Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – April 29 - May 5, 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.

How I Became A Superhero

“...An ensemble comedy about a couple that leaves the world of online activism and leaps into the business of vigilante justice! Running at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival in June, this is a bright show for anyone who has ever dreamed about being amazing...a family friendly comedy that brings comic books to life, with comic book page sets, sound effects, and lights.”

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SugarFree: Foster Care Cognitive Dissonance

“SugarFree Foster Care combines the difficult journey of foster youth through my perspective as both a social worker and foster child...interspersed [with] poetry, personal narrative, humor, and real-life experiences for a theater experience that tugs at the heartstrings of our greatest human needs in the midst of the social welfare system's inadequacies.”

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Lend Me A Tenor

“Winner of 3 Tony Awards and 4 Drama Desk Awards LEND ME A TENOR combines a chain-reaction of mistaken identity, plot twists, double entendres and the constant slamming of many doors to create one of the funniest farces to grace the American stage in the last 30 years. A sensation on Broadway and in London's West End, LEND ME A TENOR pays homage to the madcap screwball comedies of the 1930's, guaranteed to leave audiences howling hysterically with laughter and walking out the door with a warm smile. ”

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GEORGE.

“Told through the creation of his first three films, ‘George' is the story of how a young man from Modesto, California became George Lucas. With each act following a different film, George will learn all of the skills that eventual led to the creation of ‘Star Wars.' ”

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Raised By Wolves

“You learn to survive quick when you're being dragged behind a team of sled dogs. A comedy about a girl and her dogsled team navigating the rocky terrain of growing up and her quest to become the alpha of her own pack. ”

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Widows Anonymous

“In the circle that is Widows Anonymous, five characters come together to share stories, secrets and the brutal humor that is being a widow in modern times. As they discover, there is no short cut, no alternate route, and the only way out is through. Welcome to the front lines.”

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Bat Knight!

“The dynamic duo have finally made it to the Hollywood Fringe Festival! Little do Batman and Robin know, the Joker's latest scheme will give them the ride of a lifetime. Race through the streets of Gotham with Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Superman, Alfred the Butler, and many more members of the Bat Family in this dark and hilarious interactive musical parody that puts you, the audience, in the middle of the action. Bring the whole family to battle The Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, the Penguin, and the rest of the Dark Knight's rogues gallery, and celebrate the Batman universe in this side splitting night of Bat-Mania! ”

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Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse

“A hack director and a snooty actress stumble 300 years into the future. America has been taken over by a fascist government, which believes that entertainment is the key to control. As the only remaining people on earth with any artistic talent the director and actress are forced to put on a play. But if they fail to entertain the masses they will be executed on live television. ”

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TOBINCON

“Actor and comedian Tobin Mitnick sheds light on three con men that are using their style-savvy to manipulate a generation of young Americans through the unregulated Wild West that is the Internet. In its world premiere, one-man comedy TOBINCON dives into the grotesque and hilarious world of online grifters—the Body Prophet, the Rhetorical Bad Boy, and the Compassionologist—with sketch and stand-up, in order to show us that the game may have changed, but the players are all still here. But Mitnick also answers a lingering question: When you spend so much time rubbing shoulders with these types, will it rub off on you? In other words, can you con yourself? Only TOBINCON has the answers!”

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CINDERELLA TOPSY TURVY – A Tender Gender Bender Romantic Musical Fairy Story for Pride 2019

“A Tender Gender Bender Romantic Musical Fairy Story. A delightful re-imagining of the classic Cinderella tale brings you upside-down casting – half original practices, half Gilbert and Sullivan, half just plain fun. Meet a handsome Prince, silly stepsisters, a befuddled king, and an out-of-the-box steampunk Fairygodmother. Added delights are the outrageously playful period costumes and the heart-warming romance that blooms with the assistance of a glass slipper, a feather duster, and a truly magical wand. A gentle prod at stereotypical gender roles, this light-hearted send-up is a hilarious twist on the classic tale.”

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La Traviata

“Giuseppe Verdi and Librettist Francesco Maria Piave's classic Italian opera based on the play La Dame aux Camélias adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas...Southern California native Christopher Job...makes his L.A. Opera debut. After a decade of work at the Metropolitan Opera, and making two appearances last season with the L.A. Phil.”

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The Same Room

“'A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity…' Well, not quite. Thyma and Aspid find themselves trapped in a barren room with two locked doors, but where are they? What sets them free? And most importantly, what happens after this? 'The Same Room' explores human compassion in a new light and begs the question- What becomes of us when we refuse to heal?”

