Monday, July 31, 2017

SEQUENCE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Sequence is a play written by Arun Lakra and directed by Bruce Gray presented by Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills.  In this production, two separate stories intermingle with each one featuring a male and a female, one a male professor and a female student, the other a female professor and a male student.  The back and forth dialogue from one couple to the other couple coincide with complex discussions that dwell on science, metaphysics, and who knows what else..
            You might be thinking, what is this really all about and why?  This was my very thought as I hunkered down for the eighty-five minutes from start to finish of this exceptionally over-the-top, out-of-my league dialogue.    
            I have been attending plays at Theatre 40 for many years, and I have to think that they were trying for something out of the ordinary.  I cannot remember ever totally disliking anything I have ever seen on their stage.  I will close the book on this one and look forward to the remainder of their 2017-2018 Season.  

            Sequence plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through August 20, at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.  Reservations are available by calling (310) 364-0535 or tickets can be purchased online at

Sunday, July 30, 2017

            I wish I could remember how many years ago it was that I, and other journalists, had the luck of meeting a young Hershey Felder who was in Los Angeles for his first appearance performing a piano concert at UCLA.   It was at an intimate luncheon held at the Canadian Consulate’s home in Hancock Park.  Felder and Kim Campbell (Canada’s Consulate to Los Angeles and wife of Hershey Felder) were warm hosts, serving a delicious lunch prepared by Hershey himself.  After lunch and a briefing about his concert, Hershey offered to perform on the piano for his guests which turned out to be the real high point of the day.  The young man, from those many years ago, has proven to be one of the world’s great artist and performers today. 
            The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) in Beverly Hills is presenting Hershey Felder in his latest production, Our Great Tchaikovsky, which is proving to be one of his most impressive productions.  He is a one man phenomenon due to his accomplishments as an actor, pianist, singer, writer, director, producer and designer.  His previous shows, George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven, Maestro (Leonard Bernstein), Franz Liszt in Musik, and Lincoln, An American Story, have all been popular with audiences and critics alike.   
            Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), a composer during the late Romantic Period, was born in Russia and was, and undoubtedly, is still the most popular Russian composer.  His glut of music consists of symphonies, opera, ballet suites, concerti, cantatas, choral works, and more.  Despite his popularity, he suffered from depression throughout his life, perhaps due to his homosexuality which he kept private throughout his lifetime.   
            In this glorious production, Hershey Felder plays not only the great Piotr Ilyyich Tchaikovky, but the myriad of people that affected his life, while sometimes reverting to himself.  Throughout the play, Felder performs Tchaikovsky’s music in conjunction with the text.  His skill on the piano is flawless, and I marvel at his ability to perform intricate musical works while never letting up on the narrative. 
             The beautiful set design by Hershey Felder, lighting and projection design by Christopher Ash, and the sound design by Erik Carsrtensen,  all add up to enhance this presentation, superbly directed by Trevor Hay.
            Hershey Felder performs Our Great Tchaikovsky Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through August 13, at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.  Tickets are available online at, by phone at (310) 746-4000, or at the Box Office located in the theater.




Saturday, July 29, 2017

FALSE CONFESSIONS by Carol Kaufman Segal
             False Confessions is a modernized film adaptation of the 18th Century play be Pierre Marivaux and features Isabelle Huppert and Louis Garrel.  It was directed by Luc Bondy who, unfortunately, died in November, 2015, before the film was completed.  His wife, MarieLouise Bischofberger contributed to its finish.
             Dorante, once a wealthy accountant (Louis Garrel), is facing financial problems.  He pursues a position as a secretary to the wealthy widow, Araminte (Isabelle Huppert), a woman with whom he is infatuated.  He was told of the position by his former valet, Dubois (Yves Jacques).  Dorante also received help getting the position through Araminte’s lawyer who happened to be Dorante’s Uncle Remy (Bernard Verely). 
            Both men conspire on behalf of Dorante in the interest of love.  Dubois wants to match him with Araminte, while his uncle wants to match him with Araminte’s servant Marton (Manon Combes).  Yet another interloper, Araminte’s arrogant mother (Bulle Ogie), is trying to convince Araminte to marry a more prestigious count (Jean-Pierre Malo). 
            Despite the bumbling and the plotting by all of the characters that borders on the verge of slapstick, love wins out in the end.   The movie is beautifully filmed.  It is amusing, light-hearted, and perfectly cast.
            Playing at Lammle Royal in West Los Angeles
            In French with subtitles
            Running time:  86 minutes
            Not rated   
            Not rated                                                                               

Thursday, July 27, 2017


            The theater production, The Marriage Zone, playing at the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood, has been extended through September 24, 2017,  For further information, see review posted on July 19, 2017.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

