Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Road Magnolia.. ACCORDING TO THE CHORUS by Arlene Hutton

The Road Theatre on Magnolia steps up with the world premiere of ACCORDING TO THE CHORUS   by Arlene Hutton.   This tight little space in a spiffy senior living complex in NoHo serves as a wonderful opportunity to see theatre that relies on the writing and  acting to succeed.   Paul Dufresne's scenic design  is just tacky enough.

PHOTO CREDIT: Elizabeth Kimball
> Jacqueline Misaye, Maria Spassoff (with Gidget Carradine), Kristyn Evelyn and Gloria Ines
It's  1984. The world is in flux. Quick and efficient costume changes for the girls in the chorus of an unnamed Broadway show that's been running for years, sets the scene. KJ (Samantha Tan) is  being trained by  Audrey (crispy Avery Clyde) for a seven second change. The air is electric with 'half hour' minutes away.  It's a play about the theatre.

Even with a program, it's difficult to tell the chorus gals apart.  Each dancer is self absorbed in her own way, but they all rally to support one another when a crisis erupts.   Director Emily Chase has created  some impressive moves as the girls warm up in the Quick Change  Room. Every dancer has an issue but getting their names straight was a bit of a problem.  The cast had one understudy (Brittany Visser for Sorel Carradine who usually plays Joyce).  Monica (Gloria Ines) stands out as always being hungry and probably bulimic and Jessica (Kristyn Evelyn) who is in a bad relationship and Niki (Jacqueline Misaye) who argues with herself about going on the road after this show closes to cross those "big mountains just beynd the big river."

The actual star of the show is Olivia the Dog,  Mallory's (
Maria Spassoff) brand new pup. I believe that the doggie in the photo is not the doggie credited in the program!  THIS JUST IN. THE DOGGIE IN THE PRODUCTION  I SAW IS BARON.  How director, Emily Chase, got a sweet little Egyptian Spider Dog (Mallory wanted her to have a pedigree) to be so cooperative and even sit on command is a feat of fine directing.  If credit is forthcoming, I will credit the stand in for Olivia.  Cherish Monique Duke will play Mallory for the remainder of the run.  Cherish was a stand out in the recent Antaeus production of "Everybody."     ALSO, THIS JUST IN. CHERISH WILL NOT COME INTO THE CAST AFTER ALL. MARIA SPASSOFF IS SCHEDULED TO COMPLETE THE RUN.

Amy Tolsky as Brenda, the senior dresser who is  never wrong, delivers the crusty character that easily might have been too much. She finds just enough authority.

Peter (Juan Pope) is gay. He's a successful actor in this show and pops in to say hello to KJ, to whom  he was, at one time, married.  The tension builds slowly.  The AIDs crisis is evident.  It's the summer of '84.  Many male dancers have been "replaced." 

Van (Danny Lee Gomez) brings home the Stage Manager nicely.  Because I've been brought to task for negleting to mention stage managers from time to time, my search of the program fails to yield the name of this production's Stage Manager. HANKS TO PR GUY, DAVID ELZER, HE POINTS OUT THAT THE NAME OF THE PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER, MAURIE GONZALEZ IS PROMINENT SOMEWHERE THAT I OVERLOOKED.  I LOOKED AND LOOKED AND I GUESS IT WAS IN PLAIN SIGHT.

It's New York.. show biz.. bright lights  Theatre.. KJ has finally wtitten a hundred pages of a play. Peter wants to help. It may be a play about the backstage antics of a Broadway show? Or, a failed marriage?

"Chorus" presents a little bit of Gypsy; a smattering of A Chorus Line.  Certainly, playwright, Arlene Hutton, has spent time backstage and if she created "KJ" from her own experience, it's a slice of theatre  life that is summed up warmly with the anecdotes and "remember when's"  bantered back and forth by Brenda and Audrey as the show packs up and the cast and crew scatter to the four winds.


Samantha Tan as “KJ,” 

Avery Clyde as “Audrey,” 

Amy Tolsky as “Brenda,” 

Juan Pope as “Peter,” 

Maria Spassoff (first two weeks); 

Cherish Monique Duke (final weeks) as “Mallory,” 

Jacqueline Misaye as “Nicki,” 

Julia Manis as “Linda,” 

Gloria Ines as “Monica,” 

Kristyn Evelyn as “Jessica,” 

Brittany Visser as “Joyce,” 

Mara Klein as “Stacie,” 

Danny Lee Gomez as “Van,” 

 Gidget Carradine as “Olivia the Dog.”

The World Premiere of


Written by Arlene Hutton

Directed by Emily Chase


Opens: Friday, October 21 at 8pm

Runs: Friday, October 21 – Sunday, December 11, 2022

Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm.


