Friday, May 7, 2021

 WEST COAST JEWISH THEATRE'S MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES EXTENDED THROUGH  MAY 29  by Carol Kaufman Segal    

     My review of the West Coast Jewish Theatre's Magical Musical Mystery Follies is available on this blog dated May 6.  If you are interested in being able to see this wonderful two-hour virtual show, it is available again if you did not get to see it when it was offered previously, or if you would enjoy watching it once again.  You can now enjoy it every Saturday night through May 29, at 7:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time.

    The show features a variety of entertainment with very talented performers, including singers, actors, musicians, writers, magicians, and even an orchestra that will keep you entertained for two hours.  West Coast Jewish Theatre Director Howard Teichman directs the show (and also introduces the acts)  The Associate Producer is Bill Froggatt.  You can register online at http://wcit.org or call (312) 821-2449. The price of the ticket to obtain the link is $36.00   Those who register will be sent a Vimeo link to the show.

    Until the West Coast Jewish Theatre and Howard Teichman can welcome you back to their theatre in person, in the meantime, there is Magical Musical Mystery Follies.

    

Thursday, May 6, 2021

MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES  by Carol Kaufman Segal

    The West Coast Jewish Theatre, under the direction of Howard  Teichman, recently presented its Magical Musical Mystery Follies online.  Audiences had the opportunity of watching a very entertaining show with a variety of talent, from musicians to singers, comedians, magicians, and actors. 

    Performers included vocalist Sarah Spiegal, known for songs from the past (30's and 40's), beautiful cantorial music by soloist Kimberly Haines, vocalist Melissa Brandzel singing songs from Broadway, and Bob Brandzel performing klezmer music, and also guest Cantor Marcelo Gindin

    An excerpt from Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue was performed by Actors Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern. Ruthie Lane sang more show tunes, Actor/Writer Shelly Kurtze performed an original piece he had written for the show about an issue facing the Jewish community.  Comedy was performed by Sunda Croonquist, Magic Castle Magician Victor Benoun performed magic and illusions, and The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and Choir, performed under the direction of Dr. Noreen Green.

    Magical Musical Mystery Follies, with Howard Teichman as host, was presented online on Saturdays April 24, May 1, and May 8.  If you missed it when it was presented, you are in luck because it is going to be offered again online in the near future for View on Demand.  Keep watching for it because you won't want to miss this two-hour offering of it when it returns.  

























































































































































































































 The Prisoner of Second Avenue 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

 

Stories From the Violins of Hope by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Braid (formerly The Jewish Women’s Theatre) was scheduled to do a live production of Stories from the Violins of Hope last spring at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles  Since they had to postpone performing the production live due to COVID, they made the decision to present a live performance of it on Zoom.  It was a magnificent presentation, written by Lisa Rosenbaum, directed by Susan Morgenstern, and Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director and Producer.    

            With beautiful music performed throughout by five marvelous musicians from the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony,  Amnon Weinstein tells the story about how he, along with his son Avshalom, began collecting and restoring the violins that survived the Holocaust. 

            Virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi, plays the only violin from the Violins of Hope collection that is currently in the United States.  The rest of the collection remains in Israel until live concerts can begin again.  The violins that Amnon collected had survived concentration camps, ghettos, transport trains and the forests of Eastern Europe.    The story is one that had to be told, as Amnon said.

            Rick Zieff performed the role of Moshe, Amnon Weinstein's father, and Robert Trebor played   Amnon Weinstein.  Other members of the cast included Rosie Moss, Cliff Weisman, Andrew Fromer, Lisa Ann Grant, and A. J. Meijer.

            I hope that when the pandemic is behind us, The Braid will have the opportunity to present this marvelous production in their theatre for those who did not get the opportunity to see it and for those who would, like me, wish to see it again.    

