Interview with Deborah Robin on LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER

P3 Theatre presents LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER, a powerful one-woman musical about the dazzling Southern socialite Linda Lee Thomas and her improbable marriage to songwriter Cole Porter who created such classics as “So in Love,” “Night and Day,” “In the Still of the Night,” and “Love for Sale.”

Though Porter was gay, their companionship and love lasted through 35 years of marriage and a spectacular, glamour-filled life. With innovative arrangements, the timeless music and lyrics of Cole Porter weave through the compelling narrative of Love, Linda examining the darker sides of their life, while also celebrating the deep love that blossomed through their unconventional relationship.  “It’s an amazing love story,” said P3 Theatre Company Executive Artistic Director Jon Peterson. “Many people are surprised to learn that Cole Porter had a wife. The show has all the behind-the-scenes secrets as well as the luscious music of Porter.”

LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER had its Off-Broadway premiere in 2013 featuring music and lyrics by Cole Porter, with Book by Stevie Holland and Gary Wiliam Friedman. The show will have its Southwestern Regional Premiere October 16-24 at the 2nd Story Theatre in Hermosa Beach before moving October 30-31 to the Renaissance Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. Through song and story, Deborah Robin promises a tour-de-force performance as Mrs. Cole Porter. And as a fan of Cole Porter’s music but not knowing anything about his wife or their life together, I wanted to find out a bit more about the production, especially what led Deborah Robin to take on the role.

(Shari): Hi Deborah. Thank you for taking to time to speak with me about LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER.

 (Deborah): Hi Shari, it’s my pleasure to chat with you! I am so delighted that you have an interest in our show

(Shari): First of all, congratulations on your acclaimed pre-pandemic turn as Doris Day in P3 Theatre’s Day After Day: The Life and Music of Doris Day. What else would you like readers to know about your theatre background?

(Deborah): Oh thank you so much, Shari; Day After Day was a wonderful experience! I adore everything about Doris, and always will. It was a privilege to portray her, and to work with the P3 Theater Company. As for my theatre background, I have been involved in theatre for most of my life (including post-graduate studies at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), with the exception of the years I stepped away to be home with my babies. The first time I stepped back into a theatre to audition again, it felt like coming home, like Cinderella’s magical slipper fitting her foot at last. I knew that I belonged here. Many of you can relate, I am sure! Speaking of magic, I have found that I gravitate to shows with elements of magic within them. Besides Doris, one of my favorite past roles to play was Mary Poppins. If enchantment is involved, I’m your girl!

(Shari): I take it you are a big fan of Cole Porter’s music. Do you have a favorite number or two you will be performing in the show?

(Deborah): Ah, that is a tough question! All of Cole’s music is timeless, memorable, marvelous! At this point, I think one of my favorites in this show might be “In the Still of the Night.” Some singers have interpreted this song dramatically, even fun and jazzy, but when it is done tenderly, with feeling, wow, does it touch the heart. Doris Day did an incredible recording of this song that I love, of course!

(Shari):  Since many aspects of Porter's life simply could not be discussed in great detail during the 1940s and 1950s, such as his 35-year marriage to Southern socialite Linda Lee Thomas, what was it about her life and unconventional marriage that pulled you into wanting to portray her onstage?

(Deborah): Yes, absolutely, the reality of their marriage was not up for discussion at that time! There was a rather fictionalized account of their marriage in the movie Night and Day starring Cary Grant as Cole Porter. Apparently, after seeing the film, Cole remarked, with humor, “None of it’s true.”  But I knew almost nothing about Linda’s life before Jon Peterson of the P3 Theatre Company reached out to me during quarantine, asking if I’d heard of Love, Linda and if I might be interested in taking a look at it for the future? Of course, I said “yes” immediately because I relish Porter’s music, especially from Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate.

When I began researching Linda, I was fascinated. She was certainly a very sophisticated, sparkling socialite, but very private. I believe she truly loved him since they were together for nearly half of her life. Did you know she kept every Cole Porter review, ticket stub, and program and that her scrapbooks reside at Yale now?

(Shari): No, I had no idea!

(Deborah): And she saved his life as well, insisting that doctors not amputate his legs when he suffered an accident since she knew it would crush his spirit. I believe Cole loved her, too! After she passed away, he wept inconsolably at her funeral, and said he’d had two great women in his life: his mother and Linda, who kept him going. He commissioned a rose for her as well, the Linda Porter rose.

(Shari): What else do you hope audiences will learn about her?

(Deborah): I hope audiences will come away with an understanding of and connection to this spirited lady. Linda was much more than Cole Porter’s wife, or benefactor, or muse. She was a bright and vivacious woman with a passion for culture, music, and Cole!

(Shari): No doubt their glamour-filled lifestyle was essential for both of them. But how do you think they were able to stay married for 35 years?

(Deborah):  Yes, they were the epitome of glamour! The palatial houses, lavish decor, the world traveling. Linda’s jewelry collection is just to-die-for! Many of her pieces were commissioned by Cartier, and are so gorgeous! One of her most iconic pieces was an aquamarine and ruby Belt Buckle Necklace made by Paul Flato in 1935, which is considered an American work of art.

I think there are many reasons Cole and Linda were able to stay married, which Linda discusses in the show. They admired and respected one another, in addition to love. She saw him for the man that he was, and gave him space and freedom in his intimate life. In a practical sense, for Cole, his marriage to Linda gave him access to a sophisticated social life; for Linda, Cole granted her access to the world of the arts. Of course, they did have problems in their marriage, which Love, Linda explores as well

(Shari): What do you think will surprise audiences about their behind-the-scenes life, either in Paris or New York?

(Deborah): I hope audiences will be pleasantly surprised, even touched, at the genuine love and affection that existed between these two! Marriage can be challenging enough under the best circumstances; Cole and Linda (with eyes wide open) managed to have a beautiful life together, as unconventional and puzzling as it may seem.

(Shari): For this production, are you able to rehearse in person with director Tony Santamauro and/or musical director Bill Wolfe or just online for now?  And have you ever worked with either of them before?

(Deborah): Yes, I have been able to work with both of these fabulous people in person, and we are following all safety protocols. Tony was my director for Day After Day, and I jumped at the opportunity to work with him again. He just radiates a zeal for theatre, he lives and breathes it, and is a joy to work with. This is my first time working with Bill, and he is delightful (and so talented)!

(Shari): What message do you hope audiences take away with them after seeing the show?

