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.”

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Game Of Thrones – The Musical” Slays at the Macha In West Hollywood

Hollywood, CA: March 16, 2016

GAME OF THRONES-The Musical is rocking the Macha Theatre, garnering rave reviews. Co-written, Co-Produced and Directed by STEPHEN CHRISTOPHER PARKER, he is an actor with credits in a slew of hit movies including Juno, Rebound, Blades of Glory and Little Miss Sunshine. Parker also had substantial roles on prime-time television in shows such as ER, Rizzoli and Isles, Fish Hooks and 90210.

His Co-Writer and Co-Producer, STEVEN BRANDON, hails from Australia where he was a successful theater producer in Sydney, starring in and directing productions of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and Urinetown: The Musical. With his company Canned Laughter, Steven produced productions of Rent, Lend Me A Tenor, Closer, and Noises Off. Soon after moving to L.A. Brandon and his writing partner sold a single-camera comedy pilot titled, Single Girl Theory to ABC Family and were staffed on the CBS sitcom Friend Me.

Hollywood Revealed: Hi, guys. Congrats on the success of Game of Thrones, the musical.

Steven Brandon: Thank you.

HR: How did you decide to do this particular show?

Steven Parker: It’s been two years since we produced “Lost – The Musical” and Brandon and I thought it was time to step up to the plate again.

Steven Brandon: Parker always had a passion for Game of Thrones. The TV series is currently at the height of its popularity. I was not yet a convert and had to sit down and binge all sixty episodes to get acquainted with the show.

HR: How did the two of you meet?

Steven Brandon: At the wrap party for the final episode of ER. Parker was a recurring guest star on the show and I happened to be working on the Warner Bros. lot. I had previously seen Parker in a short film directed by my cousin and after saying hello we became instant friends.

HR: Tell us about the music for GOT. Who wrote it?

Steven Parker: When we decided that we would do original music we knew we would have to team up the other people. We are not the most musically inclined but we did write the lyrics and teamed up with ERIN STEGEMAN and ACE MARRERO, whom we know from their show, “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera.” Erin and Ace came on board as our musical producers and directors and really knocked it out of the park, turning in catchy rock ‘n’ roll versions of all of our songs.

HR: You have thirty cast members in your production and you doubled down by hiring two separate groups of actors who alternate the roles. How hard was that?

Steven Brandon: Casting went pretty well. A number of actors knew of our reputation from other shows, such as “Lost-The Musical, and we got a lot of strong candidates walking through the door.

Steven Parker: Knowing that we could pick two actors for each role saved a lot of arguing and dicussion because they were a lot of people that we liked and wanted in the show.

HR: What about the role of Tyrion? Did you try to get an actual little person to play Tyrion Lannister?

Steven Brandon: At first we did and we met with a few of them but they were not musical theater trained or ready. A lot of great actors and comedians came in to read but they were not the best of singers.

Steven Parker: Plus they are all constantly working and could not commit to the length of our run.

Steven Brandon: We ended up finding BRAD SIMANSKI and DREW BOUDREAU, both 5 feet tall, who are fantastic and do their job perfectly in their show stopping number.

HR: Did the cast contribute to the material in any way?

Steven Parker: Both casts are super talented and bring so much extra to their roles. The character of Jon Snow is picked on quite a lot in the show and the different reactions from MAX REED and ZACK KANNER are priceless.

Steven Brandon: During the second act the Lannister’s get together and really pour it on thick. The cast decided themselves to put on dark make up and glam outfits and become the “Glamisters.” It was not in the script but it became a brilliant addition to the show.

HR: What is next for GOT musical?

Steven Parker: We are still performing for the next five weeks at the Macha theater in West Hollywood. After that we take a small break and then head to San Diego for Comic Con to do shows from July 20-22!

HR: Why is THIS the GOT show to see in L.A?

Steven Brandon: The TV series does not come back on the air until July 16. We have the perfect refresher course with our show as we start from the beginning and tell the story in order ,parodying season one, book one.

