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


  • LA’s independent public TV broadcaster KCET, national satellite network Link TV (KCETlink), and visual media outlet explore.org are collaborating with Long Beach Opera in the premiere of Fallujah, a modern opera by Iraqi American playwright Heather Raffo and Canadian composer Tobin Stokes about war and PTSD, based on the experiences of USMC Sergeant (ret) Christian Ellis. Directed by LBO Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek, the site-specific production is being staged at Long Beach’s Army National Guard, Mar 12-20. The U.S. broadcast premiere of Fallujah will take place Mar 18, live on KCET and Link TV’s feeds to The Dish Network and DirecTV, helmed by Emmy winner Ken Shapiro. The live broadcast will also simulstream on KCET.org/shows/Fallujah and LinkTV.org/shows/Fallujah.
  • Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) is launching its 2016 season, highlighted by three collaborations between playwright Evelina Fernandez and Latino Theatre Company Artistic Director Jose Luis Valenzuela, including the premiere of La Olla, adapted from Plautus’ BC Roman comedy, The Pot of Gold (Mar 24-Apr 24); a revival of A Mexican Trilogy: Faith, Hope and Charity (Sep 15-Oct 16); and the 14th annual staging of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dio Inantzin (Dec 1-2). The premiere of The Dig + Death + Genesis + The Double Helix, scripted and performed by Stacie Chaiken, runs Mar 31-May 1. Robey Theatre Company will present two productions, directed by Artistic Director Ben Guillory: a revival of the 1970 Pulitzer winner, No Place To Be Somebody, by Charles Gordone; and Uncanny Valley by Thomas Gibbons. Closing out the season is Juarez: A Documentary Mythology, conceived and helmed by Ruben Polendo, created by Theatre Mitu (Oct 27-Dec 4).

PREMIERES


  • Rubicon Theatre in Ventura has gone Hollywood, offering the American stage premiere of the 1962 John Ford classic film western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, adapted by Jethro Compton and directed by Jenny Sullivan—whose father Barry Sullivan sat tall in the saddle in many a movie and TV western. Opening Mar 5, the production stars Catalina Productions’ Gregory Harrison, who starred in Catalina’s staging of The Hasty Heart, the first 99-seat production to move to the Ahmanson Theatre (in 1982, from CAST-at-The Circle).
  • Following the 2013 Off-Broadway premiere of Jesse Eisenberg’s The Revisionist—co-starring the playwright and Vanessa Redgrave—the show’s West Coast debut at the Wallis in Beverly Hills will star David Mulcahy and 2008 Tony-winner Deanna Dunagan (August: Osage County). Ilia Volok is also featured. This “dramatic exploration of obsession, secrets, and the complexities of family” is helmed by Robin Larsen. Open Apr 1 in Lovelace Studio Theater.
  • In Long Beach, The Garage Theatre will offer the debut of Fengar Gael’s Opaline (a Delirium for a Parched Planet), “a feminist romance embracing Art & Absinthe, which further explores the nature of the Muse,” directed by Caprice Spencer Rothe. Opens Mar 4.

AROUND TOWN


  • Long Beach Playhouse presents George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 masterwork, Pygmalion, featuring Playhouse vet Mitchell Nunn as Professor Higgins, and company newcomer Deva Marie Gregory as Eliza Doolittle. Staged by Sara Butts. Opens Feb 27.
  • Two weeks before Doris Day’s 92nd birthday, the tribute show, Doris and Me: A Sentimental Journey, starring Scott Dreier, returns to El Portal’s Monroe Forum Theatre in NoHo, written and conceived by Dreier and Kurtis Simmons. Helmed by Richard Israel, with musical direction by Rob Remstein. Opens Mar 18, for four performances only.

THE THING IS

Creator/director MICHELLE DANNER discusses A Night At The Black Cat Cabaret, by Brian Drillinger, extended through Apr 30 at Edgemar Center in Santa Monica.

The cast of A Night At The Black Cat Cabaret
The cast of “A Night At The Black Cat Cabaret.”

“This takes place during World War II in Paris,1943, although in the world of cabaret, we can time travel a bit, musically. We have original songs [by Jose Promis] and classics, such as La Vie en Rose, Those Were the Days, Blue Skies and modern tunes like All About That Bass. There are 26 people on stage, dancing, singing and acting. It is a wonderfully provocative and seductive night of music and dance. And there is a storyline about this underground cabaret that was a front for the Resistance. It actually starts with a scene where a grandfather [played by Len Magnus] is talking to his grandson, reminiscing about being an American soldier in Paris and how he met his wife at this cabaret. Len is a World War II vet in his 80s I met when I directed Senior Moments, an evening of storytelling. He had formerly been an actor and journalist and he is wonderful on stage. We created this show from scratch and it is still evolving. Brian [Drillinger] wrote the book and we have a wonderful choreographer, Amanda Ritchie, who used to be with Cirque du Soleil. Our musical director is Hudson Long. This show is evolving as we go. I have extended it. I am having a rehearsal tomorrow where I’ll be making some changes. And this will probably continue as the show progresses. That is one of the amazing things about doing this cabaret. The vitality just grows as it evolves.”


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).