by Julio Martinez
IN THE NEWS
- Impro Theatre’s 11th anniversary season continues with the company’s 2nd annual Pledge Drive UnScripted benefit, encompassing a 30-hour improv marathon, a crowd-funding campaign, and a silent auction. The event takes place in the intimate Impro Studio in Los Feliz Village, June 30 and July 1. Proceeds benefit the Impro Theatre School and Impro Studio. Pledge Drive UnScripted is centered around 30 hours of non-stop, improvised performances, which will be broadcast live on Facebook. Offerings include the Impro Theatre Main Company’s acclaimed Shakespeare UnScripted, Twilight Zone UnScripted, and Dorothy Parker UnScripted, alongside performances from the Impro Theatre School and members of the Impro community.
- TreePeople will stage its 15th summer entertainment series, Once Upon A Canyon Night, opening with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band celebrating the Great American Songbook, with Sheléa Frazier and special guest Jenifer Lewis fronting an 18-piece band. The evening will include a Salute to 100 Years of Ella Fitzgerald. The season continues with stand-up comedy from Maz Jobrani, vocalist Billy Valentine, a Wildlife Learning Center animal show with juggler Michael Rayner, a staged reading of Our Town, a performance by Improvised Shakespeare Company, the return of the iconic comedy Airplane! The Reading!! with Robert Forster, and much more. July 16-Sep 23 at S. Mark Taper Foundation Amphitheatre in Coldwater Canyon Park.
- El Portal Theatre and The Thalians will present Debbie…A Night to Remember, a dedication and renaming of the El Portal MainStage Theatre in NoHo in honor of Debbie Reynolds, featuring Fritz Coleman as Emcee and the talents of Tony nominees Beth Malone and Sam Harris, Tony-winning ventriloquist Jay Johnson, singer/actress Jean Luisa Kelly, and more. Musical director is Todd Schroeder. Plays June 30.
- The social satire boys of Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas & Herbert Siguenza) are headlining the John Anson Ford opening weekend with OG Summer Demande, a rave aimed at curing our collective political hangover. Culture Clash will be joined by Latin R&B band Tierra, Chicana punk rocker Alice Bag, trio La Victoria, standup comedians Rudy Moreno, Emilio Rivera and Sandra Valls, and Pacifico Dance Company. Plays July 16.
- Showcasing the music of two cult favorites, Todd Martens’ The Mitchell Sanitarium Cabaret—a musical mash-up of The Rocky Horror Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch—helmed by Lee Marshall, debuts at the Cavern Club. Opened June 14, runs through June 25.
- Joni Ravenna’s Blinded—a dark comedy about a man who went blind due to a psychological trauma and the shrink who is his last hope—will premiere at Write Act Repertory in NoHo. The cast features Cindy Marinangel, Chris Muto, Marilyn Sanabria and Rico Simonini; T.J. Castronovo directs. Opens July 15.
- Zombie Joe’s Underground is debuting David Dickens’ patriotic comedy, I Want To Be! Benjamin Franklin—the story of Guy, who after a colossal failure, begins a rapid descent into madness—directed by Brandon Slezak. Opens June 18.
- The 21st season of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will open June 30 with one of the Bard’s early comedies, Love’s Labour’s Lost, set in pre-World War I Europe. Directed by Kevin P. Kern. Playing in Kingsmen Park on the Thousand Oaks campus of California Lutheran University.
- John Patrick Shanley’s well-traveled, 1984 Off Broadway two-hander, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, has become the latest stage vehicle for Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley, now directed by Carl Weathers. Opens July 1 at Edgemar for the Arts in Santa Monica.
- Jon Robin Baitz’s look at unruly family politics, Other Desert Cities, helmed by Mary Jo DuPrey, will play at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, featuring Geer family members Ellen Geer, Melora Marshall, and Willow Geer. The cast also includes Mark Bramhall and Rafael Goldstein. Opens July 8.
- That ever-tuneful damsel quartet, The Marvelous Wonderettes, returns to Sierra Madre Playhouse, helmed by Robert Marra, with musical director Sean Paxton and a cast featuring Kelsey Boze, Kelly Klopocinski, Kate Ponzio, and Maggie Randolph. The 2006 jukebox musical, created and written by Roger Bean and originally choreographed by Janet Miller, was produced locally by David Elzer for a two-year, Ovation Award-winning run at El Portal Theatre in NoHo, and became an international hit. (It was produced in New York in 2008). Opens July 14.
THE THING IS
Director Becca Wolff discusses the debut of Giovanni Adams’ Love is a Dirty Word, presented by VS. Theatre Company in association with Tilted Field. Opening June 17 at VS Theatre, the solo work, performed by Adams, with musical accompaniment by Arturo Lopez, chronicles a young man’s experience as a black, queer, Christian man crossing lines of identity, affinity, and ideology.