This Week in L.A. Theatre

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IN THE NEWS


  • Robey Theatre Company—founded in 1994 by Danny Glover and Ben Guillory—is launching a 10-week Playwrights Lab to be held on the campus of Cal State L.A., June 13-Aug 22, overseen by dramaturg Dylan Southard.
  • Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE) is presenting its 2nd Annual Solo Creation Festival, July 2-19. This curated event features nine solo works—including monologue, movement and/or design-focused pieces—presented during three distinct programs at Son of Semele Theater in Silver Lake.
  • Christian Slater has been added to the all-star ensemble cast for Hollywood’s Bowl’s concert staging of 2005 Tony winner, Monty Python’s Spamalot, playing July 31-Aug 2. Slater as Sir Galahad joins previously cast Merle Dandridge, Warwick Davis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Craig Robinson and the show’s co-creator, Eric Idle, helmed by BT McNicholl.

PREMIERES


  • The hit 1973 off-Broadway Mexican cabaret parody, El Grande de Coca Cola, spawned an unending series of productions over the decades, most recently the 2013 staging by Ruskin Group Theatre, guided by two of the show’s co-originators Ron House and Alan Shearman. House and Shearman have now united with Skylight Theatre Company in Hollywood for the sequel, El Grande Circus de Coca-Cola, premiering July 18.
  • Closer at hand, 2Cents Theatre is offering the West Coast debut of Fugitive Songs—following six troubled wanderers through their unique 19-song journeys across America—created by Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tyson (lyrics), musical direction by Joshua Kranz, helmed by Kristen Boulé, opening June 11 at The Three Clubs, in conjunction with the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
  • Also a participant within Hollywood Fringe, Pocket Universe—“a husband and wife sit down for a nice picnic, but slowly, she starts to realize that all is not as it seems, and she might not be able to leave”—scripted by Thomas Brandon, helmed by Rhonda Kohl, starring Nan McNamara and Rick Marcus, premieres June 12 at The Lounge.

AROUND TOWN


  • Shakespeare Orange County is kicking off Summerfest 2015 with a celebrity-studded fundraising concert rendering of the 1939 radio adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take it With You—featuring Rene Auberjonois, Seamus Dever, Kurtwood Smith, Joe Spano, Tamlyn Tomita, JoBeth Williams and others—June 13 at Garden Grove Amphitheatre.
  • Ebony Repertory is staging a revival of 1983 Pulitzer-nominated, The Gospel at Colonus—Sophocles’ Oedipus updated to a sermon by a Pentecostal preacher and his choir—wrought by Mabou Mines co-founder Lee Breuer (lyrics, book) and Bob Telson (music), starring Tony-winner Roger Robinson, helmed by Andi Chapman, opening June 20 at Nate Holden PAC on West Washington Blvd.
  • Cornerstone Theater Company’s two-year odyssey with California: The Tempest—adapted from William Shakespeare—is concluding its tour at Grand Park’s Performance lawn (between Grand and Hill) in Downtown LA, opening June 18.
  • Colony Theatre in Burbank is continuing its Colony Cabaret series with Frank Sinatra tribute singer Henry Prego, performing the songs of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” for one night only, June 21.

THE THING IS…


ERIK JENSEN stars as Lester Bangs in How to be a Rock Critic, based on the writings of Bangs, scripted by Jessica Blank and Jensen, helmed by Blank, opening tonight (June 11) at South Coast Rep’s Nicholas Studio—a co-production with Center Theatre Group—moving to CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, June 17.

Erik Jensen as Lester Bangs in
Erik Jensen as Lester Bangs in “How to be a Rock Critic.” Photo by Craig Schwartz.

“Some of the themes of this play are about Lester wanting reach other kids who grew up the way he did. Well, that was me. The summer my parents were getting divorced, I was sent away to live with my cousin’s family for a couple of months in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My journey to this play started out with a stack of magazines under my cousin’s bed that were infinitely worse than pornography because they were about ‘rock ‘n roll.’ He had a stack of Rolling Stones going back ten years or more. My cousin was just a big music geek. He even taught me some guitar chords. So, at night I would alternate between my first reading of Lord of the Rings and a Rolling Stone mag. And that is how I first encountered Lester. Growing up in a household where honesty was in short supply, I found him really refreshing. His writing was uncompromising and super honest. I had discovered a true punk ethos at age ten. There is something about reading him and memorizing him while going through all his work that is engrossing because he had such a rich grasp of language and a vocabulary that was out of this world. He has taught me so much.”


Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review – celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles – airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM).

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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.