Steven Parker: This will definitely wet your appetite for the return of the TV show and is a great introduction to fans of musical theater who have not seen “Game of Thrones” would like to know what it’s all about.

Steven Brandon: Plus we are the only Game of Thrones musical in town with an actual throne!

HR: You also have a Soundtrack?

Steven Brandon: Yes, we are very proud of our Original Cast Recording. All 12 Original songs from the show plus 4 bonus tracks. You can sample the tracks and purchase the CD at www.cdbaby.com/cd/gameofthronesthemusicala

HR: Nice! Any ticket discounts?

Steven Parker: For readers of Hollywood Revealed, you can type in the coupon code “sword” at checkout to receive a 15% discount off tickets.

HR: That’s very generous, guys. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and wishing you continued success.

Steven Brandon: Thank you.

Where: The Macha Theatre, 1107 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

When: Running now through April 16th at 8:00 pm. Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, Sundays at 7pm.

Tickets: www.gotthemusical.com

(Remember the discount code)

 

 

“Shades Of Disclosure” Celebrates Life

Review by: Peter Foldy

Heartbreaking, but ultimately positive and powerful, the World Premiere of SHADES OF DISCLOSURE, reminds us of the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that still continues to pose a host of social injustices such as homophobia, racism, immigration rights, healthcare discrimination, and the rights of transpersons.

Created and performed by the revolutionary QueerWise, a Los Angeles based group of LGBTQ writers and spoken word artists, Shades of Disclosure introduces us to a a number of HIV/AIDS survivors, and a few that were spared. Their deep and personal stories illuminate not only what they went through when the plague hit some thirty years earlier but how it still impacts their lives today.

The cast members on stage are not actors playing roles. They are real people sharing remembrances of heartbreak and loss, of good luck and bad. Some on stage were infected early while others, though promiscuous and care-free, escaped the epidemic.

Wrapped in an atmosphere of the current political climate, QueerWise tell their stories in well staged production that encourages others to do the same. “Who Are You?” they ask.

The outpouring of truthfulness on stage soon becomes contagious and one cannot help but feel a deep empathy.

Ultimately, we know that honesty about ones self is a beautiful, unifying and galvanizing force that we need to carry into 2017 if we are to survive, thrive, and maintain, says director, Michael Kearns.

Though it may sound like this performance piece is a downer, it is actually a celebration of being alive. Something we can all relate to.

Featuring Albert Auben, Gil Feroli, Cheri Gaulke, Randy (Joe) Gravelle, John Glenn Harding, Jessie Jacobson, Sophie Kim, Darrell Larson, Timothy Mack, Mason Mahoney, Jen O’Connor, Roland Palencia, Christine Papalexis, Jim Pentecost, Ken Pienkos and David Trudel, Shades of Disclosure plays at 8:00pm Saturdays, and 3:00pm on Sundays through February 25, 2017.

Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027.

Tickets are $15 – $40. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://SkylightTix.com

Skylight Theatre Company’s Board of Directors present “Salute 2016”

Los Angeles, Ca – SHARON LAWRENCE (Rizzoli & Isles) and BARRETT FOA (NCIS: Los Angeles) lead the list of celebrities who join event hosts FRENCH STEWART (3rd Rock from the Sun, Mom) & VANESSA CLAIRE STEWARD (Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara) as Skylight Theatre’s Board of Directors celebrates the artistic achievements of GARY GROSSMAN and the Skylight Theatre Company for this year’s annual Skylight French & Vanessa names from internetSalute being held December 4th at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.

Over the past three decades, from Camelot Artists Productions to Katselas Theatre Company and in 2013 becoming Skylight Theatre Company, the one constant thread has been Gary Grossman. First as a producer and eventually becoming its Artistic Director in 2008, Skylight and Gary have become synonymous with nurturing artists, producing live theatre in Los Angeles and developing new work.

Over 2500 different artists have graced Skylight’s stages including 204 Los Angeles based writers. Skylight and Grossman have helped to craft, develop, workshop and mount a large body of original works, generating 166 readings, 157 workshops, and 69 world premiere productions.

