The Boys Are Back In Town

Review by: Peter Foldy

Jersey Boys, the jukebox musical that opened last week at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre is like a visit with your colorful, occasionally chaotic relatives. It’s great to see them once in a while, catch up on old stories and reminisce–but it’s also hard to ignore the fact that they are getting a bit older – perhaps slowing down a little. Despite that, you realize you love them just the same. The fun you have with them always leaves you with warm and fuzzy memories.

That certainly holds true with the current production starring Mark Ballas, (reprising his Broadway performance) as Frankie Valli. Joining him are Matthew Dailey (Tommy DeVito), Keith Hines (Nick Massi) and Cory Jeacoma (Bob Gaudio) as his bandmates. Four young guys who discovered a musical sound nobody had ever quite heard before. For those who don’t know the story, the Four Season’s harmonies were perfect on stage while off stage it was quite a different situation.  Their connection to a criminal element, their failed relationships inside and outside the quartet, and particularly Tommy DeVito’s irresponsible handling of the group’s finances eventually lead to a breakup, handing Frankie Valli a hard fought for but ultimately a successful solo career.

With a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and directed by Des McAnuff, Jersey Boys is fast-paced episodic storytelling. It covers a significant segment of the quartet’s lives, from their early years to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It takes close to forty minutes before their first big hit song, “Sherry,” is performed but from that point on, the hits here just keep on coming, and that’s what really make the show so much fun. Songs such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You” have the audience clapping and singing along. You are almost guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.

While Ballas works hard to bring Frankie to life it is clear that the demands on him as a vocalist are daunting. It is no wonder that Aaron De Jesus and Miguel Jarquin-Moreland also portray Frankie at certain performances during the week. On opening night you could hear Ballas strain a little by the second act but it was a strain many probably wouldn’t notice or care about. Truth be told he is charming Frankie Valli.

Cast mate, Matthey Daily brings a strong presence as “Tommy DeVitto,” Keith Heines nails the comedy as Nick Massi and Cory Jeacoma is likable as the sensible and talented songwriter, “Bob Gaudio.”

The ensemble of “Jersey Boys” includes Mark Edwards, Corey Greenan, Bryan Hindle, David LaMarr, Austin Owen, Kristen Paulicelli, Leslie Rochette, Andrew Russell, Jenna Nicole Schoen, Dru Serkes, Jonny Wexler and Jesse WildmanJesse Wildman.

The production maintains the slickness that was a signature of the Broadway production. The use of on-stage video intercut with shots of Ed Sullivan and audiences from the 60s enjoying the Four Seasons are a great touch and the introduction of the real life Frankie Valli at the curtain call was a very special moment on opening night. His presence brought the house down.

Whatever minor shortcomings the show may have, it is undeniable that Jersey Boys is a phenomenal worldwide hit and this touring production guarantees a good time.

When: Through June 24, 2017.
Ahmanson Theatre
Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
No performance on Mondays.
Exceptions: Added performances on Thursday, June 22 at 2 p.m.
Ticket: $25 – $130
(Ticket prices are subject to change.)
Tickets are available Online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
or by calling Center Theatre Group Audience Services at
213.972.4400
In person at the Center Theatre Group box office at The Music Center
Group Sales:
213.972.7231
Deaf community
information and charge: visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/ACCESS.
Center Theatre Group/ Ahmanson Theatre
At the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.
Photos by: Jim Carmody
 

 

 

We’re All “Johnny” in Part Three of “The Johnny Cycle”

Review by: Peter Foldy

Set in a 19th-century marble Mausoleum in Altadena, the powerful conclusion to The Speakeasy Society’s THE JOHNNY CYCLE: Part III – The Living is immersive theater at it’s best.

As soon as you arrive at the venue you feel like you’ve stepped into a time warp. The place has a sense of timelessness that reminded me of the old abandoned hotel in the Stanley Kubrick psychological thriller, “The Shining.”

Here you are surrounded by the human remains and heart-felt memories that have been left abandoned. A perfect setting for what’s to come.

As you wait for the play to begin, wine and beer is served in the courtyard. Visits to the bathroom prior to the show are in groups, escorted by production staff. Thank you for that because you soon realize it would be very creepy to get lost in this foreboding monument to the dearly departed.

