Monday, November 20, 2017

THE DEVINE ORDER by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Devine Order is Switzerland’s submission for the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Language Film.  It has already been the recipient of the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festive, and the Audience Award for Best Fiction Award 2017 Traverse Film Festival.     
            The film takes place in 1971 Switzerland, a time where many changes have come about in the world, but not so in Switzerland.  In Switzerland, some laws are still behind the times, including a law that denies women the right to vote.  
            Nora (Marie Leuenberger) lives in a small village with her husband Hans (Maxmilian Simonischek), their two sons, and her cranky father-in-law. Bored with her daily routines, she tells Hans she wants to go back to work.  He is adamant when he tells her he forbids it, and that it is his right to do so under Swiss law.
            Nora has been made aware that this is the year in Switzerland that the government has a ballot measure that just might change that law in the future because, if it passes, it will finally, give women the right to vote.  She has been asked to work for an organization to help get the law passed, because in her village, it appears doomed.  Since she has never been political, she turns down the offer.          
            Suddenly, Nora begins to notice more and more how women have little “say so” in their lives, how deeply they are affected by the laws of the country.  Her frustration over the situation gives her the impetus to join in the movement after all, along with the backup of an elderly friend, Vroni (Sibylle Brunner), who tells her she had tried to fight for women’s right to vote in the  50’s, but finally gave up.  She is, once again, willing to help in this venture along with newcomer Graziella (Marta Zoffoli).  Nora turns out to be the leader of their group and becomes well-known throughout the village.  She is vilified by many, and despite having to suffer from threats and the possibility of losing Hans, she refuses to let down.
            More and more women of the village come to comprehend how their lives are ruled by men and decide to take a stand with Nora and her group.  She eventually convinces them to go on strike and they all leave home, happy in the realization that they were brave enough to stand up to their men.  The outcome of their bravery turns out to be worthwhile for them as well as their country.
            The movie is well-written by Petra Volpe who also did an exemplary job directing a strong cast.  Marie Leuenberger gives an outstanding performance.  The entire production is worthy of recognition. 
            Not rated
            Running time:  93 min.
            In German, English, Italian and Swiss German with English sub-titles
                       






Sunday, November 19, 2017

PRESS RELEASE FROM SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER

Skirball Cultural Center presents the annual family favorite
HANUKKAH FESTIVAL: LA/LA
Sunday, December 10, 11:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.
Inspired by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, the Skirball’s annual Hanukkah Festival explores the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Visitors of all backgrounds are invited to revel in the spirit of the holiday through music, dance, art making, storytelling, and other family-friendly fun.
Groove to musical performances by Latin Jewish bands Klezmer Juice and Pan Felipe, and learn salsa, cumbia, mumbo, hip-hop, and more with dance ensembles Versa-Style and Mambo Inc.
Create art celebrating light and hope with visual artist Sandy Rodriguez, and learn about Mexican chocolate and decorate chocolate gelt with culinary historian Maite Gomez-Rejón.
Also take part in family-friendly tours of PST: LA/LA exhibitions Another Promised Land and Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day; and join Skirball storytellers in ongoing exhibition Visions and Values as they bring the Hanukkah tale to life in English and Spanish. Discover unique holiday gifts at Audrey’s Museum Store, and nosh on classic Hanukkah dishes like latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).
Sunday, December 10, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Art activities and storytelling take place throughout the day. Specific times for performances are as follows:
  • ·  11:00 a.m.: Klezmer Juice
Los Angeles-based band Klezmer Juice kicks off and closes the festival with their blend of Jewishklezmer, soul, and Latin music.

·  12:00 and 2:45 p.m.: Versa-Style

High-energy hip-hop and Afro-Latin dance company Versa-Style leads two workshops for dancers of all levels.
  • ·  1:00 p.m.: Pan Felipe
Los Angeles-based band Pan Felipe performs their unique mix of ska, klezmer, and Latin cumbia. Premier Latin dance company Mambo Inc. teaches visitors how to salsa, cumbia, and mambo.
  • ·  2:00 p.m.: Mambo Inc.
Acclaimed visual artist Sandy Rodriguez leads a workshop inspired by light and hope, in which visitors can create a work of art to take home, as well as contribute to a collaborative Hanukkah menorah installation.

