Saturday, December 24, 2016

THE MESHUGANUTCRACKER!  by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The MeshugaNutcracker! was not at all, what I was expecting.  However, I certainly was not at all disappointed with this musical comedy about the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah told by   a company of extraordinarily talented performers.  
            The members of the cast play characters who live in the fictional town of Chelm, (Yiddish word for fools).  They are Stephen Guggenheim (Gronim Schmegegi, the Mayor of Chelm), Susan Gundunas (Esther Schmegegi, the First Lady of Chelm), Shannon Guggenheim (Treitel Schlmazel), Jeremy Kreamer (Velvel Schnook), Linda Divito (Rivka Schmuel, the Dairywoman), Benjamin Pither, (Rabbi Motke Schmerel), Krista Wigle (Yetta Schmendrick), and Jacob Davis (Jacob Schlemiel, the Farmer).
These actors tell eight stories about Chanukah in words, song, and dance, accompanied by a Klezmer-style orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (Orchestrations by Thomas Tomasello).  The original book is written with much humor, and directed by Scott Evan Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim, and Stephen Guggenheim.  All of the cast are gifted comedians, singers, and dancers.
            The cartoonish-style set and the wild, but humorous costumes are by Julie Engelbrecht, Lighting by Derek Duarte, and stage managers are Ronn Goswick and Morgan Zupanski.

            For s joyous production, something unusual to enjoy during this seasonal time of the year, and for fun for the whole family, don’t miss the opportunity of seeing The MeshugaNutcracker! at the American Jewish University’s Gindi Auditorium, located at 15600 Mulholland Drive, in Los Angeles.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 PM and 7 PM, Thursday at 7 PM, Saturday at 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM, through Jan.1, 2017.  Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (408) 404-7711,

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

THE KING AND I by Carol Kaufman Segal
 Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyricist/dramatist) collaborated in the 40’s and 50’s on musicals that became successful Broadway hits.  Prior to their association, Rodgers had partnered with Lorenzo Hart, and Hammerstein had teamed with Jerome Kern, also creating successful Broadway productions.  However, Rodgers and Hammerstein, in their relationship, garnered 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and 2 Grammy Awards.
 New productions of all of their shows and music continue to be popular among theatergoers.  The Lincoln Center touring production of The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein, has come to the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, and is a most lavish, phenomenal, and enchanting production.    
 This musical was based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, set in 1860, by Margaret Landon, a fictionalized version taken from the memoirs of a British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens.  Anna, a widow, sailed to Siam with her young son.  The King of Siam hired Anna to teach his children in his quest to bring his country more up-to-date.   At times, there was a great deal of contention between Anna and the King, but as time wore on, he was able to let go of some of his monarchic characteristics, and it became obvious that they felt something for each other that neither could ever admit
 Laura Michelle Kelly is elegant as Anna with a voice to match.  When we think of The King of Siam in The King and I, it is difficult not to think of Yul Brynner who made the part his own.   But seeing Jose Llana in this production, leaves no doubt that a new King has been crowned!  Joan Almadilla is a strong force as Lady Thiang, and Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as Tutim and Lun Tha are bittersweet as the young tragic lovers.
 The large cast, the unique dancers, and the young children allow us to feel the ambiance of Siam as do the creative sets by Michael Yeargan, and the distinctive costumes by Catherine Zuber as well as the lighting by Donald Holder and sound by Scott Lehrer.  Choreographer Christopher Gattelli based the dancing on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.  And the beautiful Rodgers and Hammerstein music was performed by an orchestra under the direction of Gerald Heichen.  All of this outstanding production is under the astute direction of Bartlett Sher.
Some of the classic songs from The King and I are Getting To Know You, I Whistle a Happy Tune, Hello Young Lovers, and Shall We Dance
The King and I is playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles.  Tickets and schedule of performances are available at,, by phone at (800) 982-2787, in person at the Pantages Box Office (open daily at 10 AM), and all Ticketmaster Outlets.