Previews: Tuesday, October 18; Wednesday, October 19

& Thursday, October 20 at 8pm


The Road Theatre

10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA  91601


Tickets: $39.00

Previews: $15.00

Students/Seniors: $15.00

Sunday Performances are Pay-What-You-Can


For tickets – visit or call 818-761-8838





Monday, October 24, 2022

Leslie Jordan / Brother Boy

 Monday Octobr 24, 2022

Leslie Jordan and Del Shores


Leslie Jordan dies.

I didn't know Leslie Jordan very well.  When I first saw him in one of Del Shores' first hit plays.. was it Sordid Lives or Daddy's Dyin'..?? it was clear that this guy was fearless and a dedicated artist. 

We all mourn the loss of loved ones.. mostly when they have lived a long life and gravity and time has caught up with us.  Leslie was only 67, according to the LA Times report. Car crash in Hollywood. 

For those who really knew him, The Alexanders and Del Shores and Ann Walker.. friends of mine.. this is a serious blow.  How a guy so full of life and love is gone is a weight that takes the breath away.

The few times Leslie and I chatted, he was present and warm and engaged.  It seemed to be easy in spite of the Celebrity that he had become.  His warmth and humility and kindness are goals for all of us.

Please hold a good thought for Leslie's family and friends and for the millions whom he made not only laugh but embraced with kindness his life as a gay guy who was unparalleled and never ashamed.  


Michael Sheehan

Saturday, October 22, 2022


ICT.. the Interntional City Theatre in Long Beach is an elegant space.  It's sort of a mini Taper featuring a thrust stage. Producer caryn desai (e.e. cummings may be a muse) is a welcoming hostess. 

"Lend Me A Tenor" by Ken Ludwig is one of those theatrical staples, first produced in London in 1986, but takes place in Cleveland circa 1934.  It comes around now and then and is, if nothing else: comfortable and lots of fun. 

Directed by Todd Nielsen, famous Italian Tenor Tito Merelli (Michael Scott Harris) has been hired to perform "Pagliacci" for a benefit for the Clevelnad Opera Society (I spelled Paigiacci right on the first pass! EDIT.. Okay. I was tired and am leaving this because it is typical of me an getting names wrong!   It's 1934. Tito is late.  Let the fun begin. And, it does! This old show has all the doors and all the elements of mistaken identity and doors and the business of physical comedy that calls attention to itself in spades.  And, doors!

Suffice it to say that every single character brought to life by every single actor in this show is in the same play and on the same stage and having the same fun.. clearly joyful stuff.. that the playwright intends and director, Todd Nielsen, has brought to life.

Max (Nick Tubbs), enamoured of Maggie (Bella Hicks)  is the guy who is responsible for collecting and looking after the famous Italian. Tito is late!

Matt Curtin and Bella Hicks
Photo by Kayte Deiomathe famoud

Tito finally arrives (looking just a tad like Mussolini!). Max is tasked with making sure Tito is ready for the big benefit for the Cleveland Opera folks.    When he finally does arrive, along with his cutie patootie wife, Maria (Jade Santana), Hot Italian Fireworks erupt and without creating a huge Spoiler Alert: Tito is magnanimous, Maria is jealous.  cute blonde Maggie is nuts for Tito and the first act finds Max and Maggie's dad, Saunders, (over the top Barry Pearl) in a pickle.  

I should have said at the outset that J.R. Luker's gorgeous and fully functional set in the fancy Cleveland hotel with six delicious doors;  immediately telegraphs the idea of a wonderful farce. It is perfect. Simultaneous business in the fancy bedroom and the parlor/sitting room with a 'poof' works.

I was thrown for a minute when Diana, the hotsie totsie local soprano "working her way" through the men in the opera cast, played by Kailyn Leilani,  showed up looking a lot like Maria.  Resident Costume designer, Kimberly DeShazo's beautiful wardrobe choices for the whole company are spot on late thirties, but virtually duplicate red dresses on Diana and Maria made me check the program. 

Our obligatory matron, Holly Jeanne as Julia with enough glitter on her gown and tiara to illumniate the entire theatre is welcome.  

Max has declared that he could perform Paigliacci (just in case EDIT.. DID IT AGAIN!) but you'll have to see the show to get that part and the subsequent doors, doors, doors and doors! which make for a fun & fast paced show.  It is truly a delicious production.  

I said to my friend on the way out, that the curtain call alone is worth the price of admission.. and it is! Well performed physical comedy is no small feat. And... best of all, it is clear that every member of the cast is having a great time.  Well... there's the Bell Boy .. Go and see why the Bell Boy (Matt Curtin ), from time to time knocks it out of the park. 

Broad physical farce calls for perfect timing and even though the business of mistaken identity and manipulated plot is far beyond belief, this production draws us in and slaps us around and a good time is had by all. 

