Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 25 - March 1, 2020


Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Immersive, Solo, Readings, Kid-friendly shows, and more now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


The Serpent

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LA Fest by Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA

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The Bindings

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Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's

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Soul Trek

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Five Pieces of Paper: Stories my Hungarian grandmother refused to tell me and other family tales. A Love tribute to my Holocaust surviving grandmother

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Dohee Lee: MU/巫: 9 Goddesses

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Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders

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Beat Bugs JV at Theatre School @ North Coast Rep

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The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

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The Colony Comedy Series – Hosted by Damon Williams

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Sex, Addiction & Love in the 21st Century at The Braid

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Sex, Addiction & Love in the 21st Century at dnj Gallery

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Man of God

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Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

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Show Up, Kids! Interactive Family Comedy

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Geronimo: Life on the Reservation

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Theresa Rebeck's "Seminar"

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Orphée

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 17 - 24, 2020


Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Variety shows, and more now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Law & Order: The Musical!

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Love in Bloom

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Dead Man's Cell Phone

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Twisted Broadway

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Improv Night

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Edith Presents

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Seussical

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Studio: Spring 2020

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Dahlak Brathwaite: Try/Step/Trip

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James Rushford: Prey Calling / Daniel Corral: Concerto for Having Fun with Elvis on Stage

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Tales of Modern Motherhood Part 2

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Murder Mafia

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Hitler's Tasters

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Alice in Wonderland

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Worst-Case Scenario

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A Winter's Tale

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help

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Effing Robots: How I Taught the A.I. to Stop Worrying and Love Humans

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Mama Mama Can't You See

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The Bogeyman Within

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Measure for Measure

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – January 27 - February 3, 2020


Theatrical, One-Person, Musicals, and Comedy shows, Music, Dance, and Cabaret now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Sugar Houses

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Looking for Leroy

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Cafe Vida

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The Andrews Brothers

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Taming the Lion

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Birthday Wish

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Uncle Vanya

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Matt & Ben

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The Secret Comedy of Women

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Our Man in Santiago

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Shades of War The play

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Melinda Doolittle - The Great American Soul Book

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The World is My Home: The Life of Paul Robeson

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A Good Day to Fly

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – January 20 - 26, 2020


Theatrical, One-Person, Musicals, and Comedy shows, Music, Dance, Cabaret, and Theatre Festivals registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


HAIR

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Michael Griffiths - In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

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gUnTOPIA

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Wild at Hart

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It's Only A Play

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Michael Griffiths - Cole: A Tribute to Cole Porter

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34th Annual Robby Awards

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Linda Purl and Her Big Band Romance - at the Catalina Bar & Grill

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Linda Purl and Her Big Band Romance - at Martinis Above Fourth

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I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play

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Glass Ceilings

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

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THE $5 SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

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Enerjoyce...Evolution of a Pisces Baby Boomer

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Lying with Badgers

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It Shoulda Been You

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Solofest 2020

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IN MY MIND'S EYE

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LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL

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Rorschach Fest

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Dada Divas

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West Adams

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Jane Austin's Emma

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Life in Boobs

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – December 23 - 29, 2019


Theatrical, One-Person, Filmed Theatre, and Immersive and Interactive shows now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


PUFFS

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Frida

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FERTILE

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Infinitely Yours

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TESSERACT: An Interview with Silas Riener

Princeton University's Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts is, by my estimation, an ideal artistic education.  It is the perfect blend of practical and theoretical training, emphasizing an interdisciplinary model for learning about and developing work.  Some of the most interesting, exciting, and daring new practitioners - of theatre, of dance, or performance, visual, and cinematic art - are products of the Lewis Center.  I am a proud alum of the program.  And while I was there, I had my heroes.  As I've mentioned in articles past, I oftentimes look to dance and dancers as inspiration for my works in dramatic writing.  I feel that dance teaches you about pure storytelling: it is bodies moving and striving through space without the trappings of dialogue, monologue, set, elaborate prop and world building.  It's raw.  Some of my favorite artists are dancers.  And some of my favorite dancers are Princeton folks.
Not long ago, Silas Riener debuted his collaborative venture Tesseract at REDCAT in DTLA.  The piece was a stunning, genre-bending melding of dance, film, and live video recording. It was divided into two movements: one on film and another involving dance and video generated  in the moment on stage.  A major motif in Tesseract was the interplay between human objective and subjective experience and imagined space-bound future.  The piece mined this motif to not only imagine an extra-terrestrial future for the human race but also to show how human interaction, particularly bodily interaction, has a transcendent effect on man's relationship to time, space, and place.
One of my favorite interludes in the performance was performed in the video.  It was a duet between Silas and co-choreographer Rashaun Mitchell.  In the duet, Silas and Rashaun explored the corporeal and otherworldly nature of intimacy, particularly queer intimacy.  Screening this segment on film rather than performing it live actually had a magnifying effect on the viewer - forcing us to grapple in a larger-than-life way with the closeness and ecstasy of torsos, toes, heads and legs touching and galvanizing one another with human heat and electricity.  In short, it was riveting.  And as a fellow member of Princeton's Lewis Center, I sat at REDCAT proud to know that I came from the same stock as this extraordinary artist.
Before Silas jetted back East to debut Tesseract at BAM, I took some time to ask him about our mutual Princeton past, his storied work with Merce Cunningham, the present and the future.
Roger Q. Mason (RQM): I always reflect fondly on your work in the Program in Dance at our mutual alma mater, Princeton. How did your time at Princeton help prepare you for your work in the dance world?
Silas Riener (SR): I think working in dance within the context of a liberal arts institution prepared me for the kind of critical thinking and wide ranging reference points in contemporary practice. There were other ways that it didn't prepare me for how to work as a dancer in this field. Those things I had to learn by making mistakes all on my own.
RQM: What is one of your fondest experiences working with Merce Cunningham?
SR: I've always thought that dancing for Merce in a way ruins you a little bit for the rest of your viewing experience, because you spend so much time with the same works, watching them and dancing them over and over and over again. It's a kind of deep meditative experience that doesn't exist anywhere else.
RQM: I'm really excited by the hybridizing of dance and technology in Tesseract.  What was the process like merging live performance with tech-based storytelling?
SR: The process of building Tesseract was a constant back and forth examining the tech elements and possibilities, and seeing how the dance itself was responding to them, or creating situations for a camera interaction to exist, and building the dance from there. They are deeply intertwined, and one really can't exist without the other
RQM: What's next for you?
SR: Tesseract premieres in New York City next week (Dec 13-16 at BAM) and in January Rashaun and I return to California to premiere Desire Lines: Retrofit at SFMOMA, a durational installation work.
 


