🎭 HFF19 #12/#13: “A Night Out” / “Neighborhood Watch”

userpic=fringeThe second set of shows we saw Saturday, as I noted before, also demonstrate the reasons why someone produces a show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB). Again, we had a larger-cast drama (A Night Out) and a one-woman show (Neighborhood Watch) . But there were difference this time. The ensemble drama wasn’t new: it was an established play from 1951, being presented to showcase a set of actors from the LACC Theatre Academy. The one-woman show wasn’t an established scripts, but a one-woman comedy telling stories about a neighborhood and its problems.


A Night Out (HFF19)The third show of the evening was A Night Out, which is an early (1959) less produced play by Harold Pinter. We went to see it because we knew someone in the cast from our days subscribing at the late, great, Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clarita.

A Night Out is a strange play. Wikipedia summarizes it thusly:

Albert Stokes, a loner in his late twenties lives with his emotionally suffocating mother and works in an office. After being falsely accused of groping a female at an office party, he wanders the streets until he meets a girl, who invites him to her flat, where he responds to her overtures by angrily demeaning her. Then he returns home to his mother.

Another summary I found captures the play a bit better: Alburt Stokes is not only henpecked by his mother, but by his friends. Even though he disdains interest in women, his friends push them on him as a joke. Even though it wasn’t he who groped the woman, his boss believed the accusation. When he gets called a Mother’s Boy, the rage within him outs, and keeps coming out to the end of the play.

That’s the story. But what’s the underlying point of the play? That’s much harder, and I think the answer is different  60 years later from when this play was first done. Back in 1959, the teasing and bullying was normal, and I think the focus was on the impact of the demented mother. But today?  You have a man who is not interested in girls — or boys for that matter — being pressured for it. In the closet asexual? Gay? Those wouldn’t have been notions in the 1960s. Then there’s the groping, which comes across totally different in the #metoo era than it would in 1959. There’s the whole issue of false accusations (Mr. Ryan clearly did the touching), and the reaction of people to it. Then there’s the behavior of the mother, who in the 1960s would appear to be the henpecker, but today seems to be clearly dealing with dementia and potential Alzheimers, and is just grasping for normalcy, a standard rhythm, and a pattern in life.

Today, this play would be reconsidered, and possibly have those points explored more. But for now, this is just slightly comprehensible early Pinter.

What makes this play standout are the performances, under the direction of Sam Grey (FB), assisted by Michael Macrae (FB). In the lead positions are Georgan George (⭐FB) as Mother, and Troy Rossi (FB) as Albert. We’ve known and seen George for years going back to when we first met her at REP. She’s grown as an actress, and was simply steller in this production, capturing the dementia and the tenderness of the character well, as well as those glimpses of something more. Rossi was very strong as Albert, presenting a wonderful simmering rage under the surface; an anger that just kept growing as people kept pushing and prodding at him. Both were mesmerizing to watch.

As The Girl (also Betty), Amy Kersten (FB) did a great job of portraying the British girl who was just looking for fun, and got more than she expected.

The remainder of the cast had much smaller roles, or selected point interactions. They were all strong, but didn’t have the time to establish lasting characterizations that stuck with you: Sam Grey (FBSeeley; Tyler Smith (FBKedge; Oliver Boon Barman/Horne; Simon James Mr. King; Christelle Baguidy (FBJoyce; Bree Wernicke (FBEileen; Cyrus Palizban (FBGidney; and Michael Macrae (FBBarrow.

There are no credits given for scenic, sound, lighting, etc. The only production credits in the program are Jesse Fiene Stage Manager; and Crescent Hurley Asst. Stage Manager.

If I had one suggestion to make for this show, it would be this: Support your acting team. Find the space to duplicate a full page, double-sided program with short bios, even if it is black and white. Get all your actors to have profiles on the Fringe website, and have them linked on the show pages. Create a page for the show — even a free wordpress site — that has links to the pages on the actors. You’re not doing this show to sell an established play, but to sell and promote the acting talent in the play. Those people who like the talent need to be able to find them again.

A Night Out has two more performances: Fri 6/28 at 630pm and Sat 6/29 at 1030p. The story may be a bit incomprehensible (but, hey, this is Pinter), but the acting is top-notch and the show is worth seeing and trying to figure out. The show just needs to promote the wonderful actors better. Tickets are available through the show’s Fringe website.


Neighborhood Watch (HFF19)The last show we saw on Saturday was another one-woman show: Neighborhood Watch, written and performed by Lisa Pedace (FB). When I was first contacted about this show, I thought it would be something along the lines of Town Brawl, which we saw last week. Perhaps it started that way, but that’s not where it ended up.

Neighborhood Watch is ostensibly about a woman decrying the changes that have happened in her tract home neighborhood of almost 30 years. As President of her Neighborhood Watch, she’s seen the neighborhood changes from a community of like-minded people concerned about each other, to a neighborhood that only cares about itself: from the half-dog half-horse leaving turds on her lawn, the airbnb, the renters, and the people that just don’t care.

So far, so much Next Door territory.

But the story takes a sharp turn to the weird when the chickens move in. And when she starts recording them on her phone, and then starts playing them backwards to find hidden messages … you begin to wonder whether it is the neighborhood that has turned weird, or whether someone else has gone off the deep end.

Overall, the show is a great mix of humor and the weird. It holds your attention throughout, and is really fun to watch. Plus, they sell spices in conjunction with the show. It’s a long story. You’ll need to go to the show to see it, but I understand that the special spice is great on Chicken.

There are no other production credits given, and there were no programs handed out.

There are two more performances of Neighborhood Watch: Sat 6/29 at 300pm, and Sun 6/30 at 530pm. It’s a funny show, and worth seeing. Haven’t tried the spices yet. TIckets are available through the Fringe website.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF #10/#11: “Silver Bullet” / “Shirley Valentine”

userpic=fringeWhy does someone invest their time and money to do a show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB)? It really varies by show, but the four shows that we saw on Saturday truly demonstrated that wide range of reasons: from starting a play onto what will hopefully be a long life, to showcasing an established actress, to showcasing a set of students and actors, to putting on a one-woman show to spread a message. All are reasons artists take the time to be at Fringe. But artists are nothing without an audience to hear and see them, and Saturday’s shows demonstrated that as well: the importance of folks like you and me being that audience.


