SCENE IN LA

 

BY

 

STEVE ZALL AND SID FISH

 

January 2017

 

Well the holidays are over, but you can still have some fun at one of our local theatres enjoying productions such as:

           

OPENING

 

“The Roommate” The story is set in Iowa and follows Sharon. She’s sensible, an empty-nester, curious and very, very talkative. For the first time in her life, at age 54, she takes in a roommate to make ends meet. That’s where Robyn comes in, a new arrival from the Bronx who is hiding a lifetime of secrets. But Sharon has a way of getting to the truth—the fascinating, shocking truth. This intriguing play proves it’s never too late to shake things up—for better or worse. Written by Jen Silverman, and directed by Martin Benson, it runs January 3 through January 22 at the South Coast Repertory on the Julianne Argyros Stage in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.

 

“The Manor” is by now a Los Angeles/Beverly Hills institution. The play, now in its fifteenth year, surpassed its 200th performance in 2014. The show is a roman a clef, a fictionalization based on real events with the actual historical characters given new names. To lend authenticity to the presentation, the show is presented in the grand and glorious architectural landmark in which the events of 88 years ago actually took place. Audience members are led from room to room in the lovingly restored marvelous Greystone Mansion as different scenes of the narrative are portrayed, leading up to a shocking and apparent murder and suicide. The Manor depicts momentous changes in the fortunes of the fabulously wealthy MacAlister Family (fictional surrogates of the oil-rich Doheny Family). Family patriarch and mining tycoon Charles makes an illegal if well-intentioned loan to Senator Alfred Winston (a stand-in for Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall). Both men face imminent disgrace and worse in the oncoming Teapot Dome bribery scandal, which will engulf the Warren Harding administration. A scion of the MacAlister family faces violent death. Who is to blame? Written by Kathrine Bates, and directed by Flora Plumb, it runs January 5 through January 29 at the Greystone Mansion, in Greystone Park in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-3606 or visit www.theatre40.org.

 

“TORUK – The First Flight” Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, this production transports you to the world of Pandora in a visually stunning live setting. Experience a storytelling odyssey through a new world of imagination, discovery, and possibility. Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination. This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things. Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora. When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omatikaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate. Written and directed by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, it runs January 12 through January 15 at The Forum in Inglewood. For tickets call 800-745-3000 or visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk.

 

“Aladdin, Dual Language Edition” everyone in the fictional city of Agrabah used to be able to speak two languages. The show is based on the Arab-style folktale “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” from One Thousand and One Nights; the musical includes iconic songs like “A Whole New World” and “Friend like Me.” When the evil Jafar, the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, first finds a Genie’s magic lamp one day, he wishes to divide Agrabah by language so that the people of the palace speak one language and the people in the streets speak another (hence, Spanish and English respectively). However, Jafar speaks both languages, giving him more power. Before making another wish, Jafar, annoyed with his pet parrot, Iago, throws the lamp out the window, and while doing so, he spills some magic “fluency” dust on Iago. The lamp’s dust also enables two other animals, Princess Jazmín’s pet tiger, Rajah, and Aladdin’s pet monkey, Abu, to also speak human languages. To help the audience follow this class conflict adventure, Royal Translators serve as narrators and facilitate official state communication, while the multi-lingual animals translate more intimate conversations. As the story starts Princess Jazmín is running away from the palace, unwilling to be betrothed to yet another snobbish suitor. Aladdin, a street rat, and Princess Jazmín become friends and fall in love, but Jafer has Aladdin apprehended. Later Aladdin befriends at Magic Carpet, as well as a Genie who makes his wishes come true. Written by Jim Luigs and José Cruz González, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and directed by Rigo Tejeda, it runs January 13 through February 19 at the CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights. For tickets call 323-263-7684 or visit www.casa0101.org.

