40 Years with Gonads and Still Going Strong

by Peter Foldy

THE GONADS are a beer-loving, good time seeking street-punk rock band.

Formed in 1977, the band has been gigging regularly since they got back together in 1994. Since then they’ve played France, Germany, Sweden, the USA, all over the UK. They have achieved a smash indie-chart hit with their first E.P. Pure Punk For Row People.

Music success aside, Gonads lead singer, Gal Gonad, is perhaps best known in the UK by his alter ego, GARRY BUSHELL. A hard-hitting TV critic and an award-winning newspaper columnist, Garry was a staff writer for the UK rock weekly Sounds. He has written about bands as diverse as The Specials, The Ruts and Iron Maiden as well as the street-punk phenomenon known as Oi! He has penned a series of hard-boiled pulp fiction novels and has appeared on more than 2,000 TV shows. Garry’s own late night TV show ran for two years on ITV, attaining an audience share high of 68%. Howard Stern once dubbed him “my ambassador in England”.

We caught up with Gal/Garry via skype prior to his band’s triumphant return to Los Angeles.

Hollywood Revealed: How do you feel about doing your 40th year anniversary with the Gonads right here in Hollywood, California?

Garry: I love it! It’s fantastic. Where better than the  dream factory of the Western world to celebrate a living nightmare like the magnificent Gonads?

HR: How many songs are in the new Pubk Rock Sob Stories that is coming out this Christmas?

Garry: The first collection had forty songs, and the new one will be at least that many. I’m just trying to whittle them down.

HR: We understand you will be casting for a film about the Gonads while you are in Los Angeles. What is that all about?

Garry: Yes, we are holding a casting session on November 12th at Beach Dancer Films. It’s an open call and the band and I will be looking for actors to play younger versions ourselves for a movie that will start production in 2018.

HR: Besides being the lead singer of the Gonads, you are also a columnist, covering, among other things, music and television.

Garry: Correct.

HR: What is a day in the life of a TV critic like?

Garry: Long and lonely, interrupted only by the comings and goings of take-away curry deliveries. I get up, I watch TV, I make notes…then repeat, with the occasional break to walk the dog to the pub, or to relieve the frustration by playing Rancid or The Interrupters as loud as hell.

HR: How many hours a week do you have to watch TV?

Garry: At least forty, but usually more. I don’t like to miss the shows with the biggest audiences so I even keep an eye on EastEnders, the BBC’s never-ending libel against Londoners.

HR: What are your current favorite shows and what is your favorite show of all time ?

Garry: Line of Duty was excellent again this year. I’m enjoying The Deuce and I’m Dying Up Here. My all time favorite would be The Sopranos, the TV series that reinvented TV and ushered in a new golden age. For US TV, The Sopranos, Seinfeld and the early years of The Simpsons. For Brit TV, Minder, The Sweeney and Porridge. I genuinely love great TV which is why bad or patronizing shows irritate me so much.

HR: What happened with you and Piers Morgan and him printing in the papers your salary from The Gonads? Is that a true story?

Garry: Ha, almost. I had a royalty statement for our most ‘critically misunderstood’ e.p. It was a couple of bucks. Piers managed to steal it from my desk and take a picture of it which he then printed in the Bizarre showbiz column of The Sun. I’d like to apologize right now for the career of Piers Morgan because, to my eternal shame, I gave him his first job, working for me, when I ran Bizarre. He was a pompous git even then.

HR: Have you made people happy with your reviews and vice versa?

Garry: You’d have to ask them. I seem to make readers happy.

HR: Tell us about the BARFTAs?

Garry: They’re the awards I give out every year on my website for things I don’t get paid to write about – generally films, books and music.

HR: Is there a huge difference between a film critic and a TV critic ?

Garry: Absolutely. A film critic can see everything he needs to write about in under a day. Three movies and they’re done. They watch them at screenings in the West End of London in decent surroundings with a free bar…it’s a wonder they’re not transported from cinema to cinema on studio-funded palanquins.

HR: When did you first discover that you have a particular style with words which has shaped your career as a journalist ?

Garry: I used to write comedy sketches for my own amusement when I was 14 or 15 and carried some of that on when I wrote a punk fanzine in 1977. But I guess it was the Sounds years that helped developed my style, especially in the 1980s.

HR: How many books in total have you written?

Garry: Five novels – three of them pulp fiction under my own name – and thirteen other books, most of them music or comedy related.

