Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SEPARATE TABLES by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Separate Tables is a play written as two one acts by British Playwright Terrance Rattigan, Rattigan adapted it into a film that was made in 1958 featuring very popular stars at the time, Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster, and Wendy Hiller.  David Niven won the Academy Award that year for Best Actor, and Wendy Hiller won for Best Supporting Actress.  The movie also received nominations in several other categories.
            Theatre 40 is bringing the original play back to life in Beverly Hills with a very refined production under the direction of the venerable director, Jules Aaron.  The play takes place at the Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth (90 miles southwest of London) in 1958.  We see the dining room with separate tables set up for the guests (a scrumptious set by Jeff J. Rack that revolves into a hotel lounge).  Most of the guests are regular patrons of the hotel.
            Act I:  Miss Cooper (Diana Angelina) is the hotel manager who is romantically involved with a scalawag, Mr. Malcolm (Adrian Neil) who is an alcoholic and had spent time in prison for attacking his wife. It appears that trouble will be brewing when ex wife, Ann Shankland (Susan Priver), suddenly shows up, threatening the relationship between Miss Cooper and Mr. Malcolm when the old flame rekindles.  Leave it to the most benevolent person, Miss Cooper, to fan the flame.
            Other guests in the hotel include a young couple, Jean Stratton (Melissa Collins) and Charles Stratton (Caleb Slavens), Lady Mathison (MarikoVan Kampen) and her friend Mrs. Railton-Bell (Mona Lee Wylde), her daughter Sybil Railton-Bell (Roslyn Cohn), Miss Meacham (Michelle Schultz), Mr. Fowler (John Wallace Combs), Doreen (Suzan Solomon), and Major Pollack (David Hunt Stafford).
            Act II:  Major Pollack (David Hunt Stafford) is also a regular guest at the hotel.  Sybil Railton-Bell, a shy and introverted young lady, has become infatuated with him.  Unfortunately, the Major has been accused of indiscretions with ladies at a local theatre.  When Sybil and her mother, Mrs. Railton-Bell, learn of his past, they are demoralized.  Mrs. Railton-Bell, being a dominate woman and mother, insists that Sybil forget all about him, but Sybil refuses the demands of her mother.  Once again, compassionate Miss Cooper comes to the rescue. 
            Since Separate Tables takes place in England, it must be noted how all of the actors perform with flawless accents which adds to the success of the production.
            Separate Tables plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through June 18, at Theatre 40, located in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.  Tickets are available by calling (310) 364-0535, or online at


Monday, May 29, 2017

THE LYONS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Lyons, a play by Nicky Silver, is about a family, a rather dysfunctional family to say the least.  It opens in a hospital room with Ben (James Handy) lying in bed connected to an IV when his wife, Rita (Judith Scarpone) arrives for a visit.
            Rita is fashionably dressed, sits down in a chair with her home decorating magazines, and immediately begins discussing her plans for redecorating her house.  You would never believe that she is troubled by the fact that her husband has cancer and is dying in the hospital.  And, the fact is, she is not.  She rambles on and on about her future plans as if she can hardly wait for her life to change, while Ben raves and curses. 
            With the arrival of daughter Lisa (Verity Branco), things can only get worse.  Lisa is divorced with children of her own, but her relationship with her own mother is less than caring as well.  Finally Rita’s and Ben’s gay son, Curtis (Chad Coe), pays his call which only adds to the problematic meeting of the entire family.
            Does anyone seem to care that Ben is dying?  Does any family member seem to know anything or care anything about one another?    Even though the situation is sad, Silver has written the play with a lot of humor to make a point that some families can live and grow up together but never connect with one another.
            Under the direction of Scott Alan Smith, the production boasts a very classic and talented cast of actors that also includes Kris Frost, Liz Herron, and Amy Tolsky.  The Lyons is presented by The Road Theatre Company, their final show of the 2016-2017 Season.  This company inevitably presents wonderful and thoughtful productions and always with superb performances
            The Lyons plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, at The Road on Lankershin, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, through July 11.  Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (818) 761-8838.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

