Category Archives: Theatre

Broomstick: Starring Jenny O’Hara at the Fountain Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

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Once upon a time, in the deep dark woods…

Actress Jenny O’Hara takes on the darker and realer side of a fairytale witch in the one woman presentation of, Broomstick, a West Coast premiere now playing at the Fountain Theatre.

Hands-down the best “timing” actress I quite possibly have ever experienced on a stage, Ms. O’Hara, in a thick Appalachian drawl, utterly embraces the poetic line, of John Biguenet’s wicked old woman.  At one turn empathetic in another cunning, she is utterly masterful — owning the language, and wielding the power of persuasion, spells and curses, spinning a voracious, intimate tale of life as an “unusual”.  She claims dominion over bugs and weather.  She is mischievous, sharp-tongued, even a bit malificent.  She may even eat children.  One can never tell in the dim shadows of a messy cottage where cooking is art and sweet. She is wise, kind and fair, but anger her, treat her unjustly and she can be vengeance itself.

It’s a deceptively tricky role navigating this multidimensional character so much more often presented as simply good or evil.  Ms. O’Hara has no trouble at all pulling out the juiciest moments for the audience to bite down on, just as ravenously as we might eat her suckling pig. So large, so comically, so real does she play this character, that I cannot think of anyone who could pull it off quite as well or at all.

Set in Appalachia and written entirely in rhymed iambic pentameter, Biguenet’s truly mesmerizing solo play introduces us to a wacky bizarre old woman living in a little shack deep in the woods…who may happen to be a witch. When a visitor, and one time runaway now grown, stops in unexpectedly, storytelling and truth meld together into a half-real, half-fantasy confession.

It’s exotic, funny, harsh, bitter and profound as the Witch reveals her childhood innocence, sexual awakening, and all of the poignant moments that have conjured to create her as she is in the present moment.

“In some ways, she’s positioned to be the freest of all human beings,” says playwright and New Orleans professor John Biguenet, who started writing this piece in 2009.  “She’s seen everything, done everything.  She doesn’t need a man.  She has the potential to live with the complete knowledge of what it is to be a human being.”

This show far surpasses folk and fairytale, from sets, sound, lights, direction and spoken word. Ms. O’Hara is bewitching “perfection” in this exquisite performance!

Not to be missed under any condition!

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NOW PLAYING UNTIL NOVEMBER 30
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)

Written by John Biguenet
Directed by Stephen Sachs
Starring Jenny O’Hara
Produced by Deborah Lawlor and Simon Levy
Presented by The Fountain Theatre

Thursdays at 8 p.m.:  30; Nov. 6, 13, 20 (dark Nov. 27)
Friday at 6 p.m.: Oct. 31 ONLY (“Trick or Treat” at the Fountain with an early curtain on Halloween. Come in costume!)
Fridays at 8 p.m.:  Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28 (no 8 p.m. performance on Oct. 31)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Sundays at 2 p.m.;  Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

TICKET AND INFORMATION:

(323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com

Advance purchase, reserved seating: $20
Premium seating: $34 (VIP seating first 3 rows, center section – includes free parking in lot)
Students with ID: $15
RUSH tickets: $15 (at the door, subject to availability)

Parking:
Secure, on-site parking: $5

Re-Animator The Musical at The Steve Allen Theater

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Re-Animator

Jesse Merlin, Marlon Grace, Graham Skipper, Brian Gillespie. Photo Credit: Thomas Hargis

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

This show should come with a warning label or at the very least its own wives tale…like something your mother would say to you…”You should never hang out with a mad scientist.  Hanging out with a mad scientist will make you mad! Mad I say! Absolutely mad!!!!  Now go to your room!”

