This Week in L.A. Theatre

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IN THE NEWS


  • Road Theatre Company in NoHo reveals its 2016-17 season, beginning with Edward Albee’s The Play About The Baby, starring Co-Artistic Directors Sam Anderson and Taylor Gilbert, helmed by Andre Barron. Opens Sep 16 at The Road on Magnolia. The season continues with the West Coast premiere of White Guy On a Bus, by Bruce Graham; Little Children Dream of God, by Jeff Augustin; and The Lyons, by Nicky Silver, at The Road on Lankershim. Dates and directors TBA.
  • East West Players (EWP) announces its signature One Night Only event, introducing new Artistic Director Snehal Desai, only the fourth artistic director in East West Players’ half-century history, following Oscar-nominated actor and EWP Co-Founder Mako, actress Nobu McCarthy, and Ovation Award-winning director Tim Dang. One Night Only: The Future is Bright will be held on Aug 20 at the East West Players’ David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Confirmed performers include the Mama Bares, an all-female group of four Miss Saigon alumni (Joan Almedilla, Ai Goeku Cheung, Deedee Magno Hall, and Jennifer Paz); and internationally-acclaimed Japanese drumming group Taikoproject. Proceeds benefit East West Players’ artistic and educational programs.
  • Rancho Cucamonga’s Equity theatre for young audiences, MainStreet Theatre Company—recently included in American Theatre Magazine’s list of “20 theatres you should take your kids to”—announces its 11th season of three plays for children and families, beginning with E.B. White’s Stuart Little, adapted by Joseph Robinette, directed by Art Manke (Oct 1-16). The season continues with The Secret Garden, based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, adapted by Pamela Sterling, helmed by Jessica Kubzansky (Jan 28-Feb 12). The season closer is the musical, Stiles and Drewe’s Goldilocks and The Three Bears, created by George Stiles (music) and Andrew Drewe (book & lyrics), directed by Abigail Deser, with musical direction by Janice Rodgers Wainwright (Apr 28-May 13). All performances are at the Lewis Family Playhouse.
  • Odyssey Theatre’s 2015 hit production of Clifford Odets’s landmark 1935 Depression-era drama, Awake & Sing!, directed by Elina DeSantos, returns Aug 9-Oct 2, with its all-star cast intact: Marilyn Fox, Allan Miller, Richard Fancy, Robert Lesser, James Morosini, Jason Huber, Dennis Madden and Melissa Paladino.

AROUND TOWN


  • Pasadena Playhouse is featuring Gedde Watanabe and Tony-winner Hal Linden in the longest running musical of all time, The Fantastickscreated in 1960 by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), directed by Seema Sueko. (The show’s original off-Broadway production ran a total of 42 years and 17,162 performances.) The remaining cast includes Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Regi Davis, Conor Guzmán, Ashley Park, Alyse Rockett and Amir Talai. Opens Sep 6.
  • Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura is presenting a summer youth production of the 2008 Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, actor-composer-lyricist of Broadway’s 2016 Tony-winner, Hamilton. Directed by Education and Outreach Director Brian McDonald, featuring an 8-piece orchestra, with musical direction by John Enrico Douglas and choreography by Carolanne Marano. Opens Aug 5.
  • Theatre Unleashed is launching Passages: Classics Remixed, its yearly production of TU-scripted and directed original one-acts, featuring actors from outside the company as a way to help build collaboration in the local theatre community. This year’s productions take classic characters and put them together in a new place and time. Aug 5-20 at The Belfry Stage, Upstairs at the Crown in North Hollywood.
  • Jason Wells’ premiere, The Engine of Our Ruin, a cleverly constructed excursion into sociopolitical misdirection, directed by Maria Gobetti, is going through its second extension at The Victory Theatre Center, now running through Aug 28.

THE THING IS…


Playwright EVELINA FERNÀNDEZ discusses Latino Theater Company’s “sneak peek” at A Mexican Trilogy: An American Story. The series of free events begins with a play reading and Q & A with the cast, sponsored by Angie Medina and the Latino Coalition, Thu, Aug. 11 at Sage Restaurant and Lounge in Whittier, followed by three CTG sponsored readings of the play on Aug. 16, 17 and 18 at three libraries in Boyle Heights. A Mexican Trilogy: An American Story, directed by José Luis Valenzuela,  will open on Sept. 15 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Photo by Ed Krieger
Photo by Ed Krieger

“Ah, the staged readings. It’s always a challenge to do outreach for the theater. We were originally approached by Jesus Reyes at the CTG. He does play readings at the libraries at Boyle Heights as part of his job as Audience Engagement Coordinator at CTG. So, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in reading parts of the Trilogy at three libraries in Boyle Heights. Then we thought, this is a great way to reach out to the community: go out and read parts of the plays and give people a sneak peek. We are going to be reading from segments from each of the three—Part One, Hope; Part Two, Faith; and Part III, Charity—with the cast members. Actually, the first reading will be at Sage Restaurant in Whittier. The demographic for our audience is pretty much Eastside—Boyle Heights, East LA, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Whittier, Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, [and] all the way out to San Bernardino. It’s really great to have the opportunity to just go into the community. Read parts from each one of the plays and take questions about whatever it is they want to know about the plays, or whatever it is they what to know about the Latino Theatre Company. (We’ve been together for 30 years.) On Sep 15, we open Part I at LATC. On Sep 16 we will do Part II. Then Sep 17, it will be the entire piece, six hours—probably 4 1/2 hours of theater and a dinner break in the lobby of the theatre. People can sit at a long table, break bread, talk about what they’ve just seen and what is going to happen next. It is an all day event. It is a history that doesn’t get to be told. The span of Trilogy is one hundred years. There is one character who leaves Mexico at the time of the Mexican Revolution, and she is still alive in 2005. She has been through every war of the 20th century, including having a grandson killed in Iraq in Part III. It is a Mexican American family in an American context. Another important thing about the Trilogy is that most of the main characters are women. It is important their stories are told.”


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). This Fri, Aug 5, Arts on Review welcomes actress Ginna Carter and director Dana Jackson from the Pacific Resident Theatre production of Tennessee Williams’ Confessions of a Nightingale, extended until September 25.

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.