Two productions to tell you about this week… as different as could possibly be

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One, an involving dramedy about “40-something” biochemists… the other a lively musical featuring “60 to 80-something” singers/hoofers. Though aimed at different audiences, both are worthy of your time.

Pursued by Happiness – A World Premiere

From l, Mark St. Amant, Liz Herron, Tom Knickerbocker and Avery Clyde star in The Road Theatre Company’s world premiere production of “Pursued by Happiness,” written by Keith Huff and directed by Robin Larsen and now playing at the Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood.

A highly acclaimed and multi-award winning theatrical troupe (my favorite in LA), The Road Theatre offers still another mindbendingly trippy original play. Although the undertone is decidedly dark… there are plenty of laughs to be had. It was brilliantly penned by Keith Huff, whose offbeat The Bird and Mr. Banks, starring Sam Anderson, received rave reviews here not long ago. This innovative playwright has a knack for exposing the idiosyncrasies of people functioning just outside of the “norm.” Here, two brainy but complicated and lonely “40-something” biochemists meet at a seminar called “Horizontal Integration.” As Julie stands at her podium waiting for an audience for her lecture… no one shows up but chatty Frank, munching on a bagel. Both highly intelligent and a bit odd, their one-on-one conversation leads to a planned date for the weekend. Spurring a whirlwind romance, an unexpected “first date” proposal of marriage results, with two required stipulations. Julie insists they must first “have sex,” and then endure meeting each other’s dysfunctional parents. As a series of shocking family revelations explode, at both parents’ freezing Midwestern homes, their possible relationship is challenged. Under the riveting direction of Robin Larsen, a quirky cast of four actors give focused and flawless performances throughout! Individually, as well as in the ensemble effort… their depictions are simply “as good as it gets!” Avery Clyde plays the “no nonsense” Julie… Mark St. Amant plays the troubled Frank… and Tom Knickerbocker and Elizabeth Herron play the long-suffering parents. Mesmerizing… Each and every one! Setting the tone with perfection, congrats to: Craig Siebels for an amazingly inventive set design, Jocelyn Hublau (costumes), David B. Marling (sound), Jeremy Pivnick (lighting) and Adam Flemming (projection design). Another award worthy winner for this fearlessly fabulous theatre group! Do try to see this one. Running through May 14 at The Road Theatre located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. For seats, call (877) 369-9112 or visit www.RoadTheatre.org.

Footnote:

Part of The Road Theatre’s mission statement is: “To develop new work for the stage that is relevant and entertaining, while fostering emergent artists, introducing new voices and innovative ideas to the world of theatre.” This they have done repeatedly in NoHo for over 20 years… and show no signs of slowing down.

Rockin’ With the Ages 3

From l, Anna Pagan, Pattie Brooks, Phyllis Lovit and Bobbie Stamm in “Rockin’ With the Ages 3.”

This is the third year in the series of “sizzling seniors” musical romps. Starring high energy cast members from age 60 to well into their 80’s… they’re quite inspiring and in some cases… downright “hot stuff!” The visionary brainstorm of the fearless 78 year old motivational speaker, Jackie Goldberg (a.k.a. “The Pink Lady”), each one has been better than the last. Not done yet… she has her eye on a full equity theatre run in the future, as she learns more about the business with every show. The first two were musical revues… but this one is a full on “book” musical. Written by Bill Reid (who also directs) and Mark Rodriguez (the musical director), with choreography by Raquel Brussolo, and an eye appealing set by Dove Huntley. Liz Perralta designed the snappy costumes, and Martyn Bookwalter’s lighting and Rob Corn’s sound, round out the technical work. Also, the onstage band rocked! The action takes place at a neighborhood bar called “Le Club Roc,” about to be closed down due to the recession. The clubs devoted senior patrons and owners, decide to hold a fundraising concert, to save their “home away from home”… and reverse the foreclosure. With fun filled patter and lively song and dance performances of well known ‘60s and ‘70s songs, performed by a cast of 10, we had a lot of fun! Too many in the cast to comment on all… but “highlight moments” for me were the rousing full cast “medleys,” Dance Captain Bobbi Stamm’s solo dance routine, and every solo number sung by Pattie Brooks, Anna Pagan and Carol Woodbury. These three gals can really “sell” a song! The remainder of this hard working cast of talented and “sexy seniors” includes: Ruben Rabasa, Tom Weaver, Marvin Meisler, Dominick Morra, Phyllis Lovit, Ivor Pyres and loveable guest star Sue Smart. Featured dancers: B. Stamm (Dance Captain), Carol and Douglas Halter, Vernon Ellsworth, Evelyn Stokes and Meg Wilson. Whew… Big cast! So, gather up every swingin’ senior you know… and take them to this heartwarming show. They’ll love you for it!

Rockin’ With the Ages 3 runs through May 1 at The Victory Theatre located at 3326 W. Victory Blvd. in Burbank. For seats, call (818) 606-6679 or go to PinkLady7@earthlink.net.

Back next week with two new reviews. Stay tuned in… and catch some local theatre!

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