Arts In LA
LA STAGE INSIDER

by Julio Martinez, February 26, 2015


Jake Broder in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley


ROCKWELL REVEALS MARCH SCHEDULE

Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz offers an eclectic mix of music, cabaret, and theatrical fare during March, beginning with Broadway star Emily Skinner (pictured), in concert (March 2). Scheduled highlights also include The Hollywood Jane Revue: Rack to the Future—A Burlesque Parody, emceed by Charles Eights (March 3); Romeo & Juliet: Love Is a Battlefield—a mashup of Shakespeare and the songs of Pat Benatar (March 6–28, Fri & Sat only); A Suitcase Full of Lies, created and performed by Nicole Parker (pictured) (March 9); An Evening of Classic Broadway, led by music director Brad Ellis (Glee) (March 16); Up With a Twist, featuring the comic duo Todd Sherry and Heather Olt (March 23); The Sounds of Dirty Jersey, created and performed by Margaret M. Spirito (March 26); and Patti Issues—an evening of observational comedy—scripted and performed by Ben Rimalower (March 29–30). Finishing out the month is His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley, created and performed by Jake Broder (pictured above), (co-creator of Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara) (March 31).

SEVEN PLAYS IN THREE DAYS AT SCR FEST

South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa will be overflowing with new stage works during its 18th Annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, April 24–26, including three fully staged productions and four staged readings. The staged works are Of Good Stock, by Melissa Ross, helmed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, presented at Segerstrom Stage; Mr. Wolf, by Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph, helmed by SCR co-founder David Emmes (pictured), presented on Julianne Agyros Stage; and Theatre Movement Bazaar’s Big Shot: A.K.A. This Is Not the Godfather, created by Tina Kronis and Richard Alger, helmed and choreographed by Kronis, presented at Nicholas Studio.

   Pacific Playwrights Festival staged readings—all presented at Segerstrom Stage—include Going to a Place Where You Already Are, by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Marc Masterson; The Whistleblower, by Itamar Moses, directed by Casey Stangl; Orange: an illustrated play, by Aditi Brennan Kapil, directed by Jessica Kubzansky; and Vietgone, by Qui Nguyen, directed by May Adrales. The annual PPF Playwrights Panel, a discussion moderated by Julie Marie Myatt (pictured), SCR’s Andrew W. Mellon playwright-in-residence, will take place April 26 (9-10am) on the Julianne Argyros Stage.


PREMIERES

Padua Playwrights, in association with Atlanta’s PushPush Film & Theater, offers an “early look” at Charles’ Story, the final episode of Murray Mednick’s (pictured, photo by Carol Rosegg) Gary Plays—an eight-work chronicle of the life and troubled times of unemployed LA-based actor Gary Bean (portrayed John Diehl). Charles’ Story, helmed by Mednick, is being presented March 24–25 at Attic Theatre on Washington Boulevard as a prequel to a full production of the entire octet (TBA). Mednick, who was the founder and artistic director of Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival (1978–95), first introduced Gary in 2003 in a three-play cycle (Tirade for Three, Gary’s Walk, and Girl on a Bed), followed by Out of the Blue (2006), DaddyO Dies Well (2011), and a combined presentation of The Nightmare Audition and The Fool and The Red Queen (2012).


   Secret Rose Theatre in NoHo hosts the premiere of OperaWorks’s The Discord Altar, a contemporary opera focusing on the legacy of a deceased homeless voice teacher—libretto by Ovation-winner Meghan Brown (The Pliant Girls), music improvised by the cast—helmed by Amanda Brown, music direction by Ann Boltz, opening April 10.



   The Wallis in Beverly Hills hosts the LA debut of Dunsinane (pictured above)—a modern-language sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth that examines sex, politics, and power—scripted by David Greig, helmed by Roxana Silbert, presented by National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Shakespeare Company, opening March 28 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater.


AROUND TOWN

Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, in association with Chapman University, hosts If All the Sky Were Paper—a play that brings battle and home front letters to life—scripted by Andrew Carroll, helmed by John Benitz, featuring Annette Bening, Gary Cole, and others (TBA), performing March 14–15.

   As the fourth production of its 2014–15 season, Actors Co-op in Hollywood offers My Children! My Africa!, Athol Fugard’s 1990 exploration of friendship and racial tension in a South African classroom, starring Rodrick Jean-Charles, Aaron Jennings, and Maurie Speed (pictured), helmed by Inger Tudor, opening March 20.

   Long Beach Playhouse revives The Real Thing, British scripter Tom Stoppard’s 1982 treatise on the nature of truth, helmed by Sean Gray, opening Feb. 28.

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY


Kirk Douglas Theatre
Photo by Elon Schoenholz

In 1967, two prominent LA theater entities—Center Theater Group and Actors Studio West—individually launch new play development series. For Gordon Davidson (pictured), who had been established as artistic director of CTG’s Mark Taper Forum in 1966, the creation of new works for live theater is a primary goal.

   Commenting in The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook (1967–1968), Davidson states, “I firmly believe that the thrust and force of our operation in the Mark Taper Forum is in the area of new work—not just because it happens to excite and stimulate our audiences, but because I have a tremendous sense of obligation to the writing talent in this country to provide them with a responsible and highly professional atmosphere in which they can create.”

   Davidson selects Edward Parone to guide CTG’s New Theater for Now Series, initially offering the premiere of John Guare’s Muzeeka, helmed by Parone, as well as a collection of theatrical shorts, collectively titled, Collision Course. Actors Studio West, under the leadership of Jack Garfein (pictured), is more ambitious. Joining forces with UCLA Committee on Fine Arts, ASW initiates a four-work Plays in Progress series, supervised by Garfein and Lyle Dye, presented at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall. The output includes Don’t Go Gentle, by William Inge, and How Tall Is Toscanini?, by Calder Willingham, both helmed by Garfein; Echoes, scripted and helmed by Lonny Chapman; and The Adventures of Jack and Max, by Harvey Perr, highlighted by the directing debut of Lee Grant.

   Garfein decides he is not interested in continuing ASW’s association with UCLA, and the Plays in Progress series ceases. CTG’s New Theater for Now continues, buoyed by a second-season $200,000 Rockefeller grant, enabling CTG’s Play Reading Committee to put forward four new plays for development. As time passes, the problem for Gordon Davidson is a lack of space. Mark Taper Forum cannot accommodate a regular season of fully staged works and a developmental series.

   Over the years, CTG’s need for a second space is accommodated by such venues as 95-seat [Inside] the Ford Theatre in Hollywood, The Actors’ Gang in Hollywood, Ivy Substation in Culver City and Downtown-adjacent Evidence Room. In 1981, associate producer of MTF Madeline Puzo inaugurates a Sundays-only “literary cabaret” series at CTG neighbor, Itchey Foot Ristorante. In 2004, CTG moves its “second stage” activities to newly opened Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The facility is now home to DouglasPlus—“an eclectic mix of theatre choices, ranging from fully or minimally staged events to workshops and readings that utilize both traditional and nontraditional performance spaces.”

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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