Hot enough for you? Beat the heat, while broadening your horizons…

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Catch some local live theater! Most of the theatres are well air conditioned.

Counter Men – A World Premiere Dramedy

From l, Michael Uribes, Paul Haitkin, Marion Ramsey, Shelly Kurtz, Alan Woolf and Bart Braverman in “Counter Men.”

Written ambitiously by Chuck Faerber, with undeniable “moments” of brilliance and heartfelt emotion… but I found the overall experience quite confusing and a bit manic. Taking us back and forth from the war zone in Iraq, to a diner in Glendale, inhabited by daily customers and staff, affected in various ways by the horrors of war… and life… there’s a lot to digest here. Under the passionate direction of Richard Kuhlman, a talented cast of 13 actors work very hard as a group, and in “spotlit” moments, to voice their feelings, memories and concerns, on the life changing face of war. Some are vets (Vietnam, Korea…) with vivid memories to share… their lives ever changed. The younger military men are caught up in the war issues of today… and all of the men are single and lonely. In support of one another, they swap stories, share their innermost feelings, and bare their souls. Joyelle, the “down to earth” diner waitress they visit everyday (well played with sassy emotion by Marion Ramsey), has a Marine son in Iraq, fighting for his country, so she relates deeply to the troubled men she serves daily. As the “oldtimer” war veterans, a hilarious Shelly Kurtz as Tim, a solid Bart Braverman as Carl, and a hearttouching Alan Woolf as Eddie… offer fine work. A duo of gutwrenching portrayals was given by the younger men, more recently at war, and trying to rebuild their lives. They are: Dave Kirkpatrick as Glenn and Paul Haitkin as Mackie.

A marvelously mysterious hooded Amro Salama, and a playful Michael Uribes as a homeless singer/songwriter, round out the male characters. Anna Nicholas shines as Sheila, Naila Browne is fun as Sackie, Carol Soldo is endearing as the lonely, older lady Josephine… and Vanessa Herrera nearly steals the whole show, as the spunky but troubled Ludy! Kudos to the “behind the scenes” artists are in order: totally awesome set design by Davis Campbell, effective video design by Michael Suorsa, moody lighting by Matt Richter, inventive costumes by Susanne Klein and jarring sound and music direction by Phillip Browne. A stylish looking production all around, with an excellently chosen cast… in a promising play with a meaningful message. I deeply feel that the whole production would generate much more impact, if it was “tweaked” and shortened a bit! As it is now, many of us had a tough time keeping up with its intended, “hard hitting” message. Running through August 27 at the Whitefire Theatre located at 13500 Venture Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. For seats, call (323) 960-5521 or go to www.plays411.com/countermen.

Mark Your Calendar: To the New Girl – A Dramedy

Sky Pilot Theatre Co. has a new play opening this weekend, and of course, I’ll be there. It sounds like a “relationship hoot!” Ten different women in monologues, give advice to the new “amours” in their ex-lovers/spouses’ lives. Written by Samantha Macher, it is said to be a funny and thought provoking look at the strength and vision of women… in dealing with infidelity and loss. The press release asks, “If you had five minutes alone with your significant others’ “other”… what would you say? Running through Sept. 18 at Theatre Unlimited in North Hollywood. For early seats, call (800) 838-3006.

Will tell you all about it next week… and will also review Doug Haverty’s “Next Window Please,” opening at Lonny Chapman Theatre.

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