ACTUALLY by Carol Kaufman Segal
          Actually is a two-person play by Anna Zeigler and directed by Tyne Rafaeli that aims to prove that when two people are involved in a situation, it is almost impossible to “actually” discover what really happened. 
          Amber ( Samantha Ressler) and Tom (Jerry MacKinnon) , two freshmen students at Princeton University end up very drunk in his dorm room.  The question is, after listening to what she says and listening to what he says, is it possible to “actually” know what really occurred?   Was it consensual, or was it rape, or do either of them “actually” know the answer?
          Tom, who is black, and Amber, who is white, meet on campus and become interested in each other.  Tom invites her to a party where they both drink a lot, and upon leaving together, end up in Tom’s room.  The end of the evening ends in a sexual encounter.   Was it rape or was it consensual sex?  Amber is urged to report the incident to the school, thereby becoming the accuser and Tom becomes the accused rapist. 
          The entire play takes place on a bare stage with two chairs set inside a box (set by Tim Mackabee).   Each one speaks to the audience as they try to characterize who they are and describe their backgrounds in an effort to defend themselves.  Did I really care who was guilty or innocent?  Not really in this particular case.  It could have gone either way.  How could I “actually” decide?
          Actually is playing in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse, located at 10886 Le Conte Ave. Los Angles.  Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays, at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through June 11.  Tickets are available at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at (310) 208-5454, or online at www.geffenplayhouse

AFTERIMAGE  by Carol Kaufman
          Afterimage is a film about a famous Polish painter, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, written by Andrzej Mularczyk and directed by celebrated Polish director Andrzej Wajda.  Strzeminski was born in Poland in 1893.  The film takes place in post-war Poland.
          Strzeminski was a professor at the State Higher School of the Visual Arts which he co-founded in Lodz.  He was a great artist who co-created the theory of Unism, a form of Modernism, and was revered by his students.  But many things changed in Poland following World War II when the country embraced Socialism.  Modernism was out, realism was in.
          Strzeminski refused to conform to the new regulations as he believed in freedom of art.  Although his students continued to stand by him, he was ultimately dismissed from his job as well as the artists’ union.  Without his membership, he was unable to purchase art supplies, and found it difficult to find or keep any type of work he was able to acquire.
          As a soldier during World War I, Strzeminski was seriously wounded, ultimately losing an arm and a leg.  This disability, along with his inability to earn a decent living found him suffering from starvation and poor health.  He eventually collapsed and passed away.  He was 52 years old
          Wladyslaw Strzeminski is skillfully performed by Polish actor, Boguslaw Linda who, by the way, is not disabled in any way.  Nevertheless, in some magical way, he realistically appears as a double amputee.  The entire film is exceptionally well-done with a talented cast under the direction of Wajda who, unfortunately, passed away at the age of 90, a month following the world premiere of this, his final film.

Running time:  98 Min.
English subtitles

Playing at Laemmle Theatres     

Thursday, May 25, 2017

 The Santa Monica Playhouse has announced the extension of I’m Not Famous – a Musical Journey with Barbara Minkus.  Performancs will continue Saturdays at 7 PM and Sundays at 3 PM, through July 22, 2017.  For further details, please see my review of this wonderful production on this site.


Monday, May 15, 2017

THE BODYGUARD, The Musical by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Bodyguard, The Musical is based on the 1992 MGM film written by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.  The musical book was written by Alexander Dinelaris and opened on Broadway December 5, 2012.  A wonderful company began touring the United States in May, 2015, and the Los Angeles premiere is playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.
            Not having seen the film, I can only speak for the musical, and I think this production of The Bodyguard is spectacular.  What makes a musical spectacular?  To me, it is the performers, the acting, singing, dancing, staging, lighting, costumes, music, an interesting storyline, all rolled into one exciting show.
            Deborah Cox, the female lead in this musical thriller, is a sensation as Rachel Marron, a superstar who is being threatened by an unknown stalker.  Her theater group hires a former secret service agent, Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) for her protection.  However, Frank is not too interested in taking the job when he finds himself in the midst of “stars” until he finds out that Rachel has a young son, Fletcher (highly talented Kevelin B. Jones III alternating with Douglas Balldeo). 
            Rachel and Frank don’t see eye-to-eye.  However, he has a winning relationship with Fletcher.   Rachel’s sister Nikki (Jasmine Richardson) finds herself falling for Frank, but his interest towards her is only as a friend.  Fortunately, Frank is quick on the trigger during one of Rachel’s performances when he saves her life as the stalker gets away.  From that moment on, Rachel warms up to Frank and they fall in love.  But life has a funny way of changing, and it is on again, off again, until the final ending when Rachel sings the beautiful song I Will Always Love You. 
            The story is not so much what makes this production so wonderful.  It is all of the things I mentioned previously.  Every member of the cast is outstanding  as are those behind the scenes that include Karen Bruce (choreographer), Tim Hatley (set and costume designer), Mathew Smedal (music director),  the entire company of dancers, all under the direction of Thea Sharrock.
            The Bodyguard, The Musical continues Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM. Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 1 PM and 6:30 PM, at the Pantages Theatre.  For more information, visit  For tickets or more information visit the official website for the Hollywood Pantages Theatre at  


