Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was a renowned filmmaker known for films such as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining.  I was surprised to learn that, years ago, as I perused one of my favorite magazines, I was seeing photographs by a very young Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick was only 17 seventeen years old when he sold his first photograph to the illustrative Look magazine and became a regular staff member of the periodical.  As he captured scenes of everyday life, Kubrick’s work appeared to be far advanced for his age, but undoubtedly, had a strong affect throughout his creative life.
Through A Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs is an exhibition on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 8, 2020, where more than 130 photographs reveal his talent that led to his success as one of Hollywood’s great directors of memorable movies.  The Skirball offers docent-led tours of the exhibit Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 PM to 2 PM, and Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, at 1 PM to 2 PM, and 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM.
The Skirball Cultural Center is featuring the first major museum presentation of El Sueno Americano/The American Dream:  Photographs by Tom Kiefer.  The exhibition features over 100 photographs of items that once belonged to migrants that were confiscated and discarded by United Sates border officials in Arizona.
Kiefer worked as a janitor at a Custom and Border station in Ajo, Arizona from 2003 to 2014.  He requested  permission to donate discarded food items to a local pantry, and while rummaging through the bins, he found a great deal of personal items being trashed every day, such as clothing, toys, medication, toiletries, letters, tooth brushes, water bottles, bibles, even money that was confiscated from migrants every day. 
Kiefer documented and, with fine art photography, put together the more than 100 portraits of objects that are on display at the Skirball Cultural Center.  It is difficult to express my feelings as I perused this exhibition.  I spoke to Tom Kiefer, personally, and could see how distraught he felt over the manner in which the immigrants were regarded. 
The exhibition includes newly recorded interviews with Kiefer and with migrants who have crossed the border.  He generated it to prove the hardships put upon migrants and to hope for better understanding and treatment of others.  It will be on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 8, 2020.

The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For further information calL (310) 440-4500, or go online at www.skirball.org.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

LOVE IN BLOOM by Carol Kaufman Segal
In May of 2010, The Santa Monica Theatre celebrated 50 years of bringing continuous theatrical entertainment to the community.  As Chris DeCarlo surmises, that is 2600 weeks, with not one dark week during the entire time.  During the years they have created entertainment paying tribute to artists who have influenced them in their work such as William Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan,and Marcel Marceau.  In May, 2020, the Santa Monica Playhouse will celebrate its 60th anniversary, and to celebrate the coming event, they are presenting their very successful 10th anniversary production, Love In Bloom.
This charming musical production was written by the two stars and Co-Artistic Directors Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo.  Words and music are by Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather.  Like everything created at the Playhouse, everything is created entirely by the company.  This light-hearted, charming, and humorous musical comedy is all about wanting true love, romance, fairies, magic, and lots of confusion.  
When Prince Hamelot (Patrick Censoplano is subject to a marriage to someone he does not know and desires to marry for love, it takes the “magic” of Orion (Chris DeCrlo) and Talia (Evelyn Rudie), the King and Queen of the Faeries, to take control of the situation and make certain that those who find love are those who were destined to be together in the first place making “all’s well that ends well.” 
The original songs and lyrics are lively and charming and the entire cast proves their acting and musical talent.  The other cast members include Tara Brown (Constance/Onesto), Rachel (Lady Merrymount), Zane Garcia (Calabasas/Mother Frisbe), Graham Silbert (Frivolio/Father Pyramid), and Cynthia Zitter (Cortina/Portico).  The production is a perfect presentation for this holiday-filled time of year. 
Love In Bloom plays Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 3:30 PM, through November 24, in The Other Space at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica.  Tickets are available by calling (310) 394-9779, Ex. 1, or online at theatre@santamonicaplayhouse.com.

