COVID-19 THEATER SERIES: Open Fist Faces COVID19 - An Interview with Martha Demson


Yale-educated and two-year student of the legendary Sanford Meisner, Martha Demson has spent a good part of her professional career working with Open Fist Theatre Company. After brief forays into acting and directing in the film and TV world, Martha joined Open Fist in 1991 and became artistic director in 1997. Although her first love is directing, her current role has been primarily as producer for the many shows staged by Open Fist in the past few years. Martha took time from her busy schedule to interview in April 2020.


Ensemble in "Musical Fools" - Photo by Darrett Sanders

When and how did Open Fist Theatre Company first form? Were you involved from the beginning?

Martha Demson: The Open Fist Theatre Company was founded in 1990 by a group of recent MFA graduates out of Cal State Fullerton. Then-artistic director Ziad Hamzeh had a great appetite for large-cast European experimental theater, and the early years of the Company were characterized by the selection of ambitious (if often obscure) pieces performed with great enthusiasm and varying degrees of success by a very young company. Some of the early productions were by icons like Caryl Churchill and Bertolt Brecht.

I joined toward the end of the Company’s first year and became the organization's artistic director in 1997. Open Fist has had quite a varied history. From 1990 to 2005, Open Fist performed in its famous “quonset hut” of a theater - until it was demolished to make way for a condo development. In 2006, we moved into what had been the Actors Gang space in Hollywood. It was a beautiful, large theater which permitted us to mount visually ambitious productions. Unfortunately, a sudden 50% rent hike forced us out after seven and a half years. With no time to find a new home, we became a nomadic theater group. We floated in and out of different venues between 2013 and 2017 and hoped to purchase our own theater. When that didn’t work out, we found the perfect space in the Atwater Village Theatre complex. Even though it has meant developing a new patron base, we are very happy putting down roots as a resident Company at AVT.

Jade Santana and Jill Remez in "Anna in the Tropics" - Photo by Darrett Sanders

What are some of the most popular plays you've done? How about awards?

MD: We’ve mounted dozens of popular productions, many of which have won awards -- Ovation, LA Weekly, LADCC, Garland etc. Our shows tend to be an exuberant and eclectic mix. A few stand out in my mind. The world premiere production of Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage was probably our most memorable hit musical; and over the course of its run I grew to love and respect Zappa’s music. He had a following of millions, and fans flew in from around the world to come to the show. After each performance, patrons didn’t want to leave -- they would linger for hours in the lobby. It was really very exciting for everyone. Another personal favorite was our LA Weekly award-winning production of Tom Stoppard’s comedy Travesties. Stoppard’s use of language in that play is astonishing, and the clever interweaving of the lives of Lenin, Tristan Tzara, and James Joyce is delightful; I had loved the play since high school and I don’t think I missed a single performance. And then there was Papa, a one-man play starring Adrian Sparks about Hemingway’s life in Cuba; I directed the hit. While we were in rehearsal, Adrian was involved in a near life-ending accident which left him unable to swallow or speak. But he was determined to do the play. Little by little, he worked his way back to health; and, when we eventually opened, the performance was magnificent. It garnered several Ovation nominations and awards. As a footnote, ten years later, Adrian had an opportunity to reprise the role in the movie PAPA: Hemingway in Cuba with Giovanni Ribisi and Joely Richardson.

When did you close the theater due to COVID-19? Were you in the middle of a run?

MD: We announced that we were suspending performances effective immediately on Thursday, March 12.  We were halfway through the run of RORSCHACH FEST, an ambitious festival of boundary-pushing theater, featuring plays by Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, John O'Keefe and Daniel MacIvor. We had already paid for the licenses to perform the plays into April, as well as the theater rent and production costs; this left us in a financial bind. After all, even when we’re closed, we still have to pay our bills.

AlgeRita Wynn and Carmella Jenkins in This is a Chair - "Rorschach Fest" - Photo by Darrett Sanders

How has COVID-19 impacted on your theater?

