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 or, by phone at 800-982-2787, at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (open 10 AM daily) and all Ticketmaster Outlets Groups.
            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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SEPARATE TABLES by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Separate Tables is a play written as two one acts by British Playwright Terrance Rattigan, Rattigan adapted it into a film that was made in 1958 featuring very popular stars at the time, Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster, and Wendy Hiller.  David Niven won the Academy Award that year for Best Actor, and Wendy Hiller won for Best Supporting Actress.  The movie also received nominations in several other categories.
            Theatre 40 is bringing the original play back to life in Beverly Hills with a very refined production under the direction of the venerable director, Jules Aaron.  The play takes place at the Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth (90 miles southwest of London) in 1958.  We see the dining room with separate tables set up for the guests (a scrumptious set by Jeff J. Rack that revolves into a hotel lounge).  Most of the guests are regular patrons of the hotel.
            Act I:  Miss Cooper (Diana Angelina) is the hotel manager who is romantically involved with a scalawag, Mr. Malcolm (Adrian Neil) who is an alcoholic and had spent time in prison for attacking his wife. It appears that trouble will be brewing when ex wife, Ann Shankland (Susan Priver), suddenly shows up, threatening the relationship between Miss Cooper and Mr. Malcolm when the old flame rekindles.  Leave it to the most benevolent person, Miss Cooper, to fan the flame.
            Other guests in the hotel include a young couple, Jean Stratton (Melissa Collins) and Charles Stratton (Caleb Slavens), Lady Mathison (MarikoVan Kampen) and her friend Mrs. Railton-Bell (Mona Lee Wylde), her daughter Sybil Railton-Bell (Roslyn Cohn), Miss Meacham (Michelle Schultz), Mr. Fowler (John Wallace Combs), Doreen (Suzan Solomon), and Major Pollack (David Hunt Stafford).
            Act II:  Major Pollack (David Hunt Stafford) is also a regular guest at the hotel.  Sybil Railton-Bell, a shy and introverted young lady, has become infatuated with him.  Unfortunately, the Major has been accused of indiscretions with ladies at a local theatre.  When Sybil and her mother, Mrs. Railton-Bell, learn of his past, they are demoralized.  Mrs. Railton-Bell, being a dominate woman and mother, insists that Sybil forget all about him, but Sybil refuses the demands of her mother.  Once again, compassionate Miss Cooper comes to the rescue. 
            Since Separate Tables takes place in England, it must be noted how all of the actors perform with flawless accents which adds to the success of the production.
            Separate Tables plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through June 18, at Theatre 40, located in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.  Tickets are available by calling (310) 364-0535, or online at


Monday, May 29, 2017

THE LYONS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Lyons, a play by Nicky Silver, is about a family, a rather dysfunctional family to say the least.  It opens in a hospital room with Ben (James Handy) lying in bed connected to an IV when his wife, Rita (Judith Scarpone) arrives for a visit.
            Rita is fashionably dressed, sits down in a chair with her home decorating magazines, and immediately begins discussing her plans for redecorating her house.  You would never believe that she is troubled by the fact that her husband has cancer and is dying in the hospital.  And, the fact is, she is not.  She rambles on and on about her future plans as if she can hardly wait for her life to change, while Ben raves and curses. 
            With the arrival of daughter Lisa (Verity Branco), things can only get worse.  Lisa is divorced with children of her own, but her relationship with her own mother is less than caring as well.  Finally Rita’s and Ben’s gay son, Curtis (Chad Coe), pays his call which only adds to the problematic meeting of the entire family.
            Does anyone seem to care that Ben is dying?  Does any family member seem to know anything or care anything about one another?    Even though the situation is sad, Silver has written the play with a lot of humor to make a point that some families can live and grow up together but never connect with one another.
            Under the direction of Scott Alan Smith, the production boasts a very classic and talented cast of actors that also includes Kris Frost, Liz Herron, and Amy Tolsky.  The Lyons is presented by The Road Theatre Company, their final show of the 2016-2017 Season.  This company inevitably presents wonderful and thoughtful productions and always with superb performances
            The Lyons plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, at The Road on Lankershin, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, through July 11.  Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (818) 761-8838.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

ACTUALLY by Carol Kaufman Segal
          Actually is a two-person play by Anna Zeigler and directed by Tyne Rafaeli that aims to prove that when two people are involved in a situation, it is almost impossible to “actually” discover what really happened. 
          Amber ( Samantha Ressler) and Tom (Jerry MacKinnon) , two freshmen students at Princeton University end up very drunk in his dorm room.  The question is, after listening to what she says and listening to what he says, is it possible to “actually” know what really occurred?   Was it consensual, or was it rape, or do either of them “actually” know the answer?
          Tom, who is black, and Amber, who is white, meet on campus and become interested in each other.  Tom invites her to a party where they both drink a lot, and upon leaving together, end up in Tom’s room.  The end of the evening ends in a sexual encounter.   Was it rape or was it consensual sex?  Amber is urged to report the incident to the school, thereby becoming the accuser and Tom becomes the accused rapist. 
          The entire play takes place on a bare stage with two chairs set inside a box (set by Tim Mackabee).   Each one speaks to the audience as they try to characterize who they are and describe their backgrounds in an effort to defend themselves.  Did I really care who was guilty or innocent?  Not really in this particular case.  It could have gone either way.  How could I “actually” decide?
          Actually is playing in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse, located at 10886 Le Conte Ave. Los Angles.  Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays, at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through June 11.  Tickets are available at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at (310) 208-5454, or online at www.geffenplayhouse

AFTERIMAGE  by Carol Kaufman
          Afterimage is a film about a famous Polish painter, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, written by Andrzej Mularczyk and directed by celebrated Polish director Andrzej Wajda.  Strzeminski was born in Poland in 1893.  The film takes place in post-war Poland.
          Strzeminski was a professor at the State Higher School of the Visual Arts which he co-founded in Lodz.  He was a great artist who co-created the theory of Unism, a form of Modernism, and was revered by his students.  But many things changed in Poland following World War II when the country embraced Socialism.  Modernism was out, realism was in.
          Strzeminski refused to conform to the new regulations as he believed in freedom of art.  Although his students continued to stand by him, he was ultimately dismissed from his job as well as the artists’ union.  Without his membership, he was unable to purchase art supplies, and found it difficult to find or keep any type of work he was able to acquire.
          As a soldier during World War I, Strzeminski was seriously wounded, ultimately losing an arm and a leg.  This disability, along with his inability to earn a decent living found him suffering from starvation and poor health.  He eventually collapsed and passed away.  He was 52 years old
          Wladyslaw Strzeminski is skillfully performed by Polish actor, Boguslaw Linda who, by the way, is not disabled in any way.  Nevertheless, in some magical way, he realistically appears as a double amputee.  The entire film is exceptionally well-done with a talented cast under the direction of Wajda who, unfortunately, passed away at the age of 90, a month following the world premiere of this, his final film.

Running time:  98 Min.
English subtitles

Playing at Laemmle Theatres     

Thursday, May 25, 2017

 The Santa Monica Playhouse has announced the extension of I’m Not Famous – a Musical Journey with Barbara Minkus.  Performancs will continue Saturdays at 7 PM and Sundays at 3 PM, through July 22, 2017.  For further details, please see my review of this wonderful production on this site.