I only caught one play on the weekend

I was laboriously caught up in the dreaded yearly tax preparation, before seeing my accountant. It stresses me to the “max” every single year! “Words” are my thing… Numbers are a different story!

The Manchurian Candidate

Michael A. Newcomer (Raymond Shaw) and Amanda Karr (Mrs. Eleanor Iselin) in “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Michael A. Newcomer (Raymond Shaw) and Amanda Karr (Mrs. Eleanor Iselin) in “The Manchurian Candidate.”

NORTH HOLLYWOOD- A totally involving, mind-blowing theatrical experience unfolds here, in a small but compact theatre space (33 seats). Offered by “The Production Company,” a group of credible working actors, the intimacy catapults us deeply into the action and psyches of the characters at hand. Dynamically written by John Lahr, from the novel by Richard Condon… though the basic plot and players remain, this version is set in a different place and time… post-Vietnam. The starkly minimal but effectively utilized set (by August Viverito) inspired our focused attention to the riveting performances and complex storyline (as did the lighting by Ric Zimmerman and sound by Angie Bryant). A shocking and gutsy tale of wartime brainwashing and its post-war effects on all involved, combined with rampant and corrupt political abuse of power, I had never seen any version of this play before. (I seemed to be in the minority, as those who were there on the night I went knew the story well.) Under the gut-wrenching Direction of Robert Craig, the performances all ‘round were without flaw. Shockingly volatile, with moments of humor laced in amidst the horrors, the entire cast took us on an unforgettable journey! Those familiar with this telling will not be disappointed, and those who are not are in for a historical and compelling trip. In a quartet of award-worthy lead roles: Michael A. Newcomer as Raymond, the brainwashed hero, now a “killer on command,” and Beau Puckett, as his tormented and nightmare-driven commanding officer, both give powerfully perfect performances! Rich Skidmore, as a “good ole boy” Senator coveting the Presidential seat, gives a marvelously multi-layered portrayal. Lastly, Amanda Karr, as the Senator’s cunning, conniving and opportunistic wife, will blow you away! In the most impressive female theatrical performance of the year so far, for me… this gifted woman’s talent and range knows no boundaries! The rest of this fine ensemble (many in multiple roles) includes: An excellent David Ghilardi, Lara Hughes, Spiro Papas, Robert Moon, Kelly Graham, and Tony Domanico. Kudos to all! An enthralling and rewarding “no frills” production, presented in a tiny but magical theatre space… do take the time to see this one! Running through May 2nd at The Chandler Studio Theatre Center– 12443 Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood. Call 800-838-3006 or go to www.theprodco.com

A Farwell to “E.R.”

After 15 quality primetime seasons to their credit, last week I, like millions of other faithful viewers, said “goodbye” to “E.R.” Created by Michael Crichton, and offering an endless roster of fine actors and strong storylines, every episode offered “food for thought” and strong characters. In this manic era of “reality TV,” it is such a shame to see shows of this caliber fade away…

Yikes!

Still “cringing” from the gawd awful photo of myself (with Phil Olson) in my column last week, I have since crawled under a rock! I beg you to erase it from your memory! Looking like a 90 year old inebriated floozie… I swear, it looked okay on the cell phone’s tiny screen!

Back next week with more reviews and random thoughts…


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