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Ingrid Wilmot Rates
Southern California Theater
and for Restaurants seeFootlightsDining
Call Ingrid at (310) 377-7680

- A rare theatrical treat
- Excellent, must see
- A good show, not great
- Not a must see
- Mediocre, but better than no theater at all
No Stars - Do something else or stay home








ABOUT “THE DINING SCENE” Restaurants are chosen for their proximity to the currently reviewed plays and frequently updated. Ingrid dines anonymously, pays her tab and eats in all languages!

ANNE a new play by Jessica Durlacher and Leon de Winter

This play was adapted for American audiences by Nick Blaemire from a translation by Susan Massotty. It is advertised as a “new play that reframes the Anne Frank Story on her 90th birthday”. It opens in a Parisian sidewalk café where Anne has a chance encounter with a wealthy publisher (Timothy P. Brown).One wonders if anybody is buying this? Or should it remain a romantic mystery, a la Romeo and Juliet where we brace for a sad ending but somehow hope that dumb Friar Lawrence had unveiled his plan to both the young lovers. Isn’t there a possibility that Anne did somehow escape and is a doting grandma now? Or a famous author writing under a pseudonym? You’ve read her book, The Diary of a Young Girl, seen the movie etc. but we still wonder what this bright child could have achieved in her precocious wisdom, positive attitude and love of humanity. Presidential aspirations? Why not?

The production is well done in a handsome venue, the Museum of Tolerance’s Peltz Theatre and directed with care by Eve Brandstein, set by Desma Murphy. Scene by scene brings us closer into the mindset of the two Jewish families, Frank and van Pels, that are thrown together in an attic in Amsterdam. They’re hiding from the invading Nazi forces under stressful conditions. Otto Frank, the pater familias (Rob Brownstein) a former successful businessman, is adored by Anne and possesses the ideal combination of charm and gravitas. Edith Frank, Anne’s not too beloved mother is Andrea Gwynnel and the older, more reserved sister Margot, is Marnina Schon. In the van Pels Family, we have mom, (Mary Gordon Murray) a bit of a prima donna, dad (Aylam Orian) and their handsome, young son Peter van Pels (Kevin Matsumoto), Anne’s heartthrob and first love, who awakens her inner romantic. A single gent, the annoying Mr. Pfeffer Tony DeCarlo is another occupant who invades Anne’s space and vice versa. They all perform flawlessly. We briefly meet Miep Gies, the Frank’s former, faithful maid (Murray, double cast), the second heroine of this story, who found Anne’s manuscripts and made sure the world will love and cherish her long after her death. As for our star, Anne (Ava Lalezarzadeh) , is the ideal Anne, impulsive, high spirited and bursting with joie de vivre. Her voice would be audible at the top balcony of Disney Hall. She never kvetsches about the primitive toilet facilities, nor the limited sleeping arrangements. No one has to fear an unwanted pregnancy here, they are bedded head to head and toe to toe. They are afraid of discovery and of the frequent night time bombardments (sound and lighting by Derek Christiansen and Ian James, respectively. Even if you are quite familiar with this tale, come and bring a young person who has yet to learn about a child of the Holocaust and how she coped with no freedom and no privacy nor hope for a beautiful future – which we all take for granted.

Museum of Tolerance, Peltz Theatre, 9786 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles 90035. No intermission. Sundays 3 & 7pm, Monday 8 pm. $40, seniors $25, Students $20. Discounted Family Packs available as well as theatre/museum pkg. Free parking in building’s underground garage. (310)772-2505 or www.museumoftolerance.com ends 7/22/19

Note: Take advantage of your performance date and allow time to visit the internationally famous Museum of Tolerance.They feature talks by surviving Holocaust men and women, and work to promote social justice for everybody. In conjunction with “Anne” the play, there is currently an exhibit showing personal, family photos, memorabilia, multimedia displays etc. intelligently curated . Narrated by actress Hailee Steinfeld. Check it out prior or after the performance Info: (310) 553-8403