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

 YOU I LIKE:  A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF JERRY HERMAN by Carol Kaufman Segal

You I Like:  A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman, is performed on the stage of an empty Pasadena  Playhouse (due to the COVID and is streaming through February 7.  Conceived by Andy Einhorn (musical director of the last  Broadway revival of Hello Dolly), he accompanies a marvelous cast of Broadway singers on the piano as they bring Herman's magnificent Broadway music to life.  The cast includes Ashley  Blanchet, Nicholas Christopher, Andrea Ross, Ryan Vona, and Lesli Margherita.     

Jerry Herman was born July 10, 1931, in New York City and died December 26, 2019, in Miami after a tremendously successful career.   His list of musicals on Broadway include Milk & Honey, Hello Dolly, Mame, Dear World, Mack & Mabel, The Grand Tour, La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry's Girls, Showtune, Parade, Mrs. Santa Claus, A Day In Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and Miss Spectacular. 

Throughout the show, twenty-nine of some of the most popular and well-known songs are sung by the phenomenal cast.  This was a true tribute to an exceptionally talented man.  

The show is on demand from the Pasadena Playhouse via Playhouse Live, streaming through Feb. 7.  Tickets are $24.99 per household.  Running time is 90 minutes.  For further information go to
Playhouselive.org.
  






Monday, August 3, 2020

THIS IS ME

LETTER FROM THE FRONT LINE  by Carol Kaufman Segal

 

After celebrating its 25th Anniversary at The Soraya in 2017,  DIAVOLO  Architecture in Motion returned to The Soraya for its fourth time with This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines.  This production from Artistic Director Jacque Heim premiered Friday, July 31, at 4 PM on The Soraya Facebook page, The Soraya’s fourth online performance.

 

This is Me is offering an insight into how military veterans respond to their lives and what it means to be true warriors on the front lines, a lesson for all of us today to fight the invisible enemy that all humanity is currently battling.

 

The dancers’ performances are outstanding.  They navigate through and around huge props that are made to look like apartment buildings and other structures that affected their lives, all the while never losing their gracefulness as they perform flips, jumps, and falls, all the while wearing masks.  They are amazing to watch.

 

The Warriors in the production are as follows:  Shannon Corbell, U.S. Air Force, Tyler Grayson, U.S. Army, Lucas Haas, EMT, Mariella Keating, Nurse, Chris Loverro, U.S, Army, Sasan Najibi, MD, and La’Vel Stacy, U.S. Navy.  Other performers include a Matt Wagner, Safety Coordinator/ Performer/ Co-Choreographer, Abraham Meisel, Video Archivist/Performer, and the following Performers/Co- Choreographers, Derion Loman, Daniel Jacob Glenn, Evan Turner, Lex Shimko, BethanyRose Boutwell, and Amanda MacLeod.

 

Jacque Heim is now in the fifth year of the company’s The Veteran Project, creating This is Me to help illustrate words of veterans by interweaving them through DIAVOLO choreography that expresses their thoughts.  More than 500 Los Angeles area veterans have participated in the project.  Heim said, “The Veterans Project has completely changed my life, changed my mission changed my company”…..“ Even though these men and women do not like to be called heroes, we consider them to be.  They sacrificed their lives for a giant cause…their country and its people.  Who can do that?  I cannot do that.  It is beyond courage, and the reason we’re in the land of the free, because all those men and women gave their lives.  Beyond thanking them for their service, we have to embrace them as our brothers and sisters as part of our own family.  The work and mission of DIAVOLO and this film, This is Me, is about celebrating humanity, Veterans and COVID 19 responders are beautiful humans.  That has to be shown.”

 

 







Friday, March 20, 2020


SHOW ME A HERO by Carol Kaufman Segal
             
Show Me A Hero, written by Willard Manus, is making its world premiere at the Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood.  The play is about two real people, Alexander Panagoulis (1939-76), a Greek politician, and Oriana Fallaci (1929-2006), an Italian journalist, author and political reviewer.  When living in Greece, Manus was intrigued by Panagoulis when he first heard about him.  After reading a story about him being interviewed by Fallaci, he wrote Show Me a Hero about their love affair, fictionalizing their names.
            
