SCENE IN LA

 

BY

 

STEVE ZALL AND SID FISH

 

July 2016

 

As you prepare for your Independence Day celebrations with family and friends, spend some time planning for a few trips to our local theatres for shows including:

           

OPENING

 

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” The musical delivers on its title: the focus of its story is on a spelling contest. Young regional winners hope to qualify for the National Bee and a shot at further prizes and glory. To get into the local bee, you’ve got to have some smarts. So this unusual musical celebrates the intelligence of young people. The contestants are a mixed bunch: A chunky, defensively antagonistic boy who uses his foot to spell; a young girl whose mother is an ocean away; a boy who consistently doubts his own intelligence and self-worth; a girl from a family of overachievers who wishes that she wasn’t expected to be perfect; the daughter of two fussy gay dads; and more. There’s also an interesting wrinkle. Following the model of the original Broadway production, several people will be pulled from the audience and asked to participate in the contest. Who will be the winner? Who will go on to represent Putnam County in the National Bee for more renowned and bigger prizes? As with other competitions, there will be the agony of defeat, but also the thrill of victory. Written by Rachel Sheinkin, with music by William Finn, and directed by Robert Marra, it runs July 8 through August 21 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre. For tickets call 626-355-4318 or visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

 

“Olive and the Bitter Herbs” centers on the life of Olive Fisher, an elderly character actress whose claim to fame was her iconic “Gimme the Sausage” commercials of the 1980s. She is a classic New York curmudgeon at war with the world, in particular her gay next door neighbors. Her closed-off life is shaken by the appearance of a spectral male figure viewed through her living room mirror. This appearance, along with the help of the father of the co-op’s board president and Olive's only “friend,” brings together the feuding neighbors for a comedic Passover Seder. A series of strange and outrageous coincidences reveals that the man in the mirror has intimate links to everyone in Olive’s world, encouraging her that it’s never too late to change one’s life and perhaps find love. Written by Charles Busch, and directed by Kirk Larson, it runs July 8 through August 13 at the Westchester Playhouse in Westchester. For tickets call 310-645-5156 or visit www.kentwoodplayers.org.

 

“Electricity” openly gay sex addict Brad hooks up with closeted virgin Gary in a motel room after their 10th high school reunion in 1983. They form an undeniable connection that draws them back to the same motel room once every ten years. As the decades fly by, their lives transform and reflect the changes in society around them from that closeted first night in the 80's to a world where even gay marriage is possible and it's their time to decide. Is their connection over, or is it really just beginning? Written by Terry Ray and directed by Steven Rosenbaum, it runs July 8 through August 14 at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City. For tickets call 213-265-7972 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com or www.electricitytheplay.com.

 

“Go Back To Where You Are” A forgotten chorus boy from the theater of ancient Greece is sent back to Earth on a mission from God, where he finds himself summering among a makeshift family of theater artists on Long Island. Written by David Greenspan, and directed by Bart DeLorenzo, it runs July 9 through September 4 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 Ext. 2 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

 

“The Imaginary Invalid” skewering of the health care crisis from an entirely different century. Plagued by a growing pile of medical bills, Madame Argan (Ellen Geer), a chronic hypochondriac, will go to any length to marry her daughter off to a doctor. Of course, her daughter has other ideas. This potent elixir of romantic triangles, double entendres and mistaken identities proves, in the end, that laughter really is the best medicine. Alan Blumenfeld stars alongside Geer as Dr. Purgeon. Written by Molière, adapted by Constance Congdon, with music by Marshall McDaniel, and directed by Mary Jo DuPrey, it runs July 9 through October 2 at the Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. For tickets call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.

 

“All Shook Up” Elvis was a white guy singing rhythm and blues music for the first time, which really helped R&B cross over to the mainstream, or to white America. Elvis took rhythm and blues music and really helped to popularize it, and Dipietro thought they really needed to stay true to where that music came from, which is obviously the African American community, especially in the South. So that's very much why it takes place in 1955. In All Shook Up, this music unleashes the uptightness of these people in small town America and certainly applies to inter-racial dating and same-sex dating. It's all about loving someone no matter who they are. Written by Joe Dipietro, with music by Anne Gesling, and directed by Steve Steiner, it runs July 10 through August 7 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets call 949-497-2787 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

 

“Stella’s Last J-Date” is brash romantic comedy about a high stakes blind date from the point of view of two, lost New York singles and what they are willing to endure to break the chains of loneliness. When Stella, a chatty, lovable dog trainer with intense baggage and Isaac, an affable, alcoholic school teacher with his own skeletons meet for a blind date at a local bar, the date gets complicated when Don, a bully in a fedora, adds to the tension. Written by Andy Rooster Bloch, and directed by Bryan Rasmussen, it runs July 14 through July 28 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets call 818-990-2324 or visit www.jdate.brownpapertickets.com.

 

“Ajax in Iraq” Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble intertwines the important and timely issue of PTSD and sexual abuse against women in the military with the parable of the great warrior Ajax which is said to be one of the first and oldest stories to openly portray the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Written by Ellen McLaughlin, and directed by John Farmanesh-Bocca, it runs July 15 through August 14 at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-673-0544 or visit www.greenwaycourttheatre.org/ajaxiniraq.

