Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – May 6 - 12, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Too Blunt!

“Your typical Midwestern-African American-Gay-Cat Loving-Sagittarian-Coming-of-Age Story in Los Angeles. A Black gay boy from Missouri shares his long and liberating journey to weight loss, dating in the gay-app era, while unpacking the complex intersectionality of race and sexual orientation– and the twisted heartbreak and humor that ensues.”

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Clementine

“CLEMENTINE celebrates the exhilaration of motherhood, balancing poetic passages with humorous detours into the modern realities of raising small children...[moving] forward and backward through time, exploring the pressures and the promises of parenthood. Unapologetically feminist and powerfully tender, CLEMENTINE studies a matriarchal family's traditions, exploring the connection between generations through Wish's lens as both a mother and a daughter...In this dynamic and often hilarious piece, April Wish has crafted a love letter to her daughter, Clementine, as well as to the little girl she used to be herself.”

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The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

“Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber and state your primary symptom of longing. And where do you feel it in your body? And how much do you feel it on a scale of 1 to 10? And are you running out of time? The Institute for The Opposite of Longing can cure that thing deep in the pit of your body. But what happens when its owners and operators can't let go of the little boy they had to give back? And can't stop reenacting the day they packed his bags and watched him go. Or tucking him in at night or talking to his empty shoes or unpacking the bag of his things they keep hidden. What happens when these are the women who are responsible for curing that thing, that thing you feel deep in the pit of your body? Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber. We can help you. The process is simple.”

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The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

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Radicals

“'Radicals' is a Bollywood Musical about a love story struggling to survive in the war-torn valleys of Kashmir, aimed at tackling Islamophobia and the trauma of warfare on civilians.”

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Siren Call

“The siren call is driving me to my end, like a ship to wreck on rocks”. Two frustrated actors accidentally kidnap their favorite movie star… or is it really her? What is identity in a world where myths are stronger than we dare think? A dramedy about identity and oneness, frustrated actors, classism, depression, myths and a quote by Albert Camus.”

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LOVE, MADNESS, AND SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

“'Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between' is a no holds barred glimpse into a mystical journey filled with love, pain, insanity, and redemption. Scattered along the way is a sprinkling of ironic comic commentary that can only come from a true survivor. “Jimmy” is not so much a hero but more a human being traversing an abusive childhood, a descent into alcoholism and finally plunging into a world of fantastical personifications which dwell amidst humanity's darkest sins. Will closure, forgiveness, and healing come in the unlikely form of the “angel warriors” – patients on the pediatric cancer ward of Children's Hospital? Does pure love, in fact, transform and redeem, or are some lives beyond salvation?”

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Tattered Capes

“In 'Tattered Capes,' it's Kevin and Stephanie Connolly's fifth wedding anniversary, and Kevin has a night of celebration planned for them. Of course, this means he won't be going out on his regular patrol of Metro City as his alter-ego, M-Pulse, the self-appointed Eminence of Electromagnetism. But things should be fine without him for one night, right? Wrong. One would think that there could be no secrets left between a husband and wife after five years of matrimonial bliss, but when a powerful supervillain's attack interrupts Kevin and Stephanie's date, a hero's unmasking bears significant consequences for the Connollys…consequences that will resonate and redefine their relationship forever. ”

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Squeeze My Cans

“A true journey in to and out of Scientology. 'Moving, hilarious, heart-breaking and redemptive.' Lets you experience for yourself how Scientology devours money and lives.' -Chicago Reader 'Schenkelberg easily switches characters and time periods with dizzying energy, that is both exhilarating and electrifying.'- Edge Media 'At the top of the best performed, brilliantly written, elegantly directed one person shows I have ever seen.'- Buzz News”

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Skylight

“On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant, a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires. Can they find their way back to each other, or has the time for their tumultuous romance reached its end? ”

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Tigers Be Still

“'Tigers Be Still' — a ferociously funny play from New Girl writer Kim Rosenstock — centers around the infinitely-trying-to-be-optimistic Sherry Wickman, who has earned her art therapy degree and promptly moved back in with her family. Matters take a turn for the better once she gets hired as a substitute art teacher. Now if only her mother would stop hiding upstairs, her sister would stop watching Top Gun from the couch, her petulant patient would do one of his assignments, her boss would leave his gun at home, and someone would catch the tiger that escaped from the local zoo, everything would be just perfect.”

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CORINA, From Lap dance to Sundance

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your dream alive. CORINA: FROM LAP DANCE TO SUNDANCE is a one-woman show about finding purpose and direction to a life long dream in the least likely of places. A story of family, tradition, and perseverance.”

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Legends, Movement and Memories

“The performers include: Florence LaRue, an original member of The 5th Dimension, the pop group that so often dominated the charts in the 60s and 70s with their hit songs, will perform some of the award-winning singing group's big hits. Freda Payne will perform an excerpt from her show Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song, bringing to life the immortal Ella Fitzgerald and her revered career as an extraordinary jazz singer. Sheetal Gandhi in BAHU-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-inLaw, Daughter, Wife). A tour-de-force excerpt combining dance, stirring vocalization, and percussive text that glides between humorous portraiture and active resistance. Juli Kim shares two dance works. Five Drum Dance exemplifies Korean traditional music with a touch of Western influence. New Leaf, deeply rooted in Korean “Han,” symbolically unfolds the innocence of the new leaf when there is change in life.”

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Mama Metal

“This joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons to tell a truly unique mother-daughter story. Sterling Milburn's mother is dying and Sterling is falling apart. She attempts to keep it together by rewriting the past with the help of two titans of the American theater and the world's greatest heavy metal band — but Sterling's mother refuses to follow the script. A love letter to those who shape our lives, hold us together and break our hearts.”

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Dancing to the Edge of a Cliff: One Woman's Musical Mythological Journey toward Self-Acceptance

“Incorporating music, multimedia, humor, a touch of mythology, and embodying over twenty characters, Margaret whimsically puts her psyche on stage to explore her struggle with self-acceptance and her experience of two mental breakdowns. Margaret explores not only what outside influences molded her personality when she was growing up and as an adult, but also confronts two internal voices, representing the competing compulsions of artistry (Puella) and perfectionism (Miss Perfect). Realizing in the end that what she has been taught her whole life was right, doesn't work for her.”

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Ride or Die: The Hip-Hop Musical

“Elliott and Michael are best friends. They're of different temperaments. Elliott is boisterous and outgoing. Michael is more tentative and shy. One day, Elliott dies in an accident. He's allowed to come back to earth, where he can only be seen by Michael. Elliott is tasked with finding Michael a new best friend. Only then will Elliott earn his angel wings and be allowed to ascend into Heaven. Michael wants to be friends with Ciara. Will Elliott be able to help Michael connect with Ciara, or will he mess things up for them all? Will Michael and Ciara ultimately become friends? Will Elliott earn his angel wings? The cast is unique in the fact that most of the performers are differently-abled: John JT Tucker Jr. (Elliott), has Down syndrome. He is the star of the A&E tv series Born This Way. Domonique Brown (Michael) has autism and recurs on the Netfiix series Atypical. He's the nephew of Marvin Gaye. Spencer Harte (Ciara) has autism and also recurs on Atypical. The supporting players include Coby Bird who has autism and will be a regular on a Netflix series to be announced; and Caley Versfelt, who has Down syndrome.
The rest of the cast is neurotypical and includes Brendan McCay, Stanson Chung, Alexa Russo and Callie Ott.”

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Karaoke Saved My Life

“Scotty D, just a city boy from South Detroit, invites you on a Journey, showing you how karaoke saved his life, and how it can save yours, too. With stories, power ballads, big anthems, and cheesy pop, and a bit of bopping, we might even save the World. Don't stop believing!”