MD: The negative impact has been largely financial.  We lost four weeks’ ticket revenue on our Festival (estimated a minimum $8000), we had prepaid a month of license fees for performances which were cancelled (nearly $4000), and we had prepaid the theater rent for the month of March ($8000).  Depending on the length of the Stay at Home order, we may suffer other losses (most significantly loss of venue).”

Are you doing anything right now to keep your live theater going? Streaming? Having virtual meetings? Planning for your next show when you reopen? Auditioning?

MD: Yes, we are a strong community.  Rehearsals for our next production, The Solider Dreams, are underway virtually.  Production meetings continue on their regular schedule with preliminary designs due in a couple of weeks.  Staff and company meetings occur using the Zoom platform.  Last week, we opened some rehearsals to patrons at no charge; and we are surveying our patrons to ask what other forms of virtual engagement they would be interested in (readings, conversations, classes). We considered presenting readings of some classic plays using Zoom, but we ran into a problem: Actors Equity is requiring that groups negotiate an agreement with them for any online presentations, and they have not gotten back to the LA community with an overview of what that agreement will be.  So we are looking for other ways to engage with our patrons – maybe a cocktail hour where patrons and artists exchange ideas about plays and the theater; and perhaps some puppet shows for young patrons.

Derek Manson, Parvesh Cheena, Robyn Roth, Cat Davis, Brendan Mulally, and Hank Jacobs in "Musical Fools" - Photo by Darrett Sanders

What do you think the impact of COVID-19 will be on live theater in general in Los Angeles? Do you foresee any permanent changes?

MD: I think the answer to that question will depend on the length of the Stay at Home order and the extent of the devastation (both health-wise and economically).  I believe that live theater will have an important role to play when we finally re-emerge from isolation and begin to rebuild a sense of who we are together.  It may be that patrons feel a residual reluctance to go into public performance venues, so we will have to figure that out - perhaps turning to outdoor spaces for a while.  But long term, I believe that the live theater community in Los Angeles will prove as resilient as ever. The number of organizations we lose altogether will really depend on how long this outbreak endures. Some companies are better positioned than others to weather the storm.

WHAT DO YOU NEED RIGHT NOW TO KEEP GOING FORWARD? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE FROM THE THEATER PUBLIC?

MD: To keep going forward, we need to maintain engagement.  Engagement of our members to continue their creative activity and maintain a sense of family; engagement of our inner circle to absorb the expenses required to sustain us during a period of zero revenue; and engagement of our patrons to maintain their connection with us. This engagement will underscore the mutual understanding that together we form an indestructible community.

Tom Noga and Laura James in Landscape - "Rorschach Fest" - Photo by Darrett Sanders

What are some of your future plans?

MD: When business resumes, we will open The Soldier Dreams.It’s a funny and poignant play that chronicles the struggles of the family of a young man who has died of an unnamed illness. We chose the play long before the outbreak of the coronavirus, but it certainly resonates with what’s been going on all around us.

We do have plans for the rest of the season, but I prefer not to announce other projects because our schedule (and budget!) will definitely be impacted by the duration of the shut-down. It is almost certain that we will move titles around and postpone some of the more ambitious projects to next year. One thing we do know. Assuming that we are operating in September, we will definitely produce our fourth annual "political pop-up" featuring short plays by playwrights from around the country.  The "political pop-up" tradition began in response to Trump's inauguration in 2017; and we have continued it annually, each year around a different theme. For our "pop-ups”, we convert the theater into a speakeasy. We bring in couches, comfy chairs, tables, rugs, lamps and a bar. This year, our theme will be “In a Perfect World,” which should provide a context for addressing our shared goals and challenges, as well as important issues like climate change and social injustice.


The article first appeared in LA Splash Worldwide.



