Category Archives: Theatre

‘Pro99’ Actors’ Equity members send open letter to AEA President Kate Shindle

Members congratulate Shindle on election victory and respond to inaugural column in Equity News

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 27, 2015) — Members of the “Pro99” movement of Actors’ Equity Association have issued an open letter to AEA’s newly elected president, Kate Shindle, in response to her victory and to her inaugural address as president of the national union for actors and stage managers. The open letter is signed by over 400 Equity members (listed below), including such notable names as Ed Asner, Francis Fisher, Sally Kirkland and Alfred Molina.

The “Pro99” movement formed in late 2014 in opposition to AEA’s rollout of a new plan that will effectively force “intimate theaters” in Los Angeles to pay Equity actors minimum wage, go “non-union” or even close – despite an overwhelming vote against the plan by 66% of the Los Angeles membership on an advisory referendum. “Pro99” members around the nation, who take their name from the current AEA “99 Seat Plan” that allows members to volunteer in smaller venues, oppose AEA’s new promulgated plan.

They are requesting that Equity leadership put a moratorium on the plan until local members’ voices can be heard, and that the union work with its members to develop an alternative plan that will more realistically address the needs of the Los Angeles theater community.

An Open Letter to Actors’ Equity President Kate Shindle from #Pro99 AEA Members

Dear President Shindle,

We, the undersigned members of AEA who support the Pro99 movement, both in the L.A. area and around the nation, congratulate you on your win, and wish you a successful term as President of our beloved union. We were satisfied that our passionate campaigning helped to elect you, and appreciated that during your campaign you came to Los Angeles to meet with us and express your interest in the 99- Seat debacle that has galvanized our Los Angeles Theatre Community.

In your “Inaugural Column” in the July/August 2015 edition of Equity News you wrote: “Everyone has a different definition of what’s cool; to me, the coolest thing Equity can do is to encourage its members to be passionate, vocal activists and ambassadors. Because that will not only make our industry more successful, it will also make our union stronger.”

We couldn’t agree more. We are also encouraged and grateful that you mention our cause in your column, especially since we do not feel we have always been fairly represented in Equity News and emails — that is, when we’ve been represented at all. Thank you for your willingness to both meet with us and publicly discuss what absolutely continues to be a crisis in our union. As you noted, we do have much to celebrate about intimate theatre in L.A. — almost thirty years of rich and creative work under the guidelines endorsed by our own union.

However, we’re concerned about your mention of a recent Fringe Festival production that was produced under the proposed “New 99-Seat Theatre Agreement.” Though you present it as something to perhaps celebrate, we wish to be clear that that Agreement is precisely what an overwhelming majority of local AEA members voted against in the advisory referendum (66%: a landslide). As you can imagine, LA members don’t consider this an event to celebrate. We think it is, in fact, the problem, and not the solution. Worse, we think the way the new agreement was promulgated by the union is even more problematic for the democratic process. We have found the actions and messaging of the leadership of our union troubling, and the fact that the leadership ignored the will of its own membership is deeply disturbing. Worst of all, we firmly believe this new plan will effectively destroy our vibrant theatrical community.

We love our union. We have, from the beginning, offered to work with Council and staff to find a solution that will not only address our concerns, but also make our union stronger and respectful of local members’ needs. We welcome turning a new page with your support and willingness to listen to us articulate the realities of our community in order to resolve this crisis.

In solidarity,

Members of AEA
#PRO99 movement

About “Intimate Theatre” and #Pro99

Over the past 50 years, whether it be 99-Seats in L.A., Off-Off Broadway in New York, or companies starting out like Steppenwolf in Chicago, some of the most important productions in American theatre history have originated in “intimate theaters.” Right now, a 99-seat production from Los Angeles of “Spring Awakening” is opening on Broadway, with twenty members of the original LA cast all earning multiple contract weeks and, proudly, earning their Equity cards. This is only one of countless examples — hundreds of shows, thousands of contracts for hundreds of thousands of work weeks — over several decades that have come directly from intimate theatre productions, creating opportunities and work for actors, stage managers, playwrights, directors and designers. This is not just a Los Angeles issue; members across the country share similar issues that create the need for intimate theatre where AEA actors can do their work. To attack the state of 99-Seat theatre is to attack the core of American theatre. We must preserve these venues, not destroy them.