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Fight Song!

“Texas. 1964. Following a deadly car crash, four cheerleaders navigate through the afterlife. Both Lucifer and God herself pay a visit, and High School drama turns into madness in this strange nightmare of a story – a never-ending fight song.”

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Fight or Flight

“Isaac Easton, a recently retired boxer, and his former sports manager open a gym together to help advance the popularity of female boxing. When their first female boxer gets into trouble only three weeks from the fight, they scramble to find a new fighter to train. Enter Zoey Jones, a young and shy fighter who has never fought in the professional circuit. Easton and Jones take a crash course in trusting and learning from each other over three weeks in preparation for the fight, and the two often butt heads. Can Jones pull out a win and save Easton's reputation and gym? Through voice-overs and grueling workouts in preparation for the fight, this one-act play shows the audience how intimate a platonic relationship between a man and woman can be, the beauty of physical strength, and what happens when you are stuck in fight or flight mode.”

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Five Pieces of Paper: Stories My Hungarian Grandmother Refused to Tell Me and Other Family Tales

“Moti Buchboot, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, created this show in response to the 2017 Charlottesville riots. He reveals lessons learned from his Hungarian grandmother who began her life in a village in Hungary, survived the Holocaust, and eventually settled in a small town in Israel. Buchboot's tale unfolds through storytelling, Yiddish song, puppetry, and baking.”

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The Narcissist Next Door

“The power of positive thinking goes hilariously wrong when a new neighbor teaches two dispirited best friends an Ancient Peruvian Self Help Philosophy. Instead of their lives being transformed they end up held hostage by two inept kidnappers. 'Be careful who you wish for' has never been more appropriate.”

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POCKETS

“Set in the fictional British-ish kingdom of Crumpeton, POCKETS spins the tale of Bellamina Crumbledunk, a noble preteen, who becomes a pickpocket to win the attention of her overextended mother, the Duchess. Bellamina's misadventures take her into the underbelly of society, where she accidentally becomes the leader of a criminal uprising, but will she have the heart to sabotage her mother's well-laid plans for Crumpet Day? #CheckYourPockets for tickets to this fast-paced, funny, and touching period piece to find out!”

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Straight White Men Trying to Woke

“Five short comedies exploring the middle age white male struggle to fit in during these confusing times.
FANDOM – navigating politics
POLITE RACISM – analyzing ethnicity
SUICIDE PACT – tolerating millennials
BRITTLE TROMBONE – contemplating economics
FANTASY FOOTBALL – grasping identity”

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Girl From SchenectadyGirl From Schenectady

“Selected as an Honorable Mention for the Hollywood Fringe 2019 due to it's cultural theme, “Girl From Schenectady” is a story about a 38-year-old Nigerian Woman from Schenectady New York who is still a Virgin. Her story begins with her Journey to finding True Love. However, her plan is to find Mr. Right and to lose her Virginity before she turns 40. The story takes place at the Airport, while Ayo is waiting for her next flight to take off, she describes the metaphoric places she has traveled to Find True Love. She takes the Audience on a ride to her past and her Nigerian family traditions, Culture, and Values. She struggles to break free from her Nigerian Generational Cycle, Parental Divorce, Failed Marriages and to keep history from repeating itself. Ayo also takes the Audience on her dating journey starting with a Nigerian Man. She also dates a Mexican Man, an Italian Man and an African American Man. After several attempts to finding True Love and Losing her virginity before 40, she goes on a self-discovery, and Lands in the last place she ever thought she would find True Love.”

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Dames at Sea

“Ruby gets off the bus from Utah with “nothing but tap shoes in her suitcase and a prayer in her heart.” As fate would have it, she is immediately cast in the chorus of a Broadway show. When the theatre is forced to close, Ruby's songwriting sailor boyfriend persuades the Captain of his ship to allow the show to move on deck. Voila! Dames at sea! When the show's lead gets seasick, Ruby may have to go on for her. Will Ruby come back a star? Do you need to ask? Dames at Sea at once pays affectionate homage to and sends up the optimistic early Broadway musicals of the 30s and 40s. It's filled with songs, tap-dancing and romance from start to finish. It is suitable for general audiences.”

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Rory and the Devil

“During the height of The Troubles, in a rural pub on the border of Northern Ireland, Mary Friel, a barmaid, strives to maintain harmony amongst the men in her life. Ancestral legends and secrets are revisited and a cycle of violence is revealed: can they forgive injustice and cruelty from their past, or will the cycle continue? Enjoy a Guinness and whiskey as a group of actors take you to Neil Friel's pub–a safe place for a good story–until it isn't. In this bare-bones production of Rory and the Devil you can enjoy the best of what Irish storytelling has to offer.”

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Johnny '81

“It's 1981! The corpse of disco, the flames of punk, the plastic smell of new wave, and the balls of rock ‘n' roll, all converge and merge on a seemingly peaceful street in West Hollywood, CA, along with the stories of a 12-year-old boy raised by a pill-popping single mother and the many gay men in their life...Against a backdrop of music, 'JOHNNY '81' weaves together a collection of stories based on a 12-year-old boy's experience of living in West Hollywood during the early 1980s. These semi-autobiographical tales bring to life the humor and drama of how a group of gay men became strange and amazing surrogate fathers to a pre-teen boy and his younger brother...'JOHNNY '81' is like spending the day listening to an old record album, or like being at a concert, with stories that make us reflect on our lives and the world we live in, or tales that make you just want to get up out of your seat and dance!”

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Bronco Billy - The Musical

“'Voice from the Village'...is based upon one of Los Angeles greatest playwrights, Lynn Manning and his in real time visit to Skid Row Studios on Monday, August 26, 2013 for an interview on “The Qumran Report”, hosted by Melvin Ishmael Johnson to talk about his life growing up in Watts and turning a tragic situation into an art form.”

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If It Goes There

“It's Saturday night, and Erik and Connor are looking to get laid. When they try their luck on a hook-up app, the night takes a turn they never expected and their true desires are revealed.”

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A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present

“When 85% of the world is afflicted with a mysterious case of 'The Flake,' one man volunteers to travel through space and time to stop it. 'A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present' is a far-out, amped-up, one-man show about the hunt for human connection. ”

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The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer

“'The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer' is a comic interpretation of the oft-told story/fable/allegory/whatchamawhoositz about a frog who agrees to take a scorpion across a river. Will the two make it to the other side of said river? Will they learn anything? Will they grow as [an] intelligent species? Will these questions entice you to actually leave your homes and see this play?”

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Uprooted

“In 'Uprooted,' the creatures of Vanessa Boss' inner world take you on the flight of her life! A disturbance triggers violent weather, endangering matriarch Elda, the elder tree, the voice of Vanessa's wisdom. Elda leads Vanessa's inner fantasy creatures on a journey to remind Vanessa of her strength, but Vanessa's demons take control of the flight and her mind as she is moved, again and again, facing bullies, saying unexpected goodbyes to friends, and hoping for the day to come where she'll get to choose where home is. But is home a place or a feeling? Full of exciting adventure, triumph, and heartbreak, Vanessa frees herself from the restraints of her inner demons and proclaims her power to define her own fate. Uprooted is a young woman's resilient story of growing into the strong, rooted woman she is meant to be. ”

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ORANGUTAN

“Orangutan is a haunting and absurd one-woman show about the mother of a brutish (slightly orange) would-be dictator, and the tribalism that's tearing our country apart. Deutch's provocative dark comedy was inspired by Bill Maher's challenge to Donald Trump's outrageous Obama “Birther” claims. Maher offered to donate five million dollars to the charity of Donald Trump's choice if Trump produced a birth certificate that proved he was not half-ape. Trump's lawyer responded: 'Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump's birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an Orangutan.' Trump then sued Bill Maher for five million dollars…”

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ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS

“In this new play, Neil, a mediocre musician, and Kurt Cobain wannabe, moves to Los Angeles to “make it” as a rockstar. Through the constant ups and downs of LA living, Neil struggles between pursuing his passions or taking the practical path in life. Should he keep chasing his dreams or stop? This 60-minute three-person show explores idealism vs. cynicism, the practicality of pursuing art in a capitalist society, and millennials' struggle with mental health.”

