A girl cannot live by bread alone (or sushi or tapas or…you get the picture), so here are some of the many theater productions I‘ve seen recently.
Ric Salinas, Herb Siguenza and Richard Montoya
in "Water And Power". photo: Craig Schwartz
In 2003, I had the misfortune of seeing Culture Clash perform a show entitled “Chavez Ravine” at the Mark Taper Forum. So, it was with great trepidation that I attended the opening of their new show, “Water and Power” at the same venue.
To my surprise, it was amazing! I loved it. I was actually one of the many giving them a standing ovation, which is something I never do lightly or under pressure from the rest of the audience. I was entertained the entire time.
Possibly the difference was that this was a play instead of skits, or whatever that other show was. It was written by Richard Montoya, a member of Culture Clash, a Hispanic Comedy/Performance Trio. It was very clever, with tons of topical LA references, that brought us all into the action from the start.
I have a feeling they may change-up as new weirdnesses happen in our city. (How long a shelf-life can Mel Gibson’s “addiction” have?)
But it was another actor who stole the show, not a member of the troupe. Dakin Matthews was just pure evil, while making us laugh at the same time. And the sets were simple, yet perfect.
Dakin Matthews in "Water And Power".
photo: Craig Schwartz
The party fit the theme, too. Held outdoors atop the Union Bank of California Building, with a breezy feel (and real breeze, too, which was a delight at this point in the summer), it was catered by Cuidad, a downtown upscale Mexican restaurant.
The bar featured mojitos and specialty wine drinks, which made everyone happy, except me. I hate the taste of alcohol (I know--I’m blessed) and they had no water, soda or juice! So, I guess the party could have been titled “Power, But No Water.”
“Water and Power” running through September 17
Mark Taper Forum 135 N. Grand Ave. LA 213-628-2772 www.CenterTheatreGroup.com
Ciudad 445 S. Figueroa St. LA 213-486-5171 www.cuidad-la.com
I find it’s often nerve-wracking to see one’s friends perform. I was relieved twice recently. First, I watched my NY NBF, Tracy Stern, for five days on TLC’s “Dinner Takes All,” and she was exactly as fabulous on the show as she is in person. I think a lot of people actually have trouble being themselves in front of a camera. (I think sometimes people wish I would be a little LESS me.)
And this past week-end, I saw another friend, Vanessa Marsot, appear as the mother in Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever,” a part that Judi Dench is doing simultaneously in London. She was great! And not just because people think she’s a drama queen in real life, as she seems to think the case might be. I actually got into the performance and forgot that I was watching a friend.
The production itself was okay; not great, but good enough. I thought that Joey Napoli, her would-be paramour, was particularly enjoyable.
And they did the most with a tiny space and nine actors, which could have been disastrous and is, in many Equity-waiver productions. Music added a nice touch, and what looked to be real food in the tea and breakfast scenes made my mouth water. The only problem to me was the use of modern throw-aways as newspapers instead of using at least unrecognizable British ones.
One last note: the Avery Schreiber Theater has a really attractive bathroom. Made me proud that he played my husband on a TV show many years back.
“Hay Fever” running through August 12
Avery Schreiber Theater
11050 Magnolia Blvd NoHo
David Eldon(front) and James Barbour in "Lizard".
photo courtesy of Michael Lamont
Playing right across the street from the Avery Schreiber, with an even more attractive ladies room, (theater masks on the walls of each stall, which number FOUR!), is the world premiere musical “Lizard” at the NoHo Arts Center. It has the feel of one that’s headed to Broadway.
The performances are all good, with the stand-out being James Barbour. The sets work perfectly with this particular theater, rendering each audience seat perfect. All aspects of the show are fine (music, lyrics, costumes, direction, etc.)
The only weak part is that the lead character, Lizard, is supposed to be facially deformed. But the make-up made him only look like Owen Wilson! So, how bad can we feel for him, really?
One audience note: Ken Werther, who’s on the Center Theatre Group PR team, was the most popular person there, by far. People were either hugging or kissing him every time I turned around! I was jealous, both for not getting my turn with him and not being the most popular.
I think it’s stupendous that a professional theater person supports theater in general, as Kenny does. We should all be as supportive of one another, in our own fields, though I don’t think anyone else is exactly in mine, which is that of being a Bon Vivette.
The opening night party was catered by Randy Fuhrman, some of whose events I’ve had the privilege of attending in the past few years. Each major one is more gorgeous than the rest.
This function was in the small back theater, so there was super-limited space to work with. Yet, we had a whole, creative appetizer buffet before the dessert one. Randy’s one of the few caterers who’s clever enough to put signs with his food. I hate having to find someone to ask what each dish is.
To most, the highlight is his miniature brownies, in four flavors. But to me, it’s always his scrumptious chocolate cake. For my birthday party a few years back, he made three! Generous as I am, it killed me to
share them with my guests. For the next one, maybe I’ll just invite Randy.
“Lizard” running through September 17
11136 Magnolia Blvd. NoHo 818-508-7101
Randy Fuhrman Events 818-461-9111
photo courtesy of Joan Marcus
In the over two months since I started writing my column, whenever I see a production, my thoughts during it are in the form of a written paragraph. During the first act of “Little Women“ at the Pantages, starring Maureen McGovern as Marmie (I erroneously thought she would be playing Jo! Where does the time go?!), absolutely nothing came to me! I told myself to relax, that something would come. But the second act was more of the same. I usually think in superlatives; I either love something or hate it. (Have you noticed?)
But with “Little Women, The Musical”, I really just have no opinion. Did it follow the novel? Well enough. Was it good? I think so. Was it great? I’m sure not.
“Little Women, The Broadway Musical” running through Aug. 13
6233 Hollywood Blvd.
My friend, Jackye, was kind enough to take me to see this when I was in NY last month. I had read many bad reviews of it, and am not a fan of the movie, so I wasn’t expecting much. But I really enjoyed it. It was a tad over-dramatic, but there was not a weak voice in the bunch. By the end, I felt like I was in a gospel church. And who can dislike that?
The only problem was--I never saw the color purple onstage once. What’s up with that?
The Color Purple playing indefinitely
The Broadway Theater 1681 Broadway New York212-239-6200 www.colorpurple.com
And lastly, for those of us lucky enough to be a guild member in the biz, screening season is upon us, a tad early this year. I try to not read about the films in advance, so as to just experience them as they unfold.
My first screening this year was “The Illusionist.” It stars Ed Norton, of whose talent I have always been a huge fan, but have never put in my cute guy category. I don’t like to relate the story of films, to not spoil them for others, but all I can say is that with one kiss, he moved to the top of my list.
It truly was the sexiest kiss ever. (As opposed to the best sex itself, which Viggo Mortenson wins hands-down for “A Walk On The Moon” from 1999.)
For those of you less shallow than I, (which is just about all of you), the whole film is amazing. The cinematography is stunning. Jessica Biel is, as well. And I loved the story. This is one of the very few films that I can’t wait to see again immediately. And not just for that kiss.
opens in theaters Aug. 18