Top Dozen of 2018!

Every year I do this, draw up a list of my dozen best. Given the amount of wonderful theatre I get to see, some rules became necessary. First, no two shows from the same theatre company. Second, I limited myself to actual plays, rather than (for example) dance performances. This year I faced a dreadful choice between two plays by the same writer who is a friend of mine!
The Flu Season (Pico Playhouse) was an exquisate poem of a play, about people who meet and feel and try to endure what they have or have not said, done. felt. When you see as much theatre as I do, frankly any play that keeps you guessing as this does, while continuing to make sense, is a treasure. That all this surprise surrounds so many fundamental human issues, tricky ones, the might have beens that haunt us, helps make this a very special show, brought to life by an ensemble that moved me in so very many ways.
Romeo and Juliet (Vagrancy) Why does Juliet fall for Romeo. In answering this question, the Vagrancy's production makes this centuries-old play extremely topical for our specific day and age. For that reason I'm sure some audience members were offended. But to me, the entire company created a world for the play which echoed our own in some terrible, tragic ways. This ended up the best production of this play I've yet seen.
Native Son (Antaeus) Another topical work, one which has sparked quite a bit of controversy amid my circle of friends. Some lifted their eyebrows as this milky white dude reviewed a play based on this classic African American novel. Others were upset at the liberties taken with the novel's story. Some found the central character (understandably) repellent. I certainly did. But--and here is what puts this production on my list--as disgusting as I found that young man's actions, I grew to understand the why of them. In seeing and knowing the shaping of his paranoia, his myopia, his desperation--and also realizing fundamentally he was far from the only person so shaped--I came to stunning realization. Namely, that I am a monster. In this society, even moreso in the era of the play, my white skin makes me a creature of whimsical and vast power. It changed me by revealing a truth. What more is Art for?
The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man (Son of Semele) may be the most original work on this list--a musical taking place inside the mind of a real science fiction author, a woman who pretended to write her works as a man. What we saw on stage was an Odyssey with a female Odysseus confronting all the most important people of her life, up to and including many aspects and avatars of herself. This theatre company, which put on the single best piece of theatre I have ever seen a few years ago, once again wowed and shook and moved me to center of my heart.
The Woman is Perfected was a one-woman show, the title coming from the last poem written by Sylvia Plath. So. A comedy! Well, no--rather a searing portrait of a woman whose soul has become infected with and then totally converted to misogyny. It was a horror story, in monologue, not told in terms of a story related but rather the monologue itself.
Play On! is another one woman show, this time a cabaret of songs written by and for the performer, each inspired by one of Shakespeare's great female characters from Olivia to Ophelia, Viola to Juliet and Gertured and Lady Macbeth and others.
Longing Pinocchio (ZJU) was an original retelling and re-imagination of the 19th century novel that somehow (much like Alice in Wonderland or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) somehow succeeded in becoming a modern fairy tale. Breathed into new life by looking at the source material with a fresh, often irreverent as well as sharply observant eye.
Winter Solstice (City Garage) is an example of why I give each theatre company only one slot on this list each year. It otherwise proves too hard. This play from Germany, superbly acted and directed as ever by City Garage, touches on an extremely topical question--that of the covert rise of fascism, via attractive lies and alluring half-truths all wrapped up in a generally friendly, supportive package. But what does one do? That question, powerfully asked by the play, is not answered here. Rather, the answer is left where it belongs--with us, for us to come up with something, each individual. Where else after all does the responsibility lie?
Gray People (Force of Nature) was written by a friend of mine, and this is one of two plays of his that opened this year. I was very hard pressed to choose which one to put on the list. It came down to which feels a tiny fraction of a shade more complete emotionally. And it could have gone either way. In the middle of the night, three people who prove both strangers and not-strangers to each other have met within some far-off woods. Thriller, mystery, dark comedy, tragedy, and redemptive drama plus more, this play and cast enacted a soul-shaking tale of disturbing surprise to haunt audience members.
King Dick is literally the funniest political farce I have ever seen, to the point where I sometimes cried and/or had trouble breathing. At one point in history (this part is true) Elvis Presley requested a meeting with President Richard Nixon. From this emerges a comedy of error, mismanagement, paranoia, fantasy, drugs, and talking to the dead. The cast superbly managed the absurdity of the situation so perfectly my brain is still reeling from it.
Blue Surge (Sixty-Six Theatre Company) tells a seemingly simple story about some flawed but generally likable folks in an ordinary small city. It might almost count as a soap opera. But we sense from almost the first line this will dive deeper into the human condition, fathoms deeper. With a wonderful cast that is how deep it proceeds to go, down to some of the saddest facts of being human and alive--yet also how we can endure, how we can heal, how we can find a reason to breathe at all.
Love's Labour's Lost (Chase What Flies) proves a brilliantly delightful and "on target" production of what may be Shakespeare's lightest comedy. Honestly, this script makes As You Like It look like Romeo and Juliet! But--and this oft ends up forgotten in heavier fare--it has some genuine emotional truths, some sharp insights, and a melancholy or bittersweet undertaste that makes the humor so much more poignant. That is portrays women as more mature than men, yet does not condemn either one, marks just one more detail this production hit in the bullseye!


