Christian Brando – “Wild Son” – A New Stage Production in Santa Monica

Review by: Peter Foldy

It is well documented fact that a boy’s relationship with his father is probably the most important one he will ever know. A hostile or unavailable father can burden a young man with bagage that he may carry for the rest of his life. This was certainly the case for Christian Brando, the son of legendary actor Marlon Brando. In many ways, Christian’s turbulantlife was shaped by his interaction, or lack of one, with his brilliant father, perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of Don Corleone in the 1972 film, “The Godfather.”

The program for WILD SON: The Testimony of Christian Brando, now playing at the Santa Monica Playhouse, tells us that playwright/director, Champ Clark, met the younger Brando in 2005. The two became friends and before long Clark was putting Christian’s recollections on tape.

John Mese as “Christian Brando”

This one-man show, based upon those interviews, is a revealing look at young Brando’s turbulent life. His story is filled with anecdotes populated by the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston, and Robert Blake among others.

Actor, John Mese delivers the narrative with confident, self-deprecating humor and earnest conviction.

John Mese

Christian Brando’s life was centered on and around abandonment. He was left to fend for himself at a very early age. His mother, unhinged and uninterested, uses the boy to hurt her ex-husband. As Christian grows into a “wild child,” embarking on sexual romps starting at age 13 and stealing drugs from his “uncle” Jack Nicholson, his notoriously promiscuous father begins to see Christian as a threat, perhaps even as competition. “There is only one star in this family,” Marlon Brando tells his son.

At one point Christian is banished to the Midwest, and later to a Tahitian island where he is left to live without his parents for periods of time.

Christian Brando – © Barry King – Wire Image

As he grows older and eventually returns to Hollywood, psycho-dramas seem to follow him everywhere. He struggles to find balance and happiness but he is constantly haunted by memories of a hostile, humiliating father and an uncaring mother. It’s no wonder that the troubled young man we meet in “Wild Son” comes across as brash and dangerous on the outside, while on the inside he nurses a broken heart. This is a story worth knowing–and a play worth seeing.

What: Wild Son: The Testimony of Christian Brando

Where: Santa Monica Playhouse (Main Stage), 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 9040. Parking at nearby City Garage on 4th Street, or street parking.

When: Sundays, through May 26th

Time:  5:30 pm

Tickets: $20.00 General Admission

Reservations: Online at wildson.brownpapertickets.com and by calling 800-838-3006

 

 

New play Remembers Holocaust, Celebrates Anne Frank’s 90th Birthday at Museum of Tolerance

LOS ANGELES (May 2, 2019) — In observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Simon Wiesenthal Center today announced casting for a new play about Anne Frank that will celebrate what would have been her 90th birthday this summer.

Eve Brandstein will direct Timothy P. Brown, Rob Brownstein, Tony DeCarlo, Andrea Gwynnel, Ava Lalezarzadeh, Kevin Matsumoto, Mary Gordon Murray, Aylam Orian and Marnina Schon in the U.S. premiere of Anne by Dutch playwrights Jessica Durlacher and Leon de Winter — in a never-before-seen adaptation by Nick Blaemire. Suzi Dietz will produce.

In this new adaptation of the immortal Holocaust story, 13 year-old Anne Frank imagines her life as a young woman — safe in a post-war world. When she meets a publisher who expresses interest in her story, Anne looks back on the two years she spent hidden away with her family during the Nazi regime.

This innovative production eschews traditional sets and costumes to place the audience and actors on the same dramatic plane as the characters — all real people under real circumstances — fighting for their lives, sanity and dreams of the future.

Previews will begin June 5, with performances taking place June 16 through July 22 at the Museum of Tolerance.

Wasatch Theatrical Ventures’ Production of “All My Sons” is Moving and Powerful

Review by: Peter Foldy

Although many refer to them as the greatest generation, Americans who fought World War II, or whose labor helped win it, had, like all generations, the potential for lapses in morality. Arthur Miller’s classic play, ALL MY SONS, first performed on Broadway in 1947,  highlights one such example. Though wrapped in the rhythm and style of the post war years, the incident at the heart of the story is easily relateable to what’s happening in our present day America.

