(That’s the way I like it…) I went to two “fab” holiday parties… Thanks to savvy hostesses with gorgeous homes and gigantic hearts… Miss Deborah and Jackie, the infamous “Pink Lady!” In between, I also caught two excellent theatre productions to tell you about. (I probably gained 5 pounds… but I had a ball!)
“The House of Besarab”
An excitingly eerie and blood curdling gripping theatrical experience, this is a wonderful production! It was adapted/written with sinfully seductive suspense by Terance Duddy and Theodore Ott, based on Bram Stokers’ novel, “Dracula.” In the year 1895, we wander through the Transylvania castle of Count Dracula. A multi-room adventure, each audience member chooses which actors to follow and scenes to watch throughout the night. Ideally, one would go again to catch every chilling storyline… but either way, we get the gist of the events at hand by the closing scene. L.A. theatre lovers will remember the 11-year sold out run here of “Tamara” (1983-1994) presented in the same environmental style (…which I saw numerous times). Under the gut wrenching direction of Terance Duddy (who also designed the beautiful Victorian sets and moody lighting), an excellent cast of ten takes us on a spine tingling journey into the mind and devious plan of the coffin-slumbering “Dracula.” As the story begins, Renfield, a bug-eating mental patient (a spooky David Himes) frees Dracula from his coffin. After a frightening monologue by our handsome, blood-drinking host, conveying his past and his passion to find Mina (his long lost love), we decide which actors to follow. Michael Hegedus is menacingly mesmerizing as Dracula! Travis Michael Holder is, as always, flawless as the scholarly vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, and understudy Jessica Pagan is elegantly focused as Dr. Seward. Chase McKenna as Mina, the object of Dracula’s undying love, is smolderingly hypnotic, and Dane Bowman sizzles as her protective lover. Jason Parsons is powerful as a chained villager, slowly turning into a wolfman-vampire hybrid. An elderly gypsy lady (Miliza Milo) greets us on entrance with a strand of rosary beads for our own protection. Rounding out this fine cast are “The Vixens…” Dracula’s bawdy pair of pregnant wives… Sara Spink as Riva and Megan Harwick as Cruza. Sara Spink’s stunning Victorian costumes and the original music and sound design by David Gibson set the gothic tone perfectly. This is exciting adult theatre… delightfully dark and dauntingly delicious! Every scene is captivating and every actor is deeply invested in their roles! The “deco bar” opens at eight and the play begins at nine in this historically notable landmark building.
Running Thursdays thru Sundays until Dec. 20th… (with a probable extension) at The Hollywood American Legion Post 43 (2035 Highland Ave. in Hollywood). General admission is $40 with $5 on-site parking. For the “special package” price of $55, you get a cocktail of your choice, free parking and a sushi plate during the 1/2 hour intermission. A 25% discount is given to U.S. Vets and union members of SAG, AFTRA and AEA… with proper ID. A wonderful evening out! Call (323) 960-7612 or log on at www.play411.com/besarab.
“That Perfect Moment”
Touching, funny, nostalgic and edgy at the same time, I really enjoyed this play! It is the tale of four aging San Fernando Valley baby boomers. Ex-“rockers” in the late ‘60s, they have a “comeback” chance to get back on the music scene. With 35 years of “living” behind them, since their brief brush with fame, the foursome reunites to hash over the possibilities. Written with humor and insight by Charles Bartlett and Jack Cooper, there is plenty of “food for thought” to digest here. Bartlett states in part… “The gap between the mile-high psychedelic fantasics of long-haired idealistic boys and the bittersweet realities of grown men trying to hold together their relationships and lives…” The “reality check” is both humorous and poignant.” Directed by Rick Sparks (recently named by “Back Stage” as one of two L.A. directors “you should know”), I’ve been a fan of his work for years! A dedicated artist who “casts” his projects impeccably and then inspires his actors to “shine their brightest,” his theatrical contribution is monumental! The story opens with a fed up Sarah (a feist Kelly Lester), suitcases in hand, leaving her longtime husband Mark. Mark, now an English Lit. professor (and frustrated musician) blows his chances for a big promotion, for a “shot” at reforming his ‘60s band… and Sarah is furious! (A passionately wide-ranged performance by Tait Ruppert as Mark.) As the former band members turn up for their “pipedream pow wow,” old memories, current realities and deeply felt friendships unfold. As the band guys: a hilarious portrayal by John Bigham as Albert (now a struggling chiropractor) and strong performances by Guerin Barry as Gabriel and Bruce Katzman as Skip. This is a very good cast! Technically terrific too! Congrats to: Sharell Martin (costumes), Adam Flemming (set & projection design), Jeremy Pivnick (lighting), Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski (sound), Diane Martinous (hair/wigs) and Sky Keegan (original music). Having recently closed a “sold out” critically-acclaimed run locally… that theatre wasn’t available for an extension… so they’ve now moved to Burbank for an encore run. Will these “reminiscent rockers” relive their dream… or finally grow up? You’ll have to catch this endearingly sweet play to find out!
Running thru Jan. 17th (closed Xmas weekend) at The Little Victory Theatre (3324 W. Victory Blvd. in Burbank). Call (323) 960-7745.
The Alliance Theatre’s “one-act grouping” running in rep at The Andre Benne studio through Dec. 19. Oops! The correct phone number to book seats for this “cutting edge” evening is (818) 284-6799. See you next week… Happy Holiday Madness!