Category Archives: Theatre

King Lear at the Broad Stage

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

ShakespeareGlobe4_426x426When I think about Shakespeare, I imagine that during his time, he might have  produced a perfect play with a company such as the modern Globe Theatre now touring and having recently made an appearance at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.  It is probably the closest and most authentic I’ll experience to true Elizabethan stage.  This cast was so very deft with every aspect of this production, every word, piece of music, physical movement and breath. It was an immersion like none other which kept my attention for almost 3 hours. And yet, except for the final moments at Cordelia’s death, I was oddly unmoved.

The Tragedy of King Lear is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic King, regarded as one of Shakespeare’s supreme character and writing achievements with the title role coveted by many of the world’s most accomplished actors.  As we have come to know him today, Lear is a fearsome, powerful, largely reactive emotional man and a king to boot. He is ruthless, raw, unrefined in too many ways, even cruel and prone to favoritism on a whim as he proves in the beginning of this play.

As a way to exercise a show of it, in a most ego-centric theatricality, he forces his elder daughters to practically beg at his feet by professing,  a love he knows they don’t have for him, in a couched contest against his beloved youngest daughter, Cordelia, who he intends the best portion of his kingdom all along.  What results in a sharp and vengeful turn of events, is the utter dissolution of his power, his sanity and his life as well as all his children, even his friends.  In fact, pretty much no one gets out of this story unharmed or untainted.

This wasn’t the most robust Lear I’ve experienced.  The entire cast is endowed with an extraordinary level of technical prowess in the genre, with the text, the delivery, range and vocal power.  But Lear seemed to be acting all by himself, so much so, directing all emotion and action outward to the audience, that he left the rest of the cast to interact with each other, apace and apart. And so I found it difficult to really “connect”.  Not to mention his behavior was rather less imbued with bravado or eventual madness as opposed to jovial silliness and “possible” confusion.  It just wasn’t appealing in a way that I’d hoped, although still effective.  But that is as far as it went.

As for the rest of this production however, it is magnificent. The language is crystal clear.  The interludes wonderfully surprising.  The multiple character changes by the cast members, exciting.  In short, for any faults at all, the craft made exquisite.

So if you have had any complaints or shyness with Shakespeare before, about following the text, understanding intention, or being utterly confused for lack of aptitude with the language, there is unconditionally no danger of that; certainly not in this production.  Not a moment is ever lost.  And no distraction of any sort of bells & whistles.  Finally, a purity for “true-believers”.

The only real drawback is the attention span of American audiences which may find it difficult to sit through the length of the play.  But it’s a given that if you are going to “hear” a language play, it is an investment in time.  

Alas, this was a short run and there are unfortunately no more performances left.

KING LEAR
By William Shakespeare
Performed by Shakespeare’s Globe
Touring the UK and US on a small-scale, Elizabethan-style stage.
 
CREATIVES
Directed by Bill Buckhurst
Designed by Jonathan Fensom
Composed by Alex Silverman
 
CAST
Gwendolen Chatfield
Goneril/CuranBethan Cullinane
Cordelia/FoolJoseph Marcell
King LearAlex Mugnaioni
Edgar/Duke of Cornwall/Duke of BurgundyBill Nash
Earl of KentDaniel Pirrie
Edmund/Oswald/King of FranceShanaya Rafaat
ReganJohn Stahl
Duke of Gloucester/ Duke of Albany/Doctor

Pope! An Epic Musical @ The Belfrey Stage

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
2e1ax_ja_appolio_entry_POPE-Jase

An Idealistic young Pope (who, incidentally is named Pope!) is framed for a heinous crime and banished from the Vatican by an evil archbishop on a backwards mission to seize power.  Good and evil engage in an epic struggle.  Lines are drawn, sides are taken, and confrontations are … musical.

It was a sloppy first act by the performers.  When I finally got a breather during intermission my head was spinning.

The material could use an update and it could have been more “character” cast.  The delivery of the comedy was slow and sporadically missed the mark. There was also quite a bit of mugging going on, which really took me out of the moment.  The staging was sparse and the choreography was “barely there” — which made obvious that this is mostly a cast of excellent singers, but ones who barely have any dance or movement training.

It’s something one encounters a lot in Los Angeles small theatre.  And lately it’s not only gotten me down, it’s become annoying to have to experience such unevenness.  It really is not enough for a musical theatre performer to do one thing well, singing or dancing or acting when the genre really does require that you aim to be a “triple threat.”  It’s the particularly special calling card of these types of performers.  (“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”) There.  I’ve said it.  Like it or not.  I’d like to see more chutzpah and dynamics body and soul as well as a LOT less dumbed down movement and more excitement from every musical and its players hence forth (minus two very brilliant pieces I’ve seen this year – Spring Awakening and Bronies The Musical) making its way through the LA theatre scene. This includes and perhaps especially means small theaters where many shows are being developed for larger stages.

But then during intermission, I had a chance to think about it…really examine my own viewpoint as compared to the rest of the audience who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying this piece.  Heck I laughed a lot myself at times, even though there were a few too many dead moments for my taste.

I came to see a “musical”; that was how it was billed.  But being billed as a musical ultimately might be this show’s biggest mistake.  Because what was really being presented here was nothing more than one huge run-on sentence of a music improv review…IMPROV — set to music…very clever, upbeat, music I might add.

So when it came time for  the second act, I looked at this show with fresh eyes and a very different perspective.  Suddenly it worked.

In truth, the entire cast did finally pull it together. They let go. They were having more fun.  They got much larger. The delivery was better, the gags funnier and nearly everyone “stepped up” for a great finish.

If only they could have brought that kind of energy and commitment to the beginning, it could have been more or less a home run.  At least we got to third base.

Pope The Musical is Theatre Unleashed managing director and writer, Gregory Crafts’ biggest attempt to date with long form material and in this instance, as a director, it is an especially huge bite to chew off.  So bravo for taking the risk.  The direction he was trying to accomplish was certainly more than noticeable, even through the milieu of mistakes.  And working in a space as small as The Belfry Stage is an unbelievable challenge where, just for starters, dance numbers are concerned.  There’s not enough room for a 13 person cast.  But Crafts nevertheless, worked out many of the kinks in this show given what was available to him.  Of course, there is more to do.  And kudos to Crafts for charging a small North Hollywood based company into bigger prospects by presenting a show with such an enormous ensemble. 

On the upside, there were some terrific actor moments…R. Benito Cardenas as Cardinal Duncan “pulled a rabbit out of his hat” by throwing down a hilarious and surprising tap number.  Actress Sammi Lappin as (Sister) Mary Elizabeth brings all of her spunk and best comedic delivery for the big Pope “save”, and the accompanying gun slinging sisters (nuns) “turn out” the Vatican Commando style for a completely silly finish.  Actor Shawn Cahill brought his Mike Myers “Goldmember” A-game delivery nailing the second act showdown. Jase Lindgren as Pope…just dreamy.

pope_art_color600x1200Now playing Saturdays & Mondays @ 8pm and
Sundays @ 7pm until November 17th
 
At the Belfrey Stage, Upstairs @ The Crown
11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, CA 91602
Click here for a map to their location.
 
Tickets are $15
Tickets
 
 
.
* indicates a Member of the Theatre Unleashed Ensemble
^ indicates a Member of Actors’ Equity Association, The Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
  • Lindsay Anne Braverman Mary Frances
  • Shawn Cahill^ Archbishop
  • R. Benito Cardenas Cardinal Duncan
  • Eric Cire* Cardinal Chuck
  • Sheldon Creig Cabrera-Miller Swing
  • Jude Evans Dexter / Cardinal Archie
  • Chris Farah Linda
  • Elisabeth Anne C. Fenning* Mary Katherine
  • Kire Horton Swing
  • Sammi Lappin* Mary Elizabeth
  • Jase Lindgren Pope
  • Mark Lopez Swing
  • Pat Scott Swing
  • Melissa Strauss^ Swing
  • Gregory Crafts* Director / Producer
  • Sheldon Creig Cabrera-Miller Choreographer
  • Luis Antonio Gonzalez Assistant Music Director / Pianist
  • Nate Johnson Illustrator
  • Jim Martyka* Publicity
  • J. Anthony McCarthy* Fight Choreographer
  • Justin Moran Playwright / Lyricist
  • Mandy Muenzer* Assistant Choreographer
  • Christopher Pappas Composer / Music Director
  • Erin Scott* Stage Manager
  • Jenn Scuderi* Graphic Design
  • Cameron Stark Assistant Stage Manager

Broomstick: Starring Jenny O’Hara at the Fountain Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Broomstick_4NC

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!

Broomstick_Graphic-med

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.

Re-Animator

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!

GraveDigger@ZJU_Postcard4Email

 

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!

thenoirseriesbann2

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