Arts In LA

by Julio Martinez, November 13, 2014

The cast of Cannibal! The Musical


The premiere engagement of Henry Jaglom’s new stage play, Train to Zakopane: A True Story of Love and Hate, has been postponed for a second time, now scheduled to debut Nov. 21 at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. Helmed by Gary Imhoff, starring Mike Falkow and Tanna Frederick (pictured), the production reportedly has stalled due to its technically complicated setting that is requiring more time to complete. Confident the play will be a success, producer Alexandra Guarnieri has announced the show’s run through March 8, 2015.


The Road Theatre Company joins a lineup of worldwide organizations that will present readings of 2012 Obie-winner Caridad Svich’s (pictured) new play, Upon the Fragile Shore—a work of intertwining monologues that “explores human rights and environmental issues around the world, especially in relationship to human-made tragedies and their aftermath”—helmed by Stewart J. Zully, performing Nov. 17 at The Road on Magnolia in NoHo, in conjunction with an initiative by NoPassport.


Coeurage Theatre Company has gone into partnership with Silver Lake Food Pantry—a community food bank serving the Silver Lake area—during the run of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical at Lyric-Hyperion Theatre & Cafe. Each Friday night for the remainder of the run has been designated Food Bank Friday, when audience members may bring nonperishable foods to the theater, all of which will be delivered directly to the Food Pantry. Cannibal! The Musical continues through Nov. 22.

   Santa Monica Playhouse hosts Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, scripted and helmed by Bert V. Royal, Dec. 6–21. All proceeds from the run will be donated to Trevor Project, “a charity focusing on mental health, anti-bullying, and suicide prevention.”

   At Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, Oscar-winner Bobby Moresco (pictured) (Crash) teams with social activist Paul Carrillo’s charity, SoCal Crossroads, producing and directing Lewis John Carlino’s anti-drug play, The Brick and the Rose, which originally premiered at Hollywood’s Ivar Theatre in 1957. The production, which runs Nov. 20–23, is intended to raise funds for arts mentoring of underprivileged middle school students.


Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood continues its 2014 season with the premiere of Possum Carcass by David Bucci, inspired by Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull—“a hilarious and darkly poignant look at what it is to be an artist, and who it is that gets to decide that”—helmed by Alina Phelan, opening Dec. 4.

   Working Stage Theatre in Hollywood hosts the premiere of The Book of Oded: Chapter 2—a “solo journey from the deserts of Israel and the Israeli military to the tree-lined suburbs of Los Angeles in search for love, mortality, and acceptance”—scripted and performed by Oded Yosef Kassirer (pictured), helmed by Sammie Wayne IV, opening Jan. 9, 2015.


Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora hosts Sandra Bernhard’s (pictured) touring solo show, Sandyland—“spotlighting her own unique, sharp blend of hysterical insight and outspoken views, with rock ’n’ roll, cabaret, standup, and a little burlesque,” also showcasing her band, The Flawless Zircons, Nov. 15.

   Zombie Joe’s Underground presents created-and-helmed-by-committee Astroglyde 2014—“all-new, all-too-human theatrical journeys confronting truth, terror, and titillation”—opening Nov. 21 at ZJU Theatre Group in NoHo.


For the holidays, Laguna Playhouse offers Striking 12, a musical inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Match Girl, wrought by GrooveLily (Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin, and Valerie Vigoda), helmed by Janet Roston, opening Dec. 6.

   Theatre Unleashed brings back its holiday show, KAWL Presents It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play for the Stage, adapted by Jim Martyka, helmed by Erin Scott, presented in the company’s newly redesigned home, The Belfry Stage in North Hollywood, Dec. 4–21.

   Buoyed by the reception he received last year when he premiered this work, scripter-director Paul Anthony Storiale encores his holiday farce, Dysfunctional Family Christmas, at BrickHouse Theatre in NoHo, opening Nov. 21.

   Sierra Madre Playhouse offers A Little House Christmas—a play with songs, based on the Little House on the Prairie series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and appropriate for the whole family—adapted by James DeVita, helmed by Emily Chase (pictured), opening Nov. 28.


French's Opera House, Santa Ana

On July 11, 1890, banker and land developer C.E. French unveils French’s Opera House on the corner of 4th and Bush streets in Santa Ana. Designed by architect O.B. Bradshaw, the structure—featuring a 1,200-seat auditorium—is the first edifice of culture to be built in newly incorporated Orange County. The sold-out, opening production is William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, starring famed Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska (pictured below), who had moved to Santa Ana in 1876.