THE BEST OF SHOWS ON BETTER LEMONS IN 2019

Better Lemons had a fantastic year and we couldn't have done it without the fantastic critics, publicists, and audience members who share their love of Los Angeles theater, by posting on Better Lemons and sharing their favorite shows and their reviews on social media.

We are especially grateful for all the Registered Critics who took their time this past year to rate shows they have reviewed to be included in our LemonMeter.

There were 1200 productions registered on Better Lemons in 2019! Out of those registered shows, over 600 received at least one review from a Critic and 201 were reviewed by Audience members. Out of these shows, we selected the winners that were most favored by Critics and/or Audiences.

Here is a list with all the Better Lemons SWEET productions of 2019:

The Better Lemons DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(33 shows out of 1200 productions received
a DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter rating
from audience and critics)

TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM at the Whitefire Theatre
41 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

IF WE RUN at the Lounge Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

RAISED BY WOLVES at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
30 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

FERTILE: A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE EXPECTATION OF PROCREATION currently at the Whitefire Theatre
27 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
8 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HOLLYWOODN'T at the Santa Monica Playhouse
20 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE BULLY PROBLEM at the Arena Theatre - Theatre of Arts
17 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
9 Critics reviews - 94% Sweet

THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR at the Complex Theatre
15 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

THE ELEPHANT MAN at the El Portal Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet
7 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

MONO/POLY at the Odyssey Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

MASTERS OF THE DARK REALM at the Actors Workout Studio
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

BUNNY THE ELF LIVE! currently at the Stages in Fullerton
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR at the Complex Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

A BIT MUCH at the Lounge Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

(IM)PERFEKT at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

BLACKBOXING at the Complex Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

MIL GRUS at the McCadden Place Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TRANSFERENCE at The Broadwater
9 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SCRAPS at the Matrix Theatre
8 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
15 Critics reviews - 87% Sweet

SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS at The Broadwater
8 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

NEIL SIMON'S MUSICAL FOOLS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

ROMEO AND JULIET IN HELL at the Actors Workout Studio
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
8 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

FALLEN SAINTS: SALEM at the Actors Workout Studio
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
7 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SAVING CAIN at the Hudson Theatres
6 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

THE LAST CROISSANT at The Broadwater
5 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREYA'S LAST DANCE at the Hudson Theatres
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE at the Complex Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

CLARISSANT at the Atwater Village Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 88% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CIRQUE DU GISELLE at the Assistance League Theater
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

BATTER UP: MY BRAIN ON BASEBALL at studio/stage
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

JOAN AND WHAT DID THEY SAY - AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at Theatre Unlimited (T.U. Studios)
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREASON at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

45 MILLIGRAMS at The Broadwater
3 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

The Better Lemons Audience #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(32 shows out of 1200 productions received
a minimum of 10 audience reviews
and have received a SWEET #LemonMeter rating by the Audience)

TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM at the Whitefire Theatre
41 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

IF WE RUN at the Lounge Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

RAISED BY WOLVES at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
30 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

FERTILE: A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE EXPECTATION OF PROCREATION currently at the Whitefire Theatre
27 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

AN EXCUSE TO BEHAVE BADLY at the Lounge Theatre
22 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

HOLLYWOODN'T at the Santa Monica Playhouse
20 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THE BULLY PROBLEM at the Arena Theatre - Theatre of Arts
17 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

TELENOVELA at the Actors Workout Studio
16 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

AMERICAN STRANGER THE MUSICAL at Studio C
16 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR at the Complex Theatre
15 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MONO/POLY at the Odyssey Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MASTERS OF THE DARK REALM at the Actors Workout Studio
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BUNNY THE ELF LIVE! currently at the Stages in Fullerton
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR Complex Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet

THE ELEPHANT MAN at the El Portal Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet

MANDY PICKS A HUSBAND at the Actors Company
13 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

A BIT MUCH at the Lounge Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

ASK A BLACK WOMAN at Studio C
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BIRTHDAY at the Actors Company
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

(IM)PERFEKT at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

LEAVING PRINCE CHARMING at the Lounge Theatre
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

