Category Archives: Theatre

The Behavior of Broadus: Jacob Sidney Takes The Lead

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Photo from the @BurglarsofHamm

Photo from the @BurglarsofHamm Twitter feed

It was a one shot deal for actor Jacob Sidney stepping into the title role of The Behavior of Broadus at the Sacred Fools Theatre on Thursday evening (Oct. 16). And oh how he pulled it off!

Ok, I’ll confess, I seem to have a penchant these days for alternate casts and understudies.  But when every other critic in Los Angeles is jumping into the fray to be the “first man out”, it’s so much more interesting to take a step back and see how things actually progress – well after opening night.

Over the summer at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, I had the opportunity to review Mr. Sidney for his lead role in Hamlet Max, a rather amorphous yet off-handedly effective characterization of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  So I was quite looking forward to seeing what he could do with an even more obsessive personality.

For his “singular” achievement, Mr. Sidney, who normally plays Dean Stevens, completely dove into the character with exceeding skill.  In comparing photographs of the real John Broadus Watson, it could even be said that Sidney is a bit of a ringer. Truth be told, I never once thought about the fact that he was a “step-in” for the evening. It was the most natural, spot-on, technically well-presented performance that could have been rendered, supported by a wonderfully quick-witted ensemble which, coincidentally also included three other cast members switching places that evening. Due to an injury by actress C.J. Merriman, shortly on her way to foot surgery, cast members took the following roles: Aviva Pressman as Whitey; Kurt Bonnem as Loeb US; Scott Golden as Dean.  Overall, it was a total success.

The Behavior of Broadus

As a musical play, The Behavior of Broadus is mostly hilarious, bright, sit-up-and-pay-attention material that captures the imagination with ridiculous and often profane humor mitigated by dark moments that either suddenly creep in or which are thrust into the forum of the doctor’s lab, his relationships and his own psyche, a place where he himself fears to tread and yet, in his late life, has no choice but to confront. It is a fictionally composed story of the real life of John Broadus Watson, the American psychologist who established the Psychological School of Behaviorism and modern Advertising.

Coming from humble beginnings, John Broadus Watson starts off as a farm boy growing up in rural South Carolina circa early 1900.  Coerced, by his mother, into the religious road of preacher-ism, he eventually makes his way to the savvy sin bearing streets of Chicago to find converts. There he quickly throws down his Bible and finds a path to science.

Little-albertAided by his will, his imagination and in this version, his very intriguing, anthropomorphic relationships with farm animals and other four-legged testing patients he begins a life-long study on fear and classical conditioning, i.e. how to manipulate the human brain into doing what it is told. In his lifetime, John Broadus Watson conducted research on animal behavior, child rearing and advertising.  His most famous, greatest and undoubtedly shocking experiment was on an 8 month old baby named (Little) Albert with whom he took dangerously extreme liberties in the dissecting and retraining of the baby’s behaviors.  But it was his love affair (as then a married man) with his graduate student assistant, Rosalie Rayner, that ultimately sends him spiraling out of control and summarily booted from John Hopkins University. This consequently also leaves a once emotionally stable baby Albert mentally skewed for life, having been conditioned into phobias he never had. Watson never reconditions the baby back to normal behaviors.

The Behavior of Broadus

This past season has seen several shows come out of the Sacred Fools Company in collaboration with other theaters and groups, which has upped the level of intensity, sophistication and high-end storytelling.  If nothing else to note, above all, storytelling IS what they do best.  Broadus, written by The Burglars of Hamm and presented in association with The Center Theatre Group, hits the mark. Even with a bit too much length and repetitive music score, especially in the second act, which drains a bit of its impact, it is a first-rate production that with a “dust-up” should enjoy a second life or more in a larger theatre house and with a broader audience.  Let’s hope.

What is stunning in the show is the lighting (by Brandon Baruch) which fully activates and heightens every action and emotion, accompanied by a live onstage orchestra — a distinctly gorgeous yet un-intrusive element in this production. But what I kept coming back to most, was the cleverly thought out movement and dance choreography  (by Ken Roht), impressive in how it often created bold formations, telling its own story, using the entire space and lines of the stage, something, as a dancer, I always look for, but I don’t often see in many theatrical productions.  The costuming matched the timeline.  The animal masks were thoroughly inventive.  And…there was an abundance of absolutely priceless lines, gags and moments from each actor/character in this script.