Silver Bullet (HFF19)Silver Bullet was one of those projects that is just beginning its life. It was a world premiere of a play by Jesse Feldberg (FB), and of the many routes a new play could take, was traversing the route of the Fringe Festival to shape its development.  Some plays work with companies (such as the reading we saw a few weeks ago); some find backers and go through workshops; this play decided to brave the dark alleys of the Fringe Festival. Appropriate. I learned about the play a few weeks ago when the author contacted me and invited me to see it. The description sounded interesting, and so I coordinated tickets:

A film noir inspired drama in which an upper class business woman must control the investigation into the death of her best friend’s husband while the detective must use his charm and intellect to uncover the truth, navigate class politics, and avoid the wailing siren of the femme fatale.

My top level assessment after seeing the show?  There’s potential there, but it does need some work (which isn’t a bad thing). It didn’t have a Fringe-y feel to it: the story felt put together, and the performances were reasonably good. Yes, there were some staging and performance notes, but those are correctable. More significant was the story: there is potential there, but some more shaping is needed to bring it to that next level.

The story itself is much like the “Law” side of a “Law and Order” episode: we see a murder take place between two people we don’t know. Apparently, a police officer was shot by some woman on his day off. We then see the investigation into that murder by an Det. Mathieu North, with the discusssions revolving around the victim’s wife, Angelina Mulroney, and her employer, Lila Caine. North, complicating the matter, develops feelings for Caine from the get-go while also considering her his prime suspect, which annoys his boss, Capt. Beverly McKennon, no end.

The basic notion of the story is fine, but there are a number of story aspects that serve only to distract or confuse. For example, at the end of the show we learn that Angelina was beat up by her husband supposedly the morning of the murder and Lila saw that. Yet the detective at the beginning didn’t notice or comment on the bruises — a beating that the Captain indicated landed Angelina in the hospital. This timeline makes no sense. Either there needs to be sufficient time for bruises to heal and not be visible, or the detective needs to see the bruises. Second, at some point the Detective and Lila go out for dinner, and she makes the comment when the main dish was brought that she was starving and hadn’t had anything to eat. That’s distracting, as they ordered both soup and salad, and the soup would have been brought before the main dish — in a finer restaurant in the 30s, with bread. Either the dialogue or the order of the meal needs correction. There was also a comment about print not being dead when a character is reading a paper. That’s not something that would have been said in the 30s and 40s, when print news was in its heyday (newsreels and radio were a far 2nd), and television news hadn’t even started.

There are some larger issues. Although I’m not a writer (except of comments on government documents), I do know that good stories move a character from one place in their life to another, with some change along the way triggered by some catalyst in the story. Det. North seems to be the only character in this play that changed at all. But what was the precipitating reason? A pretty girl. It’s unlikely that one girl would be sufficient, so it needs to be clearer what about Lila or this situation triggers the change in North. Why does he move from where he is at the beginning to where he is at the end?

Lastly, story-wise, somethings my wife noted. First and foremost, in the era in which this supposedly taking place, there would not be a female Captain of Detectives. In that era, women were just not in those positions in the Police Department. Either change the nature of the character to some other position, or have some justification as to why she was promoted from the Meter Maids of the era. Secondly, there was mention of USF, Jesuits, and lots of use of Yiddish. My wife went to Santa Clara University in the 70s, and knew the Jesuits. At the time, they didn’t know Yiddish — she had to teach it to them. They knew Hebrew. So that creates another jarring distraction.

All of these are correctable, and the basic story itself was interesting.

Moving to the staging aspects of the show, under the direction of Jesse Feldberg (FB): This supposedly was in the film noir style — a style characterized by pessimism, fatalism, and menace, by heightened sexual undertones, by a grittiness, a darkness, and a cynicism. There was also a strong emphasis on the dark underbelly of the urban experience. The sex came across, as did the cynicism … but the grittiness was replaced by darker lighting. If noir is the style desired, there needs to be a stronger way to convey the overall menace of this taking place in the big city — and perhaps why this particular detective stands above it all. It needs to embrace the Raymond Chandler, but not duplicate it (and especially not duplicate it to the form of parody of a Gary K Wolf). Hampering the staging was a subdued performance from the acting team. Not bad, mind you. My wife thought they came off as not invested in their roles. I don’t think it was that, but they were clearly at some lower energy state (or most of them were). There needed to be more snap and vitality under the surface. Again: This is something correctable. Lastly (and this is something only someone of my generation would pick up): They need to learn to dial a rotary phone.

Speaking of performance, the acting team was: Katherine Kimball (FBLila Caine; Taylor Mack (FBCapt. Beverly McKennon; Mark Piller (FB) Det. Mathieu North; Eden Rubinpour (FBAngelina Mulroney; Raul Tapia (FBMichael Mulroney, other male roles. A few notes here. I liked Kimball’s performance — much of the time she had the right energy and did a great job of exuding sexiness.  Piller needs to work a bit on his enunciation: it wasn’t until I started writing this post that I learned his name was “North”; from the show, I thought it was “Norf”. His performance was generally good, but needed a bit more energy and grittiness behind it. Rubinpour seemed to express the right amount of grief, but needed to work a bit more on capturing the subtext of why she was behaving the way she does — picking up mannerisms of a battered wife. We’ve noted the problems of a female captain before, but modulo that, Mack was good. Her costuming was more problematic: would a female detective wear that to the workplace (or go out with seams that weren’t absolutely straight).

Turning to the production side. There are no credits for scenic, costume, sound, or lighting. Other production credits: Venus Zamora Stage Manager; Steven Nelson (FBCasting; Taylor Mack (FB) and Katherine Kimball (FB) Producers; Jesse Feldberg (FB) and Steven Nelson (FB) Executive Producers.

There are two more performances of Silver Bullet: Sun 6/23 at 8pm, and Fri 6/28 at 7:30pm, at the Asylum Underground Theatre on Wilton near Fountain. Tickets are available through their Fringe web page. This was pretty good for the first outing of a script. It needed some work, but we enjoyed it.


If there is a lesson to be learned from our second show on Saturday, Shirley Valentine, it was the importance of marketing and an audience. I say this because we were the only audience. Well, the audience was us, the director, and the young lady who was taking tickets. This was an out of town director who was new to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and it demonstrated the value of the Fringe social events, the postcards, the ads on the Fringe website and Better Lemons, and the promotion through the various bloggers, writers, and such. Sometimes a great show and a great title is not enough… even if it has been at previous festivals.

So why did we go? The simple answer is that I knew the title, and remembered the 1989 movie. I was curious about the original one-hander play that led to it, by Willy Russell. I knew the subject matter would be fun for my wife. So I went and got tickets. I’m so glad that I did.

