LA STAGE Insider: January 7, 2011

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Del Shores

SLIPPING INTO JANUARY“¦Busy! Busy! Busy! Del Shores’ one-man show, Del Shores’ My Sordid Life, is filming Jan. 6 at the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Arts Center’s Renberg Theatre in Hollywood for spring DVD release”¦ Downtown LA-based Company of Angels is kicking off its 51st season with Fatigued, Fatigued, two one-act plays that center around the return of soldiers from war:  Ballad of Sad Young Men, scripted by Jerome A. Parker, and Gabriel Gomez RivasScar Tissue, opening Jan. 6″¦ LA-based  Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE) is hosting the first annual Company Creation Festival, an eight-week exposition of new work generated by Los Angeles ensembles, including Psittacus Productions, title3, Spinable Productions and Urban Ensemble. Productions will be in repertory from Jan. 12 to March 6, curated and co-produced by SOSE Artistic Director Matthew McCray“¦LA-based Rogue Machine is enjoying such success with its Ovation Recommended LA premiere of The Sunset Limited, the run is being extended until Jan. 31. In the meantime, the Rogue also is collaborating with Firefly Theatre & Films in the LA premiere of Dirt, scripted and helmed by Bruce Gooch, featuring John Dennis Johnston, Ryan Johnston and Andrea Robinson, opening Jan. 27. Both plays perform at Theatre/Theater on Pico Blvd”¦On Jan. 15, Vs. Theatre Co. is hosting An Evening With Neil LaBute, an audience interactive discussion with the acclaimed playwright/filmmaker, moderated by helmer/acting coach Howard Fine at the Howard Fine Acting Studio in Hollywood. Vs. is producing the LA premiere of LaBute’s The Mercy Seat at [Inside] the Ford this spring (March 19-April 24)”¦ Returning to South Pasadena after an autumn run at Cape May Stage in New Jersey, Suzan-Lori Parks’ Ovation Recommended Pulitzer winner, Topdog/Underdog re-opens Jan. 28 at Fremont Center Stage, helmed by James Reynolds, starring Jed Reynolds and Stephen Rider“¦Combined Artform is presenting the premiere of autobiographical Blink & You Might Miss Me, written and performed by dancer/thesp Larry Blum, helmed by Stan Zimmerman, at Asylum Lab in Hollywood, opening Jan. 8″¦Comedic thesp J. Michael Feldman’s one-man Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 & Over, a collection of morally-spun adult fairy tales and fables, opens Jan. 20 at Acme Comedy Theatre in Hollywood”¦ In development, Steven Drukman’s The Prince of Atlantis will have a staged reading Jan. 10 in conjunction with South Coast Rep’s NewSCRipts series, the 113th play to receive a staged reading in SCR’s venerable program. Plays selected for the NewSCRipts series have earned six Pulitzer Prize noms, with Margaret Edson’s Wit winning the prize in 1999. Drukman is the former senior editor of American Theatre Magazine“¦ The title role of Sierra Madre Playhouse’s new production of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, helmed by Gita Donovan, is being taken over by Tanna Frederick, who recently completed a long run in Just 45 Minutes From Broadway at Edgemar Center in Santa Monica. Sylvia opens Jan. 14″¦

LOOKING AHEAD“¦El Centro Theatre in Hollywood is hosting the premiere of The Berlin Dig, scripted, helmed and produced by John Stuercke, opening Feb. 4. Stuercke states, “The Berlin Dig was written in three weeks as a direct response to the resurrection of Fundamentalism in America” “¦On a lighter note, The Group Rep in North Hollywood has scheduled a Feb. 5 opening of Stealing Buffalo, written by and starring Vern Urich and Craig Shaynak, directed by Michael Kelly, chronicling the shenanigans of two thesps after Samuel French hatchets their plans to produce David Mamet’s hit play American Buffalo“¦Beverly Hills High-based Theatre 40 continues its ambitious 2010-2011 season with Tucumcari by LA-based scripter/thesp Riley Steiner, helmed by Doug Traer, a Dust Bowl era saga imbued with the jazz and folk tunes of the times, opening Feb. 2″¦In Toluca Lake, Falcon Theatre opens The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity, written by Annie Hendy, staged by Gregg W. Brevoort, on Feb. 11″¦In Anaheim Hills, Chance Theater is launching its four-play Mainstage Series with the West Coast premiere of the romantic comedy Nerve by Adam Szymkowicz, opening Feb. 5. Next up are the world premiere three-hander tuner, The Boy in the Bathroom by Michael Lluberes (book & lyrics), Joe Maloney (music & additional lyrics), staged by Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen (Apr. 23); the local introduction of Jerry Springer: The Opera, by Richard Thomas (music), Stewart Lee and Thomas (book & lyrics), opening July 9; and the California premiere of Up by Bridget Carpenter (Oct. 1)“¦ While anticipating the completion of its spanking new facility in Pasadena, it is business as usual for A Noise Within at its Glendale space. Believing it should encourage up-and-coming scripters, ANW continues its 2010-2011 season with William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, helmed by Michael Michetti (Mar. 5-May 14); The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams, staged by Damaso Rodriguez (Mar. 19-May 28), and Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs, directed by  Julia Rodriguez-Elliott (April 9-May 21). The three plays perform in rep”¦

