Arts In LA

by Julio Martinez, April 17


A Noise Within in Pasadena infuses its 2014–15 season with the theme Revolution—informed by the climate of social and economic upheaval in which we live.”

   The fall schedule begins with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, ANW perennial Deborah Strang taking on the role of Prospero. Next is Oscar Wilde’s 1895 bit of whimsy, The Importance of Being Earnest.

   The fall schedule concludes with August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death (Part 1), penned in 1900, chronicling the dissolution of a marriage. As a fall season bonus, ANW offers its third-annual presentation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by co-producing artistic director Geoff Elliott (pictured above with Julia Rodriguez-Elliott), with original music by Ego Plum.

   Spring 2015 begins with The Threepenny Opera, by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill—adapted in 1928 from John Gay’s 1728 folk extravaganza, The Beggar’s Opera—chronicling the exploits of London’s master criminal Macheath. ANW’s season continues with The Marriage of Figaro—the second of the three Figaro plays by 18th-century French dramatist Pierre de Beaumarchais (translated and adapted by Charles Morey).

   ANW’s production is presented concurrently with LA Opera’s operatic adaptations of all three Beaumarchais works—including Rossini’s
The Barber of Seville, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. ANW’s regular season concludes with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Production dates and directors are to be announced.


In the wake of garnering a Best Production Award at this year’s LA Drama Critics Circle Awards for One Night in Miami..., Rogue Machine unveils its five-play mainstage season lineup, beginning with the LA debut of Gruesome Playground Injuries—charting the funny and frightening intersection of two lives—scripted by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo) (pictured), helmed by Larissa Kokernot, opening May 24.

   Rogue’s season continues with Dublin-born playwright Enda Walsh’s 2010 dark comedy, Penelope, helmed by Rogue Machine artistic director John Perrin Flynn, opening June 7; the premiere of Nice Things—four stories, four characters, and the consequences of their actions—scripted by Vince Melocchi (pictured), director and dates TBA; the West Coast premiere of English playwright Mike Bartlett’s 2009 Olivier Award–winning comedy, Cock—an irreverent sojourn through one man’s difficulties with his sexuality—director and dates TBA; and a fifth play to be announced.

   Complementing the season will be Rogue Machine’s annual Benefit Gala, dubbed One Night in Santa Monica, to be held May 15 at Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club. Also in the planning stage are “edgier” works for the company’s Late Night series, as well the 24-hour Around the Clock playwriting/production series and the once-monthly Monday night solo Rant and Rave series. Those dates are TBA.


La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment launch fall 2014 with David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, chronicling a downtrodden South Boston woman’s efforts to get a fresh start, hopefully with the help of a now successful old flame from her youth, helmed by Jeff Maynard, opening Sept. 20.

   La Mirada’s fall programming continues with the latest in Maripat Donovan’s (pictured) audience interactive solo franchise, Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice, helmed by Marc Silva, opening Oct. 20.

   La Mirada’s 2015 tuner schedule begins with 2008 Tony winner Billy Elliot, wrought by Lee Hall and Elton John, choreography by Dana Solimando, helmed by Brian Kite, opening Jan. 17. This is followed by the West Coast debut of Pride and Prejudice A Musical, created by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs—based on the novel by Jane Austin—choreographed by Jeffrey Denman, staged by Igor Goldin, opening April 17, 2015.

  The 2006 Broadway tuner Mary Poppins follows, wrought by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (music and lyrics), Julian Fellowes (book, based on the books of P.L. Travers and the Disney film), George Stiles & Anthony Drewe (additional music and lyrics), choreographed by Dan Mojica, helmed by Glenn Casale, opening May 30.

   Extra season bonuses include the LA premiere of Carrie the Musical, created by Michael Gore (music), Dean Pitchford (lyrics), and Lawrence D. Cohen (book), based on the novel by Stephen King, helmed by Brady Schwind, opening March 12; Ballroom With a Twist, featuring performers from TV’s Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance, March 1 only; and Grammy-winning singer Amy Grant in concert, May 23, 2015 only.


Upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival fare is beginning to reveal itself. Burning Clown Productions offers the West Coast premiere of Eddie Antar’s 2012 Drama Desk nominated The Navigator—spotlighting the machinations that ensue when a man’s life is taken over by his car’s GPS—helmed by Leslie Kincaid Burby, opening June 13 at The Actors Company Let Live Theater.


Acting Artists Theatre in Hollywood hosts a revival of Percy Granger’s 1981 three-character one-act, Vivien—focusing on the difficult reunion of a grown son and his hospitalized father after a four-decade separation—featuring Craig Braun, Ilia Volok, and Tracey Silver, helmed by Silver, opening May 3.

   Comic opera The Gondoliers made its original debut in 1889, created by W.E. Gilbert (libretto) and Arthur Sullivan (music). Sierra Madre Playhouse presents a new version, setting it in 1952 England, adapted and directed by Alison Eliel Kalmus (pictured), choreographed by Angela Nicholas, music direction by Leonardo Sciolis, opening May 16.


Carole Goldman, Hannah Mae Sturges, Taylor Gilbert, and Dani Stephens in Sovereign Body at The Road Theatre

“We have developed a lot of new works since we began in 1991, about 70 so far. We came upon this play in 2011. It was part of our summer festival of new works, and we did a reading of it. It was amazing. We got great response from the community at large who came to the festival. So, we are now producing it as part of our regular 2014 season. It is directed by Scott Allen Smith, who is on staff as the associate artistic director of the company. It is a challenging work. This play is an amalgamation of many different elements. We have realism and surrealism, film elements in this work, and we’re breaking the fourth wall. It really opens the play up. For me, it’s about a family and it’s not just a kitchen sink drama. It’s much larger than that. Because of the circumstances of the character I play, which become pretty horrific, it is able to eventually bring the family together closer than they have ever been. It’s about being loved for who you are and not who you think you are or who you were, and surrendering to the circumstances. It’s a pretty amazing task at hand because my character is very into being in control. She’s judgmental, a definite ‘A’ type. So, she has to take an immensely difficult emotional journey to get to the point where she is able to live the rest of her life within her family.”

