Monday, March 30, 2015


With the simmering of theatre issues in Los Angeles coming to a boil, Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake continues to set a standard for what can happen when producing a variety of plays with professional actors and staff.  Providing parking for subscribers and a friendly and efficient crew makes attending shows here a pleasure.  CLASS by Charles Evered is set in a small acting studio somewhere in New York City.   Francois-Pierre Couture’s classy set reflects a bit of what Brecht wanted to do with his plays:   we see not only the suggestion of Elliot’s acting studio, but the bare walls of the stage where costume and attitude changes take place.  It works in some ways and in some ways is distracting.
Gildart Jackson and Callie Schuttera in Class at the Falcon Theatre.
Photo by Jill Mamey.

Elliot (Gildart Jackson), breaking the fourth wall,  assaults the audience that now becomes his acting class of wannabe artists who have come to study the ‘craft’ of acting with him.  He’s animated and blustering: by his own definition a “ne’er do well, pretentious acting instructor.”   There are no holds barred as he reminds us that none of us will actually ‘make it.’  His is a discouraging word that shall never be heard nor deter the spirit of the dedicated actor.   Elliot’s ego blossoms with charisma that we later learn is bolstered by his former acting career where his work is remembered as “brilliant.”  Now, in this spare space where the coffee pot is replenished often, actors attend to be better actors.  Into his sanctuary bounces Sarah (talented Callie Schuttera, a ringer for Mary Hartman cutie DebraLee Scott), who immediately locks horns with Elliot.   We soon learn that she is not a newcomer to the world of acting, but knows that there’s more to learn: more to experience: more to live to be a convincing actor.  We are privy to the thrust and parry of two strong personalities whose synergy moves along to create a respect and friendship that seemed impossible at the beginning.  Playing an actress who is not a very good actress is a skill that Schuttera mostly captures.  Jackson’s Elliot has an arc that has its peaks and valleys, shocking us with anger and then cajoling us with compassion.

Director Dimitri Toscas’ decision to have the characters retire to off stage while still in view of the audience  to indicate a passage of time slows the production down, with Elliot’s changes completely unnecessary and the adjustments for Sarah, though charming and indicative of her true station in life, should have been done in a more efficient way.  However, the story moves apace and the acting is convincing with the dialogue at once humorous and touching.  I would have preferred a magical moment in the last scene instead of the Toscas’ decision to indicate the very moving conclusion of the story again with Brecht in mind.

As always, additional fine tech credits for The Falcon:  Terri A. Lewis’s costumes, Nick McCord’s lights, Robert Arturo Ramierez for sound: all well done.  A special Thank You to Box Office Manager, Gordon Vandenberg for special seating accommodations.

CLASS by Charles Evered
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA  91505
Wednesdays through Sundays
Closes April 19, 2015
Tickets and information:
818 955 8101

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Open Letter to Los Angleles Actors VOTE NO ON THE AEA REFERENDUM!

This letter appears in tomorrow's LA Times addressed to members of the AEA with the hope that in the coming referendum that members will Vote NO and encourage the union to sit down with local actors and producers (who are often the same people) and work out an Equitable and Reasonable solution to keeping intimate theatre alive and creating exciting theatre in Los Angeles.  This forum, onstagelosangeles,  is dedicated to reviewing local 99 Seat Theatre productions, thus this reprint of the March 25th letter and the list of names of local artists who paid for this full page ad.  Los Angeles Actors! UNITE!!  Tell your union that the current 99 Seat Plan is vital! And,  reasonable change must be considered.   

Michael Sheehan /  onstagelosangeles supports Pro99 

Actors’ Equity Association members opposing union’s plan to eliminate 99-Seat Theater Plan in L.A. take out full-page ad in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES (March 24, 2015) — Impassioned members of Actors’ Equity Association in Los Angeles have raised funds from within their own ranks to follow up yesterday’s North Hollywood rally with a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times to urge a “No” vote on the upcoming AEA advisory referendum to eliminate L.A.’s 99-Seat Theater Plan.