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NAKED MAN RISING

“Aren't you tired of going to the theater and seeing the same old shit? Check out 'Naked Man Rising,' a crowd favorite from the Solo Creation Festival. We're talking sold out, folk. This tale of revenge rips through the stage like a Grindhouse film and features a balls-to-the-wall performance by Canadian Wildman and naturalist Kyle Durack. Not for your Grandma…unless, she's a badass. Winner of the Hollywood Fringe Scholarship for first-time Producers, Kyle is thrilled to bring 'Naked Man Rising' to the 2019 Fringe Festival. The writing is crisp and the play moves along at a deft pace. But the words are simply a vehicle for Kyle Durack's powerful interpretation. The Canadian actor was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, and in this piece, he sheds his disability along with his clothes to reveal the inner strength concealed by a “weakened” body. 'Naked Man Rising' mixes humor and action. Durack uses his physicality well as he tells the story.”

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HELL'S FINEST

“The cult of Abaddon has a problem. The Angel of the Abyss, the figure with which they worship, is demanding a new leader. But not just anybody will qualify. Only the darkest, most demented contestants stand a chance at obtaining total power. A sadist, a murderer, and a predator, all share one common goal: to become the leader of the finest cult, the Ascendants of Abaddon. There's only one problem. In order to obtain this position, they must go up against each other in a riveting competition to impress the cult's current leader: Adam. He's spectacularly charming and possesses the uncanny ability to influence all those who cross his path. With secrets spilled and matches met, the three contestants grow more and more daring with their desperate attempts to gain total power. However, no matter what happens, no matter who lies and who cheats, Adam always calls the final shots.”

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Not Here Right Now

“The hilariously touching tale of a tall man in tight spaces, finding clarity and avoiding a quarter-life crisis in Southeast Asia, all while wearing strappy velcro sandals except to the wedding of the century. Tired of the monotony of New York City corporate life, Royce, an ambitious 20-something, trades in his promising media research career for a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. In this live one-man show, Royce brings you on an 8-country adventure toward self-discovery. During 'Not Here Right Now,' audiences are treated to true stories and experiences of Royce's inspiring journey from corporate citizen to world traveler. The original production of Not Here Right Now was successfully funded on Kickstarter thanks to the support of 165 people from around the world.”

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IF TRUTH BE TOLD

“A raucous evening of comic stories, told by a woman who has seen a few things. Actress and humorist Jennifer Brown examines how the truth can play out in a variety of ways. What exactly is “the truth”? And when you are asked to tell the truth, whose truth do you stand in?”

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Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door

“A comedic romp through depression, eating disorders and self-loathing! Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door is a one-act play chronicling one woman's journey through her depression and bulimarexia. It is a painfully funny look at body image, addiction, and the obsession with fitting into society's ideal of beauty and thinness. It is part poetry and prose, part sketch and part narrative with a few snappy dance numbers mixed in. Three actresses portray one woman in various stages of her eating disorder and crippling depression. They are joined by one male actor portraying various influences in her childhood development, teenage years and young adulthood. This autobiographical theatrical experience intimately exposes the perils of womanhood, the rawness of living through sexual trauma and culminates in discovering the inner strength to live comfortably in one's own skin ”

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Mil Grus

“Previous Fringe award winners team up for this year's Hollywood Fringe to create the First official Bouffon/Clown troupe “MIL GRUS” led by world-renowned physical theater artist Dean Evans of “Honeybuns” fame. Be prepared as this motley crew of miscreants crawl out of the gutter to make you question reality in the most exhilarating way. This timeless satire features improvised feats of physical and existential comedy that defy explanation and provoke unfettered, eery glee. Come see what's behind the curtain, starting June 9, 2019, at The Mccadden Place Theatre”

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Human Fountains

“As seen on America's Got Talent (quarter-finalists) and countless television shows around the world! Prepare for a fountain show like you've never seen before! The Human Fountain's hilarious choreographed water spitting routines will keep you laughing and thirsty for more. Always making a splash on stage, literally — the group has endless tricks up their sleeves (and in their mouths) giving you performances that are one-of-a-kind. Inspired by the world's most famous fountains, the comedy group adds a human touch to give you one of the most unique experiences you've ever seen. They couldn't be more excited to premiere their full-length show for Hollywood Fringe.”

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Les Mis-Cast

“Cast members from the National Tour of 'Les Misérables' (now at the Pantages Theatre through June 2) will perform in a very special cabaret concert to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and PAWS/LA. Patrons will support two great causes as they enjoy an intimate evening of cabaret-style performances. The evening will also feature a silent auction, allowing audience members to bid on items graciously donated by the Broadway community and local businesses.”

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Funeral Potatoes

“What would you do with only a month left to live? What would you look back on with nostalgia or regret? With laughter as the best medicine, Funeral Potatoes is a dark comedy about death and friendship, examining what makes it all worth it when you've spent your entire life planning for a future you won't have.”

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Food Bowl Events: Food and Film

Food and Film - Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin

“Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT. Join Phil Rosenthal, creator, writer and producer of the hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” for a special screening of his Netflix hit 'Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' and a conversation with Phil. This fantastic event will be teamed with none other than Nick Shipp (Upper West) who will be teaming the event with a specially curated Irish themed assortment of food! Specialty drinks provided...Screening with talk-back 75 mins. Nick Shipp Meal With Phil 75 minutes will be followed by a Q&A with Phil and Arena Cinelounge-Clamorhouse-LA Times-Phil Rosenthal event.”

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Food and Film - The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

“NC-17 LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT MON. MAY 20 - The 1989 crime drama is arguably Peter Greenaway's most famous (or infamous) film, which first shocked audiences at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and then on both sides of the Atlantic. A gang leader (Michael Gambon), accompanied by his wife (Helen Mirren) and his associates, entertains himself every night in a fancy restaurant that he has recently bought. Having tired of her sadistic, boorish husband, the wife finds herself a lover (Alan Howard) and makes love to him in the restaurant's coziest places with the silent permission of the cook (Richard Bohringer). Sergio Corbia of Ciabatta Bar and Fabiolus Cafe crafts a specialty menu that complements Greenaway's paradoxical comments on the relations between eating and sex, love and death.”

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More about the L.A. Times Food Bowl:

The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special

“the 2nd annual trump family special original musical comedy' parodies [the] First Family in “yuge” way. What if the First Family put on a live musical TV special – just like the Brady Bunch – starring Ice Princess Ivanka, her numbnut brothers, a still-not-caring Melania, and a host of ex's and deplorables.”