ENERJOYCE...EVOLUTION OF A PISCES BABY BOOMER at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

YES. NO. MAYBE. at the Complex Theatre
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BECOMING PEACE: A ONE WOMAN DRAMEDY ABOUT POWER, CULTURE, VIOLENCE AND NONVIOLENCE at the Lounge Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

CAT SH!T CRAZY...FROM HOT MESS TO HOT MAMA IN FOUR SIMPLE CATS at the Whitefire Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

OCTOPI WALL STREET at the New American Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

EMBRACE LOVE FREE at the Santa Monica Playhouse
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BLACKBOXING at the Santa Monica Playhouse
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MIL GRUS at the McCadden Place Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

The Better Lemons Critics #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(92 shows out of 1200 productions received
a minimum of 10 critic reviews
and have received a SWEET #LemonMeter rating by the Critics)

DANIEL'S HUSBAND at The Fountain Theatre
26 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

WITCH at the Geffen Playhouse
21 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

HANDJOB by the Echo Theater Company
21 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Ahmanson Theatre
21 Critics reviews - 76% Sweet

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN by the Antaeus Theatre Company
20 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

SKINTIGHT at the Geffen Playhouse
19 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE by the Antaeus Theatre Company
19 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at The Fountain Theatre
19 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS at the Ahmanson Theatre
18 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

MATTHEW BOURNE'S SWAN LAKE at the Ahmanson Theatre
18 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

1776 THE MUSICAL at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
18 Critics reviews - 94% Sweet

BRONCO BILLY - THE MUSICAL at the Skylight Theatre Company
18 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

AN INSPECTOR CALLS at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
18 Critics reviews - 81% Sweet

DEADLY at the Sacred Fools Theater Company
18 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

ON BECKETT at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HELLO DOLLY at the Pantages Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

READY STEADY YETI GO at the Rogue Machine Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 82% Sweet

TOO MUCH SUN at the Odyssey Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 82% Sweet

SALVAGE at the Lounge Theatre
16 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

LOOT at the Odyssey Theatre
16 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

ANNE, A NEW PLAY at the Museum of Tolerance
16 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES at the Geffen Playhouse
16 Critics reviews - 84% Sweet

NICK DEAR'S FRANKENSTEIN at A Noise Within
16 Critics reviews - 78% Sweet

RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL at the Pasadena Playhouse
15 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

INDECENT at the Ahmanson Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
15 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

DANA H. at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

EIGHT NIGHTS by the Antaeus Theatre Company
15 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

FALSETTOS at the Ahmanson Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

A KID LIKE JAKE by the IAMA Theatre Company
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

LACKAWANNA BLUES at the Mark Taper Forum
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

HYPE MAN at The Fountain Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

SCRAPS at the Matrix Theatre
15 critics reviews - 87% Sweet

OTHELLO at A Noise Within
15 Critics reviews - 80% Sweet

PARADISE at the Matrix Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

LINDA VISTA at the Mark Taper Forum
15 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

AUGUST WILSON'S JITNEY at the Mark Taper Forum
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

DIANA OF DOBSON'S by the Antaeus Theatre Company
14 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

MOBY DICK - REHEARSED at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum
14 Critics reviews - 89% Sweet

THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER by Deaf West Theatre
14 Critics reviews - 89% Sweet

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at the Pasadena Playhouse
14 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

TWO TRAINS RUNNING AT MATRIX at the Matrix Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

IN CIRCLES at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TWELFTH NIGHT at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

RAGTIME at the Chance Theater
13 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

NEIL SIMON'S MUSICAL FOOLS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

WITNESS UGANDA at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

THE JOY WHEEL at the Ruskin Group Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE WOLVES by the Echo Theater Company
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

FAITH HEALER at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE NICETIES at the Geffen Playhouse
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

ARGONAUTIKA at A Noise Within
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE PRODUCERS at the Celebration Theatre @ The Lex
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

