This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez


  • The fourth annual Stage Raw Theater Awards will take place on Aug 20, 2018, at Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown LA. In prior years, shows were eligible for Stage Raw Awards if they opened between January 1 and December 31. This year, that window has expanded. Shows that opened between Jan 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, are eligible. Moving forward, that calendar will run from Jun 1 to May 31. Stage Raw founder Steven Leigh Morris explains, “We wanted to adapt these awards so that they’re more in alignment with the rhythms of the theater season.” A Midsummer Night’s Party is this year’s theme, celebrating the evolution of the stage community in Los Angeles. Coeurage Theatre Company is hosting and co-producing with Jer Adrianne Lelliott directing. Nominees will be announced on Jul 10 at 9 am PST on A nominees’ reception and fundraiser for Stage Raw has been scheduled for Jul 24 at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz, with a catered reception, entertainment, and silent auction. All funds go towards Stage Raw programming.
  • Once Upon A Canyon Night, TreePeople’s summer entertainment series, will present a 16th season of evenings under the stars, Jul 22-Sep 22, at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Amphitheatre in Coldwater Canyon Park. Among the offerings: season-opener Paula Poundstone (Jul 22), followed by A Radio Play Double Feature – Live On Our Stage! Casablanca & The Thin Man (Jul 27-28); a staged reading of Gore Vidal’s political satire, Weekend (Aug 10-11); Family Fun Night with Dana Daniels and magician Michael Rayner (Aug 18); comedy with Maz Jobrani & Friends (Aug 19); soulful classics from Billy Valentine (Aug 25); Movie Night featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2018) (Aug 26); “Wild And Eclectic” music from La Hootenanny (Sep 8); and Airplane! The Reading: The Final Chapter, with special guest Robert Forster and Airplane! co-creator David Zucker (Sep 21-22). All season proceeds directly benefit the maintenance and care of TreePeople’s 45-acre Coldwater Canyon Park.
  • South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa has announced its 2018 season of plays taking place on the Segerstrom and Argyros Stages. The five-play Segerstrom series begins with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, adapted by Jessica Swale, directed by Casey Stangl (Sept 1-29). It continues with Kings, Sarah Burgess’ unflinching look at how things get done in Washington, directed by Damaso Rodriguez (Oct 13-Nov 10); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler, directed by Kent Nicholson (Jan 19-Feb 16, 2019); Poor Yella Rednecks, by Qui Nguyen, directed by May Adrales (Mar 30-Apr 27, 2019); and David Henry Wang’s 1988 Tony-winner, M. Butterfly. (May 11-June 8, 2019). The Argyros series opens with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, by Christopher Durang, directed by Bart DeLorenzo (Sep 30-Oct 21); followed by Culture Clash (Still) in America, written and performed by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza, directed by Lisa Peterson (Dec 30-Jan 20, 2019); Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, directed by Kimberly Senior (Mar 2-24, 2019); and Sheepdog, by Kevin Artigue, directed by Leah C. Gardiner (Apr 11-May 5, 2019).  2018 season bonus: SCR’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Jerry Patch and directed by John-David Keller—with Hal Landon Jr. again reprising his role as Scrooge. (Nov 24-Dec 24).


  • Padua Playwrights presents the premiere of Mayakovsky and Stalin, written and directed by noted poet/playwright Murray Mednick (The Gary Plays), exploring two distantly connected relationships: Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and his married lover and “muse,” Lilya Brik; and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his wife Nadya. With historical footage and photos. Opens Jul 21 at the Lounge Theatre.
  • On June 22, LA Opera will stage the LA premiere of Gordon Getty’s double-bill: Usher House and The Canterville Ghost. Labeled the “Scare Pair,” both of these operatic adaptations take inspiration from 19th-century works of literature. Usher House, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, places Poe into the action as the narrator recounting the haunting tale of Roderick Usher and his twin sister Madeline. The Canterville Ghost puts a comic spin on Oscar Wilde’s tale of a 300-year-old ghost of an English nobleman who finds that he is unable to frighten his newest haunting victims: a family of Americans. Opens Jun 22.
  • Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica is hosting the premiere of The Swords of Sorrow—BURAI II, a tale of a samurai ghost set in 19th-century feudal Japan, written and directed by Naoki Fujiyama. Sword fight choreographer: Tsuyoshi Abe. Opens Jul 6.
  • Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills is offering the U.S. premiere performances of Screwball Comedy, wherein a society wedding serves as the cover for a sinister scheme. Written by Norm Foster, directed by Howard Storm. Opens Jul 19 in The Reuben Cordova Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.
  • Theatre West will present the premiere of Benjamin Scuglia’s The Man Who Saved Everything, about family, memory, and a man who throws nothing away. Directed by Michael Van Duzer. Features James Cox, David Mingrino, Ashley Victoria Robinson, Alan Schack, and Julio Silverman. Opens Aug 24.


  • The Ford Theatres, in association with choreographer/director Arianne MacBean and The Big Show Co., presents the premiere of The Collective Memory Project, an original dance-theatre piece inspired by memories of U.S. military veterans, the performers, and the audience. For this intimate performance, all audience members will be seated onstage. Jun 28-29.


Deaf and hearing actors gather for the first rehearsal of Stephen Sachs’ Arrival & Departure, starring Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur with Jessica Jade Andres, Adam Burch, Brian Robert Burns, Shon Fuller, Kyra Kotsur, Aurelia Myers, and Stasha Surdyke. Opens Jul 14 at The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area. Airs Fridays (2-2:30 pm) on KPFK (90.7FM). On June 22, Adilah Barnes, Freda Payne, and Florence LaRue will discuss the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival.

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.