Category Archives: Reviews

Bang Bang at Highways Performance Space

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Mike Ciriaco and Michael Matts in

Mike Ciriaco and Michael Matts in “Bang Bang” . Photo credit: Gina Long.

Butt fucking, blow jobs, penis tugging and pistols…exibitionism ranks high in what is otherwise a very old school character monolog driven presentation of sex, lies, confessions, more sex and videotapes in Bang Bang currently playing at Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA.

If you’re here for a fun night out, be prepared…casual or easy is NOT what’s on display. Bang Bang audience members will find plenty of the content invariably homoerotic, emotionally everywhere, immature, funny, often disjointed, and despite the nudity and stories developed from headline news within this piece, and in the oddest of ways, wildly ordinary .  

Backing up…Bang Bang written by American playwright Michael Kearns as presented has a balance of power at work here. One one hand it has the edifice of being highly gratuitous, on the other there is an efficacious subtly . The subjects themselves have important dialog to express.  There is a NEED to be heard. The ideas within this piece are very charged…some of the script in fact, downright, deliciously hard-core, dealing with school shootings, murder and molestation. There is a realness and compassion written into this work which finds direction through storytelling. But the character work at times comes across as vanilla and the end result was not as impactful as I would have expected.  And I did expect a literal Bang BANG! 

The poetic line housed inside the piece threading together a multitude of stories of guns, shooting, sex and sexual violence, Irish con man Padric, romping around stage sadistically “playing” everyone and filmmaker Peter are the most compelling elements in this tale with the extraordinary exception of actor David Pevsner’s spot on believability – bar none – as psychiatrist Dr. Jack L/Mr. Hide & Seek.

Mr. Pevsner’s throw down of his characters, the concerned, highly curious doctor who transitions into a methe- addicted serial killer, is impeccable, volumptous and gritty and where the story finds its true denouement long before the ending. In a phrase, “He nails it!” – the characters, the life of the thread, all the emotions and the true violence presented.

This is the last weekend to experience Bang Bang. Two performances left.

Highly recommended.

Synopsis:

Peter, one of the play’s main characters, is a documentary filmmaker and his film-in-progress (titled Bang Bang) reveals the heartbroken lives of the viscerally wounded. The documentary that is being filmed becomes the play: a collage of confessionals and testimonies, intimacies of sexual rage, and arias of palpable loss.

A man loses his black son in a white cop shooting; a woman loses her husband and daughter in a random school shooting; an elderly man plans to off his wife, who is in the throes of Alzheimer’s; a prostitute murders her boyfriend-pimp; a gay therapist morphs into a meth-addicted serial killer; a cop relives his experience of removing children from a schoolroom that was “a sea of blood.”

But Peter’s film shoot is interrupted by Padric, a charismatic Irish con-man who steals not only hearts, but stories…

Bang Bang

Mark Bringelson, Director
Michael Kearns, Moon Mile Run Partner & Playwright

With: Mike Ciriaco, Michael Matts, JoNell Kennedy, Lizzie Peet, David PevsnerRyland and Shelton

Highways Performance Space
18th Street Arts Center
1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA

Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30pm

TICKETS: $20 in advance ($15 for students, Highways members, and seniors)

Online: https://ww04.elbowspace.com/secure/20060523121621515002

Phone: 310-315-1459

INFORMATION:

www.highwaysperformance.org

La Caberet a la Mode de Paris Kicks Up It’s Heels in Style at Sofitel

 by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
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Continuing my new “Adventures in LIVE Streaming” (just in case you didn’t catch it on Twitter/Periscope) was a visit earlier this month to the Sofitel Los Angeles for a presentation of Les Demoiselles of Cabaret Versatile “Le Caberet a la Mode de Paris”.

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What really should be taking place on a larger stage a la Moulin Rouge, is a very up close and cinematic-like view for the audience of French Cancan, cheeky Burlesque, effervescent humor and le chant très sensuelle.

The premiere of “Femmes” at Riviera 31, is a dreamy, glamorous and immersive sampling of all things feminine and female. I’d also add definitively–all things French.  We especially loved being treated chez chic champagne and macaroons while sensually embraced by the ambiance and sensational elegance.

