Arts In LA
LA STAGE INSIDER

by Julio Martinez, October 23, 2014



Selina Smith, Jon Beauregard, Carolyn Almos, and Todd Merrill,  Burglars of Hamm


ACTORS FUND DECLARES CABARET IS ALIVE AND WELL IN LA

Conceived and helmed by noted director David Galligan as a benefit for The Actors Fund, Cabaret Is Alive and Well and Living in Los Angeles—four nights, four concerts, four venues—begins its journey with Come to the Cabaret, featuring Obba Babatundé, George Ball, Michele Brourman, Loretta Devine, Davis Gaines, Julie Garnyé, Damon Kirsche, Amanda McBroom (pictured), Sharon McNight, Lisa Passero, Valerie Perri, and Christina Saffran, hosted by Sally Struthers, musical direction by Tom Griep, Oct. 24 at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.

   Tom Rolla’s Gardenia in Hollywood hosts A Cabaret Celebration on Oct. 25, featuring Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, Nancy Dussault, Ilene Graff and Ben Lanzarone, Jane A. Johnston, Karen Morrow, Lisa Passero, and Joanne Worley, with Brad Ellis serving as musical director and host.

   On Oct. 26, Perfect Harmony features the songs of Jerry Herman, starring Jason Graae with musical director John Boswell, at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz.

   The final cabaret event, Classic Broadway Sings Schwartz—a musical ode to composer Stephen Schwartz—is being held Oct. 27 at Studio City’s Upstairs at Vitello’s, featuring Louise Marie Cornillez, Barbara Deutsch, Tal Fox, Dianne Fraser, Julie Garnyé, Juliana Hansen, Dennis Kyle, Kelly Lester, Jon Maher, James C. Mulligan, and Joanne O’Brien, musical direction by Mitch Kaplan, hosted by Carolyn Hennesy (pictured).



NOIR SERIES PERFORMED LIVE AND OVER THE WEB IN REAL TIME

Los Angeles–based Heretick Theatre Lab presents the debut of The Noir Series—“a live streamed theatrical experience, performed in front of an audience, filmed in HD, mixed in real time, and streamed over the web.” Created by Heretick artistic director Jennifer Cotteleer (pictured), Emmy-winner Stephen McFeely (co-writer of Marvel’s Captain America), graphic novelist Ed Brubaker, Nancy Keystone’s Critical Mass Performance Group, and Burglars of Hamm (pictured above)—Jon Beauregard, Carolyn Almos, Jon Beauregard, and Albert Dayan, as well as actors Hugo Armstrong and Tessa Ferrer, The series opens Nov. 7 at Schkapf in Hollywood.


PREMIERES

It takes a lot of folks to create a one-person play. Paul Stein and The Solo Collective in residence at VS. Theatre collaborate in the premiere of The Seriously Neurotic Dream of Mary Shelley—one author’s troubled night of sleep after being challenged by a group of accomplished men to conjure a scary story—written and performed by Carla Cackowski (pictured), helmed by Jane Morris, debuting Dec. 7 at VS. Theatre on Pico Boulevard.

   In conjunction with its Late Night series, Rogue Machine premieres Uploaded—a millennial tale of a charismatic slacker living life on the edge—scripted by L.R. Gordon, helmed by Mark L. Taylor, opening Nov. 1 at 10pm.


AROUND TOWN

L.A. Theatre Works continues its 40th anniversary season of record-before-a-live-audience-for-future-radio-broadcast stage fare with David Hare’s 1990 Olivier Award winner, Racing Demon—focusing on four Church of England clergymen attempting to minister to an economically and racially mixed parish in South London—starring Jared Harris (pictured) (Mad Men) and Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), helmed by Rosalind Ayres, opening Nov. 13 at James Bridges Theater at UCLA in Westwood.

   The Illyrian Players—“LA’s provocative, upstart, sex-positive theatre company”—takes on William Shakespeare’s Othello, featuring a five-member principal cast and a six-member masked chorus, helmed by artistic director Carly D. Weckstein, opening Oct. 31 at Elephant Space at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood.


HOLIDAY FARE

Pasadena Playhouse has revealed the cast for Lythgoe Family Productions’s Panto at the Playhouse: Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight, wrought by Kris Lythgoe (book), Spencer Liff (choreography), and Michael Orland (musical d
irection), helmed by Bonnie Lythgoe. The cast features Olivia Holt, Lucy Lawless, David Engel, Tamyra Gray, and Ben Giroux, opening Dec. 10.

   Falcon Theatre in Burbank once again hosts those rowdy merrymakers of Troubadour Theater Company, offering a zany mashup of Hans Christian Anderson and the music of rock band Queen, helmed by Troubadour artistic director Matt Walker (pictured). The Snow QUEEN opens Dec. 12.


INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY

James Reynolds is born in Oskaloosa, Ind., in 1946. Following an athletically active high school sojourn that includes football, basketball, and track, Reynolds enlists in the Marines, serving as a reporter in the service newspaper, The Windward Marine, followed by battlefield service in Vietnam.