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Lincoln 2020

“Like a lot of people today, campaign manager Tess Baker is sick of politics. She's just about ready to throw in the when somebody wakes up a candidate she can work with – Abraham Lincoln. Will he be a good President in 2020 America? Will he even win? You decide! That's right, the play has two endings and your vote counts!”

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Bunny the Elf LIVE!

“A Musical Theatre Nerd, forced by her family to give up her dreams, gets a real job in the real world… as a toy store Christmas elf. An uplifting coming of age comedy about finding where one's talents, or lack thereof, fit in the world. Christi Pedigo's YouTube sensation Bunny the Elf will be sharing her elfing journey LIVE! On stage! With new material and a special update on what's next for Bunny.”

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FEELING LUCKY

“A comedy about men and women straddling the elusive line between true love and a broken heart who discover that in the game of love what you see is not always what you get.”

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Victress Burlesque Presents: ShipwRACKed

“Introducing Victress, the L.A.-based comedy burlesque troupe, flipping traditional burlesque on its head with a character-fueled strip show. The premise is simple: Comedic monologues lead into cheeky choreographed dance numbers that will make your heart go pitter-pat. Their newest show, “ShipwRACKed,” premieres in a 5-show limited run as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It's a naughty'cal adventure stacked with quips, ships, n' nips. Get ready for a burlesque show like you've never seen before.”

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And Now It's All This!

“A play about when John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus and the fallout that ensued.”

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A Walk in the Woods at North Coast Repertory Theatre

“What really goes on behind the scenes of tense arms negotiations between powerful nations? Set in the midst of the Cold War, Lee Blessing's gripping play, A WALK IN THE WOODS, is especially relevant today. With talks seemingly at an impasse, the American and Soviet negotiators agree to meet informally while strolling through the peaceful forest. Their revealing and absorbing conversations, laced with warmth and humor, evolve through debate and discord, exploring unexpected and uncharted territory. Nominated for a Pulitzer and a Tony Award, Blessing's dramatic comedy was inspired by historic conversations between negotiators Paul H. Nitze and Yuli A Kvitsinsky who left the official 1982 Geneva sessions for an unofficial “walk in the woods.” For those yearning for a more enlightened world, this play is shrewdly observant and resonates with the ring of political truth ”

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Impro Theatre's Twilight Zone UnScripted at North Coast Rep

“From the darkest corners of reality, to the land of the unexplained – Impro Theatre's Twilight Zone Unscripted pays homage to Rod Serling's breakthrough sci-fi series “The Twilight Zone.” Enter the wondrous dimension of imagination, as completely improvised episodes are created with every performance.”

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You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

“Based on the beloved comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz, this revue of songs and vignettes tells the story of some typical days in the life of Charlie Brown. From running after the school bus to spying the cute little red-haired girl at lunch, Charlie Brown deals with the fun and frustrations of life with his friends Lucy, Linus, and Schroeder; his kid sister Sally; and his faithful companion, Snoopy. With charm, wit, and heart, “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown” is fun for all ages.”

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Chico's Angels: Fly Chica Fly

“A live comedy production that parodies the 1976–1981 television series Charlie's Angels. Three of LA's favorite drag queens star in the title roles — Kay Sedia (Oscar Quintero), Chita Parol (Ray Garcia), and Frieda Laye (Danny Casillas). In this brand new episode written by Oscar Quintero and Kurt Koehler, young hopeful stewardesses are disappearing, and it's up to Chico's Angels to fly the “not-so-friendly skies.” Can the Angels solve the case? Fasten your seat belts, turbulence was never this spicy!”

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BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW

“Young newlywed Melody has never been to a funeral – until her husband dies in a plane crash. Expected to instantly assume proper widowhood, Melody is left to wonder, what's the right way to grieve? Fortunately, her mother-in-law is a professional. Widow, that is. Under her guidance, Melody must try her best to be a good little widow.An emotional comedy about loss and longing from Peabody Award-winning Writer/Producer of NBC's Hit “This Is Us.” Bekah Brunstetter will be participating in a talk-back following the performance on Saturday, June 1st. ”

