This Week in L.A. Theatre

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  • Rubicon Theatre in Ventura announced its 2016-2017 season with the theme “Stories that Matter, ” beginning with A Christmas Carol (Dec 7–24), an original adaptation by Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, directed by Brian McDonald, told in the narrative style reminiscent of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Nicholas Nickleby. The season continues in 2017 with Gulf View Drive by Arlene Hutton—the third and final play in Hutton’s Nibroc Trilogy (Jan 25-Feb 12); The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith by Angelo Parra, helmed by Joe Brancato (Feb 22-Mar 12); A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, directed by Stephanie Coltrin (April 19–May 7); The Other Mozart by Sylvio Milo, directed by Isaac Byrne (May 31-June 18); Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuiness, helmed by Katharine Farmer (Sep 13-Oct 1); and William Shakespeare’s King Lear (Oct 25–Nov 12, 2017). In addition, there are two selections in this year’s Plays-in-Progress: a new musical version of Gardnr McKay’s Sea Marks, adapted by James O’Neil, with music and lyrics by Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman; and a concert by O’Neil with the working title, The Folk-Rock Project.


  • Celebration Theatre @ The Lex opens its 2016-17 season with the West Coast premiere of Charm—a black transgender woman attempts to share her rules of proper behavior with a youth group struggling to define themselves across sexual, racial, and gender spectrums—written by Philip Dawkins and directed by Celebration Co-Artistic Director Michael Matthews. Opens Sep 9.
  • La Mirada Theatre is launching its 2016-17 season with the LA premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame—a newly imagined stagework based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney film—by Alan Menken (music), Stephen Schwartz (lyrics), and Peter Parnell (book), helmed by Glenn Casale, with musical direction by Dennis Castellano, choreography by Dana Solimando. Opens Sep 16.
  • East West Players (EWP) opens its 51st Anniversary Season with the premiere of The Mama Bares in Concert: Once Upon a Play Date, developed by and featuring Broadway performers Joan Almedilla, Ai Goeku Cheung, Deedee Magno Hall, and Jennifer Paz. A musical journey of shared memories about family, relationships, careers, and motherhood, the production is directed by Giovanni Ortega, with musical direction by Marc Macalintal. Opens Aug 25 at the David Henry Hwang Theater, Union Center of the Arts in Little Tokyo.


  • Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon pays tribute to a longtime family friend with The Woody Guthrie Story, performed by the Geer family and their friends. Cinematographer Haskell Wexler will be honored in memoriam with the second annual Will Geer Humanitarian Award. Plays Sep 18 at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.
  • Echo Theatre Company is extending The Suitcase—a darkly surrealistic drama set somewhere between dreams and reality—written by Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk, translated from the Polish by Artur Zapałowski, and directed by Samuel Hunter. Now plays through Aug 25 at Atwater Village Theatre.


ARMINA LaMANNA discusses Imagine Project, a brand new Equity children’s theatre company, which is launching with a Gala fundraiser, Beyond Imagination, at Colony Theatre Company in Burbank, Sunday, Aug 21, 2016. The inaugural production will be The Tale of Turandot by LaManna, scheduled for early 2017 at the Colony.


“I was approached by members of the Eastern European and Armenian communities to create children’s theater. They miss that part of their life here in the States. Children’s theater is such a huge part of our upbringing in Eastern Europe. It is a rite of passage. They asked me for many years to do this, but it wasn’t my interest at the time. I originally turned them down because I was much more into political drama. Then I had my own children, twins, four years ago and I started investigating. The same kind of children’s theater that we had doesn’t really exist here. So, one year ago, I decided to do just one production to see how it would go. Well, it was during this process that my partner, Alex Zonin, and I decided to form Imagine Project, which is a children’s company, LA’s only [Equity] theater company devoted entirely to children’s programming. Our first production will be The Tale of Turandot at the Colony. We are not taking up residency at the Colony. It will simply be our initial production. The Tale of Turandot is a modern theatrical puppetry experience, featuring the Diamond Patch Players, a traveling Commedia dell’Arte troupe, performing onstage with three Bunraku-inspired puppets. The centuries-old story, perhaps best known as Puccini’s final opera, is set in China. This fundraiser, Beyond Imagination, will show what we are about.

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).

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.