Category Archives: Theatre

Leaving Home at the Ruskin Group Theatre Co.

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

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It was shocking to watch Jacob Mercer (Chris Mulkey) take off his belt and violently whip his eldest son in the final moments of Leaving Home.  I daresay that is what has kept me from commenting on this play for such a long time until now.  It had less to do with this show being an otherwise mostly low key performance or that it was a good show with good direction, populated and performed by really great actors or that I found anything particularly wrong with the production. It was my loathing as a human being at witnessing the family dysfunction that was presented here. It struck a heavy cord.

Leaving Home, set in the 1970s, written by Canadian playwright David French and listed as one of the 1000 essential plays in the Oxford Dictionary, is according to director Barbara Tarbuck, a love story, an immigrant-generated struggle.  And I suppose seen in its full 5 play cycle it does showcase a much more intensified view of that.  However, seen as a single play, it had a slightly different effect. Whether or not Mr. French intended to spotlight the subject within his text, the issue of child ownership comes directly into play.

It’s a theme that resonates as much in Leaving Home as it does in classics like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream; parents forcing their children to be adults – into making adult choices and decisions that will steer the course of their entire lives, and yet controlling every aspect as to who, when, what, why, and how they will do it, deciding for them, conditionally, regardless of the intention. There is so much blame, emotional recklessness and revenge-taking in the first installment of this episodic, that it’s difficult to see how anyone is going to be able to rise above any of the issues and break free.  Jacob’s eldest son Ben (Kayde McMullen) tries.

With Jacob raising his sons to be men, it’s more than just proud father parenting.  Sure there is love.  I’m not saying Jacob is a heartless man or even that he is simply a man of his generation.  But for all of his good qualities, he is weak. And when he rips up his son’s high school diploma, threatens to cut him off financially, prevents him from taking his books, empties his suitcase of clothing, then finally forces him down onto the kitchen table for a brutal dose of, “you’re not a man”, it’s not about love or discipline or a punishment for ungratefulness or disobedience, it’s intentional hurt, anger, jealousy and resentment for not being included in both his boys’ lives and the petty household secrets they keep with their mother Mary (Karen Landry). The surface argument here is the issue of Ben  moving out of the house to live with his soon-to-be-married younger brother Bill (James Lastovic).  Ben actually wants to respect his father by becoming the man Jacob desires him to be.  He just wants to do it on his own terms.  Part of Jacob’s fear though is that his son might actually succeed and that Ben’s independence will make him irrelevant as a man and a father.  It’s a horrible emasculating moment for both of them.

In fact, the very behavior Jacob displays is exactly the kind foisted upon him by his own father in a past life only regarding the issue of religion, which is the cause of the strife surrounding the impending marriage of his son and pregnant daughter-in-law to be (Sierra Barter).

It’s ugly and it’s difficult to watch; which is the very reason to see this play in the first place. If you don’t feel confronted by the family dynamics and the subject matter in some way, then maybe you’ve had a blessed life free from turmoil.  I think most of us however, are going to find something deeply resonant within this play, immigrant status aside.

LEAVING HOME runs through MARCH 14, 2015 

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm

Now playing at the Ruskin Group Theatre
3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

Directed by Barbara Tarbuck
Produced by John Ruskin and Mike Myers

Starring Chris Mulkey, Karen Landry, Kayde McMullen, James Lastovic, Sierra Barter, and Mary Carrig

Show Run Time: 1 ½ hours

Follow the Ruskin Group Theatre on Twitter @RuskinGroupThtr, and like them on Facebook.com/RuskinGroupTheatre

Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors, and guild members) and can be purchased in advance by calling (310) 397-3244 or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.

Free parking is available at the theater.

If All The Sky Were Paper – 2 Shows Only at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER - IMAGELexikat Artists

in association with Chapman University present

IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER

A Play That Brings Battle and Home Front Letters to Life

By Andrew Carroll

Directed by John Benitz

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 TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY!

