Saturday, February 24, 2018

DON’T HUG ME, WE’RE FAMILY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            I love entering the world of the north woods of Minnesota where I have had the opportunity of looking in on the characters from Phil Olson’s Don’t Hug Me series of plays.  Phil is the writer of the books and lyrics; his brother, Paul Olson, writes the music.  Their sixth collaboration, Don’t Hug Me, We’re Family, is making its world premiere at Theatre Unlimited (T.U. Studios) in North Hollywood., and it is a real “kick”.
            It is February and, as usual in Bunyan Bay, it is brrrr cold!  The local radio station, KOLD, is set in The Bunyan Bar where Gunner Johnson (Andrew Carter) has been the host of a radio show called “Crappie Talk.”  His entire show is dedicated to ice fishing for crappies.  I guess it doesn’t create too much interest, even in Bunyan Bay, because he has not been able to maintain listeners, and he loses his only advertiser, Kanute's Bait Mart (owned by his friend Kanute {David Pluebell}).
            Losing his sponsor creates an even bigger problem for Gunner because his wife, Clara (Truett Jean Butler) hosts “Book Beat” which is very popular in Bunyan Bay and has lots of advertisers and listeners, and now competition exists between the two of them.  To make matters worse, an Italian gentleman from Brooklyn, Sal, (Michael Cortez) shows up at the Bunyan Bar followed by his ex-wife, Donna (Christina Gardner).  He announces that he has purchased the radio station, and Donna announces she has purchased the Bunyan Bay Hotel.  He only followed her to Bunyan Bay to keep an eye on her and ended up buying KOLD! 
            How much mayhem can these two interlopers cause in Bunyan Bay?  When Sal decides to fire Gunner and shows more than a bit of interest in more than simply Clara’s successful show, Gunner’s friends, Bernice (Allison Hawkstone), Aarvid (Micky Shiloah), and even his former sponsor, Kanute, side with him.  But it is questionable whether they are a help or a hindrance.  But as love will have it, it wins out in the end for all involved.
            As the plot of Don’t Hug Me, We’re Family moves along, it is interspersed with the songs by Phil set to the music by his equally talented brother, Dr. Paul Olson along with some dance numbers (Choreography by Michele Bernath).  The Bunyan Bar and radio station KOLD was designed by Chris Winfield.  The production consists of 14 original songs and 12 radio jingles (jingles performed by Allison Hawkstone).  The exceptionally talented cast is directed by Doug Engalla.  Enjoy a theatre experience loaded with talent, comedy, and a great deal of fun
            Don’t Hug Me, We’re Family plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through March 25, at T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (818) 850-9254.


Friday, February 23, 2018

A DELICATE SHIP, playing at the Road Theatre on Magnolia, has been extended through March 24, 2018.  See review dated February 5, 2018.

ALRIGHT THEN by Carol Kaufman Segal
            If you are looking for an upbeat theater experience, look no further that the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice that is featuring Actor Orson Bean and his Actress wife, Alley Mills, in a production developed and performed by the couple entitled Alright Then.  Making its world premiere at PRT and directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos, Orson Bean was spurred on by the success of his previous one-man, self-written performance of Safe At Home:  An Evening with Orson Bean, an award-winning production that also had its world premiere at PRT.
            It would seem to be against all odds that these two people would find each other in this great big world, but it is also obvious that, despite the difference in their ages, (Orson is 89, Alley is 67) it was meant to be.  In this production, Alley tells you all about it.
            Orson tells about his early years before becoming the star that he is and Alley reminisces about her early life as well.  Neither of them grew up with love and security, but they each took separate paths before they both ended up in the world of entertainment.   Orson was on his own from the age of 16 while Alley graduated magna cum laude from the first women’s class at Yale University and she also earned a Masters Degree from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. As the two of them banter back and forth with the interesting stories of their lives and the paths each of them took to be where they are today, one can see and feel the magical closeness between them.
            Though their formative lives were quite different, I can point out one very important thing that was common to both of them, and that is their talent.  Oh, and one other very important thing that emerged from their meeting, and that is their forever loving bond for one another.
            Alright Then plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through March 25, at the Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., in Venice, CA.    Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (310) 822-8392.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