Works developed under Skylight’s auspices have gone on to garner awards and accolades for their playwrights, around the world. Sigrid Gilmer, a member of Skylight’s resident writers’ PlayLAb received the coveted 2014 USA Artists Ford Fellowship and PinkLemaireCraginColemanJames_edited-1$50,000, while Nathan Allan Davis’ play “Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea” received the prestigious Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association 2015 New Play Citation. The Humanitas PlayLA workshop, launched in 2015 with support from the Center Theatre Group, has selected Skylight resident writers to fill five out of the ten available positions from over 200 candidate submissions. Louisa Hill, another of Skylight’s resident writers, won Third Place in the inaugural year of the associated Humanitas PlayLA Playwriting Prize.

Through Grossman’s leadership, Skylight’s plays have made their way across the United States to New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Denver, and San Francisco, while internationally they have been performed in Paris and Edinburgh, with additional productions scheduled for Australia, Canada and Greece.

Skylight has been a community leader, providing artistic opportunities for at-riskTM_2A022 teens and helping to feed the hungry. In the last three years, 1250 teens in Los Angeles detention centers and high schools have experienced Lyric Project writing workshops. Supported through partnerships with ASCAP Foundation, the City of Los Angeles, and Boeing’s Employee Community Fund, 45 of the young lyricists have been mentored and teamed with professional songwriters to create new songs that are performed in a unique and fully realized musical event for the stage. Since 2012, Skylight artists have been putting Art Into Action, donating their time and talent to help feed LA’s hungry on Thanksgiving Day; since the program began over 1200 hungry people have been fed in the Downtown and MacArthur Park areas.

Gary Grossman’s unselfish efforts for the Los Angeles theatre community were recognized at the 2016 Stage Raw Theatre Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He continues to be an adSandersAnassiCASTvocate for the Los Angeles theatre community leading interactions with Actors Equity Association and LA Theatre Producers for a workable agreement between the actors union and Los Angeles producers.

Eileen Barnett, Gigi Bermingham, Dale Kristien, Marcelo Tubert, and Denise Woods, will be performing along with additional surprise guests. Directed by David Galligan, Choreography by Lee Martino, Musical Direction by Michael Sobi, and hosted by French Stewart & Vanessa Claire Stewart.

David Galligan has directed all the S.T.A.G.E benefit shows in LA since 1984 and began directing for Grossman and Skylight back in 1985 with a celebrated production of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.

French Stewart is perhaps best known for his roles in the television series Mom and 3rd Rock From the Sun. He is a member of Sacred Fools Theater Company, playing the title role in their 2012 hit production of “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton” which moved to the Pasadena Playhouse.PRISON BOXING Leah Joki Group-102

Vanessa Claire Stewart is recognized as a quadruple threat – singer, actress, director and writer. She is most often recognized for her performance as Keely Smith in Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara (Los Angeles, Chicago) that she co-wrote with Taylor Hackford and Jake Broder, but she has also opened the Newport Jazz Festival as a vocalist, and penned and then directed the wildly successful “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton,” which starred her husband French Stewart.

SALUTE kicks off at 6pm with a VIP dinner and 7:30pm for the stage show on Sunday, December 4, 2016. The Colony Theatre is located at 555 N. 3rd Street, Burbank CA. 91502. Tickets range from $150 – $425. Proceeds benefit Skylight’s Artistic Development Programs. Dinner reservations and show only tickets can be purchased online at http://skylighttix.com with more information at 213-761-7061. All performers are subject to availability.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ktcla and Twitter: @SkylightThtr

Review: Hedwig And the Angry Inch Keeps It Fresh At The Pantages

by Peter Foldy

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is an innovative, powerful and wickedly humorous musical that will stay with you long after the final curtain.

The show actually began its life as a racy, sexually charged cabaret act. Created by STEPHEN TRASK and JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL, it first morphed into a 1998 off-Broadway hit and thenDarren-Criss-Hedwig-and-the-Angry-Inch a 2001 film before finally hitting the bright lights of Broadway in 2014. As the show’s legend grew, ultimately rising to cult status, it’s stars also received well deserved acclaim. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, who played “Hedwig” on Broadway won a Tony, as did LENA HALL, here in Los Angeles reprising her role as “Yitzhak,” Hedwig’s back-up singer husband.