Highly recommended

Sunday, December 18, 2016


            Lythgoe Family Panto brings Christmas to the Pasadena Playhouse for the 5th year with a charming production of A Cinderella Christmas written by Kris Lythgoe and directed by Bonnie Lythgoe.  This is a real family treat and a chance for children to enjoy the magic of live musical theater and to interact with the performers as well.
            An addition to the well-known story of Cinderella is a character known as Buttons (Matthew Patrick Davis) who is Cinderella’s best friend, and who also loves her, but is unable to get the words out to tell her of his affection.  Davis is a delight with the audience, instructing them to yell out “Hi Buttons” each time he appears on stage.  And when Cinderella’s “ugly” sisters, Hollywood (Ben Giroux) and Vine (Josh Adamson) appear, he tells them to boo.
            The excellent cast features Lauren Taylor (Cinderella), Morgan Fairchild (the wicked stepmother Baroness Hardup), Alex Newell (Fairy Godperson), Kenton Duty (Prince Charming), and Davi Santos (Dandini, Charming’s right-hand man).  The first-rate dance group consists of William Clayton, Kelsi Darby, Ryan Fiene, Toi’ya Leatherwood, Joshua Rivera, and Valerie Rockey, plus a bevy of very talented children.
            The music, provided by the Michael Orland Band, is grand.  Taylor has a lilting voice, just right for Cinderella.  But it is Alex Newell who brings the house down with his rendition of When You Believe!  Of course, we all know the story of Cinderella, and as with all fairy tales, it ends up happily ever after, even for Buttons! 
              Lythgoe family productions are musical theatre that the whole family can enjoy and share.  I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it as much as any of the “kids” for its outstanding presentation.
            A Cinderella Christmas continues at the Pasadena Playhouse located at 39 South El Molina Ave., Pasadena, through January 8, 2017.  For online tickets and information go to, or phone (626) 356-7529. 

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG  by Carol Kaufman Segal

             Merrily We Roll Along is a musical based on a 1934 play written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.  The musical, which opened on Broadway in 1981, was written by George Furth with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  So far, so good, so why did it close after only 16 performances after opening night?
            Perhaps the story is a bit trite for today’s world, the same ole, same ole, where a boy makes good and it goes to his head!  Perhaps, too, it is very difficult to keep things in perspective as the play begins and goes backwards in time starting in 1973 and digressing back to 1957.  
The musical has been revived by theaters through the years, and doesn’t ever seem to click.  However, Michael Arden , famed Director of the Deaf West Theatre’s revival of Spring Awakening at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts that went to Broadway, had high expectations of reviving Merrily We Roll Along at the same theater with a great cast that couldn‘t go wrong.  (By the way, Arden makes his debut as The Wallis’ first Artist in Residence with this production.)
            Playing at the Wallis through December 18, Merrily We Roll Along features the talents of Aaron Lazar (Franklin Shepard), five-time Emmy winner Wayne Brady (Charley Kringas) and Donna Vivino (Mary Flynn), who made her Broadway debut at the age of eight as the “Young Cosette” in Les Miserables.
As the story goes, in 1973 Franklin Shepard is a successful producer and songwriter who claims he is rich and happy.  But then the play goes back in time, and we realize that he just puts on a good front.  Frank is definitely not a happy man.  By going back to the past years, we find him a happy go-lucky guy whose closest friends were playwright Charley Kringas and critic Mary Flynn.  But as Frank became more successful, he had little regard for his friends or anyone else in his life.   
            We see what happens to a nice boy changing over the years due to greed and power, but it isn’t always easy to focus on the time periods, which makes the play cumbersome.  The high point of the production and what keeps it rolling along is the wonderful Sondheim music and the performances by an exceptionally talented cast that also includes Amir Talai, Whitney Bashor, Saycon Sengbloh, and Maximus Brandon Verso.

