the poor of new york

Written by Dion Boucicault
Directed by Larry Eisenberg
Produced by Gina Yates for the Group Rep

A classic melodrama, THE POOR OF NEW YORK, is the latest offering from The Group Repertory Theatre at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.  Directed by Larry Eisenberg, the play presents Gideon Bloodgood (Chris Winfield), an unscrupulous banker who steals the deposit of Captain Fairweather’s (Larry Eisenberg) life savings.  We are then taken through the lives of both families over next 20 years, and the injustice the Fairweather family faces because of Bloodgood’s immoral “dastardly” deed.

ZJU Hamlet

I must have seen this place on the street a bunch of times and wondered " what does Z.J.U. stand for?"   Well what it stands for is: "ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND.  "It's not really underground, but it gives you the feeling that it is because its dark in the tiny but very cozy theatre when they turn out the lights!

Once inside the theatre, after everyone was seated, all the lights were turned down from mood to dark,  the mood was being set with some exotic music that sounded distant, in the pitch blackness, with music playing - the mind has a chance to get clear, then the show begins. I loved it! It made everyone crack up with real belly jiggling laughter.  There were 10 actors total and they were all extremely talented in the characters they portrayed.

The HumanArts Theater Company presents

THE DIVINERS

Written by Jim Leonard, Jr.
Directed by RoZsa Horvath

In the fictional Indiana farm community of Zion during the depression, THE DIVINERS is a story of truth, faith, compassion, despair and the human condition.  Written with a distinctive style by Jim Leonard, and excellently directed by RoZsa Horvath, this inaugural presentation by the HumanArts Theater Company is a welcome addition to the NoHo Arts District theatre scene.

The Diviners

Ferris Layman (Mark Howard), a widowed farmer, is raising his brain damaged young boy Buddy Layman (Michael Beck) whose mother died saving him from drowning.  Innocent and uncontrollable, Buddy has the gift of divining or water-witching, but ironically is terrified of water.  A disillusioned Kentucky preacher, C.C. Showers (William Barker), has come to town searching for a new life for himself, meets Buddy and a bond forms between them.

Book by Doug Haverty, Music by Adryan Russ

Lyrics by Russ and Haverty

Directed by Jules Aaron

The world premiere of the new musical, iGhost, with the book by the always creative and innovative, Doug Haverty, music by Adryan Russ, and lyrics by Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ begins at The Lyric Theatre in Los Angeles.  I was lucky enough to see a play reading of this terrific show a few years ago, and couldn’t stop raving about it then.  We now are fortunate to have a full production of this wonderful show, and I’m raving about it NOW.

Zachary Ford and Rebecca Johnson in the world premiere of "iGhost" at the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood.  PHOTO BY RICHARD M. JOHNSON.
Zachary Ford and Rebecca Johnson in the world premiere of "iGhost" 
at the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood.  PHOTO BY RICHARD M. JOHNSON.

 

A 21st Century slant on Oscar Wilde’s classic “The Canterville Ghost”, a young American art student, Virginia, (Rebecca Johnson) comes to haunted Canterville Chase on a student assignment.  Young Trevor (Zachary Ford), the current Duke of Canterville is laboring over a Castle in dire need of money and renovation.  Here we meet Sir Simon (Peter Welkin) our resident ghost and a prior Canterville Duke, who has had a dark curse placed upon him by his deceased wife Lucinda (Dorrie Braun) who believes that Sir Simon was the cause of her untimely death.  Sir Simon sets out to scare Virginia, but she is not afraid of Sir Simon, or anything else for that matter.

Dorrie Braun and Peter Welkin in the world premiere of "iGhost" at the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood.  PHOTO BY RICHARD M. JOHNSON
Dorrie Braun and Peter Welkin in the world premiere of "iGhost"
at the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood.  PHOTO BY RICHARD M. JOHNSON

Now you can imagine that while all this scariness is going on a romance is blossoming between Virginia and Trevor.  Helping Virginia and Trevor, and placating Sir Simon in his antics, are castle couple Mr. and Mrs. Umney, wonderfully played by Paul Zegler and Bonnie Snyder.  Mrs. Umney’s song with Virginia and Mr. Umney’s song with Trevor are quite poignant and touching.  But I have to give a RAVE to the fantastically directed séance scene.  It is not to be missed and extremely fun.

The music is exceptional and beautifully executed by all the actors.  You can really imagine this play with a full orchestra.  Rebecca Johnson and Zachary Ford are picture perfect as Virginia and Trevor, with energy and musicality.  Dorrie Braun is delightful as Lucinda, and Peter Welkin is first-rate and ideal as the formidable Sir Simon.   The remaining ensemble cast Andrew Appel, Erin Carter, Kayla Dillman, Courtney Freed, Matthew Frow, Tyler Milliron (understudy/Trevor) and R. Scott Thompson as Lester, all contribute to a well rounded cast.

Doug Haverty, Adryan Russ and Director Jules Aaron have a hit in iGhost.  This is a true musical and for all you musical fans, a MUST SEE.   I can definitely see IGhost on a much larger stage with full orchestra, special effects, set changes, etc.  But the production at The Lyric Theatre is quite wonderful.

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What do you get when you cross seven sexually charged sketches and two bombshell burlesque dancers? FETISH, the new play written by Dolores Ribakoff and directed by Bryan Rasmussen, running through April 30 at the lovely Whitefire Theater.

