Arts In LA

by Julio Martinez, April 17, 2015

Jimmy Bellinger, Joseph Haro, Daniel David Stewart, Daniel Durant, Joshua Castille, and Miles Barbee in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening at Inner City Arts’s Rosenthal Theater


The vote is in. Los Angeles–based members of Actors’ Equity Association voted 2,046 to 1,075 against AEA’s desire to require LA-area small theaters (99-seats or less) to begin paying actors a minimum wage, mandated to be $9 an hour (rising to $10 in January 2016), for all rehearsals and performances. A total of 44.6 percent of the eligible AEA membership who reside in Los Angeles County participated in the vote. If enacted, this would supersede the current 99-Seat Plan, which has been in place since 1988, allowing AEA members to be paid a scaled stipend for performances only, not to exceed 60 performances.

   The vote is non-binding on the union's national council, which will decide on April 21 whether to accept, modify, or reject the proposal. Upon release of the vote count, AEA spokesperson Maria Somma issued the following statement: “Equity’s National Council will meet on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. The results of the Advisory Referendum vote provide important information to the Council as they consider the 99-Seat Proposal and intimate theater in Los Angeles. Council will take into account the percentage of members who voted, the number of votes cast and the results, as well as the information that members have shared with Council over the last several months.”


Five-time US figure-skating pairs champion Randy Gardner (pictured) stars in his own life story, Go Figure! The Randy Gardner Story, scripted and helmed by Josh Ravech, opening May 15 at NoHo Arts Center, prior to going on tour. On opening weekend, Gardner will be joined onstage by his pairs partner Tai Babilonia and 1976 Olympic singles gold medalist Dorothy Hamill.


Colony Theatre in Burbank launches Colony Cabaret, beginning with Atlanta-based singer-thesp Maria Howell (pictured)—who sang in the 1985 Steven Spielberg feature, The Color Purple—April 26, for one night only.

   She is being backed by Noel Friedline (piano), Ron Brendle (bass), and Eric Valentine (drums). This is Colony’s initial foray into a planned cabaret series TBA.


Deaf West Theatre’s fall 2014 staging of 2006 Tony-winning rock tuner Spring Awakening(pictured above) will bow again at Wallis Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, opening May 28. Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name, the production—book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik—is helmed by Michael Arden, choreographed by Spencer Liff, and features a 27-member ensemble of signing and speaking performers.


Amy Herzog’s (pictured) 2010 Off-Broadway family drama After The Revolution—an “ironic meditation on what we do with history”—makes its Southern California debut at Chance Theater in Anaheim, helmed by founding artistic director Oanh Nguyen, opening April 18.

   Working Stage Theater in Hollywood presents Women on Time—seven original short plays that offer provocative moments in which women, from suffragettes to corporate execs, navigate their way through an American century—opening April 19. The scripters include Susanna Styron, Bridget Terry, Lorin Howard, Nikki McCauley, Bonnie Garvin, Joanna Miles, and Deborah Pearl.

   Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena hosts the premiere of The Elliots—based on Jane Austin’s 1817 romantic novel, Persuasion—adapted by A.J. Darby, helmed by Karissa McKinney, opening May 9.

   The Wallis
hosts the LA debut of Satchmo at the Waldorf, by Terry Teachout—produced by Long Wharf Theatre and Shakespeare & Company—helmed by Long Wharf artistic director Gordon Edelstein, starring 2014 Obie winner John Douglas Thompson (pictured) in a multiple-character solo performance, opening May 27 in the Lovelace Studio Theater.


Greenway Arts Alliance presents Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie 70 years after its Broadway debut—helmed by Jack Heller, opening May 16 at Greenway Court Theater in Hollywood, featuring Lisa Richards, Brian Foyster, Kerry Knuppe, and Patrick Joseph Rieger (alternating with David Stanbra).

   El Portal Theatre in NoHo hosts The 7 Guys You Date Before You Get Married—a comedian’s guide to romance—scripted and staged by Groundlings alum Nicole Burch (pictured), opening April 30.

   Moth Theatre Company, adjacent to LA City College, stages Jim Geoghan’s 1993 three-character dark comedy, , starring Preston Acuff, Sasha Kapustina, and Ned Lieb, helmed by John Markland, opening April 30.

   NoHo Arts Center incorporates a live band into its production of Betrayal, Harold Pinter’s decidedly unmusical 1978 sojourn within a marriage and an affair, featuring Elizabeth Kimbell, Greg Crooks, Brian Graves and Joe Capucini, as well as an instrumental trio led by vocalist Renee Massie, opening April 24.

   Impro Theatre Company offers up Chekhov UnScripted (pictured)—a totally improvised play each evening, based on audience suggestions, in the style of Anton Chekhov—helmed by Impro artistic director Dan O’Connor, opening May 1 at The Lab on Vermont Avenue.


Frederick Sauls arrives in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, determined to experience all his passions: geology, painting, sculpting, playwriting, producing, directing, and acting. He is particularly drawn to the emerging Equity Waiver theater scene. In 1980, he founds the Fig Tree and Pilot theaters, located, respectively, at 6539 and 6600 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood, launching what would eventually grow into mile-long Theatre Row, now comprising more than 20 performance spaces. Two-stage Pilot complex becomes an active rental facility, but Sauls considers 48-seat Fig Tree to be the outlet for his own avant garde works, even setting up a live/work space studio in the rear of the building, located at Hudson Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

   Although Sauls manages to mount a few workshop productions in 1981, he discovers he doesn’t have the time or real interest in being an active theater artistic director. That job is taken over by New York transplant Peter A. Flynn, a documentary filmmaker who has worked with Martin Scorsese and served as technical and lighting director for Solaris Dance Theater Company.

   In 1982, Sauls moves to LA, becoming artistic/administrative director of Fig Tree, launching its first full season. The works include Three Pinters, helmed by Flynn; Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come; Paul Sills’sStory Theatre; Sam Shepard’s Suicide in B Flat , directed by Jules Aaron; and the premiere of John Tulsa’s Noche , helmed by Flynn, produced by Sauls (pictured, with Paul Mendoza, Cristina Castro, and William Marquez, photo by W. Lansing Barbour).

   During Flynn’s five-season tenure at Fig Tree, the theater garners 15 Drama-Logue Awards. In his final 1988 season, he produces the acclaimed West Coast premiere of Grace McKeaney’s dark comedy How It Hangs. During this time, Flynn also serves as senior show artisan for Walt Disney’s Imagineering and works as art director on two Roger Corman films. Flynn eventually concentrates on screenwriting, specializing in science fiction and living in Manhattan Beach. In 1990, Sauls becomes ill, succumbing to cancer in June 1993 at age 59. In 1991, the building housing the Fig Tree evolves into multistage Hudson Theatres, co-founded by Gary Blumsack and Elizabeth Reilly.

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).

The following have generously supported
Fitzmaurice Voicework
with Lisa Pelikan
Fountain Theatre presents
  I and You
Opening April. 11



* Theater reviews of Never Givin' Up, Mud Blue Sky, The Power of Duff, Corktown '57, Newsies, Pygmalion


* Reviews of Anarchist, My Child, My Barking Dog, Tribute, Cats, Words by Ira Gershwin, and more

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