Wednesday, December 19, 2018


LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE by Carol Kaufman Segal
           
 You may have seen the film, Love, Actually, written and produced by Richard Curtis for Universal Pictures that opened in theatres Nov. 3, 2003.  The movie is a romantic comedy that takes place in London during the Christmas season, and that has made it a staple to be shown somewhere every Christmas since. 
            
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills is featuring the world premiere of Love Actually Live in a most unusual production in collaboration with For the Record and by special arrangement with Universal Theatrical Group..  It is superbly adapted and directed by Anderson Davis
          
The scenic design by Mathew Steinbrenner is most unusual with multiple screens high up on the stage that show the scenes from the movie followed by live actors and singers who perform matching characters in the scenes.  Very unique and clever, to say the least, and so well done by the entire cast of nineteen, all who are superb singers and actors.  An outstanding 15-piece orchestra, conducted by Jesse Vargas, adds to the success of this outstanding musical.
           
Although I am not an aficionado of the film, Love Actually, this production is a dazzling musical extravaganza that gives it so much oomph.  I loved every minute of it.       
            
Performances are scheduled Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM., Saturdays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, final showing Monday, Dec 31 at 8 PM at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.  Tickets are available at the onsite theatre box office, online at TheWallis.org or by phone at (310) 746-4000.
           




HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Friday, December 14, 2018


SOUTH PACIFIC by Carol Kaufman Segal
            




Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s well-known Broadway play and award-winning South Pacific was based on James Michener’s prize–winning book Tales of the South Pacific.  It opened on Broadway April 7, 1949, and closed January 16, 1954 after 1925 performances.   In 1958 it was made into an award-winning film starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor.  The Rubicon Theatre in Ventura is concluding their 20th anniversary season with a spectacular production of this marvelous musical playing through Dec. 23.
            South Pacific features glorious ballads by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein as well as comic and upbeat songs accompanied by a two-piano adaptation.  Brent Crayon is the Musical Director and First Keyboard Player and Lee Martino is the Choreographer.  It also features a cast of 28 very talented performers, all under the direction of Katharine Farmer.
            South Pacific takes place on an island in the South Pacific during World War II where two unlikely couples find love but are torn apart by differences that are difficult to overcome. Nellie Forbush (Madison Claire Parks) is an American Nurse from a small town, stationed on the island.  She meets and falls in love with a French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (Benjamin Jay Davis).        
            Lt. Joseph Cable (Alex Nee), also stationed on the island with an army battalion, falls in love with Liat (Jamie Yun), a beautiful shy native girl, after meeting her through the efforts of her very assertive mother, Bloody Mary (Jodi Kimura).
            Nellie discovers that Emile had been married to a native woman (deceased) and is the father of two adorable children, a boy and a girl (Ian Nunney and Isabella De Los Santos).  But Nellie is unable to accept the biracial children and breaks her engagement to Emile while Joe can’t imagine bringing home an island native, though he admits he loves Liat.
            The play follows the two love stories while cast members perform the roles of the nurses and members of the army who are all based on the island, much done through Roger’s and Hammerstein’s apropos songs and dancing by all. I never could have imagined how the small stage of the Rubicon theatre could feature a show with such a large cast but they do a miraculous job with the entire production and with such quality performers. The two leads, Ben Davis and Madison Claire, have wonderful voices and do justice to every song they sing.    
            South Pacific  plays Wednesdays at 2 PM and 7 PM, Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through Dec. 23, at the Rubicon Theatre, 1006  E. Main St., Ventura, CA.  For tickets call (805) 667-2900, or go online at www.rubicontheatre.org.  To enjoy “some enchanted evening”, you won’t want to miss it!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Thursday, December 13, 2018





