Category Archives: Literature

Shakespeare’s Last Night Out at Three Clubs on Vine

Shakespeare's Last Night Out, Michael Shaw Fisher

Michael Shaw Fisher as William Shakespeare. Photo by David Haverty

“Thou must, in this pregnant hour, with haste and wit, and whilst thou hast advantage, get thee to London (or at least to a bigger venue)!  Else content thyself with churlish critics and render bootless thy wordly strength. Dispatch!”

If ever there has been an intimate rendering of the bard, Michael Shaw Fisher’s (Orgasmico Theatre Company) original solo performance, “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out” is a definitive, musical, interactive discourse, from the mouth of the worlds most renowned playwright in his final hours. 

Legend has it that Shakespeare expired from a fever after a night of drinking. In “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out” the Bard of Avon defends his authorship, details personal, life-shaping family milestones, recounts unknown events and characters, and periscopes his bawdy career beginning from early days as a young boy at school fascinated with story and mask.

Sonneting glove making references inside his father’s shop into some of the most beautiful lines of text in his most famous plays, he exalts ignoble hilarity, the importance and pure joy of his art, and kinships and crossed paths with other acclaimed players during one of history’s most celebrated and dangerous centuries of poetry and stage. It is indeed a bawdy journey of song, serenade and deeply heartfelt regret as well as fierce retrospective.

Michael Shaw Fisher’s delivery is more than mere characterization, he is a near apotheosis of our beloved Will yet “most plain”.  Fisher gives us a highly moving, distinctive portrait of a dreamer/actor/writer who was simply a man.

Impressive multi-instrument, musical accompaniment by Allison Faith Shulock with also Gordon Wimpress on guitar.  Directed by Jeff Sumner. Written and performed by Michael Shaw Fisher.

Now Playing until November 1, 2015 at 

Three Clubs (Three Clubs Stage Room) 1123 N. Vine St, Los Angeles, CA

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Tickets at:



FRI September 18th 8pm
SUN September 20th 5pm (***Under age 21 admitted)
FRI September 25th 8pm
SUN September 27 6pm
FRI October 2nd 8pm
SUN October 4th 5pm (***Under age 21 admitted)
FRI October 9th 8pm
SUN October 11th 6pm
FRI October 16th 8pm
SUN November 1st 6pm

Eclectic Company’s Summer Fling with Richard III

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Jesse Merlin and Jon Mullich. Photo Credit: Marni Troop.

Jesse Merlin and Jon Mullich. Photo Credit: Marni Troop.

This being my first visit to Eclectic Company Theatre, Richard III seemed like a great start to an eventful Summer theatre season, which, this year, boasted a dirge of classical indoor and outdoor plays happening around town. What I expected to be a sleepy little company in the Valley turned out to be, to my happy surprise, a powerhouse of talent.  Unsupervised at worst but rife with potential, Eclectic’s presentation of one of Shakespeare’s most villainous of characters diverted into a rather interesting course.

They could have used some better direction.

There was so much going on choreographically apart from the script that the whole thing occasionally needed a pause and a re-align. The costuming by Wendell C. Carmichael was stylishly extravagant in its black and white, futuristic 1930s era mashup. The production however, was cluttered with noisy entrances and exits via the many platformed stage design, the text projected through a wide variety of acting styles, application of opera style makeup in a very closeup house, a forthwith dramatic delivery or two that ended as abruptly as it had begun, plus the breathtaking length of the show.

But the bombshell is that despite some of the more flagrant missteps inside the production Eclectic Theatre Company actually packed a wallop of a show!

Actor Jon Mullich endowed Richard with ferocious comedy, vicious wit and Olivier style spoken word every living breathing moment of the tyrannical, manipulative, hunchback’s life on stage. In the vain of it being a truism that in narrative drama, the villains get the best lines, most certainly no meaning was left unearthed. No text unaddressed.  Paired with the incomparable repartee of actor Jesse Merlin as Buckingham, these two by mystique alone held focus and kept this show moving at a stealthy pace.  Although, there were many notable performances in this play. Overall it was a delicious Richard III.

