Sunday, July 16, 2023


dot dot dot.. Or how bitterness killed the fun.

(Critic's comment..  Sometimes I make up my own words and spellings.  In this review, it was pointed out to me that somehow, I spelled 'crabs' 'clams'. well, it's seafood, right?.. Fact is that this energetic romp has ideas and interests well beyond the obvious and I recommend it.  Clams would not have been nearly as interesting as the crabs.. )


Do not be fooled by the title of this world premiere play by pinchy Bernardo Cubria. It may sound like lunch or dinner or it may well be an allegory, but the crabs we meet in Crabs in a Bucket present pretty much as .. well:  crabs. (far out set by Amanda Knehans). Blue crab costumes by Lou Cranch rock.

Jordan Hull, Michael Sturgis
Anna LaMadrid and Xochitl Romero
Photo by Cooper Bates

I find the use of gender neutral pronouns confusing and even a little unsettling.. but. we are in the land of self diagnosed gender fluid or sis gender or gay or bi or other bits of the current approach to self determination, whether I like it or not, this is Society 2023 and these crabs : crabby and philosophical and thoughtful, remind me of what might happen if in some fantasy land of authors Michael McClure met Franz Kafka who got a text message from Samuel Beckett. Certainly, pinchy Cubria, the author, may have, at least a passing interest in each of these guys. This World Premiere is funny and thought provoking and if you sit in the Crabby Zone:   watch out! 

Amargo (Xochitl Romero) and Pootz (Anna LaMadrid) sit center stage.  They are thirty years of age and have been in the shucking bucket for a long time.  Getting out is a goal, but.. here they sit.

The crabs are blue. Longing to escape.. Pootz and Amargo sit.. longingly. The remnants of other departed crabs litter the stage.

The door marked "The Before" upstage center is a verboten door. Why? Is that where the crabs lived 'before' they found their way to the bucket. Is the Outside really the wonderful next step? 

The ennui of Pootz and Amargo is broken by a fast moving and adorable Beb (Jordan Hull): A sidewalk surfer! who half awakens and mostly annoys the old timers. What the crabs don't need is competition to make it to the rim and the Outside. Competition and flurry and frenzy in the Crabby Zone inevitably zonks the escapees back to the bottom of the bucket.  The story of a pink thing with fingers sometimes reaching in to pluck a crab to the other side seems like a myth. 

Beb is a breath of fresh air who quickly learns that big energy is not all that welcome.  

Fun fact:  Evidently, in real life, one solitary crab in a bucket can usually find its way out easily. But if there's more than one crab in the bucket,  they will fight tooth and nail.. or claw and something like teeth in their stomachs!  to get to the lip of the bucket and on to The Outside and 'freedom.'

  It's the prime directive.. Get Out!! 

Foreshadowing gives us a peek at an escapee, Mamon (Michael Sturgis), whom the detainees recall as one who made it out. "They" were a playcrab who shucked just about every other crab in the bucket!! Earthquake!!  sends the crabs scrambling.. and magically appears Mamon! Mamon who was literally plucked from the bucket by a gigantic pink five legged thing.  They grill him about what's happened and he can only say.. ."it's complicated."

The allegory is not easy for me to follow.. I suspect that those chosen few may wind up at Red Lobster.  Another alarm and the scramble for the top of the bucket puts the audience into the Crabby Zone!  Ow!

If Cubria has reincarnation on his mind.. or Godot? it's hard to tell.  The absurd elements are in place and like Godot, Pootz and Amargo remain. Begin again?   More chit?


Amargo:   Xochitl Romero
Pootz:       Anna LaMadrid
Beb:          Jordan Hull
Mamon:    Michael Sturgis

Crabs in a Bucket:
Or how bitterness ruined the fun

by Bernardo Cubria
Directed by Alana Dietze
World Premie

Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

 Performances: July 15 – August 21
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: July 12 ONLY (preview)
Thursday at 8 p.m.: July 13 ONLY (preview)
Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 14 (preview), July 21, July 28, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 18
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 15 (opening night), July 22, July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19
Sundays at 4 p.m.: July 16, July 23, July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 13, Aug. 20
Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 17, July 24, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 14, Aug. 21


FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater

Tickets and Information:
(310) 307-3753


Saturday, July 15, 2023


Sarah Scott Davis, Ellen D. Williams,
Stephanie Pardi, Lindsay LaVanchy,
Tamika Katon-Donegal, Ann Sonneville,
Noelle Messier, Stasha Surdyke
Photo by Frank Ishman

Forty years after their very successful run of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,  the Fountain Theatre remounts the play in the outdoor setting where I used to  park my car!  This idea works...  Mostly. On arrival audience members are given head phones with the promise that the play can be heard. The problem is that all voices come from the devices and because some of the actors' voices are similar, one has to be on the ball to catch who is saying what and to whom.  

There is a strong ensemble bond with this cast. It's a straight play.. Well, it's a lesbian play  presented in a straight forward way.  Some cultural references like David Susskind and Phil Donohue date the era and thus, the various levels of concern  that Kitty and a few of the women fear, some more than others regarding being outed. 

Enter Eva (Lindsay LaVanchy) who, after twelve years of marriage is leaving her husband and winds up renting a summer cabin on Bluefish Cove. She immediatly  discovers Lil (Ann Sonneville) and after a bit of  brief foreplay, the inevetible becomes inevitable. 

With Gay Pride Month now behind us and this, the second play in a week that features a gay(ish) theme, it's important to note that forty years ago the mores of "polite society" came down hard on folks outside the accepted hetero spectrum.  This fictional resort of Bluefish Cove is a safe harbor for women who love women. The sorority of these gals vacationing together has long been a safe abd  secure tradition.

Queen Bee Kitty Cochrane (Sara Scott Davis) writes  books to empower women.  Should the secret of her sexual preference  be revealed, it could mean curtains for her career.  Does the newcomer pose a threat?   The exposition and modest dustups never come to serious blows and the title of the piece is revealed  in a sad denoument. 

Seeing strong dedicated actors delivering the goods and these daughters of Lesbos portrayed as human beings with hardly a single stereotype   in the bunch (mostly..) serves the idea that people are people. They are successful and productive individuals who simply deserve to live their lives.

Desma Murphy's beautiful set works well in this outdoor setting. It's a comfort play for the burgeoning community of everyone: gay, sraight or otherwise,  who truly believes that equality for all is a must.  Kudos to this production.


Kitty Cochrane
Sarah Scott Davis*
Allison Husko*
Rita Sanderson
Tamika Katon-Donegal
Eva Margolis
Lindsay LaVanchy
Annie Joseph
Noelle Messier*
Donna Atterly
Stephanie Pardi
Lillian (Lil) Zalinski
Ann Sonneville*
Sue McMillan
Stasha Surdyke*
Ellen D. Williams*


 *Indicates membership in Actors Equity.


by Jane Chambers

Directed by  Hannah Wolf

The Fountain Theatre

Outdoor Stage
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)  

Performances: June 17 – Aug. 27
Wednesday at 7 p.m.: June 14 ONLY (preview)
Thursday at 7 p.m.: June 15 ONLY (preview)
Fridays at 7 p.m.: June 16 (preview), 23, 30; July 7, 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25
Saturdays at 7 p.m.: June 17 (opening), 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; 12, 19, 26 (dark Aug. 5)
Sundays at 7 p.m.: June 18, 25; July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; 13, 20, 27 (dark Aug. 6
Mondays at 7 p.m.: June 26; July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Aug. 7, 21 (dark June 19 and Aug. 14)  

Arrive early and note the early curtain time. Parking may be a challenge.  Uber?

Tickets and information:

(323) 663-1525 or





Saturday, July 8, 2023


THEATRE WEST, founded in 1962 by a raft of Hollywood illuminaries is the oldest surviving professional theatre company in Los Angeles. Nurturing new theatre, Theatre West is the 'beating heart' of the Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. Providing space for this production of The Garden of Alla reflects its dedication to keeping Hollywood History alive. 