Link to online version of “Open Letter to Actors’ Equity President Kate Shindle from #Pro99”
http://ilove99.org/2015/08/13/open-letter-to-aea-president-kate-shindle-from-pro99-aea-members/

Link to Kate Shindle “Inaugural Column” in Equity News
http://actorsequity.org/AboutEquity/presidentscolumn1.asp

SIGNED, by the following members of Actors’ Equity Association (partial list):

Antoinette Abbamonte
Rhonda Aldrich
Jason Alexander
John Allee
Erinn Anova
John Apicella
Devon Armstrong
Hugo Armstrong
Frank Ashmore
Ed Asner
Whitney Avalon
Shannon Lee Avnsoe
Richard Azurdia
Tim Bagley
Dennis Baker
Libby Baker
Jordan Baker-Kilner
Melisa Bales
Melisaa Weber Bales
Tisha Terrasini Banker
Karen Bankhead
Jon Collin Barclay
Dana Lyn Baron
Cynthia Beckert
Michael James Bell
Rona Benson
Tom Beyer
Allison Bibicoff
Melina Bielefelt
John Billingsley
Royana Black
Alison Blanchard
Troy Blendell
Daniel Blinkoff
Meaghan Boeing
Curt Bonnem
Lisa Boyd
Loretta Bradley
Alysha Brady
Mark Bramhall
Brendan Brandt
Libby Brien
Bill Brochtrup
Ann Bronston
Haynes Brooke
Sarah Brooke
Rob Brownstein
Ezra Buzzington
Kacey Camp
Caitlin Renìce Campbell
Colin Campbell
Mike Campbell
Lauren Campedelli
Amanda Carlin
Cathy Carlton
Ginna Carter
Rob Roy Cesar
Jennifer Chambers
Blaire Chandler
Emily Chase
Bryan Chesters
Joan Chodorow
Jerry Clarke
Roslyn Cohn
Laura Coker
John Combs
Vince Corazza
Mimi Cozzens
James Patrick Cronin
Nathalie Cunningham
Christopher Curry
Maia Danzinger
Peter Davies
Julia Davis
Susan Carol Davis
Timothy Davis-Reed
Albert Dayan
Lee De Broux
Liza De Weerd
Kathy Bell Denton
David Desantos
Etta Devine
Susan Dexter
Vince Donvito
Nike Doukas
John Downey III
Lisa Dring
Padraic Duffy
Robert Duncan
Emily Eiden
Larry Eisenberg
Rob Elk
Tony Embeck-Motzenbacker
Mel England
Nicole Erb
Stephanie A. Erb
Daniel Espeseth
James Esposito
Terry Evans
Thomas Evans
Jennie Fahn
Richard Fancy
Shannon Farnon
Alex Fernandez
James Ferrero
Peter Finlayson
Brian Finney
Tom Fiscella
Susan Fisher
Frances Fisher
Tom Fitzpatrick
Karianne Flaathen
Bridget Flanery
Brighid Fleming
Julia Fletcher
Suzanne Ford
Marilyn Fox
Bo Foxworth
Bruce French
Penny Fuller
Michael Gabiano
Douglas Gabrielle
Richard Gallegos
Jeff Thomas Gardner
Kimiko Gelman
Taylor Gilbert
Lisa Glass
Alexandra Goodman
Wendy Gough
Kathryn Graf
Laurel Green
Brad Greenquist
S.A. Griffin
Chet Grissom
Ayre Gross
Vincent Guastaferro
Nicholas Guest
Christopher Guilmet
Arjun Gupta
Jennifer Gwillim
Katherine Haan
Jeanie Hackett
Molly Hagan
Herb Hall
Tim Halligan
Kurt Andrew Hansen
Amy K Harmon
Dj Harner
Jim Haynie
Brian Helm
Gregg Henry
Ted Heyck
Victoria Hoffman
Jerry Hoffman
Steve Hofvendahl
Henry Holden
Travis Holder
Michelle Holmes
Stuart Howard
Charles Howerton
Jason Huber
William Dennis Hunt
Alberto Isaac
Debbie Jaffe
Mary Ellen Jennings
Wendy Johnson
Jeffrey Jones
Kennedy Kabaseres
Elizabeth Karr
Drew Katzman
Thorsten Kaye