   Upon his return to civilian life, Reynolds majors in prelaw and journalism at Topeka’s Washburn University, but begins auditioning and performing in plays after being told that the theater department is the best place to meet girls. Developing a passion for acting, Reynolds is soon performing with local theater groups and finally makes the decision to move to LA. He soon is working steadily in TV and films, but still desires to work in live theater.

   In 1977, he joins 10 other like-minded thesps to form Los Angeles Repertory Theatre, eventually housed at De Lacey Street Theatre in Pasadena. The company includes such actors as John DiFusco, Karen Hensel, Carl Reggiardo, Patti Johns, and Fran Bennett. Serving as LART’s artistic and administrative director for seven years while expanding his activities to directing, Reynolds helms an acclaimed production of John Rutton’s one-act detective farce, The Tangled Snarl (1982), while producing the multiaward-winning pioneer drama Going to See the Elephant (1982), an ensemble creation led by Hensel and Johns.

   Reynolds’s acting career takes a decided turn in 1981 when he is cast as police commander Abe Carver on NBC’s daytime series Days of Our Lives, a role he continues to play to this day—except for brief exits in 1991 and 2003.

   In 1986, Reynolds marries actor–arts educator Lissa Layng (pictured above with Reynolds), founder of Performer Audition Showcase. In 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds establish Fremont Centre Theatre (pictured) in South Pasadena, serving as co-artistic directors. Their initial offering is Three Songs, an original play by William Mesnik about Hollywood blacklisting, which sets the tone for Fremont’s mission to “encourage, nurture, and launch news plays and new playwrights,” as well as being committed to theater that reflects and promotes diversity. For five years, the Reynoldses share their stage with Pasadena Shakespeare Company. Beginning in 2006, Fremont serves as home for the late Ray Bradbury (pictured) and his Pandemonium Theatre Company for five years.

   On the solo front, Lissa Reynolds stars in Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s A Woman of Independent Means, garnering awards at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. James Reynolds creates and tours his one-man show, I, Too, Am America, a commentary on the African-American experience from the time the first slaves were brought to this country up to the present day. Expanding their activities beyond the stage, Lissa is founding director of South Pasadena Arts Council, and James is celebrity spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Hospitalized Vets.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review—celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles—on Fridays, 2–2:30pm, on KPFK (90.7FM).
 

 
LA STAGE INSIDER

by Julio Martinez, October 16, 2014


John David Wallis and Hector S. Quintana in DOMA Theatre Company
Photo by Michael Lamont

STEPHEN D. ROUNTREE NAMED NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CTG


Stephen D. Rountree (pictured) has been named managing director at Center Theatre Group, replacing Edward L. Rada. Rountree has served as president and CEO of Music Center since 2002, as well as CEO of LA Opera (2008–12). He will begin his new duties Jan. 2, 2015, working in collaboration with CTG artistic director Michael Richie.

   Rada, who departs CTG at the end of December, informed Ritchie and the CTG board of directors this spring that he was not renewing his contract.


24TH STREET GARNERS GRANT

24th STreet Theatre has received a $300,000 grant from the Rosenthal Family Foundation to expand its Enter Stage Right school field trip program—“an arts education program that features movie star and longtime 24th STreet supporter Jack Black (pictured) in an interactive video that uses theater to teach math, history, and language arts.” The grant, bestowed over three years, will expand the program and develop a touring version.

   Created in 2003 to serve only five schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Enter Stage Right grew to become the most requested program in the second-largest school district in the U.S., serving 11,000 LAUSD students per year at 110 schools by 2009. Since 2010, when LAUSD cut back funding for arts programming, the number of students served decreased to 2,500. The Rosenthal Foundation Grant will enable 24 STreet to expand back to its 2009 numbers.

   An additional grant of $22,000 from the Max H. Gluck Foundation will be used to pay for school buses. Field trips for more than 90 schools in four school districts—including Burbank, Compton, Culver City, and Los Angeles—are being scheduled October through May.


DEAF WEST TRIBUTE TO PHYLIS FRELICH AT MARK TAPER FORUM



Deaf West Theatre hosts a memorial to celebrate the life and career of Tony Award–winning actor and deaf activist Phyllis Frelich (pictured, with John Rubenstein), to be held Monday, Oct. 20. at Mark Taper Forum. Frelich died from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) in April. She was 70.

   She is perhaps best remembered for her groundbreaking role as a deaf woman in a relationship with a hearing man in Children of a Lesser God, by Mark Medoff. Inspired by Frelich’s real-life marriage to scenic designer Robert Steinberg, the play received the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play. Frelich and co-star Rubinstein captured Tonys for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.

   Medoff and Rubinstein are scheduled to speak at the memorial, along with actor Linda Bove (Sesame Street); Deaf West Theatre founding artistic director Ed Waterstreet; and Bernard Bragg, who played an instrumental role in the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf.


THEATRE @ BOSTON COURT NEW PLAY FESTIVAL

Theatre @ Boston Court has revealed the participants in this year’s PLAY/ground, the free-to-the-public annual New Play Festival, Nov. 7¬–9, at Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.