JOAN OF ART - Hollywood Forever, Urban Death, LOADED and LA Comic Con

Halloween is all about witches, ghosts, goblins, zombies and anything and everything that can scare you silly and there are many events happening this weekend that will do just that.

One of my favorites is on Saturday, October 27th noon until midnight. It's the 19th DIA DE LOS MUERTOS FESTIVAL put on by Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

This year they are honoring the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars and the sun. This is a celebration to the divine feminine, the loving mother that unites us all. If you can't wait till Saturday, Friday they will be having The Ceremonial Altar set up starting at 3pm.

I've gone to this festival the last five years and have never been disappointed. The costumes, altars, art, food, crafts and music is awesome. Walking through the cemetery you feel as if you've been transported to another time, another place.

It's definitely something you must experience at least once. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life and it's also a day to remember those that are no longer with us, but this festival is anything but sad. It's bright and joyful and a time to sing and dance.

General admission is $35.00 per person. Children 8 years and under are admitted free until 4pm. Seniors 65 and over are also admitted free until 4pm. They encourage you to dress in Dia de Los Muertos attire. Fine Mexican cuisine and a wide spectrum of Day of the Dead arts and crafts are available for purchase.

Location Address: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90038. To purchase ticket and find out more information about this fabulous event go to LadyOfTheDead.com.

URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR: Haunted Theatre Attraction

URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR: Haunted Theatre Attraction

For more scary fun there's ZOMBIE JOES UNDERGROUND THEATRE GROUP's production of URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR.

The Urban Death Tour of Terror made its European debut at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe - the largest performing arts festival in the world, haunting audiences with its signature brand of live horror. Created by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer, Urban Death reveals our deepest fears through a series of wordless non-linear vignettes and intense physical performances.

You will experience a maze of inexplicable horrors, unfathomable monstrosities and meet the disturbed spirits that walk among us. What could be better?

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre is located at 4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood. For tickets and more information go to ZombieJoes.tix.com.

Now as much as I love being scared I equally enjoy laughing so this weekend you'll find me at LOS ANGELES COMIC CON which will take place, October 26th - October 28th at the Los Angeles Convention center located at 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles.

Last year 90,000 people attended this event. It's one of the most diverse and celebrated pop culture happenings in the U.S.. There will be over seven hundred diverse artists and vendors selling comics, collectibles, art, toys, apparel and everything in between.

You will also get up close and personal with some of the biggest and best names in the entertainment industry with hand picked selection of panels and meet n' greet opportunities as well as a confluence of comics, gaming, horror, anime, film, television and according to the event creators, one obscure thing that you thought everyone had forgotten about.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to ComicConLA.com.

