Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Getting Schooled

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Mar 02, 2014 @ 7:09 pm PDT

Sex & Education (Colony Theatre)userpic=colonyEducation is important. Sometimes it occurs during school hours, and sometimes after school. But the most important factor in the education is the teacher that is teaching it. [Well, and being able to pay for it, which is where the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security comes in, but I digress.]

As I was saying, education and teachers are important. The play we saw at  The Colony Theatre (FB) this afternoon (which should be seen by every English teacher we know, as well as everyone who is a grammar nazi), “Sex & Education“, addresses just that subject. It tells the story of an English teacher (Miss Edwards) who is tired of teaching; a teacher who is quitting the profession to go sell real estate. It also tells the story of a horny high-school basketball playing senior, Joe, who has accepted a scholarship to North Carolina to play college basketball. It is three days before graduation, and Miss Edwards is administering the final exam in her English class (which includes Joe). She’s looking forward to getting out of the school, and intends just to pass everyone. But then she catches Joe passing a note to Hannah, a cheerleader who is also Joe’s girlfriend. The note is confused mix of topics including insulting the teacher, the test, and asking Hannah to have sex with him under the bleachers, given that she has given him a blowjob before. It is riddled with obscenity, bad grammar, poor sentence construction, and much more. Miss Edwards she asks Joe to stay after the test.  What happens next is every English teacher’s dream. She works with Joe to write a proper persuasive essay to get Hannah to overcome her reluctance and sleep with him. Naturally, Joe is reluctant, and the witty repartee as Miss Edward’s “schools” Joe is wonderful. Does Joe successfully persuade Hannah to “do the deed”? You’ll have to come to the show to find out.

Sex & Education” was written by Lissa Levin, and it is clearly a love note to her teachers. Anyone who appreciates the importance of good writing (or who is dismayed at what passes for writing these days) will love this show. It not only teaches the difference between “lay” and “lie”; it emphasizes the importance of persuasion in getting “laid”.  You’ll come out of this show not only entertained, but refreshed in English grammar. How many shows can say that?

The production was transparently directed by Andrew Barnicle (FB) who made his actors seem reasonably realistic. Miss Edwards was played by Stephanie Zimbalist (FB) with energy and enthusiasm. She seemed to be enjoying the teaching role, and handled the large amount of dialogue well (with only a few line blurbles). Playing her foil, Joe, was William Reinbold (FB). Reinbold had the height to be a realistic basketball player, and he came off convincingly young and horny. The third element of the equation was Hannah, played by Allison Lindsey (FB). For much of the show, she was relegated to the sidelines, acting the role of cheerleader. This bothered me, but luckily in the final scenes we got to see her much more as a real character, and this worked well.

The set was designed by Trefoni Michael Rizzi (FB), and it initially reminded me of Lysistrata Jones with the underlying basketball court and hoops on each end (although there was no basketball playing on stage). On top of the court was a large piece of college-ruled paper with a blackboard and desks that constituted the schoolroom. This worked very well. Properties were by John McElveney (FB). The costumes, by Dianne K. Graebner (FB), were appropriately high-school (basketball warm-up suit, cheerleading outfit) or stuck-up teacher. The lighting design by Jared A. Sayeg (FB) worked reasonably well, although sometimes the actors seemed to have to hunt out their lighting positions. The sound design of Drew Dalzell (FB) provided appropriate sound effects. Dale Alan Cooke (FB) was the stage manager. Barbara Beckley (FB), the artistic director for the Colony, was away and unable to do her normal announcements, so the new Colony Development Director, Karen Kendrick (FB), did them. I could swear that she was channeling Barbara — she had the mannerisms down pat! She did make one mistake, however: She said their next production, “The Lion in Winter“, was in August … when actually it is in May (see below for August).

As I noted when we saw MoonIE and Broon at the Colony in January,  the Colony Theatre (FB) has announced the 2014-2015 season. The season consists of 5 shows: (♦) “Family Planning” by Michelle Kholos Brooks (July 12-August 10, 2014), a comedy about putting a lot of relatives in the same space (stated as a World Premiere, although it was done by PRT in 2012); (♦) “What I Learned in Paris” by Pearl Cleage, a comedy about lovers in Atlanta in 1973 (West Coast Premiere); (♦) “Handle With Care” by Jason Odell Williams, a story about “love, fate, and the importance of GPS-enabled tracking devices” (West Coast Premiere); (♦) “The Road to Appomattox” by Catherine Bush, a drama about Lee’s final retreat to Appomattox (West Coast Premiere), and “Words by: Ira Gershwin & The Great American Songbook” by Joseph Vass (lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Music by Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, and George Gershwin), a jukebox musical about Ira Gershwin (Los Angeles Premiere). Subscription prices run around $175 for the set of shows (at least for where we sit on a Saturday night). Subscription information for the current season is here; I suggest contacting the Box Office (boxoffice@colonytheatre.org) to be mailed information on the 2014-2015 season.

Sex & Education” continues at the Colony Theatre through March 16, so you have two more weeks to catch. Do so; you’ll enjoy it. Tickets are available through the Colony Box Office; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar or LA Stage Tix.

[Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I've been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I've been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I'm a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.]

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Next weekend brings “Biloxi Blues” at REP East (FB) (moved from March 29). The weekend of March 16 brings Purim Schpiels, with Sunday afternoon bringing “Inherit the Wind” at the Grove Theatre Center (FB) in Burbank. March 22 brings “Harmony” at The Ahmanson Theatre (FB), followed by “Author, Author: An Evening with Sholom Aleichem” at the Santa Monica Playhouse (FB) on March 23. The last weekend of March is open, and will likely stay that way as we’ll be exhausted. April starts with “In The Heights” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on April 5, and should also bring “Tallest Tree” at the Mark Taper Forum, as well as the Southern California Renaissance Faire. April may also bring “My Name is Asher Lev” at the Fountain Theatre (FB) (as this runs through April 19). Current planning for May shows “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

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