(Deborah): Besides all of the classic Cole Porter tunes that will be playing on repeat in their heads for days? Most of us know Cole Porter as a clever and witty composer who was unable to live openly as a gay man. He was more than clever and closeted; he was staggeringly brilliant, and much deeper and more complex than people realize. He was not able to be himself, openly, in the world, but he had someone in his corner who cared. Some of his more thoughtful songs really portray this side of him, touching emotions in us that cannot be conveyed except through music. I hope audiences will come away with a bit more insight into the captivating man that he was, and of the woman who adored him

(Shari): Is there anything else you would like to add?

(Deborah): Yes! The number one reason to come to this show is the music! It is delightful and delicious, and the particular arrangements in Love, Linda are de-lovely! There are also some lesser-known treasures you may never have heard before. Cole Porter’s music is universally loved for a reason, and I hope you will love it, too. Thank you so much, Shari, for your interest in our show, and for this interview! I really appreciate it.

P3 Theatre Company presents the Southwestern Regional Debut of LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER, a musical one-woman show starring Deborah Rubin about the improbable love of the gay songwriter and his socialite wife. With Music and lyrics by Cole Porter, Book by Stevie Holland and Gary Wiliam Friedman, the production is Directed by Tony Santamauro with Musical Direction by Bill Wolfe.

Performances take place:
October 16-24 at the 2nd Story Theatre in Hermosa Beach, with Adult General Admission: $32.00 or Senior/Student/Military General Admission $28.00, available at https://www.onthestage.tickets/show/p3-theatre-company/love-linda-the-life-of-mrs-cole-porter-65321

October 30-31 at the Renaissance Performing Arts Center in Long Beach with General Admission Adult: $35.00 or Senior/Student/Military: $32.00 available at https://www.onthestage.tickets/show/p3-theatre-company/love-linda-the-life-of-mrs-cole-porter-89246 

Run time is 75 minutes with no intermission, and both venues have wheelchair accessible parking and seating available. All ticket sales are final. Please note: For all in-person performances, you will be required to wear a mask indoors in compliance with the current LA County mandate. In addition to wearing a mask, you will need to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test (within 72 hours) along with a photo ID.

Headshot photo of Deborah Robin by Susan Spann

Stock Photos of Cole Porter and his wife Linda Lee Thomas

Photo of Deborah Robin as Doris Day in "Day After Day: The Life and Music of Doris Day"
by Caught in the Moment Photography

Wait Until Dark poster

Interview with Vanessa White of Classic Thriller WAIT UNTIL DARK at Theatre Palisades

Vanessa White as Suzy HendrixTheatre Palisades reopened their Pierson Playhouse for live theatre on August 27 with WAIT UNTIL DARK, a suspenseful 1966 Broadway thriller by Frederick Knott. But perhaps this classic tale is best known to audiences from the 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn (who was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Actress), Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, Julie Herrod and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. In fact, in 2001 the film ranked #55 on the American Film Institute’s One Hundred Year… One Hundred Thrills list and its climatic scene is ranked tenth of Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Its popularity remains intact, with the play often performed on stages around the world.

Harry Roat bribes two con men, whom he renames Sgt. Carlino and Mike Talman, into doing his biding. (from left: Josh Paris, Manfred Hofer, Brett Chapin)
Photo credit: Joy Daunis

WAIT UNTIL DARK, is set in a 1967 Greenwich Village basement apartment where Susy Hendrix, a recently blind woman, is imperiled by a trio of strangers. Aided by her meddling young neighbor Gloria, Susie must fight for her life against these ruthless criminals, led by the sociopath Harry Roat, Jr. who has hired two con men in need of money (giving them the aliases of Mike Talman and Sgt. Carlino) to assist him in carrying out his mission to find a musical doll from Montreal hidden somewhere in her apartment that is more than just a toy.

But since Susy does not have the doll or know where it is, the men proceed to play a cat and mouse game with her to locate it - Roat for its valuable contents and the other two to get paid a hefty sum for assisting him. But when the trio attempts to convince Susy that the police need the doll as part of an investigation, and that her husband might be involved since he brought the doll across the Canadian border, Susie realizes these men are not who they say they are and her life is truly in danger every moment they are in her apartment.

Gloria spies on the van and phone booth outside Susy's window.
Photo credit: Joy Daunis

As the tension builds, Gloria shows up with the doll! Susy then must figure out where to hide it as no doubt the men will soon return and search the place again, probably hurting her in the process. And after Gloria assists Susy by spying on the men through the kitchen window, Susie realizes her blindness might be the key to her escape! Thus, a suspenseful battle of wits begins, leading to a confrontation between the lady and the devil, culminating after darkness falls in this classic thriller’s chilling conclusion.

The WAIT UNTIL DARK cast
Photo credit: Joy Daunis

Directed by Tony Torrisi and produced by Martha Hunter and Sherman Wayne (who also designed the realistic set and lighting), the Theatre Palisades cast features Vanessa White as Susy Hendrix, Brett Chapin as Mike Talman, Manfred Hofer as Harry Roat, Josh Paris as Sgt. Carlino, Amanda Tugangui as Gloria, and Michael Wayne Osborn as Sam Hendrix, with each delivering a well-thought-out characterization. Perhaps since the cast had originally been scheduled to open the show in March 2020, no doubt the extra time to study lines and characterizations contributed to their deeper exploration and understanding of their roles.

Susy begins to wonder whether or not the men are telling her the truth.
Photo credit: Joy Daunis

I spoke with several of the actors after the performance, specifically to ask Vanessa White about her ability to so successfully inhabit a character without sight. She responded, “The most difficult part was not being able to look my fellow actors in the eye during our scenes together. But my reality is that I am legally blind without my glasses or contact lenses, which gives me personal insight in what it’s like to walk around your home when you cannot see things clearly.”  In fact, Vanessa's movements were so specific, each time she walked the wall over to the bottom of the staircase, I saw her tap her foot there as Susy’s indicator on where she was. Same thing was true when she reached for the phone, often by grabbing the cord to lead her to the receiver.

Susy hatches a plan to get the con artists out of her house.
Photo credit: Joy Daunis

Act 1 contains a lot of exposition, and as such, can often get bogged down timewise. That seemed to be the case on the night I attended on opening weekend, with the stage often left empty for no apparent reason. But I am sure well-versed director Tony Torrisi will work with his actors on picking up their lines and movement to quicken the pace during future performances. And while the final confrontation between predator and prey requires us to believe it is performed in total darkness and usually has viewers gasping and jumping out of their seats, unfortunately Sherman Wayne’s dark lighting design did not allow us to see that moment happen. But if his idea was to let us experience Susy’s fearful surprise from a blind person’s perspective, he totally succeeded.

