MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
A SONG FOR VANYA
ANATOMY RIOT #20
ALTERNATES & FLYPAPER CARTEL
|THE FULL MONTY|
by James de Jongh
Critic's Pick - LA Times
Recommended (Again!) - LA Weekly
January 26, 2007 - February 25, 2007
Fri., Sat. 8:00 p.m.
Sun. 2:00 p.m.
Sat. 2:00 p.m. perf. on 2/10, 2/17 and 2/24
David C. Nichols of LA Times raves... ***CRITIC'S PICK*** "James de Jongh's docudrama, drawn from recorded interviews of ex-slaves in the 1930s, transcends reader's theater contours through the power of its content." "[S]pirituals [are] beautifully overseen by Paul Wong as [a] unifying motif." "Credit also goes to the wonderfully controlled Chromolume Theatre Company production, which played last fall at the Raven Playhouse." "The cast is superb. Bambadjan Bamba, Rodney J. Hobbs, Shavonda Mitchell and Annzella Victoria trump every challenge handed them, and Arthur Richardson goes for the jugular, especially as Nat Turner. "They elucidate and entertain at once, and that, coupled with the undeiable authenticity makes 'Do Lord Remember Me' quietly unforgettable." Tom Provenzano of LA Weekly raves... ***RECOMMENDED*** "Designer James Esposito's stark sound design and nearly-bare stage are complemented by Laura Russell's elegant costumes and Christopher Singleton's gentle lighting to create a production supported by, but not depending upon, technology." "The star here...is musical director Paul Wong's gorgeous work with the five fine performers on a capella versions of such traditional songs as 'Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child,' 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen' and the play's title song." "Director Wilson Bell repeats the fine staging from the production's earlier life at the Raven Playhouse that easily navigates the actors and the audience through scores of characters...'" Stephanie Lysaght of LA Weekly raves... ***RECOMMENDED*** "Next time you hear some guy bitching about how there's no good theater in L.A., hogtie him, toss him into your car and drive straight to the Raven Playhouse for Wilson Bell's staging of Do Lord Remember Me; that ought to shut him up." "I was wishing that Arthur Alonzo Richardson, as Slave, would never leave the stage. His ability to inhabit each of his characters is incomparable, and his soulful performance is tempered by touches of playfulness, even in the darkest scenes." "With such heavy subject matter, it's amazing that this production is so much fun. Despite the immeasurable pain these ex-slaves endured, the final, prevailing sentiment is not bitter, but grateful, that 'God done spared a few o' us to tell da tale.'" Jim Crogan of Backstage West raves... ***CRITIC'S PICK*** "Chromolume Theatre Company's revival of James de Jongh's 1982 workshop project, which details the lives of ex-slaves and the horrors of their experiences, uses the most important elements of documentaries to create a dramatic production that is moving, funny, tragic, and, above all, provacative." "The cast, three men and two women, is terrific." "Arthur Alonzo Richardson delivers superb renditions of a slave on the auction block and Nat Turner who was hung for leading a slave rebellion." Gail Roberts of Tolucan Times and Canyon Crier raves... "Do Lord Remember Me delivers an emotional package..." "The stories...are skillfully performed by the five member cast..." Rich Borowy of Accessibly Live Off-Line raves... "Wilson Bell directs this show that contains theatrical elements that showcases its entertainment value..." "The production itself is very moving from its honest dialogue and very tight from its staging."
by Barry Creyton, Lesley Davison, Nick Santa Maria
Stan Freeman, Dave Frishberg, Denis Markell
Douglas Bernstein, Francesca Blumenthal, Glen Kelly
Jay Leonhart, Michael Brown, Murray Grand
and Addy Fieger.On Stage Opening March 10:
Chromolume Theater Presents:
March 10-April 1
Fri/Sat 8pm Sunday 2pm
Seniors/Students $17 Kids (under 12) $14
Directed and Designed by Mark Mercury
Andrew Block. Richie Cunningham, Meghan Olson,
Kristie Rutledge, Jim Stevens, Rachel Rawlins Prescott,
Richard Van Slyke
Reservations: (323) 938-3700
March 10, 2007 - April 1, 2007
Fri., Sat. 8:00 p.m. Sun. 2:00 p.m.