Though it’s been twenty years since it’s inception, this welcome First National Tour still packs a punch and manages to keep it fresh for new audiences. As we are drawn into Hedwig’s heart-breaking story,  the nature of the play allows for saucy, cutting-edge, ad libbed banter from it’s star, here brilliantly played by the energetic and talented, DARREN CRISS.

Hedwig, we learn, is an East German rock singer who suffered a botched sex-change operation that left her down there with only an inch of flesh. In Los Angeles to perform a one-night-only concert at the Pantages, she reveals that 1434618341137.cachedshe was recently involved with “Tommy Gnosis,” a now famous rock star with whom she co-wrote many of the songs that helped fuel his career. Hedwig was in fact the “mysterious blond” who distracted Tommy while he was driving his car, causing him to crash into a school bus. That accident and it’s subsequent notoriety made Tommy a star, leaving Hedwig to live her sad life as an “internationally ignored song stylist.”

By coincidence Tommy is also in town, headlining the Hollywood Bowl, and when Hedwig opens the backstage door, she can hear him talking to his adoring fans, never once acknowledging Hedwig’s contributions.

Throughout the show we also meet the aforementioned “Yitzhak,” a doting waif of a man whom Hedwig treats with disdain. Though Yitzhak also craves the spotlight, Hedwig does all she can to prevent her husband from showing off his talents.

Joining the pair on stagehedwig-rebecca-naomi-jones-3794 is Hedwig’s fictional band, The Angry Inch, comprised of musicians JUSTIN CRAIG (guitars, keyboards), MATT DUNCAN (bass, guitars, keyboards), TIM MISLOCK (guitar) and PETER YANOWITZ (drums), the same quartet who played the Broadway run and who are really not a fictional band at all.

In between banter, Hedwig and the Angry Inch roll through an array of great songs, many of them a nod to glam rock, grunge and metal rock. There are also ballads like, “Wicked Little Town” and “Wig In A Box” that are also standouts.

But the real stand out here is Darren Criss. His performance as Hedwig electrifies as it breaks your heart. Criss is charming and likeable, seemingly inhabited by Hedwig’s persona in this 90 minute physically demanding role.82321-11 He speaks to all those with a dream not fully realized, making L.A. a perfect venue for this story. Criss’ job is not made any easier by the array of over-sized wigs and platform heels his character prances around in, but the physically fit actor makes it seem flawless.

Lena Halls surprises as “Yitzhak” once her powerful singing abilities are finally revealed, and in a clever twist, Hall becomes Hedwig by the end of the show, allowing Criss to reveal his muscular body and the fact that he is not a “slip of a girly boy” at all.

The set by JULIAN CROUCH is compact. A car crash scene with moving parts that seems a good fit for this car crash of a story.

MICHAEL MAYER’S direction keeps the show moving at a pace while some ingenious screen projections from BENJAMIN PEARCY during the beautiful ballad, “The Origin of Love,” make us feel as if we are watching Hedwig in an animated fish bowl, his thoughts coming to life in front of our eyes.18386_show_landscape_large_02

Tickets for HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH are on sale now and are available for purchase at www.HollywoodPantages.com or www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Boulevard). Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by visiting www.PantagesGroups.com or by calling 866-755-3075.

Darren Criss will NOT appear as “Hedwig” in the following performances: Sunday, November 6th at 6:30pm; Sunday, November 13th at 6:30pm; Sunday, November 20th at 6:30pm & Friday, November 25th at 8:00pm.

 

 

 

 

“It’s Time” Is A Poignant Celebration Of Love And Life

Review by: Peter Foldy

The Beatles said it best. “All You Need is Love.” Paul Linke reaffirms that notion in his heartfelt, nostalgic solo performance currently running at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. Linke’s current piece, IT’S TIME, bookends his Ace Award Nominated HBO Showcase entitled “Time Flies When You’re Alive.”