BESTSELLER by Peter Quilter

The Panic that strikes an author’s heart as he keeps staring at empty pages, is almost equal to that of a coal miner who he finds a dead canary. Even people who find it a challenge composing a thank you note know that feeling. BESTSELLER takes us into the minds of three fame-seeking novelists who are at a secluded writers’ retreat by a lake, looking for inspiration or to conquer that near fatal illness, Writers’ Block. In a handsome room (set by Christopher Scott Murillo), sits Damien (Ian McQuown) a semi-successful, published writer, specializing in the macabre, typing furiously on his next bestseller. The program makes no mention of a time line other than The Present, so this must be the last man sitting, without a computer. The place is owned by the elderly Maureen (the excellent Wendy Worthington) who looks more like the cleaning woman in her shmatte and tennies, than the proprietor (costumes by Kim DeShazo). One of the residents, Shelley (Alexandra Ruth Wright) is the sex symbol of this literary set and diligently practices her favorite subject. Alex (Eric Myrick) blows in during a rainstorm, saddled with what seems like a terminal case of The Block, is a little out of his element (also on stage). Sam Spanjian and Julia Davis tackle their various roles including the fictitious ones, with relish.

The celebrated Playwright had a brilliant plan for this world premiere, namely letting the audience into the heads of the writers whose ideas come to life while they germinate into what will turn out to become a bestseller. Directed by Jane Page at a similar frantic pace as say, Noises’Off, this play is more of farce than a comedy, slightly over the top, straining for laughs but it does have some funny lines. Quilter’s 2005 mega hit, Glorious! a send-up of Florence Foster Jenkins, the opera star with no voice, is a genuine side-splitter. One of the factors that doesn’t work here are the diverse accents. In the beginning some of the cast sounds Australian, others affect a clipped British accent, a low class Cockney sound and Irish brogue. In what country are we, anyway? Worthington’s landlady seems the most authentic, which is good because there’s no subject on which she’s not an authority, giving her opinion to everybody within hearing distance. ICT has fun with this production. In the lobby is a large board with ballots so you can vote for the most likely book to become, guess what ….. the Bestseller of the Year.

International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach 90802. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm., Sunday 2 pm. Thurs/Friday $47, Sat/Sun $49 (562) 436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org ends 6/30


MISTAKES WERE MADE (Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda) byJerry Mayer

Except for the wrong religion, you might call Playwright Jerry Mayer the Patron Saint of Santa Monica Playhouse. Whenever he writes a hit, this Company gets to produce it, to sold out houses, of course. If you’ve seen any of his works, beginning with Almost Perfect, you won’t want to miss this world premiere. If you need to catch up, the Playhouse runs a Mayer-a-thon every once in a while., reprising the previous nine. This one is creation #10 and has just been extended (*see below).

Mistakes Were Made differs from the previous format but is just as delightful, “a very human comedy” is the official description. Whereas his plays are generally amusing variations on love and romance, this one deals with three alta cacas (Yiddish for old farts), two Jews, one Gentile, their past foibles, missteps and current ailments. You can laugh now but wait, before long, you’ll empathize. The three of them are retired comedy writers who were once great pals but had a huge falling out fifteen years ago and haven’t spoken since. Sufficiently mellowed and painfully aware of tempus fugit, they are getting together for a kiss and make up lunch over pastrami and cheese cake at Canter’s Deli.

The reunion is planned for confessions and owning up to their big, past mistakes. Their stories are told in flashbacks, cleverly staged and directed by the Playhouse’s Co-owner, Chris DeCarlo, with help from international lighting expert, James Cooper. The junior male cast member, Matt Fowler, gets to impersonate the young version of the three guys and the two women, Rachel Galper and Christine Joelle, do excellent work in their multiple roles, past and present.

The three seniors are a chuckle-fest. Their quips give birth to Mayer’s humor with finesse and style. His lines are raunchier now, befitting the current vernacular but always sharp and very funny, Their mistakes: Dick Turner (Paul Linke), still unforgettable for his solo tour de force “Time Flies When You’re Alive” got into some marital trouble he COULDA avoided in the first place. Jeff Cohen (Chris DeCarlo, doing double duty on my night) wishes he WOULDA taken a different job and Mel Friedman (Kyle T. Heffner) SHOULDA not been party to those financial blunders. It’s clear Mayer has not regressed and his funny bone is still honed and polished. His dialogue sparkles with wit and affects us like a dose of uppers on a gloomy day. Jerry, live and be well! (I’m knocking on wood!

Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth Street, near Wilshire, Santa Monica 90401. Saturday 7:30, Sunday 3:30 pm. $35, with discounts for students, teachers, military, seniors and groups. (310) 394-9779 ext. 1. Or santamonicaplayhouse.com/mistakes.html Paid metered parking in Municipal Structure across the street or metered street parking .