Go for the extraordinary Curtain Call having had to catch your breath a time or two with the other silliness. 


Matt Curtin as the Bell Hop

Michael Scott Harris as Tito Merelli

Bella Hicks as Maggie

Holly Jeanne as Julia

Kailyn Leilani as Diana

Barry Pearl as Saunders

Jade Santana as Maria

Nick Tubbs as Max

LEND ME A TENOR by Ken Ludwig 

Directed by  Todd Nielsen

Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

Performances: Oct. 21 – Nov. 6. 2022

• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 20 (preview), Oct. 27, Nov. 3
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 21 (Opening Night), Oct. 28, Nov.4
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 5
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 2022

Tickets and information:

(562) 436-4610


Sunday, October 9, 2022


 "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" is an Orange County premiere presented by The Chance Theater, written by Kristoffer Diaz; directed by Jeremy Aluma.. 
After a two year enorced hiatus, the Chance Theatre in Anaheim has rallied to construct a full sized wrestling ring in their La Palma space and on we go with a bizarre and energetic take on the world of professional wrestling, moral ethics and a huge dose of silliness. 
Full disclosure.  My friend, Hank Garrett, an actor I've known for many years, was a body builder and professional wrestler in the long ago days when the 'tour' took the show around the country. Therefore,  my take on this play will be colored by the wonderful stories that Hank has told me. For reference, he's the Postman in Three Days of The Condor who broke Robert Redford's nose in the big fight in Faye Dunaway's apartment. . 
Name dropping aside, Chad Deity is a fascinating story of how fall guy, aka "jobber" Macedonio Guerra (Ruby Solis III) finds his way in the morass of politics and racism, to have a life in the ring. Together with Vigneshwar Paduar (RJ Navarra Balde II) their rise to the "top" unfolds. These actors rock the show!
 RJ Navarra Balde II and Rudy Solis III Photo by Scott York   
Thanks to director Jeremy Aluma's beautiful stage pictures, the production values are top notch and the sleazy grandeur of the world of "professional" wrestling unfolds ..  An appreciative audience seemed to 'get' the story better than I did. Solis amazing ability to memorize and deliver the very long narrations in his casual and meaningful way is pretty amazing. Director Aluma has created beautiful stage pictures and Kara Ramlow 's impressive lighting design almost becomes another character in the show. 
Of course, it's all about the 'show' and promoter EKO (over the top  James Michael McHale) manipulates his crew to make a million bucks a month all on the backs of the actual workers. Londale Theus Jr. as Chad Deity rocks and one bit using a machine gun device to shoot money into the audience is worth the price of admission alone. 
All presentational and essentially two dimensional, a tribute to how most of us have always perceived professional wrestling. We know it's staged. We know it's fake. We know it's a performance with a script and blood and costumes and hype, that, evidently, is the appeal. The polemic of how Mace, the guy who grew up loving the spectacle of good guys and bad guy wrestlers on TV and finds his way, after a goodly amount of nonsense with including his pal, over the top with energy and rap,   RJ Navarra Balde II as Vigneshwar Paduar, THE FUNDAMENTALIST, the guys have an epiphany and the rest is silence. Admittedly, there may be a nuanced message here, but I can't find it. The sheer blatant blather by all concerned, highly theatrical, really beautifully played and staged by all concerned, is so contrived that even the epiphany for Mace to quit the game and VP's departure to hustle cuties over in Brooklyn in several different languages remains a mystery to me. Though the spectacle works.. it left me wondering if this is an important piece of theatre with its two dimensional characters presented not unlike the wrestling shows that I grew up with years ago and continues to make millions as 'entertainment' today? I asked a young man several years ago why he was such a huge fan of Wrestlemania? Without dropping a stitch, he said, "It's entertainment." 
 Creative Team:

Scenic Designer Fred Kinney
Fight director
Martin Noyes 

Projection designer Nick Santiago 

Lighting designer Kara Ramlow 

Costume designer Bradley Allen Lock 

Sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett 

Stage manager Kaylee Mesa  

Dramaturg Joseph Galizia 


Rudy Solis III as Macedonio Guerra  

Londale Theus Jr. as Chad Deity,

 James Michael McHale as Everett K. Olson

 RJ Navarra Balde II as Vigneshwar Paduar Aaron McGee as The Bad Guy

Matt Takahashi as the Referee.  


Directed by  Jeremy Aluma

The Chance Theatre

Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center on the Cripe Stage

5522 E. La Palma Ave.

Anaheim, CA 92807

October 1 -October 23, 2022

Fridays at 8 p.m., 

Saturdays at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m., 

Sundays at 3 p.m. 

TICKETS: $20-$39 

(888) 455-4212