‘Portraits of Humanity’: Theatre West Plans Second Annual Season of Solo Shows

Following a popular and successful series of solo performers last season, Theatre West is assembling a new roster of special acts in Portraits of Humanity 2, a Solo Series.

The schedule follows:

Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Ian Ruskin in The Harry Bridges Project: From Wharf Rats to Lord of the Docks

This vivid dramatization brings to life the San Francisco labor leader who organized the poorly paid and greatly abused dock workers – self-proclaimed “wharf rats” — on San Francisco’s piers. Bridges’ ultimately successful effort to organize these workers was fraught with violence and personal consequences; he was frequently harassed, beaten and jailed. He had three wives, two bitter divorces and his time of too much Jack Daniels. Today he stands as a hero for organized labor throughout the world. Written and performed by Ruskin, with recorded narration by Elliott Gould and Edward Asner.
65 minutes with a Talk Back after the show

Saturday, November 3 at 8:00 p.m.
Around the World with Suzy London
An evening of songs and stories from Suzy’s travels around the world from the streets of Paris to the cabarets of Germany…. the rain forests of Brazil to the steppes of Eurasia ….. from the temples of Sri Lanka to the pagodas of Japan ….. all in their original languages! Suzy has sung in over two dozen countries and has had all kinds of humorous and moving adventures, the world over. Come hear the world’s favorite songs, come taste the wine. Let Suzy be your musical travel guide and we promise you a fun, extraordinary, unforgettable evening! Written by Suzy London and Calvin Remsberg. Directed by Remsberg. Choreographed by Michele Bernath.
70 minutes.

Sunday, November 4 at 2:00 p.m.
Amy Simon in She’s History

A play about women who make and made history. Watch Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony multitask – just like today’s mom – running the house, fixing dinner and corralling the kids, all while working on the Fourteenth Amendment. Hear about our first feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and witness Sojourner Truth’s powerful Ain’t I Woman speech. Learn how Alice Paul stole President Wilson’s parade, and see how she suffered for the cause. Watch Nancy Pelosi become the First Female Speaker of The House, learn about Shirley Chisholm’s humanity, and what inspired Bella Abzug. Hear about Pat Schroeder, Katie Couric, Malala Yousafzai, Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Meir, Victoria Woodhull (the first woman to run for president) and Hillary Clinton, bloomers, suffrage, maternal profiling, the road to Seneca Falls, abolition and more! It’s all there in a GALA-PALOOZA honoring Female America. Written and performed by Amy Simon.
75 minutes.
FREE for children ages 10- 18.

Saturday, November 10 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m.
Dina Morrone in The Italian in Me

Winner- 2018 Valley Theatre League Award for Best Solo Performance. In The Italian in Me, a doe-eyed aspiring actress from Canada – who has been raised on a heaping dose of old-fashioned values & Roman Catholic guilt – upends her life by moving to Italy. With her, she brings a tiny bit of cash and grandiose dreams of working in Italian Cinema. Once in Rome, she quickly discovers that things in the Eternal City are not quite as holy or as romantic as she had imagined. Her days are filled with countless fruitless encounters with perverts, priests, producers and statues of Saints in old churches, to whom she pleads for help. But help does not come. Not even a chance siting of the Pope at St. Peter’s brings her any closer to her dream. When all hope seems lost, she meets the cinematic Maestro himself, Federico Fellini at Cinecitta’ Studios for what turns out to be a very “illuminating” encounter, but will it be the ‘Dolce Vita’ she was searching for? Written by Dina Morrone. Directed by Peter Flood.
80 minutes

Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m.
Johnny Ferretti in Here’s Johnny!

A Colorado boy whose first job was as a ranch hand, then became a newspaper reporter… then found himself working as an engineer in California. And then, suddenly, he’s singing opera. How did this happen? Here’s Johnny! is a fun look at life and the twists and turns that come, and the music that fills our lives. This is a fun, family-friendly show which includes plenty of comedy, punctuated by Italian songs. Written by Johnny Ferretti.
55 minutes

Sunday, December 16 at 2:00 p.m.
Steve Nevil in As Always, Jimmy Stewart

It’s two-thirty in the morning at 911 Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, and Jimmy Stewart can’t sleep. Steve Nevil’s acclaimed one-person show presents the film legend late in life, still mourning the passing of his wife Gloria and rummaging through memorabilia scattered around his cluttered den. In his struggle to hang on to his fading memories he solicits the help of the audience, taking them on a unique, hilarious and transcendent journey behind the scenes of early Hollywood. He shares tales of youthful adventures with lifelong pal Henry Fonda, as well as amorous exploits involving the likes of Greta Garbo, Olivia DeHavilland, and Grace Kelly. He opens up about his family, his courtship of Gloria, personal tragedy, and the toll of post-traumatic stress disorder. What emerges is a heroic portrait in spite of himself, as the audience spends a night with a man who had a personal integrity that made him an American icon. Written by Steve Nevil and Ted Snyder. Directed by Snyder.
90 minutes

Saturday, January 12, 2019.
Kathie Barnes in Independence, The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker

The incredible true story of Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. Three thousand four hundred men, and she’s the only woman. Mary Walker was a Civil War surgeon, a prisoner of war, and a passionate advocate for women’s rights. This one-woman show follows her story as the actress becomes Mary Walker and involves the audience in her incredible story of courage. It’s gripping, heart-breaking, humorous, and ultimately triumphant. The world premiere of INDEPENDENCE was at Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement, and this year Ms. Barnes portrayed Mary Walker in Dr.Walker’s home town in honor of her 150th birthday. After this show, you will be amazed that you didn’t know Mary Walker before and will be thrilled that you now know her. Written and directed by Lloyd J. Schwartz.
70 minutes

Sunday, January 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Ivy Jones in Have You Met Miss Jones?