FEFU AND HER FRIENDS at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

LIGHTS OUT: NAT "KING" COLE at the Geffen Playhouse
13 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

HAPPY DAYS at the Mark Taper Forum
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CANYON at theLos Angeles Theatre Center
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE VANDAL at the Chance Theater
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

DEATH OF A SALESMAN at the Ruskin Group Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

NANCY F***ING REAGAN at the Secret Rose Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

AMERICA ADJACENT at theSkylight Theatre Company
12 Critics reviews - 83% Sweet

DEFENDERS at The Broadwater
12 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

ANASTASIA at the Pantages Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

JULIUS WEEZER at the El Portal Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO at the Pacific Resident Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

BURIED CHILD at A Noise Within
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HERSHEY FELDER: A PARIS LOVE STORY at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

ANNA IN THE TROPICS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
11 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

THE GLASS MENAGERIE at A Noise Within
11 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

AT THE TABLE at The Road Theatre Company
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

MISS LILLY GETS BONED at the Rogue Machine Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

SISTERS IN LAW at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

THE GREAT LEAP at the Pasadena Playhouse
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at the Odyssey Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 86% Sweet

M. BUTTERFLY at the South Coast Repertory
11 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER by The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREYA'S LAST DANCE at the Hudson Theatres
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

DAMES AT SEA by the Sierra Madre Playhouse
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

NEVER IS NOW at the Skylight Theatre Company
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

THE NEW ONE at the Ahmanson Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

FRIENDS WITH GUNS at The Road Theatre Company
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL by 5 Star Theatricals
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

DISNEY'S FROZEN at the Pantages Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by the 24th STreet Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

SPECIAL at the Theatre of Note
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

SWEENEY TODD - THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET at the South Coast Repertory
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKE-FILLED ROOM at Theatre 40
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

LOOSE KNIT by The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 80% Sweet


Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “Last Call” at Atwater Village Theatre

In Kenney's semi-autobiographical dramedy, the Vaughn family's go-to defense mechanism of sarcasm and mordant humor falls short when the aging parents hatch a not-so-funny way to avoid the retirement home.* Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Last Call” at Atwater Village Theatre, extended through Mar 2nd. 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