The “Open Letter to the Los Angeles Theater Community” has been signed by over 600 AEA members and theater artists, including Brooke Adams, Patrick J. Adams, Jason Alexander, Ed Asner, Barbara Bain, Alec Baldwin, Orson Bean, Alan Blumenfeld, Dennis Christopher, Blythe Danner, Patrick Duffy, Daisy Eagan, Frances Fisher, Harry Groener, Arye Gross, Annabelle Gurwich, Philip Baker Hall, Valerie Harper, Ed Harris, Gregory Harrison, Roxanne Hart, Simon Helberg, Gregg Henry, Gregory Itzin, Jeffrey Jones, Jane Kaczmarek, Sally Kirkland, Martin Landau, Jack Laufer, Dan Lauria, Sharon Lawrence, Amy Madigan, Alan Mandell, Joe Mantegna, Dakin Matthews, Dylan McDermott, Laurie Metcalf, Allan Miller, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Nordling, Jenny O’Hara, Nick Offerman, Tim Omundson, Al Pacino, Robert Patrick, Lisa Pelikan, Austin Pendleton, Christina Pickles, Amy Pietz, Philip Proctor, Linda Purl, Jeff Perry, Annie Potts, Molly Quinn, John C. Reilly, Jason Ritter, John Rubinstein, Eva Marie Saint, Raphael Sbarge, David Selby, Tony Shalhoub, Jeremy Sisto, Kurtwood Smith, Joe Spano, French Stewart, Susan Sullivan, Stephen Tobolowsky, Kirsten Vangsness, Steven Weber and Vanessa Williams – to name a few.

The text of the ad is as follows:

“An Open Letter to the Los Angeles Theater Community:

dear theater professionals and theater lovers:
The survival of our extraordinary and unique intimate theater scene is in danger. Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States, has issued a proposal that will radically alter / even eliminate its agreement with small theaters (venues of 99 seats or less). We, the undersigned AEA actors and theater artists, believe AEA’s proposal is unsustainable both artistically and financially. It will potentially cause the demise of some of L.A.’s most acclaimed theater companies, while severely curtailing opportunities for AEA actors to do the kind of work that is seldom, if ever, available to us in the commercial market.

why it matters:
L.A.’s diverse network of over 250 intimate theaters is matchless. From here, our great city incubates world-class theater. Actors launch important careers and plays move to larger venues. It’s where ensemble companies proliferate, where classics with large casts are regularly mounted, where risky new plays get their start. We create jobs, boost local revenue and generate scores of educational outreach programs to light the flame of appreciation in the hearts and minds of the next generation. And we do it all for an average ticket price of about $25.

we want change. just not this change.
We want to amend the current 99-Seat Plan rather than eliminate it. We have asked our union for a proposal that would base actor compensation on a theater’s budget, production revenue or other common-sense metrics. The union replied with a one-size-fits-all plan that we believe is so punitive as to likely devastate the vast majority of L.A.’s under-resourced small theaters. Many would have to double or even triple their budgets, forcing them either to stop casting union members or to fold entirely. We want to keep in place the valuable safeguards built into the current plan that protect actors. We want to increase actor compensation by establishing a system that promotes sustainable growth, without annihilating everything we’ve worked so long and hard to build.

we urge AEA members to vote NO!

Tony award winning actress Blythe Danner says:
'99 seat theaters provided the lifeblood for many of us when we began in this business and are still not only relevant but crucial to the artistic life of our city and country. And besides the opportunity to stretch and grow as actors, seeds are often sown in these theaters for plays that go on to become important commercial works of art. In a city where there are so many talented actors who when not doing tv or film hone their skills and find artistic refuge in such theaters … it would be tragic to lose them.'

To learn the facts, and see how you can help, go to:

The rally on Monday afternoon, which included a one-mile march up Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District to the offices of Actors’ Equity Association, drew over 300 participants.

For more information, visit

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 23, 2015 to Save 99 Seat Theatre!!

As the time for the AEA Referendum draws closer, I believe that educating the Los Angeles Audience and 99 Seat  (and smaller) Theater Supporters is extremely important.  Please pass the word along about the march on March 23rd.  The metro stops at Chandler and Lankershim with a ten minute walk to the beginning of the march. Or.. just join it as it progresses up Lankershim.   

