Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE MARRIAGE ZONE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Beth and Cal are a middle-aged couple with a teen-age son Ron.  Who knows how long they have been married?  I would venture to say maybe around twenty years or so.  Long enough, anyway, for the honeymoon to be over, and when we meet them, it appears obvious that is a good guess. 
            The family has been living in the same house all of these years and Beth thinks it is time to move upward, even though it will put a strain on their finances.  After much discussion (and arguing),  Cal has relented, and their home now has a real estate agent’s “For Sale” sign in front of it. 
            We find Beth and Cal having their usual argument when they are interrupted by a knock at the door.  When Beth opens the door, she discovers a young couple who ask if they could see the house since they are planning to get married soon and it appears to be just what they would like for their first home.  Even though their agent is not there, Beth and Cal feel okay about letting them look around. 
            As the two couples converse, Beth and Cal are surprised to discover they have a lot in common with Skip and Ellie when an elderly couple appear at the door asking to see the house.  Mike and Liz are not interested in buying; they are simply “nosey” because as they explain to Beth and Cal, they lived in the house years ago when they were first married.
            As the play ensues, the obvious occurs when the three couples finally realize that they are all the same people in different stages of life (thus The Marriage Zone)!  Will this encounter benefit the life of any one of them in this unusual circumstance?
            The Marriage Zone is the fourth in a series of comedies written by playwright and director Jeff Gould that deal with relationships between men and women.  Though it is an unlikely situation told with many laughs, this plot might be an eye opener for some people.  A double cast perform the roles that include Anne Leighton/Rene Ashton (Beth), Jeff  Pride/Kenny Johnston (Cal), Jacee Jule/Dawn Joyal (Liz), Alex Hyde-White/Mark Sande (Mike)), Megan Barker/Britt Rose (Ellie), Ryan Cargill/Liam Donafee (Skip), and Ciaran Brown/Zach Louis (Ryan).

            The Marriage Zone plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM, at the Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, through August 27.  Reservations are available by calling (323) 960-7784, or for online ticketing go to www.Plays411.com/marriagezone.       



Sunday, July 9, 2017

JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            
            Jacques Brel was born on April 9, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium.  He had been writing songs most of his life.  In the early 1950’s he went to Paris where he became a popular singer and composer of French songs, and in 1966 he gave up the stage to become an actor in films and musicals.  His numerous songs have been translated into many languages. 
            A 1968 Off-Broadway hit by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman based on lyrics and commentary of Jacques Brel is now being presented at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.    Though we are fortunate to have his music alive and well at the Odyssey Theatre, Brel is neither alive nor well in Paris as he died from lung cancer in France on October 9, 1978.  
            This unusual presentation is performed by four extremely artistic performers, two women (Susan Kohler and Miyuki Miyagi) and two men (Marc Francoeur and Michael Yapujian) who not only sing the many songs by Brel, but act them out in a way that brings much more of the interpretation of them to life.  They are accompanied by a group of wonderful musicians, Anthony Lucca (keyboard), Cyrus Elis (bass), Conor Malloy(percussion), Ryan McDonald (alternate percussionist), and Max Wagner (guitar).
            Brel’s songs all have meaning about life in them, and the performances by this outstanding group is like watching twenty-four individual musical skits in two acts.  The musical direction is by Anthony Lucca.   Susan Kohler, Miyuki Miyagim, Marc Francoeur, and Michael Yapujian are all multi-talented singers and actors.  The production is under the direction of Dan Fishbach.
            Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris¸ will continue playing at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, through August 27.  For all information regarding reservations and/or purchasing tickets, call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2, or go online at www.OdysseyTheatre.com.