With the Hollywood Fringe Festival fast approaching it is interesting to note that these ladies actually received an award for Best Cabaret and Variety Show, and were nominated for Best International Show at Fringe back in 2012.  Their return is nothing short of breathtaking.

ParisChansons_WebOpening act, singers Julia and Jacob of Paris Chansons, immediately set a warm, nostalgic tone with favorite tunes and sing-a-longs in French and English most recognizable to the highly percentiled Français crowd in attendance. For the rest of us, it was a ticklish treat.

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Headlining the show was actress Mhairi Morrison appearing as her ever in-a-fuss character Talullah Grace who hilariously and quite decadantly clowned up what would have otherwise been moments of unfortunate trevas in between each number.

The intermission is overly long.  But you can square away the tedium quite nicely at the fully stocked, ready and delicious bar at Riviera 31. 

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Recorded in Hollywood Hiccup — Hooray!

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

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Lights up. Lights down. That exactly describes the physical opening of Recorded in Hollywood last Friday evening at the Lillian Theatre, Hollywood, CA.

Notwithstanding a confluence of incidental events that transpired which nearly derailed the production – a pre-show audience member accident, a 30 minutes late curtain, a host of un-ending technical difficulties: actors singing and moving through stage direction (impressively without pause) in the dark at length, intermittent disappearing sound, and an overly long running time, Recorded in Hollywood, actually kept its musical momentum and pulled off a powerful “Hail Mary” for a truly celebratory opening night.

Recorded in Hollywood is not just another show.  It is a piece of true, iconic Los Angeles music history.

Although the actual script is not particularly dramatic, it nevertheless details the emphatic moments in the life of local legend John Dolphin who pulled African-American music up by its bootstraps and thrust it onto a white dominated music industry, promoting into dominance artists and sounds that we still know and love today. And according to his grandson Jamelle Dophin, the John Dolphin story gives long-overdue credit to the man he says influenced the likes of Sam Cooke, The Penguins and The Hollywood Flames.   All this by a man who was simply “a flashy music promoter” who started off as a used car salesman and who just loved music…long before Motown Records was a glint in Barry Gordy’s eye. 

Most impressive and equally fascinating is that during his run with his shop, Dolphin’s of Hollywood, with the help of famed DJ Dick “Huggy Boy” Hug and others, who spun records at one point, 24 hours a day inside the shop, he was able to grab the imagination of white and black teens alike, drawing them to a location on Central, to shop, dance, openly mingle (dangerous stuff during that generation) and love listening to Rhythm & Blues unabashedly together. As a black man he was not allowed to rent a retail space in the actual Hollywood area.  He went on to establish a chain of Dolphin’s of Hollywood shops and a recording/producing studio for up and coming talent.

Mr. Dolphin’s life, however was cut short, murdered by a singer in a disagreement over ownership of his songs. Eventually, although his wife and family took over the shop, Dolphin’s of Hollywood closed its doors, the first location in South L.A. being the last to shutter in 1989.

Recorded in Hollywood is a celebration of John Dophin’s legacy and the music he lived and breathed.  Despite the opening night hiccups it is only going to get tighter as a production.  This show is a must see for no less a reason of singing talent, music composition, choreography and every other outstanding element in this show, as it is an ode to John Dolphin’s vision of Black American music for his generation and beyond.

Recorded in Hollywood

The true story of black businessman, record label owner and music producer John Dolphin. In 1948, a decade before Motown, he opened his world-famous Dolphin’s of Hollywood record shop in South Los Angeles, but his contributions to music and the formative years of rock ’n’ roll have often been overlooked. Based on the book “Recorded In Hollywood: The John Dolphin Story,” this new musical features 16 original songs to match the musical era of the 1950s, as well as hit cover songs associated with the story.