HR: What was it like doing the autobiography on Ozzy Ozbourne, A Diary of a Mad Man?

Garry: A bit hazy. We spent 13 hours drinking on the first day, which ended with Ozzy shaving my eyebrows off. When I noticed, two days later, I was shocked…but you couldn’t tell. For various reasons I only wrote part of that book. Mick Wall wrote the rest of it.

HR: Do you spend a lot of time with your subjects?

Garry: I spent a lot of time with Iron Maiden when I wrote their authorized biography, including spells on the road with them. Bruce Dickinson nearly killed me in Florida by driving the wrong way up an exit road into four lanes of on-coming traffic. Similarly Jeff Turner’s autobiography, Cockney Reject – we spent months on that.

HR: What are you writing now?

Garry: I’m writing the fourth installment of the Harry Tyler/The Face pulp fiction series, but I’ve just been asked to write the Origins novel to tie in with the We Still Kill The Old Way film franchise, so I’m already thinking about that.

HR: How many people have written songs about you?

Garry: Quite a few – Adam Ant, Crass, The Exploited, The Notsensibles, The Warriors, the Angelic Upstarts… they’re the most well known I’d imagine. Adam Ant’s ‘Press Darlings’ was the B-side of one of his hits so for a while it seemed to be on every jukebox in every pub and every bar I went in.

HR: Where are The Gonads playing after America?

Garry: New Cross in south London for our Christmas show with the Ska legend King Hammond, and then some German dates next year.

HR: In another life who would you choose to be?

Garry: Dick Gregory’s love child.

HR: Thanks for chatting with us, Garry.

Garry: The pleasure was all mine.

 

Catch the Gonads at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, November 12th, The Viper Room in Hollywood on November 15th, the Till 2 Club in San Diego on November 16th, The Five Star Bar in Los Angeles on November 17th and The Dive Bar in Las Vegas on November 18.

 

 

Erotic and Visual, “Freddy” Examines the Life of an Avant-Garde Renaissance Man

Review by: Peter Foldy

A brilliant and charismatic dancer, Fred Herko was a central figure in New York’s downtown avant-garde in the early 1960s. He was a member of Andy Warhol’s eclectic group of creatives who hung out at Warhol’s studio, known as the Factory. He went on to star in seven of Warhol’s earliest cinematic experiments in 1963, including Jill and Freddy Dancing, Rollerskate/Dance Movie and Salome and Delilah.

A musical prodigy, Freddy studied piano at the Julliard School of Music before switching to ballet at the age of twenty. In 1956 he won a scholarship to study at American Ballet Theatre School and within a few years he was dancing with New York’s most prestigious and established choreographers. He was a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater, presenting six of his own works in the group’s concerts between 1962 and 1964. He was also a co-founder of the New York Poets Theatre, which staged one-act plays by poets and provided a podium for dancers, musicians and filmmakers such as Brian De Palma and Andy Warhol.

As his career and reputation flourished, his personal life was falling apart. Freddy started using drugs, speed in particular, to fuel his creativity.

By 1964 he was strung out and homeless. On October 27th he went to an ex boyfriend’s apartment and proceeded to take a bath. Some accounts say he invited a group of people to watch a performance. According to those who were there, Mozart’s Coronation Mass was playing as Freddy emerged from the bathroom stark naked and began dancing around the loft. As the music climaxed, Freddy leapt through an open window, falling five flights to the street below. His untimely death at the age of 28 robbed New York’s underground scene of one of its most exuberant, colorful and versatile performers and rising stars.

The play, FREDDY, presented by the Fountain Theatre and the Los Angeles City College, was written by Deborah Lawlor, based on her true story as a confidant and one time lover of the volatile dancer. In the play, Ms. Lawlor, here called “Shelley,” and portrayed by two actresses, Kate McConaughy as the “Past Shelley” and Susan Wilder as the present day version, recollects how back in the 60s, she was  a naïve young woman who, like many others, fell under Freddy’s spell.

Freddy grabs you with a burst of energy and color that is reminiscent of the rock musical, “Hair.” Beautiful young dancers fill the stage, recreating the sensual, drug-fueled energy of Andy Warhol’s Factory. We soon meet Freddy (Marty Dew) and he is instantly the center of attention. Everybody wants to know him. Everybody wants to sleep with him.