For those unfamiliar with Shirley Valentine (which is apparently more people than I thought), Wikipedia describes it thusly:

Wondering what has happened to her youth and feeling stagnant and in a rut, Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall while preparing an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. When her best friend offers to pay for a trip-for-two to Greece, she packs her bags, leaves a note on the cupboard door in the kitchen, and heads for a fortnight of rest and relaxation. In Greece, with just a little effort on her part, she rediscovers everything she had been missing about her existence in England. She finds so much happiness, in fact, that when the vacation is over she decides not to return, ditching her friend at the airport and going back to the hotel where she’d been staying to ask for a job and to live a newly self-confident life in which she is at last true to herself.

This is a wonderful story of finding yourself, deciding to live life for your self, and doing what is right for you. Although the movie might make one think this is a larger story, the original play is a one-woman show loaded with British-isms. Be forewarned, forearmed, and bring your travelogues for the fortnight.

Side note: In researching this production (i.e., trying to find artist webpages), I discovered the show has been done previously at the United Solo Festival in NYC, and the artists are involved with the Hastings Fringe Festival in the UK.

Although she was performing for a tiny audience, Heather Alexander (FB) didn’t behave like it. Modulo a minor startup problem I’ll attribute to jet lag and this being the first performance at Fringe, the show was great. Alexander did a great job of becoming the character and making you believe the change occurring in her. I’m sure she looked younger and happier at the end than at the beginning, and that’s with no time for makeup or other changes. About the only problem was understanding the British-isms in the script, especially early on in the show when they were coming fast and furious.

The only other production credit was for Steve Scott, presumably the producer.

This was just a real fun and enjoyable show, and I wish there was a greater audience for it. Shows are nothing without an audience, so get off your butts, and go get tickets to see shows!

This production of Shirley Valentine was a great one-woman execution of a very funny show.  We really enjoyed it.

There are four more performances of Shirley Valentine: Sun 6/23 @ 6pm; Wed 6/26 @ 830pm; Fri 6/28 @ 1030pm; and Sat 6/29 @ 830pm. This is a really funny show, and you should go get tickets, which are available through the Fringe website, or for $10/£9 at the door.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

 

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🎭 HFF19 #8/#9: “Johnny ’81” / “Town Brawl”

Johnny '81 (HFF19)userpic=fringeFathers’ Day (and the end of the first formal weekend of the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB)) brought two more shows: Johnny ’81 at the Complex/Ruby), and Town Brawl at Thymele Arts (although for the latter, I put it on my Google calendar wrong, and we got there 15 minutes late).

The first show, Johnny ’81 (HFF, WWW, FB) was not what I expected at all. Consider the description in the Fringe program:

It’s 1981! The corpse of DISCO, the flames of PUNK, the plastic smell of NEW WAVE, and the balls of ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, all converge and merge on a seemingly peaceful street in WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA, along with the stories of a 12-YEAR-OLD BOY raised by a PILL-POPPING SINGLE MOTHER and the many GAY MEN in their life.

I was expecting loud music, hard rock, and a pulse pounding story. What I got was… The Moth. And that’s a good thing, because I had a proto-headache and was worried.

Johnny ’81 was 90 minutes of storyteller John Gonzales (FB) telling a series of stories about his 12 year-old self growing up in West Hollywood, and the characters that inhabited his neighborhood and whose paths intersected with his life. That’s it. No more, no less. They showed a kid who was forced to grow up sooner perhaps than he should, but one where a wide variety of people demonstrated that they cared about him. It was proof about it taking a village to raise a child, especially when one’s parents weren’t always there.

The show was written by John Gonzalez, and produced by Denise McCrory (FB). Hannah McDonald was the stage manager. Monica Martin was the venue manager.

Johnny ’81 has two more performances: Sat 6/22 at 1:45 pm and 6/29 at 8:15pm. Give it a try; it is very different than the Fringe program implies, and well worth seeing. Tickets are available through their fringe page.


Town Brawl (HFF19)For Town BrawlI must be upfront: due to my putting the show into my Google Calendar wrong, we arrived 15 minutes late. I’m not sure that made much of a difference. Town Brawl advertised itself as:

Inspired by the outrageous stories found on Nextdoor.com, Town Brawl is your chance to witness petty and absurd neighborly drama being settled in a no holds barred town hall meeting. If you hate your neighbors, you’ll love our show.

That really is what is was. When we arrived, we walked into a meeting in progress, with some guy complaining about the NextDoor posts with complaints about firecrackers and gunshots. He then made clear that it was he who was shooting off the offending items, and it got stranger from there. If you have ever read Nextdoor, then you know what I mean. There were neighbors complaining about everything: people snooping, people drawing penii around potholes (and badly drawn penii at that), people selling stuff. I’m just surprises there were no complaints about street vendors.

The show seemed to be a combination of scripted material and plants in the audience. It did a great job of making its points about how petty some of the discussions on Nextdoor are, and was funny in that aspect.

Credited performers were: Maura McCarthy (FB) Vicky Cook; Derrick Parker (FB) Dennis; Chuck Ramage (FB) Mike; Marjorie “MJ” Scott (FB) Carol; Max Banta (FBHunter; BK Phillips (FBRon JonesChristina Thomas (FB) Ruby; and James Ferrero (FBLarry. The show was written by JR Mallon (FB). There were no other production credits.

This was interesting immersive theatre. It was good, but had a very improvy sense to it. I don’t think walking in 15 minutes late hurt things in the slightest bit.

Town Brawl has two more performances: Thu 6/20 at 730pm, and Wed 6/26 at 900pm. Tickets are available through their fringe page.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19 A Wild West Day: “Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon”

userpic=fringeYesterday was a quieter Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) day: only one HFF19 show, followed by an evening of traditional theatre, seeing a show for a second time. There were some common themes, as both shows were Westerns, and to do with women … but that was about it.

Our Fringe show was Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon (HFF19, WWW, FB) at the McCadden Theatre. This show was advertised with the simple line:

In the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, “Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon” is an irreverent musical comedy set in the Old Wild West.

I’m not sure I’d go quite as far as Mssr. Gilbert and Sullivan. It was a great Fringe show, and would have been a perfect headliner at the Tumbleweed Festival, a “wild-west” equivalent of the Renaissance Faire. However, the show was not ready for prime time — “prime time” being the traditional Opera or Operetta stage. For that, it needs some work and to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. But as a Fringe show, it was strong.

The show takes place at a saloon at some unspecified location in the old West. The downstairs saloon is run by Floyd; the upstairs “girls” are managed by Nettie. One of the girls — and the singing headliner — is the redhead Hope, who is currently engaged the the sheriff of the town, Sheriff Sunday. One day, a stranger named Chance wanders into the saloon. Chance is looking for a girl he knew in the nun’s orphanage; a girl he promised to save himself for and eventually marry. A red-headed girl named Hope. Off all the bars in the world, and all that rot.