Attention: Assignment Editors

AEA actors set to picket own union over
proposal to end 99-Seat Theater Plan in L.A.

Frances Fisher, French Stewart, Kirsten Vangsness join with
fellow AEA members to march and
speak on Monday, March 23
with support from
Jason Alexander, Alfred Molina, John Rubinstein
Frances Fisher, French Stewart and Kirsten Vangsness will join a protest march by members of Actors’ Equity Association against a proposal recently announced by their union to end the 99-Seat Theater Plan in Los Angeles. A group of over 200 actors will march the one-mile route, starting at the intersection of Lankershim, Vineland and Camarillo in the NoHo Arts District and ending in front of the AEA offices on Tujunga near Burbank Blvd. Actors unable to appear who have sent statements of support to be read aloud at the rally include Jason Alexander, Alfred Molina and John Rubinstein. Other actors who have voiced support include Tony Abatemarco, Patrick J. Adams, Sam Anderson, Ed Asner, Barbara Bain, Orson Bean, Bill Brochtrup, Dennis Christopher, Blythe Danner, Harry Groener, Arye Gross, Valerie Harper, Ed Harris, Gregory Harrison, Roxanne Hart, Simon Helberg, Gregg Henry, Gregory Itzin, Jane Kaczmarek, Martin Landau, Jack Laufer, Dan Lauria, Sharon Lawrence, Amy Madigan, Alan Mandell, Joe Mantegna, Dylan McDermott, Allan Miller, Helen Mirren, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Tim Omundson, Austin Pendleton, Linda Purl, Jeff Perry, Annie Potts, John C. Reilly, Jason Ritter, Tim Robbins, Eva Marie Saint, Tony Shalhoub, Stephen Tobolowsky, Steven Weber and Vanessa Williams.
Monday, March 23 from 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.:
3:00 p.m.. — Protest march from Lankershim/Vineland/Camarillo (4878 Lankershim Blvd.) to AEA office building at 5636 Tujunga Ave, near Burbank Blvd. (one mile)
3:30 p.m. — Speeches by Frances Fisher, French Stewart, Kirsten Vangsness and others
4:30 p.m. — Picketing


Sunday, March 15, 2015

TREVOR by Nick Jones / Circle X at the Atwater

Smash .. Brilliant..  Funny.. Provocative..  Better than Broadway because..  Nick Jones’ west coast premier of his play is better than Broadway or The Taper or The Geffen.. (well, maybe The Geffen might try this).. and certainly better than any giant house you may have sat in the nosebleed section to see a show at because it is presented in an INTIMATE 99 Seat Theatre in Los Angeles.  Atwater, to be specific. 

We attend the theatre for many reasons, don’t we?  It’s the hallowed ground where one may experience romance, comedy, tragedy, drama, music.  We go to be entertained and educated; charmed and wooed.  In Los Angeles, we have had, for more than forty years, dozens of small theatres created by kids out of college as well as movie stars and hundreds of Theatre Majors in between who have a deep love of and infectious desire to create Art under what is known as the 99 Seat Plan.  In a nutshell, the Plan allows creative theatre people to come together in storefronts, warehouses, living rooms and industrial spaces to follow in the footsteps of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland with some lights and a stage and a dream.  I believe that Arthur’s Barn in Garden Grove was, at one time a space for plays, as well.  This is all to say that Theatre by the seat of  its pants can only exist where there is freedom to do so. Currently, the Actors Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, provides special dispensation for these tiny spaces where new theatre can be produced without a major financial investment.  The Atwater Village Theatre, currently housing Circle X and The Echo Theatre Companies was founded by a woman who so loved the idea of putting on a show that she gathered together friends and with much of her own money literally built three spaces for the Theatre Arts. 

