I have two theatrical productions to tell you about this time, as different as could possibly be …

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Which is exactly why this job is an endlessly unpredictable joy!

Stepping Out

Photo by Sherry Netherland

From l, Suzy London and Irene Chapman in “Stepping Out.”

Humorously and poignantly written by Richard Harris. Ambitiously directed and choreographed by Stan Mazin (with the assistance of Linda Alznauer and Michele Bernath respectively….) this is a comedic “slice of life” story. Stan, a handsome, infectiously lovable, veteran pro-dancer/actor (a “sassy senior”) is an unstoppable force! The action takes place in a North London church hall, on a realistic set by Chris Winfield, and flairfully costumed by Emily Doyle. It is the story of an eclectic group of amateur dancers whose lives intertwine and neurosis intermingle, in a community dance class. Struggling to learn dance routines while exposing their innermost individual insecurities, they are in rehearsals to perform in an annual local show. As their personal lives and feelings are revealed … and their dancing abilities improve, each of them come away from the experience stronger and more fulfilled. As Mavis, the leggy dance instructor, Suzy London was a tantalizing treat, and Irene Chapman was delightful as her elderly pianist. Julie Davis was heartwrenching as Andy, and Sandy Mansson was hilarious as the neurotic “neat-nick.” Too many in the cast to mention all, but each gave ambitious and heartfelt portrayals. The remainder of the cast includes: Michele Bernath, Kathleen Taylor, Colette Rosario, Julie Davis, Laurie Morgan, Cynthia Bryant, and Michael Robb. While the British accents were not always “spot on” … the storyline was a bit frenetic as written … and the production was overly long for my taste … there are plenty of entertaining moments and meaningful messages here … leading up to their big finale performance! Running through March 24 at The Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. Note: Friday nights offer ½ priced tickets for ladies! For seats call (818) 763-5990 or go to thegrouprep.com.

The Black Experience: Past, Present, & Future

Photography by Nathaniel Bellamy

From l, Thomas Bell and Brett Baker in “Transition,” part of
“The Black Experience.”

This annual ten minute play festival (sixth year) is always highly original, thought provoking, well performed, and directed. This largely African American troupe is dedicated to offering new works that will inspire the audience to laugh, cry, reflect, and ponder unique concepts. Choosing the scene selections from worldwide playwright submissions, this annual festival is always worthy. Ten one act plays … each ten minutes in length. Always highly entertaining! Too many to comment on all in this current offering but I’ll briefly name my favorites. “Purchasing Power” by Benjamin Marshall. Directed by Nancy Cheryll Davis. A gorgeous and wealthy black man enters a unique fantasy boutique. He requests to buy a white man, to equalize the treatment society offers him. Very funny! “Vote Here” by Jeff Carter. Directed by Diane Sellers. A black man goes to a presidential polling station to vote, and is quizzed mercilessly, in an attempt to keep him from voting. “Transition” by Peter Snoad. Directed by Raf Mauro. Andy is approached by a man who claims to be Walter, a past colleague and old buddy. The problem is … Walter was white and this guy is black, huh? “Zombie Tale” by David Lindsey. Directed by Nancy Renee. A revenge fantasy “take” on plantation life. An eerie voodoo woman takes revenge on her master … by turning him into a zombie. Humorously haunting. “The Abortion Clause” by Mark V. Jones. Directed by Raf Mauro. A long married couple finds an effective way to deal with their disrespectful “slacker” of a son … but it must take place before his 21st birthday. Sorry – not enough space to name all of the actors in the production, but all fared well. This is a strong and talented theatre company! Only four more performances – this Thursday night through Sunday matinee. Do try to catch this one – it is fun! Running at The Stella Adler Theatre located at 6773 Hollywood Blvd. (upstairs). To reserve seats go to townestreet.org or call (213) 712-6944.

Mark Your Calendar

Company. Opening

Feb. 14 at NoHo’s

Crown City Theatre.

Stephen Sondheim’s popular musical, focusing on adult romantic relationships, plays out in short vignettes. This troupe is gifted with some wonderful singers … so it should be a treat! I’ll let you know … For more info and early booking call (818) 605-5685.

Doma Theatre – Season Two

We had a “fab” time last week at an extravagant dinner reception soiree at The Arena Nightclub in Hollywood. Announcing season two of Doma Theatre Company, after a highly revered first season of Broadway musicals in 2012 … Co-Visionaries, Dolf Ramos and Marco Gomez have an exciting roster planned for 2013. They will present Dreamgirls, opening March 1, followed by Sweet Charity, The Scarlett Pimpernel, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. All unveiling at The Met Theatre, I will be there for each “opening night” performance … and tell you all about them! I can’t wait!

Culinary Tip!

You must check out the daily “weekday” pre-cooked hot dinner specials at Burbank’s infamous Handy Mart! (Purchased at their meat counter for only $6.99.) I just shamelessly devoured chicken cordon bleu, with roasted veggies and yummy potatoes. Delicious! I couldn’t even finish all of it. Don’t know who the chef was … but he deserves a raise! Also: Their all day Saturday outdoor barbeque is a popular and delectable local “fave.” The friendly Jay Leno was even in on the weekend again for the “take home” barbeque feast! (Buena Vista and Magnolia.)

Ta ta for now … I’m off to the “theatah!”

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