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Five Mile Lake

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Early in Rachel Bonds' latest play, Five Mile Lake (now in its debut at Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory, through May 4), two characters trade dialogue that sounds similar to this: "People change," says one. The other replies with something such as, "No they don't; their character is just revealed over time." In sitting through this 90-minute (with no intermission) staging of Five Mile Lake, we see characters not so much revealed as shown to be what you might have suspected from the start. In fact, one of the most surprising things about Lake is how unsurprising it is. One can see the hackneyed character turns coming from a mile down the allegorical pathway. This makes for a longish hour and-a-half, to be sure.

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Rest

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For such an existentially unnerving play, Samuel D. Hunter’s latest drama has a simple and rather benign title, Rest. As its premise, Rest displays a small cadre of characters – both employees and residents – who work and reside at a Northern Idaho facility for elder care. Said facility is on the cusp of a permanent close down. When a 91 year-old ward is thought to have wandered out into a severe snowstorm, the place and its people are tossed further into crisis mode.

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Reunion

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Gregory S Moss’s latest play, Reunion, is making its world debut, through March 30, on the Julianne Argyros Stage, at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Rep. It’s a two-hour peek into a trio of Gen Xers flashing back on their years together as high schoolers in the 1980s. The 25th reunion of their graduating class is the occasion for this rekindling of old friendships – a quarter century down the paths of their once so closely intersected lives. After the official reunion gathering, the three old pals have arranged to have a stay-over in the old motel they once crashed in during their party-hardy youth.

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Detroit

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Lisa D’Amour said the play, Detroit, contains “a general anxiety…about what it means to be a middle class American.” She also referred to her penchant for “dreams and dream logic,” and a chance for theatre audiences to free associate images and themes, even if they do not know what they mean. As the author of this perplexing play currently onstage at San Diego Repertory Theatre, D’Amour should know what it means. Perhaps she does, or did, but the gist gets lost in this problematic production.

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Lysistrata Jones

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Though it was initially titled Give It Up when it was performed in Dallas, Texas in 2010, by the time it arrived in New York in 2011 Douglas Carter Beane’s musical had been re-titled Lysistrata Jones. After playing Off-Broadway for six months, it transferred to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre, where, in spite of favorable reviews, it closed after only a month.

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Red

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The self-tortured artist is a cliché. Yet, clichés persist because lives and times reaffirm their validity.
Take Mark Rothko, for example. As depicted in John Logan’s psychological portrait, Red, the abstract impressionist painter famous in the 1950s exhibits all the classic symptoms of a stereotypical suffering genius: self-absorbed, depressed, irascible, unpredictable, raging, illogical, egocentric…etcetera. As portrayed on San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Lyceum Stage, Rothko’s tormented soul becomes an open-book revelation, a fascinating exhibition showcasing the creator and illuminating his works a few life pages at a time.
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Paul Robeson

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He was a graduate of Columbia Law School (1922). Before that, he attended Rutgers University on an academic scholarship, where he was an All-American football player, and the first African-American ever to enroll in the university. After his schooling was complete, he won international praise as a singer, and he acted on stage and in film. Later he became a noted political activist – railing against fascism and social injustice. His association with communism resulted in his being blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy era and unable to work in the film industry for several years.

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All the Great Books (Abridged)

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Sometimes referred to as the “New Vaudeville,” and best known best known for their creation of such unlikely handiwork as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and The Complete History of America (Abridged), the Reduced Shakespeare Company has also compiled other performance pieces (nine in total), which follow, in tradition and title, the practice that RSC has become known for. The latest comedy compilation to hit the boards is called All the Great Books (Abridged). And now it’s in production at the Laguna Playhouse, through March 30.

 

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Billy Budd

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As a fitting culmination to LA Opera’s Britten 100/LA Celebration, the company revived Francesca Zambello’s sturdy production of BILLY BUDD. Based on the ambiguous Herman Melville novella, the opera is Benjamin Britten’s most massive; featuring a cast of 20 soloists backed by a large chorus and a grandly scaled orchestra. The work is also, significantly, written for an all-male cast. While this makes perfect sense for a story taking place on an 18th Century man-of-war, it has certainly affected the opera’s place in the standard repertoire. In fact, it is only in the last 20 years, with the rise of the gym-sculpted baritone known as a barihunk, that the opera has gained wide acceptance.

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Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike

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Anton Chekhov is considered one of the world’s great dramatists and writers of short stories. A physician by profession, Chekhov once said “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.” American playwright Christopher Durang has been inspired by the good doctor and scribe to the extent that he has taken some classic Chekhovian themes and characters, updated the proceedings to the current era, and placed them in his own home community of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The result is the two and-a-half-hour comedy called Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, now in production at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum, through March 9.