In 1974, following the collapse of the military dictatorship in Greece, Luisa (Lisa Robins) came from Italy to interview Petros (Ilia Volok).  He had become famous for fighting against the military dictatorship that had taken over in 1967 and was arrested after his failed attempt to assassinate the dictator on August, 1968.  During the interview, Petros becomes very emotional in relaying his years of pain, torture, and deprivation to Luisa.  He finds her easy to talk to and she, in turn, finds him to be a real hero.  Very quickly, they fall in love.  Thus begins their amorous romance.
When they are together it is quite obvious that Petros and Luisa are very much in love, but she is not free to spend all of her time with him.  She still has a job to do and must leave Greece, periodically.  However, after each assignment is finished, Luisa returns to Petros.
Petros is not a man who can sit back without wanting to fight for what he feels is right. He has decided that he must seek out the perpetrators who were involved in overthrowing the Greek government.  Despite the warning of his friend Dimitry (Rico Simonini) and the woman who loves him, he is fixated on finding those who tried and succeeded, for a while, in taking over and ruining the country he loves.  Sadly, this time he pays for his unsuccessful attempt with his life.
            
I was simply mesmerized throughout this one act play, not only for the work by Willard Manus, but by the emotional and truly phenomenal performances by Ilia Volok and Lisa Robins.  I also have to give credit to Rico Simonini for his small, but important role as well.  This world premiere production was scheduled to play at the Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood through March 29.  I am hoping it will be able to return, and if and when it does, I highly recommend it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
           



Thursday, March 19, 2020




TAMING THE LION by Stan Mazin, Guest Reviewer

A World Premiere of a new play, “TAMING THE LION” written by Jack Rushen opened at Theatre 40… and what an interesting play this is.  Based on a true incident, the play concerns a gay actor named William Haines who acted in 50 films between 1922 and 1934, and who was the number one box office draw at the end of the silent era.  Fearing that Haines’ gayness might prove to be detrimental to the MGM Studio name, Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg attempted to force Haines to marry.  Haines was already in a committed relationship with Jimmie Shields, a relationship that lasted until Haines death in 1973.  Consequently, he refused to comply with MGM’s wishes, ultimately giving up the business and becoming an interior decorator from then on.  Comparisons were made with, supposedly, closeted Ramon Navarro and Rudolph Valentino, but Haines stood his ground and refused to live a lie.  And so you have the story.  Written with believable conversation by actor playwright Jack Rushen who was a two time recipient of the Julie Harris Playwriting Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild, the play flows comfortably from scene to scene.  The second act has more action than the first which naturally contains more exposition.  Directed with acute sharpness by Melanie MacQueen, the characters come to life as quickly as the play begins.  Landon Beatty does an excellent job as William Haines, while Niko Boles portrays his lover Jimmie with emotion.  Marie Broderick portrays Joan Crawford, and while she does not give an impersonation, she is strong and real in her relationship with Haines until the end.  Kevin Delude gives another realistic portrayal of Irving Thalberg, as does Jean Mackie as Ida, Mayer’s secretary.  But it is Jeffrey Winner, in his portrayal of Louis B. Mayer, who carries the bravado necessary to ‘become’ the head of the MGM Studios.  While the title makes you think that Taming the Lion refers to the taming of Mayer himself, I believe it is his pressure to try to influence Haines’ decision to marry that the title of the play refers to.  The set design by Jeff G. Rack is another great set for Theatre 40, containing basically 3 areas, the Haines/Shields living room, Mayer’s office, and a table at the Brown Derby, complete with black and white character drawings of Hollywood stars.  The costumes by Michele Young served the play well as did sound design by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski, and Hair, Wigs, and Makeup by Judi Lewin, and Stage Manager, Don Solosan.  Press is by Philip Sokoloff.  Overall the play stands as a lesson in American theatrical history to show us all what a long way we have come to accept this subject matter. 

Reviewed by Stan Mazin, March 13, 2020