You can predict much of what happens at that point. They try to hide Hope’s past from Chance. Hope’s behavior is filled with clues to give it away, but Chance is clueless and sees none of it. The Sheriff arrives and eventually realizes what is going on and a gunfight ensues. But some improbably circumstances conspire to end the gunfight and resolve the ending.

The show was written by Brooke deRosa (FB), who also did the music and lyrics. For a Fringe show, the story is strong, and the music is entertaining (although a bit operatic, which isn’t a surprise given the performance and the background of the author). The staging is cleverly realized, and the performances strong.

But if the show is intended for a longer life, it needs to figure out what it wants to be — and needs some dramaturgy. Right now, the show is a little bit campy and a bit serious. A bit operetta and opera, as it were. But that doesn’t work. If it is to be a serious opera — which the music sometimes seems to want — it needs to embrace the operatic tropes. If the push is for the humor and the Gilbert and Sullivan style, it needs to embrace that. It needs to up the tempo and the playfulness. It needs to play to the camp, so to speak.

But the show also needs some dramaturgy. When looking at the main characters — Chance and Hope — a simple question is: do they change from the beginning of the play to the end? I didn’t see a strong change. Circumstances happened around them, but they never really changed or grew or transformed in any way. The people around them needs to serve as the catalyst — humorous or not — for that change. Were they? Yes, there was a revelation that subverted the fight and provided the backstory; however, that revelation was deus ex machina, defined by Wikipedia as “a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and seemingly unlikely occurrence, typically so much as to seem contrived.” Yes, that happens in Gilbert and Sullivan, but it is also typically foreshadowed (and it today’s modern musicals, is terribly old-fashioned).

There are some other characterizations, beyond the fact that the well-touted redhead is brunette. In the ensemble, Francine’s character keeps making asides about how essentially she doesn’t want to be there. But these asides come out of nowhere — and more importantly, they lead nowhere. The behavior of that character, which separates her from the other ensemble girls, is seemingly for no purpose.

However, as I noted, this is Fringe. It is rare that a show is fully realized — especially a new show, as opposed to a Fringe presentation of an established play or musical. When looking at this as a Fringe show: it is executed well, has fun songs, loads of humor, and quite fun to watch. There’s lots of laughter. That’s really all you can ask for in a Fringe show: a safe and fun ride without a train wreck. This clearly meets that goal, which explains the sold-out run.

Under the direction of Jennifer Clymer (FB), with choreography by Julie Bermel (FB), the production holds the audience’s interest and the actors bring reasonable characterizations (if not slight over-characterizations, but that’s the nature of G&S camp) to their characters.

In the lead positions are Jonathan Matthews (FB) as Chance and Jade Bates (FB) as Hope. Matthews had a lovely voice, and captured the clueless nature of the character well. Bates had a face that reminded me of a young Shirley Jones for some reason, which combined with a lovely singing voice to make her a delight to watch.

Operating the saloon were Christopher Anderson-West (FB) as Floyd and Nandani Sinha (⭐FB, FB) as Netty. Both had strong voices and were having fun with their characterizations; we had seen Sinha before in the 5-Star Beauty and the Beast.

The Sheriff was portrayed by Phil Meyer (FB). He brings a great playfulness to the role, as well as a great voice.

Creating was is essentially the background ensemble is Monica Allan (FBLucille; Jason Chacon (FB) Abe; Rosa Evangelina (FB) Francine; Spencer Frankeberger (FBGabe; Jessie Massoudi (FBJanine; and Anthony Moresi (FBWyatt.  In general, the ensemble was strong, and I enjoyed watching their background characterizations during a number of scenes. There were a few points where their faces seemed disinterested and out of character, but I’ll write that off to Fringe as they seemed to be quite into character at other times.

No design credits were indicated. Other production credits: Jenna Jacobson (FBStage Manager; Constance von Briesen (FB) CostumesGunfight at the Non-So-OK Saloon was produced by Trial Run Productions (FB).

Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon (HFF19, WWW, FB) has three more performances at Fringe: 6/21 @ 10pm, 6/23 @ 830pm, and 6/29 @ 5pm. All are supposedly sold out, but tickets may be available through the Fringe website.


Bronco Billy - The Musical (Skylight)After our one Fringe Show of the day, we paid a return visit to Bronco Billy – The Musical at the Skylight Theatre (FB). I’m not going to write up the show again — you can read my original writeup for my thoughts on the show. I’ll note that it was as good on the second viewing as it was on the first: just a fun evening with great music and great performances. I did learn that the show has been extended to July 21, so ignore what you see on the poster, and visit the Skylight Theatre (FB) to go and see the show after Fringe is over.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19: #5/#6: “2 for 1” / “Moral Fixation”

userpic=fringeOur second set of Fringe shows Sunday night turned from the comedy of the first two shows into the dramatic. The 6:30 pm show, 2 for 1, consisted of two solo-performance shows on seemingly unrelated subjects. The second, Moral Fixation (originally titled Boys Will Be Boys) explored a really interesting relationship question.


2 for 1 (HFF19)2 for 1 (HFF19, WWW) was, in some ways, theatrical whiplash. The performance consisted of two one-woman shows that were very distinct from each other, with no program to provide any context or background.

The first, Simulakra, performed by Alyssa Virker (FB), was much like the performer: an enigma. As a modern dance piece, it was wonderful. As a story, however, I’m less sure. Perhaps if I had the underlying assumed context, it would have helped.

The story appeared to be about a simulation of a human that was being loaded with a personality. There were four to choose from: Catwoman, Amalie, Mary, and some female animated dog. Of those three, I had only seen the movie basis for one (Amalie), and was aware only peripherally of Catwoman. So the context was clearly lost.

In any case Simulakra decides to have all four personalities, and then proceeds to keep switching between them. It showed off the performer’s range well … but as a story it was hard to follow.

The second show, however, was great: My Dead Mom’s Funeral by Angela Beevers (FB). Just like the catharsis of Supportive White Parents, this show explored Angela dealing with the death of her mother of brain cancer, and having to write a eulogy. She goes to an online  eulogy assistant, and starts trying to follow their advice to tell the story of the relationship with her mother. In doing so, we not only learn about Angela, we get a heartfelt tribute to her mother. It is at times funny, at times sad, at times angry, and always touching. Plus it ends with a belly dance.

Throughout the performance, we get Beevers donning wigs and becoming characters, and demonstrating her versatility and storying telling skills.

If there is one drawback to the show, it is the lack of a program: and thus, a lack of credits for stage manager and other supporting staff. Both of the performers are assistants in real life; they should understand the importance of crediting the people who help them.