THE MIDWIFE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Midwife is a French film written and directed by Martin Provost starring two highly skilled French actresses, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot.  Provost wrote the film for these two very well-known actresses, and the film marks the first time that they appear together on screen.     
            Claire (Catherine Frot) is a demure woman who works in a maternity clinic as a midwife, but will soon be losing her position.  Because the small clinic is unable to compete with a nearby hospital, it is due to close imminently.  Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve), is an exact opposite of Claire, an undisciplined woman who lives a fast life.  Even though Claire and Beatrice are exact opposites, after years apart, they discover their need for each other.
            Beatrice, a flamboyant woman, was the mistress of Claire’s late father.  Claire was a young girl when Beatrice left them, leaving her father shattered.  She suddenly appears back in Claire’s life in need of help because doctors have diagnosed her with a brain tumor.   Claire wants no part of Beatrice, blaming her father’s suicide on her abandonment. 
            Even though she has been diagnosed with brain cancer, Beatrice cannot change her lifestyle.  She continues to gamble, smoke, eat all of the wrong foods (nothing like the staid Claire) while asking for help.  When she no longer has anywhere to turn, Claire, in her usual characteristic manner, is there to support her.  Before long, Claire finds her need for Beatrice as well, to fill the void of her being able to give aid to others and finding a mother she never had.
            The film is heart-warming and exceptionally well-told.  The scenes, with Claire bringing newborns into the world, are fascinating.  As I watched those scenes of Claire at work, I wondered how they could have appeared so authentic until I discovered that they were authentic.  They were filmed of real life births in a maternity ward.
            The Midwife is playing at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles.  Running time is 117 minutes with English subtitles. 



Sunday, July 23, 2017

BUILDING THE WALL by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Building the Wall, a play written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award- winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, is one of the most successful productions in Los Angeles this season.  Having opened in March of this year at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood, it has been extended a number of times, now scheduled to close August 27.  It is directed by Michael Michetti.
            What is this wondrous play, one might ask?  It features only two characters, it is not fast-moving, it is not exciting, there is no plot, and it might even be uncomfortable to watch.  However, it offers an important message, and perhaps, a warning as to what can take place anywhere in today’s society if we allow it.           
                Schenkkan has written this play to wake people up as to an occurrence that may seem unimaginable, but then again, maybe not.  We are looking at the future when President Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to amass and lock up millions of immigrants.  In the confines of a special room in a prison, we find Rick (Bo Foxworth), a former supervisor of a private prison, who is now a prisoner himself.  He is being interviewed by Gloria (Victoria Platt), a journalist who seeking the answers as to what prompted Rick’s incarceration.            
            As Rick reveals the shocking information that occurred in the private prison, due to the inability to cope with the numbers of “prisoners”, it is almost too much to perceive.  Yet, when one thinks back to World War II, and what took place in a country where no one seemed  to notice what was happening, or show concern, perhaps it is not as inconceivable as we might think.
            Building the Wall is not your usual play and not the easiest to watch.  It was written by Shenkkan to alert us, as citizens, to be aware of what could happen and that we need to do something about it.  His message is “To those who say that could never happen here in this country, I reply, maybe so, but that of course will depend entirely on what you do.”
            The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Blvd. in Los Angeles.  For a schedule of performances and/or to purchase tickets, call the box office at (323) 663-1525, or go online at  There will be participating audience discussions following some of the  performances.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE MARRIAGE ZONE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Beth and Cal are a middle-aged couple with a teen-age son Ron.  Who knows how long they have been married?  I would venture to say maybe around twenty years or so.  Long enough, anyway, for the honeymoon to be over, and when we meet them, it appears obvious that is a good guess. 
            The family has been living in the same house all of these years and Beth thinks it is time to move upward, even though it will put a strain on their finances.  After much discussion (and arguing),  Cal has relented, and their home now has a real estate agent’s “For Sale” sign in front of it. 
            We find Beth and Cal having their usual argument when they are interrupted by a knock at the door.  When Beth opens the door, she discovers a young couple who ask if they could see the house since they are planning to get married soon and it appears to be just what they would like for their first home.  Even though their agent is not there, Beth and Cal feel okay about letting them look around. 
            As the two couples converse, Beth and Cal are surprised to discover they have a lot in common with Skip and Ellie when an elderly couple appear at the door asking to see the house.  Mike and Liz are not interested in buying; they are simply “nosey” because as they explain to Beth and Cal, they lived in the house years ago when they were first married.
            As the play ensues, the obvious occurs when the three couples finally realize that they are all the same people in different stages of life (thus The Marriage Zone)!  Will this encounter benefit the life of any one of them in this unusual circumstance?
            The Marriage Zone is the fourth in a series of comedies written by playwright and director Jeff Gould that deal with relationships between men and women.  Though it is an unlikely situation told with many laughs, this plot might be an eye opener for some people.  A double cast performs the roles that include Anne Leighton/Rene Ashton (Beth), Jeff  Pride/Kenny Johnston (Cal), Jacee Jule/Dawn Joyal (Liz), Alex Hyde-White/Mark Sande (Mike)), Megan Barker/Britt Rose (Ellie), Ryan Cargill/Liam Donafee (Skip), and Ciaran Brown/Zach Louis (Ryan).