Book by Matt Donnelly and Jamelle Dolphin
Music and Lyrics by Andy Cooper
Directed by Denise Dowse
Musical Direction by Stephan Terry
Choreography by Cassie Crump
Starring Eric B. Anthony, Brooke Brewer, Justin Cowden, John Devereaux, Richie Ferris, Jenna Gillespie, Franklin Grace, Nic Hodges, Stu James, Jade Johnson, Philip Dean Lightstone, Godfrey Moye, Jake Novak, Nic Olsen, Rahsaan Patterson, James Simenc, Matthew Sims, Jr., Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield, Katherine Washington
Produced by Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners


NOW PLAYING UNTIL MAY 17

Fridays at 8 p.m: April 24; May 1, 8, 15
Saturdays at 8 p.m: April 18, 25; May 2, 9, 16
Sundays at 3 p.m: April 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17

WHERE:
Lillian Theatre
1076 Lillian Way
Hollywood, CA 90038
(1½ blocks west of Vine at Santa Monica Blvd.)

HOW:
(323) 960-4443 or www.RecordedInHollywood.com

TICKET PRICE$30

The Milk Meetings at Studio C Theatre Row Hollywood

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
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Not exactly Mommy Dearest and definitely a far cry from June Cleaver, one tough cookie New York mom goes head to head with the politically correct, yogagranola mommy set at St. Jude’s Parish Hall, in a battle for her right to rage.

Nobody wants to listen to a complaining pain in the ass who mixes conspiracy theory with basket weaving when the meeting agenda is Breast Feeding. But when Marissa (Ida Darvish) who started the group goes over the deep end in frustration from being all but silenced from real life dialog, she takes the whole band on a torrentially emotional and questionably moral roller coaster. 

It is a humorously twisted desperate cry for help by a woman locked in her own pain and who finds her way out of it despite all, but not without a lot of anguish and a visit from child services.

Lead actress Ida Darvish is one of the most high-strung, raw, guts & grit talents far too unknown appearing currently on the Los Angele Small Theatre scene. She can take any show to a level that most directors would be scared to unleash on an audience.  I’m glad director John Coppola had the sheer chutzpah to do it.

She is matched by the talents of a mouthwatering cast of women who really nail this script written by Blaire Baron Larsen including Torrie Bodga (Rebecca), Emily Button (Julia), Liberty Cordova (Ruthie), and Rochelle Leffler (Birdie).

Hands down one of the most volatile, untamed, exciting and honest productions to date produced at Studio C. This show needs an extension or a come back.  

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This is the last weekend.  They may be sold out but check online for tickets.

Approximate running time is 75 minutes.

The ticket price is $20.00 for general admission (within 24 hours of the performance), and reservations can be made by visiting:  milkmeetings.studiocartists.com.

 Studio C Artists is located at 6448 Santa Monica Blvd., on Theatre Row, in Hollywood, CA

Produced by Michael Sonntag
Stage Manager: Alex Nicholas
ASM/Propmaster: Kate Robertson
Set Design: Marie Coppola

Verdigris at Theatre West

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Verdigris

Adam Conger, Jim Beaver, Cal Bartlett, Sheila Shaw, David Goldstein, Chloe Rosenthal Photo credit: Charlotte Mount

Verdigris is a green or greenish-blue coating that forms like rust on brass, bronze or copper, especially with age or neglect.  It can also cast an eerily beautiful glow.  The funny thing about verdigris…it doesn’t just happen to brass.

It’s been said that if Tennessee Williams had been writing about the West, he might have come up with Verdigris. I would have to agree. Verdigris is as close as a modern writer might come to the kind of poetic emotional mine field Williams so thoroughly waded and hurdled in his works.  Writer/actor Jim Beaver exquisitely squeezes the heart of it, for sure.

First produced in 1985 at Theatre West, Verdigris feels as new as it’s first day live on stage.  This play is no mere romantic reminiscence of the past, of days gone by or dreams once lived and lost.  It’s hard!  As hard and frustrated and lonely and so damned moving as the horribly manipulative, Margaret Fielding, who can’t see much, use her hands or walk but can “hear paint peel”, around which the drama centers.  It stares you in the face with a square jaw, blunt and uncompromising.  There is no middle ground.

But unlike the decrepit house with cracked walls, flaking wall paper and far too many relics slowly crumbling into dust, Margaret a once movie star dazzling, desirable young woman, now crippled with age and illness, is still full of life. No matter the odds she keeps reaching for it.  And that is the tragedy.

