Sunday, April 29, 2018

            My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy is a one man’s story about comedian/actor Brad Zimmerman, written by Brad Zimmerman, performed by Brad Zimmerman, and all together humorous.  Brad has the ability to keep everyone’s attention with his down-to-earth natural ability to be friendly and also to be very funny.
            In his show, Brad reveals stories of his family, his childhood, and his pursuit to becoming an actor and comedian.  It is as if he is telling his story about his life to a gathering of friends, at the same time, joking about it as well.  All during his twenty-nine years working tables he honed himself for his dream by taking acting classes.  Eventually he became the opening act for well-known performers that included Joan Rivers, George Carlin, Brad Garrett, Dennis Miller, and Julio Iglesias.    He also appeared on The Sopranos over HBO.  He spent nine years working on the script for My Son the Waiter and, since, has performed his show all over the country.  He also performed it at off-Broadway’s Stage 72 (now the Triad Theatre) for two years.
            There are a lot of jokes about Jewish mother’s bragging about their sons, and though the jokes can be very comical, there is some truth as to the way Jewish mothers feel about their progenies.  Brad Zimmerman may have given his mother some concern about where he was going in life, but after spending twenty-nine years waiting tables, all the while pursuing his dream as an actor and comedian, she knows she has no reason to be concerned or less proud.  Brad Zimmerman is certainly not “a Jewish tragedy.”  Brad Zimmerman is a big success!
            You can see Brad Zimmerman’s performance of My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.  Performances are Thursdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays, at 3 PM, through June 10.  Tickets can be purchased online at, or by phone at (855) 448-7469.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

LIVES WELL LIVED by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Lives Well Lived is a film produced and directed by Sky Bergman, an award-winning photographer.  This is her first directorial debut.  The film consists of forty men and women, aged 75 to 100 years old as they impart their life experiences and thoughts about living a meaningful life after living through triumphs, personal tragedies, loves and losses.  Though many people in the world suffer much in their lives, it is the inspiration that these forty men and women offer us as choices for being able to live meaningful lives as we grew older.
                        There is so much joy in watching these people who are so vibrant and upbeat.   Quotes from just a few will of them will give you an insight into their attitudes and what keeps them “young”.  The following are but a few of the inspirational responses you will hear in answer to just one of the questions they were asked, “What is your definition of a life well lived?”
            “It’s not your numerical age.  It’s your biological age.  So think young, act young, feel young, forget the number.  Emmy Cleaves, age 83, Los Angeles, CA
            Happiness is a state of mind.  You can be happy with what you have or miserable with what you don’t have.  You decide.”   Dr. Lou Tedone, age 92, Sam :ios Pbos[p. CA
            “I look forward to the next hour, next day, and no plans.  I take what comes and absorb it as much as I can, mentally, physically, emotionally, visual, audibly, I drink it up.”  Botso Korosheli, age 93, Morro Bay, CA
            “Even though I’m 80, I still want to finish my PhD.  No matter what age you are, education never stops, you still keep learning.”  Rose Albano Ballestero, age 80m Nippomo, CA         
            Bergman’s inspiration for Lives Well Lived was her 103 year-old grandmother, Evelyn Ricciuti, who she began filming when she was 99 years old and still working out at a gym.  She never thought any of her friends would believe it!
            The film is playing at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, Town Center in Encino, and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.  Running time is 72 minutes, in English, not rated.

Friday, April 20, 2018

DAMAGED FURNITURE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Damaged Furniture is a new comedy by Howard Skora, directed by Jim Fall, and playing at the  Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.  This might be, at least, one of the funniest comedies if not the funniest you will ever see.  I promise you a laugh a minute!
            Doug (Alex Skuby) is a middle-aged man who left his family to become an actor and to get away from the family furniture business run by his father Phil (Robert Mangiardi) and his uncle.  But when he is asked to come home because his uncle has died, Doug rushes back to the family in Brooklyn.  When he arrives home, we meet one of the most dysfunctional families you might imagine.
            Meet Doug’s recently widowed Aunt Laurie (Mo Collins) who tells Doug what she lived through with her late husband, the fact that he had an unusual obsession.  He found furniture sexy and continually made love to an expensive Italian recliner.  She isn’t certain whether it was, or was not, a mutual affair! 
            Doug discovers that his alcoholic father recently lost an eye to cancer, and he can no longer continue working in the furniture store. Doug was expecting to be called to audition for an acting job that could be the big chance for his career but, now that he is “home”, his mother, Irene (Peggy Maltby Etra), expects him to take over the family business.  His sister Gina (Jessica Pohly) makes us wonder how she ever made it through school to become a therapist.  (Does she really earn a living as one?)
            Doug never wanted to be a part of the family business.  That is why he opted for another career and left home.  Now he has been put on the spot.  Will he give up his career and stay for the sake of the family, or will he disappoint them all and go back to Los Angeles?
            I can’t really describe all of the idiosyncrasies that go on in this family, but I guarantee you, they will keep you in “stitches” throughout.  That and the answer to the question is something you have to see and find out for yourself.  If you enjoy a good comedy, don’t miss it.  The cast is great.  (The language a bit racy,) 
            Damaged Furniture plays Saturday nights at 8 PM, and continues through May 26, at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.  For tickets, go online at, or call (800) 838-3006.
     Through the Eye of the Needle, at the Road Theatre on Lankershim, has been extended through 
May 26.  Se review dated March 28, 2018.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

