No plays to review for you this week (I feel a bit like a “fish out of water”). As is my nature, I kept busy all weekend anyway! As I mentioned last week, theatrical ventures are “struggling” financially (like many businesses) due to our weak economy. “Live” theatre is an act of love and dedication, and a very costly process that results in little monetary profit… especially on Equity Waiver stages (99 seats or less). We have over 20 such playhouses in our NoHo Arts District and over 400 theatres in the greater Los Angeles area (including the larger Equity Theatres). This is the entertainment capital of the world… many of our biggest and brightest stars started their careers on local theatre stages. A lot of the plays I see and review are in these Equity Waiver theatres, where you can usually buy a ticket for $15 to $25. Though some productions are stronger, more polished and inspiring than others, the diverse and exciting experience of being “part of it all” is worth so much more! Dedicated stage actors, directors, writers, and technical artists are paid a mere tuppence to “live their dreams,” and share them with us. The job of theatre critics is to guide you to the most worthy productions, and give you a mini overview on each offering. I have been thrilled and delighted for many years now, to catch well over 100 plays annually, and then report on them!!! Every time the lights go down for Act One, I know I’m in for a new experience (tho’ some I could have skipped). We must keep theatre alive in L.A. by supporting the mind-altering, hopeful, and innovative “dreams” of our local creative minds! Do catch a play soon!
Steven Berkoff’s “West”
Directed with innovative passion by Bruce Cooper and performed in verse by a powerfully focused cast of eight… this was a mind-blowing production! Only a weekend offering this time around… I went purely for pleasure and curiosity. Planning to schedule a longer full run in the near future, I will be honored to do a positive and detailed review of this remarkable effort, at that time. In the meantime, kaleidoscopic kudos are due to all involved!
Opening at Theatre West in Studio City this weekend (August 28). A chillingly suspenseful story, written by Patrick Hamilton, this play premiered onstage in London in 1939. (This is the 70-year anniversary). Opening on Broadway in 1941, it was then done as a film in 1944 starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Held captive by the diabolical storyline in the classic and successful film, I am anxious to see it play out “live” on stage. Will of course tell you all about it in my column next week!
The Missing Piece Theatre
This newly-acquired Burbank theatre space and Theatre Company is bursting with upcoming productions worthy of mention! Co-owners Penny Moore and Colleen McGrann recently bought it, remodeled it, and “hit the ground running!” Formerly The Alexia Robinson Studio for a short time, and Jim Henrickson’s Third Stage Theatre for many years, I’ve reviewed countless plays in this “comfy” theatre. Colleen is a new acquaintance so I don’t really know her background, but Penny is a well-respected, “unstoppable force” in the L.A. theatre scene. An actress, director, and political activist, she ran “NoHo’s Actor’s Group for nine years, recently leaving it for this exciting new venture. A dynamic duo… I’m sure we are in for some great experiences at this neighboring theatre! They will “kick-off” with a one-night-only event called “A Celebration of the Arts” (August 28th) benefiting “Hurricane Katrina” charities. On August 29th only, they offer “Celebrating the Solo Artist,” and on August 30th only, “What, Are You Nuts?” Their first official “full run” (September 18th through October 25th) will be “To Kill a Mockingbird,” boasting an impressive cast of “woking” actors. A tense and involving story (Gregory Peck won the Oscar® as “Best Actor” in the film version in 1963), I’m anxious to experience this darkly compelling journey, in play form! I will review it then in my following column. If any of these evenings interest you, call 800-838-3006.
As always… more to come next week.