I caught a very entertaining classic play on the weekend, presented in three acts

A highly revered family drama, with true to life comedic moments. It first opened on February 19, 1935, at the Belasco Theatre, and has been revived countless times starring celebrated casts. I hadn’t ever seen it before myself, but recommend that you catch this production!

Awake and Sing!

The cast of “Awake and Sing!” From l, on couch, Patrick Burke, Michele Bernath, and Christine Joelle. Standing, Troy Whitaker, Robert Gallo, and Stan Mazin.

The cast of “Awake and Sing!” From l, on couch, Patrick Burke, Michele Bernath, and Christine Joelle. Standing, Troy Whitaker, Robert Gallo, and Stan Mazin.

Written with heart-wrenching soul by Clifford Odets, this is an American Classic family play, considered by many … a masterpiece. Directed with gripping passion by Larry Eisenberg, he states: “Life is not easy, and everyone does the best they can with the tools they have. We must not let our lives stagnate by ‘singing the blues.’ It’s much better to Awake and Sing! and grab life by the throat!” We are privy to the issues and familial interactions of the Berger family during the Depression era. Three generations of a Jewish American family living under one roof in the Bronx in 1935, deal with life’s perplexing challenges and choices. All under the “no nonsense” scrutiny of the Mother, Bessie, each family member faces life’s adversity in different ways. As Bessie, an award worthy, and gut-wrenching performance is given by Michele Bernath, and Patrick Burke as her mild-mannered husband is solid. When her unmarried grown daughter becomes “with child” … (a flawless Christine Joelle) by an unsuitable family friend (a flashy and sassy Daniel Kaemon), Bessie promptly turns up with a more proper father figure (a humble and sweet Marcos Cohen). Bessie’s young adult son Ralph, struggling for independence (a heartfelt Troy Whitaker) and his kindly Grandfather Jacob (a charmingly lovable Stan Mazin) share a very special bond. Robert Gallo as the shrewd and dapper Uncle Morty is dynamic, and in smaller roles, rounding out the cast: Edgar Mastin is quirky as the handyman, and Amanda as Tootsie, the adorable family dog … was a sweet bonus. An unexpected and questionable event occurs when Grandpa takes the pooch outside for a walk … leaving the family and the audience to their own conclusions. Chris Winfield’s gorgeous period set design, Kim Smith’s lighting, Steve Shaw’s sound design, and Kim DeShazo’s classy array of 1930s period costumes, set the mood with perfection! A highly involving and heartfelt family drama, with humorous moments weaved in … this is a rewarding theatrical experience. Do try to see it! Running through November 3 at Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. For seats call (818) 763-5990 or go to thegrouprep.com.

FYI – “Talk back” Sundays with the cast will take place on Oct. 6 and 27 right after the performance.

Next weekend I’ll be at The El Portal Theatre in NoHo to catch the opening night of still another intriguing look at the life of the world’s most famous blonde bombshell.

Marilyn …

Madness & Me!

Written by Frank V. Furino. Said to be the story of a sweet relationship between Monroe and a man who somehow got ahold of her diary the night she died. Starring Adam Meyer and Alison Janes as the “spirit” of Monroe. Playing out in the smaller “Monroe Forum Theatre” – if you’d like to book seats ahead call (818) 508-4200.

Enjoying the cooler temps … but I don’t welcome the upcoming early darkness. It makes the daytime productive hours so short!


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