 

“Bee-luther-hatchee” Shelita Burns, editor at a New York publishing house, is searching for Libby Price, an African-American woman who has lived a drifting life across the U.S. and has composed a prize-winning memoir. Shelita wants to present Libby with her award. Shelita’s joy in discovering Libby’s work turns to feelings of betrayal when she learns shocking facts about the author. When Shelita Burns comes face-to-face with the object of her search, Shelita’s actions in response are as startling as the facts she has uncovered. To fully understand the significance of the title Bee-luther-hatchee, you’ll have to see the show. The concerns of the play include cultural appropriation and who has the right to tell certain stories, both of them newsworthy topics. Written by Thomas Gibbons, and directed by Saundra McClain, it runs January 13 through February 18 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets call 626-355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

 

“Brilliant Traces” In a remote cabin in the wilds of Alaska, as a blizzard rages outside, a lonely figure lies sleeping under a heap of blankets. Suddenly, he is awakened by the insistent knocking of an unexpected visitor, and a distraught young woman bursts into the cabin dressed in full bridal regalia, driven up from... somewhere warm, it would seem. Exhausted, she throws herself on his mercy, but after sleeping for two days straight, her vigor—and combativeness—return. Written by Cindy Lou Johnson, and directed by Kristen Boulé, it runs January 13 through February 11 at the Underground Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.BT2017.brownpapertickets.com.

 

“The Imaginary Invalid” is an outrageous satire of medicine and its practitioners sadly relevant even today. The wealthy Argan revels in poor health, relying on laxatives, suppositories, bloodlettings, and second and third opinions from the leading quacks. Although his daughter Angélique loves the impoverished Cléante, Argan wants to marry her to Thomas Diaforrhea, a medical dunce who can assure his father-in-law a lifetime of free health care. Aided by Argan's wily, back-talking servant Toinette, the young lovers contrive to meet despite the scheming of Béline, Argan's mercenary second wife. All is resolved (or is it?) when the clever Toinette and Argan's sage brother Béralde concoct a hilarious, elaborate plan to teach Argan where to place his trust. Written by Molière, and directed by Susan Stangl, it runs January 13 through February 18 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.

 

“Picnic” takes place on Labor Day weekend in the joint backyards of two middle-aged widows. One house belongs to Flo Owens, who lives with her two maturing daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder who is a spinster school teacher. The other house belongs to Helen Potts who lives with her elderly mother. Into this atmosphere comes a drifter by the name of Hal Carter whose animal vitality seriously upsets the entire group. Written by William Inge, and directed by Sherman Wayne, it runs January 13 through February 19 at the Theatre Palisades Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. For tickets call 310-454-1970 or visit www.theatrepalisades.org.

 

“A Time To Kill” tells the story of Jake Brigance, an idealistic white lawyer from Ford County, Mississippi, who sits in on a harrowing court case: A 10-year-old black girl named Tonya Hailey was brutally raped and beaten by two white men. Jake is shaken by the testimony of the girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, but when Carl takes the law into his own hands in the courtroom, the grieving father is suddenly under arrest and facing a trial of his own. Carl begs Jake to represent him, and although it’s a tough case, the young lawyer agrees to fight for the justice of Tonya, Carl and their family. With the help of his oft-inebriated mentor Lucien Wilbanks and a bright young law student named Ellen Roark, Brigance goes head to head against district attorney Rufus Buckley. As the controversial trial shakes the town to its core, Brigance finds himself—and his own beloved family—under attack. Written by John Grisham, adapted by Rupert Holmes, and directed by Ronnie Marmo, it runs January 13 through January 28 at the Theatre 68 in North Hollywood. For tickets call 323-960-5068 or visit www.plays411.com/timetokill.