* just extended through September 2019



The little restaurant. (previously reviewed), called MR.T’S THAI, is still next door, in the same building. (They share restrooms) You can’t get any closer and with the blessing of one time parking across the street, you’ll have a stress-free outing. There’s also the Big Blue Bus and the Metro Rapid #720 or the new Metro Expo line to 4th & Colorado. Mr. T’s Thai 1215 4th St. Santa Monica, 90401 (310) 395-4106) No alcohol.


Among our local theatre cognoscenti, Rogue Machine has an unsullied reputation as a top notch Company, consistently delivering excellent and unforgettable, new productions that are exciting, provocative and multi-awarded. This current piece takes some getting used to and is a lesson in pre-teen awkwardness. On the plus side, you see some outstanding performances by six young artists portraying them, directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos. Their mannerisms, facial expressions and body language are believable in every detail. Their intentions are pure, admirable, politically correct and up to the minute, timely.

These youngsters meet at their secret hideaway, in a discarded toy-filled shack in the woods (whimsical set design by David A. Mauer), to discuss a subject currently on everyone’s lips. Someone has graffiti’d a racial slur on the wall of the home belonging to one of them, namely an African-American girl, Carly (Jasmine St.Clair). Question No. 1 –who dunnit? More importantly, question No. 2, Do you want to sit through an hour and a half of kids’ conversation? St. Clair is an extraordinary talent, whether she flirts, impersonates her folks or would just as soon forget that unpleasant incident, she’s 100% into it. Another noteworthy acting turn is delivered by Rori Flynn as the teacher, Ms. Apples as well as perky Katie etc. Ryan Brophy is the bad tempered bully Goon and Randolph Thompson in one of his triple portrayals, stuns us wearing head-gear that looks like a spare part left over from Hannibal Lecter’s muzzle of Silence of the Lambs fame. (Costumes by Christina Cover Ferro, Prop Master, Dan Cole). Kenny Selvey plays Gandry, a likable wimp of the sort that tries hard to “belong”, a trait he will probably carry over into adulthood. The play is introduced by Morgan Wilday, at least I hope it’s she, wearing big “Shades”, a baseball cap covering her eyes, her hair over her face, bent over in typical odd kid fashion. She did not have to memorize a lot of dialogue but she’s O.K. Oh, about that title - it’s this tight, little group’s rallying cry – when one of them yells it, it’s a call into action which sets them in motion and they all scuttle off stage at top speed. You like kids? You’ll like this play.

Rogue Machine at the Electric Lodge,1416 Electric Avenue, Venice 90291. Saturday & Monday 8 pm., Sunday 7 pm (through June) in July Sundays 3 pm only. Additional performance 8 pm on 6/14 . Dark on 6/10 and 7/8. No intermission. $40. Students $25. Performances for $10 are on 6/27, 6/14 and 7/6, only at the door, one hour before show time. Free parking in adjoining lot one hour prior to performances, valet, metered and street parking available. (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre. com ends 7/29/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Less than ten minutes’ drive time from the Electric Lodge, is THE BUTCHER’S DAUGHTER, one of Venice’s most popular dining spots and it’s VEGETARIAN! Allow extra time to look for parking unless you want to shell out $11 for valet across the street. Then allow more time waiting at the door for a table #$%$&%! (no reservations) If you’re still reading, I might as well tell you that nobody here is trying to score any bargains. But you will be rewarded- the food is terrific!

The place, though overcrowded, is comfy as an old slipper and the staff most amenable. It has a kitchen atmosphere, casual, light, bright and clean. There are communal tables and assorted seating arrangements. Hint: check out where they plan to lead you before you settle in for your meal. Incidentally, if you’re into value, avoid the appetizer sampler called Butcher’s Mezze. It’s presented on a small wooden board with a tiny cup of green hummus, another with the best tsatziki you ever ate and pita triangles for dipping, pickled carrot sticks and grilled yellow peppers. There are some artichoke hearts (more about them, later) plus three divine, meatless, Mediterranean meatballs – all yummy, except $21 is too pricey. You’re better off with the Carbonara, $18. Instead of starchy pasta, they prepare, to perfection, spaghetti squash with cherry tomatoes, adzuki bacon bits, , arugula and cashew ricotta, topped with a poached egg (They’re vegetarian, not vegan, hence the egg). Another must have treat are their grilled artichoke hearts, unlike any you’ve ever seen or tasted, Four long-stemmed, beet-size beauties, you can pick up like drumsticks. They’re extremely tender, with no prickly tips nor spongy, brush centers. My guess is they first steam them ultra tender, then give them a quick turn over the flames in the outdoor space in the rear. Dip them into the sundried tomato puree on the plate and get ready to smack your lips. They serve beer and out of the ordinary wines, from $13 per glass. So – if you allow all this extra time and love a mystery, since one never really knows what’s in these wonderful meatless dishes, I promise you’ll be a happy camper and like me, want to hurry back.