And then it starts. The audience is told that we are extras in a film. It’s a funeral scene and we’re instructed to cry on every take as the blacklisted Academy Award winning writer, “Dalton Trumbo” types away nearby, finishing Johnny Got His Gun, the novel that was the genesis for this masterful production.

Audience members are soon separated and suddenly we “become” Johnny, the title character. All of us are addressed that way as we are plunged into the tragic story of this once innocent young man – now a damaged war survivor.

Scenes begin to play out in various locations throughout the mausoleum. An office, an apartment, a courtroom, a picnic and more. Some audience members are selected for one on one encounters with the cast. While my friend was being interrogated by “Stripling,” a rabid Communist hunter portrayed by a powerful Michael Pignatelli, I was in a dimly lit closet side by side with “Yuri,” (an intense Michael Bates), his eyes burning into mine as he tells me how I, (“Johnny”) left him to suffer on the battlefield. All I can do is mutter “I’m sorry” before being sent back to join the rest of my group who are now wearing party hats and sipping champagne as they celebrate Dalton Trumbo’s birthday.

As the show progresses we meet other significant figures in the title character’s life. Among them his grieving mother, (a memorable Jenny Curtis) his innocent girlfriend, (Colleen Pulawski) and “Lucky,” a scantily dressed prostitute well portrayed here by Julia Henning.

The Johnny Cycle gets most everything right. Costumes by Felicia Rose and production design by The Speakeasy Society are distinctly authentic, but it’s the fine performances that really leave an impact. Some are downright haunting. Other members of this excellent troupe include Matthew Bamberg-Johnson, Jonathan Bangs, Zach Davidson, Alex Demers, Christie Harms, Zan Headley, Jessica Rosilyn, Chynna Skye and James Cowan.

Written by Julianne Just and Chris Porter, (the latter also composed the music), and directed by Ms. Just and Genevieve Gearhart, the show enables an audience to ponder questions of personal choice as well as experience the hurtful impact of war – not only those who are required to fight, but also those who are left behind to pick up the shattered pieces.

If immersive theater is your thing and you’re looking for a visceral pick-me-up, this Johnny is definitely the one to see.

WHO: The Speakeasy Society, www.speakeasysociety.com

WHEN:

Saturday, May 13th, 8:00 pm

Thursday, May 18th, 8:00 pm

Friday, May 19th, 8:00 pm

Saturday, May 20th, 8:00 pm

Thursday, May 25th, 8:00 pm

Friday, May 26th, 8:00 pm

Saturday, May 27th, 8:00 pm

WHERE: Mountain View Mausoleum

2300 Marengo Ave Altadena, California 91001

HOW: Johnny is performed in a guided, individualized experience over the course of about 90 minutes.  For audiences 14 and over.  (Performance requires mobility.)

General Admission: $65

For tickets and more info:  johnnytheliving.bpt.me

Photos by: Daniel Kleen and Sara Martin of Model 05 Productions

Melodramatic “Kiss” Is a Conversation Starter

Review by: Peter Foldy

What starts out as a soap opera about star-crossed lovers soon does an about-face and turns dark and sinister in Guillermo Calderon‘s KISS, making it’s West Coast Premiere at the Oddysey Theatre in West L.A.

Directed by Bart DeLorenzo and performed by Kristin Couture, Max Lloyd-Jones, Kevin Matthew Reyes, Natali Anna, Nagham Wehbe and Cynthia Yelle, (a group of talented actors) Kiss turns out to be a play about a play.

It is hard to delve into the details without giving away too much and spoiling the experience for future audiences, but I can tell you that Kiss starts out comedic and becomes a dark, fluid story that is sprinkled with hidden meaning. It examines human resilience and highlights the suffering of people caught in unimaginable circumstances.

Kiss however also walks a fine line between it’s intended melodrama and it’s surprising plot twists and it’s these unexpected revelations that causes the play to ultimately wear out some of it’s welcome.  If it weren’t for it’s fine cast who help smooth the credibility gaps with their commitment, Kiss might be a far less thought proving piece of theater.