Broadus is “made-to-order” role for Mr. Sidney and it in he triumphs along with the cast for this piece, especially, the incredibly talented and entertaining Devon Sidell who gives a knockout performance as Rosalie Raynor.  The Behavior of Broadus is undeniably good.

The Behavior of Broadus

The Behavior of Broadus was to close last week but has been extended.  Performances run until October 25th.

For more information and Tickets visit: SacredFools.org

The Behavior of Broadus was commissioned by Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, CA.  This production was developed with support from Andrew W. Mellon

WHAT IF JESUS WAS GAY? Revisiting Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption

Terrence McNally’s ”Gay Jesus Play” Feature Documentary is now available on iTunes!

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Breaking Glass Pictures just released Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption, a feature documentary focusing on Terrence McNally’s controversial off-Broadway play “Corpus Christi,” which imagines Jesus as a gay man living in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The documentary follows the troupe, Terrence, and audience around the world on a 5-year journey, where voices of protest and support collide on one of the central issues facing the LGBT community: religion.

The play originally opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1998 to intense protest and bomb threats. Terrence McNally is a four-time Tony Award winning playwright, famous for Broadway hits Ragtime, Master Class, and Love! Valour! Compassion!

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“Playing with Redemption and the I AM Love Campaign add a new dimension to the conversation that my play continues to provoke, and I look forward to CORPUS CHRISTI starting many more conversations around the country.” - Terrence McNally

Gia On The Move had the opportunity to preview this film before its release.  Here’s what caught us off guard:

 

It wasn’t what we thought.

There may always be inflammatory reaction on subject matter concerning gays and religion…although it seems even the Vatican is changing its mind as of this past week on the issue of what the LGBT community has to offer to the Church.

But this movie brings up the most important issue of all — perspective.  One of the biggest drivers of this film is how everyone’s idea of God and the play is shifted throughout the experience.  Even some of the cast members, both Christians and Jews were resistant to the material, no matter if they grew up rigidly religious or claimed they had no connection to God at all.

Theatre comes out of ritual just like religion.  

McNally discusses the sacred moments…things like growing up and being an alter boy…what being a Catholic really meant to him.  What was most upsetting throughout his life is that gay men and women could live good moral Christian lives, but were still being rejected.  There was a lot of learning by the cast about the Passion Play.  The short version: just like theatre there has to be truth and that is what has to connect us.

We know what it’s about so we don’t need to know every last word.

Much more intriguing are the dialogs that cast members had with people in multiple cities and countries who fervently protested the play without having read the script.  And how when questioned, nicely, some of these persons actually realized that they were making judgements about something they didn’t know anything about.  What was getting in the way of the humanity, was the ideological/emotion attachment.

 You hate what you don’t understand and what you are not willing to look at. But is it really ok anymore to say that it’s ok to agree to disagree?

He thought it was a play that was going to vanish.  Terrance was wrong…Hellacrazy!

The play initially felt like a train wreck and no one wanted to even invite their friends.  But they started rehearsing and it became something else. Something special.

The protests were based on something that wasn’t true: felacio, sex acts and etc that never happened on stage.  But Manhattan Theatre Club nevertheless cancelled the production because of the bomb threats and People for the American Way getting involved.  It brought up how thin the scab of homophobia was and how easily it could be picked off.  “You can’t get rid of the things you were very carefully taught.”

History is sort of repeating itself.

Corpus Christi deeply challenges the audience on the issue of prejudice much in the same way this country (USA) was challenged during the Civil Rights era when people simply made the assumption that whites and blacks should not mingle, sit in the front of the bus, learn in the same schools, play in the same playgrounds, etc.

You’ll never believe what happened next!

 God Hates Homosexuality God Hates You

They finally went to Texas on tour in 2010.  For the cast it was like going into the Heart of Darkness, endangering people by taking the play to the south, where “they take their Jesus very serious there.”

On opening night, however, there was not a single protester even after weeks of outcry. [Wow!] 

