LA STAGE Insider (2015 Holiday Special)

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For the final LA STAGE Insider column of year 2015, I would like to spotlight the thoughts, reflections and hopes of varied members of our LA theater community.

Evelyn Rudie (who created the original role of Eloise in 1956) became Artistic Director of Santa Monica Playhouse in 1973, segueing into co-artistic director with her husband, Chris DeCarlo.

“I’ve just come back from New York where I staged Jerry Mayer’s comedy, 2 Across, at St. Luke’s Theatre, starring Andrea McArdle (the first Annie) and Kip Gilman. It opened December 9. I was very proud, because 2 Across originally premiered at Santa Monica Playhouse in 2004. I am really looking forward to next year…

We are bringing back one of my favorite shows, the musical Author! Author! An Evening with Sholom Alecheim, which had its premiere at Santa Monica Playhouse in May 1976, starring Chris [De Carlo] as Sholom. And 40 years later, he will be once more playing the role.

We are also going to do Audition! The Musical, which was created by Chris and me. It is based on my experiences as a child actor, witnessing the not-so-happy lives of other child actors I knew in the business. Chris will be directing it. And there is a project we have been wanting to do for years, Waiting For Godot, starring Paul Linke, Stuart Pankin and Chris. These boys really want to do this show and I want to make it happen. We’ll see. Of course, we have so many projects that we do, including our children’s shows. I am just so happy to be back from New York, ready to launch into the new year.”

Odalys Nanin is the founder and Producing Artistic Director of Macha Theatre Co./Films in West Hollywood.

“I’ve been doing this for nine years now. I have gotten intermittent assistance along the way, but it has pretty much been a one-person operation. It is not easy, but this is work I love. Looking toward the future, I have gotten some good news. I have received a grant from the City of West Hollywood. Thank God. I am developing a play about Freda Kahlo that I hope to premiere in 2017, maybe earlier if I get enough money. I am also planning to extend the re-imagined version of my play, Garbo’s Cuban Lover, into January. It is performing this weekend, December 18 and 19, but I really want to continue it. Of course, I want to always make full use of this wonderful theater space, making it available to other artists. I am getting a number of Spanish productions coming in. That’s kind of cool…

I am really excited by the possibilities being offered by new media.

My space is called Macha Theatre & Films because I try to move seamlessly between both. I am looking forward to enhancing those opportunities into the future.”

Lissa Reynolds is Artistic & Managing Director, Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena

“There is almost nothing I love more than participating in live theatre, whether as an actress ready to step out on stage, or sitting in a darkened theatre waiting for the lights to go up and being transported by a playwright’s words and the talents of other performers. When my girlfriend and I were living in England during our last year of college, we ate very little—instead spending most of our earned money to buy standing room tickets for live theatre performances. We dressed in our best and took the underground to the London Theatre District. Running my own Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena for nearly 20 years, and producing so many original plays, has been a dream come true…

I have never for a second lost the thrill of being part of live theatre. I hope the next generation will continue the legacy of being together in a darkened room anticipating the lights going up, the actors walking out on stage, and themselves being taken away, to another place, to another time, propelled by the power of words.

To that end, beginning in January, we are leasing Fremont Centre Theatre to be the new home of Young Stars Theatre, a non-profit community theatre project primarily for actors ages 8-18.”

Elina de Santos is Co-Artistic Director of Rogue Machine

“I think this year has been about change. Theater is changing its face in Los Angeles. Actually, it has been, in a very positive way, for the last 10 years.

But this last year’s situation with the Equity people creating an insistence on change, it has brought the [theater] community together in a way that I’ve never seen before. Actors had kind of given away their power in terms of the whole ‘we don’t want money to perform’—or whatever that agreement was 30 something years ago. There was a give-and-take to it. There was the ‘give’ of ‘we’ll take a little stipend,’ and the ‘take’ of ‘we can leave anytime we want to do TV and film.’ In LA, you couldn’t beat that system, really. Now, since Equity forced the question, we’re all needing to reassess how we want theater to move forward in this city. I think actors are looking at how they can personally reassess their involvement. That’s good. I think it is good for all of us to be so galvanized in wanting to do good theater. There has really been a true surge forward during the last few years, with a lot of new plays being developed here in LA. I happen to be involved with one of the theaters that does that. And I believe more members of the theater community have to think that way in order for us to survive. We have to reflect what is important to us now. Sometimes you can do that with plays that are already written. I directed Awake and Sing 20 years ago at the Odyssey. I am doing again now. I think it is more relevant and alive now than it was two decades ago. The bottom line is we need to be seen as a community that really cares about this art form. Once you get people interested in creating stories that they are a part of as an audience and that they are part of as creators, then lives can and will be changed.”

A Final Comment from Racquel Lehrman, Managing Director of Theatre Planners, owner of the Lounge Theatres in Hollywood  

“In 2015, we saw LA theater taking some really fun and interesting risks… some that worked and some that didn’t. But overall, it was a very good year for shows. The Equity changes looming didn’t seem to slow anyone down, and in fact, may have spurred some people on to get their dream show up before the changes took effect.”


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 Friday, December 25, Arts in Review will broadcast its annual one-hour Christmas Day Special, featuring the broadcast of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, performed by Al Alu; and an encore presentation of AIR Repertory’s radio drama, To All A Good Night (“The Story of Santa Claus”). Also featured, will be the music of Al Jarreau, guitarist AnnaMaria and Pacifica Archives’ Music for the Holidays.

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.