SIGNIFICANT OTHER by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Significant Other is playing at the Geffen Playhouse after its successful run Off-Broadway and Broadway.  Listed as a comedy, I found it to be much more, as it offers depth into the soul of a young man looking for his own mate.  It was written by Joshua Harmon, (writer of Bad Jew).
            Jordan Berman (Will Von Vogt) is a single, young professional man in his late 20’s who has had a longtime, close-knit friendship with a group of young women.  These longtime friends include Kiki (Kelly McQuail), Vanessa (Vella Lovell), and closest of all, Laura (Melanie Field).
            Jordan is a bit of a dreamer and falls for Will (John Garet Stoker who also plays Conrad and Tony), one of his co-workers, when he sees him at a company pool party in his bathing suit.  He describes his feelings to his best friends, relaying a description of his wet body to them.  Then he acquiesces to Facebook to try to learn all about him,  He visualizes being with him, and reveals each tidbit to his friends,   He debates with himself as to whether or not to ask him to a movie, and finally does.  The evening leaves Jordan without any idea of whether there was any interest.   But Will moves away and that ends any chance that there might have been.           
            Meanwhile, Kiki, one of Jordan’s close friends gets engaged and becomes the first to get married, followed by Vanessa.  But when Laura becomes engaged, Jordan becomes unstrung as their friendship was extra special.  Even though he is happy for her, he sees the change in their friendship untenable. 
            Jordan’s close relationship with his Grandmother, Helene Berman (Concetta Tomei) is heartwarming during the moments the two of them are seen together reminiscing about family and life.  She does her best to reason with him and to convince him that he is just going through a difficult period at this time in his life.  But Jordan is not convinced that he will ever find “the one”.
            The scene in the play between Jordan and Laura, before her wedding, is the crème de la crème of the entire play that precedes the finale when her wedding takes place.  A comedy it is with perfect performances under the direction of Stephen Brackett, but there is a bit of nostalgia as well.   Preston Martin (Zach/Even/Roger) rounds out the cast.
            Significant Other plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through May 6, in the Gil Cates Theater 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   

            HIGHLY RECOMMENDED           

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

DEATHTRAP by Carol Kaufman Segal

            Deathtrap, by Ira Levin, is being presented at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.  Levin was born in 1929 and died in 2007 after a successful career as a novelist, playwright, and songwriter.  He adapted many of his plays into films, but Deathtrap, written in 1978, was, undoubtedly, his most successful play.  It opened on Broadway in 1978 and was nominated that year for a Tony Award, ending after a four-year run, the longest record for a comic thriller.  In 1982 it was made into a film starring Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine.       
            Sidney (Robert Benedict Nello), at one time a successful playwright, has had a severe case of writer’s block for too long.  One day he, unexpectedly, receives a script for a play written by Clifford (TJ McNeill), a promising student from one of his playwriting seminars.  After reading the script he is astounded at how perfect a suspense drama the young man has created. 
            He discusses the play with his wife Myra (Gina Yates) and, in his depression over his own ability to come up with anything worthwhile, he begins to reflect on ways that he could steal the play and present it as his own.  While he imagines how it could be achieved, Myra fears that he has murder on his mind when he invites the young man to meet with him at his home to discuss the finalities of the play.
            From the moment Clifford arrives, Deathtrap takes on a complete transformation with many plots and twists.  The suspense gains momentum throughout while still providing moments of humor.  It truly is a comic thriller.  Additional characters in the play include Sidney’s lawyer, Porter Milgrim (Lloyd Pedersen) and Helga Ten Dorp (LizAnne Keigley), an erratic psychic.
            The production at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, under the superb direction of veteran director Jules Aaron, does credit to the play by presenting a first-class cast of actors, an outstanding stage set by Chris Winfield, and most realistic fight scenes choreographed by Orion Barnes.   
            Deathtrap plays at the Lonny Chapman Theatre Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through May 20, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  For tickets, call (818) 763-5990, or go online at