            The production plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through Dec.18.  Tickets are available online at, by phone at (310) 746-4000, or at the box Office at the theater which is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills

LITTLE DRUMMER BOWIE by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Troubadour Theatre Company is back again at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank with their very funny Christmas show, Little Drummer Bowie.  Long-time member of the Troubies, Joseph Lee Bwarie, returns with the company after his Broadway stint as Frankie Vali in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys.
            The company is known for its adaptation of classic plays, films, etc. in the style of Commedia del Arte.  They combine comedy, music, dance, improvisation, and depending on the production, even acrobats and other circus inspired art, into their fun-filled productions.  Artistic Director and founder of The Troubadour Theatre Company, Matt Walker, co-directs Little Drummer Bowie with Bwarie.
            Ziggy (The Little Drummer Boy played by Bwarie), having lost his parents, is wandering the desert in Jerusalem with only his drum and his two pet companions, Babaa (Katie Katani) and Sampson (Cloie Wyatt Taylor).  He meets Ben Haramed (Riccardo Berdini) and his assistant Ali (Beth Kennedy) who are impressed by his drumming and singing talents, and Ben hires him to perform with his troupe. Soon he is discovered by a talent agent (Rick Batallia, who plays many roles including Joseph) and Ziggy becomes a star! At the same time, in Jerusalem, another star is about to be born!    
            The rest of the fantastic cast, that keeps the comedy going throughout, include Lisa Valenzuela (Mary), Katie DeShan (Nadhiyah), Niles Rivers (Jamaal), and Matt Walker as The Voice from Above.  Music Director and arranger is Eric Heinly and choreography is by Jordana Toback.   The Troubies’ live band is superb as always.
            Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 4 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 4 PM and 7 PM, plus select Tuesdays, through January 15, 2017.  A final added performance will play at 7 PM on January 15.  Tickets are available online at, or by calling the Box Office at (818) 955-8101 (open Tuesdays through Fridays, 12 N. to 6 PM, Saturday and Sundays, 10 AM to 4 PM.  The Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive, in Burbank.

BAKERSFIELD MIST by Carol Kaufman Segal      
            Bakersfield Mist, by Stephen Sachs, was a smash hit comedy when it premiered at the Fountain Theatre June 11, 2011.  After it closed at the Fountain Theatre, it played around the world, including London’s West End, only to return to the Fountain Theatre Nov 19, 2016, for a four-week engagement.  Due to its continuing popularity, it has now been extended through Jan. 30, 2017.
Stephen Sachs co-founded the Fountain Theatre in 1990 and remains its co-artistic director.  He not only wrote this play, but is its director as well.  Based on true events, he probably imagined a lot of what happened between the two characters involved, as he wrote it with its two stars in mind.
The husband and wife team of Jenny O’Hara (Maude Gutman) and Nick Ullett, (Lionel Percy), play two such opposite characters that you could not fathom them coming in contact with each other.  But it is a rather unusual circumstance that, unexpectedly, finds them together in Maude’s gaudy trailer home in Bakersfield.
Maude is a chain smoking alcoholic who recently lost her job as a bartender.  Her trailer is furnished with junk she picks up at rummage sales.  During one of her shopping sprees, she spies a painting that she really doesn’t like, but figures for the price of $3.00, what the heck?   Then as she looks closer at it, she gets a thought that it might actually turn out to be an authentic Jackson Pollock!
Maude is really feeling down and desperate for her luck to change.  The more she thinks about how coming into a lot of money could enhance her life, the more she becomes convinced that the painting is an authentic Pollock!  She contacts an art dealer in New York who sends an expert to her home to evaluate the painting.  From the moment that Lionel Percy arrives at Maude’s trashy trailer home, he immediately looks aghast at his surroundings.  Being the erudite man that he is, he is immediately convinced that this woman could hardly be the owner of an authentic Jackson Pollock!
The repartee that follows between these two misfits is witty as well as revealing.  Though intellectual Percy feels he is far and above the likes of what he considers an uneducated lower class person, throughout their back-and-forth banter, he discovers that Maide is not an easy adversary.  As their personalities clash, the comedy persists throughout the entire play.  Stephen Sachs certainly had the right couple in mind; I find it hard to imagine anyone else doing justice to these two characters.
Bakersfield Mist plays Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through January 30, 2017, at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles.  Tickets are available by calling (323) 663-1525, or online at  Pay-what-you-can Monday nights.