IT’S A WONERFUL LIFE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            It’s A Wonderful Life is a radio drama that wad presented at Theatre West in Los Angeles, adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast, script by Jo Swerling.  For some of us, it was nostalgic, to say the least, and hopefully a lot of fun for all.
            The theater was set up as a radio station preparing to go on the air to present a well-known film, It’s A Wonderful Life (the 1946 movie starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed).  Standing by were the actors waiting for their que to begin.
            George Bailey (Tatum Shank) grew up in small-town Bedford Falls.  He had high dreams of leaving to go to college and to see the world.  But when his father dies unexpectantly, he ends up taking over his father’s Building and Loan Company for the sake of his family and to keep wealthy Mr. Potter (Don Moore) from taking over the building in order to get rid of his competition.  George marries the prettiest girl in town, Mary Hatch (Loida Navis) and they now have a family. 
            On Christmas Eve George’s Uncle Billy (James J. Cox) loses $8,000 of the business’s money while on his way to the bank to deposit it.  Unfortunately, it is Mr. Potter who finds it, but never reveals that fact.  George realizes what a terrible predicament he will be in when the loss is discovered missing by the bank examiner.  The business will collapse, he will be sent to jail, and Potter will be able to take over Bedford Falls.  He thinks of his family, his wife and children, and surmises that he will be better off dead. 
            While George is considering his demise, an angel named Clarence (Sara Shearer) is called from heaven to help save him from committing suicide.  He shows George what life would have been like for others had he never existed.  The town of Bedford Falls comes to his rescue and all’s well that ends well for all (except Mr. Potter). 
            It was a lot of fun watching this performance as a radio show, what with mikes, sound effects, advertisements, and lights for applause.  All of the performers added so much life to their characters with their expressions and some movements.  The rest of the cast, who brought the population of Bedford Falls to life, included Jill Jones, Bonnie Kalisher, Maria Kress, Bill Schres, Phillip Sokoloff, and Tammy Taylor.  This radio show was written, adapted, and directed by Matt Johnson. 
            Theatre West is the oldest operating theater company in Los Angeles having been established in 1962.  They are located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd., West Los Angeles.  To check out their schedule for ongoing and future performances, go online at theatrewest.org, or call (323) 851-7977.


Thursday, December 6, 2018


 FINKS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            McCarthyism was a sorry time in American History that occurred in the 1950’s when hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.  They were called before panels who subjected them to aggressive investigations, many of them were from the entertainment industry. 
            When members of the film industry were called upon and questioned, they were asked to name names.  Some chose to cooperate with the committee, some felt forced to do so, and gave names of friends, colleagues, and cohorts. Those who did were considered “finks” while there were members who refused to answer any of the questions by the committee, even though they knew they would suffer the consequences.  Unfortunately, during this time in our history, those who refused to cooperate were “blacklisted” and lost their careers.  Many suffered ill health, and some did not live to see their situations exonerated.      
            The play Finks¸ written by Joe Gifford and directed by Michael Pressman is about some who “fink” and more importantly, some don’t. (Both Gifford’s and Pressman’s parents were blacklisted.)   Mickey (Dobbs (French Stewart) is an up-and-coming comedian.  He meets Natalie Meltzer (Vanessa Claire Stewart), an actress who belongs to an actors’ political organization. Though Mickey has never been involved or interested in politics, he is interested in Natalie and is coerced into joining her at the meetings.
            Eventually Mickey and Natalie marry and have a baby.  Mickey’s career is going along extremely well and he is finally about to be offered his own television show.  At the same time, their cohorts are being called up before the House Un-American Committee.  They discuss their concerns, knowing if or when they are called, and if they refuse to co-operate with the interrogations, their livelihoods will undoubtedly suffer.  Eventually the summons arrives and each are left to make a decision.
            Serious, yes, but there is much more to Finks due to a well-written script and actors who add so much more to the play.  As a working comedian, French Stewart can be funny, and he and his real-life wife, Vanessa, work so beautifully together.  Both are extremely fine actors as are the rest of the entire cast.  They are Stephen Tyler Howe, Richard Levinson, Matt Gottlieb, Bruce Nozick, Daniel Dorr, Thomas Fiscella, and Adam Lebowitz-Lockard, some who perform multiple characters. 
            Finks is a production of the Rogue Machine Theatre playing Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM, and Sundays at 7 PM, through December 30, at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice.  For further information call (855) 585-5185, or go online at roguemachinetheatre.com.
            