 Romy Nordlinger reaches back a hundred years, surfing the history of the legendary actress, Alla Nazimova (1878-1945).  Alla  declares that she is "not a woman, not a man, not tall, not short, not fat, not thin..." But! as Nazimova, Nordlinger is all woman: dramatically feminine  in perfect proportions.  With the term 'gender fluid' on the lips of hip kids in the 21st century, Alla flows well into the distaff side in her Garden of Alla.  Pre-show trailer gives us an intimate look at the real life Nazimova: actress, director, writer, producer.  A clip of the 1923 silent film " Salomé " features a single card Director credit for Charles Bryant. It is quickly blotted out and Alla Nazimova filled in. In the days when being gay was not only unacceptable in polite society, but could ruin someone's reputation, Bryant outed Nazimova to her demise.

Romy Nordlinger
Photo by David Wayne Fox

Director Lorca Peress gives Nordlinger her head.  Stage pictures are minimal with Alla calling 'Roll Film' and 'CUT!' to include Adam Jesse Burns's excellent videos and graphics. These  accompaied by Score and Sound Design by Nick T. Moore. 

The presentation starts on a high energy note with some tentative business with a martini and unsuccessful cigarette, but warms to the narrative ranging from Nazimova's difficult early childhood in Ukraine, through encounters with Stanislavski and Chekhov;  to New York: fame and fortune, winding up in Hollywood making more dough than Mary Pickford (we detect a smidge of professional jealousy) and building her Garden of Allah on what would become the easterly end of the Sunset Strip.

Today? Heading out Sunset Boulevard where the Garden of Allah once stood, the McDonald's that Nordlinger decries in this production is gone. Dust Devils scuttle on the bare earth at Sunset & Laurel Canyon in anticipation of famed Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry's looming high rise plan  for that corner, the ghosts of early Hollywood, Nazimova among them...   may be waiting to haunt towering skyscraper?   Another sorry monument to blot out the sun setting on Sunset Boulevard? Joni Mitchell now has new fodder: a sad image for the loss of Old Hollywood.

Certainly, holding stage for almost an hour and a half is an impressive tour de force. A raft of glorious reviews notwithstanding, we get the story, but it seemed to me that the soul of Nazimova may be waiting in the wings.  

The  Garden of Alla
• Written and Performed by Romy Nordlinger
• Directed by Lorca Peress
• Video Design by Adam Jesse Burns
• Score and Sound Design by Nick T. Moore

Theatre West
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Los Angeles, CA 90068 

(Between Barham and Lankershim on Cahuemga)

• Metered street parking
• Paid lot ($10 cash only) available across the street from the theater

$35 online with advance purchase
$40 at the door

(323) 851-7977

 July 7 – July 23
Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 7, July 14, July 21
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 8*, July 15*, July 22
Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 9**, July 16, July 23
*Screenings of Nazimova’s Salomé(1923) and Camille(1921) follow the performances on Saturday, July 8 and Saturday, July 15 respectively (included in the ticket price; separate admission $5).
**A Q & A with Martin Turnbull, founder of The Alla Nazimova Society and author of the 9-book
Hollywood’s Garden of Allahseries follows the performance on Sunday, July 9.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023


 It occurs to me that even though the readership of my modest critiques of local theatre productions is small compared to the readers of Charles McNulty of the LA Times: a very  eloquent guy!  And,  my scholarship when it comes to the depths of theatre may pale compared to others who write about the local Los Angeles theatre scene, my ideas may be simple but my need to share them  is on me.

The closing of The Mark Taper Forum for the remainder of the 2023 - 2024 season  is a travesty. Money is the culprit.

Every person who ever encountered Gordon Davidson, the Real McCoy when it came to the love of theatre, would testify that his love and ability to gather the community together to create productions that were not only entertaining, but educational and socially relevant was considerable.  When in a chat with Gordon,  you were the only person  in the room.  He was always laser focused and attentive and responsive to every person he encountered. It’s this quality that defines the vision that Gordon had for Center Theatre Group and especially, The Taper.
This is to stand and applaud .. again.. the work that Gordon championed and produced for the many years he led the charge to share good stuff with our community.
This new CTG guy, Snehal Desai, has a strong connection to ‘community’, right?  This is to reach out to him and the powers that be to gather the forces of all of the small theatre energy in Los Angeles, like the company he formerly led, East West Players, who partnered with CTG to put up Sweat Shop  Overloard at the Kirk Douglas.  It may be an idea to  lobby deep pockets Hollywood folks to create an opportunity for work like Antaeus’s The Tempest and The Fountain’s Last Summer at Blue Fish  Cove to come to The Taper?  Other pocket producers like Martha Demson. Chris Fields and Ron Sossi must be invited to meet and discuss ways, through volunteerism,  perhaps? with the cooperation of Actors Equity??  to open the doors to The Taper to bring our Community back to fill the seats and celebrate what Theatre is supposed to do: 

Bring us together!    Community.

