This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez

IN THE NEWS


  • The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum’s 2018 summer season opens Jun 2 with William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, co-directed by Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall and featuring David DeSantos in the title role. The season continues with a Theatricum perennial, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Willow Geer (Jun 3); Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (Jun 16); Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, directed by Susan Angelo (Jun 30); and a revival of Haiti, a historical melodrama written by William DuBois for the 1938 Federal Theatre Project (Jul 28). All five mainstage productions will play in repertory through Sep 30. Theatricum will also present four special events: Momentum Place, dance and variety, curated by Lexi Pearl (May 13, Mother’s Day); Theatricum’s fourth annual Family Barn Dance and Bar-B-Q (Jul 4); The Woody Guthrie Story (Oct 6); singer/songwriter Inara George and Friends (Oct 7), and the Halloween extravaganza, Bootanicum (Oct 27).
  • La Mirada Theatre has announced its 41st season of shows, opening Sep 15 with A Night With Janis Joplin, starring Tony-nominated Mary Bridget Davies, written and directed by Randy Johnson. The 2018/19 season continues with the Oct 20 opening of Stormy Weather, starring Tony-winner Leslie Uggams as Lena Horne, conceived and written by Sharleen Cooper Cohen, directed by Sheldon Epps; the 1969 Broadway musical, 1776, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, book by Peter Stone, directed by Glenn Casale (Jan 12, 2019); Singin’ in the Rain, based on the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, directed and choreographed by Spencer Liff (Apr 20, 2019); Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, created by Linda Wolverton (book), Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman and Tim Rice (lyrics), directed by Michael Heintzman and choreographed by Robbie Roby (Jun 1, 2019). (Concert events at the theater this year include appearances by Donny & Marie [July 25-26)]and Paul Anka [Nov 16-17]).

PREMIERES


  • Laguna Playhouse presents the sixth show in its 97th season, the premiere of Nathan Gunn Flying Solo, written and directed by Hershey Felder, starring Broadway musical theatre star Nathan Gunn, with musical direction by Michael Bagby. Opens Apr 8.
  • Echo Theatre Company is presenting the West Coast premiere of What Happened When, a ghost story by Daniel Talbott, directed by Chris Fields. Stars Randall Clute, Ellen Neary, and Chris Stack. Opens Apr 12 at Atwater Village Theatre. (The production will re-open for runs this summer and fall, each time featuring a different cast.)
  • South Coast Repertory’s Pacific Playwrights Festival is premiering Kemp Powers’ Little Black Shadows, directed by May Adrales, chronicling the lives of black child-slaves as they serve the adolescent twins of a white family in pre-Civil War Georgia. Opens Apr 14 at the Julianne Argyros Stage in Costa Mesa.
  • Theatre 68 announces that playwright Laureen Vonnegut will also be co-directing the premiere of her play, Death Before Cocktails, a modern black comedy about love, sex, and “the secret concoction at the end of the tunnel,” co-directed by Alex Rotaru. Opens Apr 20th at Theatre 68, in NoHo.
  • “Han Solo crash lands in Cloud City and is torn between his smuggler past and his new status as a galactic hero” in the premiere of Solo Must Die: A Musical Parody, presented by Stidley Theatricals. Created by Jordan and Ari Stidham (book) and Hughie Stone Fish and Ari Stidham (music and lyrics). Directed by Ari Stidham. Opens May 4 at Hudson Backstage Theater in Hollywood.

AROUND TOWN


  • The Broadway musical, Soul Doctor, coming May 3 to the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, tells the story of the father of popular Jewish music, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Created by Daniel S. Wise (book) and David Schechter (lyrics), and featuring the songs of Carlebach, the production is directed by Gabrielle Barre and choreographed by Jennifer Paulson-Lee. Tony Award-nominee Josh Young stars as Carlebach; Israeli singer Ester Rada stars as Nina Simone.
  • San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre Company is presenting Mending Fences, by Canadian playwright Norm Foster. Set in a farmhouse in rural Saskatchewan, the play delves into past events that shaped the tenuous bond between a father and son. Directed by Madeleine Drake; features Ryan Knight, Mike Ghekiere, and Shirley Hatton. Opens Apr 27.
  • Los Angeles theatre collective Artists at Play will showcase readings of two new works by Asian American playwrights: Chloé Hung’s Three Women of Swatow and Nicholas Pilapil’s Young Dumb Broke High School Kid.  The plays will be presented in the afternoon on Apr 28 at Company of Angels. A “talkback” session follows each reading.
  • The Tempest, the Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company’s first show of its 12th season and its 26th Shakespearean production, opens Apr 28 at the Whitmore Theatre in North Hollywood for a six-week run. Directed by Alex Parker; starring Leon Russom as Prospero.
  • Actors Co-op Theatre Company presents Violet, the Tony-nominated musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Brian Crawley (book and lyrics), based on The Ugliest Pilgrim, a short story by Doris Betts. Richard Israel directs. Opens May 11.

THE THING IS…


Antaeus Theatre Company Co-Artistic Directors Kitty Swink, Rob Nagle, and Bill Brochtrup discuss the presentation of Nambi E. Kelley’s adaptation of the Richard Wright novel, Native Son, playing Apr 12 -Jun 3.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the greater Los Angeles area, Fridays (2-2:30 pm) on KPFK (90.7FM). Today, Apr 6, singer/actress Elise Arndt discusses her one-woman show, Sing, Bibi, Sing!, chronicling the untold tales of Bibi Osterwald, veteran actress of stage and screen. Directed by Christine O’Grady; presented by Write Act Repertory @ The Brickhouse in North Hollywood, through Apr 8.

 

 

An Interview with CTG’s Sherwood Award Winner, Mat Diafos Sweeney

“I think LA theatre is at its best when it’s reaching across forms and reinventing its relationship to a live audience, and at its worst when it’s trying to fit an existing mold or production model that made sense in New York a century ago. LA is the future- our garden is wilder, vaster, and more diverse so it should be tended differently.”

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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.