 

“Kingdom of Earth” Tennessee Williams aficionados will have the chance to view one of his lesser-known works in a rare Los Angeles production this summer. Williams’ most deeply felt emotions are fully realized in this savage, sexually-charged and brutally funny story about three outcasts trapped in an isolated, once elegant Mississippi farmhouse by an encroaching flood. Written by Tennessee Williams, and directed by Michael Arabian, it runs July 15 through August 14 at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 310-477-2055 Ext. 2 or visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

 

“The Little Mermaid” A discontented mermaid, Ariel, dreams of the world above the sea, and sacrifices her beautiful, captivating voice in search of true love and a sense of belonging. Full of great music (including “Part of Your World,” “Kiss The Girl,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and new songs written for the stage), dance, comedy, and romance, Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID will take you to places no musical has ever gone before! Written by Doug Wright, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and directed by Larry Raben, it runs July 15 through July 24 at the Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. For tickets call 800-745-3000 or visit www.cabrillomusictheatre.com.

 

“Space” Having spent the last 30 years of his life in a mental institution, Kurt Finge is now back in the ‘real world’ trying to adjust to modern life and fix his relationship with his ailing mother. A fanciful dreamer obsessed with black and white 40’s musicals, Kurt longs for a second chance at a ‘normal life’. With the help of his hospital appointed “facilitator’, Ann, Kurt is forced to face some long-buried familial truths. Written and directed by Stefan Marks, it runs July 15 through August 20 at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets call 747-777-2878 or visit www.spacetheplay.com.

 

“Baby Doll” Darkly comic and crackling with sexual tension, this enthralling tale of prejudice, sexual politics and passion is the first-ever Williams Estate-approved stage adaptation of the Tennessee Williams screenplay. Nineteen-year-old married virgin “Baby Doll” Meighan must consummate her marriage in two days, on her 20th birthday — as long as her middle-aged husband, Archie Lee, upholds his end of the bargain to provide her with a comfortable life. When Archie Lee burns down his neighbor’s cotton gin to save his failing business, his rival, Sicilian immigrant Silva Vacarro, arrives to seek revenge. What ensues is a complex mix of desire and desperation, with Baby Doll as both player and pawn. Written by Tennessee Williams, adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann, and directed by Simon Levy, it runs July 16 through August 29 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.

 

“Hello Dolly” is the story of turn-of-the-century widowed matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, who, after cunningly negotiating marriages for others through a series of comic romantic entanglements, ultimately finds her own match; and, as always, 3-D Theatricals will cast its much heralded spin on HELLO DOLLY! to further enhance an already magical piece of musical theatre filled with such memorable songs as Put On Your Sunday Clothes, Before the Parade Passes By, It Only Takes A Moment; and, of course, the show-stopping title song. Dance numbers like Dancing and The Waiter's Gallop are combined with beautiful turn-of-the-century costumes to create a musical the whole family will enjoy! Written by Michael Stewart, with music by Jerry Herman, and directed by Ken Sawyer, it runs July 16 through July 31 at the Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton. For tickets call 714-589-2770 Ext. 1 or visit www.3dtshows.org.

 

“One of the Nice Ones” The world premiere of a cringe-worthy black comedy about sexual politics in the workplace that will leave audiences howling with laughter in spite of their better selves. As the most recent hire at Tender Form Weight Loss Systems, wheelchair-bound Tracy will stop at nothing to avoid being laid off by high-handed boss Roger. Perhaps it’s her disability that makes her so keenly aware that no one gets ahead by being “one of the nice ones.” Soon, hapless co-worker Neal and weight loss client Colleen find themselves caught in the lethal crossfire of a workplace battle zone. Written by Erik Patterson, and directed by Chris Fields, it runs July 16 through August 21 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater. For tickets call 310-307-3753 or visit www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

 

“Recorded in Hollywood” The acclaimed new musical about trailblazing Los Angeles entrepreneur and activist John Dolphin gets an all-new production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Dolphin made his mark on the national music scene long before Motown ever existed. He opened his Dolphin’s of Hollywood record shop on legendary Central Avenue in 1948, where he launched and helped build the careers of some of the biggest names in music. Dolphin’s of Hollywood became the most famous record store in the country, with legendary DJs like Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, Hunter Hancock and Charles Trammel spinning records all night from the front window. The shop and its broadcasts were a gathering place for music lovers from every race and background and became “the place to be” in L.A. in the ‘50s — despite ongoing opposition and harassment from the LAPD under police Chief William H. Parker. Written by Matt Donnelly and Jamelle Dolphin, with music by Andy Cooper, and directed by Denise Dowse, it runs July 16 through August 7 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. For tickets call 213-972-4488 or visit www.RecordedInHollywood.com.

