Arts In LA
LA STAGE INSIDER

by Julio Martinez, October 16, 2014


John David Wallis and Hector S. Quintana in DOMA Theatre Company
Photo by Michael Lamont

STEPHEN D. ROUNTREE NAMED NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CTG


Stephen D. Rountree (pictured) has been named managing director at Center Theatre Group, replacing Edward L. Rada. Rountree has served as president and CEO of Music Center since 2002, as well as CEO of LA Opera (2008–12). He will begin his new duties Jan. 2, 2015, working in collaboration with CTG artistic director Michael Richie.

   Rada, who departs CTG at the end of December, informed Ritchie and the CTG board of directors this spring that he was not renewing his contract.


24TH STREET GARNERS GRANT

24th STreet Theatre has received a $300,000 grant from the Rosenthal Family Foundation to expand its Enter Stage Right school field trip program—“an arts education program that features movie star and longtime 24th STreet supporter Jack Black (pictured) in an interactive video that uses theater to teach math, history, and language arts.” The grant, bestowed over three years, will expand the program and develop a touring version.

   Created in 2003 to serve only five schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Enter Stage Right grew to become the most requested program in the second-largest school district in the U.S., serving 11,000 LAUSD students per year at 110 schools by 2009. Since 2010, when LAUSD cut back funding for arts programming, the number of students served decreased to 2,500. The Rosenthal Foundation Grant will enable 24 STreet to expand back to its 2009 numbers.

   An additional grant of $22,000 from the Max H. Gluck Foundation will be used to pay for school buses. Field trips for more than 90 schools in four school districts—including Burbank, Compton, Culver City, and Los Angeles—are being scheduled October through May.


DEAF WEST TRIBUTE TO PHYLIS FRELICH AT MARK TAPER FORUM



Deaf West Theatre hosts a memorial to celebrate the life and career of Tony Award–winning actor and deaf activist Phyllis Frelich (pictured, with John Rubenstein), to be held Monday, Oct. 20. at Mark Taper Forum. Frelich died from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) in April. She was 70.

   She is perhaps best remembered for her groundbreaking role as a deaf woman in a relationship with a hearing man in Children of a Lesser God, by Mark Medoff. Inspired by Frelich’s real-life marriage to scenic designer Robert Steinberg, the play received the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play. Frelich and co-star Rubinstein captured Tonys for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.

   Medoff and Rubinstein are scheduled to speak at the memorial, along with actor Linda Bove (Sesame Street); Deaf West Theatre founding artistic director Ed Waterstreet; and Bernard Bragg, who played an instrumental role in the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf.


THEATRE @ BOSTON COURT NEW PLAY FESTIVAL

Theatre @ Boston Court has revealed the participants in this year’s PLAY/ground, the free-to-the-public annual New Play Festival, Nov. 7¬–9, at Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.

   This year’s staged readings include Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, by Luis Alfaro, helmed by Jessica Kubzansky—which will also be produced offsite at Pacific Palisades’s Getty Villa (Sept. 9), in conjunction with Theatre @ Boston Court’s 2015 season; Mad Beat Hip & Gone, by Steven Dietz, helmed by Michael Michetti; Hillary and Clinton, by Lucas Hnath, helmed by Lindsay Allbaugh; In a Word, by Lauren Yee (pictured), helmed by Casey Stangl; and Your Name Will Follow You Home, by Carlos Murillo, helmed by Michael John Garces.


PREMIERES

East West Players continues its 50th anniversary season with the West Coast premiere of Takarazuka!!!—focusing on the angst-filled final days of a retiring star of an all-female Japanese performance troupe—scripted by Susan Soon He Stanton, helmed by Leslie Ishii, choreographed by Cindera Che, opening Nov. 12 at David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts in Little Tokyo. (Pictured are Grace Yoo and Fiona Cheung.)

   Colony Theatre in Burbank continues its 40th anniversary season with the West Coast debut Handle With Care—fate and circumstances bring together a young Israeli woman with limited command of English and a young American man with little command of romance—written Jason Odell Williams, helmed by Karen Carpenter, opening Nov. 8. The production features Charlotte Cohn (pictured), Jeff Marlowe, Tyler Pierce, and Marcia Rodd.

   Eight disparate men of Gotham hold forth when Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood hosts the premiere of The Penis Chronicles—“a revealing perspective on the male psyche exploring the complex masculine experience”—scripted by Tom Yewell, helmed by Randal Kleiser, opening Nov. 8.


   Also in West Hollywood, Zephyr Theatre hosts the West Coast premiere of Dirty—Wall Street meets the porn industry—written by Kennedy Center Playwright Award winner Andrew Hinderaker, helmed by Obie winner Shannon Cochran (August: Osage County, Bug).

   The cast includes Robert Belushi (pictured), Sumiko Braun, Lea Coco, Anna Konkle, and Max Lesser, opening Nov. 15.



AROUND TOWN


The Wallis in Beverly Hills hosts two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone (pictured) in her solo show, Coulda Woulda Shoulda…played that part—performing songs from roles in musicals she could have, would have, or should have played—conceived and staged by Scott Wittman, with musical arrangements by Dick Gallagher, musical direction by Joseph Thalken, Feb. 12, 2015 at the Bram Goldsmith Theater.

   The premiere tuner Scary Musical, The Musical, wrought by Richard Hochberg (book, music, lyrics) and Michael Paternostro (music and lyrics), helmed and choreographed by James J. Mellon, runs through Nov. 23 at NoHo Arts Center.

   Doma Theatre Company extends its staging of Mel Brooks’s 2007 Tony-nominated tuner, Young Frankenstein (pictured above), helmed by Marco Gomez, reaching out to Nov. 30 at MET Theatre in Hollywood.


INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY


Former Knightsbridge Theatre location, the Braley Building

Joseph Paul Stachura is born and raised in South Central LA, making his debuts as an actor in theater, television, and film by age 15. Following five years of worldwide travel, Stachura returns to LA at age 26, setting about to establish himself as a director and producer of live theater and film. In 1993, determining there was a need for a classically based local theater, Stachura establishes Knightsbridge Theatre, located in the basement of the historic Braley Building, at 355 Raymond Ave., in Old Town Pasadena. Knightsbridge opens June 18, 1993, running three plays in repertory—William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

   By 2000, Stachura feels the Knightsbridge is successful enough to open a second location (pictured below) at 1944 Riverside Dr. near Silverlake—a one-time silent movie house and the former home of Colony Theatre. He subsequently closes the Pasadena theater space. As producing artistic director of Knightsbridge Theatre and The National American Shakespeare Company, Stachura produces more than 300 plays, from Shakespeare’s entire canon to Mamet, Ibsen, O’Neil, Miller, and more by 2012. Along the way, he also creates Knightsbridge Theatre Films, which produces the 2011 independent feature Redemption, winner of the Golden Ace Award at Las Vegas Film Festival and distributed by Mar Vista Entertainment.



   In July 2012, Stachura decides to close down the Riverside Drive space. “The building had developed too many structural problems, which the owner wouldn’t fix,” Stachura affirms. “I just didn’t feel it was a safe place to work.” While avowing his love for live theater and his intent to return to the stage, Stachura continues the activities of Knightsbridge Theatre Films, preparing to premiere the psychological thriller Scream at the Devil, scripted and helmed by Stachura, starring Shari Shattuck, debuting Oct. 24 at Laemmle Theatre in NoHo.

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review—celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles—on Fridays, 2–2:30pm, on KPFK (90.7FM).

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