WAIT UNTIL DARK continues on Fri/Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm through October 3, 2021 at the Pierson Playhouse, located at 941 Temescal Canyon Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. Free on-site parking is available. Please note that masks must properly be worn while inside the theater, covering your nose and mouth, and proof of vaccination must be presented at the door for entrance. Tickets are $22 general admission, $20 seniors/students, available at 310-454-1970 or online at http://theatrepalisades.org/


Leela Dance Collective presents ReSound, a 5-day celebration of kathak dance

Leela Dance Collective presents ReSound, a 5-day celebration of kathak dance, featuring street performances and workshops to educate and inspire audiences of all ages. The Kathak (pronounced cut - tuck) dance form can be traced back to the kathakas from 400 BCE who were the traveling storytellers and artists of ancient India. In modern times, the art form has emerged on the presidium stage and traveled outside of India, finding expression in diasporic communities throughout the US and beyond.

One of kathak’s most notable characteristics is the fast, percussive footwork dancers perform by striking their bare feet on the floor using various techniques. In addition, it is known for swift pirouettes, a dynamic movement vocabulary, and compelling character portrayal. Kathak is typically performed with North Indian classical Hindustani music, which provides an exhilarating soundscape and a very collaborative environment for the artists. Dancers wear a string of 150-200 bells around each ankle to ornament their footwork and movements, and to highlight the rhythmic sophistication of the artform.

 

In Los Angeles, free street performances will take place at such iconic locations as Santa Monica’s 3rd St Promenade, DTLA’s Grand Park, Pasadena’s Memorial Park, Culver City’s Town Plaza, Woodland Hills’ The Village at Topanga, and the Oak Canyon Community Park showcasing kathak dance at its best. The $10 workshops are a great opportunity for individuals to experience kathak first hand, the way that kathak dance can ground the body, focus the mind, and uplift the spirit. Workshops are held at some of LA's most popular studios including Evolution Studios, Electric Lodge, The Vault, and Diaz Studio of Dance in Culver City.

Culver City performances include a Free Pop-up Performance on Sunday, Sept 26, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Plaza, 9500 Culver Blvd, Culver City; with two $10 Workshops: The Indian Avatars on Sun, Sept 26, 3:00-4:00 p.m., at Diaz Studio of Dance, 3816 Culver Ctr, Culver City, in which kids ages 5 and up are introduced to kathak and learn coordination, movement rhythm, music and dramatic expression as they delve into the rich world of Indian mythology; and Movement, Music & Meditation on Sun, Sept 26, 4:00-5:00 p.m., at Diaz Studio of Dance, 3816 Culver Ctr, Culver City, in which participants discover the beauty and dynamism of kathak by being introduced to the technique, movement, music and poetry of the art form woven together into an experience that is meditation in motion. To register for free events and $10 workshops, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resound-kathak-in-the-streets-los-angeles-tickets-158038416157

The concept and arrangement of the ReSound repertoire is curated by Rina Mehta, senior disciple of kathak legend Pandit Chitresh Das and cofounder of the critically acclaimed Leela Dance Collective, and showcases Das’ original compositions and choreography, while featuring a new generation of emerging kathak dancers trained in his iconic style: Sonali Toppur, Ahana Mukherjee, Carrie McCune, and Ria DasGupta.

After more than a year of living in fear and isolation, we are thrilled to see our neighborhoods and communities start to come back to life. To do our part, we are quite literally dancing with joy - on street corners and promenades and at community parks and outdoor malls across Los Angeles and San Francisco,” shares Rina Mehta, whose work is grounded in the belief that kathak dance can be a powerful tool for empowerment and social change.

Founded and led by women, Leela Dance Collective’s central aim is to advance the voices of women artists and choreographers while providing a space for women to lead and create outside the confines of a traditional male-defined framework of leadership, mentorship, and artistic practice. Through their productions they hope to bring together artists and communities across race, ethnicity, and religion. It is through such exchange that Leela Dance Collective continues to engage with their own artistic tradition, remaking it for contemporary audiences.

For more information, watch the ReSound trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS6eyK09TPs and check out their moves on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/LeelaDanceCollective. View the complete ReSound schedule at https://leela.dance/resound/

Performances - Free

Friday, Sept 24, 12:30 p.m.:  Grand Park, DTLA

Friday, Sept 24, 6:30 p.m.:  The Village at Topanga, Woodland Hills

- Saturday, Sept 25, 1:30 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.:  3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

Saturday, Sept 25, 5:30 p.m.:  Memorial Park, Pasadena
(featuring performance by Los Angeles’ inaugural Leela Youth Dance Company)

- Sunday, Sept 26, 11:30 a.m.: Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Dr, Oak Park

(part of the Kathak Karnival featuring additional family activities, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Sunday, Sept 26, 5:30 p.m.: Town Plaza, 9500 Culver Blvd, Culver City

Workshops - $10

- Before Bollywood: Wed, Sept 22, 7:00-8:00 p.m., The Vault Dance Studio, 57 Palmetto Dr, Pasadena Before Bollywood there was kathak,
known for its grandeur, beauty, and elegance. Join us for a workshop that introduces you to the movement, music and expression of this dynamic art form. Students of all levels and backgrounds are welcome.

- Bare Feet Beats: Thurs, Sept 23, 7:00-8:00 p.m., Evolution Dance Studios, 10816 Burbank Blvd, NoHo
Dive into the dynamic world of kathak. Move, groove, jam and slam as you learn how to make rhythm and music with your bare feet. Students of all levels and backgrounds welcome.

From Sensuality to Spirituality: Sat, Sept 25, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave, Venice

Radha is one of India's most beloved goddesses. Her love, devotion and yearning for Krishna is a metaphor for our relationship to the divine. As we explore Radha's love for Krishna through the art of kathak, classical dance of North India we explore the eternal human search for the divine. Students of all levels and backgrounds welcome.

- The Indian Avatars: Sun, Sept 26, 12:00-1:00pmOak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Dr, Oak Park

In this workshop, kids are introduced to kathak, classical dance of North India. Kids learn coordination, movement rhythm, music and dramatic expression as they delve into the rich world of Indian mythology. For kids, ages 5 and up. Part of the Kathak Karnival featuring additional family activities.

The Indian Avatars: Sun, Sept 26, 3:00-4:00 p.m., Diaz Studio of Dance, 3816 Culver Ctr, Culver City

In this workshop, kids are introduced to kathak, classical dance of North India. Kids learn coordination, movement rhythm, music and dramatic expression as they delve into the rich world of Indian mythology. For kids, ages 5 and up.

Movement, Music & Meditation: Sun, Sept 26, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Diaz Studio of Dance, 3816 Culver Ctr, Culver City

Discover the beauty and dynamism of kathak. Workshop participants are introduced to the technique, movement, music and poetry of the art form woven together into an experience that is meditation in motion.

