Sunday, August 13, 2023


The Red Suitcase by Jiggs Burgess has its world premiere at the Broadwater.. in Hollywood.  

Del Shores is an old pal.. I've reviewd most of Del's well crafted theatre pieces.  Del directs this play delivering much of the same energy that he gives his own writing.  

At rise Pogue (short for Pogo, the Possum) Emerson Collins,  breaks the fourth wall to posit that there are no real beginnings and no real endings.. The eventual theme of redemption via story telling and sincere effort is satisfying. For the most part,it works.

Shores' use of the wide Broadwater Space allows actors to . mostly. remain on the stage, often changing wardrobe in full view of the audience, as the story unfolds. It works. There's a dog! Created by Krys Fehairvari, Sparky, is manipulated by Tiago Santos and Mat  Hayes. Sparky factors beautifully into how Pogue learns about life in a difficult way.

Performance levels from the main characters are varied.  April, Pogue's mother,   (Kristen McCullough) is sympathetic but bullied by Bud, Pogue's dad, (Bruce Melena) who adminsters corporal punishment to 'toughen the kid up." 

As Pogue's loving and sympathetic Grandmother Evans, Charlotte Louise White has a bit of trouble with levels of response. As with other misunderstood kids, Pogue gravitates to his grandmother to receive  the understanding and affection he wishes he could share with his parents.

Blake McIver, assisted Shores by choreographing some effective movement using the many prop suitcases to create action scenes. McIver also composed the song Pogue & April hum with the Ensemble.
The Red Suitcase is a gay polemic that brings to the fore one more time the story of a kid who discovers his homosexuality after being bullied and literally beaten into what might have been submission by his father;  berated by a horrible teacher (Pam Trotter) and, tragically, to fall in love at the age of ten or so with Charlie (Mat Hayes) only to be discovered by Mrs. Prig (Trotter).  The love of Pogue's life vanishes  without a trace.

There's a lot to be said for Jesus Hurtado's scenic design and the use of suitcases of every description to advance the theme of The Red Suitcase, which Pogue relates to us at the outset. The Red Suitcase might actually be Pogue, himslef... filling up with memories.   Hurtado's video projections are terrific.

In "Our Town" it's the Stage Manager who breaks the fourth wall to narrate the goings on in Grover's Corners.  Here, some of the characters have effective moments of communion with the audience. Somewhat predictably we meet Pogue as a child and, then, return to his childhood, advancing through adolescence,  learning the East Texas Way of being beaten and thanking his abuser for the experience. 

Hurtado's scenic design and Video projections  illuminate the  chapters in the life of a Texas kid who was dropped on his head at birth and rose to become a person who is, was and continues to be, in fact, brilliant and educated and gay. 

Tiago Santos, Emerson Collins and Bruce Melena star in the world premiere of “THE RED SUITCASE” - Written by Jiggs Burgess, directed by Del Shores and now playing at the Broadwater Main Stage Theatre.

Judicious cutting might bring the story more a pace.  It's a brand new play. World premiere.. For confirmation of the essential issue of redemption and love for those who have been outed and abused and risen to clarity for themselves, this a fine example of how love may redeem us all. 

Michael Sheehan



typos and missed spellings and wrong information comes from my loose way of writing a review.  No excuses, except that the business of spelling names and credits may be listed in the actual program, but access to them on line is not always possible.  Bottom line is that with few reservations, I think that this story is told sincerely and with skill.  If it was played without an act break and the pace was tighter, that would have been more interesting to me.

Below is the press release for this show.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    PRESS CONTACT: David Elzer






in association with the Del Shores Foundation and

Beard Collins Shores Productions

present The World Premiere of


Written by Jiggs Burgess


Directed by Del Shores


Limited Engagement begins performances Thursday, August 10

at The Broadwater Theatre in Los Angeles!



July 31, 2023…Los Angeles, CA…P3 THEATRE COMPANY, in association with the Del Shores Foundation and Beard Collins Shores Productions, presents the world premiere of THE RED SUITCASE, written by Jiggs Burgess, directed by Del Shores, assistant directed &  additional staging by Blake McIver Ewing, and starring Emerson Collins. Mr. Burgess’ previous play, Wounded, recently won the “International Fringe Encore Series Award” at the 2023 Hollywood Fringe Festival giving it a 4-week Off-Broadway run at the Soho Playhouse in NYC in January 2024.  THE RED SUITCASE will preview on Thursday, August 10 & Friday, August 11 at 8pm; will open on Saturday, August 12 at 8pm and perform weekends through Sunday, September 3 at the Broadwater Theatre Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way in Los Angeles.


The Best Play Winner in the “Del Shores Foundation Writers Search,” THE RED SUITCASE, follows the life of Pogue from his unusual birth to the death of his father. The play explores the sometimes difficult relationship between fathers and sons and the many moments, stories, and characters that build a person and a life. Pogue is led on a journey to unpack his memories that takes him from, “we are the sins of our ancestors” to “we are the hope of our ancestors.” A play of family, survival, and finding ourselves in the stories that made us. 