A little sewing is in order but only to seem the players more perfectly together.  Otherwise, at Eclectic there is most definitely color and contrast, flavor and fragrance.  It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Fight choreography by Christian Chan

Produced by Natasha Troop and Marni Troop
Directed by Natasha Troop

The cast: Jon Mullich as Richard, Jesse Merlin as Buckingham, and Christian Chan, Alon Dina, Melody Doyle, Carissa Gipprich, Rachel Kanouse, Jessicah Neufeld, David Pinion, Tim Polzin, Glenn Simon, Janie Steele, Randi Tahara, Gary Tremble, Eliot Troop, Micah Watterson and Nathan Werner.

This show is now closed. 

Eclectic CompanyCheck the website for the upcoming season productions.

Independent Shakespeare Rocks Romeo and Juliet at Griffith Park

Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai in ISC's Romeo and Juliet

Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai in ISC’s Romeo and Juliet

@IndyShakes returns to Griffith Park this Summer with Shakespeare’s most famous play about teenage folly as it’s season opener.

The emotional knee-jerk characteristics of tween/teens are thoroughly captured in this production by a not yet 13, overly cutesy Juliet and a capricious Romeo falling in and out of infatuation with Rosalind and then soundly in love with the girl of his dreams.

It’s a solidly modern theme that never loses its resonance or it’s impact especially with younger people today driving culture into a very adult landscape, drowning out the motif of children being babies, in its wake.  That’s not exactly the case here, but the power of extreme youthful passion craving experience in its fullest value is never more displayed so well as in Romeo and Juliet.

Once past the somewhat manufactured physicality of actress Erika Soto’s (Juliet) naivety, who displays a more adult change-up in the second act, there really is a quite brilliantly executed performance.  Ms.  Soto captures on one hand an exuberant, refreshingly high-spirited pre-teen and on the other, a singularly desperate, very young girl trapped in a situation with no options, no empathy from her parents, and no social recourse whatsoever.  Suicide is a clear choice.  For Juliet, it is the one way she knows how to absolutely decide her own fate.

Independent Shakespeare has taken pains to master a raucous Romeo and Juliet focusing much more into the quicksilver aspect of the teenage love story and the bawdiness of Shakespeare’s original writing.  Everything about the presentation is pointedly interactive, jolly, “loose,” laying so much less heavily on Shakespeare’s age-old theme of parental control, but nevertheless making the heady and lightening speed ending absolutely potent.

In fact, it is noticeable that some of the darkest aspects of this play – the death of Mercutio, the fatal duel with Tybalt, the severity of the consequences of Romeo and Juliet’s secret marriage – are almost skipped in favor of  what seems like a “never-ending party.” Here we have a thoroughly libertine Mercutio powerfully executed by Andre Martin and a surprisingly un-frumpy, street-wise, quick-thinking nurse played by Bernadette Sullivan almost entirely coopting focus.  Actor Nikhil Pai is a perfectly appealing Romeo who matches Juliet.  And there is truly an immersive quality about this production.

In the end though, the message for Juliet remains the same: that Love is most definitely NOT unconditional.  She has “lain with her sworn enemy”.  There will be no forgiveness for the truth and no way out of a life she can no longer accept through the “forced” new open eyes of an adult.  In Romeo’s case, death is as definitive a choice, and that of a young boy so immersed in the conviction of love without reason.  He really believes his life is over when he hears of Juliet’s untimely demise.  Romeo and Juliet’s only real support system is Friar Lawrence who (even though only) by accident, fails the couple, when it counts.