Highly recommended

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fiddler On The Roof – Laemmle Theater
            Laemmle Theatres is presenting its 9th annual Fiddler on the Roof Sing-A-Long for Christmas Eve, but this year will be special since they will also be celebrating the first night of Chanukah on December 24, at 7:30 PM.  The celebration will take place at the following theatres:
                        Fine Arts, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211
                        NoHo 7, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601     
Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
Playhouse 7, 673 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101
Claremont 5, 450 West 2nd Street, Claremont, CA 91711
Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91316
There will be a screening of Norman Jewison’s beloved 1971 Oscar-winning musical, Fiddler On The Roof, adapted from the long running Broadway musical.  It stars Israeli actor Topol as Tevye, the milkman and co-stars Norma Crane as Golde, Yiddish Theater legend Molly Picon as Yente, and Leonard Fray as Motel. 
The film won three Oscars in 1972 for Best Sound, Best Music, and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five more, including Best Director, and Best Picture.  Some of the wonderful music includes Tradition, If I Were A Rich Man, To Life, Matchmaker Sunrise, Sunset, Do You Love Me? among many others. 
In addition, each locale will feature an MC who will host the program that will feature Fiddler history and trivia question with prizes being awarded to audience members who are quickest with the answers.  This is a unique way for a truly versatile celebration.

Tickets can be purchased at                 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

 ODYSSEO by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Cavalia’s Odysseo is the company’s second production that has been touring the world since 2011.  Performing under the world’s largest big top, this spectacular production is now being showcased in Irvine. 
Odysseo is known as the worlds’ largest touring production featuring unbelievable equestrian acts, professional riders, acrobats, aerialists, percussionists, dancers, musicians, and singers, fused together.  The scenery effects are beyond anyone’s imagination, set on a 17,500 square foot stage with a hill that soars three stories high under a 125-foot high White Big Top that holds more than 2000 seats!
The audience is taken around the world by more than 65 horses and an enormously talented international cast.  Via a stunning video backdrop the size of three of the largest cinema screens in 3D, one feels they are seeing the various locales in true perspective.  They include an enchanted forest, the desert and savanna of Africa, the American Southwest, the Northern Lights and ice caves, lush fields, and Easter Island        
            The elaborate costumes, by Michele Hamel and the late Georges Levesque, were specifically designed for both rider and horse. Some feature faux fur, linens, leather, cotton, and silk of vibrant colors, and ornate decorations.  365 costumes are worn during each performance and 68 saddles are used. 
            A most extraordinary finish occurs when a 40,000 gallon lake magically appears on stage in front of a beautiful scene to add to the enchantment of this remarkable show!  (The water is recycled.)  Cavalia was created by Artistic Director Normand Latourelle in 2003. 
            A thrilling family show, Odysseo can be seen at the Big White Top, located at the Irvine Spectrum Center, 670 Spectrum Drive, in Irvine through January 8, 2017.  (You can’t miss it from the 405!)  For a schedule of performances, and to purchase tickets, call the Center at (866) 999-8111.  The Center is open daily from 8 AM to 9 PM.

            Highly recommended.               
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Dudamel Fellow Kahchun Wong, presents a free neighborhood concert at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90005, on Friday, December 16, at 7:30pm.

Wong will conduct the orchestra in a program featuring Prokofiev's Classical Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings.  

An innovative and passionate force both on and off the conductor's podium, Singaporean-born conductor Kahchun Wong is one of Asia's most dynamic young conductors. In May 2016, he was awarded 1st Prize at the 5th Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, making a strong impression with his natural musical instinct and maturity for both canonic and modern repertoire. Engagements for 2016/2017 include the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Lyric Opera, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the Musical Olympus Festival, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's Neighborhood Concerts in the community include free orchestra, chamber music and jazz concerts in churches, community centers and other local venues around Southern California. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has been presenting free Neighborhood Concerts for over 20 years, as part of the organization's dedication to making music accessible to the widest possible audience. 

Admission is free, and no tickets are required. More information may be obtained by calling the church at 818.845.4048.

For more information, please visit:

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Dudamel Fellow Kahchun Wong, presents a free neighborhood concert at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90005, on Friday, December 16, at 7:30pm.

Wong will conduct the orchestra in a program featuring Prokofiev's Classical Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings.  

An innovative and passionate force both on and off the conductor's podium, Singaporean-born conductor Kahchun Wong is one of Asia's most dynamic young conductors. In May 2016, he was awarded 1st Prize at the 5th Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, making a strong impression with his natural musical instinct and maturity for both canonic and modern repertoire. Engagements for 2016/2017 include the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Lyric Opera, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the Musical Olympus Festival, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's Neighborhood Concerts in the community include free orchestra, chamber music and jazz concerts in churches, community centers and other local venues around Southern California. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has been presenting free Neighborhood Concerts for over 20 years, as part of the organization's dedication to making music accessible to the widest possible audience. 

