Monday, July 31, 2017


AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare rambles with banishings and fallings in love and mixed up lovers and now and then a speech that wakes you up and carries you along ..  an old familiar song that in the midst of shenanigans changes everything.  This is what happens well into the show as from the back of the house we turn to hear a voice.  At first we only hear Jacques  (James Sutorius
James Sutorius
Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography
demand more music from musicians who are hey nonny nonnying. And, then he enters.  Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Antaeus always finds a way to cast their shows color blind and with excellence.  Rosalind (Sally Hughes) and Celia (Desiree Mee Jung) are BFFs and cannot live one w/out the other.  So, when Rosalind is banished because the mean old Duke Frederick (Brian Abraham) wants to just get rid of her and send her to her banished dad, Duke Senior (Bernard K. Addison) off in the Forest of Arden, the conflicts begin right along with a loopy plot. 

What the Bard was up to with As You Like It is rather a mystery as characters come and go and the ruse of Rosalind disguising herself as a boy, Ganymead and doing a very strange dance as the animal magnetism practically explodes with poor Orlando (Matthew Gallenstein) is entertaining and just a trifle long.  Like Portia exacting promises at the conclusion of The Merchant of Venice, sly little Ganymead.. Rosalind.. works like anything to put right the romance of the plot and, of course, succeeds. All's Well.. etc.  

Frosting on this excellent cast is supplied with JD Cullum having about as much fun with Touchstone as is permisable on any stage.  The patter required is supplemented by  gestures (appropriate and inappropriate) with a medium sized zucchini  that is worth the price of admission alone.
Luis Kelly-Duarte, JD Cullum
Photo by
Daniel G. Lam Photography

There's wrestling and a lion attack (off stage) and on Francios-Pierre Couture's all purpose set with a slightly Moroccan theme,  the less than intimate allusion to the Forest of Arden still works.

Director Rob Clare's staging is somewhat linear, but with no elevations or other opportunities for variety, the play feels presented much as how it might have been in the original. 

Taking issue with the Bard is risky.  Certainly, this cast tackles the text with alacrity and following the scenes is relatively easy. It's just that this one really stretches credibility even though the lovers do unite and 'there by hangs the tale!'  Anna Lamadrid as Phebe takes a little bit and makes it more.

"All the World's a Stage..." Jacques reminds us. His mellifluous rendering of this speech alone is worth wading through the meandering plot.  I loved A. Jeffrey Schoenberg's mix and match period costumes, as well as Mr. Clare's choices to create a few breaks in the fourth wall to draw the audience in with a nudge and a wink.  There's a little dancing, too.

Read the synopsis and come prepared to have a great time. 

by William Shakespeare
Antaeus Theatre
110 E. Broadway
Glendale, California 91205
Performances: July 27 – Sept. 10
Tuesday at 8 p.m.: July 25 ONLY (preview)
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: July 26 ONLY (preview)
Thursdays at 8 p.m.: July 20 (preview), July 27 (opening); Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Sept. 7
Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 21 (preview), July 28 (opening); Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25; Sept. 1, 8
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Aug. 5, 12, 19, 26; Sept. 2, 9 (no 2 p.m. matinee on July 22 or July 29)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 22 (preview), July 29; Aug. 5, 12, 19, 26; Sept. 2, 9
Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 23 (preview), July 30; Aug. 6, 13, 20, 27; Sept. 3, 10
Tickets and Information:
(818) 506-1983 or

Friday, July 28, 2017


The El Portal Theatre is a beautiful proscenium house in NoHo where entertainment abounds.  Misty Lee (Dominatrix of all trades more or less)
Misty Lee Photo
is a highly credentialed magician who has been inspired by this poem by Sarah Williams to create her stage show: "Bold Magic!"  

"Reach me down my Tycho Brahe,

I would know him when we meet,

When I share my later science,

sitting humbly at his feet;

He may know the law of all things,

yet be ignorant of how 
We are working to completion,

working on from then to now. 

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,

Lacking only certain data for your adding, 
as is meet,

And remember men will scorn it,

'tis original and true,

And the obloquy of newness 
may fall bitterly on you. 