OPENING 8PM SAT APRIL 28
Tom Ashworth, Sterling Beaumon, Eric Fagundes,
Leslie Gray, Dana Kelly, Dalton O'Dell, Lucas Salazar,
Nina Silver, Miles Taber and Cari Turley.
APRIL 27th - MAY 27th
Mr. Punch is a dark fable in which the innocence of childhood and the pain of adulthood collide in the oft-fragmented recesses of memory, blurring the line between what is a puppet show and what is real life. Sent to stay with his grandfather at the old man's failing seaside arcade, a young boy encounters a sinister Punch and Judy man with a mysterious past. Trapped in a world of ghost trains, mermaid shows and storytellers, the boy sees and hears dark dealings that will haunt him for life.
"Audience members will feel as though they've opened up the graphic novel and wound up trapped deep inside," says Rogue Artistic Director Sean T. Cawelti, who also directs. "Through the use of uniquely beautiful and distinctive masks, puppets and projected media, Mr. Punch creates true Rogue Hyper-theatrical magic. Told through the eyes of 'the Boy', our central character, we explore the twisted nature of memory, the cruelty of adults, and the beauty of simple kindness."
Adapting Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's graphic novel has been a labor of love for the entire group, and the performances will be the culmination of nearly two years of work by nearly forty artists, crafts persons and actors.
Rogue Artists Ensemble differs from other local theater companies primarily because it's run by a collective of artists and designers. The ensemble collaborates with outside companies and other artists to create "Hyper-theater," an innovative hybrid of theater traditions, puppetry and digital media that cultivates a unique audience experience. "[The Rogues] use a mix of live actors, puppets and video/animation effects to create a haunted world that is eerily beautiful but creepy and naughty," said the Santa Monica Mirror. "You have to like the Rogues most because they're positively queer about puppets," wrote Joel Beers in the OC Weekly. "Original, with masks, life-size puppets and video images that border on the surreal edges of fantasy fiction," agreed the Orange County Register. EyespyLA.com called the Rogues' last production, The Victorian Hotel, "the most exuberantly creative show in town."
Bringing Mr. Punch to life on stage is a design team that includes Rogue ensemble members Joyce Hutter (Puppet Design), Pat Rubio (Mask Design), Kerry Hennessy (Costume Design), Patrick Heyn (Video Design), Mel Domingo (Lighting Design), Nate Hodges (Choreography), Ben Phelps (Original Music Score), and special guest collaborators Joel Daavid (Scenic Design) and Brian White (Illustration and Video Design). The cast includes Tom Ashworth, Sterling Beaumon, Eric Fagundes, Leslie Gray, Dana Kelly, Dalton O'Dell, Lucas Salazar, Nina Silver, Miles Taber and Cari Turley.
A professional writer for more than twenty years, Neil Gaiman has been one of the top writers in modern comics, and is now a bestselling novelist and screenwriter with works including "American Gods," "Anansi Boys," "Coraline" and "Wolves in the Walls." His work has appeared in translation in dozens of countries, and nearly all of his novels, graphic and otherwise, have been optioned for films. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers. Dave McKean is a British illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, filmmaker and musician whose work incorporates drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture. McKean and Gaiman first met in 1986, collaborating on a short graphic novel of disturbing childhood memories, "Violent Cases," which garnered instant critical acclaim. Since then, the pair has worked together on numerous award-winning comic books, graphic novels and children's books. McKean and Gaiman recently worked together as a writer and director team, on Henson Pictures' serial fantasy film MIRRORMASK.