2 for 1 has four more performances: Thu 6/13 @ 630p; Thu 6/20 @ 830p; Thu 6/27 @ 1030p; and Sun 6/30 @ 400p. I wasn’t that crazy about the first one-woman show, but the second was great. Tickets are available through the Fringe website.


Moral Fixation (HFF19)I was unsure what to make of our last show of the evening, Moral Fixationwhen I read the description:

Morality isn’t necessarily logical. Watch Caleb and Claire, fiancès wildly in love with a bit of a hooker problem. When a (maybe not so) sordid detail from Caleb’s past comes to light, Claire’s (over the top) reaction has them, and a few close friends, talking a lot about sex and morals. A dark comedy with (a wounded) heart.

It turns out, however that the show — written by Cara Loften (FB) and Gabriel A. Berkovich (FB) — is much deeper than dark, and that it does what theatre should do: raises questions. In this case, it is the nature of our past when we go into a relationship. After Caleb’s uncle makes it know that he has bought a hooker for an employee, Claire asks Caleb if he has ever been with a hooker. Never ask a question you don’t want the answer to, because he has. It turns out to be quite upsetting to her. The play then explores her reaction to Caleb’s past — and why. It also raises the question about Claire’s past, when she slept around like crazy while she was drinking. Does whether you’re sober make a difference? Does whether it is for money make a difference? Does whether you enjoyed it make a difference? These are the questions explored in this play.

Good dramas leave an audience with questions to discuss on the car ride home. This play did that. The performances — under the direction of John Coppola (FB) — came across as realistic, and the leads had a chemistry that made you believe in the relationship.

Speaking of leads: Unsurprisingly for Fringe, the authors played the leads: Cara Loften (FB) as Claire and Gabriel A. Berkovich (FB) as Caleb. They clearly were strong in their performances. Supporting them were Veronica Alicino (FBJoan; Bil Dwyer (FBTed; and Kate Robertson (FBBeth.

Moral Fixation was produced by Cara Loften (FB) and stage managed by Pam Noles.

Moral Fixation has two more performances: Fri 6/14 @ 830p, and Sat 6/29 @ 230p. The show raises some great questions in the context of some wonderful performances. It is well worth seeing. Tickets are available through the Fringe website.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

 

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🎭 HFF19 #3/#4: 🐵 “Hamilkong” | “Supportive White Parents”

userpic=fringeAnd the Fringing continues: Yesterday we saw four more shows (6 out of a current 20 down). The first was about a rapping ape; the second was about a girl who wished for different parents… and got them.


Hamilkong (HFF19)The idea behind Hamilkong (HFF19, WWW, Playbill, FB) was a potentially interesting one: tell the story of King Kong, using the music from the juggernaut that is the musical Hamilton.  The execution, at least at our preview performance, was fatally flawed in a number of ways. First and foremost, they committed the cardinal sin of a Fringe show: Thou shalt not run over your time slot. This show was scheduled for our hour; we walked out at almost the ninety minute mark because we had another show to make, and they had three songs still to go. We did receive an email from Adam Korenman (FB), the producer (and author, and lyricist) this morning that said: “We know that the show ran a bit longer than intended, and we want to apologize if you had to leave early to make your next play. When ambition and reality collide, you can end up running over a few minutes. HAMILKONG will be cutting some pieces in order to tighten up to 60 minutes. That means that you, as the Preview Crowd, saw an exclusive DIRECTOR’S CUT! Congratulations!”

Making lemonade and all that rot, I guess.

Yes, songs need to be cut. But I believe the problem with this show runs a bit deeper than that. Simply put, it is monotonous. There’s a reason that Lin Manuel had the variety of songs that he did — and in particular, why he had the more pop style songs for the King. Breaking up the style of the songs makes the show aurally interesting — it provides the necessary variety for the ears. In its current incarnation, Hamilkong is too much of the same. Look at the song list. How many times can you hear the lyric: “I’m just like a monkey; I’m flexible and funky”? So not only is cutting required, but improving the mix and the storytelling is needed.

Although I haven’t seen it, I can 100% guarantee that the version of King Kong on Broadway adapted the story and is not the Peter Jackson movie on stage. For this to work, the story details need to be worked down a bit a bit more to the essence, and the characters need to be clearer. The idea is good, the execution needs work.

Under the direction of Adam Korenman (FB), and with choreography by Marlee Delia (FB), the staging was effective for a fringe show: meaning minimal costumes and effects. The performances were, for the most part, strong — although with these lyrics, the cast really needs to make sure that they enunciate clearly so the audience can hear all the worlds.

Notable cast members were Geri Courtney-Austein (FB) as the king himself, Hamilkong;  Asia Ring (FB) as Ann Darrow, and Sashaaa (FB) as Carl Denham. These three had lovely voices, and did the best they could with the characters they had (after all, this is a parody, meaning the characters weren’t that fleshed out). In more supporting roles, but also with good voices, were Francesca Reggio (FB) as Carol Preston / T-Rex and Olga Desyatnik (FB) as Jack Driscoll. I’ll note that Reggio was particularly cute as T-Rex.

Rounding out the cast were: Nate Leykam (FBBruce Baxter / King Lobster / Eisenhower / Agent; Adam Korenman (FB) Captain Engelhorn / New King; Jeanne Lau (FBChief Akko / Ensemble; Genna Weinstein (FBQueen Squid / Ensemble; Jeremy Klein (FBCop / Ensemble; and Kyle Reese Klein (FBSailor / Ensemble.

The production was inspired by the play Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the character of King Kong by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. Music direction by Francesca Reggio (FB), Olga Desyatnik (FB), and Asia Ring (FB). Piano Accompaniment by Nate Leykam (FB). Graphic Design by Joey Korenman. Nick Foran (FB) was the stage manager and technical director.

Hamilkong (HFF19, WWW, Playbill, FB) has three more performances: June 16 @ 630p, June 21 @ 1030p, and June 29 at 1030p. Hopefully, they will get the show cut down to the advertised Fringe length. Tickets are available through the Fringe Website. The show was an ambitious idea and had good performances, but our preview performance ran way long — a cardinal sin for Fringe.


Supportive White Parents (HFF19)We escaped the machinations of King Kong in order to run over to the Broadwater for what was our best show of the night: Supportive White Parents (HFF19, FB). The premise of this show, which was written by Joy Regullano (FB), with music by The Sam and Tony Show (FB) and Lyrics by Joy Regullano (FB), was simple:

When an Asian girl tells her parents she doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore, she wishes on a shooting star for supportive white parents.