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Monday, December 3, 2018






REMEMBERING BOYLE HEIGHTS by Stan Mazin, Guest Reviewer

“Remembering Boyle Heights” is a World Premiere, Created and Devised by Josefina Lopez, Corky Dominguez & The Remembering Boyle Heights Ensemble.  It was Directed by Corky Dominguez, with an ensemble consisting of Michael Berckart, Joe Luis Cedilla, Jose Alejandro HernandezJr., Yvette Karla Herrara, Angel Michel Juarez, Megumi Kabe, Marcel Libera, Jackie Marriott, Roberta H. Martinez, Allyson Taylor, and last but not least Raymond Watanga.  Each and every member of this ensemble gets a chance to shine playing varied different characters in this 90 minute without intermission event.  I call it an event as it is more so than a standard play. The evening begins in the lobby with Angel Juarez singing and dancing, quite sensually I must add, followed by Yvette Karla Herrera doing a monologue about what it was like to have to live in this area when they began raising the rents upon the people in Boyle Heights when it began changing, followed by Joe Luis Cedillo’s monologue about the Mariachi’s of Boyle Heights.  Then the audience enters the theatre where a ‘town hall meeting’ is already in progress, by the ensemble all of whom are wearing masks to show the commonality of the problems they are all complaining about.  Quite an interesting beginning to any show.  As the evening progresses, each of the players get opportunities to shine.  Whenever someone speaks of a happening, the action is enhanced from time to time by the use of a live camera that shows the speakers as their image is projected over three areas of the walls of the stage on what seems to be old photos of the old Boyle Heights. Another enhancement is the use of the ensemble’s freezes… or frescos, during which everyone remains completely still.  I defy you to find a moving or shaking character during these times.  All the information inspired by the memories, stories  and experiences are no doubt true facts about the developing changes that occurred to the community from the late 1800;s to just after WWII in the 40’s.  Although at times the information seems slightly overwhelming, the play progresses at a rapid pace never letting down or getting boring for a second.  Kudos to all concerned with this huge endeavor.  As for the production team, the Producer is the Co-writer Josefina Lopez, the Executive Producer is Emmanuel Deleage, Set Designer is Cesar Retana-Holguin, Light Designer is Kevin Eduardo Vasquez, Projection Designer is Masha Tatarintsev, Costume Designer is Abel Alvarado, while the Sound Designer and Production Stage Manager is Xavi Casanova, Technical Director is Vincent A. Sanchez, Stage Manager is Georgina Rios Escobar, Assistant to the Director is Andrew Ortega,  with Wardrobe Assistant, Ashley Montoya and Production Consultant, Shmuel Gonzales.  Public Relations is by Steve Moyer, Photographer for production stills is Ed Krieger,  with Casting Director Edward Padilla and Graphics Designer, Soap Studio Inc.  I was educated in learning that the history of Boyle Heights included other ethnic groups besides the expected Latino community, such as the Jewish people, the Filipinos, and Afro Americans for example.  And some of the universal problems that the community has had to deal with are still prevalent today.
 
The show plays at Casa 0101 Theater, 2102 East 1st Street in Boyle Heights through December 16th.  For Reservations for this ‘recommended for all audiences’ show, call Theatre Box Office at 323-263-7684, E-mail tickets@casa0101.org, or buy online at www.casa0101.org.  The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission.  And while there please don’t miss the Boyle Heights Museum, Royal’s ‘A Multi-Racial Catalyst for Democracy’, running through February 24th.