A life long puppeteer and creative force, designer/director Sean T. Cawelti serves as artistic director for Rogue Artists Ensemble. Mr. Cawelti has designed puppets and masks for Cornerstone Theatre Company, International City Theater, The Rude Guerrilla Theater, Opera Pacific, NYU and many others. A graduate of UC Irvine, where he received his BA in Drama with honors in Stage Direction, Mr. Cawelti studied puppetry at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He is the recipient of a Puppeteers of America 2003 National Festival scholarship; a 2006 Technical Achievement Honor for Puppet Oriented Theater Design by the OC Weekly; and was nominated for an LA Weekly Award for his mask design work on HYPERBOLE: epiphany. His articles have been featured in several national journals.
The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch runs Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 pm and 8 pm; and Sundays at 4 pm for five weeks, April 27 through May 27. Tickets to the Opening Night Gala (Friday, April 27) are $40.00 and include a pre-show reception at 6:30 pm with live music from Indie folk/rock trio Jet Across Belgium, gallery, food, drinks and more. Tickets to all other performances are $20.00 general admission and $16.00 for students and seniors with valid ID. Theatre/Theater is located at 5041 W Pico Blvd, two blocks west of La Brea. For reservations and information, visit www.rogueartists.org or call (800) 838.3006.
OPENING SUN APRIL 28 2007 : THE PREVIEW SERIES presents:
Matthew Morgan and Brandon Breault
with Whit Hertford
Directed By Rory Kozoll
5 performances only
April 29/30 & May 10 @ 8pm , May 6 & 13@ 7:30pm
TIX $12 -RESERVATIONS: 323 251 6930
No Man's Land/ Backstage West
June 07, 2007
By Travis Michael Holder
Working-class Brits turned poets in Harold Pinter's 1950s plays give way to characters lost in a world of affluent privilege in this 1974 play, but these guys oddly don't seem a lot happier -- or any less pissed off at their place in the world -- than their earlier counterparts. This mounting marks the directorial debut of Theatre/Theater's Nicolette Chaffey, who plays a Pinteresque game with her own marriage by directing her husband, co-artistic director Jeff Murray, in the play's difficult pivotal role. Obviously the couple has a mutual respect for each other's unswerving and dependable talents, because Murray is mesmerizing as wealthy Hirst, a successful novelist who uses his grandly appointed Hampstead mansion mainly as a place to drink himself into oblivion rather than live.
Into this dysfunctional abyss comes Spooner (Will Utay), a shabby but somewhat arrogant fellow Hirst presumably met during one of his usual evenings of barhopping. As his guest regales himself with florid stories, boasting of his exploits and underappreciated talents as a poet, Hirst gets steadily drunker, perhaps to tune out the pompous you-know-what, eventually crawling -- literally -- to bed as Spooner watches like a hawk about to pounce on his prey.
Chaffey's remarkably unadorned and straightforward presentation creates a quietly palpable sense of danger that lurks just below the properly English manners. Utay is nearly perfect as Spooner, although he settles on honoring Pinter's opaque language without giving us a sense of why he's saying what he does. Andreas Brendle makes a wonderful Briggs, the more disquieting of the two menservants who watch over Hirst with a degree of ominous control, and Branden Morgan has the creepy, catlike grace and percolating menace of a Joe Orton street boy. Yet all performances bow to Murray's compellingly assured, indelibly heartbreaking performance, an almost Zenlike turn intensified by the feeling this actor is completely relaxed and at home from the moment the lights come up, which of course he is, as Murray built the theatre and the stage he and Chaffey can now claim as their own.
Presented by Claire Gerety-Mott for the WW Theater at Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Jun. 1-Jul. 7. (323) 938-4220. www.theatretheater.net.
BACKSTAGE WEST / CRITIC'S PICK*
l.a. weekly: GO!
Presented by Claire Gerety-Mott
for the WW at Theatre/Theater,
5041 W. Pico Blvd, L.A.
new performance times:
Sat 2pm/Sun 7pm
Jun 7-July 28.