            The Marriage Zone plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM, at the Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, through August 27.  Reservations are available by calling (323) 960-7784, or for online ticketing go to       

Sunday, July 9, 2017

            Jacques Brel was born on April 9, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium.  He had been writing songs most of his life.  In the early 1950’s he went to Paris where he became a popular singer and composer of French songs, and in 1966 he gave up the stage to become an actor in films and musicals.  His numerous songs have been translated into many languages. 
            A 1968 Off-Broadway hit by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman based on lyrics and commentary of Jacques Brel is now being presented at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.    Though we are fortunate to have his music alive and well at the Odyssey Theatre, Brel is neither alive nor well in Paris as he died from lung cancer in France on October 9, 1978.  
            This unusual presentation is performed by four extremely artistic performers, two women (Susan Kohler and Miyuki Miyagi) and two men (Marc Francoeur and Michael Yapujian) who not only sing the many songs by Brel, but act them out in a way that brings much more of the interpretation of them to life.  They are accompanied by a group of wonderful musicians, Anthony Lucca (keyboard), Cyrus Elis (bass), Conor Malloy(percussion), Ryan McDonald (alternate percussionist), and Max Wagner (guitar).
            Brel’s songs all have meaning about life in them, and the performances by this outstanding group is like watching twenty-four individual musical skits in two acts.  The musical direction is by Anthony Lucca.   Susan Kohler, Miyuki Miyagim, Marc Francoeur, and Michael Yapujian are all multi-talented singers and actors.  The production is under the direction of Dan Fishbach.
            Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris¸ will continue playing at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, through August 27.  For all information regarding reservations and/or purchasing tickets, call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2, or go online at


Saturday, July 8, 2017

DIAL M FOR MURDER by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Dial M For Murder is a stage play written by English playwright Frederick Knott.  In 1954, Warner Bros. Studio produced the film based on Knott’s stage play and directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings.
            I saw the film when it played in theaters those many years ago and was anxious to see it performed live on stage.  I wondered if it would be as interesting and credible in a small theater.  Presented by the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, it proved to be worthy of acclaim for a production extremely well-done. 
            The play is presented in three acts all set in the living room of the Wendice’s apartment in London in 1954 (an outstanding set by J. Kent Inasy).  Tony Wendice (Adam Jonas Segaller) was once a tennis star who is married to Margot (Carrie Schroeder), a woman of wealth.  Their outward appearance does not show their animosity towards one another, though Margot has been having an affair with, seemingly, a family friend, an American Max Halliday (Justin Waggle), and Tony, who is aware of her infidelity, is merely interested in her money. 
            Since Tony loves money, but not his wife, he decides his life would be better off with her money but without her.  Therefore, he goes about developing a fool-proof plan to have her murdered whereby he will end up with her fortune.  But nothing, it seems, is ever really fool-proof, and his plan backfires when, in self-defense, Margot struggles with the intended murderer, Captain Lesgate (Michael Robb), and kills him.  
            It appears that the villain in the play will end up as he wished after all when Margot is arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death for the murder of Captain Lesgate.  But once again, the situation takes a turn as Inspector Hubbard (Doug Haverty) unravels another new surprise. 
            The entire cast, which includes Hisato Masuyama-Ball as Thompson, deserves kudos for their fine and flawless performances.  They can all be seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through August 13, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at, or at  Reservations may be made by calling (818) 763-5990.


LETTERS FROM A NUT by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Come on, don’t take it seriously.  This presentation is not trying to be a play, nor a drama, but it is simply a gentleman (Ted L Nancy, aka Barry Marder) with a sense of humor who wants to make you laugh.  And he does a good job doing just that.  Letters From a Nut is directed by Pierre Balloon.
            This is how it all began.  One evening Marder, a veteran stand-up comedian, was relaxing while munching on Fritos when he happened to read on the bag, “Got a problem?  Write to us at Fritos.”   Thinking out loud, “Who would write to Fritos?  his girlfriend responded, “A nut, that’s who?”
            Marder began sending ludicrous letters to companies everywhere under the pseudonym Ted L, Nancy.   The responses he received back from service departments were just as ludicrous, and in 1997, he put together a book entitled Letters From a Nut, followed by six more books.
            In his show, Nancy explains all of this to his audience before he sits down at a desk and begins reading a letter (a copy of which is projected on the stage) followed by the response (also shown) by Beth Kennedy who takes on numerous corporate characters throughout the 80 minute  production.  Letters from Ted L. Nancy are so absurd it is difficult to believe that any company would take them seriously enough to respond to him.  But respond they do, and for all good intentions, they add to the essence of this very comical production.  As difficult as it is to believe, all of the letters are real.
            Letters From a Nut was written by Ted L.Nancy, pseudonym for Barry Marder, a former writer for Jerry Seinfeld who produced this show.  He has written for Bill Maher, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.  He was a co-writer for DreamWorks animated hit The Bee Movie and wrote with George Carlin. 
            Beth Kennedy is a long standing member of the Troubadour Theater Company and is the recipient of multiple Ovation, Backstage, and LA Drama Critic Circle Awards for other performances.
            Sam Kwasman appears as Pagliacci dressed in a clown’s suit, but though he does the character well, it is questionable why he is even a part of the production.  Perhaps three’s a charm!

            Letters From a Nut  plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through July 30, in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles.  Tickets are available at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at (310) 208-5454, or online at www.geffenplayhouse,org.