Nina Caussa’s impressive scenic design certainly helps us visualize the story as it unfolds, as does Katelan Braymer’s lighting design. Both of these artists help to transition this drama from laid back suburbia to violent war zone.

Regardless of it’s credibility gaps, Kiss provokes and stimulates conversation. It reminds us how lucky we are to live in a relatively trouble free environment where plays such as this can be staged without fear of repercussion. Go see it with an open mind and enjoy the ride.

When: May 5 through June 18 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, May 17; Thursday, May 25; and Wednesday, June 7, all at 8 p.m.

Where: The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Tickets: $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with discounted tickets available for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA.

There will be two “Tix for $10” performances on Friday, May 5 and Friday, May 26. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.

Photos by: Enci Box

 

 

Farrugut North at The Odyssey Theatre Feels Current and Compelling

Review by: Peter Foldy

As decency and dignity continues to get shredded in our current political climate Farragut North by Beau Willimon, creator of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” gives us a revealing look behind the curtain and lets us observe the puppet masters who mold the image of our political candidates and elected officials. It’s easy to think Jarred Kushner or Steve Bannon while watching this new guest production at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles, directed by Cathy Linder.

Stephen Bellamy (Jack Tynan ) is a likable though morally deficient young go getter who is press secretary for a Democratic candidate with an eye on the White House. Though only 25, Stephen’s road to success is almost a certainty. He is handsome, cocky and willing to sacrifice in order to succeed.

His boss, campaign manager Paul Zara (Geoffrey Lower) grooms Stephen to follow in his footsteps. The younger man learns fast, but when he receives a job offer from the competition, he takes a misstep which sucks him into a world of confusion and betrayal that might quickly kills his dreams and could possibly end his career. One white lie, one omission is all it takes to set the sordid wheels in motion.

A taut, plot twisting study in trust and loyalty, Farrugut North is full of emotional and sexual intrigue as we witness these charismatic people get caught up in a world of unbridled ambition and back-door politics.

Jack Tynan confidently portrays Stephen Bellamy. With his good looks, sharp communication skills and political savvy, Tynan makes it easy for us to believe that Bellamy cannot fail.

The rest of the cast, Jennifer Cannon, Adam Faison, Margaret Fegan and Francisco J. Rodriguez, are all solid in their roles – but kudos especially go out to Geoffrey Lower as Paul Zara and Andy Umberger as Tom Duffy, the campaign manager for the opposing candidate.

Farrugut North is compelling theater that is perhaps more relevant in today’s world than when it was first created. This slick production does the story proud.

When: 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm Sundays through May 21, 2017 (no performance Friday, April 21st or Sunday, April 16th).

Where: The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Tickets: $30. Available HERE or by calling (323) 960-7788.

Parking available onsite for a fee or free street parking.

 

 

 

Silicon Beach Film Festival Kicks Off on April 21st, 2017

Hollywood, CA: April 18, 2017

The 2nd Annual Silicon Beach Film Festival kicks off April 21, 2017 swith a huge Opening Night filmmaker meet and greet and the introduction of a  special revolutionary mobile app called Starlenz that allows users to monetize & promote their films.

Presented by Venice Media District, the event will tale place at Al’s Bar & Grill, unit 145 at the Runway, Playa Vista 12751 Millennium Drive, #140, Playa Vista 90094.

A guest appearance by actress Alice Amter from The Big Bang Theory as well as numerous actors, filmmakers and social influencers are just some of the highlights of this special event.

This will be the first time an augmented reality scavenger hunt will be held in the 4,000 sq. ft. Venice Art Crawl space, allowing guest and participants to take virtual selfies with celebrities & filmmakers.

The festival continues April 22-27th at Cinemark 18XD at the Howard Hughes Promenade where over 125 films from both local and international filmmakers will be screened, giving filmmakers a major screening platform in the entertainment capital of the world.

The Film Festival at Silicon Beach has Sandie West as producer, Peter Greene as Festival Programmer and Jon Gursha as Director.

Tickets for the event available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/silicon-beach-film-festival-tickets-32365146023#tickets.