Directed by Frances Loy, with movement/dance direction by Cate Caplin, the play moves through the various chapters of Freddy’s life, cleverly blending theater, dance, music and multimedia to tell this story. We follow Freddy through his triumphs, his personal failures, and finally his sad demise.

Marty Dew’s “Freddy” evokes charm and sympathy as he gives us a glimpse into this iconic character. A strong dancer and a powerful presence on stage, Dew pulls you in and make you care–but it is Susan Wilder as the “Present Day Shelley” who brings the most depth to her role. A seasoned pro, her past dance experience allows her to keep up with a young ensemble.

Katie McConaughy as “Past Shelly,” Mel England as “Jimmy Waring,” Lamont Oakley as “Pete” and Jamal Hopes as “Johnny” are also to be commended. Other cast members; Alexandra Fiallos, Jamal Hopes, Tristen Kim, Jackie Mohr, Connor Clark Pascale, Justice Quinn, Savannah Rutledge, Brianna Saranchock, Trenton Tabak and Jesse Trout are all outstanding and they give it their all.

Scenic Design by Tesshi Nakagawa is effective, as is Derek Jones’ lighting and Jillian Ross’ lighting design. Particularly impressive is a silhouette projection that shows Freddie’s pre-teen years  as he interacts with his controlling parents.

Freddy is a first-rate, joyous celebration of an accomplished, though short-lived life. It’s no accident that on the drive home I found myself singing the Elton John song, “Candle In The Wind,” particularly it’s final line;  “your candle burned out long ago, but your legend never did.”

Something makes me think that Freddy and Elton probably would’ve gotten along.

When: Performances of Freddy take place through Oct. 14.

Where: The Caminito Theatre, located on the campus of Los Angeles City College at 855 N Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029. Parking is FREE in Structure 4 on Heliotrope at Monroe (between Santa Monica and Melrose).

For more information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.

Photos by: Ed Krieger

Br’er Cotton is a Timely And Moving Production

Review by: Peter Foldy

Written over two years ago, it is uncanny when one of the characters in BR’ER COTTON, the new play making it’s Los Angeles premiere at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood, talks about police brutality in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s as if playwright, Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and the Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble had a crystal ball and were able to see what was to come. But then Charlottesville is just one of many hot spots where racial tensions come to a boiling point.

Directed by Gregg T. Daniel, Br’er Cotton examines one African American family’s frustration as they try to cope with the rising tide of hatred that has enveloped the country. Set in a run down neighborhood in Lynchburg, Virginia, an area that was once the site of a thriving cotton mill, the story focuses on 14-year-old Ruffrino (Omete Anassi) who lives with his mother and grandfather in an old deteriorated house that seems to be sinking, much like their situation.

Mom, Nadine (Yvonne Huff Lee), cleans houses to support her family, and has done so for most of her life. Her other full time occupation is worrying about her young son. Ruffrino’s granddad, Matthew, (Christopher Carrington), tells the boy that they are a “stay out of it family.” They don’t get involved in conflict. It’s pretty clear that Matthew has given up the fight.

Ruffrino, meanwhile, is well aware of the ever increasing number of police killings of young black men and he is in constant conflict with his mother and grandfather because of their complacency. Though only 14, he views himself as a revolutionary. He incites riots at school and his on-line presence, as part of a violent video game group, brings out the haters who frequently call him the “N” word. It is only another gamer, a young girl who’s handle is Caged_Bird99 (Emmaline Jacott) who supports and encourages him.  Imagining Caged_Bird99 to be African American, Ruffrino is in for a surprise when he discovers her true profile.

His mom, Nadine, also gets a surprise when she discovers that the house she cleans is owned by a white cop. In an unexpected twist, the Officer, (Shawn Law) relates to the hardships Nadine has to endure and she welcomes his concern. Nadine clearly has no other shoulder to lean on.

Br’er Cotton is wrapped in a cloud of tension that never lets up. Mr. Chisholm is an accomplished writer and Omete Anassi, as Ruffrino, manages to infuse the play with a youthful energy that fuels the explosive debates, and the not-so-unexpected conclusion. The rest of the top-notch cast, particularly Yvonne Huff Lee, Christopher Carrington and Shawn Law, all deliver strong and committed performances.

Kudos to Gregg T. Daniel’s fine directing, David Mauer’s superb scenic design, Westley Charles Chew’s lighting, and David B. Marling’s sound design.