SATURDAY, MARCH 14 at 7:30 pm &
SUNDAY, MARCH 15 at 2:30 pm

at the KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE 
9820 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Featuring Annette Bening, Gary Cole and More!

Buy Tickets40 COUNTRIES. 6 CONTINENTS. ONE MISSION:

or call 1-213-972-4488

Lexikat Artists, in association with Chapman University, is proud to present the return of IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER on Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 15 at 2:30 pm at The Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City. The play is a moving, dramatic reading of real wartime letters by soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, as well as their family members at home.

Four-time Academy Award-nominee Annette Bening will be reading letters in the performance on 3/15 at 2:30. Gary Cole (“Veep”) will be reading letters in both performances, with more actors soon to be announced. More Celebrity Guest Artists to be announced – check website for updates at: www.lexikatartists.com and their Facebook page.

Based upon Carroll’s bestselling books WAR LETTERS and BEHIND THE LINES.

In 1998, Carroll launched a national initiative to honor U.S. troops, veterans, and their families by preserving their wartime letters. Since that time Carroll has traveled to 40 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, and has collected more than 100,000 previously unpublished letters (and now emails) from every conflict in American history.

IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER features the best of the letters that Carroll found and also tells the story of his harrowing but inspiring journey to seek out what he calls “the world’s great undiscovered literature.” The actors portray the real-life military men and women and their loved ones at home, acting out the full spectrum of emotions experienced in times of war. From the incredible ferocity of battle to the pathos and humor of everyday life, these letters and the story of Carroll’s search will deeply move and inspire audiences.   

“These letters are intimate, deeply personal portraits of the courage, sacrifice, and sense of duty that made this country.” - Tom Brokaw (on WAR LETTERS)

“From the American Revolution to Iraq, everything is here: the terror and exhilaration of…combat, love letters, funny letters, letters from civilians caught in the middle of war…”Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once…and Young (on BEHIND THE LINES)

Ticket Prices range from $20 – $30.00. Running time is 80 minutes.

images* A portion of ticket proceeds will support United States Veterans Artist’s Alliance (USVAA), The Soldiers Project and the Wounded Warrior Project.

**Performance will be followed by a reception with the director, writer and actors.

 Located in downtown Culver City, just a few blocks south of the I-10 Freeway and across the street from Sony Entertainment Studios. Culver City Hall, behind the theatre on Culver Blvd, provides FREE covered parking. Dozens of restaurants and generous street parking are available in the surrounding area.

DOMA Theatre Company Rocks in Jesus Christ Superstar

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

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DOMA Theatre Company’s new rendition of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s 1970’s ground-breaking rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar is simply a hit.  Slightly modernized to the concept: “What would it be like if Jesus walked around now in a world of Twitter, Facebook & Selfies,” it’s many parts, Goth, glitter and new wave bohemia including girl groupies, band-aides, army greens and skin cabaret moments amped up the flair and entertainment factor for the audience. It’s an exciting, thoroughly accessible take on a classic for Los Angeles small theater and thank you DOMA for that!

Of course, it would be pretty hard to screw it up.  Radical for its debut in 1970 as a concept album which topped the American pop charts and ignited controversy by questioning the divine nature of Christ, then produced on Broadway in 1971 starring Ben Vareen as Judas, and then transformed into a feature film in 1973, it still, even after 40 years, remains a global phenomenon.

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DOMA lived up to every moment starting with its powerful lead singing cast, which included downright show-stopping performances chiefly by a beatifically stylized, self-sacrificing, totally hot millennial Jesus (Nate Parker), Judas Iscariot (Jeremy Saje), Simon (Graham Kurtz), Mary Magdalene (Renee Cohen), Pontius Pilate (Kelly Brighton), and Peter (Blair Grotbeck), who belted their hearts out reaching the stars with their incredible range. And the songs that older audiences will remember hearing in and out of the theatre are still as gorgeous as they were the first time they were heard anywhere.

