This Week in L.A. Theatre

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  • Deaf West Theatre’s staging of 2007 Tony-winner Spring Awakening—which made its debut in fall 2014 at Downtown LA’s Rosenthal Theatre—will be enjoying an 18-week Broadway run at Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York, helmed by Michael Arden, choreographed by Spencer Liff and performed simultaneously in American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English by a cast of 27. (Opening Sep 27.)
  • The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has accorded 184 LA County-based nonprofit arts organizations—including 43 theater production companies—over $4.5 million in two-year grants, funded through its Organizational Grant Program (OGP). Center Theatre Group topped the large house grantees ($150,400), while Glendale-bound Antaeus Theatre Company led the 99-seats-or-fewer companies ($29,700).
  • Following a two-year hiatus and 11 months of construction, Musical Theatre Guild is returning to historic Alex Theatre in Glendale in time to celebrate MTG’s 20th Anniversary Season with a four-tuner schedule that includes Bonnie & Clyde (Sep 20), Do I Hear a Waltz? (Nov 15), A Class Act (Feb 21, 2016), and Pajama Game (May 15, 2016).
  • Due to a scheduling conflict, Burbank’s Colony Theatre is shifting the premiere of John Philip Dayton’s solo play, Mary Lincoln, starring Patty Duke and directed by Cameron Watson. It will now anchor the Colony’s upcoming 2015-16 season, running Apr 16-May 15, 2016.


  • Meanwhile, the Colony opens its 41st season with the California premiere of that 2014 barbershop tuner with a social conscience, The Fabulous Lipitonescreated by John Markus, who directs, and Mark St. Germain. Stars Steve Gunderson, Asante Gunewardena, Dennis Holland and John Racca. Opening July 25.
  • In its West Coast debut, actor/illusionist Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson, directed by David Neumann, will be transforming CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City into an immense storage facility, allowing audience members to freely roam and explore an installation that “unpacks our relationship to everyday objects.” Opening Sep 9.
  • As its 10th annual outdoor theatrical production in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa, the J. Paul Getty Museum is hosting the West Coast premiere of Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles—Luis Alfaro’s reimagining of Euripides’ Medea transported to modern day East LA—produced by Pasadena-based The Theatre @ Boston Court, staged by co-artistic director Jessica Kubzansky. Opening Sep 10.


  • After a seven-week week hiatus to accommodate Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015, Peter Hedges’ Imagining Brad, starring Sirena Irwin and Sarah Randall Hunt, helmed by Clare Carey, returns to Elephant Asylum Theatre in Hollywood, opening July 9.
  • Having launched at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Fest, the comedic dawn-of-humans tuner, Adam & Eve and Steve: A Musicalcreated by Chandler Warren (book & lyrics) and Wayne Moore (music), directed by Ronnie Marmo—begins its theatrical run at NoHo Arts Center at Theatre 68. Opening July 10.
  • Shelly Fisher is presenting a special performance of her autobiographical solo musical, The Hebrew Hillbilly, benefiting Santa Monica Playhouse, July 11.
  • Pico Playhouse in West LA will host a revival of the 1990 off-Broadway musical, Assassins, by Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics) and John Weidman (book, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.), and helmed by Dan Fishbach, with musical direction by Anthony Lucca and choreography by Lili Fuller. Opening Aug 21.
  • Impro Theatre returns to Falcon Theatre in Burbank, launching the Falcon’s 2015-16 Season with Sondheim UnScripted, opening Aug 28. Co-directed by Dan O’Connors and Michele Spears, it is a totally improvised sojourn within complicated Sondheim-esque rhythms, melodies and themes.


Artistic director ELLEN GEER discusses her revival staging of Lynn Riggs’ 1930 Oklahoma Territory folk drama, Green Grow the Lilacs at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, opening July 11.

Melora Marshall, Elizabeth Tobias, and Willow Geer in "Green Grow the Lilacs." Photo by Ian Flanders.
Melora Marshall, Elizabeth Tobias, and Willow Geer in “Green Grow the Lilacs.” Photo by Ian Flanders.

“This play has always been a particular favorite of mine. I did it as a kid in summer stock. And it was a perfect choice for this summer’s ‘Americana Season.’ What I love about this work is it utilizes the true folk music of the time. Lynn Riggs is such a wonderful playwright, right up there during the time of Eugene O’Neill and [Tennessee] Williams, but he has gotten passed over. This play is so real for the people and it puts the audience right back into those pioneer times when Oklahoma was still a territory. Even though the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma, is based on Lynn’s play—and is truly wonderful, in its own right—it doesn’t capture the essence of how these people really lived and struggled, day-to-day. But this play explores the lives of these pioneer folk so beautifully. Our lovely actors are learning many of the basic skills from that time. We taught one actor how to play the spoons. We have a little band and we’ve plugged in a couple of songs here and there. In the original 1930 production, they had musical intervals built into the show. The songs are right in the script, sung by Curly, Laurie and Aunt Eller. They were meant to underscore the way these people worked and had meals and played. This show is gonna be truly sweet and homegrown.”

Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review—celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area—airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM). On July 10, Arts in Review hosts actresses Sirena Irwin and Sarah Randall Hunt, a well as director Clare Carey, from Peter Hedges’ Imagining Brad.

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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.