 

“Nice Iranian Girl” During the Iran/Iraq War, in her childhood years in Tehran in Iran’s Islamic Republic, she huddles in a basement with her grandparents while Saddam Hussein’s aircraft bombard the neighborhood. She makes her way to London and safety, until she finds herself homeless at 15. She manages to bluff her way into a job at an exclusive high-end London nightclub, before she decides to head for Hollywood to seek a job as a VJ on MTV. She’s hired as a correspondent on Al Gore’s Current TV until she gets fired when she poses for Maxim magazine. Subsequently she appears on 275 episodes of Attack of the Show, then on 35 episodes of MTV’s America’s Best Dance. She was a correspondent for The Best Damn Sports Show Period; Big Morning Buzz; The Insider; and award events on the TV Guide Channel. Layla Rumi conquered America and her past because she refused to hear the word “No”. However, there was still a vacancy in her heart. She’d never be able to visit her girlhood home again as Iran had put her on a death list because she posed in a bikini for Maxim. Her tale is a classic American story: the immigrant who arrives in the USA, and through hard work and her own gifts (academic, talent and beauty) becomes a success. Written by Layla Rumi, and directed by Richard Embardo, it runs January 14 through February 11 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.niceiraniangirl.brownpapertickets.com.

 

“The Last Vig” In this world premiere comedy by David Varriale, Academy Award-nominated actor Burt Young (Rocky, Chinatown, The Pope of Greenwich Village) stars as aging mob boss Big Joe — the last of a dying breed. Times are changing. Can Joe stay in the game with the help of his young, hip-hip loving assistant, Bocce, and his old friend, Jimmy “The Fixer” D? Or will the juice on the $100K he owes be his last vig? Written and directed by David Varriale, it runs January 14 through February 19 at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7712 or visit www.TheLastVig.com.

 

“Chapatti” What do you get when you mix an Irish tale with 19 cats, one dog named after a pancake, and two eccentric animal lovers? Annabella Price and Mark Bramhall star in this humorous and heartwarming tale about two animal lovers in Dublin, and their unexpected spark as they re-discover the importance of human companionship. This second-chance comedy celebrates these unforgettable characters who still believe in love. Written by Christian O’Reilly, and directed by David Ellenstein, it runs January 15 through January 29 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

 

“Late Company” Michael, a Canadian politician, and his wife Debora, prepare for their slightly tardy dinner guests Bill and Tamara, and their son Curtis. As the play unfolds, it develops that it’s one year since the suicide of Joel, the gay son of Michael and Debora. Curtis, it turns out, was part of a group that bullied Joel. This dinner, it’s hoped, will be an occasion to achieve closure. The wounds are still raw for Debora in particular. What emerges instead rounds of finger-pointing and revelations of unknown things. Are closure and healing even possible? Written by Jordan Tannahill, and directed by Bruce Gray, it runs January 19 through February 19 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.

 

“Beckett5” a quintet of darkly humorous, seldom-seen short plays:

'Krapp’s Last Tape' Elderly and ailing, Krapp sits at his desk and prepares to listen to audiotape diaries he made thirty years earlier. Beckett’s theatrical poem, one of his most personal works, is infused with his history, emotion and an abiding sense of irony as he captures the weight of regret for missed opportunity and lost love.

'Come and Go' is described as a "dramaticule" on its title page and contains only 121 words.

'Footfalls' features the character of May, wrapped in tatters and pacing back and forth “like a metronome” on a strip of bare landing outside her dying mother’s room.

'Act Without Words II' is a short mime play. A and B, asleep in their sleeping bags, are goaded into their respective lives by an unseen force. Although they never meet, they carry each other through life.

'Catastrophe' a director and his assistant prepare an aged man for a public spectacle for a political purpose. One of Beckett’s only politically-themed works, and perhaps his most optimistic, it was written in 1982 and dedicated to then-imprisoned Czech reformer and playwright, Václav Havel.