Admission is free, and no tickets are required. More information may be obtained by calling the church at 818.845.4048.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

WHITE CHRISTMAS by Carol Kaufman Segal

            What could be more entertaining at this time of year than Irving Berlin’s joyful musical White Christmas?  This lively production is based on the motion picture that starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen, released by Paramount Pictures on October 14, 1958.
            I loved the movie back then, but seeing it live on the stage of the beautiful Pantages Theatre, is much more entertaining and exciting, especially when the production is so extravagant and beautifully performed by a marvelous talented cast.
            Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) a couple of song and dance men fall in love with Betty Haynes (Kerry Conte) and her sister Judy Haynes (Kelly Sheehan) respectively.  So naturally there is a love story. 
They end up together at an Inn in Vermont where the two sisters have been hired to perform.   Coincidentally, Bob and Phil discover their former army General, Henry Waverly (Conrad John Shuck) is the owner of the Columbia Inn, and through his right-hand employee, Martha Waverly (Lorna Luft), discover he is deeply in debt and about to lose the place.  What to do but put on a show to save the in for their beloved General!
What makes the show the hit that it is are the marvelous performers, their singing, their dancing, their charm, the choreography (Randy Skinner), gorgeous costumes (Carrie Robbins), outstanding scenic designs (Anna Louizos) and scenic adaptations (Kenneth Foy), the orchestra under the direction of Michael Horsley with orchestrations by Larry Blank, and vocal and dance arrangements by Bruce Pomahac.  The production is under the direction of Randy Skinner.   
Of course. it is Irving Berlin’s wonderful music that keeps everything flowing  A few of his great songs in the show are Happy Holiday, Blue Skies, Let Yourself Go, and of course, the ever seasonal popular White Christmas.

Tickets are available at, or, or by phone at (800) 982-2787.  Order soon for this very limited engagement.  

ICEBERGS by Carol Kaufman Segal

            The Geffen Playhouse is presenting the World Premiere of Icebergs written by Alena Smith and directed by Randall Arney. The play takes place in a home in Silver Lake (beautiful set design by Anthony T. Fanning), a section of Los Angeles and, most likely, the present.   It features Calder, his wife Abigail, and their friends, Reed, an old school chum of Calder’s, and Molly, Abigail’s childhood friend and neighbor, all in their thirties.

            Reed (charming Keith Powell), Calder’s former college roommate is a college professor from Missouri.  He was invited by Calder to spend the night since he was coming to LA to speak at a conference at UCLA.  Calder (delightful Nate Coddry) is on the rise of becoming a successful filmmaker.  He met and married Abigail (lovely Jennifer Mudge), an actress in one of his movies.

Abigail is stressed out and has panic attacks, relying on Molly (lively Rebecca Henderon) to calm her.  Abigail is concerned that her time to have a child is passing, but fears having one with the world in such turmoil.  Molly tries to console her by reading her tarot cards, hoping to give her some direction in her life.  However, it is obvious that Molly, who has a female partner, has problems of her own.  Meanwhile Reed and Calder spend their moments together discussing old times which relieves then both from the pressures in their lives. 

            Calder’s agent, Nicky (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, the comic relief) stops by to discuss Calder’s new film, which they are hoping will be a big turning point in his career.  They are expecting a well-known actress to star in it to help launch its success, the reason for not offering the role to Abigail.  Nicky is very close to both Calder and Abigail, and after  listening to Reed’s problems with the world, and then Nicky’s, they all realize that what are the most important things of all in life are your family and friends.

            Alena Smith has hit upon very up-to-date situations in people’s lives and maybe it just hits the chord of some audience members.  Though the topic is serious, the comedy makes it enjoyable to watch.