Crystal Keith
Jason E. Kelley
Mckerrin Kelly
Dylan Kenin
Linda Kerns
Jimmy Kieffer
Sally Kirkland
Matt Kirkwood
Mary Jo Kirwan
Eliza Kiss
Melissa Kite
Corey Klemow
Tamara Krinsky
Jonothon Lamer
Michael Lanahan
Edgar Landa
Jack Laufer
Gregg Lawrence
Bobby Lesser
Kelly Lester
Brian Letscher
Ed Levey
Amir Levi
Peter Dan Levin
Laura Levy
Sarah Lilly
Nancy Linehan
Sylvia Little
Ian Littleworth
Ana Therese Lopez
Jeremy Lucas
Jordan Lund
Aaron Lyons
Dennis Madden
Jill Magilone
Mike Mahaffey
Christopher Maikish
Alan Mandell
Sandy Mansson
Michael Manuel
Abigail Marks
Ferrell Marshall
Ron Masak
Edgar Mastin
Dakin Mathews
Anna Mathias
Jeremy Maxwell
Margaret Mccarley
Kevin Mccorkle
Michael Mcgee
David Lm Mcintyre
Matt Mckenzie
David Mcknight
Don Mcmanus
Nan Mcnamara
Vince Melocchi
Bill Mendieta
Kevin Meoak
Rebecca Metz
Toby Meuli
Adam Meyer
Cameron Meyer
Colin Mitchell
Alfred Molina
Robert Homer Mollohan
Mindy Montavon
Sean Moran
Andrea Morgan
Virginia Morris
Allie Mulholland
Jon Mullich
Rob Nagle
Geoffgrey Nauffts
Judy Nazemetz
Shannon Nelson
Claudette Nevins
Sara Newman
Gregory Niebel
Bruce Nozick
Lynn Odell
Nick Offerman
Adenrele Ojo
Laurie Okin
Penny Orloff
Ann Osmond
Jason Paige
Marina Palmier
Ray Paolantonio
Ramon V. Parra
Tony Pasqualini
Lisa Pelikan
Jessica Pennington
Zoe Perry
Lisa Pescia
Alina Phelan
Jonathan Kells Philips
Marissa Pitts
Vic Polizos
John Pollono
Rose Portillo
Mary Portsner
Annie Potts
Lawrence Pressman
Michael Prichard
Roses Prichard
Sean Pritchett
Philip Proctor
Zachary Quinto
Anna Quirino
Linda Rand
Rebecca Rasmussen
Noreen Reardon
Tom Regan
Annette Reid
Elizabeth Reilly
Shanti Reinhardt
Betsy Reisz
Marci Richmond
Roger Rignack
Rene Rivera
Crystal Robbins
Brian Rohan
Tracey Rooney
Stan Roth
Michael Rothhaar
Adriana Roze
Susan Rubin
Paul Rurbiak
Ann Ryerson
Jeanne Sakata
Barry Saltzman
William Salyers
Elizabeth Sampson
Julia Sanford
Norman Scott
Diane Sellers
Mimi Seton
Tro Shaw
Sharron Shayne
Stephanie Shayne
David Shine
Graham Sibley
Jacob Sidney
Ruth Silveira
Adam Silver
Anibal Silveyra
John Sloan
Tucker Smallwood
Sammi Smith
Jacques C. Smith
Debra Snyder
Suzan Solomon
Wendy Soroka
Devon Sorvari
Richard Soto
Joe Spano
Adrian Sparks
Valerie Spencer
Steve Spiro
Patrick Stafford
Sami Staitman
Rick Steadman
David Steen
Jeannine Stehlin
Ellyn Stern
Theo Stevens
Elizabeth Swain
Kim Swennen
Joel Swetow
Jeanne Syquia
John Szura
Bart Tangredi
Barbara Tarbuck
Nick Tate
Jennifer Taub
Mark Taylor
Martin Thompson
Donal Thoms-Cappello
Paul Tigue
Debi Tinsley
Amy Tolsky
Cathy Diane Tomin
Marcelo Tubert
Nick Ullett
Carole Ursetti
Brenda Varda
Tania Verafield
Steve Vinovich
Michael Wallot
Kristine Waters
Cameron Watson
Vance Wells
Leo Weltman
Patrick Wenk-Wolff
Mandy Levin Williams
Mark Mcclain Wilson
Dan Wingard
Gail Wirth
Steven Wishnoff
Robert Woods
Wendy Worthington
Tim Wright
Kimberly Yates
Travis York
David Youse
Lb Zimmerman