Set in the summer of 1946, the story is deep and intricate. It deals with the Kellers, a nice family, on a seemingly ordinary day. Undeniable truths are finally catching up with them. A life-changing crisis is about to unfold.

Francesca Casale and Mark Belnick in All My Sons

Kate Keller (Francesca Casale) is unwilling to accept that her oldest son, Larry, has been lost in the war and may not be coming home. Her younger son, Chris, (Jack Tynan) also a veteran, is recovering from what we now call PTSD. Chris has fallen in love with his former next-door neighbor, Ann Deever, (Alexis Boozer Sterling) and is about to propose marriage. Ann, we soon discover, was Larry’s girl and Kate is dead set against the union. She insists that Ann wait for her oldest son to return.

Jack Tynan, Alexis Boozer Sterling and James McAndrew

Wealthy patriarch, Joe Keller (Mark Belnick) and Ann’s father were business partners accused of selling defective airplane parts that resulted in the death of 21 young fliers. The courts exonerated Joe and pinned the blame solely on Mr. Deever, who to this day sits in prison. Joe defends his motives and is reluctant to accept any blame, nor does he seek repentance. Many in the neighborhood doubt his innocence, and when Ann’s brother, George (James McAndrew) unexpectedly arrives, he shares hard to dispute evidence that Joe is in fact the guilty party. From here the play drifts towards it’s heart-wrenching conclusion that will deeply touch all their lives.

Ably directed by Gary Lee Reed and produced by Racquel Lehrman this production of All My Sons is a fluid, riveting drama that draws you in and doesn’t let go. An effective scenic designed by Pete Hickok effectively recreates a 1940s environment but it is the performances that drive this production. The quality of the acting is solid and committed. Everyone on stage gets their moment to shine and there are many standouts.

Francesca Casale, Alexis Boozer Sterling

Beckett Wilder (alternating with Jack Heath) has a brief but impressive turn as a young neighborhood boy. James McAndrew is compelling as George while Mark Belnick as Joe amps up his powerful moments, much like a prize fighter times his punches.

In an impressive performance, Francesca Casale breaks our hearts as the mother who wants her son back while Alexis Boozer Sterling delivers a Doris Day tinged sweetness as the girl who holds a secret nobody want to hear.

Jack Tynan centers the play. His Chris is both the protagonist and a victim here, a man with a moral compass looking for the truth. When his character falls to pieces in the last act, his pain is palpable. Tynan digs deep and makes some vulnerable choices that are filled with pain and emotion.

All My Sons is an American classic and this production at the Lounge Theatre does it right. Bring your handkerchiefs. You’re going to need them.

Where: The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038

When: 8pm Fridays & Saturdays, 3pm on Sundays (No performances April 19 – 21)

Closing: May 12, 2019

How: For reservations call: (323) 960-5570 or online at: https://www.onstage411.com/sons

Tickets: $30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Dennis: A Broadway Star in the Making

April 6, 2019

Recently completing a starring role in the world premiere of Paradise Square at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area, KEVIN DENNIS has been a rising star in Canada since the late 1990s. He has landed leading roles in stage productions by respected theatre companies such as Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as Toronto’s Canadian Stage Company.

On television he has been seen in recurring roles on CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries and 11.22.63 opposite James Franco on Hulu/Bad Robot, as well as guest appearances on Reign (CW/CBS), Orphan Black (Space/BBC America), Warehouse 13 (Syfy), Flashpoint (CTV/CBS), Mayday! (Discovery), Queer As Folk (Showtime) and Emily of New Moon (CBC).

Kevin Dennis

Beyond his work in front of the camera, Kevin has garnered over one hundred animation credits to date with voice-over roles in cartoons such as Busytown Mysteries (CBC/CBS), Redekai (Cartoon Network), Super Why! (PBS), Cyberchase (PBS) and Tabaulga and Lilli (Sony Pictures Classics).