THRUSHES AND HOOFERS“¦Bolstered by two sold-out dates in 2010, Satin Dolls: A Musical Tribute to Jazz Vocalists, returns to Sierra Madre Playhouse, Jan. 16. Scripted and performed by Phyllis Battle (The Fifth Dimension), helmed by Lady Walquer (sister of Ben Vereen) with musical direction by pianist Vanessa Burch, the one-performance-only event is produced by The Instrumental Women Project, the inaugural salvo in a new jazz series at the Playhouse. Jazz radio host James Janisse is serving as announcer/narrator”¦ Continuing the melody line, Nate Holden Performing Arts Center is offering So Much Love, a tuneful evening with acclaimed singer/thesp Jenifer Lewis including champagne and nosh with Ms. Lewis herself, hosted by Ebony Repertory Theatre, Feb. 4″¦Over in Garden Grove, singer/thesp Beth Hansen returns to the Gem with her own musical theater-tinged one-woman show, An Evening With Beth Hansen, Jan. 21-29″¦ Speaking of solo diva turns, versatile singer/thesp Rita McKenzie is once more channeling Ethel Merman’s Broadway, helmed by Christopher Powich, at NoHo’s El Portal Theatre, Feb. 17-27″¦ Taking a terpsichorean turn, the 10-member, high-energy LA-based dance ensemble, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, performs at Smothers Theatre on Pepperdine University’s Malibu campus, Feb. 8″¦Back to El Portal, a plethora of reality TV hoofers are blazing across its stage, Jan. 20-Feb. 13, in Ballroom with a Twist, conceived and choreographed by Louis van Amstel, featuring pros from Dancing with the Stars (Alec Mazo, Edyta Sliwinska, Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya) and So You Think You Can Dance (Randi Lynn Evans, Ade Obayomi & Johnathan Platero). Adding melody are American Idol finalists David Hernandez and Gina Glocksen. Rotating hosts include Gilles Marini and Jane Seymour“¦ Putting song and dance together, Reprise Theatre Company’s 10-11 season continues with Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi, staged by David Lee, Feb. 15-27″¦

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY”¦Seeking to emulate the success of the New York Shakespeare Festival, honchoed by Joseph Papp, the Free Public Theatre Foundation (FPTF) and its performing arm, Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival, were launched in 1973, under the leadership of Peg Yorkin (then wife of TV producer Bud Yorkin), headquartered in offices at 8105 W. 3d Street, near Farmers Market. With the blessings of LA City and County administrators, the company immediately mounted an ambitious As You Like It at the Pilgrimage Theatre (now the John Anson Ford) and touring productions of Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors, which offered free performances in parks throughout the LA area. It is estimated over 22,000 people were treated to the Bard during that first season. Despite high operating costs and no paying audience, FPTP still managed to pay Equity salaries. The flow of Shakespeare continued for seven seasons, mounting well-attended stagings of Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello (starring Raymond St. Jacques) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (featuring Susan Tyrrell and Cleavon Little). Other notable FPTP thesps included Amy Irving, Mare Winningham and Roger Kern. In 1976, Yorkin initiated the Children’s Theatre Festival, sending performances out to hospitals, libraries and rec centers throughout the town.  But the Shakespearean times were “a changin’.” In 1980, LA Shakespeare Festival became the Free Public Theatre Festival, moving to the more intimate Gallery Theatre in Barnsdall Park and initiating contemporary plays including William Mastrosimone’s The Woolgatherer (starring Shelley Long & Jonathan Banks) and the tuner The Rag Show, book & lyrics by Ralph Steadman and Hugh Monahan. By 1981, the word “free” was no longer in the title. Yorkin’s LA Public Theatre launched a four-play subscription season at the decidedly for-profit Coronet Theatre on La Cienega. But that’s a different INSIDE LA Stage history”¦

The Julio Martinez-hosted ARTS IN REVIEW, broadcast Wednesdays (2 to 2:30 pm) on KPFK (90.7FM), spotlights the best in live theater and cabaret in the Greater LA Area. Upcoming on Jan. 12 is a conversation with noted playwright Neil LaBute“¦

@ This Stage Podcast, Ep. 4

In Episode 4 of the @ This Stage Podcast, Julia Stier interviews Lisa Sanaye Dring, Actress, Playwright, Director, and Associate Artistic Director of Circle X Theatre.

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Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.