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 [email protected] 25 juried exhibition.
Aug

Hannah and the Dread Gazebo

The Fountain Theatre, in association with East West Players, soundly mounts the California premiere of Jiehae Park's HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO with a solid acting ensemble, complemented by vividly effective video visuals. Jennifer Chang ably directs her talented cast of six as they weave through the realistic lives of a Korean family (separated by continents) interspersed with flashes of Korean folklore.

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Aug

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

The world premiere of playwright Vince Melocchi's Andy Warhol'S TOMATO receives a solid mounting at the Pacific Resident Theatre. Dana Jackson directs this fictionalized two-hander on the possible beginnings of pop artist icon Andy Warhol, with a deft hand and a meticulous eye for character development via the subtle physical actions of the two wonderfully convincing actors - Derek Chariton as Andy Warhol and Keith Stevenson as Bones Bonino, the owner of the bar's storage room which TOMATO entirely takes place in.

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Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Director Stephanie Shroyer's innovative staging and updating of Bertolt Brecht's 1944 THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE (using the translation of Alistair Beaton) features a solid ensemble using old-time, theatre magic to fascinate the audience with its tales of World War II tragedies. Liza Seneca imbues her role of Grusha with much heart, sincerity and gumption standing up to all the obstacles (human and natural) along the way to her and baby Mykal's safety.
Gabriela Bonet shines as the inner voice of Mykal with vocals of an angel, as well as, and the sensitive puppeteer of the cloth doll (standing in for Mykal). Bonet, as many others, play a number of roles each. Bonet well utilizes her comic sass and timing in the variety of her other supporting roles.

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Jul

Apple Season

MOVING ARTS presents its Los Angeles premiere of E. M. Lewis' intriguing APPLE SEASON. Directed at a languid pace by Darin Anthony, the sparse explosive scenes really make their mark with the experienced acting chops of Rob Nagle and the vivid, versatile intensity of Liza Fernandez. This three-hander, as a part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, relates the unpleasant situation of siblings Lissie (Fernandez) and Roger Fogerty (Justin Huen) as they grapple with the death of their abusive Father from Hell.

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Jun

Anne, A New Play

The U.S. premiere of ANNE, A NEW PLAY receives a sturdy mounting by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, under the strong directing reins of Eve Brandstein. The uniformly talented ensemble present most translucently the re-imagined Anne Frank's Diary of A Young Girl, in the words of playwrights Jessica Durlander & Leon de Winter (translated by Susan Massotty and adapted by Nick Blaemire). Sound designer Derek Christiansen most complementarily heightens the claustrophobic, hovering, impending doom with his ominous footsteps, bombs exploding, and static-ridden radio broadcasts.

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Jun

Sucker Punch

Coeurage Theatre Company's West Coast premiere of Roy Williams' SUCKER PUNCH consistently hits its target under the uber-tensioned, fast-paced direction of Michael A. Shepperd. Embodied by an all-around talented cast, all involved in channeling William's solid script to the stage should raise their arms and pump their fists in triumph.

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May

Mamma Mia!

East West Players' Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai sharply directs his en pointe cast in a crowd-rousing production of non-stop Abba hits, the most joyous MAMMA MIA! Choreographer Preston Mui has created intricate, very FUN dance routines, deftly executed by all. As joyously-infectious as Abba music can be, the uber-strong women leads - Joan Almedilla as Donna Sheridan and Grace Yoo as her daughter Sophie - take this production to another celestial level.

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May

Daniel's Husband

The Fountain Theatre's Southern California premiere of DANIEL'S HUSBAND has brought together a not-oft-enough, ideal convergence of uniformly talent of talents - with witty, realistic, heart-rendering dialogue by playwright Michael McKeever; sturdy, even-paced directing by Simon Levy; first-rate technical elements; and a pitch, pitch-perfect cast of five actors, each at the top of their individual games.

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May

DR. NYMPHO VS. THE SEX ZOMBIES

With flashes of ROCKY HORROR and RENT, Michael Shaw Fisher's DR. NYMPHO VS. THE SEX ZOMBIES gives the audience more than an eyeful of enthusiastic and energetic nubile women and men in a fast-paced burlesque romp, inventively choreographed to every inch of the Lex's tiny stage. Kudos to choreographers Brin Hamblin and Alli Miller for squeezing in the dancing ensemble of seventeen, bumping and grinding in all sorts of sensual and sexy configurations, in every available nook and cranny of the Lex stage. Director Sarah Haworth-Hodges smartly keeps the action swiftly advancing forward.

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Apr

Diana of Dobson's

Playwright Cicely Hamilton's first productions of her DIANA OF DOBSON'S in 1908 must have been quite controversial with a, then unheard of, strong, outspoken woman Diana Massingberd as the lead character. Abigail Marks more than fills the shoes of Diana with her relentless command of the stage, constantly speaking her quite honest mind. Director Casey Stangl deftly guides her talented cast in a fast-talking, fast-paced journey of Diana's adventures.

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Apr

The Things We Do

In this world premiere of THE THINGS WE DO, playwright Grant Woods has created an interesting take on an affair of the loins, acted out by a most committed cast. As scripted by Woods and directed by Elina de Santos, the actors playing the cuckolded spouses have a variety of human qualities to act on, allowing them to convey sympathetic three-dimensionality. Whereas, the cheating two only have been afforded the opportunities to emphasize boredom and horniness (her), and guilt and horniness (him).

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Apr

The Unauthorized Musical Parody: 10 Things I Hate About You

#1. The wit of Kate Pazakis (executive producer of the UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF... series) - writes some of the sharpest and laugh-inducing dialogue while name-dropping and parodying the 1999 cult classic, Heath Ledger/Julia Stiles-starrer 10 Things I Hate About You. (No need to have already seen the film. You'll enjoy the wall-to-wall talent acting out the UMPO stand-alone storyline.)

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Mar

STEEL MAGNOLIAS

Playwright Robert Harling's sharp, snappy, heart-wrenching, Louisiana-favored dialogue receives its most worthy due in this Actors Co-op production; cast with a spot-on ensemble of six amazing actresses, smoothly and expertly helmed by director Cameron Watson.

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Mar

Attack of the Second Bananas

Menander Productions and Jamie Pierce have gathered a talented cast and crew to populate their world premiere of playwright Gina Torrecilla's ATTACK OF THE SECOND BANANAS, now at the Zephyr Theatre. Ryan Bergmann sharply directs his six-person ensemble in a slick, quick pace of much laughs and hilarity. Becca Kessin's underscoring of mock suspense music aptly heightens this involving, who-done-it mystery.

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Mar

The Judas Kiss

Boston Court Pasadena's artistic director Michael Michetti assuredly directs his pitch-perfect cast in DEEE-livering the whip-smart words of David Hare's THE JUDAS KISS in a smooth, non-stop, totally involving pace. Chameleon Rob Nagle has once again transformed himself into another fully-fleshed out characterization . Nagle COMMANDS the stage every second he's on it. Bravo, Mr. Nagle!

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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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