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Princess Magic's Trash Fire Time Revue

“A child's birthday party takes an unexpected turn when the scheduled magician doesn't show and the job is filled by a drunk and wayward vagrant. There are prizes. You should come. Use discount code BETTERLEMONS for 20% off their regular ticket price of $15”

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THE CHRISTIANS

“As their final show of Season 27, Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present Lucas Hnath's The Christians, directed by Thomas James O'Leary, produced by Carly Lopez. When the pastor of a megachurch unilaterally decides to enlighten his congregation with his own personal revelation, he is faced with doubt and dissension among his flock. Hnath's Obie Award-winning play examines the schism in today's church and the role of faith in America. ”

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StoryTime

“The Group Rep presents StoryTime, a story salon produced by Patricia Willson, featuring fresh, live personal stories as entertainment – – an evening of joy, sadness, and a touch of comedy on Sunday, May 12 at 7:00 pm, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, CA, at the edge of the NoHo Arts District.
Authors performing their stories include Vince Cefalu 'Eyes of A Child,” Devon Curry 'Mach Two,' Jana DiMaggio 'Conventional Wisdom,' Rick Hall 'Mom's Home Cooking,' Tripp Mills 'A Rainbow God Box,' Madeline Morgan 'Salute to Storytellers,' Candace Nicholas-Lippman 'Don't Get It Twisted, I Love My Mama,' Lila Silvern 'This Sperm is For You,' Jonathan Leigh Solomon 'Hello in There,' Lan Tran 'Overpolite, Shanghai'ed and Homeless in Vietnam,' and Pat Willson 'Momma.' ”

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SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical

“The Whitefire Theatre Musical Mondays is proud to present...the musical spoof SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical returns to L.A. for more hilarious re-imagining of the show's backstabbing siblings, clever imps and dragon mamas, all set to an addictive rock score that'll stick in your head (unless the king orders it off, natch)...Watch your favorite daring and most despised characters sing and dance towards epic plot twists and the coveted Iron Throne.”

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AVENUE Q

“The Group Rep presents AVENUE Q...This fresh and unusual Tony-award winning musical is a coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by Sesame Street, that they were 'extraordinary' and 'could do anything'; but as adults, they have discovered, to their surprise, that in the real world their options are limited, and they are actually ordinary like everyone else. This quirky musical ranks 24th on the list of the longest running shows in Broadway history. Avenue Q is notable for the use of puppets, animated by unconcealed puppeteers. ”

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THE COLUMBINE PROJECT

“In remembrance of the 20th Anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Loft Ensemble and the Whitefire Theatre are co-producing and reviving Paul Storiale's award-winning drama The Columbine Project directed by Bree Pavey. An atemporal retelling of the events leading up to, during and following the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, the play challenges what we think we know about the victims, families, teachers and the shooters themselves. Praised by LA theatre critics, survivors and families of the victims. The Columbine Project was created from direct correspondence with people involved in and affected by the event”

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Let's Write a Musical

“Let's Write a Musical is an emotional rollercoaster ride of music, laughter, and tears. David Hamilton decides to write a musical after he is diagnosed with cancer. While the couple deals with the ups and downs of their cancer journey, so are the characters in the musical on a rollercoaster ride of mishaps and shenanigans.”

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Aristophanes' THE BIRDS

“When the world has gone to the birds, the cuckoo is king. Two shiftless con men scheme to exploit the power of the birds by encouraging them to build a fortress in the sky, from where they can lord over mankind and Gods alike. Aristophanes' classic comedy THE BIRDS is about corruption, weakness, and power; how easily people are exploited based on fear, ego and greed; and how even noble ideas may be corrupted if those who have power are irresponsible and/or selfish. (Sound like anything going on now? Hm? Too soon?) Or, as John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton said to an Anglican bishop, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…'”

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Jordan Maverick, History Teacher

“Welcome to the school of hard Glocks. Jordan Maverick is one of the nation's most highly-trained teachers – an excellent marksman, a black belt in Jujitsu, and an engaging History teacher. But when he transfers to one of the most dangerous schools in the country, he'll face one of his biggest fears: co-teaching with the loose cannon Miss Pitts. Can they find a way to work together in time to solve the school's problems? This favorite from Season 13 of Serial Killers at Sacred Fools returns as a complete production at this years Hollywood Fringe.”

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Come Back!

“'Every day's a goddamn audition.' Based on the 'Serial Killers' 2018 Playoffs winner, 'COME BACK' is the hilarious yet touching story of Edie and Petey Stevenson, an overbearing stage mother and her hapless son, attempting to stage a 'comeback' performance. One of three shows Sacred Fools is proud to present as part of this year's Hollywood Fringe.”

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The Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition

“Who is the best Drag Queen in the whole wide world? Now's your chance to find out — at the first ever Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition. Millions of the best Drag performers from around the world applied, but only eight will compete, carefully chosen by a mysterious group of anonymous Drag Elders. ▪︎ The contestants are (in alphabetical order) Abhora (Miami, FL); Astrud Aurelia (Phoenix, AZ); Calypso Jeté (Los Angeles); Lyle (Los Angeles); Gigi Monroe (Juneau, AK); Kat Sass (Chicago, IL); Sabbyiana (Montebello, CA); and Aurora Sexton (Los Angeles). ▪︎ Judged upon the criteria of Presence, Energy, Nuance, Integrity, and Stunningness, this is a pageant for everyone — Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Trans Artists, Hyper Queens, Bio Queens, AFAB Queens — from first-timers to established pageant powerhouses. ▪︎ The celebrity guest host is Jackie Beat. The judges are (in alphabetical order) Nicole Byer, Jiggly Caliente, Landon Cider, Gia Gunn, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, and Willam.”

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5 Women Wearing the Same Dress

“During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. They are Frances, a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy, the cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne, whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior; Meredith, the bride's younger sister whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha, a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism about men is called into question when she meets Tripp, a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent and touching celebration of the women's spirit.”

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Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth

“'Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth' brings the audience alongside the accursed spirit of Lady Macbeth to experience her nightmare of stifled ambition, unfulfilled desire, and ultimate loss. Telling the story solely through her perspective, this production fuses Japanese Butoh dance, movement, and various texts to take you inside the mind and body of one of Shakespeare's most famous villains.”

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Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Cost of Living

Remembering Boyle Heights

The Big Event: Sunny Afternoon

BUS STOP

SHE LOVES ME

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Blacktop Highway

The Big Event: King Dick

Jane Austen’s EMMA

COME FROM AWAY

OPPENHEIMER

Sugar Plum Fairy

Delusion: The Blue Blade

SOUTH PACIFIC

THE COLOR PURPLE

Clarissant

Finks

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

The Color Collective

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

A BRONX TALE

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Cost of Living

The Little Foxes

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story

OPPENHEIMER

My Date With Death – A Musical Romance

Finks

Delusion: The Blue Blade

Anatomy of a Hug

THE COLOR PURPLE

BUS STOP

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

HANSEL AND GRETEL

SHE LOVES ME

A Mile In My Shoes

Blacktop Highway

VALLEY OF THE HEART


Sleep Out: Stage & Screen, Theatres to Provide for Artists, Free Training for Early-Career Actors With Disabilities, and More Local, National, and International News to Inspire, to Stir, and to Entertain

LOCAL

Audio Interview: The cast of “Under Milk Wood” at Atwater Village Theatre

Reflecting the milieu in which Dylan Thomas grew up, Under Milk Wood recounts the dreams, gossip and waking hours of the sleepy, Welsh seaside town of Llareggub — a name that seems innocent enough until you read it backwards. A slice of life set over a period of 24 hours one spring day, Milk Wood exposes the secret thoughts and reveries of over 50 residents in the salty fishing town. Unforgettable characters such as Jack Black, the sexually repressed cobbler; Mr. Pugh, who constantly dreams of murdering his wife; sweet Polly Garter, loved by many men, but still pining for long-dead Little Willy Wee; Mr. Waldo, who has impregnated virtually every woman in the countryside; twice widowed Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, who dreams of assigning cleaning tasks to her two dead husbands; and town bigamist Dai Bread populate this odd place, and their affectionate charm and humor still captivate and entertain 65 years after it was written. The poetry wafts and enters through one's heart rather than one's head. listen to it here


PODCAST: An Interview with Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of 'Soaring Solo'

I interviewed Director Jessica Lynn Johnson, teacher of Soaring Solo, a how-to series of workshops and individual instruction on creating solo theatrical projects and bringing them to fruition. Jessica is often a one-woman cheering squad for her students, creating unique costumes out of their promotional bar cards and items for Fringe Festival parties.  read more here


Katy Sullivan, Victor William in “Cost of Living”, Manhattan Theatre Club, 2017.