Stupid Is As Stupid Gets at the Rockwell Table & Stage

Kerri-Saturday-Night

SATURDAY NIGHT: Gabriel Oliva/Selyna Warren/Marissa Shields/Keri Safran/Sarah Wolter/Yael Berkovich/Brant Cox

YES. They actually DID do it again!

Stupid Songs LA decided to give several encore performances at the Rockwell Table & Stage this month including STUPID GOLD, a compilation of their most favorite chart toppers.

If I had to be honest, (and well I kind of do), their earlier 2015 Hollywood Fringe hits list was a categorically flawlessly weaved execution of musical revue sketch comedy. However, this ‘a la Forbidden Broadway’ style troupe never ceases to regale audiences and regular fans (like — A LOT OF THEM!) with their particular euphonious, outlandish, bon mot — STUPID GOLD prevailed exceptionally.

Aided by very special guests Missi Pyle (Gone Girl, The Artist, Galaxy Quest) & Brooke Dillman (Wrecked, The Middle), who performed original material on guitar as the amazing duo, The Tumbleweeds with exuberant and completely inappropriate renditions of Holiday Medley & Armageddon Excited!!  [Can someone give me a “Dear Lord!”?], STUPID GOLD brought down the house with some of my own personal favorites including Bobby D sung by powerhouse Selyna Warren and Pleasure Town sung by the incomparable Carla Delaney who returned with a truly hysterical “chaser” of Nervous Compensation and Yael Berkovich in a practically X-rated Pregnancy Song.  The complete song list is below.

BobbyD

BOBBY D – “I got a little crush on…Robert Durst!” – Music, Lyrics & Performed by Selyna Warren

Under the direction of über talent Keri Safran at the helm again with Emily Cohn (Alien Vs. Musical) joining as Music Director, 100% entertainment is to be found every single time.  The company is unstoppable.

Carlo Capolupo returns on bass, with Jon Gray on drums and Special Guest Andrew Samples on Guitar.

Stupid Cast: Yael Berkovich, Tad Coughenour, Brant Cox, Sara Cravens, Jason Currie(In-House Music Director), Carla Delaney, Laura Hughes, Aaron Matijasic, Gabriel Oliva, Keri Safran, Marissa Shields, Selyna Warren & Sarah Wolter.

Here’s one they didn’t repeat.  But Keri Safran singing ‘Goo’ is way too good to leave out! ;)

STUPID GOLD SONG LIST! 8/18/15 – Rockwell

STUPID GOLD: “Now that you’re here, order a beer. You have no choice!”
Xanadu written by Jeff Lynne; Lyrics by Keri Safran; Performed by Troupe

MY NEIGHBOR: “I think my neighbor murders girls!”
Music & Lyrics by Sarah Wolter; Performed by Sarah Wolter, Gabriel Oliva & Troupe

FARMER’S MARKET: “I come to check out Hot Dads, Hot Moms!”
Music, Lyrics and Performance by Sara Cravens & Andrew Samples

WITCHES WITH A “B”: “We’re witches…who are twats”
Music by Selyna Warren & Jason Currie, Lyrics by Selyna Warren; Performed by Selyna, Laura Hughes & Marissa Shields

WAY AHEAD OF MY TIME: “I’m…not like the other cavemen!”
Music & Lyrics by Peter Mills; Performed by Tad Coughenour

NERVOUS COMPENSATION: “When I get nervous, I overcompensate.”
Music, Lyrics & Impressions by Carla Delaney; Arrangements by Bryan Blaskie

SCREW LOOSE: “But I just don’t see the harm, in carving your name in my arm.”
Music & Lyrics by David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger; Performed by Marissa Shields

L.S.B.F.: “You’re my Lover, my Spouse and-uh my Best Friend.”
Music by Jason Currie; Lyrics & Performance by Jason Currie & Keri Safran

BOBBY D: “I got a little crush on…Robert Durst!”
Music, Lyrics & Performed by Selyna Warren

EYE TO EYE: “You’ll never see your own Butt-Ho-o-o-o-ole! It’s impo-o-o-o-ssible!”
Music, Lyrics & Performed by Laura Hughes

I USED TO BE (Dad Bod): “My dad bod says I’m confident! And CrossFit SUCKS!”
Music & Lyrics by Jason Currie; Performed by Jason w/ Carla, Yael, Sara & Sarah

MISSI PYLE & BROOKE DILLMAN: Holiday Medley & Armageddon Excited!!