Of course, the issues of God and righteousness are  powerful ones, but Corpus Christi goes out of its way not to defend itself.  It merely tells a story.  And in the most off-handed of ways, it sets out to do what we’ve been told Jesus himself actually set out to do: embrace all (ostracized) persons into an understanding of a faith and a God they had been told had rejected them and to include all people, no matter what or who they were how they lived or what they did, as “children of God.” Because…All [men] are divine.

In a phrase…

It’s a warm and fuzzy film, with profound moments, downplaying the hoopla in the hope of sparking a human connection.  Forget the material.  JUST GO THERE!

Available_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_0824Get it on iTunes, today!

 

“Think Again, God.” One Night Only at the Eclectic Company Theatre

 ONE NIGHT ONLY

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Come hear the stories of several daring, reluctant heroes, who were silly enough to follow God into adventures of all kinds.

Starring Matt Brennan, Christine Newton, Leta Rector, Christin Jezak, Korfi Dorbu, Havilah Giannetta and Paul T. Buice.  Directed by Havilah Giannetta.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 8:30 p.m.

A reception with light refreshments follows the performance.

The Eclectic Company Theatre
5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91607
United States

ADMISSION: $15

RESERVATIONS: (818) 508-3003 or  ONLINE TICKETS: www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org

@EclecticCoThtr

ONE NIGHT ONLY! Fake Radio Presents “The War of the Worlds” on October 30th

newsONFake Radio, L.A.’s Premiere Old-Time Radio Comedy Troupe, will re-create the historic 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast originally performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Radio Theatre Troupe, with a well-known surprise guest artist in the cast!

Fake Radio frequently includes celebrity guest stars in its casts. Previous celebrity guest stars have included John Larroquette, Fred Willard, The Kids in the Hall, Phil Proctor (Firesign Theatre), Jeff Garlin, John Lynch , Dean Cain, Maria Bamford, Rick Overton, George Wendt and Laraine Newman.

“’The War of the Worlds’ goes down in history as the single greatest entertainment broadcast with Orson Welles actually fooling the entire nation into believing that a Martian invasion was underway in New Jersey!” says David Koff, the show’s director and a life-long improviser, who trained with The Groundlings, Bang Comedy Theater,  and The Empty Stage, and has appeared on a host of TV shows ranging from “The West Wing” to “Sesame Street.”

WHERE: Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027

WHEN: Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.

ADMISSION: General $20. VIP seating, $35.

RESERVATIONS: 1-800-595-4849.

ONLINE TICKETING: www.trepanyhouse.org

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The Rumer Has It at The Rockwell Table & Stage!

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The MoveRumer Willis Instagram

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She’s got her mother’s prettiness but she’s all sex appeal and swag like her famous dad (Bruce).  And with all of that Rumer Willis still manages to simply be herself.  She’s lovely.  She’s also 100% edge without any of the roughness.

Los Feliz 90027,  written and directed by Jake Wilson (“You Must Be Joking” and “Battery’s Down”) blasted off it’s world premiere, Episode 1, last night,  at the Rockwell Table & Stage on Vermont Ave. (Los Feliz, CA) with a full house and a high energy crowd of supporters including none other than Demi Moore who sat in full view awaiting her daughter’s debut.

A mixture of alternating live stage & film, music and uber reality waitressing/bartending — an experimental  format described as “live episodic entertainment” — the show managed a successful first night without a hitch.

rumerwillisThe love letter/spoof to soapy dramedy material isn’t grand. But the audience cared more about the characters and all of the demonstrative cattiness a heck of a lot more than the script  including a cameo by Perez Hilton on camera as a horrible casting director, so a great time was had by all.

 The storyline?…well…it’s a bit ludicrous.  It’s the … you know… I’m an actor trying to make it in Hollywood…living the dream or i’ll die trying or something like that mashed together with a drug score, a bar owner mc who cares less about the talent than fame, a porn sideline, the all-encompassing, effervescent drag show and the critical musical number that deepens the relationship between the unlikely soon to be lovers (Rumer and a new musician in town who works as a busboy at the bar); Barely post teenaged schmaltz at its best.  Miss Willis’ character, Veronica Hampton is the centerpiece actress who continually is dissed by boyfriend, friends, acquaintances and industry twits who jerk her around quite a bit in her struggle for success and happiness.