Following a serious “Identity Theft,” a popular, veteran Actress is Court Ordered to legally change her long-adopted stage name, forcing her to unlock details of the two famous families she comes from. With the court date quickly approaching, and the knowledge that by 2020, everyone will be required to carry a REAL ID, not merely to board a plane or operate a car, but to buy a pizza or go to a movie, we find her diving into her celebrated acting roles, as well as rendering the fun and emotional musical soundtrack of her rich and passionate life, to weigh her identity, and, perhaps, yours. Conceived and performed by Ivy Jones.
75 minutes

Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 p.m.
Stephen Spiegel in An Evening with John Wilkes Booth
All that most people know about John Wilkes Booth was that he was a mad drunk actor who killed Abraham Lincoln. That’s true, but he had reasons. This show never portrays John Wilkes Booth as a hero, but it gives a context for the most heinous act in American history. In the play, Booth tells about the jealousy he had for his brother, Edwin, and his love for the South. And in the second act, the actor re-enacts the actual assassination and Booth’s ill-fated escape. Written by Lloyd J. Schwartz and Clinton Case. Directed by Lloyd J. Schwartz.
80 minutes plus intermission

Sunday, January 26 at 2:00 p.m.
Karen Bankhead in Etta Mae Mumphries

Nobody tells stories like Etta Mae Mumphries. And nobody has met and influenced so many important people! You may not have heard of Etta Mae, but surely you know of Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sammy Davis, Jr., and the list goes on and on. Known sometimes as the “Geriatric Forrest Gump,” Miss Etta Mae is a font of biblical wisdom and encourager extraordinaire. Her hilarious words of wisdom will bless your soul and have you in stitches all at the same time. If you are a fan of Dame Edna, Tyler Perry’s Madea or your own Grandma – you will love Etta Mae. She is topical, rhetorical, and always HYSTERICAL! Written and performed by Karen Bankhead.
70 minutes

Saturday, January 26 at 8:00 p.m.
Abbott Alexander in The Lycanthrope

A re-imagining of the Parsifal myth. A hermit turns into a beast while fetching the morning paper. Last season, Abbott received a Valley Theatre League Award nomination for Best Solo Performance for his show One Night Only. Written and performed by Abbott Alexander.
60 minutes

Sunday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m.
James J. Cox in Life Sentences
A no holds barred glimpse into a mystical journey filled with love, pain, insanity and redemption. Scattered along the way is a sprinkling of ironic comic commentary that can only come from a true survivor. “Jimmy” is not so much a hero but more a human being traversing an abusive childhood, a descent into alcoholism and finally plunging into a world of fantastical personifications which dwell amidst humanity’s darkest sins. Will closure, forgiveness, and healing come in the unlikely form of the “angel warriors” – patients on the pediatric cancer ward of Children’s Hospital? Does Pure Love in fact transform and redeem, or are some lives beyond salvation? Written by James J. Cox. Directed by Harris Shore.
80 minutes

Saturday, February 2 at 8:00 p.m.
Leslie A. Jones in Prez

Prez is the life story of Lester Young, one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists it the history of jazz. As most people enjoy music, very few fans ever know much about what a musician’s life is like once they leave the bandstand or walk out of a recording session. PREZ will give insight to all the highs and lows of making a living as a professional musician and fulfilling one’s soul as a musical artist ….and also trying to live a family life as a father and a husband. Written by Willard Manus. Directed by Daniel E. Keough. 80 minutes

Sunday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Kristin Towers-Rowles in A Lovely Lineage

Using music from The American Songbook, this show captures a historic Hollywood lineage starting with Kristin’s Grandmother, the legendary Kathryn Grayson. Kathryn was an MGM darling and a Star of some of our most beloved movie musicals including Kiss Me Kate and Showboat. The lineage does not stop there. Kristin’s Grandfather was Broadway and Motion Picture Leading Man Johnnie Johnston (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Rock Around the Clock). Kristin also happens to be the daughter of Robert Towers whose contribution to entertainment in Los Angeles included originating the role of Snoopy in the LA premiere of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown in the late 1960s and the Older Benjamin in the Academy Award winning The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As it would turn out, Kristin would follow in her Grandmother’s footsteps playing the roles of Kate in Kiss Me Kate as well as Magnolia in Showboat. Kristin recently won “Musical Theatre Star of the Year” from Stage Scene LA and is a multifaceted talent in her own right, carrying on her LOVELY LINEAGE. Written by Kristin Towers-Rowles. Directed by Cate Caplin.
60 minutes.


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