I, like many of you I’m sure…

Am thrilled to see the days getting longer, as we head towards spring!  I seem to get so much more accomplished, and simply feel happier!

“Rehearsal For Murder”

L to R Michael Homeier and Adam Yogel in “Rehearsal for Murder.”

An entertaining mystery thriller, adapted for stage by D.D. Brooke, from the teleplay by Richard Levinson & William Link, this one has plenty of twists ‘n’ turns. As in most mysteries, we must try to figure out who the “conniving culprit” is, as we study the possible suspects. “Masters of Mystery,” this multi-award winning duo has penned countless network TV shows (“Columbo,” “Mannix,” “McCloud,” and “Murder She Wrote” to name a few). Now presented by The Vagabond Players (a self-producing theatre troupe of 12 years) I must say… I didn’t manage to “guess” who our killer was. Resident director Lewis Hauser has wanted to do this play for years, and has done it playful justice here. Pre-curtain, sitting in front of a black box, “no set” stage, I was a bit non-plussed. An impressive set design does so much in setting the mood for the theatrical journey to come. As the show begins, I realize that it takes place backstage at a theatre, and minimal props are yet to come… so it all falls into place. The story opens on “opening night” of a new Broadway play. Alex, the playwright, (a focused Michael Homeier) and Monica, the lead actress, (an ambitious Catherine Michaels) host a bustling New York “after party” on the eve before they’re to be married. The “reviews” come in, and the play is “slammed” in all the local papers. A distraught Monica jumps to her death off of her 10 story building… or did she? After a year of mourning, Alex reassembles the cast in the very same theatre, supposedly to rehearse a new play, but actually to discover and reveal the truth about Monica’s death. A classic “who-dunnit,” everyone has a story, as facts and tensions boil over… and a killer is exposed. The entire cast, in turns, give worthy and quirky performances (some stronger than others), and the story is fun to unravel. They include: Nina Varano, Thaine Allison, Cindy Dellinger, John McAndrew, LizAnne Keigley, Kelli O’Brian, Michael James Thompson and Michael Coons. The lighting design of Peter Strauss adds much suspense to the shenanigans, and the unexpected ending.
Running through April 3 at The Raven Playhouse (5233 Lankershim Blvd., In North Hollywood). Call (818) 206-4000.

“Dialogue Between A Prostitute And Her Client”

Photo by Pina de Cola

Francesca Fanti and Eric Mardoch in “Dialogue Between a Prostitute and Her Client,” Fremont Centre Theatre. Credit: Pina De Cola.

A hauntingly sensual and hypnotic theatrical experience, set in Italy in the ’70s, this is a most unusual and thought provoking play.  Performed by two breathtakingly talented and sinfully gorgeous artists, we voyeuristically peer in on the erotic and volatile mind games played between an Italian prostitute and her controlling young client. Beyond the titillating theme, lies a dramatic metaphor for the complex aspects in male-female relationships: power, domination, objectification, etc. As power struggles, pain and vulnerability alternate here, two strangers reluctantly face their personal demons. For me, it was not an easy, breezy review to write… as I’m still processing the playwright’s intent and message, but I was transfixed throughout. Provocatively written by Italian feminist Dacia Maraini and first staged in Italy in 1978, it is notable four decades later that the “see-saw” dynamics of the heart still puzzle us as we all strive to love and be loved. Francesca Fanti as Manila, the emotionally guarded “bedroom business woman,” and Eric Murdoch as her spoiled and perplexing client, positively sizzle in these seductive and cerebral roles, under the masterfully skilled and sensual direction of Mark Kemble. Victoria Bellocq’s provocative set, and the effectively steamy lighting of Peter Strauss, round out the excellence with visionary pizzazz. An erotic and involving study of lust, pain, damaged souls and reality, seasoned theatre goers will not be disappointed!
Running through April 18 at The Fremont Centre Theatre (1000 Fremont Ave, in South Pasadena).

Mark Your Calendars!

May 8 and 9 for the 5th annual Mother’s Day Weekend at The Fremont Centre, Lissa Layng (co-artistic director) will perform her highly-acclaimed, award-winning one woman show. Triumphantly portraying Bess Steed, in Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s “A Woman of Independent Means,” hers is an unforgettably moving performance (which I have seen twice)! A perfect option for sharing time with your mother, daughter or granddaughter, to celebrate “motherhood,” the Saturday performance will include brownies and “bubbly,” and Sunday’s show will be preceded by a “Mother’s Day Tea” on the patio. $35 a seat, to reserve, call: (818) 866-4111.

Party Alert!

We went to Burbank’s “Joe’s Bar and Grill” after the theatre on Saturday to catch James Intveld, in from Nashville for a one night gig. As always, he and his primo band rocked the house, and brought in the best “rock-a-billy” dancers in town! We had a ball! Only in town a few times a year, I will let you know ahead of time the next date he’s booked to appear here…

See ya next week with more “chat from Pat!”


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