JUST A COUPLE A GUYS: “Do ya wanna go to the Eiffel Tower & spend some time with us?”
Music & Lyrics by Aaron Matijasic & Gabriel Oliva; Performed by Aaron, Gabriel & Troupe

TOO PRETTY: “I’m too pretty for cleaning floors while serving you whores.”
Music & Lyrics by Katie Thompson; Performed by Brant Cox

PLEASURE TOWN: “Yes I go to Funky Town…when my neighbors groooove!”
Music & Lyrics by Carla Delaney; Arr. by Bryan Blaskie; Performed by Carla Delaney w/ Troupe

PREGNANCY SONG: “It all starts…with fucking!”
Music & Lyrics by Kristin Anderson-Lopez; Performed by Yael Berkovich

NETFLIX: “I got that HBO Go, SHO-any-Time, Amazon Prime, I got that Neflix…”
Music, Lyrics & Performance by Sara Cravens & Andrew Samples

SATURDAY NIGHT (aka Cat Lady): “You think that’s disgusting? Well, FUCK YOU, I’m a…CAT LADY!”
Lyrics by Keri Safran & Jason Currie; Performed by Keri Safran & Troupe of CATS

The 7th Annual One-Man Show World Championships Returns

With a sudden schedule opening by a generous invitation from Celebration Theatre @ The Lex, The RAH Theater Co. has jumped at the opportunity to bring their Hollywood Fringe hit to a Los Angeles small theater institution…

lex

The RAH Theater Company announces a new staging of their critically acclaimed original comedy, “The 7th Annual One-Man Show World Championships” opening September 4 at the new Celebration Theatre at the Lex.

A biting yet affectionate satire of the solo show phenomenon set against the backdrop of the World Championships in Omaha, watch as four regional champs clash in this year’s “Tourney of the Journeys.” An audience favorite at this Summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, the production received 10 Fringe Award nominations (including  Top of Fringe and Best Comedy) and won three (Theatre Unleashed Best Actor for Darin Toonder, Spirit of the Fringe Best Male Performance for Jim Hanna and The Encore Producer’s Award). The show is directed by Caitlin Rucker.

Trent “The Soul Mirror” Isaacs is the 6-time reigning, defending world champion, returning to crush and humiliate the competition at this year’s One-Man Show World Championships with his epic piece, “Stumbling Toward Valhalla.” All of the other regional champs are playing for 2nd place: Ally, the over-earnest and far too graphic little firecracker telling the story of her path from girl to woman in “Who Moved My Yurt?” Shelby and her terrifically inappropriate re-imagining of the life of Sharon Tate, “I Am Not Mrs. Polanski’.” And the wildcard of the group, the second runner up at the West Regionals sent as a substitute, Gary. Can this rookie and complete unknown shock the solo show community and pull the upset? Tears will flow, impressions of elderly family members will fly and ponderous journeys of self-discovery will play out in this brutal send-up.

WHERE:
Celebration Theatre @ The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave., L.A. CA, 90038

WHEN:
Every Friday and Saturday night from Sept. 4 – Oct. 10 (First two weekends at 8 pm, final four weekends at 10 pm)

Sept 4, 5, 11 & 12 at 8 pm

Sept. 18, 19, 25 & 26 at 10 pm*

Oct. 2, 3, 9 & 10 at 10 pm*

*All 10 pm shows will run on a double bill with Celebration’s Sketch Comedy Show “Kim Jong Funner”at 8 pm

TICKETS:  $12, available at celebrationtheatre.com

CAST:
Trent: Darin Toonder (“Modern Family,” “Parks & Recreation,” “Castle,” “Jeff the Cat”)
Danny: Forrest Lancaster (“Passing Proper,” “Bent,” “About Abigail”)
Ally: Tamara Lynn Davis (“Hot in Cleveland,” “How I Met Your Mother”)
Shelby: Sarah Chaney (Fringe award winners “Doomsday Cabaret,” “Exorcistic” and “Werewolves of Hollywood Blvd.”)
Gary: Jim Hanna (LA Drama Critic’s Circle Best Actor and two-time nominee, LA Weekly Best Actor, “Ray Donovan,” “Parks & Recreation”)

A RAH THEATER PRODUCTION

Directed by Caitlin Rucker   Written by Jim Hanna.

 

  • “A scathing but deliciously comical send-up of the one-person show genre.  Helmer Rucker admirably keeps folks on point while allowing them to seemingly bounce off the walls as they regale the audience with their thoroughly improper lives.” – Julio Martinez
  • “All I know is that I haven’t laughed that hard and long in a while, and I certainly haven’t cried from laughing at a Fringe show in ages.”–Turnstyle News
  • “Exhilarating…spot on…absolutely brilliant…spirited take down…required viewing.” – Cinesnatch
  • “Hanna’s script is marvelously concise (and) keeps the laughs coming. Sharply satirical.”  — Showmag
  • Hilarious from the grandiose melodramatic lights up. Very highly recommended.” — Gia On The Move

 

 

The Red Moon is Coming to Zombie Joe’s

 

The-Red-Moon-Vampire-Musical

Anthony and Roxanna’s bond of eternal love is challenged by their adventurous lust for human flesh and Roxanna’s drive for redemption. Ramon Sanchez’s musical vampire love story makes its world premiere at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group.