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ROOTS

“Theatre of NOTE continues its 2019 season with ROOTS:...four wonderfully strange world premiere short plays, written by four accomplished Theatre of NOTE-grown playwrights, which together usher audiences through the complexity of the human condition. A dark comedy for dark times unfolds at a wedding…in either a sitcom or just a disturbed mind (Deadpan). A one-night stand takes a Kafkaesque turn. Is this stranger the one? Or just something very strange (The Smell of Something to Eat)? A story of people who probably definitely love each other, as they encounter tectonic distress (Big Ones). Escaping Soviet Russia, a young woman goes on to found modern conservative philosophy before becoming the subject of her own musical theater production (Rand!). Everyone has their own journey, but we all start at our ROOTS. ”

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Thank You For Loving Me

“August and Bobbie have been broken up for weeks. Bobbie comes back to the apartment she left to pick up the last of her things. Like a manic, time-jumping fever dream- they recreate all of their highs and lows of their relationship. Only, they have differing memories and perceptions of the events. 'Thank You For Loving Me' explores still loving someone yet knowing it is time to say goodbye.”

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Town Brawl

“Inspired by the outrageous stories found on Nextdoor.com, Town Brawl is your chance to witness petty and absurd neighborly drama being settled in a no holds barred town hall meeting. If you hate your neighbors you'll love our show.”

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Daniel's Husband

“Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. What isn't so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn't believe in it. When a life-altering event throws the couple into crisis, Mitchell must use the laws of his own heart to fight the rules of law. Michael McKeever's funny, passionate and poignant play takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot — or not.”

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Bronco Billy - The Musical

“The country's going crazy; partisan politics, civil rights threatened, technology exploding. That's right, it's 1979! Somewhere in America's heartland, with more heart than sense, Bronco Billy struggles to keep his traveling Wild West show alive. But when Billy and his ragtag troupe of misfits meet Antoinette, a Manhattan heiress on-the-run, the ride gets even wilder as she turns Billy's world upside down.”

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The Taming of the Shrew

“Directed by Alicia Patterson and Rose Fliegel, the production's focus will be less about the masculine versus feminine and more about the imposed imbalance of power...to directly confront these issues and start a discussion by engaging the audience with a comedic show which portrays how power politics affect the dynamics of a dysfunctional love story.”

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Horny-The Musical

“In Horny-The Musical, we meet Emily. Social-climbing as quickly as possible away from her embarrassingly bohemian mother into the arms of the most eligible bachelor and heir to the Smitt Family Wineries, Emily is the luckiest girl in the world…until she starts to grow horns right before the wedding. Her new social circles could never accept such a thing, so she must resolve the problem before her new fiance––not to mention her new mother-in-law––finds out. Knowing her mother's sexually free nature, she wonders if its genetic and braces herself for the answer to the question: Who is my father? This simple question unleashes an avalanche of satyrs and nymphs from a different world…party-crashing her high-society wedding rehearsal and upending her carefully-constructed plans with wild debauchery and mayhem. If that weren't enough, as prudish Emily's horns continue to grow, so do new…feelings. ”

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Batter Up: My Brain on Baseball

“Brett Moore is totally enamored with baseball, and has been for 25 years. In that time, he's memorized more about baseball than anyone with access to the Internet could possibly need to know. Come watch him perform his amazing feats of baseball memory that are unnecessary, stunning, and highly entertaining and wax poetic about his favorite obsession in a unique solo show that connects patrons and the performer through the love of our national pastime! ”

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Sex With Strangers

“In 'Sex With Strangers,' failed novelist Olivia meets Ethan, a celebrated (and much younger) writer made famous by his sexcapade tell-all blog, at a snowbound bed and breakfast, and their mutual attraction quickly gets hot and heavy. As a weekend tryst develops into a long-term romance, their personal and professional lives collide. Ethan seeks legitimacy, dismissing his bad boy reputation as nothing more than an invented character. Olivia has her doubts, but craves for the literary fame Ethan can offer her. Ambition, identity and trust are in play when online personas clash with real world expectations in this smart, steamy take on modern love.”

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Captivated: You

“A warehouse sits alone at the edge of Silverlake. The story within its walls has already caused the disappearance of a dozen women and a reporter hot on the trail. Now you have come to help the reporter's friend find the truth.
Inside there may be danger. Inside there may be horror. But in the end, there will be one question for you to answer: Who is the actual monster here? Captivated is a modern retelling of the classic horror story Frankenstein. They Played Productions brings you this psychological-horror immersive production where you, the audience, become a character in a story based on the classic tale Frankenstein. YOUR decisions will matter. YOUR choices will lead to one of 45 different endings. YOU will decide who survives…and who dies.”

