Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Code Pink by Carol Kaufman Segal

       I am pleased to be bringing you a review of Code Pink, a world premiere play written and directed by Adam Chambers and Jana Lee Hamblin with additional writing by The Cast.  The production is being presented by Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood. 

     It is wonderful being able to attend live theatre again.

    This is the company's first production since their shut down due to the coved pandemic.  It is an unusual subject performed by a large and exceptionally powerful cast that includes, in alphabetic order, Bahasi Chapman, Nicole Craig, Britt Crisp, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Sydney Jenkins, Matt Monaco, Ignacio Navarro, Bree Pavey, Lessie Pinto, Natasha Ranae Potts, Sarah Siverson, Sara Sommers, Vel Stacy.

    The play features stories that take place in a twenty-four-hour period in a hospital maternity ward where almost anything can happen.  The stories are focused on the lives of a variety of people - nurses, doctors, administrators, and patients - where we become all too aware that everyone has his or her own story.  It is an exceptionally different and unusual look at the lives of these hard workers, performed by a very strong cast that brings realism to each character that they perform.  You won't be too surprised to see some performers with tears in their eyes.  And most interestingly, all of the people, and their stories, were inspired by real people and real stories.    

    The scenic design for Code Pink is by Madylin Sweeten Durrie, the lighting design is by Tor Brown and the sound design is by Travyz Catz.  Marc Leclere is the Assistant Director, and Stage Managers include Calvin Picou and Gillo Gius.  The graphic design is by Amanda Chambers.  Producers for Loft Ensemble are Jennifer Brofer and Bree Pavey.

    Performance schedules of Code Pink are Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 7 PM through August 15.  General admission is PAY WHAT YOU WANT.  Seats may be reserved online at www.loftensemble.org, or by phone at (818)452-3153.  Loft Ensemble is located at 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

    Highly Recommended

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


MOTEL 66 
 by Carol Kaufman Segal

    The theatre world is coming back alive in our area, and I am very pleased to have been able to attend my first live production since March of 2020.  This world premiere of Motel 66, by The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, consists of twelve new one-act plays that take place in different cities along Route 66.  It is performed as two separate programs of six short plays in each program.  It opened June 17 and will continue through August 1.  Six plays under the title of Head East are featured Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and six plays under the title of Go West are featured Fridays and Sundays at 8 PM. There will be no shows on July 1, 2, 3, and 4 (July 4th weekend).
   
HEAD EAST

A Different Man by Lloyd Pedersen
Directed by Larry Eisenberg
Featuring Fox Carney & Katelyn Ann Clark
A couple, looking for a way to entice their sex life, begin celebrity role-playing.

Cleveland and Dallas by Steve Shaw
Directed by Barbara Brownell
Featuring Paul Cady & Mark Stancato
Will a man be able to console a close musician friend back from his life of despair?
 
Midnight Meeting by Denise Downer
Directed by Linda Alznauer
Featuring Kelly Goode, Melissa Lugo, Manny Rodriguez, & Sal Valletta
Will a teacher stay with the married man she thinks she loves, or will she decide to move on after encountering a ghost at the motel? 

The Journey by JC Gafford
Directed by Bruce Kimmel
Featuring Erika Bowman & Maria Kress
The road trip of two longtime friends tasks an odd turn when one of the women reveals the music in her soul.

Venus Flytrap by Van Boudreaux
Directed by Heidi Mendez
Featuring Todd Andrew Ball & Jennifer Whitney
When two lost souls happen to meet, does it promise an adventure along Route 66?

Last Exit for Lodging by Bill Fitzhugh
Directed by Melanie Lee
Featuring Jennifer Karraz, Chris McGahan, Cathy Diane Tomlin, & William Wilson
A traveler finds herself getting nowhere in a rat-trap motel dealing with a bad-tempered manager until the higher-ups intervene.

GO WEST

Creative Differences written and directed by Tom Lazarus
Featuring Michael Gabiano, James Lemire & Troy Whitaker
Casting changes heat up the "hot set" of the 60's TV show Route 66.

 Somebody Else by Fox Carney
Directed by Marie Broderick
Featuring Stephanie Colet, Julie Davis, Lisa McGee Mann, & Patrick Skelton
An illicit tryst turns out to be more than a man can handle due to his carelessness.

You Only Live Once by Craig Holland
Directed by Sascha Vanderslik
Featuring Michele Bernath, Rishi Mehta, & Aroon Nayer
A younger brother wants to help his older brother make a bold and major change in his life with help from out of this world.