HIGHLY REOMMENDED

Saturday, July 8, 2017

DIAL M FOR MURDER by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Dial M For Murder is a stage play written by English playwright Frederick Knott.  In 1954, Warner Bros. Studio produced the film based on Knott’s stage play and directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings.
            I saw the film when it played in theaters those many years ago and was anxious to see it performed live on stage.  I wondered if it would be as interesting and credible in a small theater.  Presented by the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, it proved to be worthy of acclaim for a production extremely well-done. 
            The play is presented in three acts all set in the living room of the Wendice’s apartment in London in 1954 (an outstanding set by J. Kent Inasy).  Tony Wendice (Adam Jonas Segaller) was once a tennis star who is married to Margot (Carrie Schroeder), a woman of wealth.  Their outward appearance does not show their animosity towards one another, though Margot has been having an affair with, seemingly, a family friend, an American Max Halliday (Justin Waggle), and Tony, who is aware of her infidelity, is merely interested in her money. 
            Since Tony loves money, but not his wife, he decides his life would be better off with her money but without her.  Therefore, he goes about developing a fool-proof plan to have her murdered whereby he will end up with her fortune.  But nothing, it seems, is ever really fool-proof, and his plan backfires when, in self-defense, Margot struggles with the intended murderer, Captain Lesgate (Michael Robb), and kills him.  
            It appears that the villain in the play will end up as he wished after all when Margot is arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death for the murder of Captain Lesgate.  But once again, the situation takes a turn as Inspector Hubbard (Doug Haverty) unravels another new surprise. 
            The entire cast, which includes Hisato Masuyama-Ball as Thompson, deserves kudos for their fine and flawless performances.  They can all be seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through August 13, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at www.thegrouprep.com, or at info@thegrouprep.com.  Reservations may be made by calling (818) 763-5990.

RECOMMENDED     


LETTERS FROM A NUT by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Come on, don’t take it seriously.  This presentation is not trying to be a play, nor a drama, but it is simply a gentleman (Ted L Nancy, aka Barry Marder) with a sense of humor who wants to make you laugh.  And he does a good job doing just that.  Letters From a Nut is directed by Pierre Balloon.
            This is how it all began.  One evening Marder, a veteran stand-up comedian, was relaxing while munching on Fritos when he happened to read on the bag, “Got a problem?  Write to us at Fritos.”   Thinking out loud, “Who would write to Fritos?  his girlfriend responded, “A nut, that’s who?”
            Marder began sending ludicrous letters to companies everywhere under the pseudonym Ted L, Nancy.   The responses he received back from service departments were just as ludicrous, and in 1997, he put together a book entitled Letters From a Nut, followed by six more books.
            In his show, Nancy explains all of this to his audience before he sits down at a desk and begins reading a letter (a copy of which is projected on the stage) followed by the response (also shown) by Beth Kennedy who takes on numerous corporate characters throughout the 80 minute  production.  Letters from Ted L. Nancy are so absurd it is difficult to believe that any company would take them seriously enough to respond to him.  But respond they do, and for all good intentions, they add to the essence of this very comical production.  As difficult as it is to believe, all of the letters are real.
            Letters From a Nut was written by Ted L.Nancy, pseudonym for Barry Marder, a former writer for Jerry Seinfeld who produced this show.  He has written for Bill Maher, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.  He was a co-writer for DreamWorks animated hit The Bee Movie and wrote with George Carlin. 
            Beth Kennedy is a long standing member of the Troubadour Theater Company and is the recipient of multiple Ovation, Backstage, and LA Drama Critic Circle Awards for other performances.
            Sam Kwasman appears as Pagliacci dressed in a clown’s suit, but though he does the character well, it is questionable why he is even a part of the production.  Perhaps three’s a charm!

            Letters From a Nut  plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through July 30, in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles.  Tickets are available at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at (310) 208-5454, or online at www.geffenplayhouse,org. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CONSTELLATIONS Carol Kaufman Segal

            Constellations, written by British playwright Nick Payne, features just two characters, Roland, a beekeeper (Allen Leech), and Marianne, a physicist (Ginnifer Goodwin), two unlikely people to ever fall in love.
            Throughout the entire play, the two characters hold conversations with each other going from one moment in time to another showing how their relationship can change from one circumstance (depending on the moment) to another.  Whether or not, this is a clear explanation as to what occurs on stage with these two characters or not, it is the best way that I am able to let you know what goes on in this eighty minute production. 
            Suffice it to say, it is a very unusual and interesting theater experience performed exceptionally well by Goodwin and Leech who keep their characters and circumstances fascinating, leaving one wondering if the two will eventually find their bond.