I interrupt my rave of TREVOR in the hope that audiences who may read these reviews, along with the actors and others who create in this popular medium in Los Angeles will stay awake to the burgeoning evil that is advancing on The 99 Seat Plan, perpetrated by the very union that is supposed to be helping actors!
Laurie Metcalf, Jimmi Simpson and Malcolm Barrett 
PHOTO CREDIT:  Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging for Circle X Theatre Co

So impressive is Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s realistic set that one is immediately swept into a somewhat disheveled middle class home belonging to Sandra Morris (Amazingly superb Laurie Metcalf).  Her husband has died.  The two of them some years ago bought a baby chimpanzee whom they named Trevor from someone out of the back of a truck in a Walmart parking lot. They have raised him like their own son.  Trevor (May I use the term ‘amazing’ again to describe Jimmi Simpson!?) is older now.  He’s had some success as an actor.  His dad has passed away and now Sandra is his mother/keeper who speaks to him in sign language.  He understands little English, but speaks clearly narrating his view of the world.  Jones has created a world with an animal who behaves a bit like Ed Grimley, I must say.  Simpson’s physicality completely draws us into Trevor’s world. We find ourselves on a TV sound stage with his leading lady, Morgan Fairchild (Well fluffed and sexy Brenda Strong).  His ‘work’ is perfect and one take is all that is necessary. He dreams of doing a show again with Morgan: His love. His desire.  His obsession.

Director Stella Powell-Jones sweeps the stage with great physicality not only in Simpson’s character, but the entire cast.  She uses the wide stage well. 

At rise, Trevor rushes in the front door, having crashed Sandra’s car on the neighbor’s lawn!  Sandra brushes this off as not such a big deal, but her neighbor, Ashley, a new mother who is very concerned (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) sees trouble on the horizon.  Story is expanded with visions of another successful chimp, Oliver (Bob Clendenin in his introductory appearance: White tails and cane!).   Oliver chats Show Biz with Trevor as the inevitable attempts at resolution with family friend and local constabulary, Jim (Jim Ortlieb) bubbles up.  Malcolm Barrett rounds out the cast doubling as the PA for the TV shoot and as the overly excitable Animal Control Officer.

Jones’ script is tight and well played.  There are strong laughs and dangerous dangers, all whirling about Simpson’s fine turn as the chimpanzee.  Like “Sylvia” played by the world’s cutest actress, Simpson embodies his Trevor with intelligence and grace.  His is not a caricature of an ape.  The performance is, at once touching and believable, which is saying something.  This is a play that should not be missed. And, it must be mentioned that it is virtually BECAUSE of the 99 Seat Plan that Circle X Theatre Company is able to put the show up.  If Actors Equity is successful in its plan to gut this boon to actors and small theatres in Los Angeles, the expense and red tape that would lumber Circle X might easily force them to abandon this type of wonderful work. 

By Nick Jones
Circle X Theatre Company
At The Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Thursday thru Saturday at 8PM
Sundays at 2PM
Through April 19, 2015
Tickets and information:

Friday, March 13, 2015

HENRY IV Part One Antaeus Top Notch

Antaeus Theatre Company is responsible for some of the best theatre productions in Los Angeles.  Not the best in small theatres, but the best in town and right up there with the so called 'professional' houses in the country.  This company is brave and with the influx of trained and enthusiastic actors, directors and technicians, the approach each project with a can do attitude that cannot be stifled.   I preface this review with the "I heart 99" graphic to emphasize that this company is in danger ..  The Actors Equity Association is in the process of attempting to gut the hearts of small theatre in Los Angeles with requirements that will be impossible for theatres like Antaeus to survive.  Suffice it to say, that I encourage audience members and subscribers to Antaeus to call the AEA Offices to see if you can get a straight answer regarding why this issue is being brought to a referendum when word has it that the gutting has already begun. 

They will tell you that professional actors must be paid!  They want 'minimum wage' to come to their members in these small theatres where funding is already stretched to the limit and box office barely fills in for expenses like rent and utilities.  "Minimum wage" (currently $9.00 an hour) doesn't sound like much.  However, when you factor in all of the peripheral fees and taxes and insurance and such that are tacked on.. it makes it difficult to meet expenses.  As it stands now, actors are paid a small stipend, but still support the theatre with dues that help.  The play's the thing. Ask any member of this cast (The Rogues!) if they do it for the money and you'll hear a resounding laugh.  The love of theatre and this company is what keeps it alive.  