The Butcher’s Daughter, 1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice 90291. Note: A 3% charge for employees’ health benefit will be added to your bill. Beer & wine. No reservations. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus weekend brunch. Tough parking. (310) 981-3004.


All you need to enjoy the 2019 SHAKESPEARE BY THE SEA Festival is: warm clothes, a picnic, a low chair and something to sip. This year it’s HENRY V (not he guy with all the wives) and COMEDY OF ERRORS (story of my life - just kidding).The San Pedro dates are June 13, 14, 15, 27, 29; July 5, and August 17 (Grand Finale), for Comedy of Errors. June 20, 21, 22, 28, July 6, 7 and August 16 for Henry V. For additional locations, a total of 23 and more detailed information call (310) 217-7596 or www.shakespearebythesea.org. Performances are free but a $10 donation per person, is appreciated. All at 8 pm in Point Fermin Park, 807 Paseo del Mar, San Pedro 90731 ends 8/17/19

DEAD ACCOUNTS by Theresa Rebeck

We are in a very nice home in Cincinnati, Ohio (set designed by Tristan Griffin, construction by Aaron Fish). Into this solid, Midwestern household, pops Jack (Doug Mattingly), in the middle of the night. He fires off F-bombs with machine gun speed and if you eliminated them, he would have no dialogue at all, for the first fifteen minutes. He’s so hyper, almost as if he were on a few illegal substances. He ferociously wolfs down multiple cups of ice cream from his favorite local store, like manna from heaven. Don’t ask how he managed to obtain them, at midnight. But this is a man whose values are somewhat skewed and who has, ingeniously embezzled millions of dollars from his employer, a New York bank. Does it bother his conscience? What do you think? He has a doting mom , Barbara (the adorable Gerry Fuentes), an overly religious woman who is taking care of their sick dad (whom we never see) but whose presence is certainly felt. Also living at home is his over ripe sister Lorna (Selena Price) an unhappy, shlumpy gal – the kind who drinks coffee with the spoon still in the cup. She seems well on her way to old fashioned spinsterhood. But who knows? Jack’s childhood buddy Phil (the comical Karthik Srinivasan) drops in and the two guys recapture their former camaraderie over some snacks. Note: don’t see this show on an empty stomach – there’s a lot of eating going on.

Jack is in the throes of a nasty divorce from a beautiful, blonde New Yorker Jenny (Casey O’Keefe), a sharp dresser (costumes by MarLee Candell), in typical N.Y. black of course. She’s a money-grubbing bitch but still desired by our fidgety friend, Jack, a gent with quicksilver raging through his veins and pepper up his you know what, in an astounding performance. Director Branda Lock handles her task admirably with a cast seemingly tailored for their roles,. Theresa Rebeck has been close to the top of the list of my favorite writers for the stage since I saw what may well have been her first play, “Spike Heels”, so long ago, it isn’t even listed in her bio. She conjures up smoothly evolving plots, generously sprinkled with laughs, here mostly at the expense of Mamma Barbara whose ratchet mouth must be powered by an Energizer Bunny battery. Unfortunately, inspiration failed her at the very end of this piece. There really is none and we’ re left wondering what happened next…..

Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre Street, between 7th and 8th Streets, San Pedro 90731. Fridays & Saturdays 8 pm. Sunday 5/26 and 6/9 at 2 pm only. $28, seniors 60+ $26, 25-and-under $15 with code “Hipster”. Parking lot in rear, enter via the alley. (310)512-6030. www.littlefishtheatre.org Ends 6/9/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


San Pedro has not had a French restaurant that I can remember, so it’s a pleasure to announce that the former Jackson’s Place has been transformed into LA BUVETTE, with Chef Christoff Elce wearing the toque. It’s a nice looking spot, two wine barrels to welcome you as you enter, there are tiny vases with fresh herbs on every well-spaced table, a prominent bar and as a sort of centerpiece, a live, potted ficus tree in the middle of the airy room. A good investment would have been in an acoustical ceiling because when it’s filled with diners – and it’s very popular, the roar of the crowd becomes almost unbearable. A word of advice, don’t even think of walking in without a reservation. It’s just around the corner from the Little Fish Theatre, which allows you to park, dine and walk, a bonus which every theatre patron values like gold.