Now after screaming and laughing I'm ready to sit back and see some extraordinary performers so I'll be ending the weekend at the Ford Amphitheater where Heidi Drucker Dance Company will be performing.

At sunset performers and audience members will share the confined space of the Ford's loading dock, transformed by award winning choreographer Heidi Duckler into the arresting site specific work LOADED.

According to Drucker as our society contemplates the implications of erecting walls, both physical and psychological - LOADED explores how borders manifest in physical space- who is allowed inside and who is kept out, how control is confronted and how dreams of freedom are realized.

Heidi hopes to inspire audiences to think differently about their assumptions of borders and 'the other' and ideally to become more accepting of those who come from different places in our society.

I've seen her company in the past and they are absolutely mesmerizing. I'm sure this year at the Ford will be no exception. Showtimes: Saturday October 27th and Sunday October 28th at 5:30pm.

Tickets are $50.00 and $25.00 for students. For tix go to FordTheatres.org/calendar/heidi-drucker. The Ford Amphitheatre is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd East Los Angeles 90068.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, have a great one!


EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD @ A Noise Within

October 10, 2018 7:30 pm

Hamlet is turned topsy turvy in this brilliant, Tony Award®-winning comedy that thrusts Shakespeare's two minor characters to the frontlines with no rules except one: they are destined to die. Trapped in a universe ...read more


VILLAINY @ Whitefire Theatre

October 10, 2018 8:00 pm

Just in time for the Halloween season, Villainy, or H.H. Holmes' Own Story arrives at the Whitefire Theatre. It's the incredible true story of H.H. Holmes (1861-1896), America's first serial killer. Born Herman Webster ...read more


WC THORNBUSH & THE GREAT AMERICAN SHOW@ Bootleg Theater

October 10, 2018 8:00 pm

W.C. Thornbush and The Great American Show, "The nation's salvation in a single night of entertainment". This comedic musical revue features classic Americana entertainment, peppered with biting humor, irreverent sketch comedy, and heartfelt moments. ...read more


REELABILITIES FILM FESTIVAL: LOS ANGELES @ various venues

October 11, 2018 6:45 pm

ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles October 11-14th, 2018 is a four-day festival which showcases new and classic films, conversations, and artistic programs. ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles 2018 explores, embraces, and celebrates the diversity ...read more


SILENCE! THE MUSICAL @ The Actors Company

October 11, 2018 8:00 pm

SILENCE! THE MUSICAL The Unauthorized Parody of The Silence of the Lambs Music & Lyrics by Jon Kaplan & Al Kaplan, Book by Hunter Bell ​ Adapted from the screenplay “Silence! The Musical” by Jon & Al ...read more


I'M WITH HER – SARA WATKINS, SARAH JAROSZ, AND AOIFE O'DONOVAN@ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

October 11, 2018 8:00 pm

Comprised of multi-Grammy-Award-winners Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O'Donovan, acoustic folk trio I'm With Her has garnered praise for their exquisite musicianship, family-like chemistry and “sweetly ethereal” indelible harmonies (the New York Times). ...read more


14TH ANNUAL LA FEMME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL @ Regal L.A. LIVE Cinemas

October 12, 2018 10:00 am

LA Femme International Film Festival is a premier festival that focuses on platforming women filmmakers “by women, for everyone”. Our Festival was created in 2005, when it became apparent that there was a need ...read more


SEñOR PLUMMER'S FINAL FIESTA @ Plummer Park

October 12, 2018 7:30 pm

Award-winning artists' collective Rogue Artists Ensemble takes over West Hollywood's Plummer Park through a commission from The City of West Hollywood's Arts Division for a site-specific immersive theater experience with Señor Plummer's Final Fiesta, ...read more


BABY EYES @ Atwater Village Theatre

October 12, 2018 8:00 pm

A gaggle of male harpies spin a cautionary tale of taboo, lust, and one tragic boy's search for manhood. ...read more


