Like most of you, I’m sure … enough already with these unbearably hot temps!

I feel like I could just melt into a puddle. It’s a good time to catch some “theatah” in an air conditioned playhouse!

Elmina’s Kitchen

From l, Terrell Tilford and Basil Wallace in “Elmina’s Kitchen

A powerful script, written insightfully by Kwame Kwei-Armah. Abundant with pitch perfect African American performances and directed with soulful passion by Gregg T. Daniel … this is a very strong and thought provoking production! Gritty, touching, volatile, and realistic. Spanning decades of family history, we look at the explosive clash of values between three generations of black men and their families. Looking at the effects over generations of this family’s choices, feuds, lifestyles … and the disintegration of their relationships as a result, is the premise of this combustible drama. It takes place in 2003, in Elmina’s Kitchen, a restaurant in the notorious “Murder Mile” of London’s East End. Owned by Deli (a gut wrenching performance by Terrell Tilford), the complex story unfolds. When his father shows up after an 18 year absence (an excellent Basil Wallace), as well as his old friend Baygee (a solid Leon Morenzie) … All Hell breaks loose! As Anastasia, the pretty new restaurant employee (a spunky Tracey A. Leigh), and as Deli’s teen son Ashley, “on a fast track to trouble,” (a cocky Aaron Jennings). Last but certainly not least … Noel Arthur as Digger, the neighborhood “wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’” thug, gives a brilliant performance! Funny and fearlessly focused … he was spellbinding. A perfectly chosen cast all around! The Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble is a dedicated, largely African American troupe. I was also totally enthralled with their prior offering last year, Three Sisters After Chekhov! The behind the scenes technical team was also flawless, and I feel must be acknowledged. Mood inspiring set (Gary Lee Reed), impeccable costuming (A. Jeffrey Schoenberg), lighting (Michael Gend), sound (David B. Marling), choreographers (Ameenah Kaplan and Edgar Landa). These are the unseen “wizards” who always set the tone for our total involvement, and often don’t get “written” credit. Congrats to all! For a gritty “slice of life” evening of live theater, do see this one! Although it is a bit confusing at times … with British, Jamaican, andWest Indies accents – it all comes together in the end. The opening night audience honored their efforts with a rousing standing ovation … well deserved! Running through Sept. 9 at The Lost Studio located at 130 S. La Brea inLos Angeles (upstairs). For seats call (323) 960-4451 or visit lowerdeptheatreensemble.org.

Moonwalker – The Reflection of Michael

Michael Firestone in “Moon-walker – The Reflection of Mi-chael.”

Starring the mega talented and infectiously lovable Michael Firestone … we caught this “fab” one day only show, at Glendale’s Alex Theatre on Sunday. Honoring the remarkable, blockbusting career of Michael Jackson, three years after his death, Firestone is known as the best Jackson impersonator in the world. He looks, sings, dresses, and dances just like the controversial star! The “moves,” the familiar world renowned hit songs, and the “persona” are eerily mind-bending! Backed by a hot band, soulful back-up singers, and gorgeous dancers, this an exciting show! Too late this time around to catch them in L.A. but here’s an idea … Why not plan a late summer “get-a-way” to Laughlin, Nevada? This electrifying concert will be running for nearly two weeks there at The Riverside Resort and Casino, from Aug. 22 till Sept. 2 (dark Mondays). To book seats ahead call 1-800-227-3849. This show is smokin’ hot … We loved every rockin’ moment!

Promising Upcoming Openings

How Obama Got His Groove Back – A World Premiere Comedy Opening Aug. 18 at TheFremont Centre

Following the hilarious run here in 2011, of Oh Mama! And Obama, the same writers are back with this sequel. This time, Obama has the blues … tired of fighting the Republicans. He decides to embark on a career as a soul singer, and leave the country in Michael’s capable care. Meanwhile, Romney is trying out improv classes, to become funnier and more relaxed with average people. Sounds like another political laugh riot! For early booking call (866) 811-4111 toll free.

The Fantasticks – Opening Aug. 31 at Theatre West

This forever popular lighthearted simple story has delighted audiences for decades. It ran Off Broadway for 46 years (1960 to 2002) and reopened in 2006. It is still going strong! Most theater lovers have seen it more than once … A sweet love story with classic songs like “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna’ Rain” … this is your chance to see it done by an excellent cast. The agelessly lovely Lee Meriwether plays “the mute.” For early bookings call (323) 851-7977.

Back next week with more “reviews” and idle chit chat!


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