Saturday, May 13, 2017

HAROLD AND LILLIAN:  A Hollywood Love Story by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Harold and Lillian, a happily married Hollywood couple whom, no doubt, you had never heard of before, will be remembered henceforth after seeing the documentary about them, Harold and Lillian:  A Hollywood Love Story written and directed by Daniel Raim.
            Harold Michelson was a storyboard artist and Lillian was a researcher who spent six decades in the film industry.  They were exceptional in their fields, and due to their talent, hard work, and dedication, they were in demand by film makers and worked on hundreds of films.  However, they were never credited on screen for the work they accomplished in aiding in the success of the films in which they collaborated. 
            Basically, the film is an interview with Lillian who recounts the story of her life with Harold.  After serving in the army in World War II, Harold, 28 years old, and Lillian, 19 yrs old, eloped to California where he got a job doing storyboards for films and Lillian was a stay-at- home mom raising their three boys.  Harold became one of the film industry’s best storyboard artists. 
            When the boys grew up, Lillian became a volunteer worker at a film research library.  Little did she know then that she would end up owning her own research library and becoming a most sought after film researcher until her retirement. 
            Throughout the documentary, the love, devotion, and collaboration to help one another brings out the quality of two of the nicest people you could possibly ever find in Hollywood, and everyone in the industry knew them for that as well.  They were married 60 years when Harold passed away at the age of 86.  Lillian is now 88 years old and resides in the Motion Picture and Television Country Home in Woodland Hills.
            Early in the movie, a few of Hollywood’s artists offer their kudos to Harold and Lillian for their collaboration with them.  They include Danny DeVito (also Executive Producer of the film), Mel Brooks, and Francis Ford Coppola.
            I found this film to be especially heartwarming and wish I could have had the opportunity of knowing this lovely and charming family.

Playing at Laemmle Theaters    



Friday, May 5, 2017

KISS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            I have attended many plays over the years as a reviewer, but I have to admit, going to see Kiss was a very unusual experience.  Firstly, as I opened my press kit, the first thing I saw was a paper with a message that stood out requesting those of us who write reviews to abstain from giving away the details of the plot.  Fair enough, I often do this with plays that I feel it is not fair to tell too much to prospective attendees. 
            Secondly, to add to the mystery, upon entering the theater, I was informed that programs for the production would not be provided to audience members until after the performance, I presumed that this also had something to do with keeping the details secret until the end. Obviously, all of this made for the expectation of an intriguing play.
            Kiss takes place in Damascus, Syria, in 2014.  In Syria, soap operas are very popular, and four friends are meeting for a party at the home of Hadeel / Andrea (Kristin Couture) to watch a soap opera.   Hadeel’s friends are Ahmed / Martin (Max Lloyd-Jones) the young man she is planning to marry, Youssif / Daniel (Kevin Matthew Reyes), who also loves Hadeel, and Bana / Laura (Natali Anna) Youssif’s girlfriend.  This could be a strange situation, and it turns out to be, not only strange but very hectic as well.  It is almost like a comedy until a strange thing happens.  One of the friends drops dead!
            The next scene is a complete change, more mysterious, more complex, and more political with the four characters interviewing the Syrian woman (Cyntia Yelle) who wrote the soap opera.  She is wearing a disguise, and is speaking through a woman (Nagham Webbe) who is her interpreter.  I cannot delve into too much more about the play, because frankly, I had a difficult time digesting it and wondered most of the time what was happening.
            Kiss was written by Guillermo Calderon and I applaud the fact that he took on this serious problem that all of the world should face, but I would have liked to have seen it told in a less complex manner.  The cast and director Bart DeLorenzo did an excellent job with a rather difficult scenario.

