Arts In LA

by Julio Martinez, January 25, 2015

Karen Landry and Chris Mulkey in Leaving Home at Ruskin Group Theatre
Photo by Ed Krieger


Geffen Playhouse’s landlord, UCLA, has agreed to a long-term lease of a former retail outlet located at 930 Westwood Blvd. in Westwood, to be renamed the Jason and Yvonne Lee Geffen Playhouse Annex, adding a third facility to complement Geffen’s Gil Cates and Audrey Skirball Kenis theaters.

   The Annex will be the home for future Geffen Playhouse production rehearsals, as well as serving as a flexible venue that can host artists, community groups, and education programs. Funding for the lease came from Jason and Yvonne Lee (pictured, photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America).


Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown LA presents Latino Theater Alliance/LA’s first annual Playwrights’ Nest Festival, showcasing eight directed readings of plays developed under the auspices of LTA/LA’s Writers Circle, which was launched in 2014 to foster the writing of emerging LA-based Latina/o artists.

   The presented works include Remedios Varo: La Alquimista, by Estela Garcia; This Is a Man’s World, by Sal Lopez; It Runs From the Family, by Kyra Huerte; Fabulous Monsters, by Diana Burbano; Carnivores, by Gabe Rivas Gomez; Karina Played Pachanga Music (the dallas slasher marathon), by Israel Lopez; The Book of Leonidas, by Augusto Amador; and Bottle Blonde: A Latino Tragicomedy, by Zury Ruiz, Feb. 6–8. Participating festival directors include Dan Guerrero, Jorge Huerta, Chantal Rodriguez, and Jose Luis Valenzuela.


Four Larks debuts its latest junkyard opera, The Temptation of St Anthony—inspired by the novel of Gustave Flaubert—staged at a secret location in downtown LA. The production, featuring a 12-member ensemble, is wrought by Mat Diafos (composer-director) and Sebastian Peters-Lazaro (designer-choreographer) (pictured with Jesse Rasmussen). Performances begin Feb. 11.

   El Portal Theatre in NoHo hosts the premiere of Karma, The Awakening, a new musical—“reviving the energy of The Dawning of Aquarius”—wrought by Ronn Price, Dan Green, and Bryan N. Barnes (music); book and lyrics by Billie E. Hazelbaker, Barnes, and Jeffrey Rollins; produced and directed by Jason Goldberg; musical direction by Jerry Danielsen; choreographed by Lennon Hobson. It opens Feb. 5.


Ruby Theater at the Complex in Hollywood hosts Sandra Fenichel Asher’s A Woman Called Truth: A celebration of the life of Sojourner Truth—“a powerful, musically infused, award-winning play that combines her actual words with slave songs and spirituals of the period”—presented in honor of Black History Month, staged by D’Shaun A. Booker (pictured), opening Jan. 24.

    Ruskin Group Theatre revives Canadian playwright David French’s 1972 family drama, Leaving Home, helmed by Barbara Tarbuck, starring Chris Mulkey and Karen Landry (pictured above), opening Feb. 6.

    Chalk Repertory Theatre imposes its immersive theatrical mandate onto Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, setting it in Neutra Institute Museum in Silverlake, helmed by Larissa Kokernot—evoking parallels between the 19th century Russian farm and today’s office culture—opening Feb. 20.


Festival of New American Musicals offers its tuner development series Musi-Cal, at Rockwell Table & Stage, Feb. 2. The bill o’ fare includes DateBook: The Musical, by John Davisi and Molly Durand; The Giver, by Jonah Platt (pictured) and Andrew Resnick; Grenadine, by Daniel Zaitchik; and Biting Broadway! The First Successful Vampire Musical, by Gerald Sternbach and Jordan Beck.

   Spoken word guru Sally Shore’s New Short Fiction Series spotlights Empty Bed Blues and other stories, by Folio Annual Fiction prize winner Kate Kaplan, featuring Shore, Jessie Holcomb, Jessica Hopper, and Buckley Sampson, Feb. 8 at The Federal Bar in NoHo.


Actor–performance artist Kristina Wong (pictured, photo by Toshiko) brings her road show The Wong Street Journal—comically illuminating and breaking down complexities of intense social issues from the inside—to Segerstrom Center in Coast Mesa, Jan. 29–30.

   Polish-born actor-mime Christopher Vened has updated his one-person perusal of the art of life, Being Human—which premiered in 2014 at Lounge Theatre in Hollywood—now sojourning at Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, opening Feb. 15 in conjunction with Whitefire’s Solofest 2015.


“This is my first time producing as well as acting in a play. I am enjoying the process very much. The play came to me about a year ago via a friend, a fellow actor, who was producing this work at a small theater down south called Little Fish. As soon as I read the play I fell in love with it, but the distance from my home in Calabasas to Little Fish was just too much of a drive so I had to pass on it. But I was determined to do this play at some point. Then I took it to class at Aquila Morong Studio, where I’ve studied for about four years now, and workshopped it there. I was lucky enough to book a couple of commercials this year that allowed me to produce the play. I found our director Vicky through my friend, actor Troy Ruptash who is also in this play. He introduced me to Vicky earlier last year when we were considering doing another play which unfortunately we couldn’t make happen. I soon as I sat down with Vicky, I felt an immediate connection to her and her intellect. Her discovery research on this play was so thorough and insightful. I felt it was a great match for me. I love the concept of discovery. One of the really interesting things I’ve learned about my character is her sense of truth in everything. She speaks the truth and doesn’t let anybody in the play get away with sugarcoating the truth. I hope to continue to discover my character until we are done with the production.”
Presciliana Esparolini (pictured) plays wartime photojournalist Sarah in Donald Margulies’s Time Stands Still, directed by Vicky Jenson, running through Feb. 8 at Secret Rose Theatre in NoHo.


At noon on Christmas day, 1976, KPFK Radio producer-host Jay Kugleman and co-producer Philemane Long (pictured) launch a marathon recording of The Alexandria Quartet—the iconic collection of four novels by Laurence Durrell: Justine (1957), Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1958), and Clea (1960). Utilizing a volunteer production staff of eight, the recorded readings continue nonstop through 6pm on Dec. 31. The production, which airs throughout the Pacific Radio Network, features a cast of 80, including members of Hollywood-based Company of Angels and Theatre 40 from Beverly Hills.

What surprises Kugleman is the spontaneous support of high-profile members of the Hollywood entertainment community who offer their services as readers free of charge—including such tinseltown stars as Peter Finch, Julie Christie, Samantha Egger, Cloris Leachman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Sada Thompson. Brock Peters, Will Geer, Ed Asner, Tony Randall, Stacy Keach, John Astin, Patty Duke, Orson Bean, Tony Bill, Peter Bonerz, Joseph Campanella, Joan Hackett, Buck Henry, Joanna Pettet, Lawrence Pressman, Anthony Zerbe and many more. KPFK’s recording of The Alexandria Quartet continues to broadcast throughout the Pacifica Radio Network and can be acquired though Pacifica Radio Archives.

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
Opening Jan. 24


* Revival, Reborning, Time Stands Still, The Whipping Man


   * Meet Gigi Bermingham

   * Reviews of more great LA theater

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