1984  by Carol Kaufman Segal

George Orwell (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950) was an English novelist, essayist, and journalist, best known for his novel 1984 that was written towards the end of his life, in 1949. The novel was made into a film three times, in 1945, 1956, and lastly in 1989.  Michael Gene Sullivan, an actor, writer, director, and teacher adapted the novel for the stage and it opened at The Actors’ Gang under the direction of Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins, Artistic Director of the theatre.  It has been repeated there and is, once again, playing at the theatre in Culver City.
Winston Smith (Will Thomas McFadden) is a citizen of Oceana where everyone is under the rule, and the eyes, of the Party led by the ever-knowing leader known as Big Brother.  We find him in the middle of a sparse room where, obviously, he has been held for some time as he is being watched through screens surrounding the room and interrogated by four Party Members.   They include Party Member No. 1 (Tom Szymanski), Party Member No. 2 (Guebri VanOver), Party Member No. 3 (Bob Turton), and Party Member No. 4 (Ethan Corn).   
It appears that Winston has had difficulty living under the oppression of the Party and Big Brother, and has fallen in love with a girl named Julia (Guebri VanOver).  Time passes as the Party members continue their questioning of Winston who never gives in.  Finally, O’Brien appears in the room to take over the interrogation (Tim Robbins, who undoubtedly is Big Brother).  He begins to question Winston and when his answers don’t suit O’Brien, he tortures him.  Over time Winston finally breaks down and accepts his fate.  The power of Big Brother persists.

This play is quite a challenge, and under the judicious direction of Tim Robbins and performed by an able cast, it is something very unusual and thought provoking at the same time.  It will continue through December 7th at the Actors’ Gang located at 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City.  For a schedule and/or for tickets, call (310) 838-4264, or go online at theactorsgang.com.                

Saturday, October 26, 2019

ALL MY SONS  by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Arthur Miller (October 15, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright whose dramas were popular from the late 1940’s to the early 1960’s.  He also wrote some screenplays, most notably The Misfts which starred Marilyn Monroe who he later married. 
            One of Miller’s plays, All My Sons, opened on Broadway January 29, 1947.  After 328 performances it closed November 9, 1949 and won New York Drama Critics Circle Award.  This wonderful drama is being presented at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice with a sterling production.
            World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945.  This play takes place in the backyard of the Keller home in the outskirts of an American town in August, 1947.  Joe Keller (Richard Fancy) runs a factory that, during the war, provided parts for fighter-planes used against the enemy.  He and his wife Kate (Terry Davis) have two sons who fought for their country during the war.  Chris (Marc Valera) came home.  Unfortunately, their eldest son Larry went missing in action and, unfortunately, Kate is certain that her son is still alive and, without a doubt, will someday come back home.
            Larry was engaged to marry Ann Deever (Amy-Helene Carlson) who moved away after his disappearance.  Chris has invited Ann to come for a visit leaving Kate quite upset when she realizes his intent is to ask Ann to marry him.  This undermines all thoughts of Larry ever coming home!  She is totally against their marriage even though Ann has accepted Chris’s proposal and admits her love for him.
            As the play progresses we learn that Joe and Ann’s father Steve were once partners in the factory and due to some parts that were installed in some aircraft that Joe told Steve to use, twenty-one Air Force pilots died.  It turned out the parts were defective and Steve ended up in prison, while Joe, who claimed he was home sick that day, was cleared.
            Suddenly Ann’s brother George (Scott Deever) shows up at the Keller home because both he and his father have heard about Ann’s intent to marry Chris and they both intend to keep it from happening.  As the plot thickens, we learn more and more about the truth of the entire story, why Ann’s family is so adamant about her becoming a part of Joe’s family even though, no matter what, she intends to marry the man she loves.  The play builds up, increasing in its intensity until its final moment.
            All My Sons is a classic.  It was made into a film in 1948, and again in 1987.  It allows for very dramatic acting, and keeps an audience’s interest throughout.  The Pacific Resident Theatre’s production is an exceptionally outstanding revival of this play.  Richard Fancy has been a member of PTR for many years.  I have seen him in a number of plays and he is one of the finest actors on our local stages.  His background also includes films and television.
            Marc Valera and Scott Jackson deserve special recognition for their performances.  However, the entire cast gives energy to this production under the direction of Elina De Santos.  Other cast members include Enzo De Angelis (Bert), Scott Sheldon/stand-in for Rick Garrison (Frank Lubey), Tania Getty (Sue Bayliss ), Jason Huber (Dr. Jim Bayliss) and Katy Downing/stand-in for Jennifer Pollono (Lydia Lubey).            
            All My Sons plays Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM, through November 15, with, one Saturday matinee on Nov. 16, at 3 PM.  For information and tickets call (310) 322 8392, or go online.
            HIGHLY RECOMMENDED                    

