A lot to tell you about this week…. After 17 years writing about L.A. “theatre openings” … it is still a rewarding part of my life.

Bell, Book and Candle

 

From l, John Eddings, David P. Johnson, and Martina Lotun in “Bell, Book and Candle.”

What bonafide classic “movie buff” hasn’t seen this 1958 film, starring Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart? A delightful and magical story, it later spurred the popular TV series, Bewitched. Now running as a theatrical offering, produced by Out of the Hat productions, their staged version has a new twist. This small theatre troupe, conceived in a performing theatre at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, is dedicated to combining the Arts of theatre and the wonders of magic. By utilizing the wondrous skills of magicians and magic effects technicians, as well as actors, there are several clever feats of magic used here, performed within the play’s storyline. Fun! Directed playfully by Terri Eddings … While Gillian, a gorgeous witch, a bit bored with her life, feels something missing, she can’t quite identify the problem (played with high spirit by Martina Lotun). Living with her “familiar spirit” cat, Pyewacket … she’s part of a nutty family of colorful fruitcakes with magical powers … yet she longs for more. When Shepherd, the stranger who lives upstairs (a handsome David P. Johnson), knocks on her door … new feelings stir in Gillian. She casts a “love spell” on him which renders him helplessly under her power. Her kooky and flamboyant Aunt Queenie (a riotously quirky Jeanine Anderson) and her dapper brother Nicky (a cocky Frederick Falk) do not approve! As Sidney, a “witch chronicler” turns up (excellent work by John Eddings) her life and desires take an unexpected turn. Can this otherworldly relationship survive? An entertainingly charming script … and the onstage magic feats are really “cool” … but the pacing and length of the play are problematic (2 ½ hours). The pace needs speeding up, and the length needs to be shortened, for our total involvement. With those adjustments … our experience would be more deliciously enticing. Technical congrats to John Eddings for a gorgeous set, Terri Eddings for costuming, Tom Meleck for lighting, and Harry Evry for sound. Running weekends through August 12 at The Knightsbridge Theatre located at 1944 Riverside Dr. in L.A. For tickets call (323) 667-0955 or visit www.knightsbridgetheatre.com.

3 Faces of the King: An American Legend

Cody Slaughter performs the un-forgettable songs from the King’s early years in “3 Faces of the King: An American Legend.”

Wow! What a fabulous concert/show! Two days later, I’m still singing the lyrics to all of Presley’s hits! It seemed the entire audience knew every word of every song too! The saddest part of this write-up is that the show is already closed. Don’t fret though … because there’s already talk of it reopening later on at The El Portal Theatre. Of course I’ll let you know when that happens. Starring two talented, well known, and smokin’ hot “Elvis performers,” at different stages of his life, the energy was electric! The entire night runs like a movie, chronicling his dazzling career, songs, legacy, and charm, Elvis was the original “rockabilly crooner.” Flawlessly backed by the Elvis Ambassador Band, featuring the Tennessee Horns, and directed by Dan Lentino … the sound was thunderous! The Sweet Inspirations back up vocals were chillingly soulful, by Portia Griffeth and Elvis’ original singer from the glory days, Estelle Brown. The infectiously lovable and mega-talented 21-year-old Cody Slaughter as young Elvis opens the show in a sharp pink ‘50s jacket, black slacks, and black ‘n white shoes. The ladies went wild! He covered many Presley “hits,” expressions, and “moves,” and is a “dead ringer” for him! Having just closed a run at The Pantages Theatre in Million Dollar Quartet, this kid is headed for major stardom! He returns later in skintight black leather, depicting the King’s 1968 “comeback years.” Cody is touted as one of the most talented Elvis tribute artists in the country … yet when you chat with him … he is just a polite, humble, friendly Arkansas boy. In Act Two … we are groovin’ with Elvis in his later “Vegas years.” A bit heavier, a bit more jaded, and sporting an elaborate gem studded jumpsuit, his fans still idolize him! In this role, Shawn Klush is also showstoppingly sensational! Named the “ultimate Elvis tribute artist,” by Elvis Presley Enterprises inMemphis, this flamboyant artist “knocks ‘em dead” in Vegas! Both guys were great fun! Will let you know when Elvis will once again, be “back in the building”….

The Paris Letter – Opening July 20 at The Lonny Chapman Theatre

Written by Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright and screenwriter, Jon Robin Baitz, this play promises to be a gritty “slice of life” journey. Spanning four decades, it chronicles the shady and bisexual dealings of a Wall Street broker. His extra-marital gay dalliances threaten to be exposed in the midst of a financial scheme. Directed by the highly respected Jules Aaron, and starring an excellent cast, I expect this one to be powerful (contains male nudity). For tickets call (818) 763-5990.

That’s my story for this time … see you next week.