Writer: Gil Kaan

Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas in his career, including Ann-Margret, Diana Ross, Faye Dunaway, Carol Channing, Shirley MacLaine, Catherine Deneuve, Liza Minnelli, Sandra Bernhard, Anna Nicole Smith, Margaret Cho, and three Catwomen—Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar. He had the fortuitous opportunity to conduct Lily Tomlin’s coming out interview. Gil has since reviewed movies and theatre for a number of local and national outlets. A photo montage of Gil’s Halloween Carnavale photos through the last decade was recently included in the WeHo@ 25 juried exhibition.
Feb

MAN OF GOD

East West Players solidly world premieres playwright Anna Moench’s MAN OF GOD, a witty, biting account of four teenage Korean girls on a prayer mission to Thailand under the guidance of their male pastor. The uniformly talented ladies of this cast quite believably portray their respective teenage angst as they each deal with this finding in their individual, distinctive imaginations, revealed oh, so vividly on stage for the viewing pleasure of the audience.

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Feb

The Joy Wheel

Playwright Ian McRae’s THE JOY WHEEL kicks offs with one of the most effective opening, introductory scenes I’ve seen in a while. Jason Alexander smoothly and sure-handedly directs his two top-notch actors, Dann Florek and Gina Hecht as husband and wife Frank and Stella Conlin, as they vividly describe their relationship (40 years married)) and back stories leading up to their present situation – preparing for Frank’s retirement party that evening.

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Jan

Paradise

The west coast premiere of playwright Laura Maria Censabella’s PARADISE receives a strong mounting at the Odyssey Theatre, blessed with the sturdy acting chops of Medalion Rahimi and Jeff Marlow in this singular two-hander. Vicangelo Bulluck ably directs this important, not-oft-told story of a Muslim girl having to weigh her options of family obligations vs. personal goals.

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Jan

Stockholm

The West Coast Premiere of playwright Bryony Lavery’s two-hander STOCKHOLM pulses with the intense acting abilities of the totally-committed Jamie Wollrab and Kimberly Alexander as the two role-playing lovers Todd and Kali. Only someone desirous of the hot sex Todd and Kali purport to have (accompanied by a fetish for sexual abuse), would find either of these two characters at all sympathetic or someone you’d want to be friends with (although Todd seems to be an able chef).

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Jan

SMART LOVE

The west coast premiere of Brian Letscher’s SMART LOVE rivetingly posits a truly sci-fi event as a real-life situation in which you’re forced to come face-to-face with some serious moral dilemmas.

Anchoring this strong cast of four, Melissa Weber Bales totally inhabits the fairly recently widowed Sandy, who’s freshly found a new zest for life in Vic (a most memorable Scott Conte in the show’s smallest part).

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Jan

Hir

Even though, we are just coming to the end of January, I can already nominate a prominent candidate for Most Horrid Theatrical Character of 2019 – Paige Connor, the matriarch in Taylor Mac’s HIR. Graphic subject matters touched on, certainly not for the meek of heart – marital abuse, rape, masturbation, de-masculating humiliation, descriptive drug use, spiteful revenge, lots of puking, peeing and must plain meanness.

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Jan

The Cripple of Inishmaan

Antaeus’ THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN – A Feckin’ Fine Production! Add Martin McDonagh’s THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN to the already lengthy resumé of stellar productions that the always dependable Antaeus Theatre Company manages to assemble on their stage. Steven Robman sure-handedly directs his talented Irish-brogued ensemble of seven (The Fripple Frapples cast of the double castings) at a quick, smooth pace; vividly illustrating McDonagh’s smart, witty and brutal tale based on the real-life filming of the 1934 documentary Man of Aran.

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Jan

A Misunderstanding

Aficionados of evolution theory debating will be mesmerized by the world premiere of playwright Matt Chait’s A MISUNDERSTANDING. Others will be most appreciative of the four actors’ deep commitments to their respective characters and very lengthy speeches. The technical terminology of opposing theories of evolution – Darwin and creative – abound in Chait’s script of a fired biology professor being given a second chance at returning to the college he was unceremoniously let go from.

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Dec

Blue Surge

Paul Rush sure-handedly directs his talented Sixty-six Theater Co. cast at a languid, very laid-back pacing, most appropriate for the Wisconsin town that playwright Rebecca Gilman set BLUE SURGE in. Eddie Alfano charismatically and most effectively heads the ensemble as Curt the constantly, down-on-himself cop trying to make lieutenant.

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Dec

Wink

Playwright Neil Koenigsberg, a founder/partner of PMK PR, must have experienced some pretty outrageous incidents in his tenure at PMK, as well as, in his stints as talent manager and film producer. Koenigsberg has taken probably one of his most far-fetched scenarios to base WINK on. Andrik Ochoa, totally at ease and comfortable on stage, plays the non-binary Wink as a total innocent with no bad attributes whatsoever.

