Such gorgeous weather we were able to enjoy on the weekend, huh?

We should all count our blessings to live in California, while TV newscasters constantly cover such horrific weather problems in other parts of our country…

Best Wishes

Playwright Bill Barker as Denny (center) describes a comic moment to sister Elda and brother Gil (Ovation Award winner Joanne McGee and Dana Craig.) in “Best Wishes”

Playwright Bill Barker as Denny (center) describes a comic moment to sister Elda and brother Gil (Ovation Award winner Joanne McGee and Dana Craig.) in “Best Wishes”

NORTH HOLLYWOOD- Cathartically written by Bill Barker in 1981 after the death of his maternal grandmother, this serio-comedy has a lot of heart! Unable to attend the funeral himself, he realized that his large family (17 siblings) in rural Liberal, Kansas, would never again gather in her humble home. This thought inspired him to pay his respects by writing his first play. Though not all of the siblings were there, this touchingly funny and relatable story explores the interaction of six of them (with references to some of the others weaved in). Returning home from various life experiences and chosen paths of life, as this family reunites, harbored feelings, old resentments, and volatile issues are stirred up. Spanning emotions that are both achingly poignant and maniacally funny… you may just recognize “dynamics” of your own family lurking between the lines. (Their personal journey reminded me of Del Shore’s hit play, “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got The Will?”) Under the heartfelt Direction of Hollace Starr, on an effectively realistic set by Matthew J. Williamson, and in appropriately unattractive 1980’s costumes by Caitlin Erin O’Hare, an excellent cast wins our hearts. (Nice lighting by Gary Lamb and sound by Nikko Tsiotsis.) Joanne McGee gives a spunky, high-spirited performance as Elde, the feisty, smokin’, drinkin’, and cussin’ sister from California! Carol Jones as Dorie (the prudish and petty “drama queen” who never left home), Ann Bronston as Vera (the nurturing caretaker to all), and Nadya Starr as Crystal (the sensible and deep-thinking sibling) give a trio of commendably character-driven portrayals. Dana Craig as Gil (the oldes t

Playwright Phil Olson and Tolucan Times Columnist Pat Taylor.

Playwright Phil Olson and Tolucan Times Columnist Pat Taylor.

brother and head of the family affairs) and Bill Barker as Denny (the kindly, younger brother), are both focused and believable. In smaller roles, Ronnie Alvarez and Rebecca Davis are very sweet as the young “expectant” couple, hoping to buy their home to raise a family in. Kaleidoscopic kudos to Peggy Lord Chilton as Fanny (Momma’s old friend and neighbor). Salty, opinionated, and hilarious… she lights up the stage with every appearance! Speaking of her deceased friend after the funeral, she says, “She looked all pasty and white… like chalk ready to be erased.” Wonderful line! This is a thought-provoking production, loaded with familial fireworks! Try to see it! Running through April 19th (with a possible extension) at The Crown City Theatre – 11031 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. Call 818-745-8527 or go to www.plays411.com.

A Don’t Hug Me County Fair

NORTH HOLLYWOOD- Having favorably reviewed Phil Olson’s bizarre and wacky Bunyon County, Minnesota, musical comedy in February at The Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood (the third in his “Don’t Hug Me…” series), we went back on Saturday for the “understudy” performance night. Now extended, it is still selling out most nights. There to catch Phil himself playing the lead role of Gunnar and his own twin sister Trigger, I’ve gotta say this… Although he was roaringly funny… at about 6’5” tall, he makes one frighteningly “butt ugly” female. Scary! The night’s understudy as his wife, Clara, was Cheryl Games (AKA the Falcon Theatre’s savvy publicist), who was playfully perky and did the role jovial justice! Still fracturing audiences nightly (with the “regular” cast in the roles), again I say… Go see it! It is a wild ‘n’ crazy ride!

Andrea Kittelson – A Woman on the Move!

I’d like to give a supportive “shout out” to one of my many creative, smart, charming, and funny gal pals… Andrea Kittelson… A full-time local high school English teacher, stand-up comic, script writer, ex “cabbie,” past San Francisco theatre owner, “single,” and a “knock-out” to boot… there’s just no stopping her constantly “cranking” brain! Having recently taken on a tri-weekly writing gig on the subject of comedy, her articles are witty, informative, clever and fun! To check out her “Riotously Random Ramblings,” go to www.examiner.com and search for the category of “LA Comedy” or her name. You’ll have a good time!

See you next week… Take some time out to smell the spring roses in the meantime…


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