What DOMA also did was really step up the choreography factor this time.  Truly boy follies fabulous in every way, I was only disappointed by the lack of space that some of the exceptional dancers in the chorus absolutely could have used.  I got the feeling that if they actually had more room to move or if the nearly 23 member ensemble had been allowed to appear in waves and groups rather than all at once all the time, they would have been able to take the dancing to an even higher level.  Never-the-less, there were really no disappointments here.  Overall, every step, every note every moment, served the production well.

There are 12 more opportunities to experience this performance. Don’t miss it!

Music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by Marco Gomez
Musical direction by Chris Raymond
Choreography by Angela Todaro
Starring Nate Parker as Jesus Christ, Jeremy Saje as Judas, Renee Cohen as Mary Magdelene, Kelly Brighton as Pontius Pilate, Andrew Diego as Caiaphas, Michelle Holmes as Annas; Blair Grotbeck as Peter,Graham Kurtz as Simon the Zealot and Venny Carranza as King Herod. Also featuring Alex Allen, Jackee Bianchi, Charlie Bostick, Tym Brown, Sandra Diana Cantu, Kevin Corsini, Kaitlyn Fajilan, Kendra M. Hill,Allison Jakubowski, Wesley Moran, Ashlie Paige, Dekontee Tucrkile, Lauren Tyni and Anthony D. Willis

Produced by Marco Gomez and Dolf Ramos
Presented by DOMA Theatre Company

JCS_Graphic_medaNow playing until March 22

Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 27 (CANCELLED); March 6, 13, 20

Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb.  28; March 7, 14, 21

Sundays at 3 p.m.: March 1, 8, 15, 22

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WHERE:
The MET Theatre
1089 N. Oxford Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029

HOW:

• Call 323-802-9181 or go to www.domatheatre.com
• Visit DOMA facebook: www.facebook.com/DOMATHEATRE
• Follow DOMA on twitter: @domatheatre
• Follow DOMA on instagram: @domatheatre

TICKET PRICES:
• General Admission: $30
• VIP: $34.99 (includes reserved seating and a complimentary snack and beverage)
• Seniors and students with ID: $20

PARKING:
Parking: $6 at 5250 Santa Monica Blvd (2 blocks east of the theater)

Learning Diversity From “The Church of Why Not” in NYC

Reviewed by Midge Guerrera, She’s one hot Italian Mamma!”

The Church of Why Not

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As we got to NYC, winter storm Pandora was racing across the Northeast.  We parked in a snowdrift on 86th street and promptly hit a coffee house.  We sat next to two women who were talking about The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew.  Since I was headed there to see Theatre 167’s production of “The Church of Why Not” – which is based on the various congregations of that church – I shamelessly eavesdropped.  The women belonged to the Jewish congregation B’nai Jeshrun.  Yup, a Jewish congregation shares space with Christians, Muslims, activists and addicts. The women spoke of diversity and openness and sadly noted the rest of the world is not the Upper West Side.

Well, the rest of the world needs to see and learn from “The Church of Why Not” written by Camilo Almonacid, Jenny Lyn Bader, and J. Stephen Brantley.  Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith, the venue specific play brings the work of The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew to audiences.  After the show, driving frustratingly slowly during the height of Pandora, this audience member prattled on about inclusion and diversity issues.  As my saintly spouse will attest, this production is absolutely a catalyst for conversation and if seen by enough people and congregations could also be a catalyst for change.  I’d love to see some “righter than right” folks in the audience – it might give them a kick in their intolerant butts.

The show opens with the congregation joyously singing a hymn and then cinematically streams from one character’s journey to another.  The minimal set – sturdy wooden chairs and a set of steps – facilitated the seamless flow from scene to scene.  Guitar music and familiar songs helped reinforce each characters story.  I won’t be a spoiler and tell you how, but when you go look for the clever way time travels and you know that each day of the week has past.

