This Week in LA Theatre

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Written by Julio Martinez

Pictured: Pasadena Playhouse for Ragtime. The LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on January 13, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

 

  • Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum has announced its annual summer line-up of theater, music and performance in its outdoor setting in Topanga Canyon. The company will present five plays, opening in rapid succession and performed in repertory throughout the summer, kicking off on June 6 with William Shakespeare’s political tragedy, Julius Caesar. June 7 will see the annual return of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joining the repertoire on June 13 is the Bard’s, The Merry Wives of Windsor, this time re-set in 1950s small-town America to a score of ‘rockin’ ‘50s tunes. June 20 sees the opening of ’night Mother, the Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander by Marsha Norman, starring real-life mother and daughter Ellen Geer and Willow Geer, directed by Melora Marshall. Finally, the premiere of The Last, Best Small Town by local playwright John Guerra opens on July 11, following two neighboring families—one Latinx and one white—who live in nearby Fillmore, the self-proclaimed “Last, Best Small Town in Southern California.”  All five productions will play in repertory through Sept. 27. In addition to theater, Theatricum will present four special events on its mainstage, including the company’s bi-annual The Woody Guthrie Story, a tribute to the songwriter, folklorist and labor leader who was a longtime Theatricum friend (Oct 3).
  • Center Theatre Group has named students Kyle Branch (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts), Tyla Uzo (Ramón C. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts) and Fletcher Jones (also from Ramón C. Cortines High School) as the top performers of the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) Regional Finals held at the Mark Taper Forum on February 25, 2020. Branch and Uzo will go on to represent L.A. in the national finals on May 4, 2020. Branch has placed first in the regional competition, earning a $500 scholarship; Uzo took second place with a $400 scholarship; and Jones took third place and a $300 scholarship. Both Branch and Uzo will also receive a paid trip to New York City to perform on the stage of the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. They will compete in a semi-final round with 28 other students from cities around the country. Fifteen of those students will be selected for the national finals while the other 13 will be part of a performance montage. Jones will serve as the Los Angeles alternate. As preparation for the national component of the competition, the three selected students will receive master classes to workshop their monologues.

 

  • The Road Theatre Company presents the third show of the Road’s 2019-2020 season, the premiere of Scintilla, focusing on a reclusive artist who lives at the edge of the woods in California’s Wine Country. As a raging wildfire approaches, she refuses to leave despite the urging of her son and his wife, written by Alessandro Camon, featuring Taylor Gilbert, Kris Frost, David Gianopoulos and Michael Uribes, directed by Ann Hearn Tobolowsky. Opens Apr 24 at the Road Theatre on Magnolia, located in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood.

 

  • Center Theatre Group, celebrating Los Angeles theatre, returns to the Douglas for a fourth season with Block Party 2020 recognizing L.A.s small theatres by reprising the best of their work at The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.  The works include: The Art Couple, an absurdist comedy of struggling artists before they become famous as Neil Simon, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin look at the world of art, the price of genius, and the difficulty of having a roommate, written by Brendon Hunt, directed by Lauren Van Kurin (originally produced by Sacred Fools Theater Company), playing Mar 18-29; and Canyon, set in the sun-soaked hills of Los Angeles, this timely new play from Ovation Award winner Jonathan Caren revolves around a young married couple and the Mexican father and son who work for them, directed by Whitney White (originally produced by IAMA Theatre Company (Apr 8-19). 
  • Los Angeles performing artist Pam Levin’s Tales of Modern Motherhood: Part 2 Gender and Identity, addressing one of the most relevant issues of our time, gender dysphoria in children. Plays Mar 12, Apr 4 & May 2 at Whitefire Theatre Solo Fest in Sherman Oaks. 

 

  • Rudy Ramos returns to Santa Monica Playhouse to present his solo show Geronimo: Life on the Reservation, the story of 22 years of Geronimo’s life when he was a P.O.W. in his own country, written by Janelle Meraz Hooper, directed by Steve Railsback.   

 

  • The creators and cast member of IAMA Theatre Company‘s production of Found: A New Musical, discuss the show which is currently running at Los Angeles Theatre Center, through Mar 23. 

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area, airing on KPFK (90.7fm) on Fridays 2-2:30pm, streamed live around the world in real time over www.kpfk.org.   

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.