But does it all work? Absolutely.  The players are current and in reality, many if not most, (so I was told) a bunch of actors with food service side jobs.  So nearly everyone is a dead ringer and appropriately cast.  And will it keep audiences coming back?  Seems so.  No one was complaining and in a somewhat interactive environment, it’s more likely that fans will keeping loading in just to be closer to the melodrama and the (frankly) hot bods.

The show will perform twice a month (Friday and Sunday) LIVE at the Rockwell with projected pre-taped scenes with new upcoming episodes continuing on October 12 at 8pm through Sunday, February 15th.

Tickets range from $15 to $50. Season passes are also available.  Dinner and drinks are served.

For reservations, tickets and information call (323) 669-1550 ext. 20 or visit: http://rockwell-la.com/

LOS-FELIZ---90027---GRAPHICStarring:
Rumer Willis
Bridgette B.
Alex Ellis
Levi Freeman
Ben D Goldberg
Blake Cooper Griffin
David Hull
Carly Jibson
Sebastian La Cause
Lisa Mindelle
Same Pancake
Corbin REid
Constantine Rousouli
Tory Devon Smith
 
Guest Starring:
Brandon Breault
Taylor Montana Catlin
Jenna Coker-Jones
Tiffany Daniels
Richie Elija Carcia
Adam Genztler
Asmeret Ghebremichael
Natalie Hall
Perez Hilton
Chauncy Jenkins
Nhut Le
Chantae Pink
 
with
Daniel Imperiale
Ruby Karyo
April Moreau
Christina Nguyen
Quinn Scillian
Caroline Smith
 
Produced by Kate Pazakis
Musical Direction by Brian P. Kennedy and Richie Garcia

Back From The Undead! Stuart Gordon Directs “Re-Animator”

“I guess he just wasn’t fresh enough.”

Re-Animator“Re-Animator™ the award winning Musical” has been re-animated, with new songs and new performers just in time for Halloween.  Opening on October 17th at the Steve Allen Theatre, “RE-ANIMATOR™ the Musical” tells the story of Herbert West, a brilliant young medical student who has created a glowing green serum that can bring the dead back to life.

What should be a medical breakthrough results in hideous monstrosities and ghastly consequences.

And operatic Jesse Merlin, is back as Dr. Carl Hill who loses his head for Meg, the dean’s beautiful daughter, only to actually lose it at the hands of Herbert West. But thanks to the glowing re-agent, Dr. Hill is still able to take his curtain call with his head tucked underneath his arm.

Also returning from the original cast are (in alphabetical order) Cynthia Carle, Brian Gillespie, Marlon Grace, and Liesel Hanson playing an assortment of doctors, nurses and rampaging zombies.

New to the cast and Los Angeles are Darren Ritchie (veteran of five Broadway shows, including “Dracula” and “Little Shop of Horrors”) as Dan Cain, the handsome young medical student (and West’s hapless roommate) in love with the dean’s beautiful daughter, now played by vivacious newcomer Jessica Howell (recently on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”). And Ken Hudson Campbell, familiar to many for saving the world with Bruce Willis in “Armageddon,” plays the doomed Dean of the medical school whom West transforms into a mindless zombie.

Stuart Gordon, the director and co-writer of “H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator,” the cult film on which the musical is based, has joined his fearless producing partner Dean Schramm to prove that anything that can be done in a movie can be a hundred times more astonishing live on stage. Gordon spent fifteen years as the founder and artistic director of the Organic Theater of Chicago, where he co-created the original production of “Bleacher Bums,” and produced and directed the world premiere of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” Gordon recently co-created and directed the long-running and critically acclaimed ”Nevermore” with “Re-Animator” film star Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allan Poe that is now touring the country.

Mark Nutter is composer and lyricist and his cheerfully disturbing songs have been compared to Tom Lehrer. His previous stage credits include the international hit “The Bicycle Men”; “Christmas Smackdown” (created with the equally demented Cynthia Carle): and “Wild Men.” He’s also known for his work on “3rd Rock From the Sun” and “Saturday Night Live.” His CD “Twisted Songs for Twisted Sophisticates” has been banned from the airwaves.

Special effects are being done by the same guys who did them for the “Re-Animator” movie: Tony Doublin, John Naulin and John Beuchler. They all won LA Critics’ and LA Weekly Awards for their mind-boggling illusions. And the blood will flow so freely that the first row will be once again designated as a “splash zone,” so bring your raincoats.