Family Festival - $10

Kathak Karnival: Sun, Sept 26, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Dr, Oak Park
Enjoy dance, music, food, and fun - $10 admission includes an exclusive performance of ReSound by Leela Dance Collective, with an opening performance by Los Angeles' inaugural Leela Youth Dance Company, as well as kathak workshops for children, youth, and adults. Register now and get unlimited access to family activities including henna art, face painting, photo booths, gift giveaways, and more. Free parking.


NOISES OFF Returns and Proves Whatever Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong!

In 1970, Michael Frayn, the English playwright who would go on to write NOISES OFF, was standing backstage in the wings watching a performance of one of his other farces “The Two of Us.” Of that performance he said, "It was funnier from behind than in front, and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind."

By the late 70s, Frayn had created the hilarious three-act NOISES OFF, whose title is taken from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds coming from offstage. And for those never involved in putting on a theatrical play, I can tell you there is more than one show going on at each performance, especially backstage where the stage manager must not only wrangle the cast to be ready and enter at the right time but to also check props, costumes, lighting and sound cues, and basically make sure the performance is presented as the director intended it to be seen. And it’s a fact that given all the things that can go wrong backstage, it’s often a miracle the performance makes it to its curtain call at all.

But it is those instances of pandemonium both onstage and backstage that create laugher from start to finish in NOISES OFF, presented with a real flair for comic timing, entrances and exits, costume changes, tons of props, and an energetic cast who can run around like lunatics and still be able to remember all their lines!  Such is the case at the Long Beach Playhouse under the brilliant direction of Gregory Cohen who first assembled his cast in early 2020, opened the show in March 2020, and then had the pandemic outbreak shut it down just two weeks into the run. And now they are back (with just one replacement cast member) through October 9 to carry on with the mayhem and mischief to delight audiences.

Called the funniest farce ever written, NOISES OFF presents a manic menagerie of itinerant British actors rehearsing a flop called “Nothing’s On.” Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, jilted lovers, misplaced and forgotten props, especially errant sardines, all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play within a play.

The cast features Andrea Stradling as dedicated but forgetful actress Dotty Otley, Eric Schiffer as the womanizing director Lloyd Dallas, handsome John Vann as younger leading man Garry Lejeune, Amara Phelps (who steals many a scene as the cell phone selfie-obsessed lingerie-wearing ingénue Brooke Ashton, Travis Wade as health-challenged actor Frederick Fellowes, Adanna Kenlow as Belinda Blair, perhaps the most “professional” actor of the troupe who attempts to hold things together, Lewis Leighton as washed-up by booze actor Selsdon Mowbray, Lyndsay Palmer as the put-upon and stressed-out Stage Manager Poppy Norton-Taylor who has a big secret herself, and PJ Cimacio as the Set Desginer/Tech Manager Tim Allgood who is called upon to take on several roles when actors are no-shows.

Each of these actors is to be commended for their boundless energy and great skill at physical humor, especially with all the dual-level entrances and exits at breakneck speed and props to remember.  Timing is everything in this farce and this cast never misses a beat – even when we are supposed to think they have.

Act One takes place onstage at the final dress rehearsal of “Nothing’s On” with the cast hopelessly unready, although we are given a peak at how the show is supposed to go, especially their entrances and exits and how many seemingly meaningless plates of sardines have to be carried on and taken back off stage. The act ends with intermission during which Larry Mura’s remarkable double-sided set is completely turned around to allow Act Two to take place backstage a few weeks into the show’s run, which allows the audience to see behind the scenes. And trust me, with all of the actors’ antics going on, it’s every Stage Manager’s nightmare about losing control of the show!

At the end of Act Two, the cast changes the set pieces around in full view of the audience, generating a much-deserved round of applause when the set is back in place. Act Three then takes place at a performance onstage near the end of the fictional ten-week run when personal friction between the actors has continued to increase to the point that their frazzled nerves are getting the best of them.

So in essence, we watch as “Nothing On” is staged three times with each performance sinking lower into the depths of a staged nightmare generating laughs galore, even as the plot breaks down in the process. As the shenanigans mount and the play begins to unravel, it is the actors, each one of them incredibly physically agile, who make this farce come alive and generate hysterical laughter that fills the theater!

NOISES OFF continues at the Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim Street in Long Beach 90804, through October 9 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm. Audience members must show proof of vaccination for admittance and wear a face at all times inside the building. Tickets run $14-$24, available by calling the box office at (562) 494-1014 or online at www.lbplayhouse.org where you can also select your seat assignments on any of the three sides of the thrust stage. And be prepared to try and follow all the action while laughing from start to finish!Photo credit: Michael Hardy Photography


The Troubies Return and Present LIZASTRATA Outdoors at The Getty Villa in Malibu

Troubadour Theater Company (better known as The Troubies) is a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred, Commedia Del Arte-flavored, slapstick-driven, Los Angeles-based ensemble of actors, musicians, and comedians that has been performing for audiences throughout Southern California and beyond since 1995. Over the past 12 years, the Troubies have collaborated with Getty on several occasions. Most recently they presented Getty’s first virtual theater presentation on YouTube with The ODDyssey, a whimsical retelling of Odysseus’s adventure after the Trojan War.

The Troubies fast-paced, laugh-filled, loose adaptations (some of the lines are still there) of classic plays, literature and film, as well as their original productions and hilarious sketch material, make this company a unique and exciting experience for theater-goers of any age, barring their latest show, LIZASTRATA, which is definitely strictly for adult audiences due to subject matter and language.

For those unfamiliar with Aristophanes’s classic Greek comedy Lysistrata, it tells the tale of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War by convincing the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate a peace. In LIZASTRATA, The Troubies tell the same story in a very modern and bawdy adaptation during which I guarantee you will hear more ways to describe sexual relations than you thought possible, see a wide-range of inflated body parts, and laugh at the outrageously updated lyrics to well-known Liza Minelli songs. To get the general idea, think New York, New York redone as No Pork, No Pork sung by the effervescent Cloie Wyatt Taylor as Lizastrata as she attempts to convince several women from other local SoCal cities to go along with her plan. And what a fun bunch of followers they turn out to be as they offer the men a choice – make war or make whoopie!

Directed and adapted by Matt Walker, who energetically takes to the stage as gender-bending characters the Emcee, Lampito and the Magistrate via quick costume changes by designer Halei Parker, the LIZASTRATA cast also features, along with Walker and Wyatt Taylor as Lizastrata, the multi-talented L.T. Martinez, Rick Batalla, Suzanne Jolie, Amanda Pajer, Jess Coffman, Beth Kennedy (whose puppetry skills will have you roaring with laughter) and Michael Faulkner. Band members who also play several roles include Dave Wright (Banjo), Ryan Whyman (Piano), John Ballinger (Guitar, Clarinet, Banjo & Misc.) and Nick Stone (Percussion). Kudos to the entire production team for such an entertaining and welcome return to in-person theatre by The Troubies!