But, my pupil, as my pupil

you have learned the worth of scorn,

You have laughed with me at pity,

we have joyed to be forlorn,

What for us are all distractions

of men's fellowship and smiles;

What for us the Goddess Pleasure

with her meretricious smiles! 

You may tell that German College

that their honor comes too late, 
But they must not waste repentance

on the grizzly savant's fate.

Though my soul may set in darkness,

it will rise in perfect light;

I have loved the stars too fondly

to be fearful of the night.                               

Sarah Williams

To mount a huge production like Bold Magic takes a large crew and great creativity.  Opening for the first time, director Tom Keegan, has allowed Misty Lee to ramble a little. After all, it is her show!  Co-Producer Lennon Hobson doubles as choreographer and leggy assistant with her almost identical pals, Brooke Brady, Kija Rae and Megan Ashly Cutler (who takes flight in a closing trick at the audience's direction!)

Thanks to an enthusiastic audience, Misty Lee does 'tricks' (she never calls them 'illusions') and interjects patter that make some of the tricks a little long.  None the less, the audience loved the show. And, for those who love to see a beautiful and talented magician tease with threats of danger (there is an electric chair!) this is a must see!

Shastaaa, the mind reading honeybadger, has back up singers and needs new batteries in his/her magic box! 

El Portal Theater
Lankershim Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 
July 29 and 30, 2017
Saturday and Sunday only at 8PM 
Tickets and information: 

Monday, July 24, 2017


Victoria Platt and Bo Foxworth
Photo by Ed Krieger
Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan directed to a fine point by Michael Michetti, examines a not so brave new world. New to the role of Gloria, Victoria Platt plays a university history professor  who is allowed access to Rick (Bo Foxworth), a former supervisor in a private prison,  in an attempt to discover how someone evolves from a somewhat average guy into an agent of the unthinkable.

It's 2019.  The United States has become outlandishly authoritarian under the leadership of the 45th president.  The story is a polemic with fear at its foundation.  That's a good thing in some ways: certainly it's a wake up call.  The 'call to arms' that we all should have heard by now is one that half of the population of the United States stll thinks is uncalled for harassment of the president.  A 'dirty bomb' has exploded in Times Square. The subsequent follow up of impeachment seems too little too late.  The snow balling effect of 'repatriation' of immigrants that Schenkkan proposes in the play in direct parallel to Hitler's eradication of Germany's cultural issues is not far from the fears that the United States may only now be truly awakening to.

That a good man like Rick can find himself caught in a web of simply "doing a job" that becomes a moral dilemma, is hard to fathom until you think about what someone, you or I? might find himself faced with to protect himself and his family.  Life issues.

The beauty of Building the Wall is that Schenkkan starts us off with the fear and conflict of an angry convict literally doing a dance of hostility.  He's probably just a thug who deserves to be in prison.  Gloria, his polar opposite, an attractive, educated liberal history professor who happens to be a black woman begins her interview as a challenge, but the dialogue evolves into an examination of humanity, morality and ethics. It never really solves the problem. It doesn't offer a solution. But the experience does give the audience troubling insights: reflections that are even physically apparent with scenic designer Se Oh's perfect reproduction of a prison interview room.  The upstage observation mirror gives the audience an opportunity to see itself as possibly complicit.  

Foxworth has a lot to work with as the convicted felon.  Unsympathetic, tattooed, filled with Republican pride, angst and anger. The arc of the character reminds us all that our morals are fluid and sometimes fate is unkind. Ms Platt  presents initially as a well educated researcher,  privileged, even though she tells us that growing up black in the South usurped her innocence at the age of six.  Prejudice and privilege face off in their finely tuned dialogue Ironically, this prison is not unlike the privatized institution where Rick had advanced to become a supervisor where his moral ethic had become compromised: compromised because the now disgraced president, not unlike Hitler, has stirred the pot with prejudice, fear and loathing to the point of mass murder.  The final line, "Who would want to live in a country like that?" chills as we ponder our own ethical and moral choices.

Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan

 The Fountain Theatre 
 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) 
 Los Angeles, CA 
 Extended through August 27
Saturdays at 8 p.m. 
Sundays at 2 p.m.
Mondays at 8 p.m.  
Three Fridays at 8 p.m.,  
July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. 
Tickets range from $20$40
every Monday is Pay-What-You-Want.
Secure, on-site parking is available for $5
The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible.
Reservations and information
(323) 663-1525 


Friday, July 21, 2017

THE TEMPEST at OC Shakespeare

When I first saw The Tempest performed, at the Mark Taper Forum, it featured Anthony Hopkins as Prospero and introduced a myriad of new ideas about staging.  The roiling seas vanished into the top of the mountain on the magical island!  Mr. Hopkins' mastery of the language was mesmerizing.  He brought the Bard to life.  
Clockwise from top-left: Harry Groener as Prospero; Daniel Kim as Ariel; Cora Riley as Miranda; Robert Tendy as Ferdinand
Image credit: Jordan Kubat

Entering the Shakespeare Orange County venue in Garden Grove,we are met by huge drops painted in the style of Chinese ink paintings by Dipak Gupta.  Roller coaster upstage platforms bring exciting opportunities for the movement to come. The Asian Influence is unexpected and welcome.   

Director Peter Uribe's take on The Tempest takes broad license to the story by turning to the way  Garden Grove has developed culturally over the past fifty years.  The influx of immigrants from Vietnam as well as other Asian countries brings his casting brilliantly together with local available talent.  Calling upon well known actors: Harry Groener as Prospero, Hal Landon as Gonzalo, to bring their long experience beautifully to the show works just fine.  But, the real surprises lie in Uribe's casting of dozens of Ariels and "Arielettes" who dance and fly to and fro at Prosper's magical bidding. The conceit works beautifully with Jay Lee and Daniel Kim bringing Ariel's personality to life, though the other twenty or so actors are delightful as they do their master's bidding.   

The Asian touch to The Tempest is brought amazingly to life in the banquet scene with Miock Ji's Korean Dancers.  A tribute to local culture surprises with the interval performance of Korean drumming that is astounding. 

The story of how Prospero is set adrift and lands on Caliban's island and the subsequent storm the magician  raises to capture his 'detractors' all plays out with the cast of over forty working as a finely tuned machine.  Stand out performances include Groener as Prospero, who brings his natural quality to the character, simply taking care of business: manipulating the charade.  Cora Riley (Miranda) breaks onto the scene full of energy at odds with Groener's more natural style.  Stand outs as Stephano (Tony Torrico) and Trinculo (Michael Calacino) make the most of the clowns that Shakespeare took time to expand and have some fun with. 

The creative choices made by director Uribe embrace the local culture and bring jaw dropping spectacle to the show. Every performer gives a professional performance. To the last Arielette, the actors' dedication to the play brings the audience to its feet.  Bring a pillow! And...  a sweater. 

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare Orange County
12762 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840
Dates: July 8–29, 2017
Curtain time: 8 PM
Tickets and Information: 714.590.1575

Monday, July 10, 2017


 EST/LA is hard at work making what turns out to be the very foundation of the dramatic arts.  New plays by member playwrights, acted and directed by fellow members. Program C is the last in a series with four diverse one acts that turn on relationships.
Christopher Reiling, Jody St. Michael, Susan Rudick, Elin Hampton, and Oliver Muirhead 
Directed by Patty Cornell, Elin Hampton’s Things That Matter is a fanciful musical where we meet anthropomorphic flotsam and jetsom that an angry couple, probably in the throes of divorce, place in their driveway as they liquidate their ‘assets.’  We meet Christopher Reiling, a VHS tape rewinder, still in the box; Jody St. Michael, a drum kit with really amazing tennis shoes; playwright Elin Hampton as the recycled wedding dress, and cuddly Susan Rudick, an amorphous stuffed animal who tap dances and is the cutest of the lot.  These characters are over seen by Oliver Muirhead, the NFS Grandfather clock, who comments on  time, reminding us that that old clock waits for us all.  Each has a song that reflects their status in “life” and as the day ticks on, some are bought and some are not.  Musical director/composer Gerald Sternbach on the keyboard.  The opening chord reminded me of The Fantasticks.