Monday, April 9, 2018

SHELTER by Carol Kaufman Segal

            Shelter is a film of almost constant intrigue that takes place in Germany.  It involves Naomi, an Israeli Mossad agent (Neta Rikin) and Mona (Golshifteh Farahani), a Lebanese informant for the Mossad.
            Since she was discovered, Mona’s life has been in jeopardy.  Naomi has been sent to a safe house, a shelter in Hamburg to protect Mona as she recovers from plastic surgery that she has undergone to change her appearance.  Just the two of them, marooned day after day, is awkward at first.  But after two weeks of being alone under dire conditions, the women develop a close relationship.  During that period, I also developed an affectionate feeling towards their characters, hoping for a pleasant outcome for both. 
            All throughout the two-week period, the enemy tries to close in on their prey, and all that while, the intrigue builds up in this tense film by Erin Riklis, who also directed.  Others in the cast include Lior Ashkenazi, Haluk Bilginer, Yehuda Almagor, and Mark Waschke)

The film is in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.  Running time is 93 minutes.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Neil Simon has proved successful as a playwright, screenwriter, author, and let us not forget his time as a joke writer for television. During one season he had four successful plays running on Broadway at one time, and he is the recipient of more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.  In 1983 he became the only living playwright to have a theatre in New York named in his honor.  At this season you can see the revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America playing at the Neil Simon Theatre at 250 W. 52nd St., in New York.
            Before Neil Simon became the success that he turned out to be, he got his first break as a writer for Sid Caesar’s and Imogene Coca’s 1950 hit TV series, Your Show of Shows, He was hired to join a writing pool that consisted of Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Selma Diamond, and others who also became well-known and successful.  This time in his life was the impetus that sparked the play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, (written in 1993) that is playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank.
            The play takes place in the helter-skelter offices where the writing pool works under an autocratic boss, Max (Pat Towne).  The group consists of Brian (John Rose Bowie), Ira (Jeff Campanella), Lanisa Renee Frederick (Carol), Jason Grasl (Lucas), Cornelius Jones, Jr. (Kenny), Jessica Joy (Helen), Ty Mayberry (Milt), and Roland Rusinek (Val).  Lucas is the newest to join the pool, and each character has a problem of his/her own.  All are, supposedly, based on real people. 

            Years ago I had seen this play and remembered that I had enjoyed it and was looking forward to the opportunity of seeing it again. I love everything that I have ever seen that Neil Simon has written.  I guess I have to say that this is probably the lesser of anything he has ever created.  Seeing it this time did not give me the same reaction.  The play has no plot, just a great deal of ruckus going on in the office, and it seemed like a lot of flap stick comedy.  I wondered how they could ever get any writing done!  The good point of the production is the performances by the actors.  It is obvious that they all have wonderful comedic talent.  If you enjoy a lot of chaos on stage, you will love it!
            Laughter on the 23rd Floor is directed by Michael A. Shepperd.  It is playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank.  Performance are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM, through April 22 (additional performance Sunday, April 8 at 7 PM).  Tickets are available by phone at (818) 955-8101, or online at

Sunday, April 1, 2018

BACK TO BURGUNDY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            France is a country known for its superlative wines.  Back to Bugundy is a French film that revolves around three siblings who grew up in a family whose livelihood was dedicated to the craft of cultivating grapes and to the final process of making fine wine.  From the time they were children, they were involved in tasting and giving their input to the process towards the ultimate finish. 
            Jean (Pio Marmai), Juliette (Ana Girardot), and Jeremie (Francois Civil), thirty-something siblings, grew up in Burgundy France on the vineyard where their father, and his father before him ran their family wine business.  Jean, the elder sibling, left the domain ten years ago due to an animosity with his father.  He has been living and operating a business in Australia where he left behind his longtime girlfriend with whom he has been having problems. He desperately wants their relationship healed, and especially for the sake of their son Ben with whom he has a loving and close relationship. Not the ideal time to have had to leave, but he has returned to Burgundy after being made aware of his father’s impending death. 
            Juliette worked with her father to learn the wine-making business, and though she seems to have a knack for the business and works very hard at her craft, she is not self-confident about her ability.  She is very happy to have Jean back with her in Burgundy.  The youngest of the three siblings, Jeremie, has married a girl from a wealthy wine-making family and ends up having to deal with an imperialistic father-in-law.
            These are all problems enough for all three of them, but after their father’s death, they are left with a crisis situation.  Their father left the land and the business to each of them as equal owners, and now they have a huge problem, how to maintain the property and be able to pay the huge inheritance tax.  
            This excellent film, written by Cedric Klapisch and Santiago Amigorena and directed by Cedric Klapisch, was filmed in Burgundy, France.  The screenplay was developed with the collaboration of veteran actor Jean-Marc Roulot (who plays Marcel, the estate’s manager).  Jean-Marc Roulot, is not only an actor, but also owns his own vineyard.  The film shows how the entire winemaking process is achieved from beginning to end and took over one year and four seasons to achieve.  The cinematography, by Alexis Kavyrchine, is absolutely glorious.       

Playing at the following:
Laemmle Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles                                     
Laemmle Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena                                                                         Edwards Westpark  8 , 3735 Alton Pkwy., Irvine
Regency Rancho Niguel 7, 25471 Rancho Niguel Rd., Laguna Niguel
Running time, 113 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not rated.