Monday, October 9, 2017

     I'M NOT FAMOUS starring Barbara Minkus  returns to the Santa Monica Playhoue November 4, 2017, for four weekly performances.  See review dated May 2, 2017.

     The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street. Santa Monica,  Call the Playhouse Box Office at (310) 394-9779 for the complete information regarding the return of this highly recommended performance.
CAGNEY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            When I knew Cagney was scheduled to open at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood featuring the original New York cast, I was looking forward to it with great enthusium.  I am always excited to see a good musical, but this production deserves much more than the word “good,” This musical is superb!  Whether you are old enough to have seen or remember James Cagney makes no difference.  You will enjoy everything about this elegant production.
            Robert Creighton stars as the incomparable Cagney.  He also wrote some of the original songs and lyrics presented in the show, together with Christopher McGovern.  His talents as an actor, singer, and dancer, are first-rate, and who could ask for anything more.  But there is more; the man has the looks, the build, the manner, and similar talents as those of the character he is portraying.  The New York Times wrote “Robert Creighton is born for the role.”
            James Cagney was born July 17, 1899.  He grew up in a tough neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York.  The family was having a rough time financially, and when Cagney lost his job, his brother Bill (Josh Walden) saw an ad in the newspaper for a dancer and his mother (Danette Holden) convinced him to apply for it.  He was reticent to do so, but finally thought, “What the heck”.
              That was the start of his successful career as a singer, dancer, and actor on stage and screen and, eventually as a star in gangster movies.  It was also where he met his wife Willie (the lovely Ellen Z. Wright). The one thing missing in the story is where Cagney acquired his skills as a dancer, singer and actor.  Was it simply that he was a natural?
            Nevertheless, he did acquire these skills and he signed his first movie contract with Jack Warner (Bruce Sabath).  They clashed off-and-on for years throughout his career which led him to leave Warner several times, each time returning under better circumstances.
            Jeremy Benton also plays Bob Hope and other characters.  All cast members, except for Creighton, perform multiple roles as the story of James Cagney unfolds.  Creighton leads this cast as they tap dance through the wonderful music of George M. Cohan and the original songs by Creighton and McGovern.  Lovers of tap dancing will be overly enthralled, choreography by Joshua Bergasse.  The live music is under the direction of Gerald Sternbach, set design by James Morgan, great costumes by Martha Bromelmeir, all under the direction of Bill Castellino.
            Performances of Cagney will play Tuesdays at 7:30 PM, Wednesdays at 2 PM and 8 PM,   Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM. (with some exceptions) at the ‘’El Portal Theatre’s Debbie Reynolds Mainstage, 5249 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at CagneyThe Musical.com or by phone at (866) 811-4111 (where you can also check out the exception dates).


HIGHLY REOMMENDED           



Saturday, October 7, 2017

SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER by Carol Kaufman Segal
          The  Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles is featuring two exhibitions as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time LA/LA project.

Another Promised Land:  Anita Brenner’s Mexico        
          Anita Brenner was born in Mexico to Latvian-Jewish immigrants, but eventually grew up in America as an immigrant, thus often finding herself an outsider.  She was a journalist, an art historian and anthropologist and was important in introducing Mexican art and culture to America. She became a friend to academics and prominent artists in Mexico, including Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, among others.  

          It was important for Brenner to build a cultural understanding between The United States and Mexico.  This exhibition emphasizes that fact through more than 150 objects that includes artworks by Rivera, Orozco, Kahlo, and Edward Weston.  This exhibition also offers a look into the life of Anita Brenner and the reason for her feelings of being an outsider, whether in Mexico, or in America.  She always loved Mexico and considered it her home.
          This exhibition will remain on view through Feb. 25, 2018, at the Skirball Cultural Center, located at 2701 N. Sepulveda, Los Angeles.  Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 12 noon to 5 PM, Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays and holidays.  Exhibitions are free on Thursdays.  For further information, call (310) 440-4500, or go online at skirball.org.

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day:  Murals, Signs, and Mark Making in LA 
          Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day is an exhibition of a special kind of art, art that we see every day as we drive through all areas of Los Angeles.  It consists of murals, signs, street art, advertisements, etc. that you may see one day and the next day they might vanish from view.  Ken Gonzales-Day, a prominent Los Angeles-based photographer, interdisciplinary artist, and 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, spent ten months traveling hundreds of miles around our metropolis taking photographs that reveal the diversity and creativity of our vast city.  
          This is a most unique exhibition, all displayed in one wide open area of the museum with the more than 100 color photographs  hung around all of the walls.  The floor is one huge map of our city, with numbers that correlate to the pictures on the walls to the locations on the map, allowing viewers to truly be immersed in the diversity of this widely-spread city.   Looking at this mixture, one can see the prominence of the Mexican influence in many of the works.
          This exhibition will remain on view through February 25, 2018.
          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.



EXHIBITION:  FOUND IN TRANSLATION:  Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985 by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Found In Translation is one of five exhibitions presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time:  LALA plan.  Organized by Wendy Kaplan, curator and head of the Decorative Art and Design department, and Staci Steinberger, assistant curator of decorative arts and design, this exhibition is on view in the Resnick Pavilion on the grounds of the museum.
            Despite the conflicts between Mexico and the United States, California and Mexico share commonalities that are examined through four themes in this exhibition.  They are Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism.  LACMA describes the four themes as revealing that design and architecture in California and Mexico are strongly rooted in using local materials and traditions to form a specific culture rather than an “international style.”  Thus, each found a more diverse voice through “translations” of the other.
            This exhibition looks at designs and architecture interchanged between California and Mexico from 1915 to 1985.  You will find more than 250 objects on display, including furniture, metal works, ceramics, costumes, textiles, paintings, sculpture, architectural drawings and photographs, mural studies, posters, collectables, and film by over 200 artists, architects, designers, and crafts artists.