It’s 1972, in the small town of Edgar, Oklahoma.  A young acting student by the name of Richard shows up to take a “position’ in the house caring for Margaret.  As Richard narrates the past in present tense, layers of history, of anger, of failure and of love are revealed for a final moment of redemption.

Verdigris ain’t for sissies!  It is a snappy, real time exposition of life in the raw endowed with plenty of grit and some truly wonderful, heartbreaking surprises.  This cast is gorgeous! Every moment is played out perfectly – sometimes hilarious, often cruel, ultimately wrenching right at the heart center.

THEATRE WEST PRESENTS a Nawyecka Production a 30TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF ITS HIT PLAY VERDIGRIS 

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Now playing until April 19, 2015

Written by Jim Beaver
Directed by Mark W. Travis
Produced by Charlie Mount, Jill Jones and Arden Teresa Lewis.

Featuring Jim Beaver: Sheila Shaw (who also appeared in the 1985 mounting), Katie Adler, Cal Bartlett, Adam Conger, David Goldstein, Ian Lerch, David Mingrino, Chloe Rosenthal, Corinne Shor and Dylan Vigus.

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

This is near North Hollywood, Universal City and Studio City. There is free parking in a lot across the street.

Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00

ADMISSION: $25. Online, $20. Seniors: $20, online $15. Groups (ten or more) $15. Students: $5.
RESERVATIONS: (323) 851-7977.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.theatrewest.org

Book Review: Why Latinas Get the Guy

A No-BS Guide to Understanding the Allure of Latin-American Women and Spicing Up Your Love Life by Joe Bovino

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

The-Final-Final-Cover-205x300This book should come with a companion guide for women entitled something like, “How to recognize slackers, mysoginists, abusers, control freaks, perverts, baggage handlers, gay men faking it for mommy, boys with s’mothers and bisexuals who actually prefer men but love to lie to you, and the general male dating scum at large.” After all, as Mr. Bovino says, he’s really on our side, even though we’ve got to know the truth…about ourselves. So as a tiny helpful incentive for taking the deep dive into his bold advice, looking, acting and dressing like a sexy, friendly, flirty Latina in order to “get the guy”, I myself wouldn’t mind a little bit of, suck in your beer gut, wear some decent clothes once in a while, shave and shower often advice to men.  

I never thought I was supposed to take any part of this book seriously.  The stereotypical descriptions of Latinas and American women alike are so over-the-top that they actually gave me the giggles until I started coming across too many real life examples to my shock and chagrin of women who fit them in both cultures — and none of them flattering.

Mr. Bovino has a point.  In fact, I asked a couple of my guy friends how they felt about women today, heck I even asked my Dad. They all said they wished women were more approachable.  It’s not that they didn’t find us completely hot (well at least the ones trying), but they were pretty fed up with feeling like a bunch of jerks for actually liking us.

Women who consider themselves liberated from having to adorn to get a man are not going to like this book at all.  Some are going to be intrigued by the Chica-spotting visual aides and there will be many others who will treat this advice as Bible.  (And good luck to that!)  Most guys, I think are going to love this and shout hallelujah from the rafters.  (Although my street tough, lady-killer-in-his-day-father actually rolled his eyes at some of the portraitures of both Americans and Latinas – older generation…) In any case, it is a substantial amount of new fodder in the Battle Royale of the sexes.

That fact of the matter is when it comes down to the opposite sex, every man might want something different and every woman too but the commonality is we all could use some “pretty” and more than just a little “nice”.

Of all the things written in this tome, Mr. Bovino’s grandma actually has the most sound encouragement of all, “Just be happy and laugh a lot.”

“I’ll take it!”

amazon-logo-1It’s a brutally honest $5 Kindle read.  Keep in mind that it is one man’s opinion about women. 

The Carrie Hamilton at The Pasadena Playhouse Celebrates Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in Properties of Silence

 by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
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Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.   ~Buddha

For its commemorative 25th anniversary “Properties of Silence”, produced by About…Productions in residence at The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse is currently being paired in revival with a Convergence of Women’s Voices Salon Series of poetry readings, special performances, panels and discussions. 

Written by Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner and directed by Chavez, this short play melds two seemingly separate yet parallel stories together which ultimately discuss the struggle for self-expression.

It is a simply breathtaking piece! 