We sat down with Kevin to talk about his life, his career and his rise to fame.

Hollywood Revealed: When did you first realize you had an interest in the arts?

Kevin Dennis: As a child, I was always drawn to the camera, as well as the stage. My parents put me into community drama classes and theatre at age eight, where I excelled in front of an audience. I started acting in front of the camera at the age of twelve, appearing on successful Canadian TV shows like Ready or Not, Squawk Box and Nikita.

HR: Where was you first appearance in public? High school?

KD: My first role was Augustus Gloop in a community performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Oakville Centre of the Arts. I was nine-years-old. I really enjoyed the adoring audience of parents and grandparents.

HR: Did you decide then and there to be an actor?

KD: That was it! I truly found what would become my life’s work. Plus, who wouldn’t like it when people clap for you at the end of your work day?

HR: How did you get your ACTRA card?

KD: Actually, I joined both Canadian Actors’ Equity (stage union) and ACTRA the same summer, at the age of nineteen. For CAEA membership I was selected out of hundreds of Toronto actors to join the cast of Forever Plaid at the Charlottetown Festival. I had just graduated high school and it was my first full summer away from my parents. I had also become legal-drinking age in Canada. I’ll just say it was one hell of a summer and an amazing gig. While performing in PEI, I was approached by the CBC to audition for a role on Emily of New Moon which was shooting on the island at the time. I managed to book the role and got to play opposite Martha MacIsaac (Superbad, Family Guy) and joined ACTRA as a result.

HR: Sounds amazing. So would you say that was your luckiest break in the entertainment business?

KD: No, I’d say my luckiest break came in front of the camera in 2014. I decided to shift my attention from a highly successful stage career to try and get more focus on film and television. It wasn’t all glory, trust me. I became highly skilled at waiter-ing, interior painting and special event service. But thankfully, the auditions started surfacing regularly for American TV shows being shot in and around Toronto. My biggest break was being cast in the pilot episode of The Strain for the FX Network. The best part of that gig was that I got to spent four days under the direction of Guillermo del Toro, who recently won the Academy Award as Best Director for The Shape of Water.

Kevin Dennis, Adrienne Merrell in “Young Frankenstein”

HR: Nice. Have you managed to stay in touch with him?

KD: Actually, I have. We spoke recently about working together again, so I am grateful for having met him and hopeful it will happen. I also got to work and become acquaintances with Carlton Cuse, the Emmy Award-Winning Executive Producer of the hit TV show Lost.

HR: How much of a role does networking play in an actor’s success?

KD: Like training and auditioning, networking is an integral part of the daily routine of a professional actor. You can`t wait by the phone for roles to come to you. It is essential to put your product out there and make new connections.

HR: What’s been your favorite role to date?

KD: For stage, the leading role of Frederick in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein at Stage West was one of my absolute favorites. While no one can duplicate what Gene Wilder did, it was exhilarating to play these classic comedy scenes in front of a live audience eight times a week. I also got to play the role opposite my lovely and talented wife, Adrienne Merrell which was a dream come true!

HR: Does being married to another performer help or hinder?

KD: Definitely helps. We understand each other. We both realize that we are in it to win it, so we better make it work!

HR: What were the challenges of playing the role of Mike Quinlan in your last show Paradise Square at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre?

KD: It was very exciting to see my role expand into a larger, adversarial one during rehearsals and development of the show. The play digs deep into the roots of American politics, immigration and race-relations, which made it extremely poignant for the acting company and audience. My character went to the Civil War, came home badly injured to discover his job was taken and a Federal Draft had been issued. What better drama could you ask for as an actor? As the story unfolded, my character was given some very radical dialogue. In the second act, after I delivered one of my final lines, I could hear the audience literally gasp while they shifted in their seats. That’s the power of live theatre. That is why I want to continue this pursuit in the United States, the biggest theater market in the world.

Kevin Dennis in “Paradise Square.”

HR: How much of an impact does social media have on an actor’s career in this day and age?