Written by Samuel Beckett, it runs January 21 through March 5 at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

 

“The Found Dog Ribbon Dance” Professional cuddler Norma’s quest to return a lost dog to its rightful owner leads her to encounter a slew of oddballs and maybe even discover a second chance at love. A bittersweet romantic comedy about loneliness, oxytocin, and the healing power of Whitney Houston. Written by Dominic Finocchiaro, and directed by Alana Dietze, it runs January 21 through February 26 at the Echo Theater Company @ Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets call 310-307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

 

“White Guy on the Bus” Ray, a white financial manager from an affluent neighborhood, has a loving wife and liberal family. Shatique is a black nursing student and single mom from the rough side of town. As they ride the same bus to the same gritty prison every week, they seem to be getting to know each other – until Ray reveals his shocking true purpose for taking these weekly rides. As the ties between Ray and Shatique spin into a complex web of moral ambiguity, revenge and racial biases, they reach a stunning conclusion in this play the New York Times calls “a frank stare-down at racial perceptions today…an unsettling study in cultural disaffection that is likely to spark discussions afterward”. Written by Bruce Graham, and directed by Stewart J. Zully, it runs January 27 through March 18 at the Road on Magnolia in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or visit www.roadtheatre.org.

 

“Fugu” is suggested by true events. The narrative is set at a time prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. Thanks to the efforts of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, 6000 Lithuanian Jews were rescued from the clutches of the Nazis and relocated to Kobe, Japan. Colonel Nohiro Yasue, Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is stationed in Kobe. The newly settled Jews have established a community there. But their safety may be short-lived. The Gestapo’s Colonel Josef Meisinger, a.k.a. The Butcher of Warsaw, is a Nazi liaison at the German Embassy, intent on seeing that no Jews escape alive. Meanwhile, Col. Yasue has devised a scheme with the objective of seeing to it that Japan and America do not come to blows. The plan is called “Fugu.” (You’ll have to see the play to get the full significance of the term.) Yasue, mistakenly believing that President Roosevelt is Jewish, selects the leader of the Jewish community, Dr. Avram Kaufman, to be his emissary to contact Washington, Wall Street and Hollywood to convince the U.S.A of Japan’s good intentions toward the Jews, serving to avoid Japan’s entry into a bloody international war. Meisinger, intent on eliminating the Jews of Kobe, reminds Yasue of Japan’s treaty with Germany and Italy, and demands his cooperation. But Yasue is above all a man of honor, and the Jews are under his sworn protection. Complicating matters for Yasue and Kaufman is the fact that Kaufman’s beautiful daughter Sarah and Yasue’s top aide Setsuzo Kotsuji have fallen in love and have embarked on a forbidden romance. Can a Jewish woman and a Japanese man find love amidst the shadows of war? Can their love possibly survive? Can the brave and honorable Yasue, Kotsuji and Kaufman thwart the machinations of the murderous Nazis? Written by Steven G. Simon and Howard Teichman, and directed by Howard Teichman, it runs January 28 through March 19 at the Pico Playhouse in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-821-2449 or visit www.wcjt.org.

 

“Plasticity” Blending cutting-edge science with masterful storytelling, Plasticity takes the audience deep inside the mind of David Rosely, even as he lies in a coma. A hovering circle of doctors and loved ones, including David’s twin brother Grant, are all played by Lyras in an unusual solo performance: the actor not only creates multiple characters, but interacts with them on stage through the use of integrated projections. Written by Alex Lyras and Robert McCaskill, with music by Ken Rich, and directed by Robert McCaskill, it runs January 28 through March 13 at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-7787 or visit www.plasticitytheplay.com.

 

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” In this hilarious comedy, Vanya and his adopted sister, Sonia, live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, while their sister Masha travels the world as a movie star. Just as their cleaning woman issues a warning about terrible events in their future, Masha returns for an unannounced visit with her 20-something boy toy Spike in tow. And so begins this unforgettable family reunion filled with rivalry, regret, and racket. All allusions to Chekhov are purely intentional. Written by Christopher Durang, and directed by Barbara Tarbuck, it runs January 28 through March 5 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-392-7327 or visit www.edgemar.org.

           

It’s a brand new year with brand new shows – so get out today and take one in!

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