I had a busy weekend. I caught two productions to tell you about …

And spent Sunday afternoon with my family devouring way too much food, at The Smokehouse brunch! (A Mother’s Day “must”!)

Songs for a New World

From l, Malek Hanna, AnnaLisa Erickson, Mookie Johnson, and Andrea Arvanigian in “Songs for a New World.”

A musical play with no spoken dialogue, that tells its tale in about a dozen and a half soul searching songs … the storyline is undeniably thin, but the overall message is life affirming. The playwright (music and lyrics) Jason Robert Brown states in part, “I wrote those songs when I was struggling in a city that didn’t even notice I was there (Greenwich Village/New York). Songs for a New World suggests that our best solution for the stress, terror, and anxiety we feel, is to come together and support and uplift each other. Listen to the song I sing – and trust me: We’ll be fine.” On a gorgeous cocktail lounge set (by Brandy Jacobs) and directed with exuberance by Marco Gomez, four expressive singers take us on a musical journey of heartfelt experiences, and life lessons. The uplifting play, all performed in song … is certainly not for everyone’s taste, but this high energy cast of vocalists works very hard to convey the positive message (lively choreography by Angela Todaro must be applauded!) The second of six scheduled productions planned under the guidance of Dolf Ramos and Marco Gomez, featuring the Doma Theatre Company members … their first production of Tommy (the pinball wizard) enjoyed a great run recently! Alternating the spotlight in meaningful song performances … AnnaLisa Erickson (as Woman 2), Malek Hanna (as Man 2), Mookie Johnson (as Man 1), and a heartstoppingly talented Andrea Arvanigian (as Woman 1) … took the stage with life affirming and thought provoking vocal performances. Inspiring depictions by all! (JC Chavez wordlessly played the bartender.) The “live” onstage band, under the musical direction of Dolf Ramos, and the “larger than life” passion of conductor/pianist … Chris Raymond was hot stuff! Ng Yuhong (piano), Antonio Rodrigo (bass), Anjilla Piazza (drums), and Martin Diller (percussion). What a great band! Basically focusing on the joys, pain, and challenges of life, emotionally depicted in songs, the format is unusual … yet powerful!

I enjoyed the ride!

Running through June 3 at The Met Theatre located at 1089 N. Oxford Ave. in Los Angeles. For seats, call (323) 465-0693 or go to www.domatheatre.com.

Love Struck

From l, Dave Roberts, Barbara Bain, and Peter Van Norden in “Identity” from “Love Struck.”

A highly entertaining set of eight one-act plays, on the age old subject of “Love” … this is a wonderful collection of stories. All penned by Dale Griffiths Stamos, with skill, humor, and a passionate sense of the intricate workings of the human heart … she is, I feel, a truly gifted writer. Taking us from laughter to aching pain, to soulful life situations repeatedly, there is much to ponder here. Directed with inventive and “true to life” emotion by Maggie Grant, a fine cast of over a dozen actors spill their guts, bare their souls, and tickle your funny bones, as the evening plays out. Sadly, when reviewing “one act” productions, there’s never enough space to feature every actor and scene individually … so I must pick my favorites overall.

Identity

When her loving husband and adult son come to visit her at a retirement home (well played by Peter Van Norden and Dave Roberts) the Alzheimer-afflicted Roxanne reveals a shocking secret. A mesmerizing performance by Barbara Bain, in this beautiful scene.

Jeremy’s Fear

In a gutwrenching solo performance by Eric Charles Jorgenson, a man confesses and tries to justify his homosexuality over his mother’s funeral casket … There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience!

Amanda Split

A clever and animated look at a “good girl-bad girl” fantasy piece. We hilariously view the “alter ego” of Laura, as she struggles with her attraction to a “no good” unsuitable lover. Fun-filled depictions by Molly Leland, Julianna Robinson, and Ryan Cross.

Matchmade

A stunning older woman, running a “Love After 70” dating service, gets a surprise visitor. After 50 years, a male friend of her and her late husband turn up, hoping to court her … and possibly build a romantic relationship. Taken totally by surprise … Will she or won’t she? This delightful scene, played with plenty of “senior sassiness” by Barbara Bain and Nick Ullett … was probably my favorite!

Too many to comment on all of the scenes … but each of them, and their actors, were commendable … and perfectly cast! Triple kudos to Lila Cannon, who handled the set, sound, and lighting, for the entire production! This enjoyable grouping of “one act” plays is heart-touching, thought provoking, and a lot of fun at the same time, with life situations to consider, for theater lovers of all ages. Do try to catch it! Running on the weekends through May 27 at The Beverly Hills Playhouse located at 254 S. Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills. For seats, call (323) 960-7787 or go to www.plays411.com/lovestruck.

Back next week with two more “play reviews” to pique your interest….


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