KD: While I love posting videos of me goofing off, or pics of my cat, there is simply no denying the power and reach of social media. Facebook, I keep mainly for the fun stuff. Twitter is strictly professional. Instagram is a hybrid of the two. I enjoy posting about my professional experiences in theatre and on screen and seeing how far it can go. It’s a great tool to get your portfolio exposed to a wider audience. Plus, producers look to see how you represent yourself online and how many engagements your posts create.

HR: So, what’s next?

KD: I’m currently in Toronto re-immersing myself in the film and television scene. I had a great guest spot on Murdoch Mysteries last year, and I’m now looking at some on-screen roles for the spring and summer. Beyond that, Paradise Square has a very solid chance of making it to Broadway in the next few months, and that has always been the biggest dream of my life.

HR: Let’s hope it comes true. Thanks for chatting with us, Kevin.

KD: Thank you.

Don’t Spoil The Big Surprise in “Small Engine Repair”

Review by Peter Foldy

First produced in L.A. in 2011, and off Broadway in 2013, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR is a taunt, character-driven drama that uses humor to draw you in before taking us to the dark side.

Written by John Pollono, who starred in both previous incarnations, the story introduces us to three former high school friends from New Hampshire who are slowly drifing into a life of mediocrity. Despite a rift that keeps widening, Frank, (Nick Reinhardt) Packie (Brandon Irons) and Swaino (Johnny Rivas)  share a lifelong brotherhood that Frank hopes will help him carry out his soon to be revealed scheme. Calling a summit at his out of the way garage, he suggests to gullable, kind hearted Packie that he may have received a cancer diagnoses while promising sex obsessed Swaino a night of booze and strippers. A single dad since the age of 17, Frank knows exactly what motivates his pals.

Johnny Rivas, Brandon Irons and Nick Reinhardt in “Small Engine Repair”

Pot and alcohol quickly fuels the impromptu reunion and the nature of their relationships are cleverly revealed through sharp, snappy banter that only best buds can pull off with ease. Much of the dialogue is sprinkled with insults and dick jokes, and many are frickin’ hillarious. Social media, and our current obsession with it, is also cleverly woven into the fabric of the story and that thread ultimately pays off in the jaw dropping reveal that is to come.

Brandon Irons, Johnny Rivas

When Frank finally informs Swaino and Packie that he has invited a 19 year old part time drug dealer to drop by with some Ecstasy, the guys know for sure that Frank has an agenda.

When Chad arrives it is clear that he is not cut from the same cloth as the other three. A spoiled, good looking frat boy, Chad wastes no time in letting them know that he’s got it all going on. Sex, drugs, a basketball scholarship and a daddy who is available to get him out of any jam if need be. Chad oozes white privilege and it wasn’t hard to feel an Eric Trump or a Jared Kushner vibe as he shared his background and point of view.

Declan Laird, Johnny Rivas and Nick Reinhardt

We soon discover the real reason Chad has joined the party. It’s not for the Ecstasy that he is peddling but infact something far more damaging and personal to Frank. Lets just say the kid is in deep shit and his presence and loose lips rapidly helps shift the dynamic.

It takes strong chemistry to make us believe the close bond that is at the heart of this story. All four actors have it in spades. Rivas and Irons get their moment to shine, and shine they do, particularly Irons who gets the biggest laughs of the night, but it is Nick Reinhardt who grounds the performance. He has the depth and conviction to make us believe that Frank is capable of pulling off what he has planned.

Declan Laird, Nick Reinhardt, Johnny Rivas

We only meet Declan Laird as Chad half way through the play. He saunters in with an upper class swagger that soon turns to panic. In a solid performance, Laird pulls the transition off effortlessly. Like the other three, he is an actor to keep an eye on.

Jo Galloway’s direction is fluid. She has her cast using every inch of the small but impressive set as she cleverly raises the tension. Clocking in at just over 70 minutes the show is a roller-coaster ride. The ending may have the squeamish closing their eyes, but the rest of us will surely be talking about it long after we’ve left the theater. Which ever camp you fall into, I can promise that you will not be bored. This production of “Small Engine Repair” is clearly a winner.