This rant is about educating the audience because it will sound as though the union is not asking for all that much.  If fact, it's an attempt to kill small theatre in the guise of getting actors 'a living wage!'  Which, of course, will never happen in tiny venues like Antaeus.   It's about the love of the theatre.  The love of acting. The love of 'giving' a great performance.

Now.. about this play.  
Henry IV Part One by William Shakespeare

Directed by Michael Murray

Antaeus Theatre Company’s current presentation, Henry IV Part One is one of the Bard’s lesser known plays.  The Histories are not all that interesting to me, but this one features James Sutorius as King Henry, Romon de Ocampo as Hal,  Gregory Itzin well padded as Falstaff and Joe Holt as Hotspur, easily kicking the play into high gear. These players are The Rogues. (Antaeus double casts, so seeing the show twice can be a revealing experience.)     Indeed, with doubling of The Rogues, this cast of twelve creating over 25 characters brings the show to life brilliantly on Francois-Pierre Couture bare bones stage.  This may be the ultimate iteration of 99 Seat theatre productions in Los Angeles.  Having taken over the little store front from Deaf West several years ago, this band of professionals attacks the classics with gusto. 

Itzin’s Falstaff brings the show to life as we learn of the trials and tribulations of King Henry IV, balancing his disdain for his son, The Prince of Wales, Hal (later to become Henry V) cavorting with the rowdy Falstaff and his gang.  The threat of war is raging in the North with fiery Hotspur always angry and rejecting Henry's attempts at Peace. 

The fine professional cast, especially the vivacious and at once dowdy Desirèe Mee Jung as Lady Percy and "a carrier,"  bring this Shakespeare to life. 

Henry IV Part One

By William Shakespeare

Antaeus Theatre

5112 Lankershim Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 91601

Thursdays through Sundays

Closes May 3, 2015

Tickets and Information:

818 506 1983


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ventura’s “Little Theatre That Could” Scores an Encore of Lemmon-Aid

Jack Lemmon Returns @ The Rubicon Theatre
Reviewed 11 March, 2015 by Robert Roll

If you didn’t love Jack Lemmon before, scope this out.  In its first full season, the fledgling Rubicon company lost a headline show days before its opening.  A theatre staffer who had met the double Oscar-winner socially called Lemmon up on his gracious “if you ever need anything, just call” offer. A day later that call was returned personally by the actor. Nice guy, right?

Rubicon’s “replacement” show, Love Letters, debuted in 2001 starring Lemmon and his wife Felicia Farr.  The powerhouse couple’s commitment led to subsequent performances by a mini-galaxy of Hollywood talent, and helped put the Gold Coast’s newest Equity playhouse solidly on the map.  Love Letters would turn out to be Jack Lemmon’s final stage performance.

Flash forward to 2015—Jack’s only son Chris received a phone call just a few days ago when another Rubicon production had to be re-scheduled.  His one man show Jack Lemmon Returns has more than stepped in, it steps up the Rubicon playbook with humor, pathos and panache.

What an amazing dynamic this show has.  Grieving over his father’s death at the age of 76, Lemmon fils wrote a transformational book, A Twist of Lemmon, in which he processes the loss of a man who was at turns his show business dad, the man who left his mother Cynthia Stone when he was three years old, his piano teacher, companion on manly fishing expeditions and the Pebble Beach Pro Am Tour, and ultimately that sweetest gift a father can give to his son, a true best friend.

Hershey Felder’s script and direction infuses Jack Lemmon Returns with a depth and subtlety that rejects tabloid sensation and instead paints a universal story of father and son in the post-modern, pre-Kardashian world of celebrity life in the media fisheye.  

Chris Lemmon bears a striking resemblance to his ever-youthful dad (down to the fifties haircut for the current run).  This truly gifted actor/writer/musician is the only man on the planet who can channel the gestures, the nervous chuckles, the voice and body language of Jack Lemmon.  No other actor will ever have access to the elemental nature of his subject.  