The third part of a trilogy that deals with the inner voice as a possible source of personal spiritual and political truth, the play takes place in a multi-layered dreamscape highlighting not just its gorgeous, inspired presentation, but the very real importance of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a nun of  New Spain (Mexico) who in the 17th century was an acclaimed, self-taught playwright, poetess, scientist and philosopher. 

Sor Juana focused on highlighting and revering the beauty and necessity of earthly things, people, sciences and ideas as the real blessing of God rather than falling in line strictly behind Church dogma which was suffocating and unenlightening especially for women who were brutally repressed.  She became known in her lifetime as “The Tenth Muse” and the “Phoenix of the Americas”. During her life, she also acquired what is considered to be the largest collection of scientific and musical instruments in the Americas and possessed a substantial library.  Before being silenced by the Church, she was commissioned by the vice-regal court of New Spain, residing in Mexico City, to write verse and plays, a number of which were published in Europe.  

Sor Juana was silenced by the Church for being a woman but really, for being a woman of extraordinary intelligence and reason, attributes  that were forbidden by the Church itself for women to possess.  Sor Juana wrote during a time when the subjegation of women was absolute. Intelligence shown by any woman was considered and dealt with as a disobedience and even though she was completely devoted to her faith, much of Sor Juana’s writings are said to have been destroyed as part of her penance wherein she writes (or was told to write), I, the worst of all women...

Nevertheless, a few of her works managed to live on creating a legacy that could not be denied. Even the facts surrounding whether or not she actually signed the penance papers or that she completely conformed to her silence remain loosely in debate. She is considered the first feminist writer and a Latin American treasure.  Properties of Silence is inspired by her most significant poem, “Primero Sueño” (“First Dream”). 

Properties of Silence is as brilliant as Sor Juana’s works themselves.  It is hands down one of the most evocative, intelligent, accessible writings imbued with considerable simplicity and empathy for all women, for all, period, feminist or not. 

Set in Phoenix, Arizona and told all in poetic line and imaginary dream where the players cross time and space to meet, exchange ideas and confess their fears, the piece shifts lightly from past to present through metaphor and reality until both become one.  Barbara (Elizabeth Rainey) and Tom (Kevin Sifuentes) come to grips with their troubled marriage.  Sor Juana (portrayed by Rose Portillo) confronts her own imminent silence by the Catholic Church who is forcing her to silence her pen and her scientific inquiries.

Properties of Silence and the “Post-Silence” Salon Series runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m until March 29, with one weekday matinee on Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m. (dark Sunday, March 22). Four preview performances take place on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.; and Friday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. 

Post-Silence Salon Series remaining highlghts.

Red Hen Press will present poets Nicelle Davis, Laurel Ann Bogen and Amy Uyematsu on March 12 and Gail Wronsky and Alicia Portnoy on March 20.

Scholar Barbara Fuchs, PhD on March 14; and writer/performer/activist Karen Anzoategui on March 21.

Mujeres de Maiz will present poets Iris de Anda, Felicia Montes, Rebecca Gonzales and Xitlalic Gujosa Osuna on March 15, and poets/writers Las Lunas Locas on March 26.

Starring Elizabeth Rainey, Kevin Sifuentes and Rose Portillo

Written by Theresa Chavez, Rose Portillo and Alan Pulner

Directed by Theresa Chavez

Original compositions by Julie Adler

Projections by Janice Tanaka

Set design iby Akeime Mitterlehner

Costume design is by Marcy Froehlich

Lighting Design iby Pablo Santiago

Choreography by Sarah Leddy

Original prints created by artists from the first Maestra Atelier at Self Help Graphics & Art in tribute to Sor Juana will be displayed in The Carrie Hamilton Theatre lobby.

Now Playing through March 29

at The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena CA 91101

POS_graphic-medWednesday at 2 p.m.: March 25 ONLY

Thursdays at 8 p.m.: March 12, 19, 26

Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 13, 20, 27

Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 14, 21, 28

Sundays at 3 p.m.: March 15, 29 (dark March 22)

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Reservations and Information:

(626) 396-0920 or www.aboutpd.org

ADMISSION:

General admission: $30

Students with valid ID: $15