue to do exciting work. 

As I said previously (twice), this is a theatre piece not to be missed.  It’s the sort of play that one absorbs in both a physical and an emotional way.  There’s a new cast, I understand.  I don’t have their names, but as the casting for the first incarnation of the show was exquisite, I am sure that the new cast is as filled with energy and the magic  as the first one was.

The Second Stage is located on Theatre Row, which means that parking may be an  issue and local denizens might be ‘interesting’ to say the least, but once inside, the earthy atmosphere of the space draws one directly into the piece. 

The story is familiar to us all, thanks to many versions. J.M. Barrie’s book is, of course, a classic, as is Mary Martin’s familiar 1954 Broadway musical that blossomed into continuing revivals with Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby. 

I need to make a personal reference here.  A dear friend, Linda Dangcil, played Tiger Lily in the ’54 version on Broadway and has gone to the big curtain call in the sky.   
She was great talent and a dear friend.

But!!  The title of this show, though off putting, seems a bit harsh and at bottom not really true. The big switcheroo is that Mr. Darling is out of the picture all together, leaving Mrs. Darling as the head of household and as is traditional in the aforementioned live action versions and the book.  SHE becomes the notorious Captain Hook.  With doubling and tripling, the cast of seven actors sweeps the audience into the mix viscerally, artistically and emotionally.  I hope you believe in fairies!

Peter Pan continues at The Blank Theatre's The Second Stage.  Support innovative theatre and get a party together to engage this show. 

Michael Sheehan

Peter Pan: The Boy Who Hated Mothers by Michael Lluberes

 NOW EXTENDED THRU Sunday July 28, 2013

Thursday / Friday / Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm

ADMISSION: $30             

Available online at

or by calling  (323) 661-9827. 

The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre  

6500 Santa Monica Boulevard

(at Wilcox), in Hollywood  
Arrive early for parking.  
The little Cafe at the Hudson is expensive, but really nice.