I caught two productions on the weekend and totally enjoyed both of them. One, a serio-comedic family piece, and the other a wacky flashback to the 1980s. Both worthy!

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‘Family Only’ A world premiere comedy-drama

CLEVERLY WRITTEN with a tongue in cheek look at the complex issues of family dynamics by Darryl Vinyard, and directed with PLAYFUL PASSION by Arden Teresa Lewis…you may just recognize members of your own clan here!

At this outdoor family housewarming party in Sherman Oaks, there are plenty of laughs in between the emotional chaos and family dysfunction that festers here. On an appealing and DETAILED backyard patio (set design by Jeff G. Rack) we are privy to the inner issues and resentments that reveal themselves. Will and Nicole (an EXCELLENT Frank Gangarossa and SWEET Riley Rae Baker) have their relatives over for a barbecue in celebration of their new home.

As in many families, the diversities and contributions of its members are widely varied. Some are givers, some are takers. Will’s deadbeat dad, Walter (a DELICIOUSLY DESPICABLE Roger Kent Cruz) is here with his wife Brenda (a SOLID Sheila Shaw), hoping for some financial help. Will’s unmarried sister Andrea (a FEISTY Anne Leyden) and unseen daughter are also here looking for money. In my favorite and AWARD WORTHY performance, Dianne Travis was HYSTERICALLY BRILLIANT as the wise and savvy “No B.S.” grandmother, Amanda.

Lighting by Yancey Dunham  and sound design by Paolo Greco were TOP NOTCH in setting the tone of the play.

Do catch this highly entertaining and thought-provoking family play. A bittersweet serio-comedic look at the inner workings of family that just may ring familiar with many audience members.

“Family Only” runs through March 19th at Theatre West located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles (near Universal Studios). For tickets call (323) 851-7977 or visit TheatreWest.org.

‘Lusting After Pipino’s Wife’

This is an OUTRAGEOUSLY entertaining theatrical production!

Ronnie Marmo and Danny Cistone in “Lusting After Pipino’s Wife” at Theatre 68 in North Hollywood.
Doren Sorell.

Written by Sam Henry Kass, it is a MADLY MANIACAL trip back to the 1980s and was a long running HIT off Broadway.

It plays out partly in a restaurant where two men who work there share meetings of the mind on the issues of male vs. female. It also alternates between two apartments, decked out in ’80s decor and furnishings. (Set designed with TRIPPY FLAIR by Danny Cistone.)  Boasting a FLAWLESS and spirited cast of four, it is a comedy about the age old dilemma of male-female relationships.

Directed with tongue in cheek SASSINESS by Ronnie Marmo, he also NAILS IT in the role of Vinnie, a suave restaurant manager with a secret crush. Marmo is a charismatic multi-talent on the L.A. theatre scene! Danny Cistone is PITCH PERFECT in the role of Patsy. Katy Jacoby as Lorraine and Alexis Brandt as Rita are FABULOUS…spontaneous combustion in every role they take on, representing women from the 1980s!

The wildly wonderful costumes were EYE POPPING and they were a blast from the past for those of us who are old enough to have been around in those days. My gosh, did we really dress like that? As I looked around at the audience members it was amazing how many people knew the words to every song during the transitions. I know I did!

This little gem is a lot of fun, and to those who remember the ’80s, the familiar music and wardrobe styles will trip you out! This is yet another creative and unique production offered by the visionaries who make up the company of Theatre 68. If the style of this one piques your curiosity then book your seats today!

“Lusting After Pipino’s Wife” runs through March 4th at Theatre 68 located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. For tickets call (323) 960-5068 or visit Theatre68.com.  

Ta-ta for now…

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