Saturday, November 20, 2021

PARADISE BLUE by Stan Mazin  (Guest Reviewer)


I fell in love with “Paradise Blue”, the production on the MainStage at the Geffen Playhouse, which I saw Friday, November 19th.  This beautiful piece of theatre has everything going for it… Wonderful Set by Edward E. Haynes, jr., Great Lighting by Alan C. Edwards, Luscious Costumes by Wendell C. Carmichael, and some lovely Original Music by David “Preach” Balfour.  Even the sound Designer, Jeff Gardner worked in some Thunder in the final act to emphasize dramatic moments, although I did hear some people say the actors were not loud enough to be heard in the back of the theatre.  The Fight Direction was by Steve Rankin, and they even had an Intimacy Choreographer, Nedra Constance Gallegos.  The Director Stori Ayers kept the action going and the play never got boring or ordinary.  This interesting play was written by Dominique Morisseau, and every scene was packed with LIFE, drama,  and even some humor.  The play takes place in the late ’40s in the Black Bottom jazz section of Detroit, in a less than successful jazz club called Paradise.  Each of the 5 characters in the piece is etched out brilliantly, and the actors are nothing but exquisite in their performances.  Blue, the owner of the club is played by Wendell B. Franklin.  Blue is probably the most troubled character in the play due to his background.  His female interest is Pumpkin, innocently played by Shayna Small… a terrific performance who changes dramatically at the end of the play.  Corn is played with great strength by John Earl Jelks, who is also in the jazz group with Blue and P-Sam, who is probably my favorite character if I had to choose one, brilliantly played by Alani Ilongwe.  It was difficult to take my eyes off him.  Finally, there is Silver,  a ‘worldly’ woman who comes to stay in one of the rooms above the club.  Tyla Abercrumbie plays this complicated woman to the hilt.  All in all a fantastic cast well directed on this superb multi-level set.  The story captured me from the first moment of the play.  Although every seat was taken, we all felt completely safe since the playhouse did a complete screening so no one could enter without showing his or her proof of vaccination, and everyone except the actors had to keep their masks on.  Again, this play is being performed at the Geffen Playhouse in the Gil Cates Theatre.  I hope you love it as much as I did.


Monday, November 15, 2021

 BLUES IN THE NIGHT by Carol Segal

            If you love the blues, you can’t help but love this wonderful production, Blues In The Night, playing at the Nate Holden Performing Art Center in Los Angeles.  This Tony and Olivier Award-nominated musical revue was conceived by Sheldon Epps. 

            Set in 1948 in a Chicago Hotel, the show features Vivian Reed, Karole Foreman, Jenna Byrd, wonderful and super talented singers and performers with stunning voices, and one male, Parris D. Mann, who shows his talent as a dancer, as well.  Add to all of that, the terrific live band directed by William Foster McDaniel on piano, Del Atkins on bass, Clayton Cameron on drums, Scott Mayo playing wind instruments, and Fernando Pullum on trumpet, and you have a fabulous show featuring fabulous music.         

            The production was directed by Wren T. Brown.  The lovely scenic design is by Edward Haynes, Jr.  Beautiful costume designs are by Kim Deshazo, lighting design by Donna Ruzika, sound design by John Feinstein, musical director William Foster McDaniel, production stage manager, Mary Michele Miner, property designers, Gordon & Patty Briles, hair and wig designer, Anthony Gagliardi, and casting director, Michael Donovan, CSA. 

            I enjoyed Blues In The Night, so much I didn’t want it to end.  It plays from now to December 5, 2021, at the Nate Holden Performing Art Center, 4718 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles.  The performance schedule is Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.  Regular tickets range from $40 to $50 and are available online at or by phone at 323-964-9766.  Groups of 15 or more are available at, or 323-964-9766                    





Tuesday, November 9, 2021

 A PERFECT GANESH by Carol Kaufman Segal

            A Perfect Ganesh, a play written by the late Terrence McNally, is playing at The Pico in Los Angeles.  It takes place during a two-week period in India that includes the time that two friends spend time together getting there and coming home.

            You might want to know first, what is a Ganesh?  So I will tell you that “Ganesh is a Hindu god and the son of Shiva and Parvati.  He is the god of wisdom, the lord of good fortune, and is also regarded as the remover of obstacles. Ganesh is depicted as a short fat man with the head of an elephant.  He is one of the most popular and widely worshiped deities.  Worship of Ganesh is thought to bring prosperity, success, and protection.” In this production, Ganesh is performed by Mueen Jahan, elephant head and all!