The violence of Romeo and Juliet’s actions is not shocking at all.  Their course has been set for them, mostly by the haste and bullying with which Juliet’s parents arrange her “womanhood”.  They are well-meaning but typically narcissistic adults more concerned about appearance and legacy than their child’s “actual” happiness.  Sound modern?  It should.  It’s a behavior still happening in every culture ore’ the world difficult to render it excusable for the “times,” be it cross-racial divides, religious and cultural differences that don’t assimilate, buying and selling child brides…and grooms, keeping kids on lock down for more than safety reasons, the gamut is endless – just watch the news.  And that is what makes this story ultimately so tragic.  We may have moved the needle in the direction of facilitating awesome human beings rather than ordering our children into a kind of submissive adulthood.  But plenty over centuries hasn’t really changed.

Independent Shakespeare’s production of Romeo and Juliet under the direction of Melissa Chalsma is an overwhelming success with it’s completely fresh interactive presentation.  Here we have absolute beauty, intelligent comedy and painful tragedy unequivocally balanced.  

One of the most gorgeous and seriously fun aspects of this production is the original fairytale-punk, rock score designed and performed by David Melville & Ashley Nguyen with William Elsman & Jack Lancaster.  Undeniably the highlight of the evening.

Highly recommended.  It’s a bit bawdy at times for young children, but no one was complaining.

The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
Friday through Sunday until July 26th
at The Old Zoo in Griffith Park


For more information, call (818) 508-1754

or visit

Photo credit: Grettel Cortes

The World Domination of Richard III at Eclectic Company

 The villains get the best lines

Richard III

One of the most coveted roles in Shakespearean literature, Shakespeare’s history play recounts how Richard ascended to the throne and consolidated his power largely by accomplishing the murder of his perceived political adversaries, including members of his own family, in a story that resonates as surprisingly modern.  Fast, vicious and murderous, Richard III revels in Shakespeare’s gleeful poetry, hurtling along with Richard on his psychotic vision of world domination.

Directed by Natasha Troop, Eclectic Company’s Richard III is this season’s play to watch. Described as an “intimate encounter with Shakespeare’s most popular and cunning anti-hero, Richard of Gloucester,” the design elements of the current production are a mash-up of the futuristic and 1930s-era retro, highlighting both the elegance of life at court and the coldness of the Plantagenet feud.

It is both silky and seductive, ferocious and brutal, charming and repelling.

The cast includes Jon Mullich as Richard, also featuring Ovation award nominee Jesse Merlin (Re-Animator: The Musical) as Buckingham, and Christian Chan, Alon Dina, Melody Doyle, Carissa Gipprich, Rachel Kanouse, Jessicah Neufeld, David Pinion, Tim Polzin, Glenn Simon, Janie Steele, Randi Tahara, Gary Tremble, Eliot Troop, Micah Watterson and Nathan Werner.

Costume Designer: Wendell C. Carmichael   
Fight choreography: Christian Chan

Eclectic Company

The Eclectic Company Theatre
5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. 
Valley Village, CA 91607 

(between Chandler and Magnolia)

WHEN: July 24- August 30, 2015. Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00.


RESERVATIONS: (818) 508-3003.


Gia #HFF15 #Reviews The Three Musketeers: Clowns with Swords

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Clowns with Swords: The Three Musketeers

I admit clowns are not my thing.  They kind of scare me. I don’t always think they are funny.  And Clowns with Swords, although most distinctively contrasted from other mere buffoons, and immeasurably nonsensical are no “merry-andrews” either.

Imagine Alexandre Dumas’ adventurous heroes in what you may have assumed till now a romantic classic thanks to many cavalier film versions brought to life with beautiful dashing casts, elaborate costumes and awe-inspiring court scenery.  Then pause…

Clowns with Swords has definitely not only deconstructed this tale through the twisted lens of a clown, but in fact through extreme absurdity has lent a more accurate character portrayal in the way Dumas wrote them in the novel – less appealing infantry men willing to commit violence over slight insults and treating those they assume are their social or moral inferiors with contempt and cruelty.