How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall by Nick Ullett features the playwright as Victor, a thriving and somewhat jaded concert violinist.  He steps off the stage to be greeted by his man servant,  John (Peter Basch) who announces that Victor has a visitor.  Charlie (Graham Sibley)  is a fan who, many years ago met  Victor.
Nick Ullett and Peter Basch
He wants to thank the maestro for the incredible influence that he had on his life as a young man.  As with many who are in the public eye, Victor receives his visitor graciously and fields his fawning, learning that his criticism of the younger musician, who… evidently had played for him, had told him that he had the technical skills of the fiddle down perfectly but lacked the ‘fire’ to tackle music as a career. As a result, Charlie, abandoned his dream, went to the family business, settled down with a wife and kids. He has come again just to thank his ‘hero’ for being honest with him.  When his fan exits, Victor is reflective. “That’s what I say to everyone,” he says. 

Perhaps it’s a way to keep the competition to a minimum?  He wonders who will take care of him, now that he’s chosen his artistic path. “We’ll take care of each other,” says John. Food for thought.  Jenny O’Hara directs with a delicate hand.

My Jesus Year by Tony Foster and directed by Shaina Rosenthal, was difficult to understand.  Jerry (Christopher Reiling) is in hospital  accompanied by his vivacious ‘friend’ Trish (Tarah Pollock).
Tarah Pollock, Christopher Reiling, and James Bane
James Bane, a hunky nurse, is being hit on by Trish to no effect which reveals itself as the Nurse intimately sympathizes with Jerry.

Most effective of the evening is a longer and more complicated piece that may expand to become a character study and a full length play. 
Jayne Taini and Susan Wilder
Between Friends by Katherine Cortez gives two women, friends for more than twenty years, room to move.  Slender Valerie (Susan Wilder) has been a dedicated mom and recovering alcoholic for many years, but here in the woods with her old pal, Judy (Jayne Taini), she yearns for a little kick to their lemonade as they struggle to complete a one thousand piece jigsaw puzzle: Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  Cortez and director June Carryl explore the true nature of friendship. They succeed.   The arc for each character as the women await the arrival of Jack, Val’s son, exposes what those of us lucky enough to have true friends may experience. The dialogue is natural and the characters bring their connection to life.  Funny and poignant, seeing this piece expanded to include some back story and flesh out other characters (Judy’s deceased husband,
Max; Val’s husband and her son, Jack) discussed but never seen has the makings of what Tennessee Williams might have been thinking of at one time or another.

Amanda Knehans’ basic and perfectly functional set tended by ensemble members works perfectly, given the workshop nature of these pieces.  

Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA  
3269 Casitas Ave. LA, CA 90039. 
Tickets: $19.95 – $26 (at the door). Tickets and information: 
(818) 839-1197. 
7/8 Saturday @8pm
 7/9 Sunday @2pm
 7/13 Thursday @8pm
 7/14 Friday @8pm
 7/15 Saturday @2pm and 8pm
 7/16 Sunday @2pm

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Recently I advocated for Los Angeles actors to bolt the AEA and move forward with a local union that will fairly represent local actors.  Just received this announcement.  Please pass it on to all Los Angeles theatre companies and to all actors whether they are members of Equity.  How AEA can make life miserable for loyal members makes no sense.  Bolt this recalcitrant organization and keep the 99 Seat option open!  The message below is from Pro99 News. Please share and share again!

From: PRO99 News
Subject: Action Item: 99 Theatre Co. asks Community to sent Support Letters for NLRB hearing vs AEA

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LA 99 Theatre Co. asks Community for Support Letters for NLRB Hearing vs AEA THIS WEEK

Los Angeles theatre company New Musicals Inc. is asking members of the LA theatre community for letters of support in their upcoming NLRB hearing versus Actors’ Equity Association.  NMI has filed a charge against AEA through the National Labor Relations Board for unfair business practices, and accusing AEA of placing New Musicals Inc. on a “Do Not Work” list without cause.

