I have two productions to tell you about this week. One, a delightful original musical journey… the other, an age-old classic drama. Both in the neighborhood… try to catch them

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Doris and Me — The Doris Day Songbook

Scott Dreier in “Doris and Me –The Doris Day Songbook.”

Scott Dreier in “Doris and Me –The Doris Day Songbook.”

Celebrating Doris Day’s 90th birthday and remarkable life and career, this is a highly enjoyable and loveably nostalgic production! Written and conceived by Scott Dreier (who idolizes her) and Kurtis Simmons, this is Scott’s personal love letter to “America’s Sweetheart.” Also “starring” BRILLIANTLY in this loving and factual homage to Doris, Scott’s performance is FLAWLESSLY FABULOUS! With a charismatic charm and a phenomenal singing voice, he captured the audience with his true stories from start to finish! We wanted more! We were under his charming and positive magic spell immediately.

He shares true Doris Day stories and songs, and priceless photos of her film career on an over-head screen, while giving us a personal “peek” at her life and romances. Deeply infatuated with her for many years from afar, he finally met her… and their loving friendship continues today. His personal account of how and where they finally connected offers one of the evening’s most endearing scenes. Leading up to the day he finally met his idol, and throughout their devoted relationship… this is a wonderful, heartwarming theatrical journey.

Directed by the visionary Richard Israel, the entire experience is PURE JOY for the audience. Following Scott’s devoted admiration of Doris now, and until the day they actually met, we were captivated! Tastefully accompanied by Musical Director Bob Remstein on piano, and Paul Morin on upright bass, the whole show flows like a musical, magical dream. (You will be surprised at how many of the films and songs you remember vividly)

The proceeds from the GALA opening night performance went to benefit “The Doris Day Animal Foundation…” and our own Jackie Joseph (actress and active animal supporter) sweetly opened the show with a few inspiring words.

A charming, funny and factual production performed by a charismatic, talented, and infectiously likeable artist… Don’t miss this one!

Running Thursday through Sunday until August 3rd (including matinees on the weekend) at the El Portal Theatre, in their charmingly intimate Monroe Forum Theatre. 5269 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo. For tickets, call (818) 508-4200 or go to www.elportaltheatre.com.

A Streetcar Named Desire

Drina Durazo

Diedra Celeste Miranda and Daniel Kaemon in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Opening The Group Rep’s 41st Season, they have chosen to present this classic, multi-award winning, Tennessee Williams play. A searing “slice of life” drama, it is abundant with rich but flawed characters, and unbridled passion. When done well, it is mesmerizingly powerful! Having seen it numerous times myself through the years, this is a HYPNOTICALLY COMPELLING, perfectly cast production. Directed with GUTWRENCHING EMOTION by L. Flint Esquerra, and played with gripping realism by the entire cast… the audience was united in an appreciative trance.

When Blanche, a fragile, manipulative, and promiscuous school teacher unexpectedly turns up on the doorstep of her sweet sister Stella… sparks fly!

Stella, living in a small flat in New Orleans, with her “rough around the edges” husband, Stanley Kowalski… Blanche’s stay quickly causes friction. Tempers flare and devious truths unfold. PERFECTLY cast in these three lead roles: Diedra Celeste Miranda as the aging Blanche Du Bois gives a MESMERIZINGLY COMPELLING performance. Daniel Kaemon as the volatile Stanley SIZZLES with raw emotion, and Anya Profumo as Stella, caught in the middle… is HEARTWRENCHINGLY PERFECT. Kent Butler as Mitch, the gentleman pursuing the affection of Blanche, gives a solid and ENDEARING performance. The rest of the spirited cast playing supporting but pivotal roles, each added to the spicy flavor of the French Quarter people, with PULSATING PASSION. The cast also includes: LizAnne Keigley, J. Kent Inasy, Cathy Diane Tomlin, Laura Coker, Francisco Medina, Natalia Santamaria, Garrett Wagner, Linda Alznauer, and Edward Mastin.

The cleverly playful pre-show onstage announcements were highly entertaining, and colorfully set the tone for the passionate journey to come. Technically mood setting too…

Congratulations are in order to: Chris Winfield for a FABULOUS 1947 set design, Angela M. Eads for her VIVID VISION in costume design, Robert Murdock (lighting), and Steve Shaw (sound). These “behind the scenes” efforts are so vital to the overall “vibe” of a production!

This is a cerebrally involving play… with memorable flawed characters and unbridled passion that has drawn in audiences for decades. A fine production all around… Do catch this one!

Running weekends through September 7th at the Lonny Chapman Theatre – 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 763-5990 or go to www.thegrouprep.com

That’s my story for this week. Back soon with more “theetah” chat!

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