CHROMOLUME THEATRE COMPANY
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
Directed by Gary Romm
Musical Direction by Richard Berent
Choreography by Kristie Rutledge
Fri/Sat 8pm/ Sun 2pm
Tickets Adults $25
Children (12 under) $15
INFO/TIX/ RESERVATIONS: 323 938 3700
Heidi Carter (*)from Sons of Beckett Theatre Company and THE MOODS
offered to curate a Theatre Theater fundraiser.
This is it! An All Hallows Eve Party. Come on down!!
(*What a gal!)
ONE NIGHT ONLY! MONDAY NOVEMBER 12TH
mark your calendars for
ANATOMY RIOT #20!
Monday, NOVEMBER 12th, 2007
AR#20 will be guest-curated by the fabulous dance duo of
Casebolt & Smith.
You don't want to miss it.
Mercury Theater Productions
in association with
Book by Terrance McNally
Music and Lyrics by David Yasbeck
Fridays at 8pm/Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm/ Sundays at 6pm
RESERVATIONS: 310 287 1825
www.lastagescene.com - review Dec 1/07
The Full Monty
I've seen five (count'em) five productions of The Full Monty, and I have to tell you,
this is a show I just keep liking more and more. My love affair with TFM (well, it was
just a "like affair" at first) began with the first national tour and continued a couple
years later with a fine non-Equity tour. Then came two large-theater regional
productions, including this year's superb Musical Theater West version, and finally,
yesterday, my first 99-seat TFM, a production which marks a hugely successful
debut for the just formed Theatre7.
A bit of Theatre7 background. Earlier this year, Chromolume Theatre Company
announced its 2007-8 season, which was to begin with The Full Monty. Casting
had been completed when, sadly, the plug was pulled on the Chromolume. In
the best MGM tradition, cast members wanted so much for the show to go on
that they formed their own company, Theatre7, found a live-theater-loving
executive producer, Marc Mercury, and an imaginative young director, Kristie
Rutledge, and wonder of wonders, not only has the show gone on, but Theatre7
has put together a Full Monty which has exceeded all my expectations. This is an
exciting, often electric production, proving that even on a budget, Full Monty is a
For those of you who've been living under a rock, TFM was a popular British film
about a group of unemployed factory workers who decide to stage a male strip
show in a last ditch effort to put some money in the bank and regain their self-
respect. Playwright Terrence McNally (of whom I'm a huge fan) transposed the
action to Buffalo, New York, and composer/lyricist David Yazbek (pre-Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels) added a bunch of jazz-rock tunes. The result was a Broadway hit
whose only misfortune was to vie for Tonys in the year of the Producers'
juggernaut. No matter. This possibly shortened Broadway run just meant that
regional theaters large and small could stage their own productions that much
earlier, each adding its own distinctive stamp.
Theater 7's "stamp" begins as soon as the audience enters the theater. The
Buffalo gals (wives of the out of work factory men) are milling among us, out for a
girls' night at Chippendales, downing shot after shot after shot, and eagerly
proclaiming their excitement at the upcoming arrival of the burlesque boys. Even
the pre-show announcements (cell phones/exits, etc.) are part of the show, given
by Georgie Bukatinsky as she leads her gal pals in cheering on the arrival of male
stripper extraordinaire Buddy (Keno) Walsh.
Theater 7's Full Monty, more than any other I've seen, features performers who look
as though they really could be the characters they are portraying. True, a few of
them are a bit too young for their parts, but that smidgen of disbelief is soon
suspended. These are men who don't spend all day in the gym; some carry a few
extra pounds, one is kind of skinny, none looks ready to play romantic lead in a
Broadway show, which has sometimes been the case with other productions. Their
wives are cute and sexy but in a blue collar kind of way. These are actors who not
only look the parts; they're also a very talented bunch of performers, bringing to
their roles their own personal stamps.
Sheldon Morley is the first Jerry I've seen who truly looks the part. Only marginally in
better shape that his best friend Dave (aka Fat Bastard), this is one Jerry whom we
believe when he says that he's no match for Keno in the "bod" department.