Br’er Cotton, at it’s core, is a human story filled with humility and love. It delivers a heart-wrenching, intimate glance into one black family’s struggle to navigate racial tragedy in these troubled times. Don’t miss it!

When: Br’er Cotton runs Saturdays and Mondays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm through October 29, 2017 (no performance on Monday Oct 9th).

Where: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046.

Tickets: $15 – $45. Reservation and information at www.lower-depth.com/on-stage and 323-960-7787.

Wheelchair access and ample street parking.

Photos: Ed Krieger

 

“Arrow” Star Paul Blackthorne and Composer Orpheo McCord To Swim With Sharks For “Ocean Conservancy”

Los Angeles: September 25, 2017

Paul Blackthorne, who stars as Captain Quentin Lance in the hit television series “Arrow” (CW Television Network), and Orpheo McCord, composer/musician for the Grammy award winning group Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (“Home”), will take the plunge into shark infested waters for Golden Gate Sharkfest® Swim on September 30 to raise money and awareness for “Ocean Conservancy” www.oceanconservancy.org.

L-R Paul Blackthorne and Orpheo McCord

Blackthorne and McCord, along with Australian photographer Mister Basquali (co-star and co-producer of Blackthorne’s travel documentary “This American Journey”) and other brave souls, will be swimming 1.6 miles from the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge to the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, known for sharks and deep, cold waters.

A 45-year-old nonprofit environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., Ocean Conservancy is one of the few organizations that helps protect wildlife in the ocean with science-based solutions.

In the last few years Blackthorne has raised money and awareness for a variety of worthy causes including “Air Shepherd” (anti-poaching drones) and “Save the Rhino International” with his “Poach eggs Not Elephants” and “Keep Rhinos Horny” T-shirt campaigns.  Last year Blackthorne travelled to Vietnam with “Save the Rhino” and made a film about the experience, raising money and awareness for the anti-poaching cause (90% of Rhino horn ends up there).

It all began with a call from Basquali who invited Blackthorne to participate in the Golden Gate Sharkfest® Swim. “I’m terrified of sharks and deep ocean waters.  Always have been, always will be, so naturally I initially refused, “Blackthorne comments.  “But after confronting with my initial fears, I agreed to participate as I felt I could be helpful in raising awareness for shark preservation and ocean wildlife protection, which is an important cause.”

The launch of Blackthorne and McCord’s #NoFinToFear T-shirt campaign is key to encouraging others to also become a voice for the ocean by buying at T-shirt in support of their friends at “Ocean Conservancy”.  100% of the proceeds from the sale of this collection go to support Ocean Conservancy.

To purchase go to: https://represent.com/paulblackthorne

About Ocean Conservancy

For 45 years Ocean Conservancy has been working to protect the oceans from some of the greatest global challenges.  They have made incredible progress to safeguard America’s fisheries, combat ocean acidification and restore the Gulf of Mexico with the best available science. The have spearheaded efforts to designate and strengthen marine sanctuaries, protected sea turtle habitats and grown the largest marine volunteer effort in the world through their International Coastal Cleanup.

Their vision for the ocean is a clean, healthy and thriving ecosystem for wildlife and communities that depend on it.

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with their partners, they create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org.

Big Little Lies and A Handsmaid’s Tale Sweep at 2017 Emmy Awards

Los Angeles: September 17, 2017

The 2017 Emmy Awards were held at the Microsoft Theater tonight. Host, Steven Colbert tried hard to breath life into the ceremony and occasionally delivered. Some of the highlights included John Lithgow’s win for “The Crown,” Alex Baldwin being rewarded as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Elizabeth Moss’ expletive laced acceptance speech after winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Also memorable was 92 year old Cicely Tyson’s emotional recollection of “Roots,” the groundbreaking series in which she starred some 40 years ago.

One of the biggest downers was the show’s announcer, Jermaine Fowler of CBS’ “Superior Donuts” whose grating voice was hard to listen to.