Brandon Irons, Nick Reinhardt, Johnny Rivas.

When: Running Fridays and Saturdays from February 8, 2019 through March 2, 2019 at 8:00pm

Where: The Broadwater Second Stage, 1078 Lillian Way | Los Angeles CA 90038 (enter from Santa Monica Blvd)

How Much: $25

For tickets and more info log onto: https://www.showorksentertainment.com/smallenginerepair

Photos by: Sean McGee

 

 

 

“Hello, Dolly” is a Pure Delight

Review by: Peter Foldy

The musical, “Hello, Dolly” has been around since 1964 when the late, great Carol Channing first introduced us to the loveable marriage broker, Dolly Levy. Fifty four years later, Dolly is back on the Broadway stage where she was recently brought to life by Tony award winning songstress, Bette Midler and later replaced with a much acclaimed Bernadette Peters in the title role.

Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi (Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Truth be told, it was with a tiny bit of trepidation that I went to see this national tour. Like so many people, I was familiar with the classic title song, but not really having loved the movie with Barbara Stresand, I didn’t quite know what to expect from a show that some might consider an old theatrical chestnut.

I’m here to say that all my fears were totally unfounded. “Hello, Dolly” is a charming, feel good musical romp with an air of innocence that washes over you like a warm summer breeze.

Betty Buckley, Lewis J. Stadlen in Hello, Dolly Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Broadway veteran, Betty Buckley is irresistable in the title role. She delivers a  kind, matronly Dolly, a woman that might remind you of a favorite aunt. With impressive vocal and dance skills, Miss Buckley also brings humor and emotion to the role. Her performance certainly touched the opening night audience at the Pantages and had them on their feet more than once during the two hour and twenty minute show.

“Hello, Dolly” tells the story of a marriage broker, Dolly Gallagher Levi, who is on the hunt to find a match for the cranky Hoboken “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder.

The Cast of Hello Dolly. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Vandergelder is hoping to pop the question to milliner Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming) back in New York. Once he leaves, Vandergelder’s slightly dim witted store clerks, Cornelius Hackl (Nic Rouleau) and Barnaby Tucker (Jess LeProtto), also decide to sneak off to Manhattan for a bit of adventure, and hopefully to kiss some girls. As expected, Dolly’s penchant for meddling soon pairs everyone up. They all find love, including Dolly herself with Vandergelder whom she is sure to tame. Lewis J. Stadlen plays the old curmudgeon and Stadlen almost steals the show with his fluid, vaudvillian delivery and imressive comedic timing. He and Buckley are a fine pair indeed.

With a book by Michael Stewart, (based on the Thornton Wilder play “The Matchmaker”) and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, “Hello, Dolly” is joy to behold. Director, Jerry Zaks and choreographer Warren Carlyle have rounded up a rock solid cast that moves like a well oiled machine.

Charming cornball humor and impressive production numbers such as “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” and “Before The Parade Passes By” hustle the show toward the moment we were all waiting for. To hear that iconic song. When it finally came and Dolly sashayed down the staircase of the Harmonia Gardens with the cast crooning, “Hello, Dolly, most of the audience could not wipe the smiles off their faces. It was theater magic. There’s no arguing, fellas. She’s back and looking swell. If you love Broadway musicals, this Dolly should not be missed.

Where: Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; ends Feb. 17

Tickets: $35 and up

Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

 

Award-winning Play “Nude/Naked” to Premiere in L.A.

NUDE/NAKED playwright, Paul Hoan Zeidler’s captivating and unique examination of the dangers––and new tools––of the mob mentality, has been honored at the Stanley Drama Awards, earned a semi-finalist spot at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and received high praise from The Royal High Court Theatre in London, which called it “mesmerizing.” Now Lightning Rod Theater will give NUDE/NAKED its world premiere, playing from January 18 to February 17 at the McCadden Place Theatre in Hollywood.
In NUDE/NAKED, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Bennett Duquesne and his daughter Addy have had their controversial work collected by major art museums all over the world. When Addy’s trust funder boyfriend shoots one of Duquesne’s students in their living room, photos meant to be viewed on art gallery walls or in coffee table books become plastered all over the Internet. The Duquesnes struggle to hold onto their unique, intuitive relationship while the local District Attorney pressures them to reveal more about their personal lives, and the mainstream and social media launch brutal attacks.