 

“Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” Hershey Felder brings to life the remarkable story of Irving Berlin, “America’s Composer.” From the depths of anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia to New York’s Lower East Side, and ultimately all of America and the world, Berlin’s story epitomizes the American Dream. Featuring the composer’s most popular and enduring songs from “God Bless America” and “Always” to “White Christmas” and beyond, Hershey’s masterful creation of character and musical performance is an unforgettable journey. As Jerome Kern famously said, "Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” Written by Hershey Felder, with music by Hershey Felder, and directed by Trevor Hay, it runs July 19 through August 7 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena. For tickets call 626-356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

 

“The Sound of Music” The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with such songs as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss” and "The Sound of Music". Written by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and directed by Jack O’Brien, it runs July 19 through July 31 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. For tickets call 714-556-2787 or visit www.SCFTA.org.

 

“Breath of Spring” Dame Beatrice and her friends and lodgers are a tight-knit bunch who concoct an operation to return a stolen fur before its owner discovers that it’s missing. They have such fun doing it that they plan future schemes not to return furs, but to steal them. They do this not for personal gain, but to give the proceeds of their felonious fur thefts to the deserving needy. You could say that they are modern day Robin Hoods. They would say so. Nonetheless, they’re amateurs at crime, however well-intentioned. When Scotland Yard comes calling at their door, they plead with Lily, an ex-convict who is Dame Beatrice’s maid, to come up with a way to keep them all out of prison. Is jail in their futures, or will they get away with their thievery? Written by Peter Coke, and directed by Bruce Gray, it runs July 21 through August 21 at the Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets call 310-364-0535 or visit www.theatre40.org.

 

“Blueprint for Paradise” Set in 1941 during the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and inspired by true events, playwright Laurel M. Wetzork imagines the relationship between African-American architect Paul Revere Williams (designer of landmark L.A. buildings including Saks Fifth Ave and the Los Angeles County Courthouse, as well as private residences for Bert Lahr, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and Frank Sinatra) and a wealthy American couple who employed him to design a compound and training ground for Nazi sympathizers in the Pacific Palisades. Written by Laurel M. Wetzork, and directed by Laura Steinroeder, it runs July 30 through September 4 at the Hudson Theatres in Los Angeles. For tickets call 323-960-4412 or visit www.BlueprintForParadise.com.

 

“The Tempest” This season, the GRIFFITH PARK FREE SHAKESPEARE FESTVIAL will also feature various opening acts, a Salon Series of talk-backs, an art workshop and education workshops to make this iconic Los Angeles event this summer’s must-do, free, community get together! The Old Zoo is located in Griffith Park near the intersection of Crystal Springs Drive and Griffith Park Drive. In addition to the performances, education and engagement programs are presented for learners of all ages. Players in the Park/Teatristas en el parque are family education workshops presented on select evenings. These workshops are an interactive, energetic way to learn about the evening’s performance and to become more engaged in the overall live theater experience. For one special evening, Self Help Graphics will bring their Barrio Mobile Art Unit for an art-making workshop. Also returning this season is the Salon Series, pre-performance discussions led by experts in the field. Guests this year include Steven Leigh Morris, Executive Director of the LA Stage Alliance; John Frank, Senior Librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library and Ranger Mendibles, Park Ranger with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Additionally, ISC is pleased to announce its Festival Arts Partners, local performing artists presenting pre-show performances. This season’s guests will include: Invertigo Dance Theatre, La Victoria and The Silver Lake Chorus. Written by William Shakespeare, and directed by Matthew Earnest, it runs July 30 through September 4 at The Old Zoo in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. For tickets call 818-710-6306 or visit www.iscla.org.

           

CONTINUING

 

“John is a Father” Recovering alcoholic John Owens was estranged from his family for decades before his son, a Marine, was killed in Afghanistan. Now, six years later, he receives an invitation to meet his widowed daughter-in-law and his grandson for the first time. From the streets of Los Angeles to a cramped apartment in Phoenix, he prepares to face the ghosts of his past. But nothing can prepare him for the people he’ll really meet along the way – and their capacity for forgiveness. Written by Julie Marie Myatt, and directed by Dan Bonnell, it runs through July 16 at the Road on Lankershim in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or visit www.roadtheatre.org.

 

“A Few Good Men” is a gripping military courtroom thriller. A young marine, apparently unfit to endure the physical rigors of Marine duty, has died. Was it an accident, or were the circumstances of his death more sinister? Two marines in his unit are indicted for a variety of charges including murder. Their only defense against the prospect of long prison terms is mounted by their Marine attorneys, Lt. J.G. Daniel Kaffee (himself the son of a revered military attorney) and Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway, neither of whom has successfully mounted a criminal defense in a courtroom before. It will take all their intelligence, skill and perseverance to fight a sadistic military cult within the walls of Guantanamo Bay if Kaffee and Galloway are to win their clients’ liberty and prevail against those who would subvert the Constitution and stain the honor of Marines stationed throughout the globe who serve America with courage and distinction. Written by Aaron Sorkin, and directed by Tony Pauletto, it runs through July 17 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit www.afewgoodmenplay.brownpapertickets.com.

 

“The Addams Family” This magnificently macabre musical comedy features an original story, and it’s every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. A man her parents have never met. And if that weren’t upsetting enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Adam Lippa, and directed by Anne Gesling, it runs through July 31 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. For tickets call 310-828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.

 

Have a bang up time on the fourth, and enjoy our summer days now!

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