LIZASTRATA is the 15th annual outdoor theater production in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa. Performances, which as of this writing are totally sold out, take place on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, September 9 – October 2, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. For all the optimists out there, additional tickets may become available at www.getty.edu/LIZA or by calling (310) 440-7300. No admittance without advance reservation, and a ticket for the play does not include admission to the museum, which must be booked separately. Due to sexual language, situations, and imagery that are not recommended for persons under the age of 15. Run time is 90 minutes, no intermission, with on-site parking available. Masks are optional outdoors, but required in all indoor spaces including the café, elevators and restrooms, and proof of vaccination must be shown for admittance.

Photos by Craig Schwartz


Interview: Rachel Parker on her World Premiere of ‘The Wolfe & The Bird’

The need for personal isolation during 2020 appears to have led to a plethora of solo shows being developed and performed online and in person in which performers create mostly autobiographical tales meant to unify their own experience with the rest of us. So when I heard about Rachel Parker’s world premiere of her darkly funny, moving ‘The Wolfe & The Bird’ premiering at the Matrix Theatre on September 18, I decided to ask her about its development as well as the many characters which play a part in her story via voiceover artists.

(Shari): Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your show, as I expect you are very busy in final rehearsals this week.

(Rachel): I’m happy to be speaking with you, Shari.

(Shari): Please share a little about your theatrical background in the Los Angeles area.

(Rachel): My first theater community here was Westside Comedy Theater. I’m a huge fan of the improv principles “yes, and-ing,” “there are no mistakes,” and “following the fear.” Eventually, I found my way into a LaBute play for one Fringe Festival, which led to my directing a play at Fringe the following year. Two of the actors from that play were Theatre of NOTE members and encouraged me to audition for the company. It was there that I aligned with actress/playwright Dagney Kerr to act in an early version of her poignant play “Deanna and Paul” being put up at another theatrical community of hers in NoHo. I’ve now collaborated a few times with some of those artists. And through the magic of Actors Access, I was able to collaborate with multi-Ovation-nominated Stefan Marks in his artfully wackadoo play “Space.”

(Shari): The play’s description states, “No time to sleep. No room for error. No pleasing mom. A young girl struggles to find herself against the backdrop of 1980s small town America in the world premiere of The Wolfe & The Bird, a darkly funny and deeply moving solo play written and performed by Rachel Parker (Ovation-nominated Space at the Stella Adler Theatre).”  Am I right in assuming the play is autobiographical, told as an adult looking back on how she got to where she is today. Is that a correct assumption? And if not, please fill me in!

(Rachel): It is autobiographical, yes. It is not, however, presented as a reflection piece. The audience experiences Rachel receiving and perceiving her life and the people in it at ages 8, 12, 15, and so on. The play does begin with a Timeless Rachel but quickly moves to Rachel at 8.

(Shari): You share in program notes that the play exists because of Isadora O’Boto and Matt Hoverman. How did they influence its creation?

(Rachel): I met Matt Hoverman at Naked Angels’ “Tuesdays@9” back in New York. Not only is Matt a talented playwright and Emmy award-winning TV writer, he’s a deeply gifted doula of solo shows since 2001. Innately, Matt is able to meet a solo show artist where she is with her work — and with herself — and to gently tease loose and shed all the stuff that encumbers the telling of a story. Matt leads with loving kindness. He’s simply the best kind of teacher. Isadora O’Boto is also a Go-Solo Workshop alum. She and I synced up and became accountability partners almost upon meeting. Isadora is an exceedingly deep listener. No matter how inchoate a scene of mine is, Isadora’s able to detect my aim and question me in a fashion that nudges me toward reaching my destination. Ours has been the most validating collaboration I’ve had to date.

(Shari): Tell me more about the 1980s small town where you grew up and which of its residents we meet in the play.

(Rachel): My house was situated between an idyllic small lake and a dangerously busy road in a village between Flint and Pontiac. My blue collar father adored that lake, which he himself grew up on. Almost all family downtime was spent on the lake, and a lot of it with my mother’s Flint modeling school coworkers and students. The audience will spend a bit of time with models Kim, Jett, and Rob with the Ken doll hair. Before Rachel starts interacting with her ballet instructor and a couple high school teachers, the audience will get to know Dana the babysitter, who hangs out nonstop with her boyfriend Matt in the basement… that is until they take Rachel and her sister on a road trip to a Pontiac hospital.

(Shari): No doubt most women grow up having issues with their mom, feeling as if there is no pleasing her. Do your observations about her outlook on life figure prominently in the play?

(Rachel): Yes.

(Shari): Does your relationship with her figure into the play’s title The Wolfe & The Bird?  Or if it doesn’t, what does it reference?

(Rachel): My village boasts a number of dirt roads — Wolfe and Bird Roads are but two of them. A number of nights were spent dreading those two roads. For me, they induced terror. For my mother, they provided a place to let out some of the deathless pressure within her. I would also add that it suggests different parenting styles.

(Shari): Tell me a bit about working with so many other actors via voiceover, including James Heaney, Dagney Kerr, Ivory Tiffin, Madeleine Townsend, Phil Ward, Silvie Zamora on the creation of all the characters they portray in the play.

(Rachel): For about eight months, director Alina Phelan and I had been meeting up every few weeks or so over Zoom, fleshing out the script. I believe it was while Alina was cleaning one day that it occurred to her how nice it would be to simply see Rachel receive the words and actions of the surrounding characters. We asked Silvie Zamora and James Heaney to partake in a Zoom reading (Silvie reading all the female characters and James all the male ones). Immediately it became clear how necessary it was to have other energies supporting the storytelling. We were so fortunate to have Silvie take on the role of my mother and to get one socially distanced in-person rehearsal and conversation with her. Silvie’s EQ is through the roof, and I simply can’t imagine anyone else in the role. As my mother is a very complicated human being, having Silvie voice all the female roles would be a disservice to my mother and to this fine actress. Same for James Heaney, who voices my father.

Casting the other actors was a dream. I was familiar with everyone’s work (save Silvie) and knew that, as they were all pros, one Zoom table read would suffice. A week later, we held individual recording sessions at The Matrix with our sound designer Stephen Epstein. It all felt pretty seamless. And safe.

(Shari): Which of these characters do you think figures most prominently in your story?  Why?

(Rachel): Silvie and James as my parents, of course. But Phil Ward as my social studies teacher and Dagney Kerr as my ballet instructor are pivotal players. These teachers provided Rachel anchors for artistic expression and chances to have “wins” during a childhood ruled by chaos.