  • ·  3:15 p.m.: Klezmer Juice & Friends
Culinary historian Maite Gomez-Rejón (Art Bites) shares the history of chocolate, from its originsin the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica to its modern forms—including Hanukkah gelt, which visitors can stop by to decorate.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
$12 General; $9 Seniors and Full-Time Students; $7 Children 2–12; FREE to Skirball Members and
Children under 2

Advance tickets recommended: 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

CAVALIA by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Cavalia is a world-wide entertainment company from Canada that specializes in creating a spectacular show that features horses, acrobats, musicians and stunning settings.  It was created by Normand Latourelle, one of the four co-founders of the Cirque de Soleil.  This thrilling show, entitled Odysseo, is being performed in Camarillo under their big tent, which in itself, is spectacular.  It was designed specifically for the show and is the largest touring tent in the world with 2,290 seats.
            The show features 65 of the most magnificent horses and 50 outstanding performers that include acrobats, aerialists, horsemen and horsewomen, dancers, and musicians  The staging is created by multimedia projections and special effects that is so realistic, it feels as though one is traveling through wondrous deserts, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, even rain and snow.  Over 300 different costumes add to the magnetism of the performances.
            As appealing as the entire performances are from beginning to end, the big splash finale is an exceptional ending to a beautiful and exciting show.  The address for finding the big tent is   5230 Camino Ruiz, in Camarillo where Odysseo will be performing through January 7, 2018.  Tickets are available at the box office which is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM., online at www.cavalia.com, or call toll free at (866) 999-8111 for further information. 
           



 HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED  for all ages           
Stupid Kid  extends at the Road Theatre on Magnolia through December 3, 2017.  See review dated May 2, 2017.

Monday, November 13, 2017

NEW YORK WATER by Carol Kaufman Segal        
            The Pico Playhouse in West Los Angeles is the home to The West Coast Jewish Theatre’s production of a comedy entitled New York Water written by Sam Bobrick, and directed by Howard Teichman (Artistic Director of the theatre).
            The title of the play refers to the quality of the tap water in New York which, sometimes, loses its clarity due to the rusty pipes in its service.  It is about Linda and Albert, two single people in their mid-thirties, who meet through a personal ad in New York City.  While Linda (Bridget Flanery) awaits the arrival of her blind date, Albert (Ross Benjamin), it is obvious that she is a very paranoid and overwrought woman.
            Once Albert arrives, a very funny scene ensues whereby he and Linda learn enough about each other to make the decision that they dislike living in New York, that they will get married and move out of New York to a place that is slower and friendlier.  We are not privy to how or why, but they end up in Davenport, Iowa, to look for a less stressful life.   Hmm, maybe too calm, because after three months, they find Davenport too quiet, not enough decent job opportunities,  eople aren’t quite so friendly, and everything seems to depend on corn!  What can they do to change their boring lifestyle in Iowa?  Why, Los Angeles, of course!  They can find everything there to satisfy their needs make them happy. 
            Act II finds our two wistful characters in Hollywood where Linda, with her brazen characteristics, has suddenly become a changed woman who has risen in the world of celebrities, while Albert has fallen behind due to his insecure personality, working as a gardener for all of those celebrities!  However, Albert is not the one complaining, it is Linda who sees that their life is not working out well.  But where to go to next?!
            Sam Bobrick has written an amusing play with enough comedy to keep you laughing throughout.  Ross Benjaminm is delightful as Albert, the young man with little or no self- esteem.  (Benjamin is a near clone to his father, actor Richard Benjamin.)  Bridget Flanery is very suitable for her role, but unfortunately, she overplays her character and often shrieks her lines, which is very annoying.  All –in-all, New York Water is an interesting and comical look at how relationships change overtime, and who doesn’t need a good comedy these days?