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A Falling Star At Buzzard's Roost

“A FALLING STAR AT BUZZARD'S ROOST follows hard-touring retro-Rockabilly band, MAUREEN & THE MERCURY 5, performing at a kitschy, Alabama Drive-Inn Diner (off-season). When Maureen plugs in her vintage Elvis mic, she triggers otherworldly powers from the famous “moon rock”, sending the band, their manager and even the diner owner back to the first days of Rock & Roll! The reluctant time-travelers find love and learn life lessons as they struggle to get back to present day — set to the music of Rockabilly Jump Swing Band Maureen & the Mercury 5 (aka M&M5) and Alt-Country Outlaws The Flutterbies.”

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – March 25 - 31, 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.

Not That Jewish

“EMMY Award winner Monica Piper Returns to The Braid From Her Off-Broadway Triumph
Monica Piper performers her hit Comedy 'Not That Jewish,' (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award nomination “Best Solo Performance”) for a limited run, at The Braid where it was originally developed and ran for almost a year. On stage with the passion that has navigated her career to an Emmy Award win, Golden Globe nomination, American Comedy Award nomination as one of the Top Five female comedians in the country, and secured her as one of Showtime Network's “Comedy All Stars,” Monica Piper brings her authentic humor and autobiographical journey to audiences in Los Angeles.”

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Hot Flashin' - A Feel Better Musical Comedy

“'Hot Flashin' is a 'Feel Good Musical Comedy' that tells the story of a group of five women in their 'middle to later years, who have seen it all!' These female characters have grown children and limited incomes, and are working through the challenges of life in the midst of rising living costs. Somehow they each have the ability to find humor in the stressful moments they confront by their unique life situations...The show offers plenty of physical comedy, funny repartee, and hysterical songs, with titles such as 'Hot Flashes,' 'Dump that Chump,' 'My Feet Hurt' and 'Boob Operation,” among them. After the audience gets to know the plights and challenges of each of the five women, the play ends with the women becoming an official singing group. During the course of the play, the audience learns that the women's performances have been streamed live over the Internet, and they've become a smash.”

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Diana of Dobson's

“A rare revival of Cicely Hamilton's romantic comedy, an unexpected hit of the 1908 London season. When poorly paid worker Diana inherits enough money to free her from a lifetime of drudgery, she impulsively decides to spend it all on a madcap, month-long taste of the high-life. But what she learns about love, money and society is as timely in 2019 as it was at the turn of the 20th century.”

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Macbeth

“This new take on the classic story of the rise of the King of Scotland examines the sacrifices and consequences women face in their quest for power and recognition, as inspired by the Norse tradition against the backdrop of the Viking invasion. “On these Captains, who had the bodies of women, nature bestowed the souls of men.” – Saxo Grammaticus ”

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The Lost Virginity Tour

“Funny, profound, and provocative, this adventurous road trip through memories conjures up the choices we make that shape our lives forever – and the friendships that hold us up when we can't walk on our own. The Lost Virginity Tour is a comedy about four women recalling their first time, mining the importance of female issues, and the progress made in the past few decades.”

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Henry V

“Shakespeare's most patriotic and inspiring play tells of a young King Henry V who seeks to unite his beloved England. After laying claim to French lands and being ridiculed, Henry marches off to war. Although sorely outnumbered, Henry rallies his troops and achieves a decisive victory in the famous Battle of Agincourt.
For audiences seeking quality, family entertainment, Shakespeare by the Sea's free performances can't be beat. Pack a picnic, a blanket and beach chair, gather loved ones, and settle in under the stars for a night of classic entertainment. The tales are timeless, the admission ticketless, and the experience priceless.”

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Bar Mitzvah Boy

“A classic romp of mistaken identity! Two young visitors arrive in the city unaware that their long-lost twins already live there. Over the course of a single day, everything that can go wrong does go wrong: a marriage at breaking point, a missing gold chain, an unpaid debt, and a dubious arrest.
For audiences seeking quality, family entertainment, Shakespeare by the Sea's free performances can't be beat. Pack a picnic, a blanket and beach chair, gather loved ones, and settle in under the stars for a night of classic entertainment. The tales are timeless, the admission ticketless, and the experience priceless.”