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Nov

Blacktop Highway

Performance artist extraordinaire John Fleck owns the Odyssey Theatre stage with his one-man Gothic horror piece BLACKTOP HIGHWAY. Framed as a screenplay being shot through the camera lens of a movie director, Fleck makes maximum and inventive use of his talent for animal mimicry, pre-recorded vignettes and real-time videos paired with miniature props and puppetry. Randee Trabitz ably directs Fleck through his high-energy, fast-talking dialogue between Fleck and Fleck himself, in a multitude of characters.

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Nov

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

Kate Pazakis, executive producer of the UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF series, continues her successful streak of hysterical musical parodies of cinematic pop favorites with THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS. Pazakis’ most witty script cleverly adapts pop songs to advance the narrative of the Netflix cult phenom Stranger Things. Nathan Moore expertly directs his cast of enthusiastic triple-threats, propelling them through every inch of the Rockwell dining room at a rousing, non-stop pace with only enough time for deserved applause to die down before the next song or comedy bit tickles your funny bones.

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Nov

VIETGONE

East West Players solidly mounts the Los Angeles premiere of playwright Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE. With a sturdy cast of five talented performers, complemented greatly by the vividly vibrant projection designs of Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson; many individual moments of heart-string tugging pathos score a bulls-eye. Scenes centering around Glenn Michael Baker’s prop motorcycles result in fine physical comedy bits (especially the comic fight , with ninjas, choreographed by Thomas Isao Morinaka and Aaron Aoki). Jennifer Chang ably directs her committed cast as they span locations from Vietnam to Arkansas to California, from the 1970s to the 2010s.

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Oct

The Little Foxes

Lillian Hellman’s THE LITTLE FOXES receives a stunning, STUNNING mounting by the always dependable Antaeus Theatre Company. Helmed with much precision by director Cameron Watson, the two-and-a-half-hour, two-intermission, three-act simply whizzes by, packed with Hellman’s wonderful words coming out of the most capable troupe of actors, all.

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Oct

Radiant Vermin

Door Number 3’s world premiere of Philip Ridley’s RADIANT VERMIN receives a strong mounting with Tim True expertly directing his very talented cast in a quick-paced tale of greed and its consequences. Britt Harris and Kapil Talwalkar bring their all in virtuoso performances as Jill and Ollie, breaking the fourth wall to describe, in great detail, the happenings between first learning of the dream home offer to the present with their newborn Benji celebrating his first birthday. Ridley’s very smart script has Harris and Talwalker spouting streams of consciousness, at times overlapping in sync. Their timing together with their machine gun deliveries’ simply brilliantly.

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Oct

Blood Rock: The Musical

This entertaining, light romp receives its transfusion of wonderfulness from the amazing vocals and harmonies of the large talented cast singing the very credible lyrics of Michael Berns. Everyone has their moments to shine under Gary Thomas’ able direction. Showstopper of the evening has to be Michael J. Ryan’s gorgeously sung, heartfelt “Thomasina.”

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Oct

American Hero

The L.A. premiere of Bess Wohl’s AMERICAN HERO doles out a steady stream of screaming conflicts, yet leaves you hungry for more satisfactory resolutions. Rodney To totally steals the show with three of his four characters – the quick-with-the-quip, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing kid; the corporate suit who unexpectedly breaks down before the sandwich-makers’ eyes; the all-knowing, charismatic, dreamed-up personification of a sandwich.

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Sep

Gloria

The two others more than up to the challenge of long monologues – scene stealers Michael Sturgis and Steven Strobel. Whenever either of these two participate in a scene, the energy’s crackling electric. Strugis as Dean, effectively fires off razor-sharp disses and truthful observations, all while exposing Dean’s vulnerability and flaws. Strobel, as Lorin, the annoyed worker down the hall, executes one of the most believable, yet hysterical breakdown scenes ev-er!

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Aug

YELLOW FACE

Playwright David Henry Hwang’s YELLOW FACE receives a most sturdy mounting from co-producers Firescape Theatre and Yolk Productions in association with the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Director Robert Zimmerman guides his talented cast of seven with a sure hand, mining the maximum laughs and feels from Hwang’s very clever script, with Hwang as the pivotal character. Hwang’s so meta, so self-depreciatingly, so candid of his own flaws.

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Jul

Side by Side by Sondheim

Director Dan Fishbach returns to the Odyssey Theatre, following up his smartly-directed Jacques Brel from last season, with his equally smartly-directed SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM. In the approximately two-hour piece, the talented cast of four perform almost thirty Sondheim classics. Strong vocals notwithstanding, Fishbach has managed to also feature the comedic underlyings of this Sondheim revue, resulting in laughs at the most delicious of moments.

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