“The way social media connects groups of scattered people is a positive thing, but occasionally those groups can accelerate into engines of conformity that try to run over anything that doesn’t fit their view,” Zeidler said. “With the mainstream media quick to hop onto any story gaining traction online, an incident in twoartists’ personal lives can blow up into a public catastrophe overnight. That’s what we’re exploring with this work.”

Zeidler is a stage veteran, having written, directed and produced a number of plays. His original work Time’s Scream and Hurry has two successful runs in L.A. before going to New York. He’s also been a regular contributor to the Hollywood Fringe both with his original shows like Acts of Possession, Glennie and Maple Break Up, and Woof-Woof, as well as producing pieces like Craftsman and This Side of Sweetwater. Zeidler, with Charles Pacello, is the co-founder, of Lightning Rod Theater, and also its artistic director. The company was formed with other artists during the collapse of the Elephant Theatre Company.

“When Charlie Pacello and I first started pulling together Lightning Rod out of the ruins of the Elephant, one of our goals was to put stories and relationships on stage that had never been seen before,” Zeidler said. “We think we accomplished the latter with NUDE/NAKED.”

Certainly helping is an all-star cast and crew, from co-producer and Sacred Fools leader David Mayes to a cast that includes Keith Carradine’s daughter Sorel Carradine, Broadway actor Bjorn Johnson, Jonathan Grey and more.

With NUDE/NAKED, Zeidler is most excited about getting audiences talking about his main characters’ personalities as artists and their creative relationship, as well as the powers of the mob mentality in the social media age in a production that holds a mirror up to society. “I’ve always been interested in artists who crossed the boundaries of their culture, and morality of their times,” he said. “The best create visions of possibility in an almost shamanistic way. I’ve also been fascinated by how intensely personal trauma can inspire the creative process. The private artist vs. the public culture is a great dynamic to work with.”

DATES AND TIMES:
January 18 – February 17
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 4 p.m.
*No show on February 3.

LOCATION:
McCadden Place Theatre
1157 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038

TICKET PRICES:
General Admission: $25

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
(310) 204-4883
sewersocialistprods@gmaio.com
https://www.facebook.com/sewersocialistprods/

Building a Career In Hollywood Takes Time and a Commitment To Finding Your True Identity

As the fight for human rights marches on, it’s usually minorities that carry the burden of educating the majority. Regardless of where the disparity occurs, it takes a constant effort and spotlight aimed at what needs to be changed.

In Hollywood, artists continue to shoulder a good portion of this burden by creating works, taking on roles that portray characters that have been marginalized, and producing stories that are able to penetrate the hearts and minds of those with traditional or old-fashioned attitudes. Theatre artists are particularly adept at creating these stories.

Writer Neil Koenigsberg took up the challenge of creating a play that looks at discrimination against sexual orientation, and gender questioning individuals. “Volunteering at a New York LGBTQ center for homeless youth was a transformative experience for me,” says Neil Koenigsberg. “It became the inspiration for WINK. I wanted to tell a story about a non-binary kid, about the unexpected connections that happen in life and how it can forever inspire and change us.”

Taking place in Hollywood, the title role in “Wink” is played by non-binary actor Andrik Ochoa. The journey to finding their own identity has been a long and challenging one for Andrik, but well worth the work. Finding the perfect role in WINK feels synchronistic, not unlike the meeting of the two lead characters in Koenigsberg’s play.

HR: What drew you to this story and inspired you to audition for the role of “Wink?”