Saving Laura by James J. Cox
Directed by Kathleen Delaney
Featuring Alex Brown, Jennifer Collins, & Doug Haverty
Two teachers help a young woman find solace in literature as a sudden violent event fast approaches.

A Farewell to Palms by Stan Mazin
Directed by Stevie Stern
Featuring James J. Cox & Lloyd Pedersen
Two middle-aged gay men meet together at their favorite Route 66 motel.

Stuck In The Middle With by Doug Haverty
Directed by Helen O'Brien
Featuring Raquel Brooks, Truett Jean Butler, Beccy Quinn
Three women from different states meet and become instant friends, that is until they each discover that they each have a key to the same motel room!

                                                           **
       The Group Rep offers top actors, writers, and directors within their company.  I am not always a lover of short plays, but I found every one of these twelve plays of interest with superb performances by everyone involved - writers, directors, and actors.   You may choose to see one evening of six plays at a cost of $20 for each.  But you can purchase tickets for all twelve plays at a special price of $30.  If you are like I am, believe me, after seeing six plays, you will be anxious to see the other six plays as well.  The plays are presented in the newly built outdoor theatre, The Yard, which is a wonderful experience as well as offering covid guidelines.   

    The Yard at the Group Rep is located outdoors at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  One evening of shows is $20, Tickets for both evenings of shows are $30.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.thegrouprep.com.  Reservations can be made by phone, 818-763-5990, and tickets paid for at the door.

                                                                

Friday, May 7, 2021

 WEST COAST JEWISH THEATRE'S MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES EXTENDED THROUGH  MAY 29  by Carol Kaufman Segal    

     My review of the West Coast Jewish Theatre's Magical Musical Mystery Follies is available on this blog dated May 6.  If you are interested in being able to see this wonderful two-hour virtual show, it is available again if you did not get to see it when it was offered previously, or if you would enjoy watching it once again.  You can now enjoy it every Saturday night through May 29, at 7:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time.

    The show features a variety of entertainment with very talented performers, including singers, actors, musicians, writers, magicians, and even an orchestra that will keep you entertained for two hours.  West Coast Jewish Theatre Director Howard Teichman directs the show (and also introduces the acts)  The Associate Producer is Bill Froggatt.  You can register online at http://wcit.org or call (312) 821-2449. The price of the ticket to obtain the link is $36.00   Those who register will be sent a Vimeo link to the show.

    Until the West Coast Jewish Theatre and Howard Teichman can welcome you back to their theatre in person, in the meantime, there is Magical Musical Mystery Follies.

    

Thursday, May 6, 2021

MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES  by Carol Kaufman Segal

    The West Coast Jewish Theatre, under the direction of Howard  Teichman, recently presented its Magical Musical Mystery Follies online.  Audiences had the opportunity of watching a very entertaining show with a variety of talent, from musicians to singers, comedians, magicians, and actors. 

    Performers included vocalist Sarah Spiegal, known for songs from the past (30's and 40's), beautiful cantorial music by soloist Kimberly Haines, vocalist Melissa Brandzel singing songs from Broadway, and Bob Brandzel performing klezmer music, and also guest Cantor Marcelo Gindin

    An excerpt from Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue was performed by Actors Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern. Ruthie Lane sang more show tunes, Actor/Writer Shelly Kurtze performed an original piece he had written for the show about an issue facing the Jewish community.  Comedy was performed by Sunda Croonquist, Magic Castle Magician Victor Benoun performed magic and illusions, and The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and Choir, performed under the direction of Dr. Noreen Green.

    Magical Musical Mystery Follies, with Howard Teichman as host, was presented online on Saturdays April 24, May 1, and May 8.  If you missed it when it was presented, you are in luck because it is going to be offered again online in the near future for View on Demand.  Keep watching for it because you won't want to miss this two-hour offering of it when it returns.  

Saturday, February 27, 2021

 

Stories From the Violins of Hope by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Braid (formerly The Jewish Women’s Theatre) was scheduled to do a live production of Stories from the Violins of Hope last spring at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles  Since they had to postpone performing the production live due to COVID, they made the decision to present a live performance of it on Zoom.  It was a magnificent presentation, written by Lisa Rosenbaum, directed by Susan Morgenstern, and Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director and Producer.    

            With beautiful music performed throughout by five marvelous musicians from the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony,  Amnon Weinstein tells the story about how he, along with his son Avshalom, began collecting and restoring the violins that survived the Holocaust. 

            Virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi, plays the only violin from the Violins of Hope collection that is currently in the United States.  The rest of the collection remains in Israel until live concerts can begin again.  The violins that Amnon collected had survived concentration camps, ghettos, transport trains and the forests of Eastern Europe.    The story is one that had to be told, as Amnon said.

            Rick Zieff performed the role of Moshe, Amnon Weinstein's father, and Robert Trebor played   Amnon Weinstein.  Other members of the cast included Rosie Moss, Cliff Weisman, Andrew Fromer, Lisa Ann Grant, and A. J. Meijer.

            I hope that when the pandemic is behind us, The Braid will have the opportunity to present this marvelous production in their theatre for those who did not get the opportunity to see it and for those who would, like me, wish to see it again.    

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

 YOU I LIKE:  A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF JERRY HERMAN by Carol Kaufman Segal

You I Like:  A Musical Celebration of Jerry Herman, is performed on the stage of an empty Pasadena  Playhouse (due to the COVID and is streaming through February 7.  Conceived by Andy Einhorn (musical director of the last  Broadway revival of Hello Dolly), he accompanies a marvelous cast of Broadway singers on the piano as they bring Herman's magnificent Broadway music to life.  The cast includes Ashley  Blanchet, Nicholas Christopher, Andrea Ross, Ryan Vona, and Lesli Margherita.     

Jerry Herman was born July 10, 1931, in New York City and died December 26, 2019, in Miami after a tremendously successful career.   His list of musicals on Broadway include Milk & Honey, Hello Dolly, Mame, Dear World, Mack & Mabel, The Grand Tour, La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry's Girls, Showtune, Parade, Mrs. Santa Claus, A Day In Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and Miss Spectacular. 

Throughout the show, twenty-nine of some of the most popular and well-known songs are sung by the phenomenal cast.  This was a true tribute to an exceptionally talented man.  

The show is on demand from the Pasadena Playhouse via Playhouse Live, streaming through Feb. 7.  Tickets are $24.99 per household.  Running time is 90 minutes.  For further information go to
Playhouselive.org.
  






Monday, August 3, 2020

THIS IS ME

LETTER FROM THE FRONT LINE  by Carol Kaufman Segal

 

After celebrating its 25th Anniversary at The Soraya in 2017,  DIAVOLO  Architecture in Motion returned to The Soraya for its fourth time with This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines.  This production from Artistic Director Jacque Heim premiered Friday, July 31, at 4 PM on The Soraya Facebook page, The Soraya’s fourth online performance.

 

This is Me is offering an insight into how military veterans respond to their lives and what it means to be true warriors on the front lines, a lesson for all of us today to fight the invisible enemy that all humanity is currently battling.

 

The dancers’ performances are outstanding.  They navigate through and around huge props that are made to look like apartment buildings and other structures that affected their lives, all the while never losing their gracefulness as they perform flips, jumps, and falls, all the while wearing masks.  They are amazing to watch.

 

The Warriors in the production are as follows:  Shannon Corbell, U.S. Air Force, Tyler Grayson, U.S. Army, Lucas Haas, EMT, Mariella Keating, Nurse, Chris Loverro, U.S, Army, Sasan Najibi, MD, and La’Vel Stacy, U.S. Navy.  Other performers include a Matt Wagner, Safety Coordinator/ Performer/ Co-Choreographer, Abraham Meisel, Video Archivist/Performer, and the following Performers/Co- Choreographers, Derion Loman, Daniel Jacob Glenn, Evan Turner, Lex Shimko, BethanyRose Boutwell, and Amanda MacLeod.

 

Jacque Heim is now in the fifth year of the company’s The Veteran Project, creating This is Me to help illustrate words of veterans by interweaving them through DIAVOLO choreography that expresses their thoughts.  More than 500 Los Angeles area veterans have participated in the project.  Heim said, “The Veterans Project has completely changed my life, changed my mission changed my company”…..“ Even though these men and women do not like to be called heroes, we consider them to be.  They sacrificed their lives for a giant cause…their country and its people.  Who can do that?  I cannot do that.  It is beyond courage, and the reason we’re in the land of the free, because all those men and women gave their lives.  Beyond thanking them for their service, we have to embrace them as our brothers and sisters as part of our own family.  The work and mission of DIAVOLO and this film, This is Me, is about celebrating humanity, Veterans and COVID 19 responders are beautiful humans.  That has to be shown.”