Morley is also an excellent actor, especially in his touching scenes with his young
son Nathan (a promising professional debut for Mitchell Hart), and his soaring
rendition of Breeze off the River is moving indeed. Morley is matched by Ed
McBride as Dave, convincing as a man who worries that, jobless, he can no longer
be the husband his wife married. As suicidal Malcolm, the sensational Timothy
Hearl reinvents the role. His eyes fill with wonder at the discovery that yes, indeed,
he does have friends, as the audience's eyes fill with delight at his pathetic
attempt at a pelvic thrust. Ben Euphrat is sweetly charming as Ethan. (He's the
one who tries to imitate Donald O'Connor-by jumping into walls.) Hearl and
Euphrat's duet You Walk With Me had me in tears. Keith E. Wright is a dynamic
Noah aka Horse, who walks with the aid of a cane but then uses it as a prop to his
impressive dance moves in Big Black Man. (This is a show in which every song is a
winner.) Completing the out of work sextet is the always reliable Richard Van
Slyke, suitably uptight as Harold, the only white collar member of the group, who
has been pretending to go to work these past six months.
The wives have less to do than the men, but they are believably brought to blue
collar life. Aileen-Marie Scott and Ellen Caranasos (as Georgie and Vicki) sing an
emotional reprise of You Rule My World (first sung by their husbands), and Renee
Scott as Pam (a great match for Morley) shows us a woman who still cares about
her ex-husband, just not in the way he would wish. Meghan Olson has fun playing
the slutty (pardon my French) Estelle.
Suzan Solomon is a hoot as Broadway baby Jeanette. Brassy, sassy, and with a
great loud cackle of a laugh, Solomon steals scenes from the moment she enters
and sets up a troll doll village atop her piano, pine tree and all. She belts out
Estelle's signature number, entitled Jeannette's Showbiz Number, with the best of
them. As stripper Keno, Jonathan Beran not only has the hot bod the role
demands, but he is the first Keno I can recall who has truly convinced me that he is
a gay man, out and proud. The rest of the cast do fine work, some of them in
several roles. They are Anthony Sucato (Teddy), Paul Dawson (Reg), Jen Gabbert
(Susan), Lisa Louise Christensen (Toni), and Lauren Blair (Betty).
Blair also deserves highest marks as choreographer. Her dance sequences include
a 60s disco inspired Woman's World, a dance studio sequence with a Latin beat,
the Act 1 capper Michael Jordan's ball (in which each one of the six guys dances
in character), and the sexy finale Let It Go. There's also a tribute to Chicago the
Musical with the women (and Keno) dressed in sexy tight black things and singing
The Goods, a la Cell Block Tango.
Director Rutledge adds many clever touches to this production, starting with the
pre-show Ladies' Night partying. There's also a cute moment where four of the
guys spy on another of their bunch from behind a half open door, heads stacked
one atop another. I especially liked the way Rutledge staged the scene where
Ethan takes Malcolm's hand at Malcolm's mother's funeral, the two standing a
level above the other mourners, face to face and clearly a couple.
Musical director Bill Wolf on piano, Justin Arman on drums and J. Michaels on bass
somehow manage to sound much bigger and brassier than just three instruments.
Chris Singleton's lighting design is mostly fine, though the choice of a climactic
blackout is a not terribly effective substitute for the bright backlighting that allows
a big theater audience to imagine the Full Monty without requiring the actors to
truly show the goods. The uncredited factory-like set design is simple but effective,
the addition of a few pieces of furniture or props suggesting the many set
Though the previous Chromolume Theatre Company productions which I saw all
had much to recommend in them, none can compare with the all around
excellence of Theatre7's Full Monty. An exciting new musical theater company
has been born!
THEATRE/THEATER, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. Through December 22.
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. See website for times.
December 1, 2007
Photos: Jeff Murray