The show, which is structured with a few musical numbers, has Joy telling her Filipino parents that she has decided to change her major from Molecular Biology to Theatre and East Asian Studies, with predictable response. She wishes she had parents that would support her whatever she does, and so wishes on a star for supportive white parents. The stars grant her wish, and suddenly all the things that made up her identity: her drive, years and years of study, etc., have been replaced with the stereotypes of white parents that love you and hug you even if you slack off and talk back. It is a great parody of what parents have become these days. Of course, in the end she decides that her original parents are what she wanted.

The show is extremely funny, with entertaining music and great performances. Perhaps it leaned into the stereotypes a bit, but comedy has the ability to do that and get away with it. It was one of our favorite shows of the night.

In the lead position was  Joy Regullano (FB), who not only sang and told the story, but played a mean violin. She was just delightfully fun to watch.

As her Filipino parents were Giselle “G” Tongi (FBMaria Elena [Joan Almedilla (FB) plays the role on 6/26 and 6/28] and Earl Baylon (FB) Jose, Guitar. Although I’m not an expert on Filipino parents, they seemed to capture what I would expect from that role well.

The Supportive White Parents were played by Gina D’Accario (FBCarol and Scott Palmason (FBJim, with Greg Smith (FB) as the rebelling brother Garrett. They captured the “mayonnaise” perfectly: the parents that love you no matter what you do. Gee, I hope we weren’t like that.

In terms of production credits: The show was directed by Frank Caeti (FB), with music direction by Tony Gonzalez (FB) and Choreography by Ally Vega (FB).

Supportive White Parents has four more performances: Sun 6/16 @ 930p, Wed 6/23 @ 10pm, Fri 6/28 @ 5pm, and Sun 6/30 @ 11am. This is a very funny show that is well worth seeing. Tickets are available through the show’s Fringe page.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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🎭 HFF19: And it starts… #1 “She Kills Monsters” | #2 “Trump Family Special”

userpic=fringeSaturday night was our first night “Fringing” for 2019. Translating that for the uninitiated: that means the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. The Fringe Festival consists of around 385 live performance shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. Comedies, dramas, and variety shows. One person to large cast. All taking place in the smaller intimate theatres (99 seats and under, as opposed to the thousands of seats at the big boys). Some shows work, and some are duds. But that’s how a festival is.


She Kills Monsters (HFF19 | Hobgoblin Theatre)Both of our shows Saturday night were at the Hobgoblin Playhouse (FB), a pop-up venue that appears during Fringe, operated by the team behind Studio/Stage and Theatre Unleashed. The first was to have been a revue of Tom Lehrer music, but the producer had to withdraw due to a death in the family. Together we say “Awww” because that was a show we really wanted to see, but given the circumstances, condolences to the producer. As a result, our first show was a traditional play, a show that has been mounted at venues large and small across the country: She Kills Monsters (HFF19, WWW, FB) by Qui Nguyen.

Nguyen, on her webpage, describes the show thusly: “Average Agnes is finally leaving her childhood home following the death of her sister Tilly. However when she stumbles upon Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, Agnes embarks on an action-packed adventure to discover more about her geeky sibling than she previously cared to know. A heartwarming comedy about loss, bullies, and dragons!”

She Kills Monsters was a great start to the 2019 Fringe. In terms of story, not Fringy at all. The well constructed story focuses on Agnes, an admitted average high school teacher, who lost the rest of her family in a car crash. She finds her younger sister’s D&D notebook, and decides to go on the adventure that she wrote to learn more about her. Through battles in the role playing world, she gets to truly know and understand her sister, as well as her sister’s high-school friends and what role playing games can do for people. More importantly, she learns about herself and how to transcend her average life.

It is worth noting that the venue, Hobgoblin Playhouse, is D&D central: in addition to She Kills Monsters, the venue is host to a celebrity D&D game, as well as Tabletop the Musical, a new musical that is focused on D&D and its impact on a group of friends (which is well worth seeing). The production itself started as a staged reading at Stuart Roger’s acting studio.

Getting back to She Kills Monsters: We just loved the story of She Kills Monsters, and the message it sends on female empowerment and the positive aspects of role playing games. I never got into RPGs for the same reason that I’m a professional audience, and not either on stage or writing the stories: I can’t inhabit characters, or imagine their stories. But I know D&D players well; I knew folks who were deep in that community when I was in the UCLA Computer Club in the late 1970s. This captured that community, and the freedom that RPGs bring to their players.

The execution of She Kills Monsters was more fringy: minimal sets and costumes, as befits a kickstarted fringe show. Performances were generally strong, but at our preview performance there were a few line mishaps, and the cast was a bit less polished than might be seen in an established company’s fully realized production. That doesn’t make one difference at all to me; this is Fringe, after all. But the Fringe environment forces creativity on a low budget, and this show definitely had both.

In the lead positions were Susannah Snowden-Ifft (FB) as Tilly, and Vivi Thai (FB) as Agnes. This duo was also the producing team, serving as Executive Producer and Producer, respectively. Snowden-Ifft brought a wonderful nerdy-ness and vulnerability to Tilly, a high-schooler who repressed her personality in life, but found expression in the fantasy world of D&D where she could live the life she wanted. Snowden-Ifft did a great job of making the two personalities distinct. Thai’s Agnes was different. What I remember most was her reaction during the opening exposition, recoiling in horror at being characterized as being notable only in her average status. That wasn’t what she wanted in life: to be average. Thai captured the transformation of her character from average teenager and sister to a bad-ass warrior well. Both of them were a joy to watch, and you could see their passion for telling this story.

The remaining characters in the story all served to help Agnes and Tilly in their transformations, starting with the members of the RPG party: Harry Owen (FB) — Dungeonmaster (DM) Chuck; Reyneen Pedro (FB) — Kaliope / Kelly; Kristin Walker (FB) — Lilith / Lilly; and John Yang Li (FB) — Orcus / Ronnie. Most of these were drawn broadly, as D&D characters are: the warrior, the elf, the DM, the demon. But each performer brought a little something to those characterizations — a good sense of fun and playfulness. More importantly for the actual party characters was the characterizations they brought to those people outside the game, as the high school friends of Tilly. Of not here was Pedro’s transformation from the strong and sexy elf to the real-life person behind the elf. Great acting.

Also serving to help Agnes find herself were Zach Summers (FB) — Miles (6/8, 6/14; Andres Paul Ramacho (FB) for the last three performances in June); and Brad Milison (FB) — Steve. Summers was the clueless boyfriend of Agnes who misunderstood what Agnes was doing with this high school kid, and Millson was the red-shirt of the story: another D&D adventurer who kept being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both captured these broad stereotypes well.

