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.

Remembering Joseph Ruskin and Billie Burke

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Joseph Ruskin
Joseph Ruskin

IN MEMORIAM…While this column was on hiatus during the holidays, noted film, television and stage actor Joseph Ruskin died on December 28, 2013 of natural causes at age 89. A veteran of 124 TV episodes and 25 feature films, Ruskin actively participated in LA theater, including a stint as artistic director of Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. He frequently performed at Center Theatre Group, including the American premiere of In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer at Mark Taper Forum (1968). More recently, he performed in International City Theatre stagings of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing (2004) and Israel Horovitz’s Park Your Car in Harvard Yard (2008), as well as UCLA Live’s Medea, starring Annette Bening (2009). Born in Massachusetts, Ruskin studied at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon University), making his professional debut at Pittsburgh Playhouse. Active in both Screen Actors Guild and Actors’ Equity Association, Ruskin served as a vice president in both unions. His final stage performances were as a member of Antaeus Company, appearing in You Can’t Take it With You (2012) and The Crucible (2013). A public memorial service for Joseph Ruskin was held last Sunday at Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood…

GIFTS AND GRANTS…Last Saturday, Chance Theater in Anaheim not only celebrated the opening of its new flexible mid-size theater, but the space got a new name. California Arts Council chair Wylie Aitken made a $250,000 contribution in order to name Chance’s new home after his wife.  The Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center, at 5522 E. La Palma Ave, Anaheim, will be officially dedicated at a later date TBA.  Founded in 1999, Chance Theater was the recipient of three 2013 Ovation Awards, including best production of a musical (intimate theater) for its staging of Triassic Parq: The Musical…Pasadena’s classical repertory company, A Noise Within (ANW), has received a three-grant windfall — $75,000 from Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and $50,000 each from the Rose Hills and S. Mark Taper foundations — $175,000 in all. All three grants will be utilized for the continuing support of ANW’s ongoing performance and outreach programs.  Founded in 1989 by co-producing artistic directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, ANW is currently in the midst of its 2013-14 season, continuing with Molière’s Tartuffe (Feb 15-May 24)…



AROUND TOWN… The original Broadway 2009 cast of the Kneehigh production of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter — led by Tony-nominated Hannah Yelland and Tristan Sturrock — is sojourning at Wallis Annenberg Center’s Bram Goldsmith Theater for a 43-performance run, adapted and helmed by Kneehigh joint artistic director Emma Rice. Opening Feb 19, UK-based Kneehigh’s staging utilizes film and music to provide a highly theatrical setting for Coward’s “classic, timeless tale of illicit lovers”…Whitmore Theatre in NoHo is hosting  Porters of Hellsgate’s take on Shakespeare’s Henry V, starring and helmed by Porters artistic director Charles Pasternak, opening Feb 15…Wasatch Theatrical Ventures is reviving Inherit the Wind, the 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee — inspired by the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” trial — helmed by Kiff Scholl, opening Feb 8 at Grove Theater Center in Burbank…Watts Village Theater Company (WCTV) is launching its 2014 season with a free reading of In the Absence of Light, scripted by WCTC artistic director Lynn Manning, Feb 22, at Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club…Also performing from the written page, Eclectic Company Theatre in Valley Village is presenting  A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer — a staged reading of writings to stop violence against women and girls — edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle, performed on Feb 14…

Ross Golan
Ross Golan

PREMIERES…As the final premiere of its 50th season, South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa is presenting Five Mile Lake — “an intimate look at life in a small town” — scripted by Rachel Bonds, helmed by Daniella Topol, opening Apr 13 on the Julianne Argyros Stage, anchoring the 17th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival…IAMA Theatre Company is offering the LA premiere of The Recommendation — focusing on “the meaning of friendship and where loyalty has its limits” — written by Jonathan Caren, directed by Laura Savia, opening Feb 8 at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood….Theatre of NOTE launches its 2014 season with the LA premiere of Disassembly,  a comedy about an accident-prone man, by Steve Yockey, helmed by Tom Beyer, opening Feb 21…Theatre by the Blind is presenting the premiere of Sit — inspired by and starring blind actress Sheila Walker — scripted and helmed by Lindsay Nyman, opening Feb 21 at Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica…The premiere outing of Ross Golan’s solo song cycle/folk tragedy The Wrong Man, helmed and choreographed by Lee Martino, is extending its run through Mar 16 at Skylight Theatre in Hollywood… And across the pond, Steven Sachs’ award-winning two-hander Bakersfield Mist — which premiered in 2011 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood — will make its UK debut, starring Tony nominee Kathleen Turner and Tony winner Ian McDiarmid, opening May 10 at Duchess Theatre in London…

Billie Burke
Billie Burke

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY…Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke is born August 7, 1884, in Washington, DC, but never lives in the capital. The daughter of internationally renowned circus clown Billy Burke, Mary spends most of her youth on the road, touring Europe, eventually settling down in London. By then, Mary has acquired the nickname, “Billie,” which she adapts as her stage name when she moves to New York in 1910.  Over the next four years, Billie Burke stars in four Broadway shows, as well as a supporting role in Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Amazons. It is her performance in this latter play that attracts the personal attention of theater producer Florenz Ziegfeld, whom she marries in 1914. Two years later she stars in the silent film, Peggy. Following the birth of her daughter, Burke decides to go into semi-retirement, devoting herself to being a mother and wife. But in 1929, Ziegfeld’s finances are decimated by the stock market crash, which also greatly affects his health. To raise money, Burke returns to acting, moving to Hollywood, where she quickly establishes herself in such popular films as A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933). When Ziegfeld dies in 1932, Burke also returns to her first love –live theater — starring in The Marquise at El Capitan. During the ensuing two decades, Burke divides her time between stage and film work. A film highlight is her role as Glinda the Good Witch in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (1939). She appears on many local stages, including Hollywood Playhouse, Biltmore Theatre and the Wilshire Ebell. In 1948, Burke joins the ensemble of Family Theatre, performing radio dramas.  One highlight is her performance in Stage Struck (1954). In 1958, Burke is cast in Mel Dinelli’s suspense thriller, The Man, opposite ingénue Gigi Perreau, scheduled to open at the Huntington Hartford in Hollywood. Unable to continue due to illness, Burke is replaced by another show biz legend, Dorothy Gish. Although Burke continues to perform infrequently in television and film, she does not return to live theater. Billie Burke passes away on May 14, 1970 and is buried in Valhalla, New York, next to her husband…

Julio Martinez-produced and hosted Arts in Review (AIR) celebrates the best in LA-area theater and cabaret on KPFK Radio (90.7FM), airing Friday, January 31 (7 to 7:30 pm).

 

Intimacy Direction Panel

Intimacy Directors are professionally trained to oversee scenes involving intimacy, nudity, and sexual content. Meet our amazing panelists who will be joining us this Saturday, Sept 21st for our Intimacy Direction panel!

Read More »

Must the show go on?

Theater making is intimate and emotional work, so it is vital that theater makers feel safe when creating. When we fail to center the needs of our workers, we perpetuate burn-out culture.

Read More »