Fountain Theatre awarded grant for Pulitzer Prize winner ‘Cost of Living' by Martyna Majok

The National Arts and Disability Center has awarded The Fountain an Arts and Accessibility Grant to support its upcoming West Coast Premiere of Martyna Majok‘s 2018 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cost of Living. The grant will assist in funding the compensation of two actors with disabilities for the production opening October 20th. read more here


Activist Theater Company Launches Inaugural Season in support of Los Angeles Justice Fund

The Thursday Night Theater Club's inaugural season to begin with the morality play, “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, to benefit families in the Los Angeles area.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA (August 14, 2018) - Activist theater group Thursday Night Theater Club (TNTheaterClub) opens its inaugural season with Arthur Miller's “A View from the Bridge” on August 23rd, at the historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The LA Justice Fund will receive a percentage of each ticket sold during the 10-week run. read more here


Rogue Machine Theatre trades Hollywood for Venice

Rogue Machine, one of Los Angeles' more prominent small-theater companies, is heading west this fall, relocating from Hollywood to Venice.

“We've been looking for a permanent home for 11 years,” artistic director John Perrin Flynn said with a laugh.

Several factors are behind the move. Most pressing: The company's current home, the Met Theatre on Oxford Avenue near Santa Monica Boulevard, is for sale and couldn't guarantee long-term occupancy, Flynn said. At the same time, the 99-seat Electric Lodge in Venice was in search of a resident company and appealed to Flynn as a black-box space with flexible seating arrangements. read more here


NATIONAL

Sleep Out: Stage & Screen

Broadway and Hollywood unite to sleep on the street for one night so homeless kids don't have to.

4.2 million kids in America will face homelessness this year.

Covenant House provides these young people with safe shelter and wrap-around services, including education and job training, so they can move forward to an adulthood free of poverty and the threat of homelessness. read more here and donate to the cause


Queens Theatre to Offer Free Training for Early-Career Actors With Disabilities

Applications are now open for the new training program for Deaf and disabled performers.

New York City's Queens Theatre is now accepting applications for its free fall training program for early-career Deaf and disabled actors. Part of the organization's Theatre For All initiative, the new two-week program will run September 16–28 and will be made up of various workshops culminating in a showcase performance.

All workshops and events will take place at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Actors will be selected through an application process through August 22; read more here


Minority Voices Theatre

Local theater project looks to confront Eugene's diversity issues

Local theater directors Carol Dennis and Stanley Coleman had been churning around the idea of a diverse project for about six years after noticing a lack of diversity in Eugene and its reflection in the theater communities they were a part of.

“I grew up in Miami,” Dennis says. “I spent my 20s in New York City doing theater, and my 30s in Los Angeles doing theater. When I came up here for life situations, I wanted to do theater up here, and I realized just how white it is here, how small the communities of color are.” read more here


Monthlong exposition to highlight emerging veteran artists

11 locations will feature different artists

MADISON, Wis. - This November, emerging military veteran artists will exhibit two- and three-dimensional visual art, theater and performance art, music and writing at 11 different locations throughout Madison.

According to a release, "In Good Company: An Exposition of Emerging Veteran Artists" will display works that reflect the veteran experience.

Both veteran and civilian curators are organizing the events as a way to ignite discourse. Art created by veterans is starting to become a larger genre, the release said. read more here


FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Inflatable yellow theatre barge pops-up on east London canal

This year's Antepavilion is an inflatable arts venue on a barge that unfurls in just 12 minutes, created by architects Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers.

Called AirDraft, the floating theatre boasts a balloon-like construction that means it can deflate in five minutes, allowing it to manoeuvre easily under bridges along London's waterways. read more here


Queensland Theatre's Artistic Director Sam Strong.

10 things theatre companies can provide to artists

Too often conversations around the careers of artists can get lost in the abstract. To counter that, Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong gets practical.

ArtsHub performs a wonderful industry service for artists: spotlighting careers, highlighting the challenges of different cities, and shining a light on neglected parts of the sector.

However, a voice has been missing from these conversations. That voice is the voice of companies, the providers of opportunities to artists. read more here


Audio Interview: Deanne Bray - Emma Coolidge on NBCs "HEROES" stars in ‘Arrival & Departure' at the Fountain Theatre

In this modern-day, re-imagined stage adaptation of the classic 1945 British film Brief Encounter, a Deaf man and a hard-of-hearing woman, two married strangers, meet accidentally in a New York City subway station. As their casual friendship develops into something deeper, each is forced to confront how their simmering relationship could forever change their lives — and the lives of those they love. The play is performed simultaneously in spoken English and American Sign Language with additional use of open captioning, so that both Deaf and hearing audiences can enjoy the production.*
Enjoy this interview about “Arrival & Departure” staring Deanne Bray (Emma Coolidge in a recurring role on the TV series NBC's HEROES) at the Fountain Theatre, running until Sep 30th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*Taken from the website


For Hire, Gender-Equality, Theatre Relationships and More Local, National, and International News to Inspire, to Stir, and to Entertain

LOCAL

Darkness Comes Alive 7/6/18. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti.

Listen and Darkness Comes Alive

The sound is not the first thing you notice when you enter the Lili Lakich Studio, but it is the most surprising. You are surrounded by neon artwork created in Lakich's studio, but after a few moments you hear the most calming sound, a slight hum coming from the lights. White noise, maybe a few bursts of static, and immensely calming, meditative. The last thing you might expect from a room filled with so much light is to find such a soothing sound there. read more here


Audio Interview: The cast of “The Road-Trip Monologues” at Zephyr Theatre

Curated from over 25 submissions from writers all over the world, The Road-Trip Monologues is a RAW BiTES '18 page-to-stage production of new writing for stage. listen to the interview here


Audio Interview: Armin Shimerman (Quark of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") in the Antaeus Theatre Company's production of "Three Days In The Country"

A fresh, breezy update by Patrick Marber of Turgenev's classic comedy A Month in the Country, this is a tale of unrequited passion, unfolding over the course of three days in the sunny Russian countryside. Full of wit, folly and heart, men and women, both young and old, learn the tender and ridiculous lessons of love. listen to the interview here


The Broadwater Plunge Unveils First Cocktail Menu

Five Drinks, Each A Nod to Duffy Family's History in Bars

The Owl menu is a reference to the rural Montana bar Patrick Duffy's parents, Terry and Babe, owned and operated when he was a child. Each of the five drinks on the menu is named for a particularly colorful regular at The Owl. read more here


NOW HIRING: Fountain Theatre seeks a new bookkeeper

The Fountain Theatre seeks a friendly, motivated individual to fill a part-time position as a Bookkeeper. Must be a team player with a positive attitude who understands and enjoys the non-traditional work environment of a non-profit theatre arts organization. The ideal candidate will possess experience in essential bookkeeping functions, such as managing accounts payable and receivable and preparing payrolls, invoices, and financial reports, reconciling bank accounts, and have a solid proficiency with basic accounting principles. Qualifications include proficiency with QuickBooks Online, a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and an ability to work within a team setting. Ultimately, the Bookkeeper's responsibilities are to accurately record all day-to-day financial transactions and reporting requirements of our organization. read more here


Walking the walk: Art for art's sake is simply not enough anymore

By Bobby Steggert - About two years ago, I completely turned my back on an acting career that I had spent twenty years building. I found myself increasingly discontented by the lack of control that every artist must submit to, and I found myself nauseatingly self-concerned in a job that threw me off balance enough to never quite feel stable. That, and as the world spiraled into the surreal chaos that continues to swirl around us today, I found it harder and harder to justify my contribution as enough to make a significant difference. read more here


Lileana Blain-Cruz and Dominique Morisseau (Jeremy Daniel)

Stage Directions: Why Lileana Blain-Cruz Believes in Making Theatre an Epic Event

The Obie-winning director of PipelineRed Speedo, and more reveals her directing philosophy, early career missteps, and her pitch to the Park Avenue Armory.

