What a fun and theatrically rewarding weekend! I caught two plays, both of which I highly recommend.


Smoke and Mirrors

From l, Albie Selznick and Bettina Zacar as Trixy in “Smoke and Mirrors.”

The story of a master magician facing his fears. Nestled in the midst of the hustle bustle, along the “Third Street Promenade,” sits a small theatre I’d never known about. Currently … once in your seats, the noise outside is quickly forgotten as we enter a world of “the unexplained.” We become entranced … captivated by the magical, mystical, highly entertaining Albie Selznick, and his quirky cast. A master magician (lifetime member of the Magic Castle), award winning actor of stage and TV fame, and sole writer of this show … his talents are endless! A whimsical and mystical view of his own journey in life, it is aided by countless eye popping, mind boggling feats of magic! This is the story of a boy who turns to magic at an early age, to deal with the death of his father. The tricks he performs are whimsically astonishing, and his spontaneous interaction with audience members is a joy for all. Intertwining heart, humor, and magic, repeatedly … Albie’s script is razor sharp, and wildly whacky! Playfully directed by Paul Millet, the entire cast succeeds in puzzling and entertaining us throughout the evening. They are: Yanna Fabian as Bessie Houdini, Bettina Zacar as Trixy (a gigantic bunny), Cody Bushee as Albie’s assistant, and Rob Martinez … chilling as “The Oracle.” A complex show like this one depends greatly on the “behind-the-scenes” efforts, which were excellent here! Projection Design by Adam Flemming, Lighting and Sound Design by Bettina Zacar, Video Design by Jay Lee, and fab/fun costumes by Julianne Dodds. I’ve always been a big kid about “magic.” The magic of a moment … the magic of two people connecting … the magic of circumstance … and the magic of artistes like Albie, who create psyche bending illusions … have always intrigued me. Do take the time to catch this cleverly hypnotic, lighthearted, and brilliantly accomplished production! It is a treat for “kids” of all ages! (Over 12 is suggested.) We loved every spellbinding moment! Running through Dec. 16 with a special Halloween show Oct. 31 at The Promenade Playhouse located at1414 Third St. inSanta Monica. For seats call 800-595-4849 or go to smokeandmirrorsmagic.com.

Dangerous Corner

The ghost of Martin (Cortes Alexander) plays the piano while the cast wonders about Freda’s affair in “Dangerous Corner.” From l, Cortes Alexander, Libby Baker, Tara Bopp, Matthew J. Williamson, Jordan Wall, and Seth Peterson.

Directed with flairful suspense by Gary Lamb, this unique mystery thriller is a lot of fun! An upper class, savvy drawing room “who-dunnit,” taking place in Connecticut in 1962, at a cocktail/dinner party … this saucy mystery has a few delicious twists. The deceased man, Martin, has been dead for a year … said to have shot himself. But did he? As the play opens, Martin, unheard and invisible to the others, is at the piano, singing “Old Black Magic.” Only he knows the truth about his demise. As the animated Martin, Cortes Alexander is flairfully charming! Returning to the action in a dozen revealing background song performances, he is a constant and decadent delight! Written by J.B. Priestley originally set in the 1930s, it plays out here in the 1960s. As the story unfolds, secret deceptions reveal themselves, as shocking truths and unrequited feelings of love are exposed. An affluent group of book publishers and their ladies have gathered at Freda and Robert’s country home for dinner and cocktails. Martin’s brother Robert, and his stunning wife Freda, seem to have the perfect life … but do they? (Pitch perfect performances by Matthew J. Williamson and Libby Baker!) When Maud, one of their published authors brings up Martin’s suicide, shocking truths unravel (a quirky Carol Goans). The other guests include: Gordon and Betty, a “model” couple with hidden issues (played with passion by Jordan Wall and Rachel Amanda Bryant), Charles (a touching Seth Peterson), and Olwen, the firm’s loyal secretary with a hidden burning passion (played by Tara Bopp with heartfelt emotion). Quite an interesting story, as the group’s polished demeanor fades … and true feelings come out of the closet. Life is a pretty complicated game. Setting the mood with stylish skill, kudos to Tanya Apuya for “fab” 1960s costumes, Keiko Moreno for a gorgeous set design, Zad Potter for moody lighting, and Nikko Tsiotsias for crisp sound. This is an involvingly relatable production, loaded with raw emotion, human frailties, and “food for thought.” As in real life … things are not always what they seem. Take a risk … and dare to turn the “Dangerous Corner.” Running indefinitely at Crown City Theatre located at11031 Camarillo St. inNorth Hollywood. For seats call (818) 605-5685 or go to danger.brownpapertickets.com.

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