Proportionately tangled the expertly orchestrated mechanics: aggressive physical movement choreography, stunts, mime, aerial and wire work, go a long way in telling their version of The Three Musketeers.  Fooling around, silly gags and slapstick diversions drive this piece in the capture and attempted execution of their female nemesis all for a magical paper that will create anyone’s own ending to a story.  The hot pursuit of their own outlandish brand of justice actually turns them into the villains they are supposedly hunting and we ultimately route for the bad girl as she thwarts them.

As billed – vulgar and irreverent, hilarious and poetic – The Three Musketeers: Clowns with Swords is a much meatier enterprise than most.  No simple jesters allowed. Belly laughs will be scarce.  Expect instead to be sufficiently captivated and sometimes appalled but well entertained by this piece.


One more performance!

Sunday June 28 2015, 5:30 PM | 1hr

Actors Company (OTHER SPACE THEATER) 916 N.Formosa Ave map


Gia #HFF15 #Reviews: The Poe Show

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move


Feels Like The First Time

Oh what a surprise and I’m grateful for that.  The Poe Show has been making appearances since quite possibly much, much longer than 2013 at Sacred Fools LA as a Late Night Serial Killer and on other stages in one iteration or another.

But this time, Edgar Allan Poe never had it so good.   In a special Hollywood Fringe 2015 presentation, in the hands of the ever demented Brendan Hunt, The Poe Show is back – LIVE from Burbank with very special guests, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dr. Frank, Dracula, Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain.

As a morbidly depressed, David Letterman-style late night talk show host accompanied by an equally obtuse Paul Shaffer-like sidekick, the Raven (voiced by Ed Goodman), The Poe Show’s Infection of the Fringe, delivers what is possible a perfect sketch comedy by a well-versed, on point cast with its strongest lead female, Lauren Van Kurin (an IO West regular and also appearing this Fringe in the award-winning King of Kong: A Musical) providing additional material for this show.

The brilliance of this piece, and why you will be hard pressed to find anything that will quite measure up, especially during Fringe, is just how much is actually unscripted.  The Poe Show follows an “arc” but it is during the pauses and what seem like holes, that the “OMG” realization moment happens.  Apart from the unparalleled bang out commercials, they are often “on the fly”.   The gags are hysterical as is Poe’s insatiable lust for the macabre and exposing some of the follies of his guests. You’re just gonna have to wait for it!

Very highly recommended.

Now Playing at Theatre Asylum 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038

Tickets: $13

Remaining shows:

Saturday June 13 2015, 11:55 PM | 55 mins
Saturday June 20 2015, 5:30 PM | 55 mins
Wednesday June 24 2015, 8:30 PM | 55 mins
Saturday June 27 2015, 4:30 PM | 55 mins

Crazy Underneath The Trees

Crazy-FB (1)
Spontaneity is decidedly part of Moon Mile Run’s philosophy; if they hear about something that needs a bit of nurturing—even if it’s a last-minute Open Rehearsal to support a piece—they just might consider getting involved.
And they did!
How could they ignore the work of two paragons of Los Angeles’ theater history: Darrell Larson and Rob Sullivan? These two were doing “edgy and raw” theater in the Seventies, before those terms were used to describe theater.
Larson describes the piece, Crazy Underneath The Trees: “…not a play, not a poem, perhaps a prayer, definitely a confession, possibly an argument, seduction or negotiation? All of the above, actually, and with percussion. The latter is supplied by the inimitable MIKE TEMPO, of BONEDADDYS fame, with special guest, PAUL LACQUES on guitar.”
So join Moon Mile Run in Silver Lake for a COMPLIMENTARY EVENT on Monday, May 11, at 9:30 PM. Spirit Studio (3711 Evans Street, off Hyperion, 90027). Reservation are not required.
Mark Bringelson                 Michael Kearns                       Ryland Shelton