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Spotlight

James Darren Joins 30th Annual S.T.A.G.E. Event

Movie, television and recording star JAMES DARREN is joining the All-Star company performing in the 30th Anniversary Spectacular, “S.T.A.G.E. Goes to the Movies” taking place one night only on Saturday, May 10th at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.  Darren became an instant cinematic heart throb in the legendary beach and surfer Gidget movies.  He made 20 films before turning to television as an actor and director.  His “This One’s From the Heart” vocal album debuted at #9 on the Billboard Jazz charts, launching the live concert performances he continues to make with symphonies across the country.

FRANK DeCARO’s eponymous show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel OutQ allows him to share his high energy humor and pop culture observations with millions of devoted listeners every week day.  He’s equally well known from his six years on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as their flamboyant film critic.  Among the several priceless packages Frank will be presenting during the event’s  live auction include a Tony Award Week trip to New York City that includes airfare, theatre tickets and accomodations; a one week Palm Springs get away in a private villa; and signed “Musical Quotes” from legendary Broadway composers, among other special items

A celebration of musical cinema, “S.T.A.G.E. Goes to the Movies” promises to be a spectacular event highlighting many of the most memorable musical moments in Hollywood’s vast film library.  ROBERT OSBORNE is set to host the evening which also features legendary celebrity columnist RONA BARRETT who will narrate a stunning cinematic costume cavalcade.  Stars of film, Broadway and television scheduled to appear in the concert that raises critical funds for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) include OBBA BABATUNDE, MARY BETH BLACK, DEBBY BOONE, BETTY BUCKLEY, MARY JO CATLETT, RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN, CAROLE COOK, DAVID ENGEL, JULIE GARNYE’, MITZI GAYNOR, JASON GOULD, NICHOLAS HOSKING, BILL HUTTON, CHEYENNE JACKSON, LAINIE KAZAN, DALE KRISTIEN, HEATHER MacRAE, JON MAHER, PAT MARSHALL, DONNA McKECHNIE, PATRICIA MORISON, JEFFREY SCOTT PARSONS, HELEN REDDY, REX REED, JAKE SIMPSON and KEVIN SPIRTAS.

 

 
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Announces its 2013 Nominations

 

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle has announced its 2013 nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles, Orange County and Ventura County theatre. The 45th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, March 17, 2014 at The Colony Theatre, located at 555 N. Third Street in Burbank. Tickets are $40 (plus service fee) and are available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/565317. Doors open at 6:30pm for pre-show appetizers and a no-host bar, and the ceremony begins at 7:30pm. For more information, visit www.ladramacriticscircle.com.

James Roday (Red Dog Squadron, Co-owner of the Circle Theatre) is currently scheduled to host. Performing at the event will be Constance Jewell Lopez (nominated for lead performance in Dreamgirls), and LA theatre favorites Beth Malone and Lowe Taylor. There will also be a special performance from LA Theatre Works, recipient of this year’s Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theatre. Presenters will include David Kurs (Deaf West), Gates McFadden (Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA), Nicole Parker (nominated for lead performance in Funny Girl), Stephen Sachs (Fountain Theatre), and Lisa Wolpe (LA Women’s Shakespeare Company). Additional performers and presenters will be announced at a later date.

The LADCC is grateful to the organizations who have graciously agreed to sponsor the special awards this year. Awards will be given in 19 categories, along with six special awards.

The 2013 special award recipients are as follows:

  • The Ted Schmitt Award for the World Premiere of an Outstanding New Play will be awarded to Kemp Powers for One Night in Miami … The award is accompanied by an offer to publish by Samuel French, Inc.
  • The Polly Warfield Award for an Excellent Season in a Small to Midsize Theatre will be awarded to Actors Co-op. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, funded by the Nederlander Organization.
  • The Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre will be awarded to LA Theatre Works. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, funded by The Knitting Factory Entertainment Company.
  • The Joel Hirschhorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre will be awarded to David Elzer. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, funded by an anonymous donor.
  • The Milton Katselas Award for Career or Special Achievement in Direction will be awarded to Bart DeLorenzo. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, funded by The Beverly Hills Playhouse.
  • The LADCC is pleased to announce the creation of a new award, The Kinetic Lighting Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatrical Design. Kinetic Lighting is an award-winning rental house that supplies and supports the theatre community throughout Southern California. The inaugural recipient of the Kinetic Lighting Award is Angela Balogh Calin for her sustained achievement in costume design.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The 2013 nominees are:

Production
  • A Family Thing, Chris Fields and Lauren Bass, The Echo Theater Company at Stage 52
  • One Night in Miami…, John Perrin Flynn and Roxanne Hart, Rogue Machine Theatre
  • Our Class, Son of Semele Ensemble, Atwater Village Theatre
  • The Nether, Center Theatre Group, Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • The Scottsboro Boys, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
  • Walking the Tightrope, Debbie Devine and Jay McAdams, 24th Street Theatre
  • We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915, Joseph Stern and The Matrix Theatre Company, The Matrix Theatre
McCulloh Award for Revival
  • A View From The Bridge, Valerie Havey, Julianne Figueroa, Sara Newman-Martins, Robert Cannon, and Marilyn Fox, Pacific Resident Theatre
  • Dreamgirls, Mike Abramson and Dolf Ramos, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
  • The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • The Normal Heart, Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs, The Fountain Theatre
Direction
  • T.J. Dawson, Parade, 3–D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium
  • Amanda Dehnert, The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • Nancy Keystone, Alcestis, The Theatre @ Boston Court
  • Jessica Kubzansky, R II, The Theatre @ Boston Court
  • Matthew McCray, Our Class, Son of Semele Ensemble at Atwater Village Theatre
  • Todd Nielsen, Master Class, International City Theatre
Writing
  • Johnna Adams, Gidion’s Knot, Furious Theatre Company at Carrie Hamilton Theatre at Pasadena Playhouse
  • Allen Barton, Years to the Day, Skylight Theatre Company at Beverly Hills Playhouse
  • Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Motherfucker With the Hat, South Coast Repertory
  • Jennifer Haley, The Nether, Kirk Douglas Theatre
Writing (Adaptation)
  • Richard Alger, Track 3, Theatre Movement Bazaar and Bootleg Theater at Bootleg Theater
  • Nancy Keystone, Alcestis, The Theatre @ Boston Court
Musical Score
  • John Kander and Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys, Ahmanson Theatre
Music Direction
  • Eric Heinly, A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream, Troubadour Theater Company at Falcon Theatre
  • Corey Hirsch, A Man of No Importance, Good People Theater Company at Lillian Theatre
  • David Lamoureux, Parade, 3–D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium
  • Chris Raymond, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
  • Ross Seligman, One Night With Janis Joplin, Pasadena Playhouse
Choreography
  • Matthew Bourne, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Ahmanson Theatre
  • Tina Kronis, Track 3, Theatre Movement Bazaar and Bootleg Theater at Bootleg Theater
  • Kelly Todd, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Chance Theater
  • Rae Toledo, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
Lead Performance
  • Tony Abatemarco, Red, International City Theatre
  • Gigi Bermingham, Master Class, International City Theatre
  • Tim Cummings, The Normal Heart, The Fountain Theatre
  • Mary Bridget Davies, One Night With Janis Joplin, Pasadena Playhouse
  • Dana Delany, The Parisian Woman, South Coast Repertory
  • Constance Jewell Lopez, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
  • Perry Ojeda, The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • Nicole Parker, Funny Girl, 3–D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium
  • Jeff Skowron, Parade, 3–D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium
  • Paige Lindsey White, Walking the Tightrope, 24th Street Theatre
  • Michael Yavnieli, Years to the Day, Skylight Theatre Company at Beverly Hills Playhouse
Featured Performance
  • Christian Barillas, The Motherfucker With the Hat, South Coast Repertory
  • Sabrina Elayne Carten, One Night With Janis Joplin, Pasadena Playhouse,
  • Nate Dendy, The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • Michael Nehring, Our Class, Son of Semele Ensemble at Atwater Village Theatre
  • Welton Thomas Pitchford, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
  • Elizabeth Regen, A Family Thing, The Echo Theater Company at Stage 52
  • Patrick Stafford, Red, International City Theatre
Ensemble Performance
  • One Night in Miami…, Rogue Machine Theatre
  • Our Class, Son of Semele Ensemble at Atwater Village Theatre
  • The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • The Scottsboro Boys, Ahmanson Theatre
  • We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915, Matrix Theatre
Solo Performance
  • Lorenzo Pisoni, Humor Abuse, Mark Taper Forum
Set Design
  • Lez Brotherston, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Ahmanson Theatre
  • Danny Cistone, Cops and Friends of Cops, VS. Theatre
  • Adrian W. Jones, The Nether, Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • Jeanine A. Ringer, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, A Noise Within
Lighting Design
  • Ken Booth, PericlesPrince of Tyre, A Noise Within
  • Paule Constable, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Ahmanson Theatre
  • Christopher Kuhl, The Nether, Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • Jeremy Pivnick, R II, The Theatre @ Boston Court
Costume Design
  • Lez Brotherston, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Ahmanson Theatre
  • Shon LeBlanc, Parade, 3–D Theatricals at Plummer Auditorium
  • Sharon McGunigle, A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream, Troubadour Theater Company at Falcon Theatre
  • Michael Mullen, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Co. at The MET Theatre
Sound Design
  • Peter Bayne, The Normal Heart, The Fountain Theatre
  • John Zalewski, R II, The Theatre @ Boston Court
  • John Zalewski, The Nether, Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • John Zalewski, Walking the Tightrope, 24th Street Theatre
Video Design
  • Adam Flemming, The Normal Heart, The Fountain Theatre
  • Matthew G. Hill, Walking the Tightrope, 24th Street Theatre
  • Kaitlyn Pietras (Projection Design), R II, The Theatre @ Boston Court
  • Jason Thompson (Projection Design), Heart of Darkness, The Actors’ Gang
Movement/Fight Choreography
  • Ned Mochel, Cops and Friends of Cops, VS. Theatre
  • Nenad Pervan, Tender Napalm, SIX01 Studio
Illusions/Magic Design
  • Jim Steinmeyer, The Fantasticks, South Coast Repertory
  • Johnny Thompson, Play Dead, Geffen Playhouse