My Date With Death by Stan Mazin, Guest Reviewer

"My Date With Death” with book, music, and lyrics by Daniel Sugimoto stars Daniel Sugimoto and Samantha M. Lawrence.  This well intentioned play deals with thoughts of suicide and it’s causes, as well as the reasoning behind preventing such an awful deed.  Daniel Sugimoto, playing Link, is the one who has been drinking so much that the non responsiveness of his friends causes him to feel rejected, alone, and feeling there is no way out under the state of his mental circumstances.  While in his inebriated state, he carries with him an ability to be quite charmingly creative and free in his movements, particularly while singing some of his interestingly written songs.  Samantha M. Lawrence while playing the Grim Reaper seems a little difficult to understand, perhaps due to the layout of the Church turned theatre space, yet once she sheds her cloak and sickle and becomes Diallo, for some reason I understood every word she said.  And without giving too much of this 90 minute no intermission musical piece away, their relationship evolves and the two of them have some interested and intriguing moments.  The use of video on the huge screen behind the set was quite well handled.  The Director and Costume design is by Julia Lisa, and she did keep the movement going, never allowing it to be stagnant or boring.  I felt the Lighting Design by Zachary Thomas-Dunlop was proper for the space given.  I don’t think more could have been done to enhance the ‘spirit’ of the play.  Even the lighting changes during some of the ballad-like songs were appreciated.  This musical is produced by The Zoo Theatre Company, and was performed at The Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica from Nov. 10th through December 2nd.  The Press Representative is Steve Moyer.

Reviewed by Stan Mazin, 11/24/18



Wednesday, November 21, 2018


A CAROL CHRISTMAS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            It’s that wonderful time of the year when many theaters are offering Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  You may feel that you have seen it often enough over the years.  Therefore, I highly recommend that you see a brand new version of the Dickens’ classic playing at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. 
             This new musical production entitled A Carol Christmas is set in America today.  It was written by Doug Haverty, with wonderful music and lyrics by Bruce Kimmel, orchestration and musical direction by Richard Allen, and choreography by Kay Cole, all under the direction of Bruce Kimmel.  It is a top-notch, first class musical production with a superb cast of actors, singers and dancers that is making its debut in the Los Angeles area.
            And speaking of the cast, this big list of talented members includes Monica Allan, Ben Anderson, Emily Barnett, Ryan J. Duncan, Kevin Hoffman, Peyton Kirkner, Lola Paja, Lloyd Pedersen, Catarina Pereira, Hartley Powers, Savannah Schoenecker, John Schroeder, Debi Tinsley, Harley Walker, and Janet Wood.  A special group of marvelous young carolers include Celine June Bautista, Ella Birdwell, Andre Grigorian, Chihoro Kato, and Momoka Kato.           
            You won’t find Scrooge, because in this play, it is Carol (Hartley Powers), the host of a home-shopping show on TV.  Her job is very demanding.  She and her large staff spend many hours working towards the success of her show, and since she doesn’t care about Christmas she expects her entire staff to work with her throughout the holidays.  Her former partner, Joelle (Janet Wood) who recently passed away, left Carol with an unexpected DVD telling her what Christmas Eve will be like for her.
            We won’t see any ghosts, but Carol is visited by a rather wacky therapist Odette, Christmas Past (Debi Tinsley), Karina, a Russian herbalist, Christmas Present (Janet Wood ), and Mabel, a weird Tarot card reader, Christmas Future (Debi Tinsley again).  Tinsley and Wood are both delightful and very funny in their roles.  Trina (surrogate for Tiny Tim), whose malady is a weak heart, is played with sensitivity by young Peyton Kirkner.
            Everyone in the cast is outstanding, the music and lyrics are sensational and the book is clever and well-written.  The set design (Tesshi Nakagawa), costume design (Morgan Gannes), sound design (Austin Quan) all go together to make this a wonderful theater experience.
            A Carol Christmas is playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, through December 30.  There will be no performance Friday, November 23.  There will be an added performance Saturday, November 24, at 2 PM.  For tickets, call (818) 760-1240, or go online at www.thegrouprep.com.  




HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


BUS STOP by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Bus Stop was written by playwright William Inge.  It was produced on Broadway in 1955 and made into a film in 1956.  It is a well-written character play, and although it takes place in 1952, it could take place at any time.     
            The story is set in a restaurant located on a highway in a small town in Kansas (set design by Jeff D. Rack) during a winter month.  Because of icy conditions on the highway, a bus is forced to stop at the diner where its passengers can relax, have a meal, and possibly stay overnight, during the time it takes for the roads to clear.  
            Grace (Michele Schultz), who owns the restaurant, is set in her ways, friendly enough, but tries not to get too involved with her customers.  However, Carl the bus driver (David Datz), undoubtedly makes many stops at Grace’s diner, and she seems to always look forward to those occasions and his company.    
            On the other hand, the young waitress Elma (Mani Yarosh), is more outgoing and pleased to meet all of the passengers.  Cherie (Kaitlin Huwe) is a sexy 19 year old saloon singer who rushes into the diner with her suitcase which she hides behind the counter, making it clear that she will not go back on the bus to continue its destination.   She lets the local sheriff, Will Masters (Shawn Savage), know that she is being harassed by Bo Decker (Nico Boles), an impetuous young man, who is trying to force her into marrying him.
            Virgil Blessing (Gary Ballard) befriends Bo and tries to explain to him why he has alienated Cherie.   But it takes Sheriff Masters to take Bo down to finally make him see the light.  Meanwhile, Dr. Gerald Lyman (Jack Sundmacher), a retired college professor who is a depressed alcoholic, becomes overly friendly with innocent Elma.  She becomes infatuated with him, but no harm occurs before the roads are cleared and everyone returns to the bus.  By that time, Bo has become a changed man and wins the heart of Cherie who follows him to the bus to renew their journey together.  As the last of the passengers walk out the door, Grace goes through her task of closing the diner.
            Bus Stop is a production of Theatre 40 under the astute direction of Ann Hearn Tobolowsky with an exceptionally talented cast that brings all of its interesting characters to life.  Performances run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through Dec. 16, also Mondays at 8 PM, Dec. 3 and 10.  There will be no showings Nov. 22 and 23.  The performances are presented in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills. Tickets are available by calling (310) 364-0535, or online at www.theatre40.org. 




RECOMMENDED

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


IN A BOOTH AT CHASEN’S by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Chasen’s was a restaurant that opened in 1936 at 9039 Beverly Blvd. on the border of Beverly Hills. It soon became a favorite spot for people in the entertainment business, and for many years it was the site for the Academy Awards party.  Many regular patrons had booths named in their honor, so when you see the musical, In A Booth at Chasen’s at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, you will understand why the Ronald Reagan booth is on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.  (Chasen’s closed in 1995 due to a decline in business,)
            It was November, 1949, when Ronald Reagan (Brent Schindele), still feeling the pangs from a recent divorce from Jane Wyman, had a blind date with a 29-year old starlet named Nancy Davis (Kelley Dorney).  They met in a booth at Chasen’s, and Nancy was rather nervous being with a tried and true actor who was also the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild.  As the evening progressed, they were feeling quite comfortable together, and following their first meeting, they began spending more and more time with each other.
            During the next two years, they became extremely close.  They opened their hearts to one another and sometimes squabbled, just like any married couple.  So why did it take Ronald so long to propose to Nancy?  The play draws on the long amount of time it finally takes him to do so, and when he finally does, it is in their favorite booth at Chasen’s!
            The story is well-written by Sam Bennett, and the music and lyrics by Al Kasha and Phil Swann add a special feel to the story as beautifully sung by Kelly Dorney and Brent Schindele.  The two actors are so perfect in their roles that they give one the feeling of actually seeing and hearing Ronald and Nancy relaying their story. 
            In A Booth at Chasen’s is directed by Kay Cole, Musical Director is Jonathan Tessero, and the lovely scenic design is by Andy Walmsley.  The production is playing at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, through November 25th.  For further information regarding the schedule and to order tickets, call (818) 508-4200, or go online at www.InABoothAtChasens.com.