The not-quite-homeless, down and out character of Saul, played by author J. Stephen Brantley, brought home one of the key messages of the show – I may be misquoting a wee bit but the jist is – Where ever we are that’s where God is.  Like Shakespeare’s fools, this guy that many would walk on by as a bum, slyly brought us the wisdom of Buddha and lessons of spirituality.

The beauty of this work is that even though it is about a Church that caters to every group of people from an Ehtiopian Evangelical congregation to a LGBT Bapti-Metho-Costals and everything in between it wasn’t preachy.  The monologues in the second act got a tad “lessony” but not enough to send any atheist running.

I’m glad to have braved the storm named Pandora to see “The Church of Why Not”.  Actually, it is fitting since the play let so many thoughts out of the box.

The Church of Why Not” runs weekends through March 15, 2015 in The West End Theater at The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew 263 West 86th Street, NYC. 

Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 7pm www.theatre167.org

Theatre 167 Presents a World Premiere Production

The Church of Why Not – At The West End Theater

A New Play Inspired By The 

Believers, Skeptics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Activists and Addicts Who Pass Through the Doors of One New York City Church

 

Theatre Unleashed Presents Ligature Marks at the Crown

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Ligature1

What a curiosity. I felt like I was walking in familiar territory with Theatre Unleashed’s remounted Fringe hit and season opener, Ligature Marks by critically-acclaimed, award winning New York playwright Mac Rogers— a story wherein which one partner is asking another to murder her to ease the pain of loneliness—one partner angry and excited enough to make the play.  Curious indeed. But this production also has a most intriguing twist in the form of a game.

Theatre Unleashed has done what it is does best.  The company takes an ordinary story and wraps it into a maze but with a simplicity that is unmistakable.

Ligature Marks is lined with licentious desire and dysfunction.  The delivery waivers between crisp and lost.  But then what is being displayed throughout most of this story is the quite aligned emotional life of the characters who are also weak and sadistic in their power struggle with each other only empowered by the knowledge that nothing they embark upon is actually real.  And so it should be noted that for any perceived mistakes or wrong turns this work could take, it is also captivating, unusually funny, even charming.

WORTH THE TICKET!

WORTH THE TICKET!

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Seriously unsettling, uncomfortable and fascinatingly delightful Ligature Marks definitely deserves a “worth the ticket” and some seat time for theatre goers looking for twisted, avant-garde adventure.

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LIGATURE MARKS

Written by Mac Rogers
Directed by Jacob Smith
Produced by Theatre Unleashed

Starring Liz Fenning and Sean Fitzgerald

 NOW PLAYING UNTIL MARCH 7
Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 8 p.m.

LOCATION:

The Belfry Stage
Upstairs at the Crown
11031 Camarillo St.
North Hollywood, CA 91602

TICKET PRICES:

General Admission: $20
**Pay What You Want if you donate $5 at the box office for
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

MORE INFORMATION:

For further information, please call: (818) 849-4039
Or check out the website at: http://www.theatreunleashed.org

ON THE RADAR: TST’s 8th Annual Ten Minute Play Festival

In celebration of Women’s History Month in March 2015 — a whole festival devoted to women’s stories, and our relationships with women.

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los angeles, women, theatre, festivals

 

Towne Street Theatre, LA’s premiere African American theatre company and KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station, have partnered to celebrate KCET’s 50th anniversary, and Towne Street Theatre’s commitment to the community, by hosting a special multimedia community exhibit during the opening weekend of the 8th Annual TST Ten Play Festival,” March 14 & 15, 2015 at the Stella Adler Theatre, Hollywood.

The exhibit is a traveling arts and education kiosk which takes the public through historical touch points of the region, and KCET’s 50-year legacy of serving the interests of Southern and Central California audiences with high quality award-winning multi-cultural programming.