Stage Raw Announces its 2018 Theater Awards Nominees

The 2018 Stage Raw Theater Awards celebrate excellence on the Los Angeles stages in venues of 99-seats or under. This fourth annual edition includes productions that opened between January 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.
Stage Raw is a community funded professional journalism website that was created in response to the decline of arts coverage in local mainstream and alternative media.
A catered nominees reception and Stage Raw fundraiser party is being held at the The Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz, on Tuesday, July 24, 7 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $100 (which includes complimentary admission to the Theater Awards ceremony), in support of Stage Raw. All nominees are invited as complimentary guests of Stage Raw.
(Nominees include everybody whose name appears on the list below; all actors and understudies named in the program for all ensemble categories; all actors, understudies, directors, playwrights, stage managers, choreographers, designers and producers in the categories of Best Revival, Best Musical and Best Production; and in the category of Production Design: all producers, directors, and designers.)
The evening will include live music and performances by Burglars of Hamm; Cheray O'Neal; Padua Playwrights; and Kristina Wong.
At the nominees reception, there will also be a silent auction of drawings created for this event by Alan Mandell, Ken Sawyer, French Stewart, Vanessa Stewart, Richard Fancy, Jon Mullich, Jon Lawrence Rivera, Stephen Sachs, Simon Levy, Gary Grossman, Kristina Wong, Michael A. Shepperd, Ken Werther, David Elzer, Jaime Robledo, Leo Marks, Nike Doukas, Tom Jacobson, Kirsten Vansgness, David Melville, Jessica Hanna, Steven Stanley, Philip Littell, Mark Seldis, Katharine Noone, Tony Abatemarco, Ann Closs-Farley, Herbert Siguenza, Jules Aaron, and more.
The Awards ceremony is slated for Monday night, August 20, at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, hosted by Coeurage Theatre Company, directed by Jer Adrianne Lelliott, and celebrating the theme of “community.” Tickets are $30.
Tickets for both events can be found at Eventbrite.com/e/stage-raw-theater-awards-tickets-46961390784#tickets, or visit StageRaw.com and press the “2018 Theater Awards” tab.
The 2018 Nominees are:
FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
Guillermo Cienfuegos, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Bjørn Johnson, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Bjørn Johnson, Red Speedo, Road Theatre Company
Bjørn Johnson, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Edgar Landa, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Doug Oliphant, Br'er Cotton, Zephyr Theatre
Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN
Omolara Abode, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Nicholas Acciani, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
J. Walt Adamcyk and Hannah Beavers, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Benjamin Durham, This Land, Company of Angels
Corwin Evans, The Art Couple, Sacred Fools Theater Company
Hana Sooyeon Kim, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Hana Sooyeon Kim, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Yee Eun Nam, Br'er Cotton, Zephyr Theatre
Tom Ontiveros, The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
SOUND DESIGN
Joseph V. Calarco, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Jeff Gardner, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Christopher Moscatiello, The Devil's Wife, The Skylight Theatre
Christopher Moscatiello, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
John Nobori, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Robert A. Ramirez, Master Class, The Garry Marshall Theatre
John Zalewski, I Carry Your Heart, Bootleg Theatre
LIGHTING DESIGN
Brandon Baruch, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
John E.D. Bass, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Elizabeth Harper, The House In Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Elizabeth Harper and Rose Malone, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Matt Richter, I'm Not A Comedian... I'm Lenny Bruce, Theatre 68
Pablo Santiago-Brandwein, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
Andrew Schmedake, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Andrew Schmedake, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Andrew Schmedake, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
COSTUME DESIGN
Wendell C. Carmichael, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Allison Dillard, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Christine Cover Ferro, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Ashphord Jackoway, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Terri A. Lewis, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Linda Muggeridge, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Michael Mullen, Fixed, Echo Theater Company
Lena Sands, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Jeff Gardner, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Kangaroo Rat (Tim Desrosiers and Anna Bell), Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Bernie Sirelson, Alysia Michelle James, and Elisa Rosin, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Surrija, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
CHOREOGRAPHY
Joel Daavid, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Joyce Guy, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Carolyn Katz, Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
Michael Marchak, Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Jen Oundjian, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Roman Pantoja, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Anne-Marie Talmadge, Alina Bolshakova, Leslie Charles Roy Jr., and the NMA Ensemble, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
MUSICAL DIRECTION
Jake Anthony, The View Upstairs, Celebration Theatre
Gina Belafonte, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Jennifer Lin, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Dylan Price, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Lyndon Pugeda, Honky Tonk Laundry, Hudson Mainstage Theatre
Dimitri Toscas, Master Class, The Gary Marshall Theatre
SET DESIGN
Nicholas Acciani, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Joel Daavid, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Justin Huen, This Land, Company of Angels
John Iacovelli, Bled For The Household Truth, Rogue Machine Theatre
John Iacovelli, El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
John Iacovelli, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
David Mauer, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Jeff McLaughlin, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Victoria Tam, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
SOLO PERFORMANCE
Giovanni Adams, Love Is A Dirty Word, VS Theatre
Alex Alpharaoh, WET: A DACAmented Journey, Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.
Bryonn Bain, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Keight Leighn, (A)partment 8, The ABC Project