The son begins his performance by asking the question “What happens if you’re this guy’s kid?”.    He then launches into a tour de force of his father’s keystone moments, milestones and friendships.  Lemmon meticulously channels his father’s wicked impersonations of Hollywood luminaries ranging from Walter Matthau to Jimmy Cagney, a scorchingly deadpan Neil Simon, as well as directors John Ford, Billy Wilder and the surprise topper—Hollywood’s lisping “women’s director” George Cukor.

There is music delivered at the keyboard by our classically-trained star, as well as some smooth Mancini tracks provided by Erik Carstensen’s sound design.  Family photos and production stills projected on Andrew Wilder’s minimalist screenset move the story forward in an organic fashion.  In a one-man show, this production scores on all counts by letting one man reveal his story.

Jack Lemmon Returns is a compelling reason for any theatre lover to make the hour’s drive to balmy Ventura.    So go!

Jack Lemmon Returns
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 East Main Street
Ventura, CA   93001
Ticket Range: $44-54

Thursday March 12                  8:00 p.m.
Saturday March 14                  2:00 p.m.
Saturday March 14                  8:00 p.m.
Sunday March 15                  2:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 18                  2:00 p.m
Wednesday March 18                  7:00 p.m.                  Post-show Talkback
Thursday March 19                  8:00 p.m.
Friday   March 20                  8:00 p.m.
Saturday March 21                  2:00 p.m.
Saturday March 21                  8:00 p.m.
Sunday March 22                  2:00 p.m.

Wednesday March 25                  2:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 25                  7:00 p.m.                  Post-show Talkback
Thursday March 26                  8:00 p.m.
Friday  March 27                  8:00 p.m.
Saturday March 28                  8:00 p.m.
Sunday March 29                  2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BLOOD by Michael Phillip Edwards at Theatre/Theater

BLOOD by Michael Phillip Edwards

Take the legends of a storyteller from a childhood in Jamaica, expand through a lifetime of literature and art; create a fantasy with sprinkles of Samuel Beckett and Michael McClure; fold in the gut wrenching work of Growtowski. Boil it all down to two intense actors embodying a dozen characters and stuff it into an intense sixty minutes. There you have Playwright Michael Phillip Edwards’ pithy one act:  BLOOD.

Directing his own play, Edwards has cast two terrific actors.   Phrederic Semaj a He and  Maria Tomas as She  bring his words to life. Edwards mentions in his program notes that having grown up in Jamaica he often encountered “Parson,” an old storyteller, who always had a tale to tell.  No Grimm’s fairy tales, these, but Stephen King on steroids stories that would scare the pants off the young artist and his friends.  At rise we discover “He” and “She” (Semaj and Tomas) seated facing full front with looks of quiet consternation on their faces.  He is sans jacket, barefooted in formal wear. She wears what might be described as a casual wedding dress.  Costumes by Tuesday Connor are spot on.  The stage is virtually bare but for the two red upholstered chairs they sit on. Reminiscent of Beckett’s one act “Play” He and She realize that they are in a sort of Purgatory loop and are cursed to play their situation out time and again. 

The Irish Catholic colleen, Tomas, sees a gorgeous black hunk and together they fall deeply into one another’s hearts.  It’s bacchanal and Jamaica.  It’s Love.  They seek out a local priestess to marry them.  Tomas literally becomes the priestess, smoothly transitioning back and forth from her lovely bride demeanor to the crusty witch.  The witch declares the ‘Three’ married in blood, which baffles the happy couple. It is only later when the succubus who has been included in the wedding ceremony appears in a burst of smoke and thunder to claim her ‘blood.. Blood…  BLOOD!’ demanding sex through the voices of the actors who render her speeches in unison: SEX and BLOOD. She is literally terrifying!  Her carnal cravings are insatiable that the couple unknowingly agreed to in their wedding vows back in Jamaica.

