Sunday, July 29, 2018

SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM by Carol Kaufman Segal
            American composer Stephen Sondheim was born March 22, 1930, in New York City.  He is, undoubtedly, the most important composer and lyricist in modern Broadway history.  His works are like none others, with a quality all their own.
            In this revival of Side By Side By Sondheim, an exceptional cast presents his music in a charming and entertaining review that includes 28 of his well-known songs, (15 in Act I, 13 in Act II) under the direction of Dan Fishbach.  Each section is from a Sondheim musical with a familiar theme and is tied together by a Narrator (Mark D. Kaufmann) who relates what show the songs are from and sometimes adds further background regarding them.  Mark D. Kaufman proves to be a very talented singer and performer himself (not just a “speaker.”)
            The performers include Woman 1 (Rachel McLaughlan), Woman 2 (Sarah Busic), and Man 1 (Chris Kerrigan).  The three o actors enter singing Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, followed by Love Is In the Air (also from the same play).  Each song is an act within itself, some featuring Chris and Sarah, Chris and Rachel, Sarah and Rachel, all three together, or each one individually, depending on the song.  But whoever is performing, it is like an act in itself.  These are especially talented performers, not only singers.  They bring each Sondheim song to life, and not always the easiest to tackle such as Gettting Married Today from Company.
            Stephen Sondheim wrote lyrics in partnership with other well-know music writers.  Therefore, you will find some of  music in the production  by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers, and Jule Styne.
            Music direction is by Richard Berent, pianists include Berent and Cheryl Gaul. The Choreographer is Imani G. Alexander.  Yes, dancing is included with some of the songs as well.  Costume designs are by Kim DeShazo, scenic design by Alex Kolmonovskky, lighting design by William Adashek, and prop designs by Sofia Cassidy. 
            Side By Side By Sondheim will be performed at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, through Sept. 16.  For dates and times, as well as for reservations, call (310) 477-2055, or go online at


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

SCREWBALL COMEDY by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Screwball Comedy, by Canada’s favorite playwright, Norm Foster, is Theater 40’s first production of its 53rd season and the premiere showing of the play in the United States.  After seeing this delightful comedy, I am confident it will make the rounds throughout the country.          
            The time is 1938 in the office of newspaper editor Bosco Godfrey (Daniel Leslie) when Jonesy (Gail Johnston), his secretary, informs him that Mary Hayes (Kate Whitney) wishes to see him.  Mary has been terminated from a department store where she sold perfume, and asks Bosco for a job as a reporter, something that has long been her dream.  Why does she believe she has the makings of a reporter without any experience?
            Bosco had received a request from Dolores Diddle (Sharron Shayne), the wealthy owner of the newspaper, to send a reporter to her home in order find out any information regarding the woman who her son, Chauncy (Niko Boles), plans to marry.  Chauncy is a very gullible young man and she is certain the woman, Gloria (Jean Mackie) is simply a gold digger.    
            Bosco has been a bit unhappy with the work of his star reporter, Jeff Kinkaid (Lane Compton) so he decides to make a deal to send both Mary and Jeff to the home of the Diddles and get the scoop on Gloria.  If Jeff, the arrogant reporter, writes the best story, he will keep his job.  But if Mary’s story beats his, her dream will come true, and she will replace Jeff as the star reporter at the paper.
            Mary and Jeff arrive at the Diddles’ home as adversaries and they are greeted by Reginald, the butler (David Hunt Stafford), whose character adds superb comedy throughout).  When Dolores greet them, they discover she is also planning a wedding to marry an old acquaintance, Peter Terwilliger (George Villas).  Mary interviews Chauncy and realizes he isn’t as dense as he pretends to be around his mother.  Jeff interviews Gloria, but so far, no clue.  In the meantime, both Jeff and Mary seem to fall for each other, and in the end when the real problems in the Diddles’ household are solved, they are madly in love with each other!  But getting to that stage throughout the play is where the comedy persists.
            The entire cast is superb under the very fine direction by Howard Storm.  Jeff G. Rack designed a perfect set that works both as a set for the newspaper office and then blends into the beautiful home of the Diddles.  Each actor is so very perfectly cast in his/her role, and the laughter hardly lets up throughout the entire play.
            Screwball Comedy plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through August 19, at Theatre 40 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills.  Reservations are available online at, or by calling (310) 364-0535.

            HIGHLY RECOMMENDED         

Sunday, July 22, 2018

JUNGLE BOOK by Carol Kaufman Segal
            An amazing and unusual production of Jungle Book, adapted from the book by Rudyard Kipling, is being presented at the Pasadena Playhouse.  The way in which the story is presented live is fantastic.  The jungle, with trees, leaves, and many of the animals, is created by outstanding technologies that include shadows, projections, lights, and silhouettes.  It almost seems surreal.
            Rick Miller, who co-wrote and directed Jungle Book with Craig Francis said “Although the Mowgli stories in Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book have been often adapted for film and TV, there are also other stories in the books about different animals from around the world that we can’t wait to introduce to Pasadena.”  And this is what makes this Jungle Book production so special.
            Mowgli (Levin Valayil), the young boy who was raised in the jungle, leaves to go to the city because though he has lived in the jungle for many years, he is not accepted by many of the animals because he is too human.  On the other hand, in the city, he is not accepted by the humans because he is too much of an animal.  It is a touching story in which a young boy is trying to find where he belongs. 
            Along with Mowgli and Baloo the Bear, many of Kipling’s characters are brought to life through poems and songs from the original novel and all of the people involved in the production.  I was amazed to realize that only four actors created all of the characters.  The cast also included Miriam Fernandes (Shere Khan, Kaa, Maya, Others), Matt Lacas (Akela, Baloo, Buldeo, Others), and Anita Majumdar (Raksha, Bagheera, Messua, Others.)  
            Jungle Book is playing Tuesdays at 8 PM, Wednesdays at 10 AM, Thursdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 1 PM and 4 PM, through July 29, at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. Molino Ave., Pasadena.  Tickets are available online at Pasadena, by phone at (626) 356-7529, or at the Pasadena Playhouse Box Office.
            This production is for audience 5 years old and up, but I can tell you that I was captivated by everything about it from beginning to end.  Running time, 65 minutes

Friday, July 13, 2018

ON YOUR FEET!  by Carol Kaufman Segal
            On Your Feet! is a musical that tells the true story of the gifted musical star Gloria Estefan and her equally talented husband, Emilio Estefan, now playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.  The production opened on Broadway November 5, 2015 and was an instant hit receiving seven Outer Critic Award nominations, three Drama League Award nominations, and a Tony Award nomination for Best Choreography.  It played on Broadway for two years.  In 2017 an 80-week tour throughout the United States began.  This production is the Road Company’s stop in Los Angeles that began in the fall of 2017and will have included 60 cities by 2019.
            Gloria (Christie Prades) and her family immigrated to Florida from Cuba when she was young as did Emilio (Mauricio Martinez) and his family.  They met when she was 17-years old.  Emilio was the leader of a band, and after hearing Gloria sing, he hired her to be his lead singer.  They fell in love at first sight.  Gloria’s mother (Nancy Ticotin) had some success as a singer in Havana, but not so following her move to America.         
            After the death of her father (Jason Martinez), Gloria tried to have a close relationship with her mother, but her mother objected to her relationship with Emilio and what her plans were for her life as a singer.  However, her grandmother, Consuelo (Debra Cardona) gave her the incentive to strive for what she wanted.  Gloria’s relationship with her mother became strained.
            Emilio renamed the band to Miami Sound Machine and he and Gloria married.  Through diligence and business acumen, they became big successes in the music world.  Meanwhile, Gloria’s mother refused to speak with her.  In 1990 Gloria, Emilio, and the band were on tour to perform a concert when their tour bus had a serious accident.  Gloria suffered a spinal injury that threatened her career.  Fortunately, after a long period of convalescence, she was able to undergo surgery.  With the help and love of Emilio and her entire family, she was completely restored to health.  Emilio was embraced by Gloria’s mother when she realized what he meant to her daughter’s life. 
            The story is beautiful, and it is depicted beautifully in this theatrical extravaganza with book by Alexander Dinalaris, and directed by Jerry Mitchell.  The cast consists of 28 performers, 13 of which were members of the Broadway production.  Christie Prades as Gloria and Mauricio Martinez as Emilio are superb in every aspect, as singers, dancers, and actors.  The entire show rates accolades for everything about it from the exceptional cast, the stupendous dancing (choreography by Sergio Trujillo), the magnificent Scenic Design (David Rockwell) outstanding Lighting Design (Kenneth Posner), and Projection Design (Darrel Maloney), fabulous Costumes (Emilio Sosa), music, lyrics, and orchestrations by Gloria and Emileo Estefan, and marvelous Music Direction (Clay Ostwald).  I can’t rave enough about all 28 cast members, all of the dancers, all of the musician, and every singer who brought all 26 wonderful songs to life, as well as everyone behind this fantastic production.
            On Your Feet! plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 1 PM and 6:30 PM, through July 29, at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles.  Tickets are available online at or, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, in person at the Theatre Box Office (opens daily at 10 AM), and all Ticketmaster Outlets.

On Your Feet! will open at Segerstrom Center For the Arts, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, August 21, and play through September 2.  Performances will be Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 1 PM and 6:30 PM, through September 2.  Tickets are available online at SCFTA,org, by phone at 1-714-556-2787, or at Segerstrom Center For the Arts, Segerstrom Hall box office.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

RUMORS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Neil Simon is a man of great comedic talent. He began his writing career in television then began writing plays beginning with Come Blow Your Horn in 1961 which became a big hit on Broadway.  Since that success, he has written more than 30 plays, and almost as many movie screenplays.  Many of his screenplays were adaptations of his hit plays.  Over the years, he received 17 Tony nominations and won three.  He has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.  One season he had four successful plays running on Broadway at the same time.  In 1983 he became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre named in his honor (the Neil Simon Theatre).
            Neil Simon’s comedy, Rumors, playing at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, is one of his funniest plays because it seems there is hardly a moment during the show that one can keep from laughing.
            A well-to-do couple invited four couples, their close friends, to their home to share in the celebration of their tenth anniversary.  The first guests arrive only to discover that the host has shot himself in his earlobe, his wife is missing, nothing has been prepared for a celebration, and the housekeepers are nowhere to be seen.  In trying to fathom what must have occurred, they begin to piece together what sort of relationship their friends might have had to trigger this situation.  In other words, a rumor was created! 
            As the other couples begin arriving, each couple has his or her own idea about what must have occurred, and the rumors begin flying every which way.  They build up until they become more and more outlandish and the entire play turns funnier and funnier.  I think you will find this play to be one of the most hilarious you will ever see.
            Doug Engalla does a fine job directing an absolute perfect cast that includes Fox Carney (Ken Gorman), Debi Tinsley (Chris Gorman), Kent Butler (Lenny Ganz), Cheryl Crosland (Claire Ganz), Doug Haverty (Ernie Cusack), LizAnne Keigley (Cookie Cusack – alternate), Michele Bernath (Cookie Cusack - alternate), Todd Andrew Ball (Glenn Cooper), Hisato Masuyama-Ball (Cassie Cooper), Robert McCollum (Officer Welch), Judy Rosenfeld (Officer Pudney), and Patrick Burke (Officer Welch understudy).  The lovely two-story home design is by Chris Winfield.
            Rumors  plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through July 29, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., No. Hollywood.  Tickets are available by calling (818) 763-5990, or online at