Icebergs plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at   2 PM and 7 PM, through December 18, at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte, Los Angeles.  Tickets are available in person at the Playhouse Box Office, by phone at (310) 208-5454, or online at
     by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Theatre 40 is presenting the world premiere of The Consul, The Tramp, and America’s Sweetheart written by John Morogiello.  Based on true facts, it is especially fitting for today’s political climate.
            The play takes place in Mary Pickford’s (Melanie Chartoff) office at United Artists Studios.  She, along with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, founded the Studio in 1919 in order to have control over producing and distributing their films.  Both Pickford and Charlie Chaplin (Brian Stanton) were famous for their screen rolls as well.  Of course, this was the silent movie era.
            It is now 1939 and Chaplin was, perhaps, the most popular comedian during the silent film era due to his portrayal of The Little Tramp.  Now he is about to embark on shooting his first talking picture entitled The Great Dictator. 
Movies that were made at United Artists Studios were distributed in countries all over the world, and the world was in a precarious situation at this time as Hitler’s military was running amok throughout Europe.
The day before Chaplin is to begin shooting his picture, Mary Pickford’s newly hired secretary, Miss Hollombe (Laura Lee Walsh), is very irritated by the arrival of George Gyssling, (Shawn Savage) the German Consul, who is demanding to see Mary.  She does her best to hold him off, but Ms Pickford eventually allows him into her office.  The purpose of his visit is to try to persuade Mary to stop Chaplin from making his movie because he fears it is being made to ridicule Hitler.  She refuses to agree to do so until he threatens to ban American films in the German and Austrian market.  She then tells him she will check with her partners and let him know.
Gyssling leaves and who should arrive but Charlie Chaplin himself?  The ensuing struggle between all of the characters, from this point on, is some of the best theater you will ever see.  Jules Aaron does a very fine job of directing a marvelous cast who suit their roles perfectly..  Stanton’s portrayal of Charlie Chaplin is magnificent. Watching Savage as a member of the Nazi Party can make your skin crawl.  Melanie Chartoff is a very cool Mary Pickford, which is how I suspect Pickford would have been in her position.  And very talented Laura Lee Walsh making her Theatre 40 debut, is delightful as Miss Hollombe as well as when she takes on other roles in the play. 
The Consul, The Tamp, and America’s Sweetheart plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through December 18, at the Reuben Cordova Theatre located in the Beverly Hills High School, 241 So. Molina Dr., Beverly Hills.  Online ticketing is available at, or call (310) 364-0535 for reservations.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Manor – Greystone Mansion
The Manor, the popular hit drama, is returning to the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. The show is based on a true happening, but the actual historical characters are given fictitious names.  

The Manor portrays the changes in the fortune of the wealthy MacAlister Family (fictional name for the oil-rich Doheny Family). With good intentions, head of the family, mining tycoon Charles, made an illegal loan to Senator Alfred Winston.  (bogus name for Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall).   MacAlister and Winston are facing humiliation and more with the oncoming Teapot Dome bribery scandal that will overwhelm the Warren Harding administration.  Someone in the MacAlister family faces brutal death.  Who will be blamed?

For authenticity, the show is presented in the magnificent architectural landmark where the actual events took place 88 years ago.  As the scenes change, members of the audience are taken from room to room in the beautifully restored Greystone Mansion.
The Manor was written by Kathrine Bates, directed by Flora Plumb, and produced for Theatre 40 by David Hunt Stafford.  The original production was directed by Beverly Olevin. The cast includes Ben Gavin, Katherine Henryk, Darby Hinton, Shelby Kocee, John-Paul Lavoisier, Daniel Lench, Daniel Leslie, Melanie MacQueen, Carol Potter, Esther Levy Richman, Annalee Scott, Caleb Slavens, David Hunt Stafford, Martin Thompson, and Sarah van der Pol.

The Greystone Mansion is located in Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive (above Sunset Blvd.), in Beverly Hills.  There is free parking onsite.  The Manor plays from January 5 through January 27, 2017.  The dates in January are 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27.  Time for all shows is 6:00 PM.  Reservations are required in advance and are available only by phone at (310) 364-3696. 