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At The Table

“Six friends head out of the city on their annual weekend retreat. With no social media, no cell phones, no internet allowed at all, this leaves them with one thing to do… look up from their screens and talk to each other. When the liquor starts flowing and the tongues loosen, no conversation is uneventful and no topic is off-limits. In these polarizing times, what does it mean to come to the table and at what cost? Will it bring us together or reveal how far apart we really are?”

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Black Super Hero Magic Mama

“Six friends head out of the city on their annual weekend retreat. With no social media, no cell phones, no internet allowed at all, this leaves them with one thing to do… look up from their screens and talk to each other. When the liquor starts flowing and the tongues loosen, no conversation is uneventful and no topic is off-limits. In these polarizing times, what does it mean to come to the table and at what cost? Will it bring us together or reveal how far apart we really are? ”

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The Niceties

“In this “barnburner of a play” (The Washington Post), two extraordinary women square off in a high-stakes academic debate over race, reputation and who gets the final word on how American history is written. When university professor Janine and her brilliant student Zoe don't see eye to eye, their routine office hours discussion unexpectedly careens off course—and threatens to derail their careers, lives and the status quo.”

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Booger Red

“A solo performance written and performed by Jim Loucks
Booger Red survives a rough childhood to become a renowned Hellfire and Brimstone Southern Baptist preacher. How can Preacher's Kid Jimmy find a way out from under Booger Red's larger-than-life shadow as he grows up and finds his own voice? If you've had a dream or a daddy, Loucks' new solo performance is for you.”

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All My Sons

“Winner of multiple Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, this electrifying family drama ALL MY SONS, by Arthur Miller, remains as timely as it is timeless. A gripping American classic reveals the lethal consequences of deceit and greed. In the aftermath of WWII, Joe Keller and his family struggle to stay intact while planning for their future as a long-hidden secret begins to tear them apart—forcing a reckoning with truth, guilt, and repentance.”

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HAIRSPRAY The Broadway Musical

“The dance, music, theatre and visual arts academies of Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts aka: Grand Arts, present the musical Broadway production of HAIRSPRAY. This is a tremendous effort that provides opportunities for students on stage and behind the scenes to experience a full scale production that brings industry professionals to campus to donate time to ensure the audience has a complete Broadway experience.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán

“The regular season of Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán opens on Tuesday, April 2 and will run through Thursday, October 31, 2019. The venue will also host pop-up screenings during holidays and for special events between November and the first quarter of 2020...Doors open at 6:00pm and films start screening 10 minutes after sunset. Food service starts when doors open. Prices run $18 for general seating or $50 to reserve one of the limited loveseats. Loveseat guests also receive a Prosecco toast and unlimited popcorn throughout the night. The rooftop screening experience is meant to foster a date-night atmosphere so most nights are meant for guests who are 18-years of age or older.
Please be advised that access to the 4th floor roof is via an outside staircase ONLY. There is no ADA-compliant access (yet) since this 90+ year old theater does not have an elevator at this time.

Doors open at 6:00 pm, which allows attendees to DRINK an exclusive hand-crafted Ramos Sangria (or beer, wine, mix drinks); DINE thanks to Umami Burger who continues as the venue's rooftop culinary partner (serving Impossible Burgers much to the delight of many vegetarians); SNACK on freshly baked cookies by Duidough Cookie Lab; PLAY a game of giant Jenga or ham-it-up in the selfie-friendly Simple Booth area; or CHILL in a relaxing Adirondack chair or loveseat while listening to a hand-selected musical soundtrack through the KV2 Audio system and Sound Off™ 3-channel/stereo wireless noise-cancelling headphones until the movie begins just after sunset.”

Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - Cinema Paradiso

“A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema's projectionist.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - Some Like It Hot

“When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - Gladiator

“A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - The Greatest Showman

“Celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - A Star is Born

“A musician helps a young singer find fame as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.”

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INTIMATE AND TWISTED - LOVE, THE STRINDBERG WAY

 

BONO AND THE EDGE WAITING FOR GODOMINO'S - two more shows at the Whitefire!

This very funny show originated at the 2017 Fringe and has moved to the Whitefire Theatre on Ventura Blvd, where it has two more performances.  Here is my coverage from last summer:  "While a parody of Beckett's Waiting for Godot that will appeal to all theater geeks, it's also a hoot for the general public in its spin around the recordings of U2, notable both for their great musicianship and their sometimes pretentious self-seriousness.  All the actors are wonderful, and the final twist that comes with the arrival of the longed-for pizza takes it to another level.  Do the bandmates finally find what they are looking for?"  Catch it on Saturdays at 10 pm to find out!