What an incredible surprise.  I’m not saying I didn’t go into this with reservations.  I’m not a horror buff or die-hard fan.  And Re-Animator has done nothing to change my mind.  I say this with pure delight.  Here’s why:

Audience participation seems to be THE theme for the several freak shows I’ve seen so far this year. Local supermarkets must be making a fortune in trash bag sales.  Passing around entrails, squirts of blood, spitting at the first 5 rows, singling out theater goers for hemoglobin shock…up until now, there have been no clear winners in the contest for mash-up plasma moments. Most have been rather meek, humble and discretionary. Re-Animator The Musical, however, has taken gore to a level of excellence bar none literally hurling barely unidentifiable liquids into the audience throughout the performance. I started to wonder if I had suddenly stepped into an alternate “Wet & Wild” universe. It was total chaotic insanity … in operetta … with a love story!

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Ken Hudson Campbell, Jesse Merlin. Photo Credit: Thomas Hargis.

So..why …oh why…do guys never listen?  The eternal question that women seem to ask themselves especially when attempting to bail out the man they love from an obviously bad situation?

Herbert West, a brilliant young medical student, played [awesomely!] by a creepy and borderline nerdy Graham Skipper 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.  It’s also terribly funny and just the thing for a messy Halloween, fright night, comical, cult experience.

Graham Skipper, who won a Best New Performer Award at the New York Musical Theater Festival, returns as the demented young genius.  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 Cynthia Carle, Brian Gillespie, Marlon Grace, and Liesel Hanson playing an assortment of doctors, nurses and rampaging zombies. 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 also transforms into a mindless zombie.

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Jessica Howell and Darren Ritchie. Photo Credit: Thomas Hargis

But it’s 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 daughter, now played by the Jessica Howell, who bring the Ken and Barbie thriller-style love-story portion, going head to [severed] head with Jesse Merlin, to its re-mounted, maddening climax (ahem)…full throttle.

The effects were flawless, so was the timing throughout this entire production by the whole cast.  The music is hilarious, spunky and bourgeois silly. You’ll love the creepy sets, the moldering costumes and the cadaverous lighting. Everything about this show is a gushing, audience pleasing hit!  You’ll be sorry to miss this mayhem if you do!

“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.

Re-AnimatorRevival of the award-winning musical hit now playing  Fridays through Sundays at 8pm until November 23rd.

Steve Allen Theater
4773 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027

Parking lot behind building.

ADMISSION: $25.

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. Presented by The Schramm Group LLC and Red Hen Productions in association with Trepany House under the Artistic Direction of Amit Itelman.

Voices Are Calling From The Grave at ZJU North Hollywood in November

Halloween will not be ending on October 31st.  As always we can count on  Zombie Joe’s Underground in North Hollywood, CA to continue the “Fright Fest” all year round.  And in November the voices from the grave will continue to speak!

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Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly presents the World Premiere of Bea Egeto’s thrilling-new horror production, GRAVEDIGGER, that boldly deconstructs the mysteries surrounding a collection of historically-infamous deaths, mined for their truths through their fearless stage re-enactment!

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS @ 8:30pm
NOVEMBER 7, 8, 14, 15, & 22.
*Special Late-Night Performance: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21 @ 11pm.

ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601

tickets_cell-phoneFor Reservations Call: 
818-202-4120
 
Tickets:  $15
 
Advance Tickets Now Available: 
ZombieJoes.Tix.com
Official Website:  ZombieJoes.com

Be a Part of a LIVE Audience Digital Stream for The Noir Series at Schkapf Hollywood in November!

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Old-School, studio-audience show taping meets the digital streaming age at the Schkapf Theatre, 6567 Santa Monica Blvd., LA, CA 90038, for 4 performances starting November 7th.

YOU can be a part of the LIVE studio audience! 

Los Angeles’ Heretick Theatre Lab will debut  “The Noir Series,” live as part of a “Theatrical Experience,” performed in front of an audience, filmed in HD, mixed in real time, and streamed over the web.

Heretick is the first and only Theatre Company in Los Angeles to bring live theatre to homes across the nation through online access and web streaming.

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Emmy award winning screenwriter Stephen McFeely (Co-writer of Marvel’s Captain America), critically acclaimed graphic novelist Ed Brubaker, award winning local Los Angeles theatre artists Burglars of Hamm (Gia recently reviewd their show The Behavior of Broadus), and Nancy Keystone’s Critical Mass Performance Group came together to produce and create this theatrical experience.