“I'm attracted to the epic-ness of theatre,” director Lileana Blain-Cruz says. “Because it's the thing that makes theatre feel unique amid a lot of different forms and a lot of different distractions. If we're all alive inside of a life-giving event, it's thrilling.”

Blain-Cruz, an Off-Broadway Obie Award winner for her direction, currently helms The House That Will Not Stand at New York Theatre Workshop, now playing through August 12. The play by Marcus Gardley is inspired by Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba and is set in early 19th-century Louisiana, after the Louisiana Purchase. It deals with the lives of four women of color: a widow and her three daughters. read more here


NATIONAL

Book brings theatre journey home

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) - A new book by Rochester based theatre director Eric Johnson examines how dreams of Hollywood stardom led him to pursue his passion here at home.

Johnson discussed his book "My Quarter-Life Crisis" Monday during News 8 at Noon.

"For many years growing up in Pittsford, I really thought all of my life I was going to go off to Hollywood," said Johnson. "I was going to go off to New York. I was going to go off to one of these big cities where they have so much art, they have so much with movies and with Broadway shows, and I was going to become the next Steven Spielberg. Throughout all the role models and teachers I met along my journey from high school, college and everywhere in between, I found out that may not be the right path for me. Maybe being right here in Rochester, I can make difference locally. That's kind of where the book started and where the idea kind of came from." read more here


Music Theatre International Files Legal Action Against Virginia Community Theatre

The complaint states that Theaterpalooza Community Theater Productions, Inc. has presented at least 16 illegal and unlicensed productions.

Music Theatre International has filed a complaint against Theaterpalooza Community Theater Productions, Inc. in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for presenting at least 16 unauthorized productions of MTI titles.

Theaterpalooza, which operates in and around Ashburn and Leesburg in Virginia and Hagerstown, Maryland, offers youth musical theatre classes that culminate in full productions of various musicals that are open to the public. Students pay tuition of up to $600 to participate, and the theatre also charges $12-$15 per ticket for the public performances of its shows. read more here


Join Our Team! BWW Is Seeking a Full-Time Entertainment Editor

BWW is on the hunt for a new member for our team- a full-time editor of our MoviesTV and Music sites.

Applicants should be pop-culture junkies (theatre knowledge can't hurt, but not required), with excellent writing skills, great attention to detail, and a strong, self-motivated work ethic. The ideal candidate must also be able to multi-task and write quickly. Proficiency with Office programs and Photoshop is essential. read more here


INTERNATIONAL

Lyn Gardner: Finding a good mentor is crucial for a successful theatre career

In Daniel Kehlmann's The Mentor, seen at the Ustinov in Bath and in the West End last year, F Murray Abraham played an elderly writer living off the acclaim – and the royalties – from a play written when he was 25. During the play he is paid handsomely to mentor a rising young writer, but this transactional relationship turns out to be anything but nourishing.

In the real world, however, mentoring – both informal and formal – is often a crucial but hidden part of successful careers. Eddie Redmayne may have won an Oscar, but he still rings up his old school drama teacher for advice. read more here


Theatre Republic producer Manda Webber and director Corey McMahon (photo by Olivia Zanchetta)

Theatre for Generation Netflix

New performing arts company Theatre Republic tells modern stories worth getting off the couch for.

Adelaide and the Arts; a quintessential odd couple. On the one hand we're “The Festival State” with arts and fringe events among the world's biggest (when you're talking revenue). On the other, our audiences are notoriously apathetic outside the frenzy of Mad March, making it difficult for artists to sustain year-round careers.

This isn't news to local theatre-maker Corey McMahon. “If I had a dollar for every time I heard my non-theatre-going friends say, ‘The Fringe is on. I might go and see a show' – as though it's a special, one-off event – I could probably fund my shows.” read more here


Theatre relationships: ‘Real life is a lot less complicated.' | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

For better or for worse: the pros and cons of theatre relationships

Last month I attended what I like to call a “theatre wedding”. Two people, involved in theatre, but more importantly two people who met because of theatre, exchanged vows/ took seven circles of fire/ entered into a holy union, surrounded by a fair amount of theatre people. A few years ago, both of them were replacements in an outstation play. And they fell in love on the flight back, thanks to a common love for scuba diving, Shah Rukh Khan, and, probably, theatre.

I've seen quite a few theatre weddings. I've also seen an unfortunate theatre divorce. Theatre relationships are a dime a dozen, but I'm focusing on more legal commitments here. I guess in some ways a theatre wedding is like a workplace wedding. Same environment, similar interests, regular contact, shared experiences, and something clicks. Mine was a theatre wedding too. read more here


 

A group photograph to mark the final major public event after a full year of campaiging by Waking The Feminists on The Rosie Hackett Bridge in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Yes we did: Irish theatre's gender-equality revolution

Irish theatre came out blazing this week, proving that gender equality is ‘not hard to do, if you want to'

What a difference a couple of years can make. Some top players in Irish theatre are chatting in the Lir Academy of Dramatic Art in Dublin. Anne Clarke says “there's a certain element of: just do it. Gender equality is not a hard thing to do, if you want to. This change came about because of a decision, to reverse inequality and give more opportunities to women.”

Lynne Parker observes that the situation “has changed so much already. And it's still changing.” Sarah Durcan says: “When we started doing this, none of us knew about unconscious bias, dignity at work policies or anything. So that language and knowledge has passed not only into the theatre sector but wider. We always said we wanted this movement to be a catalyst for change everywhere.” read more here


CARNAGE AND COMPASSION IN TRUMP'S AMERICA

HIPSTER TIPS OF THE WEEK

Faqir Hassan and Melissa Chalsma in Sharr White's THE SNOW GEESE

When Sharr White's play The Snow Geese opened in New York, Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times that "it is unlikely to stir any emotion except bewilderment as to how this lifeless play wound up on Broadway."  Such reviews are the kiss of death for any new play, and The Snow Geese was no exception.  But Mr. White's friends David Melville and Melissa Charlsma considered this unjust, and since they are co-artistic directors of the Independent Shakespeare Co. of Los Angeles, they were in a position to do something about it.  Sharr White revised his play for their actors, and the resulting production is unconventional and unpredictable in its examination of the classic American subjects of money and family.  Only four performances left of this fascinating play that you may never get a chance to see again - this Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 in Atwater Village.      (CLICK HERE for tickets and more info.)