RECOMMENDED

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


THE LITTLE FOXES by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Antaeus Theatre opened its season with Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at the Kiki & David Gindler performing Art Center in Glendale.  Written by Hellman in 1939, it was considered a classic of 20th century drama.  While the play takes place in Alabama in 1900, it is amazing how nothing in it would have to be modified if it were set to take place today.
            Everything about this production is of the highest quality.  While waiting for it to begin, the audience sees a magnificent stage setting of a luxurious living room in the Giddens’ home in a small town in Alabama (set design by John Iacovelli).   On stage right is a foyer that leads to the front door (door not seen) and at stage left there is a dining room that can be seen into through a glass door.  Backstage left are stairs leading up to the second floor bedrooms.      
            Regina Hubbard Giddens (Deborah Puette), her brothers Benjamin Hubbard (Mike McShane), and Oscar Hubbard (Rob Nagle) appear to be a close-knit family.  They often find themselves together in Regina’s home along with Regina’s young daughter Alexandra Giddens (Kristin Couture), Oscar’s wife Birdie Hubbard (Jocelyn Towne), and their ninny son Leo Hubbard (Calvin Picou).  Regina’s husband, Horace Giddens (John DeMita) has been in a convalescent home for nearly five months, his health failing due to a heart condition.  Never fear, he will show up eventually.      
            Regina, Benjamin, and Oscar do not spend their time together because they love one another so much.  Oh no, they spend their time together figuring out ways to add to their riches.  And they will do anything to anyone in order to achieve their goal, including one another.  They will use each other, or any family member, with no regard of the consequences in order to build up their riches. The three siblings arrange a meeting in Regina’s home with William Marshall (Timothy Adam Venable) who offers them a chance to make a lot of money by investing with him.  After he leaves, the next thing they decide they have to do is figure out how to get the money in order to invest with  Marshall to become rich.
            Poor Birdie wonders why she ever married Oscar who chastises her for everything she says or every move she makes. To him, she is more of a hindrance than part of his family.  However, his son is different because he can be of help in their scathing plans.  When Horace comes home in a wheel chair after his long convalescence, Alexander is very happy, though not aware of why her Mother had him come home.  Thrilled to have him, she pampers him, as do Cal (William L, Warren) and Addie (Judy Louise Johnson), the household help.
            The plot thickens when plans go awry and Horace, unfortunately, discovers why he was needed back home.  When Regina pulls the rug out from under Benjamin and Oscar, and when she loses her daughter who suddenly evolves from a teen-ager into a mature woman in control of her  own existence, she is left standing alone, albeit, a woman who paid dearly for the riches she would do anything to obtain.. 
            While the play is presented in three acts with two intermissions, every actor is so outstanding, it holds one’s attention every minute from beginning to end and the time seems to fly.  This spectacular production is directed by Cameron Watson.  The beautiful period clothes for the men and the women were designed by Terri A. Lewis.  The lighting design, by Jared A. Saying, adds to the ambiance of the setting.   
            The Little Foxes,  a production of the Antaeus Theatre Company, plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, and Mondays at 8 PM, through Dec. 10, at the Kik i & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway, Glendale.  For tickets, call (818) 506-1983 or go online at www.Antaeus.org.





HIGHLY RECOMMENDED





















Tuesday, October 30, 2018



STEAMBATH by Carol Kaufman Segal;
            Imagine finding yourself in a steambath and not knowing why or how you arrived there.  That’s what happens to Tandy (Jeff LeBeau) in Steambath, written by Bruce Jay Friedman, playing at the Odyssey Theatre.  Tandy finds himself in the company of other people, sitting and sweating there as well.
            He meets everyone sharing the steambath with him, Bieberman, (Robert Lesser) a man who complains a lot, a young gay couple (DJ Kemp and Devon Scheolen), an Oldtimer (John Moskal), who is constantly being picked on by Bieberman., and a Broker (Brian Graves).  He becomes quite friendly with a young girl, Meredith (Shelby Lauren Barry), and while talking to her, he suddenly figures out that he and all of the others in the steambath are no longer alive on earth, but ascended to the afterlife.  God is a Puerto Rican bath attendant Paul Rodriquez) whose assistant is Gottlieb (Yusuf Yildiz).  God is no one like he, or any of the others, would have expected.  
           Tandy can’t accept where he finds himself, and he pleads with God to let him return to his life.  But this is not a warm and considerate God.  He is unfeeling and rash.  The way God is depicted in this play is blasphemous to me and I, personally, did not see the humor in it.  Naturally, Tandy is not returned to life, but is sent away with all of the other occupants to an unknown destination while God awaits his next arrivals to the steambath.
            Steambath was a hit comedy Off-Broadway in 1970, albeit controversial due to some language, some nudity and its “ungodly” representation.  It may be considered more acceptable in this age, but perhaps not by everyone.   Ron Sossi directs the capable cast that includes Anthony Rutowicz  (Longshoreman/Detective) and Shay Denison (Young Girl).  Sossi thinks the play has a particular resonance with Jewish audiences. I only see a heavily Jewish cast in a play written by a Jewish playwright. 
            Steambath is playing through December 16, at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.  For the schedule and/or tickets, call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2, or go online at www.OdysseyTheatre.com.  Recommended for mature audiences.
                                   