This time Linke shares a remarkable journey that saw him love deeply and then grieve desperately before finding a new love again, I_T_Paul_Linke2a love that has sustained him and his family for over twenty five years.

Best recognized for his role as “Artie Grossman” on the NBC-TV series CHiPs as well as for his co-starring roles in “Parenthood” and “K-PAX,” Linke’s story starts out in the 1960s. He introduces us to his younger self, a horny pot smoking college kid who has no clue where his journey is headed. Nor does he care. His main focus are girls and seeing the Doors at the Whisky Au Go Go. By chance he finds himself in a college acting workshop where at his audition he proceeds to embarrass himself with an impromptu improvised sex act on a plant. Not a great start, but, hey, it’s the 60s.  Fortunately, the people running the workshop see something in this free spirited wild child–a potential of talent–which gets him into class and ultimately sparks his interest in pursuing a life as an actor.

Having finally discovered his calling, Linke also manages to fall in love. It’s a deep, committedI_T_Paul Linke4 love that brings him much happiness and produces three beautiful children. But as most of us know, life sometimes has other plans. Linke’s wife is diagnosed with breast cancer and before long he finds himself a single dad with not a clue as to how to move forward.

Linke shares his deep debilitating grief while humorously revealing his attempts at dating and parenting. It’s a time of  pain and desperation but somehow Linke carries on.

Eventually, through an unexpected introduction, he meets a beautiful actress called Christine and he is instantly smitten. His nerves however get the better of him and he makes an obnoxious first impression. The opportunity almost implodes but the actress gives him another chance and gradually a deep, caring relationship is formed and a broken family slowly becomes whole again.

Expertly directed by I_T_Paul Linke8EDWARD EDWARDS, Linke’s story is brought to life through a series of projected photographs that ably connects the audience to Linke’s loved ones.

This is a beautiful journey. One that is honestly and openly shared. It is hard not to shed a tear, nor to feel empathy during Linke’s 70 minute performance. He celebrates the magnitude of life, the power of love and applauds the contributions of those around him who helped turn his life around. And isn’t that something we can all relate to? Seeing “It’s Time,” may compel you say thank you, or I love you to those who matter the most in your life.

When: IT’S TIME runs at 8pm on Fridays, 5pm Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays through December 4, 2016 (no performances November 25 – 27).

Where: Ruskin Group Theatre is located at 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

How Much: Tickets are $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.

 

 

Skulduggery – Never Trust A Ghost

Play Review by:Peter Foldy

MICHAEL SHAW FISHER’S musical prequel to Hamlet, SKULLDUGGERY, currently playing at the Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood, is an emancipation of one of history’s most epic stories. Fisher takes Shakespeare’s greatest play and extracts the core, bringing the characters to life in a most vibrant and colorful way. In particular, Fisher shines a light on Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the villain of the original story, showing us his human perspective.

Skullduggery takes placeskullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29404314503_o years before the birth of young Hamlet. Claudius is a meek and poetic teenager when he and his brother, the imposing Hamlet Senior, meet Gertrude for the first time. Emotions run high among the three youngsters and an attraction between Claudius and Gertrude is apparent. With the kingdom is on the brink of war swift choices must be made. Claudius’ sickly demeanor makes him more of a battlefield liability than a viability and he is soon left behind while Hamlet and their father, known only as “The King,” leave for war. Seven years later Hamlet Senior returns to Elsinore and takes Gertrude as his bride, leaving his brother nursing a broken heart.

Time passes. Chaos ensues and the country is forced to reconcile with the new, warmongering king.

While this may sound dark and gloomy, Skullduggery is also a light-hearted musical romp with songs such as “Never Trust A Ghost,” “Girl Talk” skullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29737035550_oand “Snake In The Garden.” The play attempts to reveal answers missing from the original Hamlet. What really happened to Yorkick? What fate befell Ophelia and Laertes’ mother. The skeletons in Shakespeare’s masterpiece all come come out to play and ultimately, Claudius is faced with his most difficult decision. To kill or not to kill?

