I caught two top notch productions on the weekend…

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Both highly rewarding “must sees” for local audiences, that confirm the joy and value of supporting live theatre.

Beau Bridges and Emily Bridges In “Acting: The First Six Lessons.”

Acting: The First Six Lessons—This is an enlightening, heart touching and soul searching production that holds its audience captive throughout. The theatre was packed to the walls on opening night! We were hypnotically joined in a hushed silence, as two multi-layered and flawless performances unfolded under the artfully focused direction of Charlie Mount. All Los Angeles theatre enthusiasts (…and other actors too) should experience this meaningful play. Adapted and performed by Beau Bridges and his daughter Emily, based on the book by Richard Boleslavsky, it offers not only valuable lessons in “acting..” but also in “life.” The book, written in 1933, invites us to share in dialogues between a mature and wise acting teacher and an enthusiastic but raw young actress at the brink of her own career. The only acting book the beloved actor Lloyd Bridges ever gave to him, its impact is a testament to the success of Beau’s lengthy and award-winning career. The Bridges’ talents and deep family connection through the years is felt passionately here. (…And of course his brother Jeff just won the Oscar for Crazy Heart.) After a brief self introduction to the audience, Beau and Emily transform into their characters, spanning a five year series of lessons on the “inner soul” of the “art” of performance. Humorous, insightful, and mesmerizing in turns, we are witness to the delicate marriage of mind, body language, and soul in bringing a character to life as an actor. Beau and Emily are breathtakingly brilliant in these complex roles! (Emily was also recently praised here for her role in Gaslight.) The duo is also delightfully candid and accessible in Q&A sessions with the audience after each performance. I loved every moment! Running Fridays at 8 and Sundays at 2 through May 16th at Theatre West—3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in L.A. (Studio City area.) For seats, call (323) 851-7977.

Appearing in “Langston & Nicolas” are (l-r) Justin Alston, Ana Maria Lagasca, and Chris Rivas.

Langston & Nicolas—“Two Men, one voice.” A world premiere. A gripping and historical true story, a huge and colorful multi-racial cast, hot blooded music, dance and poetry, and lots of heartfelt emotion… This is a fabulous and exciting journey! In development for many years by the dedicated Towne Street Theatre folks, they hope to eventually produce it in a larger Equity theatre (…and deservedly so, cross fingers). It was written passionately by Bernardo Solano, and conceived and powerfully directed by Nancy Cheryll Davis. David made countless boldly innovating directorial choices, and the eerie vignette scenes behind scrim screens were mesmerizingly effective. The story chronicles the complex three generation friendship of two men… both iconic literary figures. Langston Hughes, the Negro originator of jazz poetry, and Nicolas Guillen, the poet laureate of Cuba, shared visions and dreams that transcended the conventional world viewpoints. Meeting in the 1930’s in Cuba, they formed a devoted friendship. Both were driven by the value of art and culture, in uniting nations and people. Through many letters, and occasional meetings in various countries, their personal bond thrived. Both men’s controversial writings made impact with the people, but each met their share of political resistance at the same time through the years. Four captivating actors play Langston and Nicolas with equal perfection and skill. As the younger duo: Justin Alston and Chris Rivas. As the older pair: Brian Evaret Chandler and Armando Ortega. All smolderingly solid, as their union spanned the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban Revolution, and the Civil Rights movement. Nathaniel Bellamy’s ingeniously beautiful set, lighting, and video design, the original music and musical direction of Dane Diamond, and Nancy Renee’s hot choreography and gorgeous period costuming (spanning the 30’s through the 60’s) set the mood with scintillating pizzazz! With a commendable cast of actor/ singer/dancers… I can’t possibly name them all… but I must applaud the sinfully sassy standout portrayal of Ana Marie in two roles! This is a heartwarming, life affirming story, and a passionately pulsating show, with a Latin flavored onstage band. What’s not to love? Make a point of seeing this one! Running Fridays and Saturdays at 8 P.M, and Sundays at 3, through May 2nd, at the Stella Adler Theater (6773 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood) upstairs. For seats call 213-624-4796.
It is such a treat for me when I see two productions on a weekend… that I can “glowingly” recommend! See you next time…

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