It’s fascinating to witness Tomas  and Semaj present their dance of many characters, reflecting the frustrations of a cooling affair at the same time insatiably making the beast with two backs.  Edwards’ script is tight.  Solid performances make this an hour well spent.  The visceral work alone is worth the price of admission and shows yet again, how small theatre fills a huge artistic gap in the Los Angeles theatre community.  There might be fifty seats in Jeff Murray’s Theatre/Theater black box.  The actors are inches from the audience.  It simply works.  Each drop of sweat and every articulated speech blasts the audience with the true ‘blood’ of theatre.. innovative work:  Art.  Strong acting. Uncomplicated and professionally done lights and sound.  This is the temple of the arts. Tomas and Semaj  are the shamans who deliver the goods of Mr. Edwards’ creative work of art.

Producer Jeff Murray offers a Five Dollar Discount ($5.00) if one makes a reservation only on the phone and/or mentions Onstagelosangeles at the Box Office. Not available through brownpapertickets.  
Please support small theatre in Los Angeles.  This one is worth the trip to Pico and LaBrea.  Parking may be a challenge.  Go early and enjoy Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles pre-show! Or, authentic California Mexican at Lucy’s on the corner. 

"Blood" by Michael Phillip Edwards
5041 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019 
Saturdays @ 5pm/Mondays @ 8pm thru Mar 30 
or phone the theater direct 323 422 6361

Sunday, March 8, 2015


March 7, 2015
T. Waller : Guest Reviewer

While Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” has played all around the world in the fifty years since it opened on Broadway in 1965, it remains a classic piece of human interaction.   In fact it’s like a time capsule.    Oscar Madison (Kip Gilman) has opened up his recently “wife vacated” bachelor pad and is serving some “very new cheese or very old meat sandwiches.”   Alpha male Oscar entertains  the poker players: Murray, the cop (Brian Abraham), Speed (Eddie Kehler), Roy (John Massy) and Vinnie (David Nevell).   The band of buddies becomes caring and concerned when they get a call that Felix,   ejected by his wife, has disappeared and has maybe sent a telegram… his suicide note?

Timing and delivery, classic Neil Simon, is what makes the play work.  All Mr. Simon had to do was put the moody, obsessively neat and uptight Felix Unger (Maxwell Caulfield) and the sloppy, easygoing sports writer, Oscar Madison under the same roof:  Voila!  The Odd Couple.    Felix has strong but very human reactions that cause rough and tough Oscar to have moments of caring and guilt.  Each of these complex characters is as perfect as an Unger set dinner table.

Oscar invites Felix to move in for half of the $250.00 rent. Eight rooms. (It’s 1965!).  Friday night poker continues.  At first, the guys enjoy some of Felix’s obsessive-compulsive ways.  They attempt to use coasters for his gourmet snacks but quickly realize it is all just too much.   Their poker cards have been deodorized!  The room is filled with Lysol spray instead of cigar smoke.   In time, Oscar has had enough of home cooked meals, and Felix’s endless chatter.  The interchange when Oscar decides they both need “something soft” becomes touching when a double date is arranged with the two Pigeon sisters who live in Oscar’s building.  Perfectly cast Gwendolyn (Erica Schindele) and Cicily (Alyson Lindsay) are spot on 1960’s “English birds.”

Former “Oscars and Felixes”: Messrs. Matthau and Klugman; Carney, Lemmon and Randall may be excused.  Director Andrew Barnicle’s version of THE ODD COUPLE  has to be equally as enjoyable as it was on opening night at Broadway’s Plymouth Theatre almost fifty years ago to the day.   

By Neil Simon
March 4th  through March 29th, 2015
The Laguna Playhouse
606 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: 949.497.ARTS (2787)
Fax: 949.497.6948

Friday, March 6, 2015


In the midst of worries about 99 seat houses in Los Angeles threatened by the Actors Equity Association, The Road Theatre, founded by Taylor Gilbert  now produces in two tidy little spaces, tending to the business and the Art of theatre.  The newest of the production spaces now occupied by The Road on Magnolia features a functional lobby with snack bar, what appears to be revolving art on the walls and a steeply raked house with well equipped proscenium stage.  A friend has pointed out that I tend to mention the tech in many of the shows I review.  It’s true.  The ‘professional’ look of impressive lights and sets create the space for the play. This is not to say that the facility is more important than the actual work, but it’s a first impression.  In spite of the slightly cramped seating, there are no bad seats and Kaitlyn Pietras’s set and projections as well as Pablo Santiago’s lights create a professional atmosphere. 
Steven Schub (on floor), Allen Wasserman and Elizabeth Knowelden  
Photo by John A. Lorenz
Lucile Lichtblau’s The English Bride, directed by Marya Mazor tells a story that should be engaging and enlightening.  As our days are filled with news of angry militants who want to blow everything to pieces in order to have a world order that suits them, we meet a swarthy young guy Ali (Steven Shub) turned terrorist who has seduced a slightly dowdy young English barmaid, Eileen (comely Elizabeth Knowelden) and without her knowledge will send her to her death carrying explosives in plane full of unknowing innocents.   

