In an odd twist of fate…

the two plays I caught this weekend were performed by all female actors… with the exception of one hunky male. That doesn’t happen very often…

Next Window Please

The cast of “Next Window Please,” from l, Stephanie Colet, Trisha Hershberger, Shelby Kocee, Gina Yates and Bianca Gisselle.

In a time when the “economic crisis” and “banking madness” runs rampant, this is an entertaining but realistic look at the financial issues and changes we all deal with today. Studied from the passionate viewpoint of workers in the banking industry, this is a serio-comedic peek at a nervous group of bank tellers, on the “verge of a merge.” All from different cultures and backgrounds, they each face personal crisis and panic at the possibility of losing their jobs. I don’t know what bank this is, but it would be a “bachelor’s dream”… as all of these gals facing termination… are steaming hot! (fabulously appealing and sassy costumes by Angela M. Eads!) Written with a lot of heart and personal experience, by award winning playwright Doug Haverty, he is a former bank teller himself. We are privy to the histories and personal stories of these multi-ethnic bank employees, whose jobs are in danger. Under the skilled directorial vision of Richard Alan Woody, the entire vivacious cast fares well. One after another… they held us captive, alternating quirky, touching and funny antics as a group, with in depth and heartfelt monologue moments weaved in. The first act was a bit manic and confusing, as we get to know each character and their ethnic backgrounds, but in act two… it all begins to gel. As the only male in the cast, Chris Wolfe is sensually solid, as the handsome Executive Trainee called in to govern the lay-off selection, and Cassie Andrews is flawless as the bank’s efficient “Operations Manager.” Potential victims of “downsizing”… three of the five tellers must go… as tension elevates. Meet the tellers in peril: Gina Yates was hilarious as an Armenian gal with low blood sugar. Bianca Gisselle was convincing as the Argentine disagreeable “head teller,” who married an American gay guy to stay in the U.S., and Trisha Hershberger is a ditzy delight as the Southern “would be” fashion designer. Both Stephanie Colet as the oldest teller from Mexico with monumental money and family problems, and Shelby Kocee as the British bombshell, offer riveting performances. A well cast ensemble… all are inspiring in their monologue portrayals! The slick and eye popping set, designed by Chris Winfield and Richard Alan Woody, was terrific, and Steve Shaw’s sound design and Sabrina Beattie’s lighting were also effective. This is an enjoyable, funny and thought provoking journey, with plenty to ponder in between the chuckles… and as I mentioned before… the whole cast is very “easy on the eyes!” Running Thursdays thru’ Sundays through Sept. 17 at Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood.

Note: Thursday night ticket prices are “Pay As You Can,” and Friday nights – all tickets for the “ladies” are ½ price. To the New Girl from the Former Mrs. —————: Sound Advice for My Husband’s New Wife or Mistress

Samantha Carro, center, in a scene from “To the New Girl…”

My press sheet asks… “If you had five minutes alone with your significant other’s “other”… what would you say?”… and this is the gutsy premise of this play. Written with gritty insight and raw emotion, by promising new young playwright Samantha Macher, this is a provocative study of the deep pain of “cheating” by your “one and only.” Presented in ten soulful monologues, we meet ten diverse women individually, who have been devastated by betrayal in a variety of ways. Under the darkly effective direction of Jeanette Farr, on a minimally stark stage, every single performance is powerfully thought provoking… and believable. Presented by Sky Pilot Theatre Co., whose work is always “cutting edge”… this is a very intimate look at romances gone bad, and loyalty being replaced by deceit. Some scenes are humorous, some are kinky, and some are heartwarming… but all contain painful honesty. Too many to summarize every scene (and four of the roles are double cast), but let me tell you about a few of my favorites of the “letters” to the other women depicted here, to give you an idea of what to expect. A tough dominatrix angrily texts the woman now sleeping with her man: (a kinky Mackenzie English). A Southern Christian beauty married to a handsome and philandering TV evangelist… He leaves her for a male lover in “lacey undies”: (an excellent Niki Nowak). A young virgin bride is so devastated by her new husband’s kissing another woman that she can’t live with the pain: (a poignantly sweet Samantha Carro). A pregnant woman married to a hopeless druggie, she now begs his lover to send her back her wedding ring: (a gut wrenching Chera Holland). In the most touching and heartfelt scene for me: A spirited senior aged lady blissfully married for 30-some years, now visits her Alzheimer afflicted husband daily at a nursing home. As his memory declines, he slowly forgets who she is and develops a relationship with one of his lady co-patients. She then selflessly writes the lady detailed instructions on her beloved husband’s daily needs… (a feisty and unforgettable performance by Rosina Pinchot). The remainder of this gifted cast includes: Mary Burkin, Lindsey Mixon, Jennie Floyd, Alexis Zibolis and Tifanie McQueen… each strong in various tales about infidelity… and the painful mark it leaves on the heart. This is quite an emotional and racy production… abundant with meaningful messages, familiar deceit and memorable performances! Running Saturdays and Sundays thru’ September 18 at Theatre Unlimited Studio located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For seats, call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.skypilottheatre.com.

See you next week….


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