Sunday, August 6, 2017


The Rainbow Bridge
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play. All the animals who had been ill or old are made whole and strong again.

The animals are happy and content, except for one thing.
They each miss someone very special who had to be left
behind. Until the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. He runs from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted.

And when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. Happy kisses rain upon your face as you look into the trusting eyes of your pet, long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.
Author unknown.
Emily Jerez, Paul Schackman, Mary Carrig, and Lynne Marie Stewart
 Photo by Ed Krieger

It is always intriguing to get in on a World Premiere.  The challenge for any playwright is to find a place to do the show and  the Ruskin Group Theatre is well known for embracing new projects as well as the tried and true plays that it finds interesting.  

Playwright Ron Nelson sees his play as a 'vitamin for the soul.'     We have all heard that "Laughter is the Best Medicine" and make no mistake The Rainbow Bridge has some laughs.   

Picture, if you will.. a tiny stage with walls decorated with different colored canvas banners, by scenic designer Hillary Bauman, attached to posts by grommets to indicate various scene settings Scene changes are rigorously attended to by cast and crew, different colored banners indicating a new location.  I liked the banners and the grommets, but the changes were a bit time consuming.

Back to my Twilght Zone introduction, Imagine, if you will, that little Charlie, the Jack Russell terrier left to Jerry by his alcoholic mother, Lois (dear Lynne Marie Stewart)  and somewhat skanky sister, Amanda (Amy Schumer look-a-like Mary Karrig) after they died in tandem: Amanda: suicide by pistol and Lois slipping in the blood!! 
Lights up:  we meet Charlie (recently euthanized, lying under a little blanket) by the very sexy vet Dr. Stein (sexy Jaimi Paige), who insists that the (not so) bereaved Jerry (very loud and exuberant throughout Paul Schackman) read aloud the healing poem/prayer called The Rainbow Bridge (see above / please click on the image for a larger view).   Jerry has had to put poor Charlie down because it was simply the humane thing to do.  Dr. Stein insists that he needs to resolve his pain (of which he apparently has none). Jerry reads the prayer aloud and with a rainbow flash, both dead Lois and dead Amanda appear And,  not unlike Topper or Blythe Spirit, they taunt the poor guy as he struggles as an attorney and a loving dad and husband who has become a compromised son/brother.  

The sitcom rhythms are interrupted by frequent scene changes with Lois and Amanda hounding Jerry incessantly from scene to scene.  Hilarity ensues with Jerry attempting his 'normal' life while dealing with the ghosts of his dead mother and sister who cannot be seen, of course, by anyone but him.  The way to send these harpies back to where ever they came from takes time to develop and the true character of Jerry, whose basic ethics are challenged from the get go, is a little difficult to grasp, but after several scene changes and discussion with and demands by the ghosts, we come full circle. 

Performances by the supporting cast:  Emily Jerez, Mouchette Van Helsdingen and  L. Emile Thomas round out the argument of this very odd black comedy.  

by Ron Nelson
 Ruskin Group Theatre 
 3000 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Opened Friday, July 21, 2017
Fridays - Saturdays at 8pm
 Sundays at 2pm  
Through September 17, 2017
Tickets $25 
$20 for students, seniors, and guild members
Information: (310) 397-3244 or online at
Ample free parking available on site.