Rounding out the cast in smaller and more various roles were Shikira Saul (FB) — Vera / Farrah / Evil Tina / The Beholder; and Blair Allison (FB) — Narrator / Evil Gabbi. Saul got to play the most varied roles, from jaded best friend of Agnes to high school cheerleader to various demons and monsters. She was best in her portrayal of Vera, Agnes’ friend, where she delivered some wonderfully sardonic lines that I’m sure most high school guidance counselors would love to say. Allison’s parts were smaller, although she did well with the narration and its tone.

Lastly, turning to the production side: The production was directed by Genny Wilson (FB), with no real credits for scenic design, costumes or those traditional departments. This isn’t surprising for Fringe, where you load in and out in 15 minutes. The sets were either non-existent or minimal — perhaps a few square boxes. There were projections used, as well as shadow puppets to show events like the car crash. Props and costumes were used to create characters and provide weapons as such, although there were no explicit credits for prop or costume design. Elliott Beltran (FB) did the sound design (mostly sound effects and establishing music), and Greg Crafts (FB) did the lighting design. The effective fight choreography was by Masa Kanome (FB) and Tadahiro Nakamura. Incidental music was composed by Darrin Stafford (FB). Beth Wallan (FB) was the stage manager. She Kills Monsters was produced by Vivi Thai (FB), with Susannah Snowden-Ifft (FB) as Executive Producer.

She Kills Monsters has four more performances during Fringe: Fri 6/14 @ 11pm; Sat 6/22 @ 9pm; Sun 6/23 @ 9:30pm; and Sat 6/29 @ 2:00pm. Tickets are available at their Fringe Page.


2nd Annual Trump Family Special (HFF19)The second show we saw last night, The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special, was both much more Fringe-y and more professional. On the professional side of the equation, this particular production had been mounted before: off-Broadway in New York, as well as previously in Hollywood. It had many cast members that were AEA and who had performed on Broadway and/or in National Tours. But the execution itself was on the Fringe side: improvisation at times, quick adaptation, improvised costumes and props at times, and a general playfulness that comes with the nature of a live variety show vs. a more scripted play such as She Kills Monsters.

The basic conceit of the show is that the Trump family — Melania, Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr. — are putting on an annual variety show, hoping that their dad (the POTUS) will show up. Making special guest appearances are the earlier Trump wives — Marla Maples, Ivana Trump, as well as Jared Kushner. Missing in action, just as in real life, are Barron and Tiffany. Trump never shows, of course, but contributes to the proceedings through tweets. The content of the show is a both a politically incorrect appeal to their base, but much more a parody of their situation and personalities.

The show featured book and lyrics by Daniel Salles (FB), with music and additional lyrics by Tor Hyams (FB) and Lisa St. Lou (FB) / Tor and Lisa (FB). The book and songs generally poked at the well known images of the first family: Melania as the airhead model who hates her husband, Donald and Eric as generally stupid and sixest, the nature of Trump’s relationships to his ex-wifes, Ikanka as the power behind the throne, Jared Kushner as a puppet, etc. As such, it is both silly and plays to the LA audience well (as well as to the gay audience in particular, based on the attendance at our show). Examples of this are songs such as “Win, Win, Win”, “Look Gorgeous”, “Three Trophy Wives”, and perhaps the best political commentary, “It’s a Circus”, which presented the White House as a three-ring circus, with Donald as the ring-leader.

But I think the most telling song of the show was “MAGA/And Then He Tweets”. In the middle of a song about how great Trump is, there are asides from the Music Director talking about the reality of the world of Trump for gays and other minorities. This, I believe, was the true heart of the show.

Over the years at Fringe, I’ve seen numerous shows dealing with Trump. These have ranged from the totally warped Zombie Clown Trump, the Star-Trek mashup Trump in Space, and the quite good The Dangerous Cures of Dr. B, which uses the demagogue John Brinkley as an analogue for the pedagogy of Donald Trump. The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special does a great job of skewering the first family, their foibles and personalities, and how Trump relates to them. But does it make a strong cases or have a deeper meaning? Does it provide a particular insight into Donald Trump, his machinations, or the motivation behind his forms of evil. No. You get more of that from Planet MoneyThe 2nd Annual Trump Family Special is entertaining, but ultimately light on substance — reflecting perfectly the first family and the absence of substance and depth therein.

Under the direction of show creator Daniel Salles (FB), the show moves briskly and is entertaining. At our preview performance, the cast had to improvise around various problems, such as lights not being where expected and wardrobe malfunctions of various forms. They coped well, as trained actors do. Benji Schwimmer (FB)’s choreography was appropriate for the style of variety show — low budget — that the book made this show out to be.

The performances were strong. Perhaps the strongest — certainly the strongest and clearest voice — was that of Lisa St. Lou (FB) as Ivanka Trump and Ivana Trump. She had the bulk of the stage time, and was extremely strong in her songs and characterizations.

Playing her step-mother and first lady was Mary Birdsong (FB) as Melania. She was clearly having fun with the characterization, sang strongly, and dealt well with the preview issues.

Rounding out the cast were Ryan Murray (FB) as Eric, and John Shartzer (FB) as Donald Jr. Shartzer got double-duty as Marla Maples, and I believe it was Murray doing double duty as Mike Pence.  Both handled the comedy and the songs well.

Tor Hyams (FB) served as music director, and provided commentary and “directed” the variety show from behind the parameter. It was Hyams that provided the input on “And Then He Tweets” aspect I liked so well.

The NY scenic designer was David Goldstein; as there is no LA credit for this, presumably his design was transferred. The design was simple: some boxes, a fancy backdrop, a few props, and a Jared Kushner puppet that looked a lot like Jerry Mahoney. The NY costume design was by Vanessa Leuck (FB), with LA costumes credited to Wendell Carmichael (FB). Modulo a few costume malfunctions, the costumes generally worked. Johnnie Carmichael was the Sound Engineer; Greg Crafts (FB) did the lights. Tanya Nancy Telson (FB) was the stage manager, and Hannah Carroll (FB) and Sharon Logan are credited as “Backstage Superstars”, whatever that means. The lead LA producer was Victoria Watson Winkler (FB); there are numerous other producers and associate producers.