Sunday, October 20, 2019

CHAMP AND HIS FOUR WOMEN by Carol Kaufman Segal
Champ and His Four Women is a new play written by local playwright Art Shulman.  He has written many full-length plays that include comedies, dramas, and dramedies.  He says, “I’ve written over 60 plays, including 14 produced full-length plays (some not produced yet) and many one-acts.”   His plays have been produced throughout the United States as well as in Canada.
A premier of one of Shulman’s plays, Champ and His Four Women, is being performed at T.U. Theatre in North Hollywood.  It takes place in the living room of Champ’s condominium in the present time.  Champ is also known as Richard (Anthony Backman).
Richard lives alone and has since his wife Princess, also known as Susie (Rebecca Westberg) passed away two years ago.  Unfortunately, her demise has left a big hole in Richard’s life and, in his imagination he still sees her and communicates with her.  Obviously, Richard’s whole life is in confusion, and he has difficulty living it normally.  Therefore, he decides to put his condo up for sale.
Enter Real Estate Agent Cheryl (Caroline Westheimer) a very attractive young lady who, without meaning to, upsets Richard’s life somewhat because he finds her an attractive friendly lady.  Richard does not seek a woman in his life since his marriage was so perfect with Susie.  However, his wonderful neighbor, Esther (Leah Bass) finds Caroline in his house in an early morning when she delivers him his laundry which she, so helpfully, has been doing for him since the loss of Susie.  Of course, he plays down the evening they spent together and lets Esther know that they each slept in separate bedrooms.  Of course, Esther thinks that it is time for Richard to begin a normal life, and finding a mate can’t be wrong.
And wouldn’t you know it?  Another lovely young lady, Annie (Shelby Janes) enters his life and she has an eye for him as well.  And now he is torn more, meanwhile, trying to figure out what is happening to him while he continues his conversations with his imaginative Susie.  In his struggle to return to a happy life, he must deal with four women, Esther who tries to give him advice, Cheryl, his real estate professional, Annie, a cute woman who sometimes reminds him of Susie, and then there is Susie who doesn’t really exist.  Will Richard finally make his decision to come back to life and choose a woman to make him happy once again?
Champ and His Four Women has a great deal of reality to it.  It is not unusual when a perfect marriage is upset by the loss of one’s partner and the remaining one finds it difficult to go on living a happy life.  But that is life, and we have to hope that the remaining spouse can keep on living a normal life after a certain amount of time devoted to bereavment.

The play is written in a light comedy style with a talented cast that does justice to their characters under the astute direction of Stan Mazin.  It plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through November 24, at Theatre Unlimited (T.U. Studios), 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.  For tickets, go to onstage411.com.   

