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


  • The Broad Stage has revealed a 2016-2017 season with a skimpy, two-production live theatre schedule. Solo performance diva Anna Deavere Smith takes the stage with Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, focusing on “the school-to-prison pipeline.” Dates TBA. Montreal-based Les 7 Doights De La Main (“The 7 Digits of the Hand”) will offer Cuisine & Confessions—“a collaboration of circus, avant-garde dance, spoken word, theater, and cooking show comedy.” Feb 16-18, 2017. Family fare includes productions from Theatregroep Kwatta (Mar 25 & 26, 2017) and Presentation House Theatre (Apr 27-30, 2017). And for the holidays, Impro Theatre will create a 1966 Variety Extravaganza (Dec 14-17).
  • Producing artistic director Brian Kite has confirmed La Mirada Theatre’s 2016-17 lineup, but hasn’t released any dates, directors, etc. Season opens with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the only collaboration between Alan Menkin (music) and Stephen Schwartz (lyrics), with book by Peter Parnell. Despite some acclaim, the show closed after its pre-Broadway run in 2015. La Mirada’s season continues with Ken Ludwig’s 1989 Tony-nominated Lend Me a Tenor, and Jason Robert Brown’s 2001 two-character, The Last Five Years. It concludes with two historic Broadway hits: West Side Story (1957) and Man of La Mancha (1964).

PREMIERES


  • Not satisfied with having one play premiering during Road Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season, Julie Marie Myatt has two, both directed by Ovation nominee Dan Bonnell. And they are playing in repertory at The Road on Lankershim in NoHo. Birder—developed in association with Center Theatre Group—plays Apr 29-June 19. Myatt’s John Is A Father runs May 12-July 3.
  • The 2003 Tony-nominated jukebox bio tuner chronicling the life and music of Peter Allen, The Boy From Oz—by Allen (music and lyrics), Martin Sherman (book) and Nick Enright (original book)—is finally making its West Coast debut, helmed by Celebration Theatre Co-Artistic Director Michael A. Sheppard, with musical direction by Bryan Blaskie and choreography by Janet Rosten. Opens Apr 29 at Celebration at the Lex in Hollywood.
  • West San Fernando Valley-based Griot Theatre Company will be workshopping The Archer From Malis, adapted by the company from Sophocles’ Trojan War saga, Philoctetes, staged by Malik B. El-Amin at Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, Apr 15-17. Production will officially premiere Apr 29 at The Lounge Theater in Hollywood.

AROUND TOWN


  • Having presented the U.S premiere in LA in 2015, experimental theatre company, Wilderness, is bringing back its multi-discipline theatrical experience, The Day Shall Declare It, at Imperial Art Studios in the downtown LA Arts District, May 10-June 19. Developed and co-directed by Annie Saunders and Sophie Bortolussi, the 80-minute production “weaves together dynamic movement with a collage of text inspired by American labor literature from authors Tennessee Williams and Studs Terkel.” (There is also a pop-up bar.)
  • Theatre Unleashed is offering up The Devil’s Bride, Joan Silsby’s 2006 comedy/mystery taking place a week after the shenanigans of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Wendy Gough Soroka. Opens Apr 14 at The Belfry Stage in North Hollywood.
  • Malibu Playhouse continues its 2016 season with Craig Wright’s 2000 Pulitzer-nominated prodigal son drama, The Pavilion, helmed by Jeremy Skidmore, Malibu’s current guest artistic director. Opens Apr 29.
  • Texas-based writer/performer Alex Garza is returning to the Santa Monica Playhouse, his first visit since his 2012 holiday presentation of Abuelita’s Christmas Carol. Garza will offer two shows over Memorial Day weekend: family-friendly The Journey of Tam, and his adult solo show, The Crushed Ice That Lingers in My Head, exploring the inner psyche of one man. Performances are May 28 & 29.

THE THING IS


Robey Theatre Company Artistic Director BEN GUILLORY discusses the revival of Charles Gordone’s 1970 Pulitzer Prize-winning, No Place To Be Somebody, helmed by Guillory, running through May 8 at Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown LA.

Hawthorne James (center), Gianluca Malacrino, Sammie Wayne IV in "No Place to Be Somebody." Photo by Niketa Caleme Harris.
Hawthorne James (center), Gianluca Malacrino, Sammie Wayne IV in “No Place to Be Somebody.” Photo by Niketa Caleme Harris.

“The playwright Charles Gordone described the play as a black, black comedy. Of course, that is a play on words. It is a dark play that has its own humor. It speaks in a raw and gritty inner city vernacular that is uncompromising. It is not politically correct, but the poetry in it is just superb. It is extraordinary poetry and it is an extraordinary challenge for the performers. It is a three-act play. Back in ’69, people were still used to sitting through a three-act play with two intermissions. For today’s audiences, I’ve made it a one-intermission play and reduced the characters from 16 to 13, but it is still a large ensemble by modern play standards. It is set in a big city bar and it is a play about transformation. I have heard this work described before as a play about losers. I don’t think that’s true. I do think it is a play about people who are struggling. It is also about the metropolitan myth of success. In those years following World War II, there was a great exodus from the south of black people looking for better lives, mostly in the big northern and West Coast cities. These people came with a kind of myth in their heads about how things ought to be much, much better. In some cases they were. But for many, it was an unattainable goal made even meaner by the expectations they continued to have. In the play, this is voiced by the character Sweets (Hawthorne James), who talks about ‘Charley fever’—the black man trying to be like the white man. The play is about several people trying to grab that brass ring of a better life. Some do not make it. Some do.”


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).