Andrik: At first, I was just curious about the audition and excited about getting back to acting after taking a break. As soon as I read this phrase in the play, “Nowadays youth describe their sexuality by not describing it,” I fell in love. I haven’t been able to find better words to describe my own life. Neil Koenigsberg’s play was a sign, “like poetry,” it became something very personal.

HR: Why do you think that it’s important this play is being done in Los Angeles now?

Andrik: Gender Identity censorship can be a horrifying prison. It is not easy to understand unless you’re going through (that hell). It takes emotional intelligence and sensitivity, and even then sometimes that magical connection of understanding someone else’s life can only be done through stories like “Wink.” Theatre, movies, and TV reach out and change the world, hearts and minds, faster than any political agenda or law. That’s why I think it’s a crucial time for this play to be done in Los Angeles. The conversation is topical and well integrated in a broadening consciousness for parity. I think we need that right now I believe if we all get to be our true selves we’ll be so content there will be no room for hate, frustration or anger.

HR: Would you share some of your personal journey that relates to similar experiences?

Andrik: Truth is I’m a “Wink.” I came here the first time as an exchange student. I met the first girl who ever treated me like a guy and I fell in love like an idiot, it helped me realize who I was. She was the first one I came out to. Once I put enough courage together I returned to LA to think things through next to her, away from my family. I started transitioning with the support of the LGBT center. Over the holidays was the first time that I saw my family in 3 years. Now my mom calls me “Mijito,” my (little) son.

HR: What pronouns do you prefer?

Andrik: I’m ok with any, even though he/his is my favorite. It is who I always dreamed of being and my social statement. They/them is not easy for everyone but I appreciate when people use it. I don’t mind and I even like being called She sometimes because, even while being a man I realized I was faking and trapped as much as I was when I was a woman. I understood that a huge part of who I truly am is actually feminine. So at some point I just said f*#! it, enough about having to explain myself, I’m going to be true to my heart every moment and stop worrying about boxes.

HR: Building a career in Hollywood is not easy. What have been the biggest challenges for you so far?

Andrik: Being who I am has been a double bladed sword. As an outsider, an immigrant and a gender rebel, of course is been harder to find a place in this industry.

But, at the same time, once you find that place it becomes yours, and it will take you far because it’s honest. If I weren’t who I am and hadn’t gone through the struggle that I faced, I would have nothing to say. Finding who I am was the biggest change! Before that, all my emotions were like far behind a wall. It made acting so much easier. I can’t believe how much that has changed. It’s like magic.

Wink continues this weekend at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, and at 3pm on Sunday. Zephyr Theatre is at 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets $15 – $45.

Reservation and information at www.Plays411.com/Wink and 323-960-1055. Wheelchair access and ample street parking.

A Holiday Treat for Angelenos Tired of the Same Ole Holiday Treats

Los Angeles: December 12, 2018

Offbeat holiday entertainment is a good bet with names like NPR’s Sandra Tsing Loh, and director Bart DeLorenzo attached. Loh’s SUGAR PLUM FAIRY is running at the Skylight Theatre (the company won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award this year “Best Production” for ROTTERDAM). This production is an original holiday treat offering festive cheer while engaging audiences to participate (think G-rated “Rocky Horror” fun).

Appropriate for ages 8 to 80, and beyond, SUGAR PLUM FAIRY tells the story of a 12 year-old girl who dreams of dancing the lead in The Nutcracker. Audiences are encouraged to come decked out in ugly holiday sweaters, tutus, and Hanukah hats and be prepared to join in the 75 minutes of madcap merriment. Joining Sandra Tsing Loh are some award winners that you might recognize, Tony Abatemarco and Shannon Holt.