Showtimes:

8pm – November 7 & 8
4pm LA Matinee/East Coast live feed – November 8& 9

On November 7th a Q&A with the cast and creators of the Noir Series will take place directly after the event in the theatre lobby with:

  • Stephen McFeely – Co-writer of Marvel’s Captain America, writer, Malfeasance
  • Ed Brubaker – Co-writer of Marvel’s Captain America , writer, Air Conditioned Rooms,
  • Nancy Keystone –writer and director, A Door to the Dark
  • Hugo Armstrong– actor, Malfeasance
  • Tessa Ferrer – actor, Air Conditioned Rooms
  • Jennifer Cotteleer – creator, The Noir Series
  • Burglars of Hamm- Jon Beauregard, Carolyn Almos, Albert Dayan
  • Sofiya Alexandra – Emcee
  • Rob Buscemi- Emcee

brown paper ticketsStudio audience tickets can be purchased for $20 at Brown Paper Tickets >>

Online tickets and viewing can be accessed for $7.99 for a single viewing, and $20 for a weekend viewing package through http://static.viewer.dacast.com/b/43652/p/48152.

For a full schedule of performance and viewing dates and times please visit: http://www.hereticklab.com/

 

 

 

The Zombie Effect: A North Hollywood Invasion

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The MoveThe Zombie Effect

Well, ok that might be a tiny bit of an exaggeration, but with this random Paul Bunyon-vibing actor guy strolling around Lankershim Blvd on a Friday night with an axe, tryin’ ta tell us somethin’, maybe we should pay attention?

The Zombie Effect opened last Friday at the Acme Comedy Theatre in North Hollywood, CA to a slightly rabid crowd attempting to forcefully push their way into the theatre for tickets and safety but not before being repeatedly warned to grab rations (water and wine at the front of the house for donation) and a bathroom break.  “Cause none of this might be here afterwards!”

Silly, somewhat predictable and a whole lot of outrageous fun, The Zombie Effect takes insanity to a whole other universe (Seriously, dude it’s all in your head — ah– oops!)

After the city erupts in an outbreak of mass murder, a few survivors find shelter in an isolated, dilapidated church. The government is claiming biological terrorism. Some believe it’s stem cell research gone mad. Maybe it’s the wrath of God. Or, are we suddenly at war with North Korea? Whatever it is afflicting all the funny-walking attackers, the only thing that matters is survival.

I made it through the show without a splatter of blood or brains but don’t be too cTheZombieEffectFlyerSMALLonfident that YOU will.  The walking dead are everywhere and no one can keep them out of the almost abandoned church outside the city or onstage for that matter.

Ripe with ridiculous gags, one liners and probably the world’s calmest, coolest and completely buff guy who jumps in through the window to save the night, this show is dedicated to the innumerous and utterly stupid decisions that anyone could ever make in an apocalyptic attack.

It’s gonna get better with each weekend especially for the special Halloween show. So get your tickets now.  And … a word of advice in case you get stuck in the mayhem without a rescue, don’t count on the resident priest to save you either.  He’s too busy “sipping the sacrament”.

The Zombie Effect runs through December 14th, 2014, with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 7:00 pm. On October 31st there will be a very special Halloween performance at 10:00 pm.

ACME Comedy North Hollywood
5124 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. 91601
 

Running time is 75 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets_ZombieGeneral admission: $20.00.

Ponchos provided for splatter.

Playwright Leif Gantvoort

Directed by Leif Gantvoort and Jen Woldrich Pittman

Produced by Jeremy Luke, Leif Gantvoort and Eddie Alfano

Set and Lighting Design Leif Gantvoort

CAST:  Leif Gantvoort, Jeremy Luke, Krizia Bajos, Chauntal Lewis, Ana Alexander, Eddie Alfano, Kevin Small, Brett Sheridan, Femi Longe, Danny Turco, Charles McCarthy, Laura Seyffert, Meghan McCabe, Les Feltmate, Niko Bonelli and Rachel Bausch

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!