 

Pure Confidence Takes Us Back To A Complicated Chapter In America’s Past

Review by Peter Foldy

It’s perhaps a little known fact that prior to the Civil War, black jockeys dominated the sport of horse racing. Pure Confidence by Carlyle Brown explores that world in Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble’s West Coast Premiere of a powerful and multi layered tale that explores the complicated relationship between master and slave.

Simon Cato (Armond Edward Dorsey) is a cocky, confident and most winning jockey owned by two children who have inherited him. Through their lawyer, they lease Simon to Colonel Wiley Johnson (William Salyers) — a man Simon rides and wins for. The colonel’s horse is also the title of this play; Pure Confidence.

Simon and the colonel have an understanding, a friendship of sorts, and the colonel and his wife begin to think of their jockey and rented slave as a distant family member. Simon begs the colonel to buy him from the children so that he in turn can buy his own freedom with money he hopes to win by racing.

The colonel’s wife, Mattie (Deborah Puette) helps Simon put his plan in motion and even allows the Simon to buy her “girl,” Caroline (Tamarra Graham) on the condition that Simon marry her. These are forward thinking, modern minded people who are certainly out of step in their class conscious, racist world.

The first act sees Simon achieve his dream. He gets his freedom, but by the second act Simon’s fortunes have changed. Injured in a racing accident, he has suffered permanent damage that prevents him from riding and now works as a bellboy for an abusive, racist hotel clerk (Eamon Hunt). His marriage to Caroline, though caring on many levels has also turned abusive. Simon vents his anger by hitting his wife.

When a newspaper reporter (Dylan John Seaton) tracks Simon 15 years later so that he can write a story about the once great jockey, we learn that it was Colonel Johnson and his wife who hired the writer to locate their former jockey.

At a touching, heart-felt reunion, these two couples, one white and powerful, the other black and struggling, try to rekindle their prior relationship in the new age of Reconstruction, but they are thwarted by the social climate, ultimately having to acknowledge that it is not a level playing field, and a legitimate friendship between them is never to be.

Staged in a black box at the Sacred Fools Theatre, this production is most impressive.  Director, Marya Mazor has crafted a poignant piece that feels as real as it is disturbing.

The set design by Tom Buderwitz and clever use of film and photo projections from Nicholas Santiago help give Pure Confidence a slick, almost off-Broadway feel. Kudos to Mylette Nora for her costume design that looks and feels so authentic. But it is the acting that makes this play well worth seeing. Armond Edward Dorsey is exceptional as the ambitious Simon. William Salyers ably unfolds Colonel’s mindset, letting us see the complexities of his character.

Tamarra Graham asCaroline” is both sensitive and fragile, but strong when she needs to be, while Deborah Puette as the colonel’s wife convincingly portrays a modern thinking woman from a troubled time.

The rest of the cast, Eamon Hunt and Dylan John Seaton are both solid in their respective roles.

Pure Confidence is a thought provoking drama that compels as it takes us back to an ugly chapter in America’s past. Its message is not only powerful – it may also move you to tears.

Where: Sacred Fools
1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Schedule: 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm Sundays
Closing: April 30, 2017

For reservations call (323) 960-7745 or online at www.lower-depth.com/on-stage

Tickets: $25 – $34

Production photos by: Ed Krieger

 

Mark Ballas To Reprise His Acclaimed Broadway Performance In L.A. Production of “Jersey Boys”

March 31, 2017

Casting has been announced for the Los Angeles engagement of the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning hit musical “Jersey Boys,” the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, previewing May 16 and 17, opening May 18 and continuing through June 24, 2017, at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.

Mark Ballas

Mark Ballas will reprise his hit Broadway performance as Frankie Valli for the Los Angeles engagement of the tour. Ballas, known for his Emmy nominated work on “Dancing with the Stars,” made his Broadway debut in the role last fall (October 18, 2016 – January 15, 2017).

Critically acclaimed ‘Frankie veterans’ Aaron De Jesus and Miguel Jarquin-Moreland will play Frankie Valli at certain performances during the week. The cast of “Jersey Boys” will also feature Matthew Dailey (Tommy DeVito), Keith Hines (Nick Massi) and Cory Jeacoma (Bob Gaudio) as The Four Seasons, with Barry Anderson and Thomas Fiscella.

Directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff, “Jersey Boys” is written by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

“Jersey Boys” is the behind-the-music story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard – and the radio just couldn’t get enough of it. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story – a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. The show features all their hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.”

 

Australian Theatre Company Seeks Full-Length Plays For Annual Reading Series

LOS ANGELES (March 28, 2017) — L.A.’s award-winning Australian Theatre Company is inviting submissions of full-length plays to be presented by a professional director and cast as part of its 2017 Summer Reading Series, scheduled to take place this June at the Zephyr Theatre. This year’s theme is “United on Stage,” a celebration of inclusivity and diversity that reflects the cultural melting pot that is both America and Australia today.

ATC welcomes new and previously produced works by both established and emerging writers of any nationality. Although an Australian voice should be present in each piece, that voice could be represented by the writer, a character, the location or an overarching theme.

The Summer Reading Series is part of ATC’s development process for future productions. Previous themes have included “Stage to Screen” (great plays that have inspired films) and “Works by Women” (plays by Australian female writers presented on the U.S. stage for the first time). Last season’s main stage productions of Speaking In Tongues and Ruben Guthrie were both developed in the reading series.

This annual community event is also a way for ATC to connect with local and international writers, actors, and other theater practitioners, and to develop new audiences – all while enjoying some great Australian wine, courtesy of Penfolds. The readings will take place every Monday in June at 7 p.m at the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, and are presented by the Australian Consulate General of Los Angeles. Admission is always free.

ATC was established in 2014 by founding members Nick Hardcastle, Nate Jones, Jackie Diamond and Josh Thorburn. Critically acclaimed productions have included Holding the Man, Speaking in Tongues and Ruben Guthrie. A truly collaborative company, ATC continues to harness the rich breadth of Australian talent in Los Angeles along with the finest American practitioners, creating a meaningful cultural exchange.

For more information and to submit a play for consideration, contact literary manager Leah Patterson at literary@australiantheatrecompany.org.

“Punk Rock” Screams Teenage Angst

by Peter Foldy

Our teenage years were fragile. Many of us grew up wondering how the other half lived. At times,  we wondered whether our class mates had the same fears and insecurities we did. Were they as fragile as we sometimes felt? Did they think crazy thoughts or was their journey as easy as it looked at the time?

Tony Award winning playwright Simon Stephens attempts to answer some of these questions as he examines the life of seven British teenagers in the excellent new production, PUNK ROCK, produced by Sally Essex-Lopresti and Ron Sossi, and currently playing at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.

Set in an up-scale Grammar school in the north west of England, Punk Rock gives us a fly-on-the-wall experience as these bright, articulate kids, living in a privileged bubble, prepare to take their college entrance exams.

William (Zachary Grant) is a quirky lad who could have easily stepped out of the hilarious British TV series, “The In Betweeners.” He is instantly likeable and reluctantly wears his heart on his sleeve. When a new girl, Lilly (Raven Scott), transfers to the school, William develops a crush on her but is soon shattered to learn that she has been seeing and sleeping with Nicholas (Nick Marini), a handsome student who is also a part of their core group.

We also meet Cissy, (Miranda Wynne) a pretty blonde who dates Bennett (Jacob B. Gibson), a savage bully who, under the guise of being macho, may in fact be secretly unsure about his sexual preference. Bennett’s main victim at school is the brilliant young student, Chadwick, (Kenney Selvey) a kid who doesn’t bother trying to defend himself from Bennett’s verbal and physical attacks. Chadwick is caught up instead in an existential belief system where nothing really matters.

Bennett’s other target of choice is Cissy’s best friend, the somewhat chunky Tanya (Story Slaughter). Bennett berates the girl, calling her fat, and Cissy does little to stop him. By her silence, she is also complicit, as are the other kids who stand by and do almost nothing to stop him. Nobody wants to get involved.

At first, the group gossips, talks about sex, teachers, and their prospects in the outside world; but as the pressure mounts and the story begins a slow simmer, the characters amp up their anxieties, allowing their true personalities to rise to the surface. We begin to wonder who will make it through this final semester. Who will allow the truth to be revealed – who will be the one to snap and reign chaos on their classmates?