Here are a full list of tonight’s winners:

Outstanding drama series

“Better Call Saul”
“The Crown”
“The Handmaid’s Tale” *WINNER
“House of Cards”
“Stranger Things”
“This Is Us”
“Westworld”

Outstanding comedy series

“Atlanta”
“Black-ish”
“Master of None”
“Modern Family”
“Silicon Valley”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
“Veep” *WINNER

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series

Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” *WINNER
Anthony Hopkins, “Westworld”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us”

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series

Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” *WINNER
Keri Russell, “The Americans”
Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series

Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
Ron Cephas Jonas, “This Is Us”
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”
John Lithgow , “The Crown” * WINNER
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
Jeffrey Wright , “Westworld”

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series

Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale” *WINNER
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”
Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”
Chrissy Metz , “This Is Us”
Thandie Newton, “Westworld”

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series

Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta” *WINNER
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series

Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” *WINNER
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series

Louie Anderson, “Baskets”
Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live” *WINNER
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Tony Hale, “Veep”
Matt Walsh, “Veep”

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series

Vanessa Bayer, “Saturday Night Live”
Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” *WINNER
Kathryn Hahn, “Transparent”
Judith Light, “Transparent”
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”

Outstanding limited series

“Big Little Lies” *WINNER
“Fargo”
“Feud: Bette and Joan”
“The Night Of”
“Genius”

Outstanding lead actor in a limited series

Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of” *WINNER
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock: The Lying Detective”
Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”
John Turturro, “The Night Of”

Outstanding lead actress in a limited series

Carrie Coon, “Fargo”
Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies” *WINNER
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie

Judy Davis, “Feud: Bette and Joan
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies” *WINNER
Jackie Hoffman ,”Feud: Bette and Joan”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lies”
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies”

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie

Bill Camp, “The Night Of”
Alfred Molina, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies” *WINNER
David Thewlis, “Fargo”
Stanley Tucci, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Michael Kenneth Williams, “The Night Of”

Outstanding variety talk series

“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” *WINNER
“The Late Late Show With James Corden”
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”
“Real Time With Bill Maher”

Outstanding reality-competition program

“The Amazing Race”
“American Ninja Warrior”
“Project Runway”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
“Top Chef”
“The Voice” *WINNER

Outstanding directing for a comedy series

Jamie Babbit, “Silicon Valley”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”*WINNER
Mike Judge, “Silicon Valley”
David Mandel, “Veep”
Morgan Sackett, “Veep”
Dale Stern, “Veep”

Outstanding writing for a drama series

The Duffer Brothers, “Stranger Things”
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, “Westworld”
Peter Morgan, “The Crown”
Bruce Miller, “The Handmaid’s Tale” *WINNER
Gordon Smith, “Better Call Saul”
Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, “The Americans”

Outstanding writing for a comedy series

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, “Master of None”*WINNER
Alec Berg, “Silicon Valley”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
Stephen Glover, “Atlanta”
Billy Kimball, “Veep”
David Mandel, “Veep”

Outstanding directing for a drama series

Stephen Daldry, “The Crown”
Kate Dennis, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
The Duffer Brothers, “Stranger Things”
Vince Gilligan, “Better Call Saul”
Lesli Linka Glatter, “Homeland”
Reed Morano, “The Handmaid’s Tale” *WINNER
Jonathan Nolan, “Westworld”

“Daytona” is a Touching Drama With Heart

Review by Peter Foldy

The devil is in the details of Daytona, a play making its American premiere at the Rogue Machine Theatre in Hollywood. Written by Oliver Cotton, produced by John Perrin Flynn and beautifully directed by Elina de Santos, the story is set in 1986 where we meet a couple of aging holocaust survivors, Elli (Sharron Shayne) and her husband, Joe (George Wyner). Married right after the war and still trying to leave the past behind, Joe and Elli are trying to enjoy their twilight years. Joe is at the tail end of a career as an accountant. Elli loves ballroom dancing, and the two of them are currently excited about a competition the following evening.

When Ellie leaves to visit her sister, Joe is stunned to find a man ringing the doorbell of his Brooklyn apartment. It is his brother, Billy (Richard Fancy), someone Joe hasn’t seen in over thirty years. Billy had disappeared without a word, taking some of Joe’s money with him. It’s an awkward reunion and after the shock wears off, Joe demands answers.

Without giving too much away, we learn that Billy and Joe were in a concentration camp together. Since leaving New York, Billy changed his name, married a Christian woman and has been living an ordinary, unfulfilled life in the mid-west. It is when Joe learns that his brother committed a violent act of revenge in Florida, and is now on the run from the law, that the story really begins to pick up steam.

When Elli returns she is equally shocked to see her missing brother-in-law and soon it becomes clear that there is a complex family drama in play. A twisted dynamic that goes back as far as 1945. As the tension and the urgency amp up we realize that there may be no happy ending here, which is sad as these survivors certainly deserve peace of mind.