Ronnie Marmo, I'm Not a Comedian, I'm Lenny Bruce, Theatre 68
Tina Preston, Don't You Ever Call My Anything But Mother, Open Fist Theatre Company
TWO PERSON PERFORMANCE
Martin Rayner & Martyn Stanbridge, Freud's Last Session, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Misty Cotton & Bets Malone, Honky Tonk Laundry, Hudson Mainstage Theatre
Tim Cummings & Brian Henderson, The House In Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Gary Patent & Dan Via, Plunge, Son of Semele Theater
James Eckhouse & Graham Sibley, Redline, IAMA Theatre Company
Alex Hernandez & Tonya Pinkins, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
SUPPORTING MALE PERFORMANCE
Noel Arthur, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Ryan Brophy, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Eduardo Fernandez-Baumann, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Harry Groener, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rob Nagle, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Jeris Poindexter, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Gabriel Romero, The Madres, The Skylight Theatre
Montae Russell, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Desean Kevin Terry, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Adolphus Ward, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
MALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Josh Clark, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Drew Droege, Die, Mommie, Die!, Celebration Theatre
Alex Elliott-Funk, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
Alex Fernandez, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Leo Marks, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Roman Pantoja, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Darrett Sanders, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
Joel Scher, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
LEADING MALE PERFORMANCE
Daniel Bess, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Benjamin Burdick, Bled For The Household Truth, Rogue Machine Theatre
Joe Hart, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Bruce Ladd, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Ben Martin, Walking To Buchenwald, Open Fist Theatre
Esau Pritchett, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Graham Sibley, Redline, IAMA Theatre Company
Adam Silver, Exit Strategy, The Los Angeles LGBT Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre
Desean Kevin Terry, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Dawn Didawick, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Emily Goss, Forever Bound, Atwater Village Theatre
Ella Joyce, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Ciera Payton, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Maya Lynne Robinson, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Maya Lynne Robinson, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Michaela Slezak,Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers, The Skylight Theatre
Cheryl Umaña, This Land, Company of Angels
Karen Malina White, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Christine Woods, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
FEMALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Anna Lamadrid, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Debra Jo Rupp, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Paige Lindsey White, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Corryn Cummins, Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers, The Skylight Theatre
Carolyn Hennesy, Master Class, The Garry Marshall Theatre
Margarita Lamas, The Madres, The Skylight Theatre
Nan McNamara,33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Jaimi Paige, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Ashley Romans, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Camille Spirlin, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Heidi Sulzman, Bugaboo and The Silent One, The Lounge Theatre
Miranda Wynne, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
ADAPTATION
Nambi E. Kelley, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Mary Zimmerman, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
PLAYWRITING
Giovanni Adams, Love Is A Dirty Word, VS. Theatre
Alex Alpharaoh, WET: A DACAmented Journey, Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.
Bekah Brunstetter, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Alessandro Camon, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
Bernardo Cubría, The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
Leslye Headland, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
Jeremy J. Kamps, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Dan O'Brien, The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Evangeline Ordaz, This Land, Company of Angels
Marja-Lewis Ryan, Bugaboo and the Silent One, The Lounge Theatre
PRODUCTION DESIGN
Caught, Think Tank Gallery
Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
This Land, Company of Angels
Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
COMEDY ENSEMBLE
Bad Jews, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Supper, Theatre of NOTE
With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
ENSEMBLE
33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Exit Strategy, The Los Angeles LGBT Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
COMEDY DIRECTION
Lindsay Allbaugh, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Jennifer Chambers, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Guillermo Cienfuegos, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Lisa James, El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
Jessica Kubzansky, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Dana Resnick, Bad Jews, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Felix Solís, The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
DIRECTION
Andi Chapman, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Gregg T. Daniel, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, Caught, Think Tank Gallery
Carol Katz, Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
Thomas James O'Leary, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Robert Mandel, Freud's Last Session, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Michael Michetti, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Jaime Robledo, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Michael A. Shepperd,Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Annie Tippe, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
MUSICAL OF THE YEAR
Dessa Rose, Chromolume Theatre
Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
REVIVAL OF THE YEAR
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
Caught, Think Tank Gallery
The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
This Land, Company of Angels
Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
QUEEN OF THE ANGELS
Dolores Chavez
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Norman Lloyd


Now registered this week on the Better Lemons Calendar through July 1, 2018

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

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