I had a most enjoyable weekend theatrically speaking. I caught two exceptional productions, as different as could possibly be … but both are highly worthy of your time!
A Short Stay at Carranor
Written with heart-wrenching emotion by two time Emmy winner, William Blinn, and directed with pulsating passion by John Gallogly, this romantic drama is a pure joy. A poignant and involving look at the intricate dynamics of “family,” and undying romance … this touching “slice of life” story will linger in my mind for some time to come. Irene, now a high spirited aging widow was in love with Chet, a soldier in World War II, but turned him away due to parental disapproval, and married another. Decades later, after her husband’s death, she and the now married Chet have reignited their romance. Facing a terminal disease, he has chosen to spend his remaining months with Irene at her summer lakeside home, leaving his current family behind. The remarkable Lee Meriwether plays Irene, with spunky and graceful elegance, and Don Moss plays Chet with soaring spirit, savoring the long awaited reunion. Not without complications, Irene’s married daughter Shelby is outraged by their “late life” romance, and objects strongly (a spunky Corinne Shor). This causes conflict in her own marriage to Alan (a delightful George Tovar). In smaller roles, Greg Lewis as the quirky neighbor Mr. Dibble, Mary Burkin as Chet’s current wife, and Nick McDow as Chet’s adult son, all add color to the bittersweet story. A charming production, with explosive family dynamics. Kaleidoscopic kudos to the “behind the scenes” artists, who effectively set the mood. The stunningly panoramic set design by Jeff G. Rack, scenic murals by Jeff Raum, crisp sound by Charlie Mount, and inspiring lighting by Yancey Dunham … blended magically to enhance our heartfelt experience! This is a deeply moving story, which held the audience captive throughout. Do try to see it. Running through Sept. 29 at Theatre West located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. (near Universal Studios). Free parking lot across the street. For tickets call (323) 851-7977 or go to theatrewest.org.
In the Next Room or the vibrator play
A flawless and award worthy production, in every aspect of theatrical magic! From the first nail driven … in building the stunning Victorian set, to the very last word in the script … the entire experience is a sheer delight! Written with sassy, yet “proper” Victorian Era style by Sarah Ruhl, and directed with impeccably timed brilliance by August Viverito, who also designed the beautiful set … the titillating fun is nonstop! I will borrow from the press sheet synopsis … because I couldn’t possibly describe the story better myself. “At the dawn of the age of electricity in America, a new treatment is devised to save women of substance from suffering. ‘Hysteria’ was the diagnosis, and the new electric ‘vibrating’ apparatus became a woman’s best friend in lieu of a husband who … understands.” The discovery and use of a vibrator in a doctor’s office, opened minds, awakened relationships, and resulted in much improved communication between married couples. Bawdy, bold, sexy, and outrageously hilarious! I would see this one again! Taking place at the lovely home/physician’s office of the “oh so proper” Dr. Givings and his frustrated wife Catherine, who have recently been blessed with a baby … the insanity erupts! (Michael Oosterom and Joanna Strapp) They’ve just hired a “wet nurse” to breast feed their newborn who hasn’t yet bonded with her mother (Candace Nicholas-Lippman). With the assistance of his nurse, (Elizabeth Southard) the doctor is experimenting with “shocking” treatments on women, to appease their sexual appetites. Electronically “charging the batteries” of frustrated ladies … these scenes are laugh out loud hilarious! He is currently treating Sabrina, married to Dick … seeking marital bliss (Yael Berkovich and Michael Zemenick). In Act II Leo, a whacky “larger than life” artist turns up, offering the doctor his first male patient for his research (Ben Gillman). The entire cast was wildly entertaining and screamingly funny! The play was gloriously costumed in Victorian attire by Kelly Graham, and the lighting by Matt Richter, set the old tyme tone with perfection. Every L.A. theatre lover must catch this one … with the exception of priests, nuns, and “prudes!” Running through Sept. 28 at The Secret Rose Theatre in NoHo located at 11246 Magnolia Blvd. For seats call (800) 838-3006 or go to theprodco.com.
Presented by “The Production Company,” you may be familiar with their three year stint of highly acclaimed productions at The Chandler Studio Theatre. Now in residence at The Secret Rose for this full season, they are right in the neighborhood. A win for NoHo! Check them out…. That’s my story for this time. All good news … two worthy productions for you to catch! Both top notch! Tune in again next week.