 

THE DANCE OF DEATH by August Strindberg, adapted by Conor McPherson, at the Odyssey Theatre

Jeff LeBeau, Lizzy Kimball and Darrell Larson in "The Dance of Death"

 

August Strindberg  is well-known for plays like The Father and Miss Julie, that depict a battle of the sexes so vicious that it could more accurately be called a cage match to the death.  These plays were ripped from his own pain, from his three failed marriages and the five children he ended up having no relationship with, from the terrible episodes of paranoia that afflicted him.  But it was not always so.

In 1875, aspiring writer August Strindberg met the love of his life, aspiring actress Siri von Essen.  Two years later they were married.  While their first child was stillborn, they went on to have three healthy children together, two girls and a boy.  Meanwhile, Siri was accepted into the acting company of the Royal Court in Stockholm, where she acted in the early plays of her husband's, among many others.  In early 1882, Strindberg stated his purpose: "My interest in the theatre, I must frankly state, has but one focus and one goal - my wife's career as an actress."  He followed up his early plays with a collection of short fiction, Getting Married, that advocated the equality of women so enthusiastically that Strindberg was sued for blasphemy by right-wing groups in Sweden.  (He was acquitted.)

What I really enjoyed about Ron Sossi's production of Strindberg's Dance of Death was that it captured this sense of deep love lost, of passion that has curdled into lingering disappointment.  In the play, Edgar (Darrell Larson) and Alice (Lizzy Kimball) are on the verge of their 25th anniversary.  Edgar is a Captain of the Guards, Alice is a former actress in Copenhagen.  They live in a converted prison facing the sea, where they have no friends in the village.  They've had two children, a boy and a girl, both of whom have gotten far away and have as little to do with their parents as possible.  Edgar and Alice have no more career aspirations, they have run through what money they had and have just lost their one servant, with little chance of attracting another.  Familiarity has indeed bred contempt, and they are depressingly familiar with every aspect of each other.  And yet, and yet, and yet - there is still love there.  Or at least the memory of it.

Into this impossible tangle comes Kurt (Jeff LeBeau), Alice's cousin and the person who first introduced her to Edgar.  He is the new quarrantine officer for the island and has come here "seeking peace" he says, after having lost his three children in a brutal custody battle.  What happens instead is that Kurt becomes a pawn in the war between Alice and Edgar.  As it turns out, cousins Alice and Kurt had a love affair which ended when Kurt got married; in fact, that was his purpose in introducing Alice to Edgar, to have him take her off his hands. LeBeau does a wonderful job in bringing Kurt to vivid life, especially as he falls more and more under the influence of cousin Alice.  He puts just the right comic spin on the character, while retaining the pathos of a dedicated family man who is lost without his children, whose only real sense of purpose comes from being the head of a family.

Lizzy Kimball and Darrell Larson, under Sossi's direction, are expert at mining all the dark humor they can find in the twists and turns of Alice and Edgar's epic battles.  They convincingly portray the strong bond of love and hate that still keeps them together but brings them no joy, that's a source of torment that still feels like home.  The McPherson adaptation brilliantly clears away all the local color of the time, the distracting minor characters and Strindberg's jabs at the legal codes of the day, to come up with a richly concentrated version of Strindberg's play, one that speaks vividly to contemporary audiences.

It also brings out with great clarity the enormous influence that this play has had on succeeding generations of playwrights.  There are echoes of Beckett, O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and, most of all, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  All of this in the kind of intimate theater that Strindberg first conceived of in the early 20th Century - his was 160 seats, this one is 99, but the principle is the same.  And it provides a very intimate setting in which to get to know these deeply flawed characters in this deeply human dilemma.

For tickets, click here.

 


BILLY HAYES ALERT - IT'S "MIDNIGHT EXPRESS" WEEK IN LOS ANGELES!

Don't look now, but Billy Hayes is back in town.

The "Midnight Express" man left Los Angeles in 2014 and hit the road with his one man show for a time, then settled down in Sin City, where he's been negotiating with various pot enterprises who want to market a "Billy Hayes" brand of high-end weed.  Billy has become the poster guy for the booming industry there, as he has been smoking for 50 years and has no ill-effects to show for it.  "On the contrary," he says, "I'm the happiest and the healthiest person I know."