In a statement provided to Pro99 members, Scott Guy, Executive Director of New Musicals, Inc. said, “The NLRB has requested that we gather some evidence that AEA is threatening or intimidating its members, either directly (with letters, phone calls, or meetings) or indirectly with implicit threats of disciplinary action, fines, sanctions or even expulsion from the union.”

Guy continued, “Our case is, of course, focused on NMI charges, but we sense there’s an opportunity to engage the NLRB’s interest if an alarming number of actors offer evidence.”

NMI will submit the letters as evidence in their upcoming hearing on Thursday July 6th, and is asking they be emailed to by Wednesday July 5th. Guy also noted that letters can also be submitted anonymously if people request, and that no email or contact information will be shared with the NLRB.
NMI issued its appeal for community support last week in an “Open Letter to the Theatre Community,” published in Footlights.



Source: Footlights
Last week New Musicals Inc. filed a charge against Actors Equity Association through the National Labor Relations Board.  The charge centers upon unfair business practices, accusing AEA of placing New Musicals Inc. on a “Do Not Work” list without cause.
Actors Equity Association is demanding that its members do not engage with NMI, threatening union members with penalties, sanctions and possible expulsion from the union.  By including NMI on a ‘Do Not Work’ list, we feel that AEA is attempting to cause NMI to discriminate against union members, encouraging them to refuse to perform any services for NMI, and requiring its members to cease doing business with NMI.
Actors Equity has contacted a number of actors appearing in NMI’s Fringe shows and threatened them with “disciplinary actions” which presumably includes fines, sanctions and even expulsion from the union.  It’s causing a lot of heartbreaking situations in which actors are being told not to appear in our presentations.  These are wonderful artists with a passion for new musicals, and for them to be frightened away because of their union is just unconscionable.
Our charges also include that Actors Equity Association’s inclusion of NMI on its “Do Not Work” list has resulted in damage to NMI, affecting its commerce, its public reputation, its standing in the Los Angeles theatre community, and its ability to fulfill its nonprofit mission.
As you know, many other membership companies in Los Angeles operate in a manner similar to our Academy Repertory Company, and they have not been placed on the ‘Do Not Work’ list.   We believe that NMI is being treated unfairly and in a manner different from other similar organizations.
You might recall from our previous Open Letter in January 2017 that AEA keeps saying that the reason we’re being denied status as a membership company is that we didn’t apply under the name of the Academy Repertory Company.  We don’t understand this.  Our application included “Academy Repertory Company” right alongside our other dba’s, including the Academy for New Musical Theatre and New Musicals Inc.  You might also recall from that we have requested meetings with AEA to discuss this situation on twelve separate occasions, and AEA has refused a meeting each time.  We don’t know why the union is refusing to meet with us to this clear up.  So we’ve turned to the NLRB for help.
The National Labor Relations Board has notified the union of the charges against it.  As we understand it, the next steps will be for the NLRB to collect affidavits from our staff and colleagues and gather evidence and corroboration of our charges, at which time we can expect either dismissal, settlement or a trial.  We’re hopeful that there will be a swift conclusion to this matter.  We feel we’ve been treated very unfairly, and the fact that Equity has refused to meet with us…well, that just seems wrong.
We reiterate that we cherish all the artists we work with: writers, directors, music directors, stage managers, designers…and especially actors. We welcome theatre artists of every variety, you are all always welcome at the Academy Repertory Company, New Musicals Inc, and the Academy for New Musical Theatre, whether or not you’re a member of a union.
We would welcome your support, comments, and reactions. Post those in social media and send them to  Let us know if you’d like your comments to be private.
In the meantime, NMI will continue its performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  (Search for “1001 Minutes of New Musicals” — that’s us!)
Thank you as always.
Scott Guy, Executive Director
Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director
John Sparks, Founding Director
New Musicals Inc.
Academy for New Musical Theatre
Academy Repertory Company

Pro99 News reports on issues affecting the 99-seat theatre community in LA and beyond to Pro99 members and its supporters.  The community is made up of theatre artists, union and non-union, audience members, business allies and community leaders.  Members are encouraged to engage with the community and make decisions for themselves.
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