LA STAGE Insider

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Noah Wylie

NEWS”¦ The former Kodak Theatre is now becoming Dolby Theatre, and Oscar night is staying put in the Hollywood facility. A little know fact –  the first awards ceremony held in the building, which was dedicated in Nov 2001, was the Ovation Awards, held the same month. It was a technological disaster.  Fortunately, the bugs were worked out before the facility’s debut as the Oscar host in March 2002.  Except for the Oscar ceremony, Dolby’s occupant for most of this decade is expected to be  Cirque du Soleil’s tinseltown extravaganza Iris, which opened last September…Hollywood-based Blank Theatre’s 20th annual Young Playwrights Festival has selected a dozen young scripters from nine states, including the youngest in YPF history — 9-year-old Spencer Opal-Levine from Sarasota, Fl.  These emerging playwrights, who range up to age 19, will have their works presented by professional thesps and helmers, May 31-June 24 at Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood. YTF alumni include 2012 Pulitzer finalist Stephen Karam (Sons of the Prophet) and Blank artistic producer Noah Wyle, who acted in the first festival”¦Today (May 3) at 7 and 8 pm, L A Opera is presenting two short Courtyard performances featuring selections from Puccini’s La Boheme, in conjunction with One Colorado Spring Art and Cultural Events, located at Hugus Alley in Old Town Pasadena. The opera opens May 12 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion”¦2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at hollywoodfringe.org or in person at Fringe Central Box Office @ Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. Key Festival dates include: May 11 – Fringe [film] submission deadline; June 7-12 – Fringe previews; June 13 – Fringe opening night gala; June 14-24 – third annual Hollywood Fringe Festival; June 24 – Fringe awards ceremony and closing night party”¦

Máire Clerkin

CITF 2012″¦ The fourth annual  California International Theatre Festival, presented by the City of Calabasas, is scheduled for May 17-21, with most performances at Founder’s Hall, under the leadership of CITF founder/festival director Linda Purl. The lineup includes a staged reading of The Bear Trap, exploring “the marriage of love and family dysfunction,” scripted by Australian playwright Daniel R. Lillford, May 17, 18; The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer by Máire Clerkin, capturing “the excitement of Irish dancing amid astounding bursts of rhythm and physical theatre,” May 19; a staged reading of A Happy End by Israeli playwright Iddo Ntenanyahu, helmed by Ami Dayan, May 19, repeated May 21 at Museum of Tolerance in West LA; the West Coast premiere of To The Top, a lecture about the successful 1995 summit ascent of Mount Everest by Dr. Julius J. Budnick, May 20; and the premiere of Ancient meets Utterly Modern, a dance theater concert by American Kabuki Master, Lonny Joseph Gordon and Iranian Beijing Master, Ghaffar Pourazar, May 20.  All events are free and open to the public”¦

DC Jackson

PREMIERES”¦ Renegade Theatre in Hollywood is offering the American premiere of 2010 Edinburgh Scotsman Fringe First Award Winner, My Romantic History, “a comedy about love, loss and laminating machines,” by Scottish scripter DC Jackson, helmed by Alejandro Romero, opening June 28″¦Closer at hand, Aphrodite 2, “an erotic comedy mystery,” debuts at Hollywood-based MET Theatre, May 18, scripted by USC German professor emeritus Cornelius Schnauber, translated by Anne Adams, helmed by MET artistic director L. Flint Esquerra. The three-hander features Fiona Bates, Joseph Beck and David Bickford“¦A lot more thesps take the stage in the premiere of Love Struck, “seven one-act plays about love,” scripted by Dale Griffiths Stamos, helmed by Maggie Grant, visiting Beverly Hills Playhouse, May 11-27.  The 17-member ensemble includes Barbara Bain, Peter Van Norden, Nick Ullett and Robert Miano...West Hollywood-based Macha Theatre is hosting the West Coast debut of Bitchslap!, scripted by Darrin Hagen, helmed by Macha artistic director Odalys Nanin, a tinseltown chronicle of the long-running Bette Davis/Joan Crawford feud, refereed by gossip maven Hedda Hopper, opening May 19″¦Casting and performance schedule are now set for the premiere of Robert Patrick’s Heterosexuals or The War Over Jane Fonda, opening July 6 at Vash Equality Boddie’s Genesis, a 12-seat theater in Hollywood.  This three-hander chronicle of “a family torn apart by Desert Storm,” helmed by Rose Desena, features Brent Anderson, Dan Berkowitz and Catherine Curtis“¦Finally, Katselas Theatre Company continues its 2012 season with Beautified, scripted by multi-award-winning Tony Abatemarco, helmed by Ovation-nominated Jenny Sullivan, opening May 25. The three-hander, which takes “riotous romp through four decades in a Massachusetts beauty parlor,” features Karen Austin, Rob Brownstein and Joanna Strapp”¦