   It is ironic that opera is never performed in the building, which is renamed Grand Opera House in 1897, utilized for second-tier theatrical touring companies such as Frank Bacon’s Stock Company and Webster-Brown Stock Company, which would take up residence two weeks at a time. Local teenager and future silent film star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle often performs as a utility player for whichever company is in need of additional actors. The facility also hosts a number of small-time vaudeville and musical acts, as well as yearly high school graduation ceremonies.

   In 1914, management of the facility is taken over by vaudeville entrepreneur William McCulloch, who is determined to attract the big names that regularly appear at the Orpheum and Palace theaters in downtown Los Angeles.

   Over the next five years, McCulloch manages to persuade such famed performers as Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Lon Chaney, and Eddie Cantor to give Grand Opera House a try; but they agree only to do one-nighters. McCulloch resists turning Grand Opera House into a silent movie emporium and finally gives up booking acts.

   In 1920, a boxing promoter leases the building, staging fights between February and May of that year. In 1921, the city of Santa Ana takes over the facility. Used intermittently during the rest of the ’20s, Grand Opera House is torn down in 1930 to make way for construction of W.T. Grant Department Store.

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). On Nov. 14, Arts in Review spotlights actors Vance Valencia (Julius Caesar), Rachel Gonzalez (Brutus), and Lauren Ballesteros (Antony) from Casa 0101 Theatre’s all-Latino, mixed gender staging of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
BalletBoyz in the ’Hood
London’s contemporary dance company assemblés in LA this weekend.

by Helen Peppard

Coming to the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center this weekend, Nov. 7–9, is one of the most spectacular young dance companies touring the world these days: BalletBoyz, a 15-year-old contemporary-dance company from London.
   Its founders, William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, trained at Britain’s elite Royal Ballet School—Trevitt began at the school at age 10, Nunn at age 15—then danced with Britain’s Royal Ballet Company for a number of years. But the two felt attracted to a wider dance vocabulary, one that would appeal to non-balletomanes, that would be accessible and entertaining to the man on the street, so to speak. Their company grew out of a project they were hired to do for the Ovation Network, a seven-part series of programs exploring different styles and concepts of movement, titled eventually A Chance to Dance.
   The dancers they assembled for this project—10 young male dancers between the ages of 18 and 26, now referred to as “The Talent”—were picked for their expressiveness as well as their strength, and the company Trevitt and Nunn have today still displays those characteristics. While ballet training is not a requirement for their dancers, those bodies reflect a strength that often comes only through the rigors of classical ballet training. The choreography is extremely athletic and full of breathtaking and unexpected moves, following a trend in contemporary dance to astound the viewer with seemingly impossible, even daredevil tricks. Trevitt refers to his dancers as edgy, versatile technicians.
    But Trevitt and Nunn have additional tricks up their sleeves. Originally to fill in spots in their work when dancers needed to be offstage, for example to change costumes, the duo began to use films of the dancers rehearsing or chatting or revealing themselves as just people, which Trevitt and Nunn thought would make the audience feel more comfortable with the troupe. The films have been a very popular feature. Also, rather than setting movement to music or vice versa, the duo commissions music that complements the dance, as does the lighting, which has been described as exquisite by more than one reviewer.

   From the beginning, the directors wanted to engage other choreographers for their company, though they still occasionally create pieces themselves. The two pieces they’ll bring to the Ahmanson are works by Liam Scarlett (Serpent) and Russell Maliphant (Fallen).
   Meanwhile, much of their time these days is taken up with the operation of a huge complex they acquired two and a half years ago: originally an old aircraft factory they’ve turned it into two studios, one for their company rehearsals and one for classes for the public.
   In their continuing drive to assimilate dance into the lives of the entire population, says Trevitt, they bring as many different artistic mediums as there are to create a world where everyone will not just partake and enjoy and appreciate the arts, but where it will be part of their lives.

November 3, 2014


The following have generously supported
Fitzmaurice Voicework
with Lisa Pelikan
Fountain Theatre
Oct. 4–Nov. 30


   * Theater reviews of The Vortex, Kinky Boots, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Completeness


   * Theater reviews of Into the Woods, Blithe Spirit, What the Butler Saw, Possum Carcass, Bob's Holiday Office Party and more

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