FOOL FOR LOVE BY SAM SHEPARD@ Black Box Studios

October 12, 2018 8:00 pm

The scene is a stark motel room at the edge of the Mojave Desert. May, a disheveled young woman, sits dejectedly on a rumpled bed while Eddie, a rough-spoken rodeo performer, crouches in a ...read more


THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK @ LaCanada Pres

October 12, 2018 8:00 pm

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett Based upon the book Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl At LaCanada Presbyterian Church 626 Foothill Blvd, LaCanada Three performances only: October ...read more


POST APOCALYPTIC BUNKER COMEDY@ Stage 12

October 13, 2018 5:00 pm

Post Apocalyptic Bunker Comedy October 13th – October 28th Saturdays at 5:00pm and Sundays at 5:30pm The creative team behind The Awkward Party (Best Play of 2017, OC Weekly) and Pretendessee Williams we're proud ...read more


THE STUDY @ The Complex

October 13, 2018 8:00 pm

Critics Lemonade: 70%

Winner! Encore Producers Award Hollywood Fringe 2018 Winner! Critics Choice Award Better-Lemons 2018 We're listed as Immersive bu only because there is no “INTERACTIVE” option! THE STUDY takes place during a psychological clinical test of the flight-or-fight ...read more


REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES @ Garry Marsh Theatre

October 13, 2018 8:00 pm

In a tiny, family-run factory, fabric flies and tempers flare when Ana, fresh out of high school, rebels against the status quo with dreams of becoming a writer. But deportation and the pressure to ...read more


"I'M GONNA KILL THE PRESIDENT!" A FEDERAL OFFENSE@ various venues

October 13, 2018 8:00 pm

The award-winning guerrilla-theater comedy “I'm Gonna Kill the President!” A Federal Offense will return to Los Angeles this fall, apropos of absolutely nothing happening in America. Performances take place in secret locations throughout Los ...read more


CAL IN CAMO @ VS. Theatre

October 14, 2018 3:00 pm

West Coast Premiere of "Cal in Camo" Presented by James Roday's Red Dog Squadron and VS. Theatre Company Written by William Francis Hoffman / Directed by Amy K. Harmon Do wounds from the past irrevocably impact our capacity to ...read more


JD SOUTHER @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

October 14, 2018 7:00 pm

Grammy-nominated writer JD Souther is an architect of the Southern California sound, whose lyrics defined the country rock songs of the '70s and '80s. He has penned countless hits for the Eagles (“Heartache Tonight,” ...read more


POSSESSION: AN AMERICAN SERIAL KILLER @ Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre

October 14, 2018 8:00 pm

It's not about lust, not about violence. This October it's about POSSESSION. Are you ready? Experience the Play... Possession: An American Serial Killer puts you up close to the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. ...read more


CIRQUE MECHANICS: 42FT – A MENAGERIE OF MECHANICAL MARVELS@ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

October 16, 2018 7:30 pm

Thrills, laughs and excitement are on full display as Cirque Mechanics' 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels transports audiences back to the timeless thrills of the big top circus ring. Deriving its name ...read more


CHEMO BARBIE – MY LADY BITS JOURNEY THROUGH BREAST CANCER @ Santa Monica Playhouse, The Other Space

October 16, 2018 8:00 pm

“Uniquely funny” exclaims LA Beat. In 2016, Heather Keller, a healthy young vegan runner, was diagnosed with breast cancer and her life changed forever. This is her heartbreaking, inspiring and ultimately uplifting story. Winner ...read more


THE BINGE FRINGE FESTIVAL OF FREE THEATRE (BFF) @ Santa Monica Playhouse The Main Stage

October 16, 2018 8:00 pm

Welcome to the Binge! Your new BFF! Two weeks of free theatre October 15 to 28, 2018 with encore performances through November 11! Santa Monica Group Theatre presents The BFF aka The BINGE Fringe Festival of Free ...read more