            Found In Translation will remain on view at LACMA through April 1, 2018.  The museum is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.  For further information, call the museum at (323) 857-6000, or go online at www.lacma.org.



Friday, October 6, 2017

BOBBI JENE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Bobbi Jene is a documentary about the life of modern dancer/choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith.  Bobbi Jene was born in Idaho and trained as a dancer at Julliard.  She had heard about the celebrated Israeli dance company, Batshiva that was run by highly acclaimed Artistic Director, Ohad Naharin.   At the age of 21, Bobbi Jene made the decision to move to Israel to join the company.  After nearly ten years with Batshiva, Bobbi Jene told her family that she never felt at home in Israel, that she was going to leave the company and return to America to fulfill her desire to make it on her own.  Director Elvira Lind directs this documentary about Bobbi Jene following her life-changing decision.
            Bobbi Jene’s decision was not an easy one.  One scene reveals her emotions as she tells Ohad of her decision and tells him how difficult it will be to leave the company and him  (They had a relationship at one time.).  However, she agrees to stay through the season.  It also means leaving behind a fellow Batsheva dancer, Or Shraiber, a man ten years her junior with whom she has become involved.  As the time nears, she tries to convince Or to come to America with her, but he does not want to leave Batsheva or Israel, explaining that Israel is his homeland just as America is hers, and it is where he wants to raise his children.
            The remainder of the film has her going to California and New York where she teaches and performs some solo works on stage.  There are some scenes visiting with family, times when she has conversations on line with Or, times when he visits her in New York or she returns to perform in Israel.  But throughout the scenes, it is difficult to really know Bobbi Jene except for her loyalty to dance.
            .  She finally gets a request to do a solo performance in New York and in Israel.  As she works on this important piece of a work, she debates whether she should perform clothed or without.  She makes her decision and after the conclusion of the performance at the Jerusalem Museum, she remarks “I want to get to the place where I have no strength to hide anything.”  Obviously, she got there!
            Playing at Laemmle Royal Theatre, West Los Angeles
            Running time, 95 minutes
            Not rated* 

*Not for children re CKS

Thursday, October 5, 2017

 MASTER CLASS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Master Class, by Terrence McNally, opened the inaugural season of the Garry Marshal Theatre (formerly The Falcon Theatre), that focuses on the persona of celebrated opera singer, Maria Callas.
            Callas began taking singing lessons at the age of 14 and eventually became a renowned opera singer in the United States and Europe.  After her successes, she was called La Davina.  But it did not too long for this diva to become a prima donna resulting in her being let-go from many performances.  Eventually, she gave up the stage.  She later tried a comeback, but after suffering from vocal problems, she set up Master Classes at Julliard, which is the basis of this production.
            Emmy-award-winning actress, Carolyn Hennessy, performs the role of this fascinating and turbulent woman who spares no humility, no warmth, no tact, and no patience, as she works with three wanna-be opera stars.  Though she is “callous” with her students, her concern is for the art and she is extremely demanding.  Hennessy’s performance of Maria Callas is profound and so realistic as to feel as if one is actually seeing this marvel of a woman in person.
            The students who come to Callas’s Master Class are First Soprano, Sophie de Palma (Maegan McConnell), Tenor, Anthony Candolino (Landon Shaw II), and Second Soprano, Sharon Graham (Aubrey Truillo Scarr).  Despite the criticisms lashed out at them by Callas in this production, it is obvious these three performers are gifted with marvelous talent, as is Roy Abramsohn (the piano accompanist, Manny).  The Stagehand is performed by Jeff Campanella.   Astute direction is by Dimitri Toscas
            Master Class plays Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM, through Oct. 22.  Tickets are available by calling (818) 955-8101, or online at GarryMarshallTheatre.org.  The theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank.              


RECOMMENDED        


Thursday, September 28, 2017

STUPID KID by Carol Kaufman Segal
          The Road Theatre Company is presenting Stupid Kids at The Road on Magnolia as their first production of the 2017-2018 Season.  As is the Company’s commitment to bring new works to their audiences, this is the premiere of the play written by acclaimed American playwright, Sharr White.  What a brilliant beginning to their season!
          Chick (Ben Theobald), 28-year old son of Gigi (Taylor Gilbert)  and Eddie (Joe Hart), has just returned home after spending 14-years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend.  Chick insists he didn’t commit the crime even though he pleaded guilty at his trial. 
          In the 14-years that he has been away, the family has suffered financially and he finds them under the duress of his treacherous Unclemike (Rob Nagle), Gigi’s brother.  The scenes in Act I present a family under a great deal of stress performed brilliantly by an exceptionally talented cast.         
          The tension mounts more so in Act II, and if anyone questions why Chick pleaded guilty to a crime he continues to insist he did not commit, the answer will be revealed as the play continues on to its conclusion.    
          This production deserves accolades for its artistry from the writing by Sharr White, the direction by Cameron Watson, the scenic design by Jeff McLaughlin, to a star cast that also includes Michelle Gillette as Franny Hawker, a most irritating neighbor, and Allison Blaize, as Uncle Mike’s forced upon girlfriend, Hazel.
          Performances of Stupid Kid are presented Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through November 12, at the Road Theatre on Magnolia located in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.   Tickets are available by calling (818) 761-8838, or online at www.RoadTheatre.org.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED