Thursday, August 30, 2018

            The Man Who Saved Everything is an original drama by Benjamin Suglia playing at Theatre West in Los Angeles.  It is about a man with a problem, a man who could not rid himself of anything that had to do with his life.
            Berry (David Mingrino) left home before his adulthood to further his education.  When his aging parents needed help, he returned to care for them.  After both passed away, Barry stayed on, and what overcame him can be a mystery.  He became obsessed with every single thing in the house, treasuring all in order to retain memories of his youth and the memories of his parents.           
            After years, what Barry considered his collection, became a clutter beyond imagination, and he is faced with a tremendous problem.  His entire neighborhood has outlived its time and is being demolished in order to be redeveloped.  Actually, Barry’s house is the only one still standing.  He is in danger of being forced out by police.
            Barry’s longtime friend from college, Chuck (James J. Cox) and his niece Darla (Ashley Victoria Robinson), concerned about his health and the fact that he will be forced out of the house, try everything they can to make him realize he has to leave.  But how can he?   We watch him facing his dilemma as he walks about looking at and touching items throughout the house, wondering what will happen to him when he no longer has his memories to keep him alive.
            Hoarding is a mental disorder as well a health problem but rarely recognized as such, therefore, rarely treated.   Suglia took on a difficult subject, but tried to give audiences an insight into the subject without offering answers to it.  Other members of the cast include Julia Silverman (Mother), Suzanne Collins sharing the role of Mother, and Alan Schack (Father),  directed by Michael VanDuzer.  
            The Man Who Saved Everything plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through September 23, at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles.  There will be talkbacks after each Sunday matinee.  Tickets are available by calling (323) 851-7977, or online at      

Friday, August 24, 2018

 MEMOIR OF WAR by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The film, Memoir of War, written and directed by Emmanual Finkiel, is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras.  Duras died in 1996 at the age of 81.  In her novel, the famed author goes back to a time in her life during World War II.  As she looks back on her diary, she can hardly remember ever writing about her life during that time.
            The year is 1944, the place, Nazi-occupied France.  Marguerite Antelme (Melanie Thierry) is a young writer deeply lost in her emotions since the arrest of her husband Robert (Emmanuel Bourdieu), a resistant fighter who has been sent to a labor camp.  An active member of the movement along with her husband and a group of fellow fighters, Marguerite is obsessed with the loss of her husband, consumed with trying to find him, hoping for him to come home.
            Marguerite even goes so far as to become friendly with Pierre Rabier (Benoit Magimel), a French Nazi collaborator with hopes that he will tell her where Robert is.  He asks her to meet him every day, offering hope that he will have information about him. He reveals an interest in Marguerite  because she is a writer, but is he really going to help her?  Her friend and Robert’s, Dionys Mascolo, (Benjamin Biolay,) and the other Members of the Resistance, are concerned that Pierre is only trying to get information from her regarding the movement.  They don’t approve of her continued meetings, and after many months, she realizes that he has been stringing her along.     
            Each scene throughout the film portrays a woman suffering from her loss, fighting for the life of her husband, sometimes strong, and yet living through moments of weakness.  Through all of the months of wondering if she will ever see Robert again, Marguerite has seeked solace and love from Dionys which has intensified her guilt and pain.   When all that she has fought for over a year comes to fruition, we are left with a fading scene.           
            Melanie Thierry is the focal point throughout the entire film.  Her portrayal of Marguerite is outstanding.  She keeps one focused on what is happening throughout.  However, it becomes difficult to feel sympathy for her character in the final analysis of the story.
            Running time, 127 minutes.   Not rated
            In French with English subtitles
            Playing at Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; Laemmle Playhousec7, Pasadena, Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino                       

Monday, August 13, 2018

DORIS AND ME by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Seeing Doris and Me was like spending one of the most fantastic evenings at a nightclub.  Actually I was watching an exceptionally talented young man, Scott Dreier, who absolutely loves Doris Day and was performing his show commemorating her music, life, and career at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. 
            “My name is Scott and I love Doris Day” are the first words spoken when Scott walks out on the stage.   We soon learn that he not only loves Doris Day, he is absolutely obsessed with her, and that obsession began at a young age.  He talks about as many of the 39 films she made during her years in Hollywood as he is able fashion into his story, and sings so many of the songs that she made famous during those years  At the same time, wonderful nostalgic pictures of those films are projected on the back stage.
             That era of music is my favorite, so listening to the songs so beautifully performed made a perfect evening for me.  Here are just a few of the memorable songs he sang:  The Way You Look Tonight, Secret Love, Sentimental Journey, Whatever Will Be Will Be, Que  Sera, Sera, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon.  Of course, this was just a small “taste” of the evening’s music.
            It is no surprise to know that Scott has become acquainted with Doris Day, who is now 96 years old and, from the picture that was shown on the back stage, she does not appear her age at all.  She is living comfortably in Carmel, CA, and due to her strong love for animals, she created the Doris Day Animal Foundation whose mission is “to help animals and the people who love them.  We fund nonprofit causes that need assistance for their work, caring and protecting animals.”
            Scott Dreier is loaded with stage charisma, and tells his story with a great deal of feeling, but it his outstanding voice and style that made the evening so enchanting.  Accompanying him through the evening was Musical Director and pianist Bret Simmons, with Carlos Rivera on Bass, two outstanding musicians who added to the quality of the evening. Doris and Me was written by Scott Dreier with Kurtis Simmons and was directed by Richard Israel.   
            Watch for Scott Dreier’s next appearance in Doris and Me in the Los Angeles and nearby areas.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

WAITRESS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Waitress, the hit Broadway musical now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, is based on the 2007 film of the same name by Adrienne Shelley.  After 2-1/2 years, it is still running at the Brook Atkinson Theatre on Broadway.  A United States national tour began October 25, 2017.  It is being presented now at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
            Jenna (Desi Oakley) is a waitress at Joe’s Pies.  She works double-time because she creates all of the pies that are popular at the restaurant.  Unfortunately, Jenna is married to a despicable man, Earl (Nick Bailey). The minute she arrives home, he grabs all of the money she earns from tips, then, complains to her for not bringing home enough. This is not a marriage made in heaven.
            Imagine how Jenna must feel when she discovers that she is pregnant.  Her co-workers, Becky (Charity Angel Dawson), Dawn (Lenne Klingaman), and Cal (Ryan Dunkin), manager Of Joe’s Pies, are sympathetic to her situation.  They are aware that Jenna is trying to keep her pregnancy from Earl as long as possible while she tries to figure a way out of her marriage for her sake and for the sake of her child.
            She finally realizes that she must see a doctor and arrives at the office of a gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter (Bryan Fenkart).  The visit sparks something between the married doctor and Jenna who is vulnerable to his affections.  She finds herself in a quandary.  Fenkart plays the part as a serious lover, at the same time performing the role in a comic manner. You just can’t help but like this man!  However, through song, they both know their relationship is wrong.
            Though Jenna has misgivings about her affair, her cohorts prod her on.  From the more serious aspect of the musical, there has to be comedy, and it is through Dawn, Becky, and Cal that the play offers comic relief.  Dawn meets Ogie (Jeremy Morse), and after a five minute date with him, he shows up at Joe’s Pies.  In one of the high points of the show, he sings and dances to announce to her, his everlasting love!  Not to be left out, Cal, who usually has a gruff attitude towards the women, and particularly with Becky, appears to have turned completely around with his attitude towards her!
            Throughout the show, we are not left without the fact that Jenna’s life is also wrapped up in her ability to create pies of all wonderful, luscious ingredients and names.  Without telling Earl, she plans to keep some of her money from him in order to enter a baking contest that is giving $20,000 to the winner.  Though she has misgivings about entering the contest, Joe (Larry Marshal), the elderly man who owns the restaurant, gives her the courage to do so. 
            It is when Earl comes home and finds money hidden around their apartment that becomes the beginning of the climax to this outstanding musical directed by Diane Paulus.  The book was written by Jessie Nelson with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. The effective set design is by Scott Pask, music direction by Ryan Cantwell,
            Waitress is scheduled to play Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 1PM and 6:30 PM, through August 26, at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.  Tickets are available at, at, by phone at (800) 982-2787, or at the Theatre Box Office (open daily at 10 AM).



Thursday, August 2, 2018

            Hershey Felder is a pianist, actor, playwright, composer, producer, and director.  With talent plus, I judge him a genius.  As a playwright, actor and pianist, he created the role of American composer George Gershwin in the stage play George Gershwin Alone.  His performance, in every way, was stupendous and was a big success.  Thus, his roles followed as Polish composer Frederick Chopin (Monsieur Chopin), Ludwig Van Beethoven (Beethoven, As I Knew Him), Leonard Bernstein (Maestro Bernstein), Franz Liszt (Franz Liszt In Musik), Irving Berlin (Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin), and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Our Great Tchaikovsky).
            This latest production by Felder takes place in October, 1863.  This time it is, again, about Beethoven in which he portrays Gerhard von Breuning, son of Beethoven’s lifelong friend and physician, Stephan von Breuning, as well as Beethoven.  Gerhard, in his teens, became a regular companion to Beethoven during his final few years when his hearing loss had developed into total deafness.  Gerhard became a doctor, and years after Beethoven’s death, published his memories of those years.  Felder found his source for this performance from those papers.
            Hershey Felder tells his story as Gerhard Breuning, how he first encountered Beethoven when he was 12-years old and he and his father chanced upon him while on a walk.  He found out that his father and Beethoven had a relationship when they were young, but that Beethoven grew up with a malicious father and the relationship was not always stable.  However, his own friendship with Beethoven was cherished
            As the story takes place, Felder takes on the characters of both Bruening and Beethoven in conversation with each other.  He adds Beethoven’s music to emphasize the story, and all the while, we are privy to a remarkable performance by a remarkable man as an actor and pianist who also wrote the play and created the scenic design.  Joel Zwick directs.
            Watching Hershey Felder, in each of his productions, has been one of the highlights of my theater experiences.  To watch him perform intricate music, while emoting at the same time, is uncanny to me.  I look forward to seeing any of his performances, even repeats   I will be watching for the opening of his next story about a famous composer, France’s Claude Debussy, when the time comes for it to open.
            Hershey Felder, Beethoven is playing at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, in the Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.  Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, closing Sunday, August 19, after the 2 PM performance.  Tickets are available online at, by phone at (310 746-4000, or at the Theater Box Office.