            Constellation is playing at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles under the direction of Giovanna Sardelli.  Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM.  Tickets are available by phone at (310) 208-5454, online at www.geffenplayhouse.org, or at the Playhouse Box Office.  The Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles.  Originally scheduled to close July 16, Constellations has been extended through July 23.     


 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

THE BOOK OF MORMON by Carol Kaufman Segal
            A hit musical, The Book of Mormon, made its Broadway premiere on March, 2011, after seven years of development by its creators, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, who wrote the book, the music, and the lyrics. It won nine Tony Awards, one for Best Musical, and is still playing to sold-out audiences in New York as it wows audiences with touring companies in cities throughout the United States as well as one in Australia and Sweden.   The Pantages Theatre is pleased to have The Book of Mormon return to its theatre for the third time.
            The story is about two young men, fresh out of an LDS Training Center being sent to Uganda for two years as missionaries for the purpose of converting the African population into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) who was tops in the class, is totally disappointed, having had hopes of being sent to Orlando, Florida.  Added to his let down is that he has been paired with  Elder Cunningham (Connor Peirson), who was always out of sync with the rest of the class. Elder Price may feel down, but Elder Cunningham is euphoric.  He claims then and there that he and Elder Price are best friends.
            Upon their arrival in Uganda, they meet other missionaries who have been in Uganda for some time without being able to convert any of the Africans to Mormonism.  Elder Price is more pessimistic than ever, while Elder Cunningham is certain that, with his companion by his side, he can succeed in the mission.  Elder Price becomes more disillusioned with his situation, but Elder Cunningham suddenly takes on the burden of trying to win the population over to the church alone.
            Elder Cunningham, who never read the book of Mormon, makes up the stories he tells the people.  He garners the attention of Nabulungi (Leanne Robinson) who is taken with Elder Cunningham and his teaching, unaware that none of it is true, and she persuades the rest of the villagers to accept the Church.    
            When the Heads of the Mission learn of the success of converting all of the villagers in Uganda,  they decide to visit there to honor the missionary who did such a great job.  Elder Cunningham convinces Elder Price to act as if they have been mission companions all along.  When the villagers show what they have learned, none of it has anything to do with the Book of Mormon, and the Heads of the Mission are in utter shock.  However, no one need fret over the Missionaries outcome since they gave something for the people to believe in and to make their lives better,          
            The Book of Mormon is probably the most humorous musical of all time, (actually, it is hilarious) but nevertheless, it is sacrilegious and contains explicit language.  Even so, it is extremely entertaining and fun.  A lot of credit for the humor goes to Gibbs and Peirson who are superb.  The entire cast is first-rate under the direction of Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker.  The dancing is stupendous as are the dancers (choreographer Casey Nicholaw).  The music is perfect for the production, but not memorable beyond.
            Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8PM, Sundays at1 PM and 6:30 PM, through July 9 (no performance Tuesday, July 4, added matinee, Thursday, July 6, at 2 PM) at the Hollywood Pantage Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.  Children under age 5 are not permitted.  Tickets are available online at HolywoodPantages.com or Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-982-2787, at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (open 10 AM daily) and all Ticketmaster Outlets Groups.
            HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 
            A lottery will be held daily throughout the run offering a limited number of low-priced tickets prior to every performance.  Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours before each performance, and names will be drawn two hours before curtain for tickets priced at $25 each.   Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner.  Winner must be present at time of drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets, cash or credit card accepted.














Friday, June 2, 2017

     
     The Road on Lankerhim has extended their production of The Lyons through Sunday, July16.  Please see review dated May 29, for further information.