(Shari): Tell me about bringing Alina Phelan onboard as director.  Have you two worked together before?  Did you work together in person or remotely on The Wolfe & The Bird?

(Rachel): Alina is a veteran member of NOTE. I’d been admirer of her work as both actor and director for years. Once WOLFE & BIRD was in a pretty good place, I tapped-tapped her email inbox to see if directing a solo show would be of interest to her. Thankfully, she was receptive to reading it. Turns out Alina and I both hail from Michigan! And she instantly understood the people I was striving to bring to life. Most likely it’s due to the sheltering in place that Alina’s schedule was open enough to even consider this project.

(Shari): And you have quite a well-known technical team with Lighting Design by Matt Richter, Sound Design by Stephen Epstein, and your Stage Manager Kelly Egan. No doubt you have worked together before?

(Rachel): It’s a tech-heavy show, and dang am I lucky to be surrounded by such talent! Stephen Epstein and I worked together on “Space” so enlisting him to design sound for this was a no-brainer. And Kelly Egan, well… I certainly knew her work at NOTE but this is my first opportunity to work with her, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This show couldn’t happen without her. I know she would demur at such a statement but it’s true. And Kelly is the one who brought Matt Richter onto the team. Truly thanking my lucky stars for this gem of a man and lighting designer. His visceral understanding of story and how to technically support it is simply beyond me. To be profiting from his expertise is a dream. Matt’s taken the production to another level.

(Shari): What is the message you hope audience members walk away with at the end?

(Rachel): Expression is vital. Perfection expression is not. Art heals. Good teachers make the world go round.

(Shari): As a former teacher, I love seeing my former students succeeding. So I really appreciate you expressing that belief in your play.  Thanks so much for speaking with me!

The Wolfe & The Bird premieres September 18 through October 10, with performances on Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 18; Sept. 25; Oct. 2 (no evening performance on Oct. 9). Saturday at 2 p.m.: Oct. 9 ONLY and  Sundays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 19; Sept. 26; Oct. 3; Oct. 10, at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave. in L.A. 90046 (west of Stanley Ave., between Fairfax and La Brea – arrive early and be mindful of street parking restrictions). Tickets are $18, available in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5219775 or at the box office prior to each performance, based on availability. Admittance is limited to ages 12+ with proof of vaccination required – no exceptions – and masks must be worn properly covering your nose and mouth throughout the performance as mandated by the County of L.A.

Photos by Joshua Stern

Graphic Design by Damon Pablo


Interview with Mitch Feinstein on his Solo Autobiographical Play FOR LOVE OR MONEY

I recently spoke with writer/performer Mitch Feinstein on this autobiographical journey in FOR LOVE OR MONEY that invites all of us to consider: Can we learn lessons and make changes, or is it too late? Set at the onset of the pandemic, a successful 76-year-old businessman is forced to examine his choices in life, what he thinks he has achieved, and what he feels he has lost. Why did he so fervently quest for money and security at the expense of his own happiness and the trampling of his artistic soul?

"At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt a complete loss of control," Mitch says. "The crashing of the economy brought to my present consciousness deep-seated fears that have besieged me all of my life." Like many during the extended shelter-in-place order, he found an online class to help soothe his anxieties.

Mitch chose a daily meditation and writing class with Jessica Lynn Johnson, Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo Studios (soaringsolostudios.com) in which Jessica guides and directs her students in the creation of their one-person shows. Jessica has directed and developed over 100 solo shows and has performed her own pieces for the past 15 years.

Jessica shares, "It is a joy to help Mitch and all of my students realize their dreams of solo performance. Part of what I do is help them process fears that arise so they can get their stories out and transform them into theatrical, entertaining, and dynamic pieces of art onstage. And we do it as a tribe, which is much more fun and supportive than doing it alone!"

The workshop's daily writing prompts helped Mitch coalesce the pieces of his lived story. "This is my honest attempt to understand and explain the choices I made in my life and perhaps provide guideposts for myself and others to acceptance and peace," Mitch says.

Offering further insight into his creation process, Mitch shares, "For me I had no choice. The way I was feeling in March 2020, looking back on my life, trying to find some peace as a way through the pandemic, the show just came out. The feelings and ideas had been brewing. The more acting classes I took, and the more I let go of my business career, the more I wondered how I had made the choices I made and where was I now. The short answer is this story is the best version of truth of choices people make between the practical and the loved."

Tune in as I am sure the focus of this show is a universal one for all of us whose lives have fundamentally changed in so many ways during the past year. FOR LOVE OR MONEY streams via Vimeo as an official selection of SoloFest 2021 on March 6, 2021, at 7pm. 75 minutes, no intermission. Tickets: $15.99. To purchase visit: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/mitchell/475377

Actor/Writer Bio: Mitch Feinstein always dreamed of being an artist, a writer, a professor, or an actor but his creative path was interrupted early on by forces in him that sought wealth and security. Finally at age 60, when his business career ended, he chose to study acting and was accepted to the Strasberg Institute. For five years Mitch was lucky to be able to study under Hedy Sontag, a preeminent "Strasbergian," and he became a member of the Strasberg acting ensemble, The Group at Strasberg. Memorable roles included Sorin in Chekhov's The Seagull as well as The Landlord in Gogol's The Lower Depths. Mitch continues to study acting with Martha Gehman of Zak Barnett studios and he has had several roles on stage with Theatre Palisades, including most recently, Mr. Hammerschmidt in "Parfumerie."

Photos courtesy of Mitch Feinstein


Audition Notice for Glorious by Peter Quilter

Auditions for this hilarious comedy of the worst singer in the world, an enthusiastic soprano whose pitch was far from perfect will take place ​May 22 11am-3pm at the Point Loma Assembly-Home of the Point Loma Playhouse.  Appointments can be arranged and beyond that time if needed and walk ups welcomed. Please bring a face covering and social distancing will be respected at this time.  A prepared comedic monologue is requested along with readings from the script. Send resume and headshot to info@pointlomaplayhouse.com

Characters:
Florence Foster Jenkins - (this role has been cast)
Cosme McMoon - Male, late 20's to mid-40's, a pianist (actor does not need to know how to play the piano).  He is surrounded by what he may perceive as "craziness".  (Flexible casting)
St Claire - Male, late 50's, early 70's Romantically involved with Florence, is extremely charming, English, and flirtatious.  (flexible casting)
Dorothy - Female, 50's - 70's close friends with Florence. (flexible casing)
Maria - Female, 20's-50's. Housemaid with an attitude.  Can speak Spanish. (Flexible casting)
Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge - Female, 30's - 70's.  A strong minded proper woman that is combative with Florence. (Flexible casting)

Known as 'the first lady of the sliding scale', she warbled and screeched her way through the evening to an audience who mostly fell about with laughter. She paid little attention to her critics, instead she was surrounded by a circle of devoted friends who were almost as eccentric as she was.  Based upon a true story, the play spins from Florence's charity recitals and extravagant balls in 1940's New York. The performer who everyone wanted to see live was, through to her bizarre recording sessions and an ultimate triumph at Carnegie Hall in this hilarious and heart-warming play.