ZJU Theatre Group, in its ever-present need to expand it’s theatrical boundaries, approached Los Angeles-based songwriter and playwright Ramon Sanchez last Christmas to further develop his passionate love story, and ZJU’s Lead-Director Denise Devin is excited to bring Ramon’s vampiric-musical to life at ZJU.  Zombie Joe’s Underground has a long history of supporting original work, from inside the group as well as outside the company, and our established, edgy, and experimental theatre in the NOHO Arts District of North Hollywood proves the perfect home for “The Red Moon”.

Directed by Denise Devin and Produced by Zombie Joe.

Grand Opening:  SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 @ 8:30pm;
FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS @ 8:30pm,
SEPTEMBER 4 – 26, 2015

ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets Only $15.
For Reservations Call:  818-202-4120
Website: ZombieJoes.com
Advance Tickets On Sale for All Performances at ZombieJoes.Tix.com}

*PRESS TIX NOW AVAILABLE FOR ALL PERFORMANCES.
*Contact Zombie Joe @ 818-202-4120, or Email: zombiejoes@gmail.com

Stage Raw Presents 3 Performing Arts Symposiums

 

STAGE RAW presents

Stage Raw Performing Arts Coverage Symposia: Three Forums over Three Months!

September 28 – Nov. 23, 2015

#GetSceneLA @stageraw

STAGE RAW Founding Editor STEVEN LEIGH MORRIS has announced today a series of three public forums to occur between late September and late November, 2015 on arts coverage in our times.

All three forums will be presented by STAGE RAW and hosted respectively by ROGUE MACHINE, BOSTON COURT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, and the 24TH STREET THEATER.

The first panel is:  VISUALIZING THE INVISIBLE

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tickets

Tickets for all three panels are FREE. Donation to support Stage Raw programming will be gratefully accepted. Tickets can be reserved here.

#GetSceneLA @stageraw

Margaret Gray (Los Angeles Times) will moderate all three panels.

Panelists confirmed so far include: SASHA ANAWALT (U.S.C. Annenberg School of Journalism), ANTHONY BYRNES (KCRW), SHELDON EPPS (Pasadena Playhouse), JOHN FLYNN (Rogue Machine),  JAY McADAMS/DEBBIE DEVINE (24th Street Theatre) CHARLES McNULTY (Los Angeles Times), STEVEN LEIGH MORRIS (Stage Raw/L.A. Weekly), TRACEY PALEO (Footlights/Gia on the Move), BILL RADEN (L.A. Weekly/Stage Raw)  BOB VERINI (Variety/ArtsInLA), JOSE LUIS VALENZUELA (Los Angeles Theatre Center), and LAURA ZUCKER (L.A. County Arts Commission) Each panel will have a different focus related to the broader theme of performing arts coverage.

The implosion of performing arts coverage in print media is an unarguable reality.  As part of what’s been in a national trend since 2008, the L.A. Weekly, for example, dropped all long-form theater criticism, while relegating its theater articles, once a weekly staple, to one article per month. The shrinkage of arts coverage in general readership print media has led to a flurry of digital alternatives that are experimenting with form and content, yet have so far been mostly relegated to niche markets.arts

This raises the question of how to find the broader markets reached, with diminishing returns, by the print media? What are the most viable economic models for sustaining comprehensive and quality reporting while reaching for a broader market share? And how is it possible to engage ethnically diverse perspectives, to keep the performing arts, and its coverage, relevant to the population at large?

The three forums are part of STAGE RAW’s ongoing commitment to community engagement.  

THE SCHEDULE:

The schedule for the forums is as follows:

PANEL 1: “FORM AND CONTENT”:  

Monday, Sept 28, 7:30 p.m. Rogue Machine, 5041 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

1)    What do we want arts coverage to look like? 

2)    Short form or long form? Does that form depend on the point-of-view? 

3)    What makes for a great capsule review? What makes a great, longer essay? 

 4)    Social Media: Twitter preview opinions? Video clips? Do these technologies really add to the discussion, or are they just so much noise? 