Monday, October 29, 2018



MERCE CUNNINGHAM, CLOUDS AND SCREENS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was a gifted dancer who joined Martha Graham’s company in 1939.  In 1944, he debuted some of his own solo works, and the following year left Martha Graham’s troupe to work on his own.  He continued to develop solo pieces for himself, and in 1953, established the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.  He choreographed his own work using a great deal of music by John Cage, who became his life partner.  He also collaborated with artist Robert Rauschenberg, and eventually with other avante-garde artists including Andy Warhol. 
            Merce Cunningham, Clouds and Screens opened at the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA) on the same date as did the Rauschenberg exhibition.  Upon entering the lobby of the presentation, visitors are met by Silver Clouds created by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) along with scientist and engineer Billy Kluver.  Dozens of these large pillow-like “clouds,” mixed with air and helium, float around the lobby.  Warhol thought of them as floating paintings that people could play with.  Merce Cunningham saw an exhibition of Silver Clouds when it debuted in 1966 at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York and asked Warhol to modify them as d├ęcor for his dance Rain Forest. 
            Charles Atlas created MC9 (Merce Cunningham to the Ninth Power) from videos he had taken during his and Cunningham’s investigation of the relationship of live performance and video documentation.  The exhibition includes excerpts from 21 of Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham’s “dances for camera.”  Two videos of Cunningham dances are shown as well, Changeling, a solo piece for which Rauschenberg designed the set, costume, and lighting, and a duet for which Rauschenberg redesigned costumes and lighting.
            Curator of this exhibition is Jose Luis Blondet, Curator of Special Initiatives.  It will remain on view at LACMA through March 31, 2019, at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.  The museum is closed on Tuesdays.  For tickets and/or further information, go online at lacma.org, or call (323) 857-6010.

Saturday, October 27, 2018




RAUSCHENBERG:  THE 1/4 MILE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Rauschenbrg: The 1/4 Mile exhibition recently opened at the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA).   Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was one of the most pioneering artists of the last century as you can see as you peruse this expansive exhibition.  On view is his work of art, The 1/4 Mile piece that was completed over a period of 17 years (1981-98) and consists of 190 combined panels that measure approximately 1,000 ft., or approximately 1/4 mile.
            Resources for the variety of materials and images used in making The 1/4 Mile came from Rauschenberg’s travels to many countries in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Latin America, and the United States  His sprawling piece of work includes various textiles, mass media images, and photographs by the artist intermingled with trails of bold paint.  Ordinary everyday objects such as cardboard boxes, chairs, and books add a more solid depth to his creation. 
            In 1961 Robert Rauschenberg remarked, ‘There is no reason not to consider the world as one gigantic painting.” And following his one gigantic work, in1982, he said “By the time you’ve gone a quarter of a mile, if you have any mind at all, you’ve certainly forgotten what you had in mind when you started.”  This is the first time The 1/4 Mile had been presented in its entirety.  Curators of this exhibition include Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of LACMA, and Katia Zavistovski, Assistant Curator of Modern Art at LACMA.
            Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile will remain on view through June 9, 2019, at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.  The museum is closed on Tuesdays.  For tickets and/or further information, go online at lacma.org, or call (323) 857-6010. Enjoy a leisurely 1/4 mile walk through the world of Rauschenberg.                 