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

BARRYMORE  by Carol Kaufman Segal

John Barrymore, February 15, 1882 - May 29, 1942, was an American stage and screen actor, a member of a famous theatrical family in America.  His father, Maurice Barrymore, was a famous stage actor and his mother, Georgie Drew, was the daughter of actor John Drew.  They had three children, all of whom became famous actors.  Lionel was born in 1878, Ethel in 1879, and John, the youngest became the most famous actor in the family.
The play, Barrymore, written by William Luce with Robert Benedict as John Barrymore and featuring Todd Andrew Ball as Frank, is playing at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.  It is directed by Robert Benedict and produced by Todd Andrew Ball.
The play takes place in a once flourishing, now idle, theater in the heart of New York City.  It’s an early evening in the spring of 1942 when the once famous actor arrives at the theater where his intention is to recreate his celebrated performance of Richard III for a group of invited friends and guests.  (This, of course, includes those who are attending the production at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.)             
He begins his performance, but seems more interested in wanting to tell his guests about his life.  He side-tracks from the play to talk about the Barrymore Family, his successes, his struggles, and his love life, as well as imbibing alcohol, interspersing at moments to stop and then trying to remember the lines to continue with the play.  Thank goodness for Frank who prompts him from behind a curtain.
Robert Benedict gives an exceptionally fine performance.  It is as if one is seeing the long ago deceased actor come to life.  Take note, the date of this play takes place very close to the time of John Barrymore’s death.
Barrymore plays Saturdays at 4 PM and Sundays at 7 PM, through November 3, Upstairs    at the Group Rep (on the second floor) of the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  For information, go online at www.thegrouprep.com, or call (818) 763-5990.  The Upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.  Not recommended for minors.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD by Carol Kaufman Segal
Night of the Living Dead, is an independent horror film that was written, directed, photographed, and edited by George A. Romero and co-written by John Russo in 1968.  Though it was greatly criticized for its gruesome scenes, it eventually earned the praise of critics and is now regarded as a cult classic. 
            Could anyone have imagined such a film being adapted for live stage productions?  But Writer Gus Krieger did just that, and you can see this very eerie production performed by the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.
            The play opens with Barbara (Kate Faye) and her brother Johnny (Sean Faye) visiting the burial site of their father when they are suddenly attacked by zombies.  Fortunately, Barbara somehow gets away, but unfortunately, her brother does not.  Barbara manages to get to a farmhouse that appears to be abandoned.  She is joined by Ben (Marc Antonio Pritchett) who finds his way to the farmhouse when he runs out of gas. 
            The news is very bleak as it appears that these “living corpses” have overtaken the country.  There is no telling how many there are or how the situation can be solved.  They thrive on the flesh of the living, and those who die, are killed, or bitten by any zombie will come back to life as a zombie as well.  The only way to annihilate them is to destroy their brains.  Ben takes over and, with Barbara’s help, they do their best to block the windows and doors of the house.
            Barbara and Ben discover another problem when they find out there are five other people hiding in the basement of the farmhouse.   They are Harry (Matthew Jayson Cwern), Helen (Lisa McGee Mann), Karen (Kaia Mann) and a young couple, Judy (Cameron Kauffman) and Tom (Ashkhan Aref).  Ben insists that they are better off by coming up out of the basement, and when they decide he might be right, they adhere to his suggestion.  However, this causes more problems for Ben and Barbara when Harry wants to take charge of the situation.  While they try to make plans as to how to escape from the farmhouse, multitudes of walking corpses are everywhere outside, and escaping appears less and less a possibility.  Can they all survive their dreadful situation?  
            Other cast members who perform as broadcasters and interviewers and some as zombies include Ian Runge,  Greg Abbott, Van Boudreaux, Patrick Burke, Paul Cady, Fox Carney, Kyle DeCamp, Larry Eisenberg, Doug Engalla, Lareen Faye, JC Gafford, Doug Haverty, Taylor Martin, Adam Neubauer, Jake Scozzaro, Cardonna Atkins, Donathan Atkins, Stephanie Colet, Julie Davis, Hisato Masuyama, and Troy Whitaker.  Those who perform as zombies can certainly give one chills! 
            The production is directed by Drina Durazo, set design is by Winfield/Durazo, costume design by Angela M. Eads, makeup design by Julia Hapney, and fight choreographer is Marc Antonio Pritchett.  As you can see, it took a great many people to bring this spooky play to the Lonny Chapman Theatre.
            Night of the Living Dead plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, through Nov. 10, with special performances Wednesday, Oct.30 and Thursday, Oct. 31, at 8 PM, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., No. Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at www.thegrouprep.com, or by phone at (818) 763-5990.