By the time you read this, I hear we’ll be donning our sweaters again… Two things that are certain in California… particularly Los Angeles… our weather, no matter the season, is wacky and unpredictable (tho’ usually the best in the nation), and there is an endless supply of “live” theatre at our fingertips. Talent is phenomenal and diverse throughout our city, just waiting to enlighten and entertain us. Aren’t we lucky? Do get out and support our local playhouses!
SHERMAN OAKS- A powerfully dark and disturbingly introspective story, with the humor and sexuality of human nature laced in, impeccably performed by a strong cast… this is a strange and beautiful play. Surreal, complicated, and deeply involving, there is much to think about here as the inevitable subject of “death” is at its core. Though I can’t claim to have totally understood the entire concept (and you probably won’t either), I suspect each audience member will leave with their own personal view/opinion of this extremely wordy and avante garde theatrical experience. Highly-regarded actor, LeVar Burton, is hypnotically brilliant as a doctor in need of money for the hospital care of his comatose daughter (a sweet Alejandra Jordan). He makes an unexpected visit to Stan Guest, a young, hip, and terminally ill millionaire video game designer. As their intense and combative conversation unfolds, he offers Guest an eerie plan for an immediate and “appropriate death,” for the upfront fee of ten million dollars. James Hiroyuki Liao is explosively excellent as the passionate dying man, and the volatile scenes shared by these two fine actors are maniacally mesmerizing! Breathtakingly directed, and written from he heart by Brian Alan Lane (in his first playwriting effort), his words have gifted such T.V./film scripts such as “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Remington Steele,” “Matlock,” and “MacGyver,” to name a few. This complex script was swimming in his head for over 20 years, after a devastatingly fatal family car accident, and a cathartic previously written film script that never quite got produced, he was recently inspired to re-write “The Caterer” for stage. The rest of his exciting cast includes: Burnadean Jones (as the doctor’s emotionally empty wife), Rachel Kanouse (as a pregnant girl whose sonogram reveals horrific news), Angelle Brooks (as a bawdy opium den “diva”) and Cynthia Watros (as the sexy, high-spirited wife of Stan Guest.) Kudos to all! The flawlessly visionary design team must also be applauded: Adam Rowe’s slick and ever-changing set design is an award-worthy wonder, and Nancy Wei’s eye-appealing costuming is a visual treat! Lighting (Leah Austin), sound (Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski), original music (Nevada Jones), “tech” work (Brian Ludmer), choreography (Lysa Fox) and props (Britton Mauk), collectively set the macabre tone perfectly! Although this beautifully mounted production will likely receive “mixed reviews” for its oddly thought-provoking subject matter and non-stop, brain-teasing verbiage… I was captivated… caught-up in its decadent spell throughout! Running through May 10th at The Whitefire Theatre – 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. For tickets, go to www.thecatererplay.com.
A Personal Tip
After the play…Hungry? Thirsty? In need of some gregarious human contact? We so enjoyed the buzzy ambiance at “Mistral” (two blocks east of the theatre). Open for decades, somehow I’d never been there. A gorgeous place, offering great food and spirits, a “sinful” chocolate soufflé, great service, and the gracious charm of co-owner, Henry… I will definitely return soon!
The fabulous and multi-talented Miss Leslie, and her wise-cracking candy-loving puppet, Lolly, were in town for a few days! Joyously, they treated their friends and loyal L.A. fans to an impromptu, lively and hilarious show in the little theatre below the popular Silver Lake eatery, Casita Del Campos. Having been living in New York for over a year, working as the voice/puppeteer of Abby Cadabby on “Sesame Street,” this was a magical night for all of us who love her! Now headed back to the “Big Apple” and her gorgeous hubby Paul, to follow her dreams… We wish her the mega success she deserves… and can’t wait till we see her again!
See you next week with more “entertainment biz” chatter…