Saturday, June 18, 2016


 Like the familiar adage that you can never step into the same river twice, Impro Theatre Company promises that any performance that you see in this current offering will be unique.  Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Burbank regularly hosts this brilliant company of actors and this production must not be missed!  Impro’s current theme turns on the works of master storyteller, Tennessee Williams.  The set by Michael C. Smith and lighting by Leigh Allen evoke Vieux Carre and the torid days and nights remembered in Williams’ plays that feature equally steamy characters, each with a story to tell.  Spot on costumes by Sandra Burns and tech improv cast member in the booth Madison Goff tie the show together. 

There’s improv and then, there’s Impro!  With all respect to Merrie Masquers, The Committee, The Wing, The Groundlings, Whose Line is it Anyway and The Spolin Players, Impro takes the craft of improvisation to new heights.  However..  Howevah.. there might be a slight problem as the tale of vacationers on a mountain top in Florida evolves (do not expect to be taken to Florida or up on a mountain top when you go)..  in that the laughter as the story takes shape is raucous.  As intimations of Blanche DuBois and Big Daddy evolve with other characters whom you may remember from Williams’ familiar plays, twists and turns in the hands of these professionals just keep twisting and turning. 

I did not make note of last night’s players and so making specific comments about who played whom is impossible.  And, as the players rotate from night to night, like Forrest Gump’s momma always says, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”  In fact it really doesn’t matter.  The energy of the cast with subtle music and sound effects; expert lighting that the improv director in the booth provides, it’s a guaranteed entertainment that Tom, himself, would probably enjoy while taking copious notes to create new versions of his classic pieces.

With lines like “After I started puking, he shut up!” and the Bobo's description of his wife as a “smoky carapace” of herself, it’s clear that the actors have steeped themselves in this unique genre of the fifties and the lives and times of these shadow people who will live but once and drift away, perhaps a reflection of our own sweet bitter memories in a darkling mirror. 

The cast changes with each show.  The ensemble includes: Nick Massouh, Lauren Rose Lewis, Dan O'Connor, Edi Patterson, Michele Spears, Jo McGinley, Floyd VanBuskirk, Stephen Kearin, Kelly Holden Bashar, Ryan Smith, Kari Coleman, and Mike McShane. 
Photo Credit Sasha Venola

If you love the theatre, rush to The Falcon and spend ninety minutes steeped in laughter, y’all. 

IMPRO THEATRE’s Tennessee Williams Unscripted

4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, California 91505
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Through July 31, 2016
Tickets and Information
818 955 8101

Saturday, June 11, 2016


It is not my intention to become embroiled in the controversy that has arisen regarding the reports of past abuse levied on actors and others at a storefront "professional" theatre in Chicago.  

Every review that I write and post here is simply my opinion and my reaction to whatever production I may have been invited to review.  If I make a mistake in spelling or pertinent information in my review and it's pointed out to me, I'll fix it.  Otherwise, it is just an opinion. It's a way for folks to have information about a show and for the company to have objective take on their hard work. 

The article about Profiles Theatre Company in Chicago is a news story.  I have not gone to Chicago to vet its authenticity.  I have not met the principals in the story. The article (link below) stands as a long report on alleged 'abuse' to actors and others involved in some of the Profiles' productions. 

The opinion piece published on Bitter Lemons has brought the wrath of the local theatre community down on Colin Mitchell, the now former editor of Bitter Lemons because of his strong opinion regarding the reports from Chicago.  

I believe that we must be informed to have a full opinion about anything.  Sound bites and headlines are not enough to be fully informed.

This entry here on onstagelosangeles is to make available the original story from Chicago and Mr. Mitchell's editorial responding to the story.

Here's the original article:
and the Bitter Lemons response to the article:

Michael Sheehan

Sunday, June 5, 2016


JD Cullum, James Sutorius,
Nike Doukas and Kwana Martinez
Photo by Facet Photography
Click on photo for full effect
Steven Robman's extensive directing career ranging from the national stage to television over four decades blossoms with dignity and panache at Antaeus in their unique approach to sharing the classics.  "Partner cast," Sunday's performance by "The Pistols" moves smoothly on Se Hyun Oh's gorgeous and well appointed set.  Henrik Ibsen's gothic story of love lost, deceit and greed in this version adapted by Andrew Upton strides deliberately through the paces of Hedda's domineering personality and the inevitable crash that follows.  Ibsen's nineteenth century play now set in the 1920s, past the influence of the Victorian period in which it was originally presented works well, even though the restrictions of thirty years previous may not so rigidly apply.  As Hedda, Nike Doukas, is crisp and sharp in tongue and presentation.  She strikes fear into her scholarly husband, Tesman (JD Cullum) and intimidates the household he has purchased for her with the help of the one man who would love to be the "third part" of a "triangle" partnership, Judge Brack (James Sutorius).  Back story touches on the affair that Hedda had with her first true love, Ejlert Løvborg (Ned Mochel).  The theme of death as art creeps in as the passion of Ejlert for Hedda erupts when he returns, having overcome issues with 'indulgences' and is ready to publish a brilliant book that references history from the future.  

Fine performances with crisp stage pictures engineered by Robman pick up the pace in the second act as Hedda manipulates Ejlert into a revival of his old feelings of inadequacy and yearning for the rekindling of his love for her. Exposition via the excellent Lynn Milgrim as Aunt Julle and Kwana Martinez's Thea Elvstead knit the fascinating tale of survival in the face of rejection and anticipated Scandinavian angst is nicely wrapped up with an equally touching turn by Karianne Flaathen as Berte, the household retainer.  Subtle lighting by Leigh Allen  and excellent costumes by Leah Piehl are thoroughly professional from head to toe.

Ibsen, perhaps a forerunner in the promotion of womens' rights and power, especially with his A Doll's House, is still dark and gloomy with occasional moments of mirth.  For scholars and adults who are interested in well honed performances and a nicely trimmed presentation, I highly recommend this final fling on the Antaeus NoHo stage as they prepare to move to new digs in Glendale come this fall.  

The Pistols cast is part of the 'partner casting' that affords more members of the company time on stage and gives audiences an opportunity to see two professional versions of the same play.  There are actually two other casts: The Generals and The Fjords, each of whom will give slightly different takes on the interpretation of the text. It is fascinating to see individual interpretations by the actors still under the experienced hand of Robman's very specific direction.  Well done! 

HEDDA GABLER by Henrik Ibsen  
Interpreted by Andrew Upton
Antaeus Theatre Company
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Through July 2, 2016
Tickets and Information