THREE QUICK HIPSTER TIPS FOR THE WEEKEND

As usual, there's so much going on in the SoCal area this weekend, including a dangerous fire (try to avoid that).  For those who want a memorable experience at the theater, here are 3 options - all have some humor in them, though only one is a laugh out-loud comedy.

 

George Wyner and Richard Fancy are brothers in "Daytona". Photo: John Perrin Flynn

DAYTONA by Oliver Cotton, directed by Elina de Santos

There are so many great older actors in Los Angeles, and far too few plays that really give them anything to perform.  But Daytona at Roguemachine has three terrific roles, which are inhabited to the hilt by George Wyner and Sharron Shayne as a long-married couple and Richard Fancy as Mr Wyner's long-absent brother, under the pitch-perfect direction of Elina de Santos.  The play takes place in Brooklyn in 1986, where Joe and Elli are preparing for their dance competition the next evening, a hobby they've cultivated for the past 15 years.  Then Elli goes out to pick up her dress from her sister, where she will also spend the night.  Suddenly the downstairs buzzer sounds.  Joe is shocked to hear the voice of his brother Billy, who he hasn't heard from for the past 30 years, and whose entrance will shake up the easy-going world of Joe and Elli.  I completely agree with Kathleen Foley's review in the LA Times that the play has some major problems, most of which crop up in the Second Act, when the writing begins to waver and drift.  But, as Ms. Foley asserts, the actors couldn't be better, and their moment-to-moment character work is thrilling to watch.  Certainly Richard Fancy - who I've seen in numerous shows at Pacific Resident Theatre and elsewhere around town - has never seemed more focused and relaxed, having the time of his life.  This is a play and a production that will likely stay in your mind long after the houselights have come up.

UPDATE: DAYTONA has to close earlier than expected, on Monday October 16, but Roguemachine is looking to move and reopen it, so your support is essential.

Karen Finley in the The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery (Photo: Carolina Restrepo)

THE EXPANDED UNICORN GRATITUDE MYSTERY by Karen Finley at Redcat

Karen Finley, the author and performer of the one woman show at the Redcat in DTLA for this weekend only, is herself something of a unicorn on the American performance art scene, part stand-up comic, part Oracle at Delphi.  She came to public prominence in the early 1980s as one of the NEA 4 - 4 performance artists of highly political and controversial works who had received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, much to the disgust of conservative senator Jesse Helms.  She has continued to develop her work far out of the mainstream (by choice), using sexual imagery in unexpected ways (just google "Finley yams" and "Finley chocolate" for  more detailed accounts) to bring attention to the glorification of rape and other acts of misogyny in the central nervous system of American life.  Pretty much alone among her peers, she has managed to maintain her integrity and develop her metaphors in a series of performance art pieces and books and recordings.  That alone would provide a good reason to catch her new show at Redcat, if you can still score a ticket.  But this is something different than I've seen from Ms. Finley before.  (I caught both her yam and her chocolate performances.)  There is no nudity this time - that's a first, at least in my limited experience.  There are three sections to her performance, and the first two are funnier than anything I've seen from her.  These satirize American consumerism and American politics, respectively.  In the political section, she takes on Hillary Clinton, Trump and their campaigns, to devestating effect.  The third (and most powerful) section is Karen Finley being Karen Finley - dispensing with the clown costumes and the wigs and assuming the role of Cassandra the Seer, peering poetically into the darkness of the American soul.  What she sees is dark indeed - a hollowness which has to be filled up with things, a death-wish that yearns for mass destruction.  Her performance is so dense with references and layers of meaning that it is difficult to take in in one sitting.  On the other hand, who knows when you'll get another chance?