—Founder and co-artistic director Taylor Gilbert portrays Anna in The Road Theatre Company’s premiere of Emilie Beck’s Sovereign Body, performing at The Road on Lankershim.


In 1880, the area of Los Angeles we now know as Hollywood was the township of Colegrove, owned and developed by Sen. Cornelius Cole, who served in the House of Representatives (1863–65) and U.S. Senate (1867–73). As a private attorney, Cole represents landowner Henry Hancock. As payment for services, Hancock deeds 500 acres of land to Cole, which Cole subdivides into 10-acre lots, deeding one parcel to businessman Paul A. Homan.

   In 1897, Homan contracts architect Abbot Kinney to design a residence at what is now the southwest corner of Fountain and Wilcox avenues. Homan dubs his two-story home Orchard Gables. Over the next 50 years, the property changes ownership at least a dozen times, surviving as the only structure still standing from the Colegrove era. In 1949, the property is leased by 23-year-old recent Pasadena Playhouse graduate Paul Sorenson, who co-founds Orchard Gables Repertory Company, billed as “the first professional theater in Hollywood.”

   Another co-founder is 18-year-old Playhouse dropout Leonard Nimoy. Orchard Gables Rep has 28 seats and a 24-member ensemble. Highlights of the company’s two-year tenure include successful runs of Dr. Faustus (pictured, starring Nimoy, at right), The Three Musketeers, Born Yesterday, and Deathwatch, prompting Time magazine to declare it “an oasis in the heart of Hollywood.”

   By the end of 1951, the company dissolves as company members become more involved in the ever-expanding television industry, while Nimoy is called into the military. Today, Orchard Gables continues to survive. The property recently undergoes a $2 million refurbishment, funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles. It is scheduled to be the future home of LACER (Literacy, Arts, Culture, Education and Recreation) Afterschool Programs.

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) On April 11, the show spotlights Bunny Hall from Dream a World.
Dance Review

Paul Taylor Dance Company

Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Reviewed by Helen Peppard

The company in Airs

h, Paul Taylor Dance Company, you’ve been too long away. Ten long years since you were last at the Music Center and some seven since you danced in Orange County—it’s too long to keep dance lovers in Southern California out of the loop. We should start campaigning now for its next appearance in the southland. Meanwhile, the company presented three evenings of sheer bliss at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, April 11–13.
   Among choreographers, there are few in the history of concert dance who can match Taylor’s inventiveness and ever surprising integration of dance and nondance movement. His style is idiosyncratic. Despite a vast range of subject matter and emotional content, his work is immediately identifiable: feet flexed, knees and elbows jutting out, bodies suspended off-center and doing all kinds of things you can’t quite believe are possible. His company doesn’t make it look easy, but the dancers are most certainly unfailingly impressive.

Jeffrey Smith, Michael Trusnovec, Sean Mahoney, and Orion Duckstein in Banquet of Vultures
Photo by Tom Caravaglia

he program (the same all three nights) comprised works from different periods of Taylor’s output, dating from 1978, 2005, and 2011. The opening work, Airs, got the evening off to an exhilarating start. Dancing in front of a midnight blue backdrop, the three bare-chested men in pale blue tights and the four women in gauzy blue dresses rarely paused for breath. Baroque instrumental music by Handel provided the impetus for this whirlwind of movement that kept the stage in a state of flux. Incorporating ballet, nondance moves, and Taylor’s own signature movement style, the work is still as surprising as it is delightful all these 35 years later.
   Moving from the glorious to the inglorious, the program’s second offering, Banquet of Vultures, took the viewer into a black hole seemingly peopled with fireflies desperately flickering about, trying to find...what? Dim shafts of light from above and offstage side gradually revealed black-garbed dancers to be carrying points of light, which were slowly extinguished. Confrontational, belligerent, grappling, struggling moves that were somehow dancelike expended the energies of the dancers. Eventually, a rabble-rouser in black suit and red tie exhorted and bullied the group to more violent action, a last lone point of light was extinguished, and the stage was left with a pile of bodies completely vanquished: a powerful anti-war piece to remind us that art is not just about beauty.
   Lightening the mood after the heavy tone of Banquet of Vultures could not have been done more effectively than with the laugh-out-loud antics of Gossamer Gallants. Testosterone-charged males in black and electric blue insect attire buzzed around the stage in aimless bug-like movement until a pair of lime green females attracted their attention with very come-hither moves. That galvanized the males, who eventually succumbed to the charms of a swarm of the green predators, who exulted in their final victory over their helpless bedazzled conquests.
   After 60 years of brilliant dance-making, Paul Taylor isn’t even slowing down. Now if we can just get him back before another decade goes by!

April 17, 2014

Bottom photo: Heather McGinley and Michael Novak in Gossamer Gallants, photo by Tom Caravaglia


The following have generously supported
Fitzmaurice Voicework
with Lisa Pelikan
dany margolies
Fountain Theatre
My Name Is Asher Lev
Feb. 22 through May 18


   * Theater reviews of Ruth Draper's Monologues, The Tallest Tree in the Forest


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