Jennifer Haley

AROUND TOWN”¦ Pacific Opera Project (P.O.P.) is offering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1790 comic opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, the initial outing at P.O.P.’s new home, 150-seat Porticoes Theater on E. Washington Blvd. in Pasadena, opening May 12. Helmer Josh Shaw is re-setting the action from 18th century Naples to America’s Antebellum South at the time of the Civil War, performed in Italian with English supertitles”¦Founded in 2009 by scripter Jennifer Haley, the Playwrights Union, a network of Los Angeles theater artists, hosts its third annual festival of new work readings, May 12 and 13 at Actors’ Gang in Culver City. The works include: The Fisherman’s Wife by Steve Yockey, helmed by Gates McFadden; Before the Moment by Jihan Crowther, directed by Becca Wolff; Space Available by Jennie Webb, helmed by Jen Bloom; Analogue by Larry Pontius, helmed by Dana Friedman; Carte Blanche by Eric Loo; Theory of Nothing by Lolly Ward, helmed by Randee Trabitz; and Partners by Dorothy Fortenberry”¦Originally debuting at South Coast Rep in 2003, the cyber world-infused The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, scripted by Rolin Jones, is opening at Long Beach Playhouse, May 19, helmed by LBP technical director, Sean Gray“¦

Aldo Pisano

THE THING IS”¦ “I observed an aerialist artist (Ruby Karen) do a performance and from that I gained inspiration to create something of my own that is spoken word. And then my spoken piece served as the inspiration for a singer/songwriter (John Bobek). In all, there are eight of us, all of different artistic disciplines, who build from each other.  But the original idea came from the aerialist who first opened the fortune cookie and is the only one who knows what’s in it. Obviously, creations that came after that can go in any direction. It took me two weeks to write my piece after that first encounter. And I have not yet seen what the other artists have created. Opening night will be the first time. Our director is wonderfully intuitive and has a tremendous background in ballroom dance, so I am sure there is going to be a beautiful symmetry to the way all the different artists will work together. This is a great experience for me. I’ve always written my own pieces and performed them on my own.  I had a one-man show I did in New York and also performed it here in LA at Upright Citizens Brigade. That’s how I met Veronique Ory who is producing this show. There are not a lot of performance outlets for spoken word.  And this is not like any other experience I’ve had. It’s the children’s game “˜Telephone’ taken to a whole new level.” ““ Aldo Pisano holds down the storyteller slot in Synesthesia, “a multi-medium art show displaying how eight artists of different genres inspire each other,” conceived by Ashlin Halfnight and Melanie Sylvan, helmed by Ovation winner Cate Caplin, presented by Athena Theatre and LA’s Bootleg Theater, May 7-June 11 (Mondays only)”¦

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY”¦In 1980, two gentlemen with monumentally disparate backgrounds join forces, founding Catalina Production Group, dedicated to simultaneously producing high-level live theater, television and film fare. Thirty-two-year-old Franklin R. Levy was a big-city Jewish boy from the Bronx whose entry into show business was as a talent agent, repping such stars as Henry Fonda, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway and Al Pacino. Levy’s new partner is 32-year-old thesp Gregory Harrison. Born and raised on Southern California’s Catalina Island, he was a WASP beach boy who didn’t leave the island until he was 18.  Levy makes the move to LA in the mid-’70s, serving as a consultant to the Ahmanson Theatre. He forms the Production Company in 1977, beginning his mandate to produce for the stage and the screen. Meanwhile, following military service, Harrison begins his assault on Hollywood in 1972, eventually landing small-screen starring roles in Logan’s Run (1977), Centennial (1978) and the long-running series Trapper John MD (1979-1986). Levy’s and Harrison’s mutual goals lead to a partnership that includes Matthew Rushton, achieving immediate success in 1981 — a well-received NBC TV movie, For Ladies Only, and a ragingly successful revival of the 1945 John Patrick play The Hasty Heart, at 99-seat Cast-at-the-Circle in Hollywood, both starring Harrison. In April 1983, The Hasty Heart becomes the first Equity Waiver play in history to move up to a full Equity production at Ahmanson Theatre and is produced as a television movie (under Levy’s Production Company banner), co-starring Harrison and Cheryl Ladd. Also in “˜83, Broadway producing vet Roger Berlind joins the mix and Catalina pulls a coup, grabbing the West Coast producing rights to Tom Eyen’s 1975 Off-Broadway hit Women behind Bars away from the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, which has already listed it in its season brochure. Catalina’s production, debuting in April at CAST-at-the-Circle, helmed by Ron Link, starring Lu Leonard and Adrienne Barbeau, is a hit, moving to the Roxy nightclub on the Sunset Strip in May. From 1981 to 1992, Catalina Production Group produces nearly 60 stage productions in LA, garnering over 150 theater awards, while turning out 11 TV films. In 1990, Gregory Harrison receives an Ovation Award for outstanding contribution to LA Theater. In March 1992, Levy succumbs to a pulmonary embolism at age 43.  In his honor, Theatre LA (which will later be re-named LA STAGE Alliance) creates the Ovation Awards’ annual Franklin R Levy Memorial Award for an outstanding musical in an intimate theater.  Harrison continues moving seamlessly between stage and film projects, currently in rehearsals for a musical version of a classic science fiction film with Bruce Kimmel’s Outside the Box Musical Theatre Company”¦

— The Julio Martinez scripted and produced ARTS IN REVIEW, produced weekly on KPFK 90.7fm, is on hiatus until June 14″¦”¦

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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.