Sunday, January 22, 2017

LATE COMPANY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Late Company, making its United States premiere at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills, was written by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill.  Tannahill was born May 19, 1988, and this play, one of his many, was written in 2013.  In Canada, he is considered “the hottest name in Canadian Theatre” (Montreal Gazette).  The subject of Late Company is relevant in today’s society.
            The scene is the dining room in the home of Michael and Debora Shaun-Hastings (Grinnell Morris and Ann Hearn).  The table is set for six as they await their dinner guests, Bill and Tamara Dermot (Todd Johnson and Jennifer Lynn Davis) and their son Curtis (Baker Chase Powell). 
            If there are only going to be five people for dinner, then why are there six place settings?   We find out that the extra place setting is in memory of Joel, the gay son of Michael and Debora who committed suicide exactly a year ago after being bullied by a group of his peers at school.  Curtis was part of that group.  Michael and Debora invited the Dermots and their son Curtis to their home in order to try to bring this tragic event to a closure.
            The Dermots arrive a little late, and the evening seems to begin a bit uneasy.  As the two couples converse, Curtis appears to be on edge and uncomfortable, left out and trying to keep to himself.  As the talks between the two couples continue, anger on both sides seems to evolve,   while Curtis seems to be left on the outside until, suddenly, he tells about a nightmare that has haunted him ever since Joel’s death.
            It becomes obvious that plans for closure will probably never happen between the Shaun-Hastings and the Dermots, and when the Dermots leave, the air is thicker than ever.  But what of Curtis who seems to have been ignored through most of the entire episode?  Only the ending can offer you an answer.
            Baker Chase Powell filled me with compassion throughout his performance as Curtis.  Grinnell Morris, Ann Hearn, Todd Johnson, and Jennifer Lynn Davis, bring reality to their characters, all under the direction of Bruce Gray.  The lovely set is by Jeff G. Rack, Costume design by Michele Young, Lighting design by Ric Zimmerman, Sound design by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski, and Produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40.
            Late Company plays Thursday through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through February 19, at Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills.  For reservations, call (310) 364-0535.  Online ticketing is available at,.     

Saturday, January 21, 2017

NICE IRANIAN GIRL by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Nice Iranian Girl is a world premiere production about, well, what else, a nice Iranian girl.  Her name is Layla Rumi, and she wrote, produced and performs in this true life story under the direction of Richard Embardo.  Her story is something of a fairytale and Layla is undeniably, not only talented, but charming, loaded with spunk, headstrong, and ambitious.  Her life is a tailspin of what is known as chutzpah.
            After Layla was born and her parents divorced, her mother moved to London and left her with her grandparents in Tehran.  Layla recalled, huddling in a basement with her grandparents while Saddam Hussein’s aircraft bombarded the neighborhood.   For her safety, she left to go to London to be with her Mother who had remarried.
            Layla became homeless in London at the age of 15 when she could no longer tolerate the abuse of her Mother’s husband and left their home.  Though underage, she managed, with her looks, to trick her way into a job at a London nightclub where she was exposed to a world of incest and drugs into which she never fell.
            While living alone in London, Layla spent a lot of her time watching American television, fell in love with what she saw, and made a decision to go to Hollywood, hoping to get a job on TV.  Her story, how she succeeded in Hollywood through her good looks, charm, talent, hard work, and tenacity, is beautifully told by this Nice Iranian Girl at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.
            Layla Rumi became a naturalized American citizen.  And though her dream for success came true, there is one thing that she regrets in her life.  Because she once posed in a bikini for Maxim magazine, Iran put her on a death list   and she will never be able visit her girlhood home again. 

            Nice Iranian Girl plays Saturdays at 8 PM at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, through February 11.  Reservations are available by calling (800) 838-3006.  Online tickets are available at

Saturday, January 14, 2017

            Urinetown:  The Musical has reopened at the Lankershim Arts Center located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, in North Hollywood.  Performance are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, through February 25,  All seats are available on a “Pay /What You Want” basis and may be reserved online at, or by calling (323) 944-2165.

            See prior review on this site.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


An Evening with Shirley MacLaine
40th Anniversary Screening of THE TURNING POINT (1977)
Wednesday, January 11, at the Music Hall Theatre, 7:15 PM

On January 14 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will present its Career Achievement Award to Shirley MacLaine, Oscar-winning star of stage and screen for the last 60 years. In conjunction with that event, the Anniversary Classics series offers an intimate conversation with MacLaine, along with a 40th anniversary screening of her award-winning film, The Turning Point. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards in 1977 and won Golden Globes for Best Drama and Best Director Herbert Ross. Screenwriter Arthur Laurents won the Writers Guild award for Best Original Screenplay. Both MacLaine and co-star Anne Bancroft were Oscar-nominated for their performances in the film, and dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne also received nominations for their supporting roles.

The Turning Point tells the story of two friends who started out together as dancers in a national ballet company (modeled on American Ballet Theatre). Bancroft’s character became a prima ballerina while MacLaine’s character chose to give up her career and raise a family. When MacLaine’s daughter (played by Browne) launches her own career as a dancer, the two women examine the life choices that they made two decades earlier, and long buried jealousies and resentments come to the surface. Variety called the movie “one of the best films of its era,” and added, “Pic ranks as one of MacLaine’s career highlights.” New West magazine agreed that The Turning Point was “among the most emotionally satisfying movies of recent years.”

After starting as a dancer on Broadway, Shirley MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry in 1955. She earned her first Oscar nomination when she co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running in 1958. She earned two more nominations for her performances in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960) and Irma La Douce (1963). She won the Oscar in 1983 when she starred in James L. Brooks’ Terms of Endearment. Among her many other films are Around the World in 80 DaysOcean’s ElevenThe Children’s HourSweet CharityBeing ThereSteel MagnoliasPostcards from the Edge, and more recent turns in Richard Linklater’s Bernie with Jack Black and Elsa & Fred with Christopher Plummer.

Tickets are available at the Music Hall box office and here:

Music Hall Theater
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills CA 90211
(310) 478-3836