Playwright Simon Stephens examines this vulnerable age where everything seemed so important. Sexual desire is hard to control and teenage angst feels like the world is coming to an end. A look, a rejection, a slight from a friend has a deep and profound effect.

Though this production might have benefited from pushing the envelope even a little further, director Lisa James manages to keep the tension building. She plays her cast like a game of chess, moving them fluidly around the stage. She is also fortunate in that she has assembled a fine cast who expertly bring this story to life.

Zachary Grant as William is charming and enigmatic; his transformation seems tragic and real. Jacob Gibson’s Bennett feels threatening but threatened at the same time – a victim of his suppressed insecurities. Kenney Selvey is the perfect little bookworm here,
detached, intelligent, and in need of a hug.

The rest of the talented performers, Scott, Marini, Wynne, and Slaughter, as well as Mark Daneri, who makes a brief appearance as Dr. Harvey, are on the mark in their respective roles. Each actor feels real and three-dimensional. Each scene change is punctuated by loud punk rock music as a statement of their youthful rebellion.

Punk Rock is raw, graphic, erotic, and ultimately highly disturbing. It reminds me of that time you pick up a large stone to find hundreds of little bugs scurrying about underneath. The turmoil is just below the surface – till it isn’t.

When: Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 p.m. and Sundays @ 2 p.m.
plus 2 Wednesdays: April 12 & May 3, and 1 Thursday: April 27, all @ 8 p.m.

Where: The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025

Tickets: $15 – $30 (Student, Guild and Senior Discounts available)

www.odysseytheatre.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Gun” – A Play Review

by Peter Foldy

An unhappily married couple and their lay-about friend engage in a power struggle over commitment and motivation in the world premier of “The Gun” by JUSTIN YOFFE now playing at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica.

“Steve” (JOSH DRENNEN) is a troubled actor unable to climb out of his soul crushing rut. His friend, “Mike” (JOHN COLELLA) seems to take pleasure in reminding Steve that his career is in the dumps, that his life is going nowhere. An in your face, cocky know it all; Mike’s life appears to be no picnic either. His marriage to his fragile wife, “Ellen” (AUSTIN HIGHSMITH GARCES) is shaky at best. Ellen is completely under his thumb and Mike doesn’t comprehend just how demoralizing his tone is when he talks to her. Mike is a nasty piece of work and Steven and Ellen have both just about had it with him.

After blowing a promising Broadway audition, Steve storms out of the casting director’s office feeling even more of a failure. Finding himself in an alley he discovers an abandoned hand gun in a garbage can. A homeless man, (HAMILTON MATTHEWS) tells Steve he saw someone dump it there. Unfazed, Mike keeps the gun and suddenly feels empowered. Is this the catalyst he needs to step up to the plate? To rise to the occasion and realize his potential?

Returning to Mike’s apartment with the weapon in his waistband,  Steve confronts Ellen. He questions her and Mike’s relationship and tells her he sees the way her husband treats her. Knows how unhappy she must be.

Ellen opens up to Steve and when Mike returns from work he finds his friend and his wife in an embrace. Confused and feeling threatened, he confronts Steve. What starts out as a verbal challenge soon turns nasty and physical. Mike is revealed to be even more messed up then Steve. He eventually gets a hold of the gun and from here the play rapidly spirals toward its climactic conclusion.

Hindered by a monologue-heavy piece of writing the actors dig deep and manage to bring this conflicted story to life.

Josh Drennen commands the stage as the troubled “Steve.” John Colella is suitably overbearing and delivers a nuanced performance as Steve’s best friend. Austin Highsmith Garces is suitably empathetic as “Ellen,” her character’s turmoil as sad as it is relatable.

Using the unconventional stage at the Ruskin Theatre to her advantage, set designer, HILLARY BAUMAN, smoothly transitions the story between it’s various setting.  Composer, HANNAH FLOREK, helps create just the right mood with her fine score, while Director, DAVE FLOREK, keeps the the tension of The Gun wound tight, presenting a compelling psychodrama that is tough, to the point and ultimately well worth the price of admission.

When: 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm on Sundays through April 30, 2017
(No performances April 14-16, or on April 29th)

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.