            Kiss is playing at the Odyssey Theatre Fridays and Saturdays at 8 M, Sundays at 2 PM, with additional performances Wednesdays, May 27 and June 7 at 8 PM, through June 18.  The theater is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.  Tickets are available by calling (310) 477-2055, or online at

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A DULL PAIN TURNED SHARP by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The world premiere of A Dull Pain Turned Sharp, is playing at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.  It boasts a very talented cast that includes Barbara Brownell (Linda), Doug Haverty (Frank), Amy Earhart (Julie), Janet Wood (Elizabeth), and Todd Andrew Ball (Dorin).  Kay Cole, who does a wonderful job directing the play, is a veteran in many fields, not only as a director, but as an outstanding choreographer, writer and teacher, as well as being a fine actress who has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and theaters throughout the U.S.  The play was written by Brent Beerman.
            Linda and Frank have been happily married for many years.  They are in possession of a beautiful grandfather clock handed down to her from her great grandmother.  During their early marriage, Linda had a number of miscarriages but finally safely carried through one pregnancy and had one daughter, Julie.  Julie is a successful business woman, not interested in marriage or motherhood, much to the consternation of her parents.  They long to have grandchildren in their lives.   And to whom will Linda be able to pass down the family heirloom?
            One afternoon, a stranger comes to see Linda, a Hungarian woman named Elizabeth who is the mother of Steven, Julie’s former beau from high school.  She explains her reason for coming to see Linda by telling her that Steven passed away after being in the hospital in a coma for months after being beaten and she is in possession of his sperm.  Since Julie always loved Steven, she wants her to take his sperm and bear his child.  As we learn later, Steven was gay, but Elizabeth tried to put that fact out of her mind by rejecting his partner Dorin. 
            At first, Linda can’t believe what she is hearing, but, on second thought, she and Frank want a grandchild disparately, so she tells Julie about Elizabeth’s visit.  Naturally, Julie tells her mother there is no way she would accept the idea, even though she loved Steven, and she also tells her mother he was gay.
            Julie meets Dorin at Steven’s funeral, and after the two of them spend time together reminiscing about him, their love for him, and their loss, she suddenly changes her mind.  She realizes that everyone could be happy if Elizabeth could accept Dorin with her and the baby, her parents would be blessed with a grandchild.   And Linda could pass the family heirloom to Julie following her forthcoming marriage.
            All of the cast members are perfect in their characterizations.  Wood is amazing as Elizabeth with a perfect Hungarian accent and manner.  Brent Beerman has infused some comical moments into the play, but I found the whole idea, and the outcome of it, just too incredulous.  My enjoyment of the entire production came from the wonderful performances by the five actors who made it all worthwhile.  

            Performances of A Dull Pain Turned Sharp run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through June 4.  The Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available at, or at info@the, or by phone at (818) 763-5990.     

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I’M NOT FAMOUS A Musical Journey With Barbara Minkus   by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Who says Barbara Minkus is not famous?  Not I, for sure!  This adorable and talented actress has been around for quite some time, and if you don’t know who she is, you are missing a lot!  She has personality-plus, a terrific voice, and you can find out all about her in her one person musical, entitled I‘m Not Famous, A Musical Journey With Barbara Minkus  at the Santa Monica Playhouse..
            Originally from Chicago, Barbara began performing in Julius Monk’s New York review, Bits and Piece, followed by touring as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl to rave reviews.  She was the original Lucy in the recording and Off-Broadway production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.  She also performed on Broadway in The Education of Hyman Kaplan directed by George Abbott.
            You may know her from television as she was on Love American Style for six seasons and also performed as Gittle the Witch in Curiosity Shop on ABC.  She was a guest on The Merv Griffin Show twenty times, and appeared numerous times on The Tonight Show and the Danny Kaye Show.        
            Barbara married and took time off to raise her family.  She finally returned to the theater to play in Funny You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother at the Santa Monica Playhouse, then later starred there as Molly Picon in Picon Pie, which she reprised Off-Broadway.  She starred as Jennie Grossinger in Stephen Cole’s Saturday Night at Grossinger’s in Los Angeles, Florida, and Off-Broadway.      
            This is just an inkling of Barbara’s outstanding career.  Now appearing again at The Santa Monica Playhouse in her one-person musical biography, you will delight at her performance.  Her story is interesting, she tells it with passion, her voice is beautiful, and she is charming.  Barbara is accompanied by talented keyboardist Ron Barnett.  The show is directed by Susan Morgenstern.
            The show plays Sundays at & 7 PM, through May 28,  In June, it will play Saturdays at 7 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM, through June 25th, at The Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica.  Reservations are available online at, or by calling the Playhouse Box Office at (310) 394-9779.