IRONBOUND  by Carol Kaufmman
            Ironbound, a play written by Martyna Majok, and directed by Tyne Rafael, is playing at the Geffen Playhouse.  It focuses on the life of Darja (Marin Ireland) a Polish woman who, having immigrated to the United States, is still trying to survive. 
            The play covers 22 years in Darja’s struggling life, which seems to be exacerbated by the men in her life.  We see her in 1992 at age 20, in 2006 at age 34, and in 2014 at age 42 (as stated in the program, not necessarily in that order!). It begins with the present (which, in this case, is 2014).  Darja is 42-years old and is sitting at a bus stop in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  She needs a ride home because her 22-year old son ran away, taking her car with him.  (He is just one of her problems.)  Her deceitful long-time boyfriend, Tommy (Christian Camargo) comes by to take her home in his vehicle.  They end up in a squabble over his constant infidelity, and she tells him she is not going back to be with him any longer.                                                                                 
            Darja used to work in a factory and, in addition, she cleaned houses.  Since the factory closed down, her only income now is from cleaning houses and her earnings are much less.  She has always been and is still obsessed with having money and security, so she tells him she’ll go back to him if he gives her $3,000.       
            While Darja is left waiting at the bus stop, we are privy to the time when she was 20 years old, newly married to Maks (Josiah Bania,) and they were struggling to make it in their new country.  Maks is a dreamer with his head in the clouds and he wants to move to Chicago to pursue a music career.  But Darja is against a move, fearful of losing her job in the factory and their security, particularly with a child on the way.  Of course, that marriage ends and Darja is left with the burden of keeping herself and her son solvent.  
            The third man to enter into Darja’s life turns out to be Vic (Marcel Spears), a teenager who finds her, late at night, sleeping behind the bench at the bus stop.  He feels sorry for her and wants to help her by offering her money to go to a hotel.  It is a mystery as to why he is out so late at night and how he happens to be in possession of a large amount of money.  But even though she is grateful for his gesture, she refuses to accept his help, feeling more exacerbated by her lowly position in life.  The play ends with Tommy returning to the bus stop, and Darja going home with him.
            Marin Ireland’s Polish accent is perfect, and she, as well as Christian Camargo, Josiah Bania, and Marcel Spears, all give sterling performances.  However, I personally, found the play, itself, very depressing.
            Ironbound plays Tuesdays through Friday at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, and 7 PM, through March 4, at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles. Tickets are available at the Geffen Playhouse Box Office, by phone at (310), 208-5454, or online at                  

Monday, February 5, 2018

A DELICATE SHIP by Carol Kaufman Segal
            A  Delicate Ship is a play about a love triangle, written by Anna Ziegler, and playing at The Road on Magnolia.  It takes place in an apartment in Brooklyn on a cold and snowy Christmas Eve night (appealing set that offers realistic feelings of the outside weather by Sarah B. Brown and lighting by Jared A. Sayeg).
            Sarah (Paris Perrault) and her boyfriend Sam (Hunter Garner) are relaxing enjoying a pleasant Christmas Eve in her apartment when they are interrupted by an unexpected knock at her door.  Sarah is nonplussed by the arrival of an old friend, Nate (Josh Zuckerman), who she had known since childhood.  He barges in as if he was expected and takes over the evening’s conversation in an attempt to damage the relationship between Sarah and Sam. 
            He insults and belittles them both, and insists that he is the one who Sarah loves and always has.  He goes back in time to their younger years together, leaving Sam feeling like an outsider.  He goes into details about their relationship, which takes a lot of chutzpa (nerve) and leaves Sarah in a quandary and Sam at a disadvantage.  Sam begins to feel less sure of Sarah’s feelings when she appears unsure of her situation at the moment, and he threatens to leave.  However, he thinks better of doing so, and instead, he becomes enraged and punches Nate. 
            Nate finally accepts defeat and leaves.  He is different from Sarah; he has never grown up   and still lives with his past memories, unable to accept that others have grown up and moved on.   This realization proves to be his undoing.   
            This play is unusual in its way of looking at love, memories, and decisions that change lives.  It is well directed by Andre Barron with a most capable cast.  Josh Zukerman’s portrayal of Nate is especially gratifying.
            A Delicate Ship plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through March 11, at The Road on Magnolia, located in The NoHo Senior Art Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.  Tickets are available by calling (818) 761-8838, or online at   This is a charming venue where stadium seats allow for perfect viewing from anywhere.