Thursday, October 25, 2018


A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was first published July, 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine.  However, the editor of the magazine deleted some five hundred words of it without the author’s knowledge, worried that British book reviewers would find it morally offensive.  Wilde defended his work and art while revising and lengthening the story that was published as a book in 1891.  Not a wonder that it was considered blasphemous in those days.
            Dorian Gray (Colin Bates) might have been better off looking for the Fountain of Youth, but I dare say he had no idea what effect his wish to remain looking young would have on his life.  Dorian is a handsome and wealthy young man.  Lord Henry Wotton, known as Henry (Frederick Stuart) is visiting the studio of his friend Basil Hallward (Amin El Gamal), a painter, who is in the process of painting a picture of Dorian.
            Henry is taken with Dorian’s beauty and of the painting.  Dorian, himself, is so much aware of his youth and beauty that he wishes he could keep from growing old.  He says that he would give his soul if the painting would grow old instead of him.  (Guess we should think twice before we wish for something!!)   Henry latches on to Dorian and they become intimate friends.  All the while Henry has a marked influence on Dorian and his persona.
            Dorian meets and falls in love with Sybil Vane (Chelsea Kurtz), a beautiful actress, and they become engaged.  After seeing her perform on stage, he heartlessly breaks off their engagement.   When he arrives home, he notices his portrait has changed, and  suddenly feels guilty about his treatment of Sybil.  He decides to write her a letter expressing his feelings and love, only to discover the next day that she had committed suicide.
            But influenced by Henry, Dorian no longer feels guilty about his behavior towards anyone.  Men and women worship him; he is attracted to both, but cares about no one.  Eighteen years go by and as they do, his picture ages continuously.   Though his looks decline in the painting, it is Dorian who morally declines throughout the passing years.  Living such an unscrupulous life is bound to end tragically.                
            This stunning production is brilliantly directed (and adapted) by Michael Michetti who says, “This is not the story of a rotting portrait; it is the story of a rotting soul.”  What make this production so unique and artistic is as Michetti points out, is that “This adaptation uses elements of Greek Chorus and narrative dance, and the Victorian setting is filtered through a very modern sensibility, allowing us to tell this familiar story in a way that’s highly theatrical and has a distinctive style and point of view.”  
            This picture of Dorian Gray is not a portrait, but a full body image, and Colin Bates, who is perfect in his performance as Dorian Gray, is seen on stage posing ala natural for the painting.  A strong cast also includes Deborah Strang, Justin Lawrence Barnes, Daniel Lench, Tania Verafield, Amy Tolsky, Jose Angel Donado, Dale Sandlin, and Abe Martel.  The play runs 2 hours and 40 minutes; I believe it would be well to make some cuts to shorten the time.
            A Picture of Dorian Gray plays through November 16, at A Noise Within, 352 E. Foothil Blvd., Pasadena.  For tickets and information, go online at www.anoisewithin.org, or call (626) 356-3121.
            




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Monday, October 22, 2018



NOTORIOUS RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Carol Kaufman Segal
            An exhibition featuring the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened at the Skirball Cultural Center October 19.  The exhibition is based on the book of the same name that was co-authored by journalist Irin Carmon, a national reporter at MSNBC, and attorney Shana Kriznik who partnered with the museum and its curator, Cate Thurston in its development.
            This most in-depth look covers the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and comes at a time marking 25 years since being appointed to the Supreme Court.  Through archival photographs and documents, historical artifacts, contemporary art, media stations, and gallery interactives, it covers her various roles in life from a student, a wife and mother, a lawyer, judge, and a women’s rights pioneer.
            It begins with a re-creation of the living room in Brooklyn where Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up.  On display is a robe and jabot from her Supreme Court wardrobe.  There are family photos, home movies, and even a replica of a 50’s Chevrolet that her husband Marty owned during the time he was courting her. You can browse yearbooks, written letters, listen to a number of her oral arguments, opinions, and dissents in Supreme Court cases over ten listening stations.  And you can even put on a judge’s robe and sit as a Supreme Court Judge on a replica bench. 
            Barely through the exhibition, you will realize the brilliance and strength of this woman and think how fortunate for all of us and our country that she has served on the Supreme Court for these past 25 years, and that she will continue to be the stalwart voice on the highest court in our nation for many years to come.
            This exhibition will remain on view at The Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019, after which it will go on national tour over the next four years.  You won’t want to miss seeing it while it is in Los Angeles.  The Skirball Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.  It is open Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays.  Public tours are available.  For further information, call the Center at (310) 440-4500