This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez

IN THE NEWS


  • Robey Theatre Company’s 2019 season will celebrate 25 years of presenting work by playwrights, directors, and actors reflecting the experiences of the Black Diaspora, beginning Apr 6-May 12 with the premiere of Birdland Blue at Los Angeles Theatre Center, focusing on jazz legend Miles Davis and his sextet during their troubled engagement at the Manhattan jazz venue Birdland in the 1950s. Written by Randy Ross; directed by Ben Guillory. The season continues at LATC with The Third Paul Robeson Theatre Festival, a retrospective featuring excerpted highlights of Robey mainstage shows of the past 25 years, curated by Guillory (Aug 23-25); and the premiere of a new comedy by a Los Angeles playwright and director TBA (Nov 2-Dec 8). Additionally, award-winning documentarian Juney Smith’s film, The Robeson Effect, about the 25-year journey of the Robey Theatre Company and its founders, Danny Glover and Guillory, will premiere at the Pan African Film Festival, at Cinemark 15 Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw (Feb 16 & 17).

PREMIERES

  • La Jolla Playhouse has extended the premiere run of the musical, Diana, focusing on the 1981 courtship and marriage of an assistant kindergarten teacher and the Prince of Wales, created by Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics). Directed by Christopher Ashley, choreographed by Kelly Devine, and starring Jeanna de Waal as Diana. Now plays Feb 19-Apr 7.
  • The Echo Theater Company opens its 2019 season with the Los Angeles premiere of the Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Wolves, about a group of suburban mid-teen girls who “navigate big questions and wage tiny battles with the ferociousness of a pack of adolescent warriors.” Written by Sarah DeLappe; directed by Alana Dietze. Opens Mar 16 opening in Atwater Village Theatre.
  • West Coast Jewish Theatre is presenting the West Coast premiere of Bar Mitzvah Boy, in which a thoroughly secularized 60-year old lawyer must re-connect with the faith of his ancestors when he decides to have a bar mitzvah ceremony. Written by Mark Leiren-Young; directed by WCJT artistic director, Howard Teichman. Stars R. Emmett Lee and Pamela Heffler. Opens March 23 At Miles Memorial Playhouse.

AROUND TOWN


  • L.A. Theatre Works presents its latest recorded-before-a-live audience-for future-radio-broadcast production of A Room With A View, adapted by the BBC’s Kate McAll from the 1908 E.M. Forster novel. McAll directs. Stars Julian Sands (who co-starred in the 1985 film version), Eugene Simon, and Eleanor Tomlinson, with Edita Brychta and Darren Richardson. Opens Mar 1 in James Bridges Theater on the campus of UCLA in Westwood.
  • Theatre Forty continues its 2019 season with the British mystery, The Sound of Murder, written by William Fairchild and featuring Roslyn Cohn, Gabriel Olivas, David Hunt Stafford, Peter Trencher, David Westbay and Kate Whitney. Directed by Adrien Neil. Opens Mar 14 at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.
  • South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa is presenting Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, following the true story of a complex woman who makes her way in a male-dominated field. The cast includes Giovanni Adams, George Ketsios, Anil Margsahayam, Riley Neldam, Joshua Odsess-Rubin, and Helen Sadler. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Opens Mar 8 at SCR’s Julianne Argyros Stage.
  • Casting has been announced for the engagement of Disney’s Aladdin at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. The production stars Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Major Attaway (Genie), Lissa deGuzman (Jasmine), and Jonathan Weir (Jafar), and features a 29-member supporting ensemble. Created by Alan Menken (music), Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin (lyrics), with book by Beguelin (adapted from the 1992 film), directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, with music direction by Michael Kosarin. Opens Mar 6.
  • The February edition of the Fountain Theatre’s Forever Flamenco is helmed by dancer Fanny Ara, who will be joined on stage by dancers Reyes Barrios, Marina Elena, and Timo Nuñez; and singer Antonio de Jerez, guitarist Gabriel Osuna, and percussionist Gerardo Morales. Feb. 24 at Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

SOLO MOJO


  • The Latino Theater Company is presenting Home, writer/performer Nancy Ma’s coming-of-age tale about growing up sandwiched between two cultures, directed by Geoffrey Rivas. Opens Mar 2 at the Los Angles Theatre Center in downtown L.A.
  • Writer/performer Megan Dolan is bringing her solo play, Lemur Mom, “one woman’s eye-opening journey into life on the spectrum,” directed by Wendy Hammers. Performs Mar 31 and Apr 28 as part of the Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest 2019 in Sherman Oaks.

THE THING IS…


The latest incarnation of The Four Freshman—the group that was originally created in 1948 and inspired the sound of the Beach Boys—is playing one night at El Portal Theatre in NoHo. Feb 22.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area, airing Fridays (2-2:30 pm) on KPFK 90.7FM. On Feb 15, Valerie Perri, starring as Emma Goldman in the Pasadena Playhouse’s revival of the musical, Ragtime, will appear.

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.