Panelists: John Flynn, Charles McNulty, Steven Leigh Morris, Tracey Paleo, Bill Raden  (Margaret Gray, moderator)  

PANEL 2: “THE ECONOMICS OF ARTS COVERAGE”:  

Monday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 N. Mentor Avenue, Pasadena. 

1)    Value versus popularity (does the competition for click-throughs have an impact on content? 

2)    What kinds of stories get pitched? Approved? Written?  

3)    Is there value, or even such a thing as an “important” but unpopular story? i.e. if a difficult or esoteric play can eventually change the shape of playwriting through its longer-term influences, can the same be said of a difficult but challenging example of arts journalism?   

4)    The issue of readers paying, theaters paying, and the issue of loyalty to an outlet. 

5)    Not for profit journalism: Where is academia, as professional criticism shrinks?

Panelists: Sasha Anawalt , Anthony Byrnes, Sheldon Epps, Charles McNulty, Steven Leigh Morris, Laura Zucker, (Margaret Gray, moderator) 

PANEL 3: “TRADITION, PREJUDICE AND DIVERSITY IN PERFORMING ARTS COVERAGE” 

Monday, November, 23, 7:30 p.m., 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th Street, Los Angeles

1)    L.A. is now majority minority. What has been done, and what can be done, to have our theaters, and our drama criticism, represent the ethnic and cultural make-up of the city rather than the narrow ethnic niche of theater audiences?

2)    Can we untangle whether or not the lack of diversity in theater-makers and audiences, and the lack of diversity in drama critics, stem from the same root? 

3)    What can be done to entice and develop a new, diverse generation of theater critics?

Moderated by Margaret Gray. Panel to be announced. 

 

STAGE RAW is an Emerge Project of the Pasadena Arts Council, which serves as its fiscal sponsor.

StR_Panels1

Sex, Love, & Yoga at the MACHA Theatre

Reviewed by Marc Wheeler
Kim-Reed

Cast: Kim Reed and Casey Hayden

Lovers, Lotus poses and labias are explored in this lofty new musical whose premise might be considered far-fetched if it weren’t based on a true story (and even then…)

A 52-year-old widowed sexologist walks into a yoga studio (stop me if you’ve heard this one) and is immediately overwhelmed and intrigued with the unfamiliarity of it all — people dressed in white, chanting faces beaming light. A Kundalini virgin, Beverly (Kim Reed) soon finds herself in Venus Kriyas with a handsome, 20-years-her-junior yogi named Cody (Casey Hayden) with whom she shares a rapturous, cosmic encounter (”Sat Nam”) that begs her wondering if these two have some sort of past life history. (Wouldn’t be my first thought, but hey, not bad for a beginner!) They agree to meet again, but this meeting is held suspect when Beverly’s longtime friend Cynthia (Stephanie Andersen) doubts his heterosexuality after scrolling through the Facebook photos of him Beverly so enthusiastically displays. Not one to back down to speculated orientation, Beverly soon meets Cody in his apartment, questions his possible fondness for the fellas, and hears the sad-but-true confirmation — he’s gay. She goes in for a kiss (”labels” be damned!) to which he recoils (lady kisses are gross!), then offers to “honor” him with a Tantric blowjob instead (naturally!), and soon more than his Kundalini is rising (Go with it, it’s a true story!) Beverly spends the night, Cody is wonderstruck, and weeks later our heroine is singing about the joys of doing his laundry (”Laundry”), because, hey, it’s a musical!

As this below-the-lips cosmic affair takes flight, best friend Cynthia is dealing with her own sexless marriage to always-distant Noah (Tod Macofsky) by feeding her three a.m. emotional aches with rich and delicious chocolate cakes (”Ambrosia”). Meanwhile, Beverly’s roommate Jenny (Katherine Washington) is feeling sexually-blocked with her transgender boyfriend Riley (Shen Heckel), this being the lesbian’s first relationship with a male-identifying partner. On the horizon a lovelorn Gabriel (Espiridion Magana) is puppy-love deep with the now MILF-diving Cody.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a comedy.

“Sex, Love, & Yoga” is based on the true life tale of creative sexologist and co-producer Dr. Stephanie Torres, with book, music and lyrics by director Kate Sullivan Gibbens. While billed as “A Provocative New Musical” with sex-positive and body-loving themes, there is interestingly no nudity (except for a shirtless Cody) and all sexual situations are simulated under covers — an understandable choice for a musical, of course, but a noticeable one for a show that so vocally advocates eradicating shame of our bodies and what we do with them.