Despite some fluctuation with her German accent, Sharron Shayne is powerful as the heart-broken Elli. She wears her pain on her sleeve as she confronts what could have been. George Wyner is believable as a man resigned to play the cards that life has dealt him, his inner rage swept under the carpet long ago.

Richard Fancy’s slow delivery seems odd at first but as his story plays out, he manages to make you care. All three performers are seasoned pros and have put their hearts into this play.

Production values, like most shows by Rogue Machine, are high. Hillary Bauman’s set design, Leigh Roston’s lighting and Kate Bergh’s costume all complement the play.

Despite it’s running time of two and half hours, (including a ten minute intermission), Daytona manages to get under your skin. It deals with the loss of love, the will to survive and the difficulty of letting go, it’s tragic, fragile characters are not ones you are likely to forget.

When: Saturdays and Mondays at 8:30pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm through October 30, 2017 (no performances on Monday Sept. 25th & Oct. 2nd).

Where: Rogue Machine in The Met, 1089 N Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029.

Tickets: $40.00 Purchase at the box office starting at 7:30pm the night of the show. (Availability is limited).

Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com  

Photos by: John Perrin Flynn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer, Jennifer Rowland, Talks About Her Psychological Thriller, “The Lost Child”

As a fan of fairy tales, writer Jennifer Rowland has created an emotional thriller for adults, particularly harrowing for those who have parented teenagers. Writing in metaphor can be tricky, and yet the type of theatre audiences that frequent the Skylight Theatre don’t seem to mind checking their expectations, for literary realism, at the door.

An adventurous undertaking, which Rowland describes as an “allegory about parenting,” the gist of the family tale describes two perspectives of a possible abduction as a couple (now separated) meets to pack up the old cabin the woods, and to rehash old wounds. It would be the 18th birthday for the child that is now lost to them. Might she show up to blow out the candles on the cake?

The Lost Child is one of two fairy tale-like world premiere productions now running at the Skylight Theatre, a place known for developing new works. The other production, The Devil’s Wife, by Tom Jacobson, is described as a “steampunk fable of Gothic proportions.”

Jennifer Rowland says that “parenthood is harrowing – but it’s also humbling, and I think that people will laugh (and maybe scream!), in recognition of that paradoxical situation. Both of these plays at the Skylight live at the intersection of the real and the supernatural.”

 During an interview, Jennifer explained more about the inspiration for her production.

 How did the idea for this play come about?

The Lost Child is an allegory about parenting. I love fairy tales and magic realism and I’ve always been fascinated by changeling stories, where a person is taken and a magical imposter put in its place. I was doing research on child kidnapping stories and what happens to the parents whose children never come back. I know a number of parents who have children that are dealing with very serious mental health issues or substance abuse. A mother said to me, “the child I knew is gone,” and that stuck with me. As I was writing the play, I realized that every parent loses their child, that’s normal and healthy, but it’s still a loss. The adorable, charming creature of 5 is never coming back and you as a parent have to accept that.

What do you want The Lost Child to communicate, and what do you hope that audiences gain from seeing your play?

Parenting is a roller coaster ride that brings out unimaginably profound and contradictory emotions. You are shocked at the depth of love you have for your child but there are times when you want to wring her neck! Doesn’t mean that you do (most of us don’t of course) but it doesn’t mean you don’t have those feelings. When your child grows up and leaves home, that’s a good and natural thing, but both the parents and the child have to metaphorically kill each other off so that the child can become an adult and the parents can regain their own lives. I hope that The Lost Child makes you feel like you’ve been on a scary, funny, thrilling ride but that its cathartic at the end. Go home, give your kids a big hug and tell them you love them!

Do you have a consistent approach for the way you begin a new work?

I don’t think so… but my husband says I am remarkably consistent. I skulk about for a month or two claiming I am “written out” and “will never have another idea!” Then something sparks or I hear dialogue and I start writing. At a certain point, pretty early on, I figure out the tent poles of the story and then its all about structure and dialogue.

Where do you find the best material for building your characters? Are any characters in this play based on people that you know?

I suppose like most writers, I start with who and what I know. But, at certain point, a wonderful thing happens…the characters start speaking for themselves and you just write down what they say. I live for that moment!

Can you describe your development process at the Skylight theatre? Any unexpected surprises?

