As the temps hit triple digits on the weekend

I beat the heat by sitting in air conditioned theatres. A “cool” summer option!

Circle of Will

 Alexis Fancher

Jack Grapes (l.) and Joe Briggs in “Circle of Will” at Macha Theatre

A wildly creative and highly theatrical script, written by Bill Cakmis and Jack Grapes (who also stars here as the “befuddled Bard”) this comedy of errors is a barrel of laughs. With many characters represented in multiple mini roles, the play centers on William Shakespeare and the first celebrated Shakespearean actor, Richard Burbage, in the year 1610. Director Brian Herskowitz succeeds in keeping the manic pace and zany surprises flying at us, with riotously well-timed skill. Two spirited young actors in full Shakespearean garb (Josh Grapes and John Brocato) playfully set the tone pre-show in the lobby, and in the opening ten minutes, preparing us for the “madness” to come. An award winning play when it opened in 1986, garnering great reviews, the opening night audience I joined roared out loud repeatedly… Total insanity! The action takes place during the playwright’s “lost years,” just after his last solo written play, The Tempest, and shortly before his death. The play opens as the two men haul off a female dead body wrapped in a carpet. Let the games begin! A non-stop debate unfolds about the artistic goals of the playwright, the needs of the actor, and the wants of the audience who expect to be entertained. After a long run of “overacting,” playing women, clowns, and fools, Richard “Dirk” Burbage is fed up! He wants Shakespeare to write him a masculine leading role to revive his career. He requests a script that closes with an “up” ending, to which Shakespeare replies, “I don’t write ‘up’ endings!” Jack Grapes is great silly fun as the obstinate, volatile, world renowned playwright, fumbling through script changes. He wanders jovially through the audience, offering lively repartee. Then he pulls a reluctant female audience member onstage for some hilarious verbal patter and ad-lib flirting… which offers some of the night’s most entertaining moments! Shy and self-conscious, continuously trying to return to her seat, she turns out to be a “diamond in the rough,” as we delight in her understandable embarrassment. The cluttered set by Martin C. Vallejo, Victorian costumes by Anasuya Engel, and sound/lighting by Carey Dunn set the wacky tony effectively. A “tongue in cheek” play that really earns its laughs… try to catch this one! Running through August 15th at The Macha Theatre – 1107 N. Kings Rd. in West Hollywood. To join in the shenanigans call 323-960-7822.

FYI – This building was formerly The Globe Theatre, run for some 34 years by my friend Thad Taylor, and offered mostly Shakespearean works. Sadly, he passed away in 2006. I am sure that he and William S. are in heaven… getting a big kick out this maniacal production!

Life Could Be a Dream

A 1960s doo-wop musical, this show closes at Hollywood Hudson Theatre this weekend, after a fabulous full year run. I went back on Saturday to catch it for the third time! A “feel good” delight, loaded with ‘60s hit songs, and good, clean, nostalgic fun! Producers David Elzer and Peter Schneider are thrilled to have re-opened it with the original cast at the spacious Laguna Playhouse. Running through August 29th. To catch it there, call 949-497-2787.

Mark Your Calendars For These Upcoming Productions!

Snapshot

Three nights only… July 22, 23, 24th at The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. EDGE is the leading commercial dance training facility in the U.S. Time again for their yearly benefit/showcase, they will offer 40 dancers in an exciting and eclectic roster of numbers, covering jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary movement. To attend this worthy and “happening” event, call 323-962-7000 ext. 19 or just turn up at the door. $25. Get ready to rock – these shows are a lot of fun! 4718 W. Washington Blvd. in L.A.

String of Pearls

Opening July 31st at Lonny Chapman Theatre. A lovely strand of pearls get passed from woman to woman as each recall personal events from their lives. I saw this play elsewhere years ago… and it was quite charming. For early booking – call 818-700-4878.

A Boy’s Life

A comedy, opening at Crown City Theatre on August 5th. A 1998 Pulitzer Prize nominated play that explores the male psyche in society and personal relationships. It is to be set in present day to see how much has changed in “the battle of the sexes” in 22 years. For early booking go to crowncitytheatre.com or call 818-745-8527.

Eat the Runt

Opening on August 10th at Theatre of Note in Hollywood. Starring eight familiar faces from various TV shows, this satirical piece looks at office politics, sexual harrassment, religion, society, and cultural norms. Sounds intriguing. The press release states: “Eight actors play the roles of their lives! (They just don’t know which roles until the audience decides for them.)” A different show every nigh! For early booking call 323-856-8611.

That’s it for this time. Book a play today, and get involved in L.A.’s exciting theatrical scene! Some productions will be more your “taste” than others… but all are “up close and personal.”


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