“Money, madness, murder, sex.  Before there was Dallas, before there was a Dynasty, there was…..The Manor.  If it hadn’t actually happened, Hollywood could not have invented it.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

CALIFORNIA CONTINUED, The Autry Museum by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Autry Museum of the American West, located at 4700 Western Heritage Way in Los Angeles, was founded in 1988.  Hopefully, you have had the opportunity of visiting the museum.   If so, I recommend that you pay a visit there again, and if not, you owe it to yourself to visit this unique museum in order to take in the wonderful renovations that have been made to the premises.
            On October 9th of this year, the Museum opened nearly 20,000 square feet of redesigned indoor and outdoor spaces with new temporary and permanent galleries, a magnificent ethno botanical teaching garden and a most engrossing media projection room.  You will want to spend a long time perusing the exhibitions and the unusual garden where you will see more than 60 native California plants and learn about the traditional and contemporary uses of them.
            The Life and Work of Mabel McKay is a temporary exhibition featuring a Native American woman’s life and work.  Mabel McKay (1907-1993) kept her traditional ways and was a master basket weaver as well as a traditional healer.  She advocated for her community and environment and was a teacher who shared her knowledge of Pomo traditions.  Be amazed by the many baskets from extremely tiny to enormous sizes, unusual shapes, and altogether, an amazing display.
            Next to the garden you can rest and be inspired as you take in the California Road Trip room.  You will see California’s scenic and varied landscapes from extreme desert climate (Death Valley) to the lowest point in North America, the magnificent ocean bluffs of Big Sur, the tallest trees in the world (California Redwoods), the unusual granite “pictures” and high elevation of Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the adjoining states of our picturesque country (14,505 feet!).
            The Autry Museum’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States
            W. Richard West, Jr. President and CEO of the Museum said “As with our Native forebears, our relationship to the land is informed by art, cultures, and science.  These new exhibitions celebrate our interconnectedness with the environment using the lessons of the past to better understand our present and guide us in our shared future.”
            The Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays.  For further information, visit

URINETOWN:  THE MUSICAL by Carol Kaufman Segal
The title Urinetown:  The Musical can be a turn-off to some.  However, that did not keep this musical from being a tremendous hit on Broadway.  It was first produced off-Broadway from May 6, 2001 to June 25, 2001.  After it opened on Broadway on Sept. 20, 2001, it ran through Jan. 18, 2004!  It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won three, for Best Book, Best Score, and Best Direction (John Rando).   
            Urinetown:  The Musical takes place in the future in a city that has suffered a 20-year drought and its citizens are not allowed to have private toilet facilities.  Of course this state of affairs allows for an opportunist by the name of Caldwell B. Cladwell (Gary Lamb) to take advantage of the citizens of the city by running a corporation called “Urine Good Company.” 
The corporation taxes the citizens of the city a urine tax in order to use his facilities, and if they refuse, they are exiled to a place called Urinetown.  Naturally, Cladwell has control of the city’s governing officials as well as the police.
Fortunately, for the citizens, Bobby Strong (Daniel Bellusci), a lowly worker at one of the urinals, bravely leads a revolution against the city’s laws.  He also falls in love with a beautiful girl named Hope (Ashley Kane) who joins in the fight.  How was he to know that she was the daughter of Caldwell B. Cladwell?
            As expected, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and boy gets girl in the end.  The music is by Mark Hollman, the book by Greg Katis.  The lyrics are by both Hollman and Kotis.  This production, presented by the Coeurage Theatre Company, Los Angeles’s Pay What You Want Company, is directed by Karl Hayter, music direction is by Gregory Nabours.  The play features a very large talented cast.

            Urinetown:  The Musical is playing at the Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.  It plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, through Dec. 3.  There will be no performance on Thanksgiving Day, but there will be an added performance Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 8 PM.  Reservations are available online at, or call (323) 944-2165.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NEWSIES by Carol Kaufman Segal
Disney’s musical Newsies at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, was a smash hit on Broadway in 2012 winning the Tony Award for Best Score and Best Choreography.  It is easy to see why when you see this past-paced and wonderful production featuring the touring company of the production at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
The winning musical score by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman bring the book by Harvey Fierstein to life.  But what truly makes this production so exciting and so worthwhile seeing is the dancing by a cast of unmatched talented performers who defy any group of dancers I have ever seen.
            The play is based on a true event set in Lower Manhattan in the summer of 1899 when a young newsboy led a group of young “Newsies” on a two week-long strike against powerful newspaper publishers. In the play, the leader of the group is Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro), a charming young boy.   
            The story is depicted in song, and though the music is beautiful and brings the story to life, the most outstanding and impressive action in the production is the phenomenal choreography by Christopher Gattelli and the performance of the large cast of unbelievable dancers.  Morgan Keene plays Katherine, the love interest to Barreiro’s Kelly.  The orchestra is led by James Dodgson, scenic design by Tobin Ost, and the production is directed by Jeff Calhoun. 