            New York Water plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through December 17, at the Pico Playhouse, located at 10508 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.  Tickets are available by calling (323) 821-2449, or online at www.wcjt.tix.com.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION by Carol Kaufman Segal
            George Bernard Shaw (July 26, 1856 – November 2, 1950) was an Irish playwright and critic who influenced Western theater and culture, from the 1880’s and even after his death.  In 1895 he became a theatre critic and began writing his own plays.  He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Major Barbara (1905), Misalliance (1909), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923).  He became a leading dramatist of his generation and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925.
             Mrs. Warren’s Profession, one of his earlier plays, written in 1893, is playing at A Noise Within in Pasadena.  I have seen this play before, and I believe that it is still showcased because it has a sense of modernity to it in regards to women and their choices in life.  
            Cambridge-educated Vivie (Erica Soto) thinks of herself as a practical, open-minded, and modern woman.  She has been raised in middle-class comfort by her mother, Mrs.Kitty Warren (Judith Scott), who has been able to provide their comforts as a former prostitute and current madam.  Vivie never had any idea that her mother was running an illegitimate business, and upon the revelation, she is unable to accept the situation, though Kitty tries to explain the reasons for her choice to her daughter.   
            Though there are other characters to add to the storyline, the play centers on the complications that arise between the relationship of the mother and daughter and how it affects their future.  The entire cast of talented actors also includes Peter James Smith (Mr. Praed, Mrs. Warren’s friend), Jeremy Rabb (Sir George Crofts, Mrs. Warren’s business partner), Martin Kildare (Reverend Samuel Gardner, Frank Gardner’s father), and Adam Faison (Frank Gardner, Rev. Gardner’s son and Vivie’s romantic interest), all under the astute direction of Michael Michetti.
            A Noise Within is a Classic Repertory Company that celebrated its 25th Anniversary last season.  They are located at 3353 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.  Mrs. Warren’s Profession plays in repertory (closing Nov. 18) with A Tale of Two Cities (closing Nov. 19), and The Madwoman of  Chaillot (closing Nov.11).  Tickets and further information are available online at www.anoisewithin.org, or by phone by calling (626) 356-3100.


RECCOMENDED


A LOVE AFFAIR by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Santa Monica Playhouse is presenting A Love Affair, written by prolific playwright Jerry Mayer.  Mayer’s career began over 40 years ago when he first began writing jokes, then scripts, and then scripts for popular television shows including All In the Family, M*AS*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Bob Newhart Show.  He also wrote and produced many other shows including six years as writer/Executive Producer of The Facts of Life. 
            After years working on television shows, Jerry discovered his first love, writing plays for the theater and has enjoyed success winning awards for his plays and musicals. He has written nine plays, eight of which had their world premieres at the Santa Monica Playhouse.  Six have had successful runs Off Broadway and five throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.   A Love Affair is the latest in which all of his plays are being presented at the Santa Monica Playhouse during the 2015-2020 Jerry-Mayer-A-Thon.
            A Love Affair, in keeping with Mayer’s trend, is a romantic comedy which, perhaps, takes on events from his own life.  It goes through the years (back and forth) from 1991 to 1953 to 1991 covering the 38-year marriage of Jimmy and Alice.  They are played by four actors, the elder Jimmy by Chris DeCarlo and the younger Jimmy by Jacob Cooper; the elder Alice by Evelyn Rudie, and the younger Alice by Andrea Adnoff.  Rachel Galper plays several characters that show up in their lives during the years.
            From the 1950’s honeymoon through the 38-year marriage, we are privy to what a loving couple face together in life, and still manage to keep their marriage going through thick and thin for 38 years.  It’s the ups-and-downs, successes, disappointments, traumas, children, money, traumas about sex, and whatever life doles out to them, but fortunately, a real love affair wins out in the end. 
            Chris DeCarlo also directed the production and says “Jerry Mayer’s plays are a delight for a director, a cast, and of course an audience.  He writes about issues people can identify with, laugh at, and care about.”  And I have to agree with that statement in the case of each of his plays that I have been privileged to see.  The Santa Monica Playhouse is celebrating its 55th year offering continuous theater and educational services to the community.  Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo are Co-Artistic Directors of the Theatre.
            A Love Affair plays Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 3:30 PM, through November 17.  The Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica.  Tickets are available by calling (310) 394-9779, ext 1, or reservations can be made online at santamonicaplayhouse.com/a-love-affair.html.    


RECCOMMENDED