Laura Fine Hawkes, who  designed the almost as bloody  “Lieutenant of Inishmore” at the Taper, will provide the creepy sets, Joe Kucharski the moldering costumes and Jeff Ravitz the cadaverous lighting. Stage manager: Michael Lemek will be the master of the mayhem.

“Re-Animator™ the Musical” was developed and premiered at the Steve Allen Theater under the artistic direction of Amit Itelman who also founded Trepany House.

The Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027.

Parking lot behind building.

Previews Oct. 10, 11, 12 . Opens October 17, 2014, runs through November 2. Fridays through Sundays at 8:00 p.m.

ADMISSION: $25. Previews $20.

RESERVATIONS: 800-595-4849

ONLINE TICKETING: www.trepanyhouse.org

Book by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon and William J. Norris.
Music and lyrics by Mark Nutter.
Adapted from the story by H.P. Lovecraft.
Based on the film “H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator” produced by Brian Yuzna. Musical director: Peter Adams. Choreography by Cynthia Carle.
Directed by Stuart Gordon.
Produced by Dean Schramm and Stuart Gordon. P
resented by The Schramm Group LLC and Red Hen Productions in association with Trepany House. 

 

 

Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

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My mostly non-theatre-going guest thought it was amazing, and that’s good enough for me.

If you’re looking for a bumped up movie experience a-la a Gothic version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, then, Vox Lumiere’s, Phantom of the Opera is for you.

For the “season of the witch” you can expect something grandly dark, mysterious and carnival-style “over-the-top.”  What Vox Lumiere delivers is entertaining downtown LA movie mash-up, escapism mixed with live performance that doesn’t challenge the audience to much.

Most of the magic takes place on screen via the original 1925 American silent black and white horror film, Phantom of the Opera, a truly dramatic, visual treat, not easily found in any cinema today.

Erik, TThe Phantom (Lon Chaney) and Christine Daaé (Mary Philbin)An adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, the film was directed by Rupert Julian and starred Lon Chaney, Sr in the title role of the deformed and obsessed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to make the woman he loves a star. The movie remains most famous for Chaney’s ghastly, self-devised make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film’s premiere.

Interesting about this particular movie, is that Universal Studios last month, in order to make room to expand its theme park, actually destroyed Stage 28, which is where the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera silent picture was filmed.  Stage 28, historically, is one of the oldest stages on the lot at 90 years and the set, then commissioned by producer Carl Laemmle, whose niece Carla, who died on June 12th of this year (2014), was up till then, the oldest surviving actor in the film, has been housed in the space since that time.  Hence, it is one of the biggest and best reasons to experience this offering.  It is an incredible piece of film history not to be passed up. The rest is periphery.

The live performance has been created to add layers of detail, insight and emotion to the narrative, as well as a 21st century ‘story-within-a-story’ that complements and is a juxtaposition with the 1920s-era film.  But although the entire cast is technically, musically and choreographically deft in all forms, the performance below the screen finds itself hard-pressed to compete with what is showing above.  It’s a nice touch though and without all of the add-ons, the experience just wouldn’t be as inviting.

Overall, it’s a great show, family friendly and visually extravagant.

NOW PLAYING

Untitled-1Music and lyrics by Kevin Saunders Hayes

Adapted from the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux

Featuring the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney

Fridays at 8 p.m: Oct. 10; Nov. 21; Dec. 12
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 20; Oct. 11; Nov 22; Dec. 13
 

Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

TICKETS:
$40-$75
Call for group, family, student, senior and military discounts
Call: 844 VOX-ROCK or visit:  www.voxlumiere.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/voxlumiere
Twitter: @voxlumiere
 
Vocalists: Julie Brody, Marisa Johnson, Victoria Levy, James Lynch, Chris Marcos, Danielle Skalsky, D. Valentine
Dancers: Siân Dakin, Cameron Evans, Carolyn Pampalone, Jamie Pfaff, Dustin Ripkens, Jason Sensation
Musicians: Christopher Allis on drums; Zac Matthews on bass; Jeff Miley on guitar

Produced by Rick CulbertsonGregory Franklin and Victoria Levy in association with Franklin Theatrical Investors.

Presented by Stage 28LLC