Billy is the subject of a fascinating documentary by Sally Sussman, MIDNIGHT RETURN: Billy Hayes and Turkeywhich is finishing up its run at the Laemmle Music Hall on Friday, and is an absolute must-see if you want to understand why Billy Hayes is such an iconic figure to those of us over 50, and also if you want to get all the juicy behind-the-scenes info about the making of the landmark film Midnight Express.  This film - which would never get made today in the era of political correctness - boasted the collaboration of some very talented and large-ego'd men: David Puttnam, Alan Parker, Peter Guber and Oliver Stone.  When you hear their recollections, it boggles the mind that the movie turned out as well as it did.

Oliver Stone bares his soul about his triumphs and regrets

As a screenwriter myself, I was fascinated to hear about how much the Brits, Parker and Puttnam, hated Stone, even after they were in awe of his screenplay; and how shabbily Stone was treated throughout.  Of course Oliver Stone got the last laugh, winning the Oscar and launching his career, which had basically been stalled to that point.  Stone has some very interesting things to say about the reasons why he related so personally to Billy's story, and how he feels about the film now.  I was shocked to learn that the famous ending of Midnight Express was not in fact his creation... but enough.  I won't spoil the many other revelations.  I will say only that Alan Parker's comments deepened my respect for him as a film artist.

Billy at 23 years old is arrested for trying to smuggle out 2 kilos of hashish

But the center of the story is Billy Hayes, who comes as a deceptively complicated figure - at times he's straightforward and almost an everyman who loves his family and wants to make everyone proud of him, at other times he's an adventurer, a daredevil and, well, "crazy," as his brother and sister keep saying.  Fate chose Billy to be an actor in a drama about American innocence caught in a web of foreign intrigue, and that story has proved to have staying power way beyond anything Billy himself ever expected.  Much like the film of his life that became a cultural phenomenon for young Americans in the 1970s and '80s, and which continues to exert enormous influence over those who've seen it, down to the present day.

Billy and his dad, shortly after Billy's escape

Billy's true-life escape from an Alcatraz-like Turkish island prison still boggles the minds of the Turkish authorities, a few of whom show up in the film still insisting that he must have had help from the CIA.  The escape came after the Turkish court had changed Billy's sentence from four years to 30 years, just as he was about to be released.  (The film makes it clear that Billy was a pawn in Nixon's war on drugs, and that Nixon was happy to have Billy's freedom sacrificed to his law and order policies.)  Given all this, there seems to be some justice in the terrible publicity that the country of Turkey reaped from Billy's harrowing escape.  But Billy himself was disturbed by the anti-Turk tenor of the film and the devestating effect this had on the Turkish tourism industry and on the Turkish people's image in the world and self-image.

The Turkish newspapers depicted Billy as endowed with superpowers

The central theme of the documentary is the return of Billy Hayes to Turkey in 2007, as he attempts to heal the wounds created by the Hollywood film made from his story.  Over the objections of his lawyers and most of his friends (though not me), "crazy" Billy puts himself into the hands of a branch of the Turkish police (of all people) as he holds several news conferences, expressing his love and admiration for the Turkish people.  Then he goes on a tour of his old haunts, including the prisons he spent time in.  The municipal jail has been converted into a Four Seasons (no kidding!), but the infamous Birkakoy prison for criminally insane is still there.  Though it's closed down now, slowly rotting in the hot Turkish sun, they open it up for Billy in an unforgettable sequence, in which all the terrifying memories begin rushing back.

Billy back at Birkakoy - "you are a broken machine."

It's an extraordinary experience, part of an extraordinary story which Billy himself has been trying to come to terms with ever his escape.  He has gradually come to recognize the unique role he's been chosen by history to play, and he has stopped trying to be an actor or director - I met him when he directed my play Break of Day about the young Vincent van Gogh, 18 years ago - and embraced his public persona, taking control of his own story.

Toward this end, Billy brings his one-man show, Riding The Midnight Express with Billy Hayes, to the Odyssey Theatre for four performances this weekend.  The 73 minute show is followed by a Q&A with the audience and then Billy will sign his books for you, including his brilliant Letters from A Turkish Prison, which has not received the amount of attention that I believe it should.  I've seen the show six or seven times in various iterations, and I highly recommend it.  By embracing his "criminal" past, Billy has achieved a philosophy of self-acceptance which feels earned and authentic, and quite the opposite of all the self-help gurus out there who claim to have the answers on how to find your true self.