   This year’s staged readings include Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, by Luis Alfaro, helmed by Jessica Kubzansky—which will also be produced offsite at Pacific Palisades’s Getty Villa (Sept. 9), in conjunction with Theatre @ Boston Court’s 2015 season; Mad Beat Hip & Gone, by Steven Dietz, helmed by Michael Michetti; Hillary and Clinton, by Lucas Hnath, helmed by Lindsay Allbaugh; In a Word, by Lauren Yee (pictured), helmed by Casey Stangl; and Your Name Will Follow You Home, by Carlos Murillo, helmed by Michael John Garces.


PREMIERES

East West Players continues its 50th anniversary season with the West Coast premiere of Takarazuka!!!—focusing on the angst-filled final days of a retiring star of an all-female Japanese performance troupe—scripted by Susan Soon He Stanton, helmed by Leslie Ishii, choreographed by Cindera Che, opening Nov. 12 at David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts in Little Tokyo. (Pictured are Grace Yoo and Fiona Cheung.)

   Colony Theatre in Burbank continues its 40th anniversary season with the West Coast debut Handle With Care—fate and circumstances bring together a young Israeli woman with limited command of English and a young American man with little command of romance—written Jason Odell Williams, helmed by Karen Carpenter, opening Nov. 8. The production features Charlotte Cohn (pictured), Jeff Marlowe, Tyler Pierce, and Marcia Rodd.

   Eight disparate men of Gotham hold forth when Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood hosts the premiere of The Penis Chronicles—“a revealing perspective on the male psyche exploring the complex masculine experience”—scripted by Tom Yewell, helmed by Randal Kleiser, opening Nov. 8.


   Also in West Hollywood, Zephyr Theatre hosts the West Coast premiere of Dirty—Wall Street meets the porn industry—written by Kennedy Center Playwright Award winner Andrew Hinderaker, helmed by Obie winner Shannon Cochran (August: Osage County, Bug).

   The cast includes Robert Belushi (pictured), Sumiko Braun, Lea Coco, Anna Konkle, and Max Lesser, opening Nov. 15.



AROUND TOWN


The Wallis in Beverly Hills hosts two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone (pictured) in her solo show, Coulda Woulda Shoulda…played that part—performing songs from roles in musicals she could have, would have, or should have played—conceived and staged by Scott Wittman, with musical arrangements by Dick Gallagher, musical direction by Joseph Thalken, Feb. 12, 2015 at the Bram Goldsmith Theater.

   The premiere tuner Scary Musical, The Musical, wrought by Richard Hochberg (book, music, lyrics) and Michael Paternostro (music and lyrics), helmed and choreographed by James J. Mellon, runs through Nov. 23 at NoHo Arts Center.

   Doma Theatre Company extends its staging of Mel Brooks’s 2007 Tony-nominated tuner, Young Frankenstein (pictured above), helmed by Marco Gomez, reaching out to Nov. 30 at MET Theatre in Hollywood.


INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY


Former Knightsbridge Theatre location, the Braley Building

Joseph Paul Stachura is born and raised in South Central LA, making his debuts as an actor in theater, television, and film by age 15. Following five years of worldwide travel, Stachura returns to LA at age 26, setting about to establish himself as a director and producer of live theater and film. In 1993, determining there was a need for a classically based local theater, Stachura establishes Knightsbridge Theatre, located in the basement of the historic Braley Building, at 355 Raymond Ave., in Old Town Pasadena. Knightsbridge opens June 18, 1993, running three plays in repertory—William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

   By 2000, Stachura feels the Knightsbridge is successful enough to open a second location (pictured below) at 1944 Riverside Dr. near Silverlake—a one-time silent movie house and the former home of Colony Theatre. He subsequently closes the Pasadena theater space. As producing artistic director of Knightsbridge Theatre and The National American Shakespeare Company, Stachura produces more than 300 plays, from Shakespeare’s entire canon to Mamet, Ibsen, O’Neil, Miller, and more by 2012. Along the way, he also creates Knightsbridge Theatre Films, which produces the 2011 independent feature Redemption, winner of the Golden Ace Award at Las Vegas Film Festival and distributed by Mar Vista Entertainment.



   In July 2012, Stachura decides to close down the Riverside Drive space. “The building had developed too many structural problems, which the owner wouldn’t fix,” Stachura affirms. “I just didn’t feel it was a safe place to work.” While avowing his love for live theater and his intent to return to the stage, Stachura continues the activities of Knightsbridge Theatre Films, preparing to premiere the psychological thriller Scream at the Devil, scripted and helmed by Stachura, starring Shari Shattuck, debuting Oct. 24 at Laemmle Theatre in NoHo.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review—celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles—on Fridays, 2–2:30pm, on KPFK (90.7FM).

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NEW THIS WEEK

   * Theater reviews of Scream, The Cherry Orchard 


COMING NEXT....

   * Theater reviews of Pippin, The Magic Flute, Swan Lake, Broomstick, Canibal, Wait Until Dark, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Into the Woods, and more
 

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