While sexuality and gender are increasingly being viewed as fluid concepts, the explanations of why a self-described gay man would embark on a sexual relationship with an older woman are frustratingly lacking — “past life lovers” and his admiration for the “divine feminine” probably won’t satisfy most audiences. At the same time, “Sex, Love, & Yoga” plays less like a musical and more like endless therapy sessions between Beverly and the remaining characters. We never really get to the heart of anyone’s problems, but circle around them ad nauseam until the expected happy ending attempts to finger it all out and tie up loose ends with “sacred spot massages,” suspect smiles and self-love.

Performances are quite solid across the board — actors doing their best to bring an improbable story with hard-to-swallow dialogue to life.

Kate Sullivan Gibbens’ music, however, offers more than one gem, thanks in part to many soulful vocalists under the guidance of musical director Kate Marley. The melodies are often quite beautiful, as in the case of ballads “Sat Nam” and “The Rest of Me.” Lyrics, however, fall flat under the weight of clunky self-help realizations and silly subject matters (”Safe” and “Laundry” respectively), but shine when tackling issues like gender roles in the bold and sassy ”Good Girls Don’t.” Additional song credits go to Snatam Kaur. Anthony Starble gets props for arrangements.

Set design is uncredited, but features great use of space for the various households, yoga studio and nightclub. Michelle Stann’s lighting design is effective. And costumes, also uncredited, are relevant and appropriate. Bren Coombs is co-producer. Julie Ouellette is stage manager. Katherine Washington is Casting Director, with additional casting by Michael Donovan and casting associate Richie Ferris.

Sexual fluidity, body issues, relationships, trauma, healing, gender roles and identity are certainly important if challenging subject matters. Theater can tackle them (even in musicals), but “Sex, Love, & Yoga” takes on too many and forgoes entertainment and story for clinical, esoteric introspection. While based on a true story, its credibility is lost with two-dimensional characters and unlikely scenarios that need more outside perspectives and fleshed-out narratives to ring true.

There’s certainly a story in here, it just needs found — like an elusive G-spot.

Namaste.

Now playing through August 30, 2015

Sex Love & Yoga - imageMACHA Theatre
1107 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Fridays and Saturdays – 8pm
Sundays – 2pm and 7pm

Tickets:
www.sexloveandyoga.com

General Admission:
$30

For Mature Audiences Only.

Down The Road with Chaz Bono at the Lounge Theatre Hollywood

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Chaz Bono - Down The RoadLeave it to Chaz Bono to play a creepy, fame hungry, serial killer on stage and get away with it – beautifully!

Luckily I had some distance with this production.  Sitting in the front row might be hard to take if you are not completely in love with the classic sociopath a la Silence of the Lambs storytelling genre.

It gets gnarly pretty quick in Lee Blessing’s “Down The Road”, skillfully directed by Jordan Shappell, where Bono plays, William Reach, a serial killer serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison for the murders of 19 women. 

Experienced husband and wife crime-writing team, Iris (Barbara Howling) and Dan Henniman (Kyle David Pierce) are on assignment to get Reach’s story for a soon to be published autobiography.

It’s an intense psychological drama, the skin crawling “ick” factor amped as tensions mount with each interview separately conducted at the prison, by either Dan or Barbara. Reach begins to penetrate both people’s emotions and thoughts until the closeness with the subject, the living space, the isolation and Reach’s manipulation of them both bring out the worst qualities in the couple, and they find themselves fiercely divided, on what parts of Reach’s story is real or fabricated for fame. Iris obsessively battles against Reach’s ever inflated claims as Dan sides with him and both have to combat Reach’s tirades for control as well as with each other on the issues of journalistic truth.

Originally commissioned and produced at the La Jolla Playhouse and then produced in the 1991 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the beauty of this current rendition is that it lives perfectly in the small intimate Lounge Theatre space, yet far elevated above mere “black box” expectation.

Chaz Bono has inextricably immersed himself in Reach becoming a true centerpiece of this production such that it is impossible to separate the actor from the character. (Even Reach would gleefully approve.) Barbara Howling and Dan Henniman dance steadily around Bono and put in interesting performances although never really take the deep dive into the material in quite the same way as Bono who really caps it.  Nevertheless, it’s a stellar production of Blessing’s provocative play, very much illuminating the frightening mind of a serial killer.

Down The Road PosterWhere:
Lounge Theatres
6201 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Now Playing Until:
August 16
8:00pm – Friday and Saturday