The soft steady breathing of a gentleman seated near me contrasted with enthusiastic responses from much of the opening night audience.  A simple set with industrial “Navy” chairs on a platform and impressive projections to change the scene are right in line with engaged performances by the cast of three.  We hear that an El Al flight has just been cancelled.   Dov (Allan Wasserman) interrogates Ali to get the story of how his  English wife to be evolved into an instrument of death and destruction carrying explosives in her luggage.  His story and Eileen’s do not completely jibe.  As the ninety minute one act moved on, there were moments of exposition in various accents that should have elucidated the importance of why we might care about these three people.  Each actor was involved and focused.   

As an acting exercise, the piece moves along well.   These actors have professional credentials.   The nagging question is, what makes this a theatrical to spend an evening with?  Director Mazor says that it’s about the “questions of truth and storytelling…”  Neither held much interest for me.

THE ENGLISH BRIDE by Lucile Lichtblau
West Coast Premiere
(in repertory with THE OTHER PLACE)
The Road on Magnolia
NoHo Senior Arts Colony
10747 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, California 91602
Through April 26, 2015
Thursdays at 8PM, Saturdays at 3PM and Sundays at 7PM
Tickets and Information:  or 818 743 8838

Sunday, March 1, 2015

DREAM ALONG .. Properties of Silence

The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse is a flexible black box, well appointed and well cooled!   The current production, “Properties of Silence” by Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner discusses Sor Juana Inès de la Cruz (Excellent Rose Portillo), touted as the first feminist writer, who worked in 17th Century Mexico in conjunction with modern day issues troubling Phoenix real estate broker Barbara (engaging Elizabeth Rainey) and her husband Tom (enthusiastic Kevin Sifuentes),  swimming pool architect. The couple’s communication skills are failing.  On Akeime Mitterlehner’s very broad set we discover Sor Juana at her desk with dreams of science and literature fomenting in her heart and soul.  It’s dangerous for a sister of the Catholic Church to stray beyond her vow of obedience, but she literally thirsts for knowledge. 

At the same time, busy Barbara whirls in with real estate deals spinning. She is disoriented from her drive home that was not her accustomed route.  It’s hot in Phoenix and her fridge is loaded to the gills with gallons and gallons of water, which becomes a sort of theme within the pithy one act.  As Sor Juana’s fever elevates, so does Barbara’s and they wind up in a world where they both exist.  Is Barbara  in the nun’s dream? Is Sor Juana in Barbara’s?  Projected video by Janice Tanaka enhances our discovery process.  Tom excuses himself to a shower that runs with sand!  The discovery of independence and appreciation of the importance of dreams emerges to bring Sor Juana and Barbara to a mutual discovery while Tom (who doubles as Fra Miranda extolling the necessity of Juana’s recantation of her published discoveries) struggles to understand what’s going on.

Excellent tech and projections support the professional cast that brings the story home.  Director Theresa Chavez imaginatively melds the worlds of Sor Juana and the Phoenix couple with skill.  The success of Hispanic women is involved with the Properties of Silence in the underlying theme which is boosted by the post show discussions “Post Silence Salon Series.” A variety of invited guests share the strength and positive results that Hispanic women have achieved by going beyond the expectations of society and even their own families.  Strong performances and an intriguing take on dreams makes this a worthwhile and interesting production.

By Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner
Carrie Hamilton Theatre at
The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Thursday through Sundays
Through March 29, 2015
Tickets and information
626 396 0920 or