With a ton of promising productions coming up, I hope you’ll get out and enjoy some local theatre!
Playwright Arthur Miller’s characters and in-depth, highly-acclaimed lengthy plays have captured audiences worldwide for many decades. Exposing human nature and the complex “games people play” to achieve the “American Dream,” his nearly 30 scripts have garnered multiple Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He once said that he thought theatre could change the world. Loving theatre as I do, I believe there is much truth to that thought. Every production I see (good or bad), which is about 150 a year, adds “something” to my overall life experience. New facts, history, concepts, lifestyles, viewpoints, decadence, humor or considerations avail themselves every time the lights go down and a story unfolds.
Written by Miller in 1968, this play looks at the “price” people pay for the choices they make throughout their lives. Taking place in 1967 in the cluttered attic of a soon-to-be demolished family home, emotional skeletons erupt. Two brothers must sell a lifetime of old furniture and assorted nostalgic “stuff,” the property of their deceased parents (great set by Jeff Rack!). Under the capable and character-focused direction of Stu Berg, an excellent cast of four veteran actors offer strong performances (not an easy task, as this is a three hour journey…). Two feuding senior brothers, who haven’t seen each other in 16 years, meet again to handle this volatile and daunting chore. Victor (Cal Bartlett), a nearly retired cop, once a promising student of science, gave up his dreams many years ago to care for his invalid father… much to his wife’s disapproval (Dianne Travis). Though their devotion has survived Victor’s long suffering “choice,” it has always challenged their relationship. His callous brother Walter (Don Moss), an eminent surgeon, deserted the family responsibilities through the years and now comes face to face with Victor, regarding the property disposal. This forced reconciliation spurs a revealing and explosive confrontation, as each man must face the “price” each has had to pay for the life choices they’ve made. An 89-year-old Russian/Jewish furniture dealer has been summoned to appraise and buy the entire attic’s contents… and the “games” begin. Marvin Kaplan nearly steals the show as the savvy, but ailing, quirky and bumbling Mr. Solomon! Unexpectedly caught up in the midst of his family’s burning issues, while trying to “make a deal,” he is non-stop delight! Marvin, a highly-visible stage and screen character for some 60 years, having been discovered by Katherine Kepburn in 1949, is quite a guy! Though the inevitable physical setbacks of aging have challenged him in recent years, his wit, intelligence, sense of humor, talent and “love-ability” are everlasting! To catch this Tony Award-winning drama, running through March 21, call (323) 851-7977. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd W in Los Angeles (Studio City area).
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” will open here on March 6, playing Saturday afternoons. A lively audience participation musical for the “kiddies,” presented by Storybook Theatre. They’ve done a great job at Theater West through the years, of introducing children to the magic of interactive theatre… and birthday parties are cheerfully accommodated. Adults $12, kidlets $10. Call (818) 761-2203.
Two productions to see and tell you about next time… “Broads,” a musical at The El Portal… and “An Act of Reparation,” a drama at The Odyssey. Ah, the diversity of “theatah!”