I hope all of you had a happy and safe Fourth of July!

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The city was a blaze of color, with fireworks celebrations bursting their magic all over town. However, because of this beloved family “fave” holiday, there were very few theatrical openings… so I have no new productions to review for you this time. Instead, this week I will tell you about some tantalizing theatre and dining options…

El Portal Forum in NoHo

“The Light in the Piazza,” opening July 10th, is a charming story of young love, blossoming in Italy in the summer of 1953… this romantic musical is sure to touch your heart! Written by Craig Lucas (book) and Adam Guettal (music and lyrics), it was a multi-award winning “hit” when it opened at Broadway’s Lincoln Center in 2005. Now starring stage, T.V, and film notables Mary Donnelly Haskell, Blake Ewing, and Clara Johnson, and featuring a live, classical chamber orchestra… I’m excited about this one! For seats, call 818-508-4200.

The Fremont Theatre in South Pasadena

Ray Bradbury’s “Yestermorrows,” opening July 11th, is a trio of Ray’s favorite tales, adapted for stage. Two are popular classics, and one will be presented for the first time. Titled “The Meadow,” “Cistern,” and “A Device Out Of Time,” and starring a fine cast of actors… the evening promises heart-touching moments, and a few eerie shivers (as always with the well-loved writings of Mr. Bradbury). For seats, call 323-960-4451.

Group Repertory Theatre in NoHo

“74 Georgia Avenue” and “The Pushcart Peddlers,” opening July 17th. Written by Murray Schisgal (co-writer of “Tootsie”), these two mini-plays are said to be poignant and hilarious stories, chronicling the Jewish-American experience. One is the tale of a successful businessman, revisiting his past… and the other is a farce about two immigrants on a race to the future. My press papers state, “You don’t have to be Jewish or from New York to understand the underlying themes, irony, and humor, which tie the two plays together.” For seats, call 818-700-4878.

Actors Forum Theatre in NoHo

Ana Guiguis’ one-woman musical and comedic drama reveals the events of her life as a successful singer in the music “biz,” and her search for the perfect mate. Depicting various characters and singing numerous songs (self-accompanied on the piano), I’m told that she is a multi-talent! For seats, call 818-506-0600.

Kudos to the “Columbine Project!”

Justin Mortelliti (R) and Artie Ahr (L) as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in “The Columbine Project.”

Justin Mortelliti (R) and Artie Ahr (L) as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in “The Columbine Project.”

Gut-wrenchingly written and directed by Paul Storiale, I favorably reviewed this “hard-hitting” play back in May. Reliving the horrifying true story of the infamous high school mass murders that shocked the nation in 1999, it was sold out nightly at The Avery Schrieber Theatre in NoHo. So well received… it now moves on for a New York run, along with the entire original local cast! It opens off-Broadway in July at “The Actor’s Temple.” Congratulations to all!

Ciao Cristina in Burbank

A perfect option for a “pre-theatre” dinner out! If you haven’t yet stepped into this inviting and “yummylicious” new Italian eatery… you must! With a full bar, fresh Italian dishes, and pizza “to die for,” it is quickly becoming a favorite spot of the neighboring film/T.V. studios. Chatty owner Alan will welcome you, while his pretty wife Cristina runs the kitchen, lovingly preparing her own family’s recipes. A bit of a nostalgic “trip” for me… as I worked lunch shifts here for years, 30 years back, when it was the original “Riverbottom Inn.” If you tell him that Pat from “The Tolucan Times” sent you… Alan will treat you to a “special” Venetian after-dinner drink, with each order! 4201 W. Olive (at Pass Ave.).

See you next week with two new play reviews…

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