​The play is scheduled to open September 18 with rehearsals beginning August 9. PLP is located at the historic Point Loma Assembly Hall at 3035 Talbot St 92106
Performance Dates: September 17,18,19,24,25,26, October 1,2,3. (Three weekends)
The production is directed by Pati Reynolds, Production Manager Jerry Pilato


Spotlight Series: Meet Sascha Vanderslik, a Native Australian Who Calls The Group Rep Theatre Company Her New Home

Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Sascha Vanderslik (Sascha): I am Australian born and bred and grew up in the theatre. My Mum is an incredible singer with her band Organic Joe and she did musicals when I was a kid, so I spent my childhood watching her perform.  I would sit backstage and watch the actors put on their make-up and costumes, completely enthralled by the magic they were creating and then would go home and make up my own plays with my toys. Then one day they did Little Shop of Horrors and my mind was blown. Seeing that show changed my world and suddenly I realized how versatile and fun the stage could be.

When I was 12, I co-founded a theatre company in my home town since we didn’t have a lot of theatre available for youth. So we made it ourselves and wrote plays that dealt with youth issues such as peer pressure and drugs. I took what I learned in the years with this company and I used it in my career. For me, the best art will always challenge you while it entertains you.

Since living in the States I’ve been focused more on film and TV work and building my credits. I felt something was missing though, and the last three years have been focused on reigniting my first love since theatre soothes my soul and there is no greater rush than performing on stage. I did two plays with the Manor Theatre Company in 2017 and have been a member of The Group Rep Theatre Company for a little over a year, during which time I have been involved with multiple productions at GRT. And I am pleased to announce I was just voted onto their Board of Directors as the 2nd Vice President.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

(Sascha): When the shutdown started, we were right in the middle of rehearsals for London Suite which is the next Main Stage production at The Group Rep.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Sascha): The Group Rep is such a fantastic company and we are lucky that both the Artistic Director Doug Haverty, and the Executive Director Bert Emmett, are incredibly transparent with the membership. There had been multiple discussions before the shutdown started about what the process would be. We had also had discussions with our Producer Aly York and Director Doug Engalla, both of whom really made it their first priority to make sure the cast were comfortable and felt safe while rehearsals were still happening. As soon as the shutdown started, we received communication from Doug and Aly explaining the situation and that we would be postponing rehearsals.

Once the shutdown happened, we have had regular communication from our Director Doug to check in and see how we are doing. Bert Emmett and Doug Haverty are also in constant contact with the membership to give them updates on what’s happening, and we will be having Zoom meetings with the membership in the future.

(SB) Most theatre companies are going that same route for now, and all are trying to figure out options for their next steps. Do you know if plans in place to present London Suite at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Sascha): At this time London Suite is postponed and not cancelled, and the plan is to open it as soon as it is safe to do so. We are rehearsing weekly on Zoom, which has been different and a lot of fun. We are a family and it’s great to see people even if it’s only on Zoom. Of course, we are only able to rehearse lines but it’s nice to keep everything fresh in our minds so that when the time comes, we can hit the ground running.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Sascha): This year I am co-producing Nine Winning One Acts at The Group Rep. It was supposed to open in June, and we would be heading into rehearsals right now if we were able to do so. This festival has now been postponed and we don’t have a date yet for when it will open. My Co-Producer Helen O'brien and I have been hard at work reading all the submissions and narrowing down the plays so that when we get the green light, we can head into auditions and get the festival up on its feet.

I’m also in two staged readings that are postponed: the first, Baby With the Bath Water, is going to be completely staged and we are going to be starting Zoom rehearsals for that soon. The other, Ouartermaine’s Terms, is just postponed until it is safe to open.

Loose Knit

Lastly, I am in a hilarious new play, The Canary by Amy Sullivan, that is part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, which had been postponed to October and was then cancelled completely. This is such a fun play and I can’t wait until it can be shared with the world, maybe at Fringe 2021.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Sascha): I am lucky that I still have projects keeping me busy, and rehearsals for London Suite have been such a bright light in these times. I’ve also been participating in the open call self-tapes that different casting offices have been doing. I also have some very talented friends that have been doing Zoom table reads for projects they have written.

(SB): While it’s true the online theatre experience is not quite the same as being in a theater for a live performance, it certainly is keeping us creatively busy. Any thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Sascha): This is such a hard time for our community and it warms my heart to see how we have all banded together. The Arts are so important to the world and we will make it through these dark times. It won’t be easy and we don’t know what the other side looks like, but we will make it through together.

And of course, the Theatre community is struggling right now and we need your help. Most of the small non-profit theaters are held together by a membership of volunteers, so without ticket sales we are struggling to survive. And since Art is always there to help people, in these dark times Art needs some help in return. Like so many other theaters, we need as many donations as possible. And while it has been incredible how many people have already donated, we still need more help. To donate directly to The Group Rep, you can go to TheGroupRep.com/show/donations. Another place to donate is at gofundme.com/savenohotheatres.

Please stay in touch as we all work together to support our vibrant L.A. Theatre community! You can find me on Instagram @saschavanderslik or at TheGroupRep.com.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



How Wearing a Mask Could Help the Theatre Industry and Your Local Economy


The following was posted on facebook by film and theatre actress Kitty Swink, who is a member of the Antaeus Theatre Company in Los Angeles. With her permission I'm reposting for all to read and share.

Kitty copied and slightly edited this and shared from multiple of her dear and fabulously talented colleagues.


Please read this...this is personal!!!

Our industry is gone, and it will be a very long time before it recovers. Hope you all are enjoying the beach and theme parks while we just sit home and hope our jobs come back. Stop being selfish. Stay home. Wear a mask.

Yesterday, Broadway formally announced the rest of the year is canceled and Cirque du Soleil has filed for bankruptcy protection. Lincoln Center is closed. Multiple orchestras and opera companies have cancelled seasons. Smaller regional companies , venues and organizations are in jeopardy. Even community theatres , bands, orchestras, free lance gigs have gone away. So when you see your entertainment friends begging you to wear masks and stay home, understand that we are helplessly watching our industry crumble before our eyes because the country is doing so poorly at reducing the spread. This IS personal for us.