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DEL SHORES (Director) has written, directed, and produced successfully across studio and independent film, network, and cable television, and regional and national touring theatre. He is the writer/director/producer of the films Sordid Lives, Blues for Willadean, Southern Baptist Sissies, and A Very Sordid Wedding. He wrote and executive produced the MGM feature Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got The Will? He has written eleven plays, produced thousands of times worldwide, and four adapted for the screen.  His publisher is Samuel French/Concord Theatricals. In television, Del wrote, directed, executive produced, and created the LOGO series, Sordid Lives: The Series. He also wrote and executive produced Showtime's Queer As Folk for the last three seasons and wrote and produced for Dharma & Greg and Ned & Stacey. He has directed Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer; Grammy Award winner Olivia Newton-John; Emmy winners/nominees Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Leslie Jordan, Bonnie Bedelia, Bobbie Eakes, Patrika Darbo, and Rue McClanahan; Spirit Award winner Dale Dickey; Screen Actor's Guild Award-winner Beth Grant; as well as Caroline Rhea, Debby Holiday and David Steen. As a performer, Shores has performed in hundreds of standup gigs, with multiple national tours and four live filmed DVDs including his one-man play Six Characters In Search of a Play. He is a GLAAD Award, NAACP Award, and an LA Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award winner.  In March 2023, he was given The Chuck Rowland Pioneer Award “for groundbreaking and distinguished achievements in LGBTQ+ playwriting and arts advocacy by The Celebration Theatre.


JIGGS BURGESS (Playwright) was the inaugural winner of the Del Shores Foundation Writer’s Search for The Red Suitcase. Jiggs’ work also been a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill playwriting competition. Produced by P3 Theatre Company, Wounded, act two of his play Wounded/Sparrow, was performed to great acclaim at the 2023 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Other works, including The Girl In The White Pinafore, The Book of Dog, and Anna Mae continue to be produced coast to coast in educational theatre. This is his first full professional production as well as the world premiere of The Red Suitcase.


BLAKE MCIVER EWING (Assistant Director/Additional Staging) Regional directing credits include productions of The Light in the Piazza, Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA, & Hairspray.




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Off Broadway, he directed and choreographed I Dream of Jackie & I Dream of Jackie 2: Jackie’s Nightmare for Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Jackie Cox. Blake conceived and directed an immersive concert of the three musical versions of the “A Star is Born” films at Rockwell Table & Stage in LA as well as directed and choreographed the multi-city “Ménage A Tour” for recording artist Ariana Savalas. Blake has toured extensively with his own cabarets “Blake Sings Barbra: The 94 Concert” & “Confessions of a Child Co-Star” and last year he and Emerson Collins performed a 12-city tour of their duo cabaret review “I Dreamed a Dreamgirl.”


The Cast of THE RED SUITCASE will feature: Emerson Collins as “Pogue,” Kristen McCullough as “April,” Bruce Melena as “Bud,” Charlotte Louise White as “Grandma Evans,” Mat Hayes as “Player 1,” Pam Trotter as “Player 2,” and Tiago Santos as “Player 3.


The Design Team for THE RED SUITCASE is as follows: Scenic and Projections Design by Jesus Hurtado; Lighting Design by Frank McKown; Sound Design by Adam Matthew; Costume Design by Shon LeBlanc; Wigs & Props Design by Krys Fehervari.  The Production Stage Manager is Anna Kupershmidt.




THE RED SUITCASE will preview on Thursday, August 10 at 8pm & Friday, August 11 at 8pm; will open on Saturday, August 12 at 8pm (press opening) and perform through Sunday, September 3 at 2pm at the Broadwater Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way in Los Angeles.


Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm. 


Ticket prices range from $33 - $38.


Tickets and additional information available online at


For more information, photos, press interviews or for press comps, please contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or at

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P3 Theatre Company opened its doors in the fall of 2019 in Long Beach, CA, six months prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic. Since that time, P3 has produced shows throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (where they won the “International Fringe Encore Series Award” with WOUNDED, also by Jiggs Burgess, which will be produced at the Soho Playhouse in NYC for a 1-month off-Broadway run in January 2024 as well as the Hollywood Fringe Producers’ Encore, Best of Broadwater, and Pick of the Fringe Awards). With their Pragmatic, Progressive, and Passionate approach to the Arts and Arts Education, P3 Theatre Company holds steadfast in their commitment to the community through their educational programming and community partnerships with organizations such as Compassionate Artists and that make the Arts available to the underserved population.


The Del Shores Foundation’s mission is to find and facilitate the development of new Southern queer artistic voices through bringing together artists and working professionals, amplifying new work, and connecting artists to platforms for the creation of the work. The Del Shores Foundation Writers Search launched in 2021 and as the winner of Best Play, "The Red Suitcase" is being presented with the support of the $10,000 Del Shores Foundation Play Production Grant sponsored by Dennis Frisman.  The Foundation presented its first Writers Festival in the fall of 2022. For more information on the Del Shores Foundation's programs, visit                 

Calendar Listing:


Written by Jiggs Burgess

Directed by Del Shores



Thursday, August 10 at 8pm &

Friday, August 11 at 8pm


Opens: Saturday, August 12 at 8pm (Press Opening)


Runs: Thursday, August 10 – Sunday, September 3, 2023


Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm;

Sundays at 2pm.


Broadwater Theatre Mainstage

1076 Lillian Way,

Los Angeles, 90038 


Tickets: $33.00 - $38.00


Tickets available online at:

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