Harry Groener, Ross Phillips and Rebecca Mozo in "The Buttered Biscuits" cast of Antaeus Company's CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo Credit: Sally Hughes

Money and Family are also the preoccupations of the characters in Tennessee Williams's classic American drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, along with that Williams staple, Sex.  Sex as a subject suitable for drama was the new variable that Williams brought to the American equation (courtesy of Sweden's great dramatist August Strindberg), and it simply changed everything.  He unlocked the Puritanical Pandora's Box of obsession, repression and sexual/gender identity that helped create the modern world as we know it.  But very few productions of this masterpiece - which was clearly Williams's attempt at an American King Lear - are sexy.  Important, yes; but sexy, no.  The Antaeus Company  production that I saw at their new theater space in Glendale - performed by "The Buttered Biscuits" cast, who alternate with "The Hoppin' Johns" cast - was sexy.  Director Cameron Watson anchors the play directly in the bedroom of Maggie the Cat and Brick the crippled ex-football player, who have reached an  impasse  in their  relations.  Maggie needs a baby; Brick hates Maggie and vows never to have sex with her again.  In the long first scene, Brick intermittently exposes his nakedness to his wife, taunting her with what he promises never to give her.  And when Brick's father Big Daddy speaks with him in Act II, they do so in that same bedroom, where Big Daddy's  frank expression of lust for every woman who isn't his wife leads to his demanding an answer to why Brick claims to be repulsed by Maggie.  It's a brilliant reading of this play, which clears away the academic cobwebs and brings us back to the conundrum of lust and love that lies at the heart of Williams's dramaturgy.   (CLICK HERE  for tickets and info about the alternating casts performing through May 7th.)

"It's the single, solitary individual that's finished. The time has come to say, is dehumanization such a bad word?"  -- Howard Beale in the film Network by Paddy Chayevsky

The Donald and his Godfather, Roy Cohn; or "Can you find the Devil in this Picture?"   Courtesy of the Bettman Archives and Getty Images

The Twisted Hipster has been around for awhile, folks.  In fact, this is the 11th presidency that I can remember.  And I'm here to tell you that nothing about what is happening right now is "normal."  Yes, things were weird during Watergate and when Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky/Paula Jones  scandals were being revealed by Ken Starr.  And yes, at the end of Reagan's tenure too, during the time of Ollie North, shadow government agencies and the Iran/Contra hearings.  But those all have one thing in common: they came in the second term of those respective leaders.  No presidency has ever started off like this.  None.  This is insanity.

Sometimes it feels as if the wave of conspiracy theories that has been building for the last 55 years, ever since the  spilling of JFK's blood, has now reached a crescendo and threatens to overwhelm all of us.  Facebook and Twitter are one kind of crazy. but now every friend of mine seems to have his or her own pet theory.  "Oh, Trump is gone, we've already moved on to Pence, what's going on now is all a charade," one friend tells me.  While another says: "At the  end of Obama's term, this one psychic predicted that Obama was going to be the last American president.  When Trump was sworn in, I figured that was just b.s.  But now I think that Trump's regime may itself be b.s., and that the democratic order of things is about to fall apart.  I don't know what comes next, and I'm afraid to find out."

One thing is for certain: our collective perception of reality has been changed, perhaps irrevocably, by Trump's cynical manipulations.  His crudeness infects everything.  His invocation of "American carnage" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. His Narcissism threatens to undermine our sense of empathy, the compassion that we are able to feel for others.

Ann Talman in her one-woman show Woody's Order! at Ensemble Studio Theatre LA, the Atwater Village Theatre, through April 22nd. Photo: John Altdorfer

Ann Talman's one woman show Woody's Order! is completely apolitical.  Talman tells the heartrending story of her life as a caretaker, first for her older brother Woody, stricken from birth with cerebral palsy, and later for her dad too, afflicted with Alzheimer's.  Talman's beloved mom had died in a car accident when she was still in college, and there was no one else to turn to, no one else who could provide the love and attention needed to keep her family members alive.  The fact that Talman was a successful young actress who had starred on Broadway as Elizabeth Taylor's daughter in Lillian Hellman's Little Foxes - as well as in several other Broadway plays, movies, TV series and soap operas - well, her career was simply collateral damage for the dedication that her caretaking required.  As was her marriage to the actor Bruce MacVittie.  He wanted children, but how could she do this when she was already shuttling between her brother's care center and her dad's hospital bed while still trying to maintain a career?

Ann Talman blames no one for any of this.  She has no personal axe to grind, no religious point to make, no political legislation to champion.  In fact, her love for her brother is so deep and all-encompassing that she is simply grateful.  She completely loves and understands him, and he completely loves and understands her.  How many people can  make such a claim?  No words are needed between them - their spirits have merged.  The doctors gave Woody a life expectancy of 12 years when he was born; he is now almost 70.   Talman expresses nothing but gratitude for this.

Yet it was impossible for me to experience Talman's story and not think about Donald Trump's public mocking of the disabled reporter Serge Kovalevski of the New York Times during the primaries.  How could such a person be voted for by anyone for anything - much less for president of this great country?  How did this vile act not disqualify him  then and there as an emissary of the public trust?  And how could Meryl Streep's denunciation of such behavior yield anything but collective agreement and expressions of solidarity?

The fact is, actions have consequences, even if we don't want them to, even if we choose to deny them.  And the lack of moral action IS a choice that has consequences too.  Once we endorse an act like Trump's by there being no punishment for it - no consequences - then what does that lead do?  Once we give in to pragmatism and moral cowardice and decree that such behavior is acceptable, then how low can we go?  What else will we accept?

We have only to look at Nazi Germany to find an answer.  Adolf Hitler and his cohorts were not handed the keys to the kingdom in 1933, when Hitler was elected co-chancellor.  There was a gradual wearing down of outrage, a gradual compromise of moral values in favor of financial advancement and nationalistic empowerment.  Sound familiar?

Someone like Woody Talman would have been gassed at birth by the Nazis without a second thought, without even a tinge of regret.  In fact, they would have called it an act of compassion to put an imperfect specimen like Woody out of his "misery." But Ann Talman begs to differ.  And her voice must be heard before we grow so "dehumanized" (to quote Howard Beale) that we can no longer hear it.  (For tickets CLICK HERE or 818-839-1197.)

Judith Moreland and Bo Foxworth in Robert Schenkkan's "Building the Wall" at the Fountain Theatre, directed by Michael Michetti.

In his shockingly timely new play Building The Wall, Pulitzer-prize winner Robert Schenkkan has taken this analogy between Trump's America and Nazi Germany - based on the compromise of moral outrage in deference to financial and nationalistic self-interest (that is, money and family) - and he has woven a dystopian prophecy from it, of what could happen if we continue down this dark path.

The play takes place in a Federal prison in the near future of 2019.  Judith Moreland plays Gloria, a historian, who has come to see Rick (Bo Foxworth), a convict on death row.  Rick was the warden of a mass-detention center for immigrants deemed illegal by the Trump administration, and he has been convicted for the crimes committed under his watch.  Rick didn't testify at his recent trial and is now awaiting sentencing.  Gloria is here to give him the chance to tell what happened from his point of view.

Schenkkan was recently quoted in American Theatre Magazine as saying, "I think that the Republic is in serious jeopardy, and I think that artists need to respond to it now, immediately."  When I met with Schenkkan last month, he stressed this, adding: "The urgency that I feel right now as an American citizen and a theater artist cannot be overstated.  We no longer have a business as usual world.  We all have an individual responsibility to oppose what is happening.  My job is to get people interested in taking meaningful action, in asking themselves "What can I do?" and then doing it."