            For news of future exciting events coming to the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, visit their official website at
THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY by Carol Kaufman Segal
I believe that, even though Edward Albee is considered one of theatre’s most influential playwrights, I have to warn theatergoers that he may not be for everyone.  Though he has won three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama and Two Tony Awards for Best Play, his work can be befuddling to say the least
Although I, obviously, am a devoted theater lover and take pleasure in almost any live production I am able to see, I often find Albee’s plays too troubling for me.  However, when I am made aware of a play that is given exceptional reviews, being extended several times over, playing at one of Los Angeles’s finest theaters, and featuring two of our cities’ best actors, I could not resist going to see The Play About the Baby written by Edward Albee.
The characters in the play are Girl (Allison Blaize), Boy (Philip Orazio), Man (Sam Anderson) and Woman (Taylor Gilbert).  Boy and Girl are a young married couple, madly in love with one another, who have a child who they equally love.
Suddenly their world is turned upside down when they discover an older couple in their home.  They have no idea who these two people are, how they got there, or why they are there in the first place.  
These strangers begin playing mind games with them, freaking them out, and eventually they steal their baby.  It is obvious that The Play About the Baby is a play of the absurd, and in the end, one must decide the crux of what they have seen
I found the play, not only disturbing, but had trouble trying to understand what Albee was attempting to put across to the audience.  Was he saying there was or was not a baby after all?  I presumed that I had to decide for myself.  What makes this production worthy of all of its kudos, for me, is the top-notch acting by its four actors and the grand direction by Andre Barron.  I would not have wanted to miss seeing it as it is, indeed, another adventure in exceptional theater.
Performances of The Play About the Baby are presented Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through Dec. 10, at The Road on Magnolia Blvd., in the NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.  For tickets , call (818) 761-8838 or visit          
Adult content and nudity.

HOW TO LOVE A REPUBLICAN by Carol Kaufman Segal
            What perfect timing for a play of this ilk!  How to Love A Republican is another winner by comedy playwright Jerry Mayer.  This one will keep you in stitches, as Jerry has a knack for clever lines, and the entire production, superbly directed by Chris DeCarlo, features a perfect cast.  This all adds up to a very funny play that you won’t want to miss.
            Ruth McCoy (Rachel Galper) and Tim McCoy (Dan Gilvezan)) are a happily married couple with a lovely young daughter Margie (Elizabeth Ellson).  Well, they were happy until recently.  The fact that Tim is Christian and Ruth is Jewish has no bearing on their problem. Never has and never will. 
            Then what is the problem between these two formerly very happy people?  Ah, it is election time, and what worse could cause a rift in a happy couple’s life than one being a steadfast Republican (that’s Tim) and the other being a staunch Democrat (and of course that’s Ruth).
            Though Ruth and Tim are at odds with each other, they both agree it is time for Margie to find a husband, and they decide to play match-maker by introducing her to a perfect man.  Margie is introduced to Lenny Klein (Adam Mondschein) by Ruth, and they seem to have an ongoing relationship until, unbeknownst to Ruth, Tim arranges a situation whereby Margie meets Mark Bliss (Matthew Wrather).  Then her life becomes more complicated 
            Coincidentally, Lenny is a Democrat, Mark is a Republican, and both are running for the same open seat in Congress!  Now it is up to Margie to learn more about the two parties in order to be able to make a decision as to who will get her vote!  Will Ruth and Tim learn a lesson from Margie and put away their political differences to renew their love for one another as Margie gives them insight into love and politics?
            How To Love A Republican is a production of The Santa Monica Playhouse located at 1211 4th Street, in Santa Monica.  Performances are Saturdays at 7 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through December 18.  For reservations, call (310) 394-9779, ext. 1, or go online at