If you plan on watching ‘Hamilton’ today... or if you loved the ‘Chicago’ movie... or if ‘Sound of Music’ or Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for you. THEY ALL started on a stage.

Now Broadway is shut down till Jan 2021. Major performing arts presenters are closed for the next season.

ALL of the following people are out work.

It’s not just the actors or musicians.

For those of you not in the theatre or music community, please understand the scope of Broadway/Off-Broadway being shut down. Frankly, this affects all theatre and music anywhere. It travels much further than the stage boards where you see the brilliant performers giving you an amazing show. You also have:

- Tour managers
- Production managers
- Tour accountants
- Stage managers
- Company managers
- House managers
- General managers
- Stage Techs
- House crew
- Runners
- Truck and Bus drivers
- Promoter reps
- Caterers
- Production Assistants
- Dressers / Wardrobe
- Hair/Makeup
- Carpenters
- Electrics
- FOH Sound Engineers, Monitor Engineers & techs
- Lighting Designers and Techs
- Props
- Musicians
- Ushers
- Bartenders
- Box office treasurers
- Porters
- Cleaners
- Matrons
- Merchandise
- Security
- Marketing
- Producers
- Directors
- Choreographers
- Authors
- Orchestrators/Arrangers
- Interns
- Press Agents
- Casting Directors
- Set Designers
- Costume Designers
- Hair/Makeup Designers
- Lighting Designers
- Sound Designers
- Prop Designers
- All the design assistants
- Vocal/dialect coaches
- Child wranglers
- Doormen

Now go out of the theatre district and see the jobs this shutdown also affects:

- All the costume shops where the costumes are made
- The millinery shops where the hats/headpieces are made
- The cobblers where all the custom shoes are made
- The wigmakers
- The fabric/bead/feather shops- while these may reopen they will suffer huge losses with no shows requiring anything for this entire year.
- Scenic shops where the sets are built
- Prop shops where the props are made
- Sound and Lighting shops where the lights & mics are rented from
- Design studios where the sets, costumes, props, etc are dreamed up to make the directors vision a reality
- Rehearsal spaces for the show to be worked out before it appears for your pleasure
- Merchandise vendors, concessions
- Advertising agencies & press agencies
- Talent agencies and managers
- Union offices
- Producer & general management offices

Now venture even deeper into the shutdown and see the business that is lost in the theatre district from just the people in the industry not working on a show (then on top of that the loss of audience members buying stuff at)

- Delis
- Restaurants
- Post-show bars
- Coffee shops
- Hotels
- Garages
- Gyms
- Physical therapists

If that list seems long - it is! And that’s just New York. That’s not even taking into account all the theatre around this country. For most of us - this is our whole life!!
Wear a damn mask!



Spotlight Series: Meet Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Bill Wolski, the Dynamic Duo Who Call Little Fish Theatre Their “Home Away from Home”


Anyone who has attended a production at Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro has most likely met Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Bill Wolski, the dynamic duo who call Little Fish Theatre their “Home Away from Home.” As well as appearing onstage together, the married couple also work behind-the-scenes with Holly managing the theatre's Press Relations and directing shows while Bill often takes on the roles of Director and Producer when not acting onstage.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Bill Wolski (Bill): I'm a veteran of over a hundred plays and a whole host of other projects and performances. I cut my teeth on the small theatre circuit in greater Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up. I'm primarily known for my work at Little Fish Theatre, which has been my artistic home since 2007, and for being the husband of the equally talented and prolific Holly Baker-Kreiswirth.

Holly Baker-Kreiswirth (Holly): I started out in television before I worked in theater; the very first paid job I had was in the acting category on Junior Star Search which led to various roles in shows such as Chicago HopeGia (HBO), and Private Practice. I studied theater in college, but took a 10-year break to work on a career in TV production, and then had my kid.  In my early 30s, I started with Palos Verdes Players as a sound tech, then worked my way up to directing, producing, and finally acting again.  When PVP sadly went down, Bill and I appeared onstage in The Tender Trap at Long Beach Playhouse (when we started dating!) and subsequently found our artistic home at Little Fish Theatre, where we produce Pick of the Vine and act in or direct roughly 1/3 of the productions every year.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(Bill): I was working on a show called Becky's New Car, written by Steven Dietz, and directed by my wife. It was scheduled to open on April 9th. I was playing Becky's steadfast, not-as-dumb-as-he-looks husband, Joe.

(Holly): We were both deeply into rehearsals for Becky's New Car. I pre-block the shows I direct before rehearsals even begin; we had ten rehearsals under our belt with our lead actress, Amanda Karr, already off book.  Costumes/props were bought, lights/sound were being designed... everything was in motion.  Our stumble-through was the last rehearsal we had, and the show was already in great shape.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Bill and Holly): First, the sports teams postponed their seasons. Then, it was gatherings over 250 people. Then, gatherings over 50 people. Being a very intimate theater, there was still a possibility that LFT could limit ticket sales and hold performances, but the conclusion was reached that we didn't want to put our fan base and company members at risk. Emails went out to those involved that everything was going to be put on hold.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Bill): Becky's New Car will open at a later date, once we've been given the all-clear.

(Holly): We're thrilled that the work we've already put into the show will be seen by an audience someday.  I believe the message will resonate with them.

(SB): I have seen the show before and was really looking forward to seeing the production at Little Fish. So I am happy to hear that eventually that will happen. What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Bill and Holly): We are involved at LFT all the time in a volunteer capacity. The shutdown has affected our entire season. Shows and special events that have not yet been cast or started production may be canceled entirely to give the shows that were already in progress a chance to be performed.

(SB): I know Bill is an avid hiker, but how are the two of you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Bill and Holly): Little Fish Theatre and its company members are doing a lot to bring theatre to a virtual audience. We're promoting and reaching out to our subscribers with videos and newsletters, and writing and sharing original content through our social media platforms. Specifically, we have a 5-part original web series called "Little Fish" that features hilarious portrayals of our artists.  We've produced multiple virtual readings of everything from comedic short plays to screenplays to a play about the shootings at Kent State 50 years ago this month.  And coming up next month we have a reading of a M*A*S*H* script donated to us by one of the writers, Ken Levine!  All of our readings are free -- we're so happy to be able to provide the arts to everyone in this format.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Bill and Holly): Please, be safe. Follow the rules and the health guidelines and limit the risk posed to yourself and your loved ones. In Shakespeare's time, theaters were closed due to the plague, and 400 years later, theatre is still alive and well. As long as there are stories to tell, there will be people to tell them. We'll all be together again soon enough. From our theater to yours, here's a big hug from Little Fish. We love you!

Here's how to stay in touch with Little Fish Theatre:


All production photos credit: Miguel Elliot


This article first appeared on Broadway World.