Still another gorgeous sunny California weekend in January, and two new stage productions to tell you about … Life is good!

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Finding Fossils

From l, John Gowans, Chet Grissom, and Mark Costello star in the L.A. Premiere of the Road Theatre Company’s production of “Finding Fossils,” written by Ty DeMartino and directed by Suzanne Hunt and now playing at the Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood.

Another hypnotically focused offering from The Road Theatre! Running in rep with The Water’s Edge (which I reviewed recently), I highly recommend that you take the time to see both of them! After well over a decade of covering every play offered here, I never cease to be amazed at the offbeat brilliance of their unique script choices. Never dull, and always thought provoking, I am a lifetime fan of this gutsy troupe! This flawlessly acted three character play, soulfully written by Ty DeMartino, and beautifully directed by Suzanne Hunt, is totally engrossing. The story follows the emotional saga of an estranged and bitter father and his adult gay son, as they deal with the passing of a loved one. Billed as “a quest to find common ground with someone you’ve known your entire life,” the two meet up at the family cabin, over the July 4th weekend. The tangled webs and long-lived resentments each have endured unravel between them, revealing the heart of their estrangement. Chet Grissom gives a passionate portrayal as the son (a soap opera director) with exciting personal news to share. As his crusty and critical retired father, riddled with regrets, John Gowans is pigheaded perfection! Mark Costello rounds out the cast, with a solid and loveable performance, as an old friend caught in the midst of the family’s conflicts. This is a gut wrenching “slice of life” story, with a few chuckles weaved in for comic relief (… as in most people’s lives). Desma Murphy’s gorgeous woodsy set design is ingeniously used for both plays running in rep here. Jocelyn Hublau (costumes), Kathi O’Donohue (lighting), Christopher Moscatiello (sound), and Lila Waters (props) set the tone perfectly. Another winner, presented by this innovative and “cutting edge” troupe. Do see it! Running Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays through March 25 at The Road Theatre located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in the heart of NoHo (upstairs from The Lankershim Arts Center). For seats, call (866) 811-4111 or go online at www.RoadTheatre.org.

Sidetracked

From l, Bix Barnaba, Michele Bernath, Carlos Ciurlizza, Jamison Lingle, David P. Johnson, and Sondra Currie star in “Sidetracked.”

A 1940’s-styled “whodunit” taking place at L.A.’s Union Station, in the boarding area cocktail lounge … this mystery dramedy is a lot of fun! Directed with playful suspense by Ray A. Rochelle, and written with a flair for “larger than life” characters, by Sharon Michaels … we are privy to a zany murder investigation with a film noir vibe. An age reversal “quack” named Feinstein, who has supposedly invented a formula to reverse the aging process, is found dead in a train car. The five colorful passengers waiting to board the train, all become suspects … and each have motives for murder. Detective Richard Doyle arrives to expose the killer … and grills them one by one. A quirky “gum shoe” performance by James Gleeson! It all begins when Dawn Lovett, a shapely blonde (a sizzling Jamison Lingle) hires Doyle to find her father. Henry Berlinger and his wife Wanda are there to prove that Feinstein has stolen Henry’s formula for the flawed youth-reviving product (a convincing Bix Barnaba and an exceptional Michele Bernath). Brett Hart, appearing much younger than his true age, is the poster boy for the “Ageless” campaign, and Veronica Lacey is his ambitious “hot to trot” business manager (zany “over the top” depictions by David P. Johnson and Sondra Currie). Rounding out the cast in my favorite portrayal, as the lively Latin bartender Julio Jorge Juarez … Carlos Ciurlizza is a non-stop delight! A clever script, and a well chosen cast … but undeniably, some of them were not quite ready yet! The “timing” lagged occasionally and the casts often flubbed lines were a distraction. Maybe just “opening night” jitters … and probably corrected by now. A classy set design by Ernie Asucan and Ray. A Rochelle … vintage inspired costumes, by Rikki Lugo and Diana Martin, and lights/ sound by Carey Dunn, depicted the “Golden Age Era” of Hollywood with style. You must be quick to catch this one! They are running four times a week, but only for a short three week run through Feb. 19. The Macha Theatre is located at 1107 N. Kings Rd. in West Hollywood. For seats, call (323) 960-7724 or go online at www.plays411.com/sidetracked.

Well, that’s my story for this time. Back next week with more theater chat….

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