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.

This Week in L.A. Theatre

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IN THE NEWS


  • Orange County’s Chapman University will officially inaugurate its new $78-million, 88,000 square-foot performing arts complex, the Musco Center for the Arts—named for Orange County philanthropists S. Paul and Marybelle Musco—on March 19, with performances by opera stars Plácido Domingo, Deborah Voigt and Milena Kitic, accompanied by orchestra and 150-voice chorus. Musco Center begins it opening season in April, date to be announced.
  • Long Beach Playhouse (LBP) has announced its fourth annual Studio Collaborative season, offering production opportunities to outside organizations and individuals. The nine-show schedule includes alternative sketch comedy troupe Upperclassmen in Upperclassmen Holiday Spectacular (Dec 12); LBP’s Readers Theatre (Jan 9 & 10, 2016); Digested Disney by sketch comedy troupe, Those Sketchy People (Jan 15-23); Olio Theatre Works’ A Rose By Any Other Name (Jan 29-31); LBP Staff and Friends Cabaret led by Anna Kate Mohler (Feb 6); Gamboa Community Center’s Youth Devised Theatre (Feb 12 & 13); Sketch comedy troupe Held2gether’s In Sketch We Trust (Feb 19 & 20); Evolve Theatre’s Choosing Us (Mar 18-26); and LPB’s New Works Festival (Apr 1-9).
  • Projecting far ahead, Pasadena Playhouse is adding well-traveled Hershey Felder As Irving Berlin to its 2015-16 season lineup, featuring lyrics and music by Berlin and book by Felder, directed by Trevor Hay. Opens July 19.

PREMIERES


  • Lounge Theatre in Hollywood will host the premiere of LA Drama Critics Circle winner Marja-Lewis Ryan’s A Good Family (a suburban family learns that their 19-year-old son has been charged with rape), directed by Ryan. Cast includes Heidi Sulzman, Alec Frasier, Kelli Anderson, Lindsey Haun and John K. Linton. Opens Nov 27.
  • Into the new year, Sam Harris’s Off-Broadway bio tuner, HAM: A Musical Memoir— based on Harris’s book HAM: Slices of a Life—makes its West Coast debut at Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre, helmed by 2013 Tony-winner Billy Porter (Kinky Boots) with musical direction by Todd Schroeder. Opens Jan 23.

AROUND TOWN


  • El Portal Theatre is set to host Fritz Coleman’s Defying Gravity, a comedic treatise on how to combat the gravitational ills of growing older, written and performed by the award-winning KNBC weatherman. Dec 13, 20 and 27 at El Portal’s intimate Monroe Forum Theatre.
  • Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in NoHo is reprising William Norrett’s 2005 comedy, The Sophisticated Rogue, exploring fictional characters that battle for control of a writer’s soul. Co-starring and directed by Josh T. Ryan. Opens Dec 5.
  • Second City Hollywood welcomes back musical sketch comedy trio Super Gay Asian—J.Elaine Marcos, Kevin Yee, and Richard Ogawa—in its Cabaret Christmas Spectacular, showcasing original songs and musical parodies. Nov 25 and Dec 2.
  • A Little New Music, featuring new and unheard musical theater material, presents its 10th showcase at Rockwell Table & Stage in Hollywood on Dec. 8, guest-hosted by John Tartaglia.
  • Odalys Nanin’s re-imagining of her 2001 showbiz bio drama, Garbo’s Cuban Lover, opens Dec 12 at Macha Theatre/Films in West Hollywood.

THE THING IS…


Writer/director MICHEL LAPRISE of Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil discusses the touring show, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, opening Dec. 10 at Dodger Stadium.

Tomonari Isiguro in "Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities."
Tomonari Isiguro in “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.”

“I began working on this show at the time Cirque was celebrating its 30th anniversary. That was five years ago. We had done a lot of shows by then and I was getting the sense that much of the public were saying, ‘Well, we’ve seen Cirque du Soleil.’ I immediately thought, ‘No, no, no. Not this show.’ So, I told the designers that this was not a show, not a project. It was a mission. It was my first Cirque du Soleil show and I wanted to re-invent it. I made a list of all the things we usually find in a Cirque du Soleil show and I divided them into things we did out of necessity and things we did out of comfort or habit. If it was comfort or habit, I just took it out. I wanted the audience to have the sense of being taken to another dimension. Every act in the show projects this aura of existing in a world where time has stopped. We have some acts that are not even acrobatic, such as The Invisible Circus. Picture the Invisible Man times eight. The audience sees all the devices—like the trapeze—moving, but not the people performing on them. We have the poetry of hand puppetry and the virtuoso yo-yo artistry of Tomonari Isiguro that evoke the sense of watching buskers at a 19th-century flea market. And the overall look of the show is Steampunk. No one who sees Kurios will leave saying, ‘Oh, we have just seen another Cirque du Soleil show’.”


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).