“Wildly successful. Ideal antidote for…’A Christmas Carol.’ Check out Sandra Tsing Loh’s rollicking ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ as a modern glimpse of the Christmas season, and if you sit close enough to the stage you might go home with one of the show’s props’ – Los Angeles Times

Sandra Tsing Loh is a writer and performer whose solo theatre shows include Aliens in America and Bad Sex With Bud Kemp (both off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre), Sugar Plum Fairy (Geffen Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre), I Worry (The Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville) and The Bitch Is Back (Broad Stage). Her bestselling New York Times Notable Book, Mother on Fire, was inspired by her hit solo show in 2005, during which time Variety named her one of America’s 50 most influential comedians. Her memoir, The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones, was selected as one of The New York Times’ 100 Most Notable Books; it was inspired by her Best American Essay in The Atlantic, for which she is a contributing editor. The play version of Madwoman premiered at South Coast Repertory in January 2016 and subsequently ran at the Pasadena Playhouse and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Loh has been a regular commentator on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and on Public Radio International’s “This American Life” and “Marketplace;” her daily radio minute, “The Loh Down on Science,” is heard locally on KPCC (89.3 FM) and is internationally syndicated.

Skylight Theatre Company is recognized as a “powerhouse of new play development” by Dramatist Magazine, many of Skylight’s World Premieres have gone on to be performed nationally and internationally; Church & State (Jason Odell Williams) opened Off Broadway in 2017 and has been performed in 24 states; Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea by Nathan Alan Davis (a co-production with Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble) received the prestigious Steinberg American Theatre Critics Association Citation.

Sugar Plum Fairy runs at 8:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 3:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, 2018. Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027. Tickets are $15 – $43, includes tickets for Children and Seniors. Tickets online at http://SkylightTix.org

 

Come From Away: Review

By Peter Foldy:

If you believe that people are basically decent in nature, COME FROM AWAY, the sensational Tony Award Winning musical, which opened at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, is solid proof. The story takes place in a little know place called Gander, Newfoundland. It’s in Canada and is the site of Gander International Airport, once an important refueling stop for transatlantic aircraft, and still a preferred emergency landing point for aircraft facing on-board medical or security issues.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the townsfolk of Gander learn of the terrorist attacks taking place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks result in US airspace being closed, forcing 38 international aircrafts to land unexpectedly at the Gander Airport. The population of the small Newfoundland town goes from 9000 to 16,000 over night.

The Gander townspeople spring to action and prepare to house, feed, clothe and comfort the nearly 7,000 passengers (along with 19 animals in cargo).

The Company of the First North American Tour of “Come From Away.”

Once allowed off the planes and transferred to various emergency shelters in and around Gander, the passengers and crew learn the true reason why they were grounded. Frightened, they try desperately try to contact their families and pray for their loved ones, while the townsfolk work through the night to help them in any and every way possible. The travelers are initially taken aback by their hosts’ uncommon hospitality, but they slowly let their guards down and begin to bond with the quirky townspeople, as well as each other. Friendships and romances develop and the bonds that are made seem solid and long lasting.

The book, music and lyrics of this simple but brilliant production are by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The composers incorporate Newfoundland’s Irish, English and Cornish musical traditions into a driving, foot-tapping score that grows on you and manages to penetrate your soul.

Stand out numbers include “Welcome to the Rock,” performed by the entire cast, Nick Duckart’s “Prayer,” and Danielle K. Thomas performing “I Am Here,” singing about the helplessness she feels as she wonders about the fate of her firefighter son in Manhattan.

The cast also includes; Cast: Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Chamblee Ferguson, Becky Gulsvig, Julie Johnson, Christine Toy Johnson, James Earl Jones II, Megan Mcginnis, Andrew Samonsky, Emily Walton, Marika Aubrey, Jane Bunting, Michael Brian Dunn, Julie Garnyé, Adam Halpin and Aaron Michael Ray.

A simple but effective set design by Beowulf Boritt perfectly compliments this production. Less is more here, but what you feel is something you may always remember.

“Come From Away” is uplifting and energized. It’s a testament to the fact that people are inherently good and may imprint on you the need to trust and be kind to your neighbor.

The show continues through January 6, 2019, at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.

Tickets for “Come From Away” are available by calling (213) 972-4400, online at
www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, or by visiting the Center Theatre Group Box Office located at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets range from $30 – $135 (ticket prices are subject tochange).

The Ahmanson Theatre is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in
Downtown Los Angeles, 90012.