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.

LA STAGE INSIDER

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Martin Benson & David Emmes
Martin Benson & David Emmes

On the occasion of South Coast Repertory’s 50th season gala ball, held last Saturday, Orange County arts supporter Paul Folino announced the re-naming of SCR’s Folino Theatre Center to honor the company’s co-founders. Its new name will be the David Emmes and Martin Benson Theatre Center. In 2002, former SCR board president Folino made a donation of $10 million and was honored by SCR naming the theater complex after him. During the renaming announcement, retired Emulex Corporation CEO Folino acknowledged, “These men (Emmes and Benson) truly are legends in repertory theater history.”

Jessica Kubzansky
Jessica Kubzansky

2014 SEASON AT BOSTON COURTTheatre @ Boston Court (TBC) in Pasadena is launching its 2014 stage fare with the debut of Mexican-American playwright Octavio SolisSe Llama Cristina – “a gritty, poetic look at the uncertainty of life and our desperate need for belonging,” helmed by Robert Castro, opening Jan 26. The production is a National New Play Network “rolling world premiere”. This is followed by the premiere of Everything You Touch by Sheila Callaghan set in the fashion world, “a viciously funny look at the struggle to find an identity that’s more than skin deep,” a co-production with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, helmed by TBC co-artistic director Jessica Kubzansky, opening Apr 12. The West Coast debut of Stupid Fucking Bird, a remix of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, scripted by Aaron Posner, helmed by co-artistic director Michael Michetti a co-production with Circle X Theatre — opens June 28. The four-production season closes with Samuel Beckett’s 1961 existential allegory, Happy Days, demonstrating “the vitality of the human spirit in the face of a deteriorating world,” helmed by Andrei Belgrader, featuring Brooke Adams, opening Sep 13…

Christian Levatino
Christian Levatino

PREMIERES…Marking the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, Gangbusters Theatre Company, in association with Combined Artform, is premiering Sunny Afternoon, a JFK assassination conspiracy play, scripted and helmed by Christian Levatino, opening Oct 12 at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood… Fierce Backbone is opening the premiere of A Good Grief, a comedy about sorrow, scripted by Leslie Hardy, helmed by Jeffrey Wylie, Oct 13 at Greenway Court Theatre in the Fairfax district…

AROUND TOWN… The much-traveled 2000 pop-rock tuner Inappropriate is preparing a sojourn at Odyssey Theatre in West LA, sporting an upgraded book (Michael Sottile and Lonnie McNeil) and score (Sottile), co-helmed by Sottile and Ray Leeper, opening Nov 14…Zephyr Theatre on Melrose Ave is hosting a revival of Pulitzer winner Bruce Norris’s 2006 satire The Pain and the Itch — a sojourn within the hypocritical politics of class and culture during a family Thanksgiving dinner, opening Oct 26.

Ron House as MC of "El Grande de Coca Cola"
Ron House as MC of “El Grande de Coca Cola”

In Jennifer Chambers  staging, the setting is Pacific Palisades, although Norris set it only in an unnamed city…Playwright Wendy Macleod’s 1994 comedy, Sin — “negotiating the finer points of death, divorce and damnation in America, circa 1989” — is being staged by Garage Theatre in Long Beach in association with Alive Theatre, helmed by Amy Louise Sebelius, opening Oct 4… Now that 19th century British literary icon Lewis Carroll has met Sherlock Holmes in Porters of Hellsgate’s premiere of Sherlock Through the Looking Glass, it is only fair that he moves on to Charles Dickens.  Scripted and helmed by Daniel Rover Singer, A Perfect Likeness — a fictional meeting between the two literary legends — opens Nov 8 at Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena…Coeurage Theatre Company’s final production of its 2013 season is William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, helmed by Ted Barton, opening Oct 12 at 2nd Stage Theatre in Hollywood… Atwater Village Theatre hosts 30 Minute Musicals — tuner adaptations of the ‘80s flicks Teen Witch and Ghostbusters, with a musical score by Dan Wessels, helmed by Brooke Seguin, opening Oct 13…And the relentlessly farcical cabaret spoof El Grande de Coca Cola, staged by two of its original co-creators, Ron House and Alan Shearman, is extending through Oct 26 at Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica…

Elyce Mirto
Elyse Mirto

THE THING IS… “It is quite an honor to play a role that Lynne Fontanne introduced on Broadway. I did not know this work, but I am certainly aware of the stature of Fontanne and her husband Alfred Lunt. I had also heard of this play and had seen bits and pieces of the 1930s film, which is the only film that they did together. When I was a kid growing up, my dad really loved old films and we watched many of them together. I just never saw this one all the way through. It wasn’t until I was auditioning for this production that I realized some of it was familiar.  Freddy Douglas is playing my husband, the Lunt role. Freddy is a company member. This is my first production with the company, my maiden voyage, and naturally I am very excited. Freddy and I are having a lot of fun. We’ll have a lot more fun when we stop calling, ‘Line.”  There is a lot of verbiage.  These two characters love to speak in paragraphs to one another and speak with 40-dollar words.  It’s somewhat like memorizing Shakespeare. It is a mouthful. This is a farce. These two people are already naturally demonstrative, dramatic people. They are sort of the Angelina and Brad of 1910 Budapest. They are ‘A’ personalities, naturally. If you try to push that too far, then the farce won’t work. The task for me is to know her and just be her.”  – Elyse Mirto portrays the Actress in A Noise Within’s production of  Ferenc Molnar’s early 20th century farce, The Guardsman, directed by Michael Michetti, beginning previews on Sep 28…

Oliver Hinsdell
Oliver Hinsdell

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY…Born Sep 15, 1889, Oliver Hinsdell channels a youthful enthusiasm for his high school thespian class into a short-lived career as a touring juvenile in a series of second-rate road show companies, finally ending up as an out-of-work actor in New Orleans in 1919. He soon attaches himself to one of America’s pioneering small-theater companies, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre — first as an actor, then as a director, staging 19 productions by 1923. That same year, he is lured by Little Theatre of Dallas to become its artistic director, guiding it to national prominence as three-time winner (1924-26) of the Belasco Cup at the National Little Theatre Tournament in New York City.  In 1925, he pens what for many years is considered to be the bible of small theater management in America, Making Little Theater Pay, published by Samuel French. In 1931, he accepts the position of acting coach/casting director at MGM and moves to LA. Within a year, he creates the Beverly Hills Professional Theater, utilizing film colony talent such as Hedda Hopper, Kenneth Tucker, Walter Byron and others, staging critically acclaimed productions of Pygmalion, The Second Man, Molnar’s The Good Fairy and the premiere of Paul Fort’s The Plowboy, staged at the Playbox in Pasadena. When plans to marshal film industry support to build his own theater fail to materialize, Hinsdell concentrates on nurturing the youthful talent put in his charge, including a young man he originally dubs “the mugger from Pomona,” Robert Taylor.  In 1939, Hinsdell moves on to the position of talent coach at Paramount Pictures, occasionally being called on to assume small character roles in film. Although he acts as an adviser to such early local small theater projects as Circle Players (1947) and Players Ring (1951), Hinsdell chooses to stick to coaching, although he does update two more editions of his book for Samuel French.  Hinsdell dies in December 1967.

Julio Martinez produces and hosts Arts in Review (AIR), celebrating the best in LA-area theater and cabaret on KPFK Radio (90.7FM), Fridays (7-7:30 pm). On Sep 27, Arts in Review spotlights Albie Selznick, whose Smoke and Mirrors is enjoying an extended run at Road Theatre on Lankershim in NoHo…