JOHN BOBEK as Claudius convincingly transforms from a poetic teen, filled with puppy love, to a murderous villain and the nemesis of Shakespeare’s classic play. DAVID HAVERTY creates an ominous force as Hamlet Senior, while LEIGH WULFF’S brilliant and melodic Gertrude brings them together and helps to reveal the humanity in the villain.

JOE FRIA (substituting last week for Brendan Hunt) as Yorick is a stunt-laden spectacle while CURT BONNEM as Polonius and REBECCAskullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29404310583_o LARSEN as Berta, bring a lighthearted, comedic essence to the production.

The Scenic Design by DEANNE MILLAIS and the costumes by LINDA MUGGERIDGE bring character and a sense of reality to the incredible story.

Fisher’s intelligent play, (he wrote the script and the music), SCOTT LEGGETT’S sure handed direction, NATASHA NORMAN’S fluid choreography and MICHAEL TEOLI’S impressive musical direction, (leading a tight 10 piece band), make Skulduggery a not to be missed theatrical event. It’s a Broadway worthy production right here in our own backyard.

WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday Matinees at 3pm. Ending November 5.

COST: $25 online at http://www.sacredfools.org or by calling 310 281 8337

Moral Imperative At Theatre 40

Play review by: Peter Foldy

A moral imperative is a strongly-felt principle that compels a person to act. It is when something must happen because it’s the right thing to do.

Using this definition it might have been correct to eliminate Adolph Hitler before he ignited World War II. Or to have disposed of Charlie Manson before he and his minions went on their murderous rampage. While I suspect moral imperatives are seldom murder related, SAMUEL WARREN JOSEPH’S riveting new play, MORAL IMPERATIVE, tackles a dilemma that does ultimately lead to someone’s demise.

Joseph’s M_I_0109 copy 2 story concerns “Seth” (MARTIN THOMPSON) a self righteous professor and Provost who has waited patiently to be appointed president of Briarton University, his Alma Mater. Seth’s world is shattered when his most hated rival, Oscar (DAVID HUNT STAFFORD) is unexpectedly bestowed that prestigious position.

When Oscar’s modus operandi becomes clear it drives Seth to the edge of desperation. Oscar, we discover, intends to eliminate tenure for the professorial staff, start a school hockey team, and perhaps most offensive, start a hotel management school.

Already disgusted with the dumbing down of America, Seth seethes with anger as he commiserates with his close friend and colleague, “Robert” (KEN KAMLET). As they discuss various options, German philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s name is mentioned and Seth suggests that perhaps it is their moral imperative to wipe Oscar from the face of the earth. It takes some convincing but a plot is hatched and eventually executed, but not without complications.

Seth finally realizes his dream and becomes University president, delivering a touching eulogy at Oscar’s funeral. His partner in crime however slowly begins to unravel.

Soon a Colombo like detective, (BRANDEE STEGER) pits Robert and Seth against each other in order to confirm her suspicions that Oscar didn’t die of natural causes. Here the play takes some brilliant Hitchcockian turns as it spirals toward it’s poignant conclusion.

Director, HOWARD STORM,M_I_0236 copy 2 expertly guides his talented cast through this twisted thriller. One and all deliver stellar performances.

Martin Thompson as “Seth” capably hides his desperation as a pompous man with little left to lose. SUSAN DAMANTE as his wife, “Mary” is powerful as a woman who recognizes the truth but tries to ignore it for as long as possible. Ken Kamlet as the volatile Robert is compelling. It is painful to watch him unravel and crumble.

The set design by JEFF G RACK is detailed and exceptional. At times I felt like I was watching a wide screen movie.

If you’re fan of intelligent theater, Moral Imperative is the play to see.

WHERE: Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. The venue is on the campus of Beverly Hills High School and there is free parking.

WHEN: Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00, Mon. at 8:00

TICKET PRICES: $30.

HOW: Reservations may be made by calling (310) 364-0535 or online at www.theatre40.org.