Bo Foxworth plays the warden of a mass-detention center under Trump's regime in Schenkkan's play

Judging from the audience I saw the play with last Saturday, Schenkkan's play is getting mixed results on that score.  The events related by warden Rick in the play are so horrific - so reminiscent of Nazi death camps - that the audience seemed reflexively to reject the possibility that such things could actually happen in their lifetimes in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  That is, they accepted the story on the level of a dystopian parable, a warning, but not literally as something predictive, even as a worst-case scenario.  Yet it's important to remember that Kristallnacht - the Nazi pogrom in which the windows of Jewish storefronts were shattered even as Jewish citizens of Germany were being herded into ghettos - took place only four years after Hitler's ascendancy to sole leadership.  Such an eventuality was not even conceivable in 1935, but by 1938 it was reality, and not just in isolated regions.  It was the law of the land, and there was nothing anyone could do to deter it.

The post-show discussion at the Fountain featured a Latina professor and the Latino representative of a group of immigrant day-workers, and it was fascinating - not so much for what was said, but for what wasn't said.  There was not a single question about or reference to Schenkkan's play.  Not one.  Instead, the many audience members who remained were asking questions about detention centers in Los Angeles, and what they could do to help - who could they give money to, what could they do to register their objections to how immigrants are being demonized, to how fellow human beings are being treated.  It was clear that their omission of any reference to Schenkkan's play had less to do with an aesthetic value judgment than an urgency regarding the play's message.

I have to admit that it did give me some hope that maybe "the single, solitary individual" wasn't "finished" after all, and maybe "dehumanization" is still a bad word.  But this is no time for patting oneself on the back.  "Complacency is a very serious problem," Robert Schenkkan told me.

Yes, and we are still going down that dark path.  Who can tell where it will lead?

(The show has been extended for more info and tickets CLICK HERE)


A Serious Talk with A Serious Man: Robert Schenkkan, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Playwright

"Everything Donald Trump is doing now is right out of the Authoritarian Playbook.  Right out of it.   Make people feel powerless and overwhelmed?  Check.  Attack the press as the enemy of the people?  Check.  Portray yourself as the only one who can save the day?  Check."

It's a beautiful March day in Los Angeles, 85 degrees and sunny, but here at the beach in Santa Monica, it's foggy and chilly.  Robert Schenkkan is saying this as he sits on a bench beside the Twisted Hipster, looking out at the rapidly-disappearing vista.

"What Trump is up to is nothing less than a full-out assault on basic American values and individual rights.  People need to stay very conscious about what is going on and need to keep asking: what can I do?  How can I help defend against this attack on our freedoms?  The most important thing - and I cannot stress this enough - is that we cannot cede moral authority to the State and allow them to let us feel irrelevant.  We have to reject the false narrative that this administration has been putting out there.  The decisions we make over the next 18 months are very important and may well determine the future of this country - and, consequently, of the world."

Schenkkan may well be the most important American playwright of our time.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Kentucky Cycle in 1992 - his cycle of nine connected one acts exploring American Mythology and identity -- his career went into overdrive last year with All The Way (about President Lyndon B. Johnson) receiving the Tony Award for Best Play and getting made into an HBO film starring Bryan Cranston (who also played LBJ on Broadway, winning the Tony for Best Actor), while his co-adaptation of the film Hacksaw Ridge nabbed  him an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.  But anyone looking at him here would simply see a slight, aging man with a knit cap pulled closely over his scalp.  His voice is high-pitched, his tone is thoughtful and worried, like a dad terrified for his child's future.

"I feel like artists working today have a pressing responsibility to speak to these issues, and to the choices that we as a country are facing.  The urgency I feel right now as a citizen and as a theater artist cannot be over-stated.  This is a crisis like no other that we have faced in our country's history.  Yes, the threat of fascism and autocracy has been there before, certainly during both World Wars in the last century, as well as during the purges of Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee.  But there has never been a president like Donald Trump, who is using the highest office in the land to pose such a clear and present danger to everything we represent as Americans.  The hypocrisy of his doing this in the service of protecting us individually and collectively - well, like I said before, that's right out of the Authoritarian Playbook.  And that's why we have to keep pushing back when he tries to divide us and fill us with fear."

What Schenkkan has specifically done is to write a 2-person play called Building The Wall about the Trump Presidency that is currently in previews for its World Premiere at LA's Fountain Theatre.  Directed by LA's own Michael Michetti and starring local actors Bo Foxworth and Judith Moreland, the production will open on March 18th and is scheduled to run until May 21st.   (boxoffice@fountaintheatre.com or 323-663-1525 for tickets and information.)  Its opening here will be followed by productions at four other theaters across the country and possibly more - and there is great interest from theaters in Canada, London and elsewhere.

Building The Wall takes place in 2019, when the impact of Trump's current immigration policies have run their destructive course, rounding up and detaining millions of immigrants.  Now a writer interviews the supervisor of a private prison as he himself awaits sentencing for carrying out this federal policy, and they both look back at the time we are living in now, trying to figure out how such terrible violations of individual rights could ever have been carried out in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

"I think history will not look back at us kindly," he says with deep sadness in his voice.  "But we have to give the devil his due - Donald Trump spoke to people's anxieties in a way that the progressives weren't able to.  We took our eyes off the ball during the Obama years, and the result is the terrible situation that we find ourselves in right now.  Each of us helped in our way to create this situation, and each of us will have to account for our moral courage - or lack of such - in the face of such an assault on the values that we purport to represent.   The outcome is by no means decided.  And the choices that we make now will determine the course that this country follows, both in the near future and in the very long term."

Building the Wall previews tonight and tomorrow and plays March 18 - May 21. Visit fountaintheatre.com for tickets.


Urgent call to action: Robert Schenkkan's ‘Building the Wall' will premiere at Fountain Theatre, roll across U.S.

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 17, 2017) — A new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All the Way, Hacksaw Ridge), written in direct response to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, reveals how those policies might lead to a terrifying, seemingly inconceivable, yet inevitable conclusion. Building the Wall opens at the Fountain Theatre on March 18, the first in a series of productions set to take place at theaters across the U.S. as part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.

In the very near future, the Trump administration has carried out his campaign promise to round up and detain millions of immigrants. As a writer interviews the former supervisor of a private prison, it becomes clear how federal policy has escalated into something previously unimaginable.

Multiple-award winner Michael Michetti directs James Macdonald (Mutual Philanthropy at Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA) and Judith Moreland (Ovation Award for the Fountain's Miss Julie: Freedom Summer) in Schenkkan's riveting, harrowing and illuminating cautionary tale.

“This is an urgent cry of warning from a leading voice in the American theater,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “It's an opportunity for the Fountain to make its voice heard through our art. This project is more than a play. It's already ignited a national firestorm with theaters across the country signing up to produce it.”

In an interview with BBC Newshour, Schenkkan noted that “Donald Trump is not unusual or extraordinary… this is the playbook of authoritarianism. The question, of course, is not what Donald Trump will do. It's what we, as citizens, will do to respond.”

“Audiences can expect to be very rattled by this play,” notes Michetti. “Robert lays out a clear path of where we could all too easily end up if we don't change course. But the idea is not for people to go home depressed. It's a call to action. We've got to stop this from happening. We need to step up and exercise our rights as citizens to create positive change.”

To that end, the Fountain will host post-performance discussions throughout the run, and additional ancillary events are currently in the planning stages.

Other productions of Building the Wall are set to take place at the Curious Theater in Denver, Forum Theater in Silver Spring, Md., Borderlands Theater in Tucson and City Theatre in Miami.

Building the Wall runs March 18 through May 21, with performances on Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. (dark Monday, March 20). Three preview performances take place on Wednesday, March 15;Thursday, March 16; and Friday, March 17, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15$35; every Monday is Pay-What-You-Can. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com. Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFountainTheatre. Follow us on Twitter: @fountaintheatre.