Total Nominations by Production:
A Family Thing (2)
A Man of No Importance (1)
A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream (2)
A View From the Bridge (1)
Alcestis (2)
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (1)
Cops and Friends of Cops (2)
Dreamgirls (6)
Funny Girl (1)
Gidion’s Knot (1)
Heart of Darkness (1)
Humor Abuse (1)
Master Class (2)
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (4)
One Night in Miami… (2)
One Night With Janis Joplin (3)
Our Class (4)
Parade (4)
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (2)
Play Dead (1)
R II (4)
Red (2)
Tender Napalm (1)
The Fantasticks (6)
The Motherfucker With the Hat (2)
The Nether (5)
The Normal Heart (4)
The Parisian Woman (1)
The Scottsboro Boys (3)
Track 3 (2)
Walking the Tightrope (4)
We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915 (2)
Years to the Day (2)

 
Gordon Goodman and Janet Miller Interview

 

The Good People Theater Company is getting sweet attention from audiences and critics for its latest production of Barrymore at the Greenway Court Theatre.  Ben Miles, a theater writer for showmag.com, recently interviewed the show’s director, Janet Miller, and the actor who plays the title role, Gordon Goodman.

Showmag: What motivated you to select and commit to Barrymore?

Janet Miller:  We, the Good People Theater Company, were looking for a play to dovetail with our    production of A Man of No Importance by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty, and Lynn Ahren’s.  We considered David Mamet’s A Life in the Theater, but we couldn’t get the rights.

We wanted to send a valentine to the theater and many people had recommended William Luce’s Barrymore. But to do a show like Barrymore, you have to have the right actor. Fortunately, I knew Gordon Goodman, and I knew he’d be perfect for the role.

 

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The Untold Stories of Broadway

 

Jennifer Ashley Tepper, a self-proclaimed musical theater historian, is author of The Untold Stories of Broadway: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theaters, Volume 1. It’s a 350-page nonfiction narrative based on stories from eight of the forty theaters on the Great White Way. Tepper envisions this first volume as one in a series of four publications. Together these quadruplet treatises of Untold Stories of Broadway, once complete, will convey cryptic tales from each extant Broadway theater, as well as a couple of venues that are now long-gone.

 

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The Lion King Returns

Casting has been announced for the Los Angeles return engagement of Disney’s THE LION KING.  Los Angeles’ most eagerly awaited stage production ever will leap onto the Hollywood Pantages stage from November 20, 2013 – January 12, 2014.  The press opening night is Friday, November 22 at 8pm.  The landmark musical will return to Los Angeles for the first time since its triumphant return engagement in November 2006, where the production played a sold-out run at Hollywood Pantages.

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Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater continues its 53rd season with “Bob Baker’s Halloween Hoop-Dee-Do” playing October 5-November3, 2013. One of the theater’s perennial favorites, “Bob Baker’s Halloween Hoop-De-Do” first played the theater in 1963.  Featuring a fantastical cast of over 100 Halloween themed puppets, from the Purple People Eater and the Invisible Man to a gaggle of Roaring 20's skeletons dancing the night away in Hernando's Hideaway, “Bob Baker’s Halloween Hoop-De-Do” will whisk you away to “the place where imagination dwells”.

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