July 4, 2023

Saturday, July 1, 2023


Glendale's Antaeus Theatre Company has always been innovative. Currently, in their intimate Broadway / Glendale space, Antaeus brings to life a favorite Shakespeare play  of mine: The Tempest. Director Nike Doukas splashes the Antaeus stage with the energy of a perfect storm. Read the play, then!!   Come prepared to sing. The magic island doesn't exactly bubble out of the roiling sea, but the bottom line is that it is a 'must see.'   (Please copy and paste if the link is not working)

Ms Doukas has made some adjustments to the characters that work pretty well. If you love theatre or might like to have an  affair, this is the show to see. 

Peter Van Norden and Ensemble
Photo by Frank Ishman

The audience enters the space in a new way. There's a party going on with music and dancing. John Harvey lays down  a great beat on drums: raising the roof as we immediately get the idea:  It's a play! A performance: High Octane Bard of Avon! 

Scenic Designer Angela Balogh Calin's set is strewn with the stuff of the show: props and sound makers. A winding staircase ascends to the flies and The Tempest comes alive. But! if you don't know the play, it might be a stretch.  Mariners and the lost company are tempest tossed by the magical waves.

  Original music by John Ballinger and the feeling of a 1940s Radio Drama unfolds, complete with sound effects and foley. The actors are at once performers as well as their characters on microphones that bring the text clearly to life.  No one much ever leaves the stage and clever lighting by Lighting Designer Vickie J. Scott moves us from the sea to the island and landed locations in a way that makes this unusual style acceptably  presentational. We believe two things at the same time.  The actors are all spot on.

The exposed brick upstage wall makes sure we know exactly where we are and at the same time in each locale where the Royals land (Bernard K. Addison as Antonio, John Allee as Sebastian, Adrian LaTourelle  as King Alonso  AND with the clowns plays Stephano! and Saundra McClain as Gonzala), as well as Trinkula and Stephano (Erin Pineda and  Adrian LaTourelle) encountering Caliban (excellent JD Cullum).

In Prospero's (Peter Van  Norden)  cel, we come back to  where he plays chess with Miranda (adorable Anja Racić)  and meet King Alonso's  son, Ferdinand (Peter Mendoza). Of course, Ferdy  immediately collapses to the charms of fair maid, Miranda, who has no recollection of seeing a man.. well..  besides her own father. (Caliban played by excellent JD Cullum also rocking electric guitar doesn't count!)

All in all though the emotional depth of Shakespeare's imagination may not be plumbed, the basic foundations of these iconic characters, the story unfolds with music and style. Familiar lines feel right. The device of microphones combines with Julie Keen's perfect costumes. This Antaeus production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest is a pure delight.

The Players

Peter Van Norden   as Prospero,

 Anja Racić as Miranda; 

Peter Mendoza as Ferdinand,  

 Elinor Gunn as Ariel; 

JD Cullum as  Caliban

Bernard K. Addison as Antonio

John Allee as Sebastian, 

Adrian LaTourelle as  Alonso & Stephano

Saundra McClain as Gonzala

 Erin Pineda as  Trincula. 

Musicians: John Allee on piano, JD Cullum on guitar, and John Harvey on percussion.  

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Nike Doukas

Antaeus Theatre Company

Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205

June 30 – July 30:
Fridays at 8 p.m.: June 30, July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28
Saturdays at 2 p.m & 8 p.m.: July 1, July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29 (no matinees on July 1, July 29)
Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30
Mondays at 8 p.m.:  July 10, July 17, July 24

Tickets and information:
(818) 506-1983