Working at the Skylight Theatre has been a wonderful experience! I hope I get to do it again. There are not many theaters that take chances on new work, but that is Skylight’s mission. Gary Grossman and Tony Abatemarco are experienced, smart producers who want the best for the work and work tirelessly to bring about an excellent production. The whole team, from the staff to the technical people and designers are first rate. I felt very lucky to be premiering a play there.

Writers who have influenced your career the most?

Conor McPherson, Martin McDonagh, David Grieg, Alan Ayckbourn… and I reread Death of a Salesman once a year.

What are you working on next, and when can audiences expect to see it?

I am working on a play about a political family. The father is about to announce his run for the Senate when his daughter tells him her ex-boyfriend has posted a sex tape of them. When she goes to seek solace from an old friend she hasn’t seen in a long time, the girl tells her she was raped by the would be Senator. No magic in this story, but it’s a drama about difficult choices between family ties and personal integrity. It’s called Dignity. I haven’t finished it yet so I can’t tell you where it might land! In the meantime, I have a couple other plays floating around that I hope will find a home soon.

Directed by Denise Blasor, The Lost Child stars Addie Daddio, Marilyn Fitoria, and Peter James Smith. It runs on Fridays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7:00pm through September 3, 2017. The Devil’s Wife by Tom Jacobson, runs in rep on Saturdays at 8:30pm, Sundays 3pm through August 27, 2017. Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027. Tickets are $15 – $39. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://SkylightTix.com

The Lost Child videohttps://youtu.be/_IMtm5LsvQY

 

 

This “Curious Incident” is Innovative Entertainment

Review by: Peter Foldy

Christopher John Francis Boone, the lead character  in Simon Stephens’ Tony-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is anything but your normal 15 year old. Christopher knows that adults “do sex” but bristles at human touch. He’s a genious at math and has a mind that is able to observe and remember minute details, but finds the trials and tribulations of everyday life overwhelming. His condition would seem to be Asperger’s but that is never verbally expressed. All we know is that Christopher sees the world differently. That he is a sharp, likeable young man.

The Curious Incident begins with Christopher finding his neighbor’s dog brutally murdered, killed by a garden fork. Strongly identifying with Sherlock Holmes, our young protagonist sets out to discover the killer’s identity, only to conclude that his own father, Ed, committed the deed. Fearing for his own life, Christopher runs away. Makes what is for him a difficult journey by train from Swindon to London to find and reunites with his mother, Judy. Told by his father that she died of a heart attack, mom clearly feels guilt for having abandoned Christopher and is happy to reignite their relationship.

Christopher eventually returns to Swindon, aces an important math test and reunites with his dad.

While the stakes here may read as simplistic, The Curious Incident is an intelligently conceived, entertaining theatrical experience, it’s execution nothing short of brilliant.

Marianne Elliott’s direction is imaginative and fluid, making powerful use of what at first appears to be a minimalistic set by Bunny Christie. The stage resembles the inside of a box, but the sound design and video projection by Finn Ross and the lighting design by Paule Constable smoothly transform it, among other things, into streets, escalators and train tracks. The visual and aural aspects play an important part of the show and distract us from any bumps in the story line.

Curious Incident is blessed with a highly talented cast. Adam Langdon as Christoper is fully committed in his role. He is agile, confident and likable, with an impressive amount of dialogue that he handles with ease. Langdon allows us a glimpse into Christopher’s soul and he makes us care. In a short scene after the curtain call, Christopher reappears to solve a math problem posed earlier in the show. This last little tag is a clever touch and, incase you were not already convinced, clearly demonstrates the character’s astute intelligence.

Felicity Jones Latta and Gene Gillette as Christopher’s parents and Maria Elena Ramirez as his teacher, who narrates some of the play, are especially strong but the entire ensemble works hard to bring the caper to life.

Winner of 5 Tony awards on Broadway, this touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time should not be missed. It is a timely show that compels you to focus, learn and listen as it thoroughly entertains.

Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; ends Sept. 10 (call for exceptions)

Tickets: $25-$130 (subject to change)

Information: (213) 972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org

Running time: 2 hour, 30 minutes (including intermission)

 

Two More Nights Left to see “Any Night”

Review by Peter Foldy

“ANY NIGHT” by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn is a play that takes us to a surreal and voyeuristic world where troubled souls, twisted minds and nightmares collide.

