This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez


  • East West Players announces Counter-Culture, a new series of community conversations and readings, as part of its 53rd anniversary season, Culture Shock. The series begins Aug 25 with a collaboration between EWP and Bay Area-based Scotus Theater, which “brings together artists, activists and concerned individuals to hear and consider Supreme Court cases.” This kick-off event, performed by lawyers and professional actors, will be held at the David Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo and includes a reading of arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a case that challenged the prolonged detention of immigrants.
    A post-show panel discussion will feature ACLU senior counsel Ahilan Arulanantham, who argued the case on behalf of the respondents.
  • REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, announces its Fall 2018 season. Theatrical works include KAMP, by Holland’s Hotel Modern performance collective (Sep 20-23); Creation (Pictures For Dorian), by Germany’s Gob Squad, “mixing performance and impromptu video to elevate the banality of everyday life into soaring artistic experiences,” presented with Center Theatre Group (Oct 18-21); Studio: Fall 2018, REDCAT’s quarterly program of new works and works-in-progress highlighting new forms of dance, theater, music, and multimedia (Oct 28 & 29); Jack &, co-created and directed by theater artist Kaneza Schaal (Nov 15-17); the premiere of prism, an opera by Ellen Reid and Roxie Perkins, presented with LA Opera (Nov 29-Dec 2); My Barbarian (Jade Gordon, Malik Gaines & Alexandro Segade) presenting Non-Western, set in 1848 California, a quick-change musical fantasy that plays with the tropes of the Western genre. Features a live rock band (Dec 13-16). REDCAT’s 2019 schedule TBA.


  • Pasadena Playhouse is premiering Native Gardens, a new comedy by Karen Zacarías, wherein horticultures clash, turning well-intentioned neighbors into feuding enemies. Directed by Jason Alexander. The all-star cast includes Christian Barillas, Oscar nominee Bruce Davison, Frances Fisher, and Jessica Meraz. Opens Sep 9.
  • Promenade Playhouse and El Gato Rojo Productions present the premiere of I Am Charlie, “looking at the Charles Manson story (among other things) through the mind of Charlie himself.” Written by Stephen A. Cardinal; directed by Tom Waters. Opens Sep 14 at Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica.
  • Overtone Industries, in collaboration with By The Souls Of Our Feet, presents Part I of Cynosemma: A Dirge from the Dog’s Tomb, by Megan Breen (libretto) and O-Lan Jones (music), a ritualistic opera based on the myth of Hecuba. Co-directed by Nathan Singh and Sabina Zuniga Varela, choreographed by Kristin Condon. Opens Aug 17 at Son of Semele on Beverly Blvd, downtown LA adjacent.
  • Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group premieres an interactive theatre experience, Together Again, at which the audience joins doctors, donors, and volunteers of a medical-researching non-profit at a casino night in 1989 to celebrate a year of major success. Directed by Brandon Slezak. Plays Aug 10-25 at ZJU Theatre Group in NoHo.


  • Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica has revised its 2013 premiere staging of the satirical Paradise—A Divine Blue Grass Musical, created by Bill Robertson and Tom Sage (book/lyrics) and Cliff Wagner (book/music), directed by Michael Myers. Opens Aug 17
  • A Noise Within presents the 1965 Tony-winning musical, Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics by Joe Darion, based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The cast includes Geoff Elliott (Don Quixote), Cassandra Marie Murphy (Aldonza), Kasey Mahaffy (Sancho Panza) and a full ensemble. ANW Artistic Director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott directs. Opens Aug 18.
  • SHINE Storytelling presents its annual The Power of Music—storytellers and musical artists share inspiring true tales about how music changed their lives—Aug 16 at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Kirsten Wasson hosts. Performers: Jake Cassman, Rich Johnson, Molly Meng, Ksusha Miretski (aka HibiscusChild), Misty Rosas, Richard Rossner, and Terrie Silverman.
  • Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills is presenting 26 Pebbles, set in Newton, Connecticut in June 2013 and focusing on a community coming together to heal from tragedy, six months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Written by Eric Ulloa; directed by Jules Aaron. Opens Sept 20 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.


  • The Cooper Company and Catalina Jazz Club present Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen, an evening of song, dance, stories, and humor that takes you on a journey through Broadway with some of the greats of our time including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Plays Aug 10-11 at 8:30 pm at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.
  • British actor, playwright, and storyteller Michael Washington Brown offers the L.A. premiere of Black!, a solo work that examines race from a global perspective. Opens Sep 9 at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood.


Writer/actor Ronnie Marmo and director Joe Mantegna discuss the return of Theatre 68’s Ovation-nominated, I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce, running for three weeks prior to its off-Broadway premiere this fall. Plays Aug 24-Sep 9 at Theatre 68 in Noho.

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).

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.