While the writing is often on the G-spot, the subject matter is compelling and entertaining enough to keep the audience engaged for the entire two hours. The show's foreplay begins as you enter the theater, where two lingerie-clad hotties are canoodling on a chaise longue. The girls are in the universe of FETISH, and this awkwardly sexy frolicking is merely a prelude to an evening of mild discomfort, and laughs, as we get a peek into the world of other people's kink. Kistina Reynolds and Tania Pearson-Loeser, the aforementioned hotties, end up being more than pre-show fluffers, their periodic dances are cleverly choreographed and skillfully performed. These numbers totally tie FETISH together.

Of the seven stories "Happy Birthday" stands out for its refreshingly conventional narrative and twist. Whereas the other six skits are salacious slices of life, this one delivers as a play. And Steffinnie Phrommany's nuanced transformation brings FETISH to a climax.

The Brechtian denouement flashes a funhouse-type mirror at the audience. We've been implicated as depraved participants, and our voyeurism is no less perverted than what we've just witnessed.


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Click Here for tickets and more information>>

Performance Dates:
Saturday nights only April 2-30, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Tickets:
$20.00

Reservations
(323) 822-7898

Valet and street parking

NO ONE UNDER 18 YRS. WILL BE ALLOWED.

 

Prisoner of second avenue

The Prisoner of Second Avenue, a comedy by Neil Simon, opened on Broadway in November, 1971, and played through September, 1973.  It starred  Peter Falk and Lee Grant and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.  In 1975 it was made into a film starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft.  Relevant to today's economic conditions, it is still hilarious, particularly when performed by an exceptional cast as it is at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.

If far fewer resources are now required to run the federal government, as the President and Congress seem to agree, what about classic Broadway musicals? The curious can test that theory by attending the Above the Curve Theatre production of “Sweet Charity”, playing at the Actors Workout Studio through April 24th.

 

This version of “Charity” is performed on a space hardly sufficient for a minimalist one-act, let alone a show that includes such expansive, high-spirited numbers as “Big Spender”, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, and “The Rhythm of Life”.  The dance routines are staged in tight quarters, which limit the range and frequency of high-leg kicks and other gymnastic feats.

The stripped-down approach extends to the accompanying music, an instrumental soundtrack, played at moderate volume, and the playbill, which does not the list either the names of the songs, nor which characters perform them.  Anyone who plans to attend this production should first consult the “Sweet Charity” entry in Wikipedia.

Yet, despite the various limitations, the infectious charm of the performers, and their unabashed commitment to the material, make this production of “Sweet Charity” both a joy and a revelation.  It turns out you don’t need a huge infusion of cash to stage a hit musical.

The original “Sweet Charity”, which debuted on Broadway in January 1966, was set entirely in New York, and followed the travails of a woman in her 20s who is paid to dance with men.  As the years advance, Charity and her co-workers wonder if they will ever find the right guy and ever leave the business.

Nearly two years before “Hair” opened off-Broadway, “Sweet Charity”, book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, took early notice of the burgeoning counter-culture, especially with “The Rhythm of Life” and a dance number called “Rich Man’s Frug”.  Apparently, the revolution was being co-opted long before car companies licensed songs by the Beatles and the Who.

Both of these numbers are marvelously performed by the Above the Curve cast.  “Frug” is staged like a scene from Andy Warhol’s Factory; beautiful girls with vacant looks mechanically enact the dances steps of the day to a groovy, jazzy pop music arrangement.  I could have easily watched it go on for another 10 minutes.

While faithful to the spirit of the show, and never condescending to women whose career aspirations and opportunities are pre-feminism, director Mark Robert Swiech also transposes the plotline to contemporary Los Angeles.  There are references to Melrose Avenue and Fred Segal, Charity enrolls in Santa Monica College, and cell phones are a regular prop.  The result is an effective hybrid; we don’t lose the New York, single girl-in-the-big-city context, and we also smile at the familiar locales and things.

Adrian Lee Borden’s Charity is one part cynic, two parts innocent, who retains the sense of humor and never-too-high expectations that allow the character to overcome disappointment.  Borden and Peter Greathouse, who plays Oscar, Charity’s most promising love interest, play a masterful scene of comic neurosis while trapped inside an elevator.  Tiffany Roberts’ Nickie and Joe Lorenzo as Herman stood out among the very good cast.

“Sweet Charity” is at the Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, through April 24th.  Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8, and Sunday nights at 7.  Tickets are $15 with reservations, and $20 at the door.  For more information, call the box office at 818-506-3903

 

The subtitle of the world premiere musical Having It All  - Take Flight - speaks volumes. Five women, from totally different walks of life, are in the waiting area of a New York airport, each with a problem that needs attention. What happens to them over the course of 100 minutes gives this introspective a la Sondheim or Jason Robert Brown musical its punch and substance. With five stellar singers/actresses and fluid direction from Richard Israel Having It All has hit written all over it. It truly soars.

 
The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre PRESENTS the WORLD PREMIERE of STEALING BUFFALO

The start of 2011 is turning out to be a fantastic time to go to theatre in the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood.  The World Premiere of STEALING BUFFALO, an original Adult Comedy loaded with laughs, written and performed by Vern Urich and Craig Ricci Shaynak opened Saturday, February 5th at The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.
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