Jimmy Fowlie as Mia Dolan at the Celebration Theatre

SO LONG BOULDER CITY by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black, performed by Mr Fowlie and directed by Mr Black

The title of this meta-comedy will be immediately recognizable to any avid fan of Damien Chazelle's film LA LA LAND.  In the film, Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone (who won an Academy Award for her performance), writes herself a one-woman show called "So Long Boulder City" in a desperate attempt to boost her faltering career.  Only 9 people show up - none of whom is her boyfriend Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling.  However, her ploy works out better than she ever expected, since one of the attendees is a high-powered casting agent.  All of this is such far-fetched nonsense - as I wrote about in one of my first columns for this website - that it seems to be crying out for lampooning, and this show by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black more than fills the bill.  While not everything works, the parts that are funny are howlingly so - as in one bit that features Abraham Lincoln's niece.  Personally, I could see anothere way to go with this parody, that would hone closer to the character of Mia Dolan and evoke Ms Stone's performance more acutely.  But this broadly farcical approach works too, and Mr Fowlie is a hoot as an untalented LA actress who is too in love with herself and her "dreams" to even notice how terrible an actress she really is.  I highly recommend this if you want to laugh your ass off at one-person shows in general and at the LA entertainment industry scene in particular.  But it's better if you know the source material well - or can go with someone who does.

 


Sondheim and Faustin Linyekula! Two Upcoming Shows to Put on Your Calendar

Love is hard to explain.  Sometimes even to oneself.

Well, not all love.  Everyone understands loving babies. And parents' love for their children in general.

And love for dogs and cats.  And other pets.  And food.  (But please, not pets as food.)

But loving theater?  It's different in LA and NYC.  Yes, that's a generalization, but I've generally found it to be true.

Illustration: when I first came out here, I was looking for a writing agent.  I met with a guy at William Morris (before Endeavor was even a word that required a capital E).   I asked him if he represented stage scripts as well as film and TV.  He gave me a long look, as if translating my sentence into his language, then said, "No, but we respect it."

A lot of people out here are like that.  They're like, "Oh yes, I really wish I could see more plays, they are so much  more substantial and Human than movies and TV, but I just don't have the time."  That's respect.  But respect is not love.  No explanation is required in NYC when singing the praises of a show you've seen.  Before you've reached your noun, your friend has his or her phone out, checking on ticket availability.

Love is unreasoning and compulsive, love feeds on itself.  It's not necessarily good for you - in fact it usually isn't - but it's a surefire reason to get up in the morning and to go out at night.

So for those who are afflicted with theater-love - for those who love the avant-garde and for those who love Stephen Sondheim - here are two upcoming events.  Both are only for a few performances and could be easily missed.  My job as the Twisted Hipster is to make sure you are well informed.

September 21-24: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC IN CONCERT AT THE COLONY THEATRE IN BURBANK

One of Stephen Sondheim's most beloved shows, with a book by the always-masterful Hugh Wheeler, the Broadway production received Six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  This concert production will be directed by Laura Stribling, with musical direction by Jennifer Lin.  The cast includes Liza Baron, Angela Baumgardner, Carly Bracco, Marc Ginsburg, Erica Hanrahan-Ball, Michelle Holmes, Taj Jageraj, Jennifer Kumiyama, Stanton Morales, Joey Nisivoccia, Sara St Pierre, Cloie Wyatt Taylor, Peyton Thomas Tucker, Alison Whitney and Robert Yacko.  I saw Ginsburg and Morales perform in their recent Fringe production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and they were both in fine voice, outstanding.  If the rest of the cast is up to their level, it should be a must-see for Sondheim-lovers and afficionados of musicals.  Click here for ticket info.

 

September 28-30: REDCAT SEASON BEGINS WITH CONGOLESE DANCE-THEATRE-MASTER FAUSTIN LINYEKULA'S NEW WORK

"Faustin Linyekula is one of the most powerful, death-defyingly deft, and determined artists on the planet." -  theater director Peter Sellars

REDCAT, CalArts downtown center for contemporary arts, begins its new season with a bang by presenting Sur les traces de Dinozord (In Search of Dinozord), a new work by Congoleses choreographer and writer Faustin Linyekula/Studio Kabako.

According to the Redcat's press release, "this dance-theatre work nurtures hope in the face of the ongoing legacy of war and ruin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Scored with fragments of Mozart's Requiem, metronomic taps on a typewriter, and live vocals by rising opera star Serge Kakudji.

This is a poetic, political fairy tale. ... Through exquisite movement and text, Linyekula and his exceptional performers delve into the wrenching history of the Congo and their own childhood stories, as they mourn the loss of a friend.  In the process, they are hoping to fashion a new kind of myth that is a truer reflection of their lives."

Only 3 performances.  Click here for ticket info on Sur les traces de Dinozord at Redcat.