A young dancer, Anna, (Maria Fahlgren) moves into a basement apartment after a bad breakup. Anna has a chronic sleepwalking problem. Her caring upstairs neighbor, Patrick (Zac Thomas) a shy, nerdy handyman and jack-of all trades, is determined to make her stay safe and comfortable. The question is can Anna trust him–and can she trust herself as her nocturnal hallucinations refuse to go away?

Patrick understands her. He always manages to be there for her. As their friendship turns to romance it doesn’t take long to figure out that this needy relationship has a limited shelf life that come with consequences.

Ably directed by Elizabeth V. Newman, “Any Night” bounces between fractured reality and carnal intent. There is hardly a dull moment. Like in a horror film, the play lets you know early on that something bad is going to happen, and  as you wait for it, the tension becomes electric.

Ms. Fahlgren and Mr. Thomas give powerful performances, both as engaging actors and as agile dancers, delivering impressive and complicated moves choreographed by Erica Giondfriddo.

Great use of music, a clever set design by Vanessa Montano, and well thought out lighting and sound from Chris Conard also help wratch up the tension.

With only two more performances left in it’s Los Angeles run, “Any Night” is a psychological thriller that is well worth checking out.

Where: Sacred Fools Theater Company, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood, CA 90038

When: Saturday (July 29) at 8:00 p.m. Sunday (July 30) at 5:00 p.m.

Tickets: $30.00 for General Admission, $25.00 each Seniors and Students.

To purchase call 512-496-5208, or email filigreetheatre@gmail.com.

To learn more about the show, please visit the website, www.anynightaustin.com

Cast Photos by: Joshua Scott

 

 

“The Rainbow Bridge” – A Review

Review by: Peter Foldy

The punchlines just keep on coming in “The Rainbow Bridge,” the new, Woody Allen-esque comedy currently playing at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica.  Clever writing from Ron Nelson, strong acting from a superb cast, and tight, fluid direction by Michael Myers make this a production well worth checking out.

The story deals with a middle-aged defense attorney, Jerry, who visits a veterinarian, Dr. Stein, in order to put his late mother’s ailing dog to sleep. The good doctor, who happens to be not only attractive but also a little bit sex crazed, has had the hots for old Jerry since he first started dropping by.

After the sad procedure is over,  Dr. Stein hands Jerry some text that she keeps on her wall in order to soothe the pain of grieving pet owners. The sappy, heartfelt little poem talks about pets and owners being reunited in the afterlife.

No sooner does Jerry finish uttering the words, his dead mother, Lois, and his dead sister, Amanda, materialize in front of his eyes. No one but Jerry can see them, and he is suddenly dragged back into the family chaos that has surrounded him all his life.

Jerry begs his mom to leave him alone, to let him live his life, and the feisty old broad agrees under one condition. That Jerry kill her nemesis, an elderly lady now suffering with dementia. Jerry says no way but mom and sis keep haunting the poor bastard, making his life miserable, until Jerry reluctantly gives in.

While this seems a far fetched and unexpected compromise from a fine, upstanding criminal attorney, you haven’t met his mother and sister. They are a foul mouthed pair who mock and taunt Jerry, pushing all his buttons because they know exactly where they are. After all, they’re the ones who installed them.

Though “The Rainbow Bridge” has a dark undercurrent, it is the non stop humor that help make that undercurrent, and the suspension of disbelief that much easier to digest.

Ron Nelson puts hillarious dialogue into the mouths of his characters. Lynne Marie Stewart as Lois, and Mary Carrig as Jerry’s sister, Amanda, are both rewarded with raunchy one-liners–though Paul Schackman as Jerry easily holds his own in the comedy department. The repartee between the trio delivers most of the laughs.

Emily Jerez is relatable as Jerry’s wife. Jaimi Paige is sexy and seductive as the veterinarian, and L. Emille Thomas is particularly strong as Jerry’s client, Theodore, a gay arsonist who unexpectedly gets dragged into the madness.

Rounding out the cast is Mouchette Van Helsdingen as Harriet, the intended murder victim who manages to get considerable laughs despite barely opening her eyes, and muttering only a few lines of dialogue.

“The Rainbow Bridge” is a fun diversion that will definitely leave you with a smile on your face.

When: 8pm Fridays – Saturday, and 2pm on Sundays, through September 17, 2017

Where: Ruskin Group Theatre – 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Tickets: $25 ($20 for students, seniors, and guild members) and can be purchased in advance by calling (310) 397-3244 or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com

Ample free parking available on site.

Cast Photos: Ed Krieger