            Margaret (Mary Allwright) and Katharine (Kathleen Gray) two middle-aged ladies have traveled together before, but this is a trip unlike any other they have ventured upon, a trip to India in the hopes of ridding themselves of longtime problems in their lives.  Katharine has been haunted for years by the loss of her son.  Margaret is hiding the fact that she has a lump on her breast.  Needless to say, both ladies need the help of Ganesh.  Will they have chosen the right vacation to take together this time?  After some moments of doubt about whether their friendship will continue, due to moments of stress between the two ladies, all ends happily ever after.

            In some ways, much of this play feels as if it is a dream rather than a real happening, but the performances by the entire cast is very well done.  They included Dancers (Svetlana Tulasi, Pavia Sidhu), Man #2 (Delio Eswar), Man #1 (Cameron Gregg), and Walter (Judd Yort).  David W. Callander directed.  Scenic Design is by David Goldstein, and costume design by Michael Mullen,

            A Perfect Ganesh is playing at the Pico, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.  Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 7 PM through November 21.  (Dark Nov. 14).  Admission is $35.  Reservations are available at http//  No one under 12 admitted.         


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

 SEVEN GUITARS by Carol Kaufman Segal

            August Wilson’s play, Seven Guitars, playing at A Noise Within in Pasadena, offers insight into the struggles of African-Americans. Directed by Greg T. Daniel, and performed by an outstanding cast, the play takes place in the Pittsburg Hill District in 1948.

            Upon opening, we find Vera (Cherish Monique Duke), Louise (Veralyn Jones), Hedley (Kevin Jackson), Canewell (DeJuan Christopher), and Red Carter (Amir Abdullah) in Vera’s backyard together after the funeral of their close friend Floyd Barton.  Quickly it reverts back in time before Floyd’s death.

            Floyd Barton, a very talented blues musician who had a hit record, returns home after being released from a 90-day sentence in a workhouse for vagrancy.  He didn’t have money to pay despite the fact that he had pawned his guitar.  Floyd came home to convince his girlfriend Vera to go back to Chicago with him where he hopes to become famous.  He also wants his best friends, Red Carter and Canewell to join him in order to record an album with him.  (Canewell also happens to be in love with Vera.)

            On a morning, Canewell comes by and gives Vera a Goldenseal plant before going with Floyd to collect payment for his time in the workhouse.  Floyd intends to buy back his guitar. Unfortunately, he is not able to get the money because he did not have the proper documentation for proof of his time.  Therefore, he is unable to buy back his guitar.

            When Louise sees Vera in the yard, she tells her that her niece Ruby (Sydney A. Mason) is coming to be with her from Alabama.  Ruby is pregnant and is searching for a father!  Red Carter stops by later to give them the news that his wife has given birth.  A few days later, Hedley is out grilling his lunch while singing about a man named Buddy Bolden. When Ruby asks him who he was, Hedley says he was a famous musician and that he had a dream that his father told him that Buddy was going to give him money to purchase a plantation!

            Later Floyd has good news from his manager that he has booked him, Canewell and Red Carter to play at the Blue Goose Club, with promises of retrieving his guitar for him and paying him an advance.  Finally, good news regarding money, but not for long!  The next day, his manager gets arrested for an insurance scam, which means no advance money in which to retrieve his guitar. 

            Floyd goes away for two days, and when he returns, he buries something in the yard. When Vera shows up, she agrees to go back with him.  Later, as everyone is getting ready to go to the Blue Goose, Canewell tells them that he heard there was a robbery in which one man was killed and two others escaped with the money.    

When they return from the Blue Goose, Canewell re-plants Vera’s Goldenseal plant and discovers hidden cash.  Floyd says it is his, and Canewell now knows who one of the other robbers is and leaves him. Meanwhile, Hedley, who has had too much to drink is outside and sees Floyd counting the money.  Hedley mistakes him for Buddy Bolden and thinks he has come to give him his money.  When Floyd refuses to give the cash to him, Hedley cuts Floyd’s throat.  It always turns out that Floyd can never get the money he needs!

            Returning back to the gathering of Floyd’s friends following his funeral, it appears that the police do not have any idea about who killed Floyd.  Meanwhile, there are only two of Floyd’s friends left in the yard, Canewell and Hedley.


Five Guitars continues at A Noise Within, 3352 Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA

Performances are Thursday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 PM, Friday, Oct. 29 at 8 PM, Sat., Oct. 30 at 2 PM & 8 PM, Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 PM, (Post Show Conversation), Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 PM, Fri. Nov. 5 at 8 PM (Post-Show Conversation), Saturday, Nov. 6 at 2 PM and 8 PM, Sunday, Nov. 7 at 2 PM and 7 PM (Sunday Rush), Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 PM, Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 PM (Post-Show Conversation), Saturday, Nov. 13 at 2 PM and 8 PM, Sunday, Nov.14 at 2 PM

Tickets online:   Tickets by Phone:  626-356-3121   

 Ticket at Box Office:  3352 Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 9110                                        

 Regular Prices:  Single tickets from $25, Student Rush with ID an hour before performance - $20              











Thursday, October 21, 2021

 TENDERLYThe Rosemary Clooney Musical by Carol Kaufman Segal

            Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara presented the opening of their first show of the new season at the New Vic, a Southern California premiere entitled Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  Santa Barbara is quite a distance for me to travel to see a play, but this was one I really had a strong desire to see.  Therefore, I went many miles away to a lovely theatre that I had never been to in my many years of reviewing plays, and I must admit it was very worthwhile.

            Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical is a biographical-musical about Rosemary Clooney told with just two actors, the lovely singer/actress Linda Purl as Rosemary Clooney and David Engel as her therapist as well as a multitude of characters such as members of her family, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Jose Ferrer.

            A wonderful jazz band is on stage throughout the play accompanying Linda Purl’s voice, which by the way comes across as very similar to Rosemary Clooney’s voice.  Throughout the production, she performs a multitude of songs that were connected to Clooney.  I was also especially impressed with David Engel and how he changed characters, seemingly one after another, and how he still kept the plot moving.

            The book, Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical was written by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, directed by Jenny Sullivan, music direction by George Friedenthal, and choreography by Jean Michelle Sayeg.

            There is still time to see the production at the Ensemble Theatre Company at the New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, Friday, Oct. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 23 at 8 PM, and Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 PM and 7 PM.  For tickets visit, or call (805) 965-5400.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

 MAMMA MIA by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is featuring the 5-Star Theatricals production of Mamma Mia.  This musical presents a large cast of wonderful actors, singers, and dancers as well as an interesting plot.  The music and lyrics are by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and some songs with Stig Anderson, book by Catherine Johnson, originally conceived by Judy Craymer, musical direction by Anthony Lucca, choreography by Stephanie Landwehr, and directed by Richard Israel.

            Mamma Mia takes place on a fictional island where Donna Sheridan (Kim Huber) lives with her 20-year old daughter, Sophie (Nicolette Norgaard) in a hotel that Donna has run for some years.  Sophie and her fiancĂ© Sky (Max DeLoach) are soon to be married and even though Sophie is not aware of who her father is, she has a strong desire to have her father give her away at her wedding.

            Sophie secretly reads through her Mother’s old diary and comes across three former beaus, anyone of who could possibly be her father. She also secretly sends each of them an invitation to her wedding in the hope that she will discover which, if any of them, is her father.  They are Sam Carmichael (Eric Martsolf), Harry Bright (Brayden Hade), and Bill Austin (Christopher Robert Smith)

            The time of the wedding arrives, and one has to imagine Donna’s feelings at the sight of these three men showing up to attend her daughter’s wedding.  After all, she has lived an independent life for many years. While Donna and Sophie struggle with one another, it appears that Sophie’s wedding may not turn out the way she was hoping. However, not only do they come to an understanding, but Donna makes a big change and all ends happily ever after.  Mamma Mia is a marvelous fast-moving play with wonderful actors, beautiful voices, terrific songs and music, and top dancers and choreography.  


Where:  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks

When:  Thursday, Oct. 21, 7:30 PM, Friday, Oct. 22, 8 PM, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2 PM and 8 PM,   Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 PM.

Tickets range from $38 -$91        For tickets please call (800) 745-3000

For theatre information, call (805) 449-2787, or buy online at

Student, Senior and Group discounts are available.

Monday, October 18, 2021

 MY FAIR LADY by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Lincoln Center Theatre production of My Fair Lady recently opened at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and what a beautiful production it is.  My Fair Lady brings back so many songs that became hits, undoubtedly more than any musical of our time. 

             The story is about Professor Henry Higgins who makes a bet with his friend, Colonel Pickering, that he can turn Eliza Doolittle, a down-and-out bedraggled flower seller, into a duchess within six months.

            After Henry Higgins (Laird Mackintosh) offers Eliza Doolittle (Shereen Ahmed) the chance to change her life through lessons, she arrives at his home, anxious for making her life better.  However, throughout the months that they spend together, Higgins treats Eliza with insults and sarcasm, while she continues to be happy as she finds herself changing.  Throughout the production, she progresses to the day when she proves that her lessons and time have been worth it all.  It seems obvious that she has touched Higgins, but he would never let it be known.

            My Fair Lady was directed by Bartlett Sher who made a slight change to the ending of this production that gave it a new perspective without changing a single word.  The entire cast consisted of thirty-three actors.  All performers (actors, singers, dancers) were exceptional.  Music Director was John Bell, choreography by Christopher Gattelli, costumes by Catherine Guber.         

            My Fair Lady is playing at the Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, through October 31.  Tickets are available by calling 800-982-2787, in person at the Dolby Theatre box office, or online at  It is open for people 12 years old and up.  The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM and 6 PM.  No evening performance Sunday, October 31.