The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special has 6 more performances: Sun 6/9 @ 8pm; Thu 6/13 @ 830p; Fri 6/14 @ 7pm; Sat 6/15 @ 1030pm; and Sun 6/16 at 3pm and 10pm. Tickets are available through their Fringe site; through the show website; and discount tickets may be available on Goldstar.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

The the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) has started. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

 

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🎭 🎸 Learning About Legends | Surviving Frank Lloyd Wright @ EST/LA ♦ Ruskin / Book Binder @ Blvd Music

Surviving Frank Lloyd Wright (EST/LA)Saturday was an interesting day. The Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) hasn’t started yet, so my calendar was empty. My wife was out of town and I wasn’t in the midst of highway page updates, so I didn’t have much to do. I thought about the opening night of  Ready Set Yeti Go at Rogue Machine Theatre (FB), but there were no discount tickets. But then I received some emails about the solution to my problem.

The first was from Ensemble Studio Theatre / Los Angeles (FB) about a “Check-In Reading” for a play they had in development from Tom Lazarus (FB). “Check-In Readings” are no-frills readings of plays under development in the Launchpad 2018-19 Long Term Dramaturgical program. The readings “check-in” on the current status of the play, and allow an audience to give their reactions and make suggestions.

At this reading, the play was “Surviving Frank Lloyd Wright: The Creation of Hollyhock House“. It was described in the email thusly:

The true story of political radical and free love advocate Aline Barnsdall hiring the scandal plagued genius Frank Lloyd Wright to architect a creative utopia. They battle over the design and the out of control budget. Wright hires Rudolph Schindler to supervise construction throwing the future of Hollyhock House in doubt as the aesthetic and sexual triangles play themselves out.

Given that as an ancillary interest to my highway hobby I have a keen interest in the history of Los Angeles, this play caught my eye. So yesterday started out with a jaunt to Atwater Village for the reading.

This was my first time attending one of these readings, and I had a blast. The setup was simple: actors reading from the script, with another actor reading the stage directions. Voice performance, no costumes, allowing one to focus on the script in development. The performers were: Ian Patrick Williams (FB) – Frank Lloyd Wright; Lizzie Peet (FB) – Aline Barnsdall; Ethan Rains (FB) –Rudolph Schindler; Ashley Francis Hoffman (FB) – Maud (Maude Noel, Wright’s 2nd wife); Maura Knowles (FB) – Miss Lang; Jon Sperry (FB) – Norman Bel Geddes; and Stevie Stern (FB) – stage directions.

I’m not going to go into the developmental work needed or any criticisms — those were communicated to the playwright during the discussion afterwards (and were the purpose of this reading). Readings are how plays mature into what you see working on stage, and it is rare for a play to emerge fully formed and perfect (no matter what the author may think). The same is true for government documents :-). So this is more my positive thoughts on the show.

Going in, although I had heard of Frank Lloyd Wright and Barnsdall Park, I didn’t know much more than that. This show was focused on the creation of Hollyhock House. It starts with Aline Barnsdall hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to build an artist’s utopia at the top of Olive Hill, which she had purchased with her inheritance.  Her plan was to build a theatre, housing for staff, and a house for herself and her daughter on the hill. Wright was focused on the house, and kept delaying everything else. The focus of this play was the conflict between the two, and which ones would give first, and what the ultimate result would be.

I was initially confused as to location when this play started, probably because I’ve never been to Barnsdall Park or seen Hollyhock House. The way the characters spoke, I thought the hill was much higher than it was — but that was likely due to the growth of the area around the park obscuring the hill. Still, this play introduced me to a side of Los Angeles that I didn’t know, and made me go and research people I had never heard about (in particiular, Aline Barnsdall). That’s a good thing for a historical play. It helped me learn the personalities of these people. The script caught and held my attention, and I had a blast learning both about the story and the play development process.

The performances were strong. The actors, as this was a reading, had no costumes, no particular directions other than those in the script, and no real rehearsal. As such, you got to see the pure actor’s side: taking the lines on the page and bringing them to life just through voice and minimal movement. They did a great job. I particularly enjoyed the Williams, Peet, and Sperry.

I got such a kick out of this that I plan to attend more readings. If you want to learn about these types of efforts, get on the email lists for the theatres you like. To get on EST/LA’s list, click here.


Rick Ruskin and Roy Book Binder (Blvd Music)The second email I received was from Boulevard Music (FB) about a concert from Rick Ruskin and Roy Bookbinder. I was familiar with Rick Ruskin (FB), having been introduced to him by my uncle through some of his earlier albums. I was unfamiliar with Roy Bookbinder (FB) (sometimes written as Roy Book Binder). Both were expert guitar players, students and friends of the Reverend Gary Davis, with both a blues and humorous guitar style.

As I was less familiar with the songs from these artists (I have four albums from Ruskin, none from Bookbinder), I don’t have a play list. The two were both on stage at the same time, alternating songs and sharing stories. Ruskin did a mix of songs from Davis, himself, and a few covers of popular songs. Bookbinder focused more on the blues, doing songs from Davis, himself, and a few others. What was notable about Bookbinder was his stories. Before — and sometimes during — each song, Bookbinder would tell a rambling story of how the song came to be, stories about characters in the songs, and so forth.

There were a few mentions of Peter, Paul and Mary; I hadn’t realized that “If I Had My Way” was a Davis song and earned him substantial earnings. There was also a story about Mississippi John Hurt.

I enjoyed the music quite a bit, and picked up two albums from each artists. Always support artists at shows by buying merch.

Both had interesting observations about their age. This got me thinking about who the new folk artists are; in other words, who are the youngsters perpetuating the folk tradition. I’m not sure the answers, but I’d like to explore getting music from folk artists who aren’t 15 years older than I am.

🎭

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) [2018-2019 season], and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). 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 Shows:

Next week, the the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) starts. If you are unfamilar with Fringe, there are around 380 shows taking place over the month of June, mostly in the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd between 1 bl W of La Brea to 1 bl E of Vine, but all generally in Hollywood. On a first pass, there were lots I was interested in, 30 I could fit on a calendar, but even less that I could afford. Here is my current Fringe schedule as of the date of this writeup. [Here’s my post with all shows of interest — which also shows my most current HFF19 schedule. Note: unlike my normal policy, offers of comps or discounts are entertained, but I have to be able to work them into the schedule with the limitations noted in my HFF19 post]:

Key: : Non-Fringe Show/Event; °: Producer/Publicist Arranged Comp or Discount

As for July, it is already filling up. The first weekend of the month is still open. The second weekend brings An Intimate Evening with Kristen Chenowith at,The Hollywood Bowl (FB).  The third weekend of July brings Miss Saigon at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), followed by A Comedy of Errors from Shakespeare by the Sea (FB)/Little Fish Theatre(FB). The last weekend of July brings West Side Story at 5 Star Theatricals (FB). August starts with an alumni Shabbat at camp, and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). August ends with Mother Road at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (FB), and we might do rush tickets for Alice in Wonderland as well. In between those points, August is mostly open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget. Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country!

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