Tickets

The interactive kiosk, measuring 84″ L x 84″ W x 84″ H, will prompt community members to answer the question: “How have women helped create a better state?” in honor of Women’s History Month.  Some community responses will be showcased on-air and online at kcet.org/50.

“We are so pleased that Towne Street Theatre is hosting our community kiosk and helping to strengthen our region’s cultural fabric, allowing our viewers to become a part of the conversation,” said Mary Mazur, KCETLink’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are also grateful to our Community Advisory Board for identifying important locations in the city where the kiosk can be displayed, create a sense of community, and educate people about our history.”

kcet50_4bKCET

Towne Street Theatre’s “8th Annual TST Ten Minute Play Festival,” celebrates Women’s History Month at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, from March 14 – March 29, 2015 The Ten Minute Play Festival features 10 plays with themes that pay tribute to the lives, relationships and circumstances of women.  After receiving over 100 submissions from around the world, Towne Street has chosen to showcase dramatic and comedic productions that range in topics from marriage and relationships, to motherhood, cancer, aging and rape. The Festival runs Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

For more information about the Festival visit townestreetla.org.

KCET marked the important 50-year milestone on Sept. 28. 2014, with a celebration that included a variety of multi-platform programming and initiatives.

ABOUT KCET

On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 50-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children’s programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org. KCET is a service of KCETLink Media Group.

ABOUT Towne Street Theatre

Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s Premiere African American Theatre Company, was founded in 1993 in the aftermath of the LA 1992 riots. Its mission is to create positive social impact by producing and developing original works reflective of the African American experience. Towne Street continues to be an oasis for creativity and imagination; a theatre that helps to bridge the cultural divide by bringing artists and audiences of all colors and ethnicities together.  The 8th Annual TST Ten Minute Play Festival is produced in association with the Stella Adler Theatre/LA.  Towne Street has been in residence at the Stella Adler Theatre since 2004.

 

 

I Am Already Well at The Lounge Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
I-am-already-well
Feeling quite experimental and more Fringe worthy than anything else, a free-spirited, bohemian Cosmosia danced her way onto the stage (at length), without introduction or fanfare for a “boogie on down” live opening to gaily herald a lightly designed “conference “of theatre on the subjects of fear and love.
 
Loosely executed, yet well crafted and enhanced with long character changes, there are two points which make the final performances of I Am Already Well worth seeing.  
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I guess the first would be the promise of “free therapy” delivered in the form of real life psychologist Dr. Denee Jordan’s personal mea culpa for exacting a very destructive, until now, “Sybil-like” inner life upon herself.  Each emotion has a personality which she names and gives an anthropomorphic life.   Each one attempts to justify its raison d’être and why its behaviors are meant to protect Denee from hurting herself, even though they ultimately hurt her more.
 
The second would be the elements of the presentation itself.  The character work was in fact, quite fantastic, with the added delight of costumes and wigs.  And, the appended dance/movement piece inserted a sophisticated emotional groundswell that only a professional dancer who was also the creative director/choreographer of her own dance company, on the highest level of her craft, could have offered.  That’s where it became outstanding. 
 
Dr. Denee is a medical expert used to public speaking.  I will say, there was never a moment where she faltered. As a play however, I Am Already Well needs work where timing is concerned. The story also loses its way at the beginning and becomes briefly tangential but then recovers. The transitions are slow.  To be fair, this is a one woman show, so everything from beginning to end rests solely on herself.  It is on the other hand, a well thought out dissertation on the many faces of our internal selves conducted by a well-informed, degreed professional who also happens to be a highly skilled creative. I’d call it a directional problem, a lack of strong stage guidance which is easily adjusted.
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Apart from that, it’s a low-key, light fare, colorful panoply. If you are seeking an easy night at the theatre without a lot of commitment, I Am Already Well is your stop.
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Three Performances Left:
Friday, Feb 20th,  Saturday, 21st, 8:00pm
Sunday, Feb 22nd, 2:00pm

BUY TICKETS
$19
Running time: 60 minutes.
The Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA  90038