The menu is fairly uncomplicated and not unaffordable. Service is extraordinarily attentive and flexible. An entrée of mussels costs $19, beef Bourguignon $24, and tops out at $28 for duck. In the mood for an interesting appetizer? You’ll like their pate (vegan), it comes in a little glass jar and is even tastier, and healthier, than the famous foie gras, $9. Barigoule $19 (pronounced bahreegool) named for a mushroom grown in the South of France, is a mix of vegetables with a of scoop of farro. served lukewarm but tasty. It should be listed under appetizers since it’s too small for a main course. Incidentally, don’t plan on doggie bagging anything for a next day’s lunch; portions are not exactly king size. Duck lovers, they do a duck a la Gascogne, a Province along the shores of the Bay of Biscayne, in a preparation without the cloying orange or cherry sauces which I abhor but you may adore. This one is a sliced breast , crumbled with Blue cheese, fig sauce and a side of polenta. I’m not too crazy about the latter two and would like to send a kiss on both cheeks to the Chef, for not being temperamental and substituting fingerling potatoes and haricots verts. For dessert, the chocolate ganache cake sounds more exciting than it is, with a crust resembling shortbread, tough to cut even with a knife. Pick it up with your fingers, is my advice, $9.

They have fascinating, multinational wine list, from $9 per glass. Buvette is French for tap room and I suspect this was to be a wine bar rather than the traditional French bistro it has become. In any case, it’s a nice addition to the South Bay dining scene. Bienvenue!

LA BUVETTE BISTRO, 335 W. 7th Street, San Pedro 90731. Beer & Wine. Street parking. Closed Monday, Tues-Thurs and Sunday 5-9pm. Fri & Sat 5-10pm .Reservations (424) 342-9840 www.labuvettebistro.com

DANIEL’S HUSBAND by Michael McKeever

The Fountain Theatre, unless you live in East Hollywood, is a bitch of a drive. Parking is beastly and the lot next door is usually stuffed tighter than your grandmother’s bell peppers. Plus, there’s no convenient restaurant nearby, where you could park, eat and walk to the show. So why do even the snooty Westsiders cross La Cienega en masse to attend shows at this theatre? Because the Fountain consistently produces excellent plays and the current one, DANIEL’S HUSBAND even raises the standard a notch or two. It’s a really beautiful love story between two men. If that puts some of you off, let me assure you that it could flourish easily between a man and a woman. Their emotions and conflicts are universal and their interaction tastefully done.

It takes place in the attractive home designed by Daniel (the tall, slender, likable Bill Brochtrup), a gifted architect and occupied by him and his lover, Mitchell (Tim Cummings), a successful novelist. A dinner party is in progress, the mood is jovial, the quips clever and amusing. Daniel, who is also a gourmet cook, serves his delectable creme brûlée dessert. Present, of course, are Mitchell, a fascinating man fulfilled in both his professional and private life. He is also acerbic, volatile and opinionated but very bright with a certain raw charm. The one sour note in this sweet romance of seven years, is that Daniel wants to get married, have a big party with all the traditional trimmings, followed by a honeymoon – the works. Mitchell, even though they are both in love, will have none of it and doesn’t believe in marriage, which results in a battle royale which will have grave consequences later. The other guests are Mitchell’s good friend and literary agent, Barry (Ed F. Martin), not the usual despicable agent type whose general Like-O-Meter hovers between lawyers and undertakers. Barry gets teased a lot for his promiscuous penchant for very young men. But that’s fortuitous because he has brought along his current toy boy Trip (Jose Fernando) a cheerful, exuberant millennial with a sunny disposition, ideal for his job as a free lance caregiver.

A major damper comes in the form of Daniel’s mother, whom he has always detested and blamed for his late, beloved dad’s unhappiness and her disparaging dismissal of his talents. Mom, Lydia ((Jenny O’Hara, well remembered for her co-starring role in Bakersfield Mist) has announced her week-long uninvited ad unwelcome visit. Soon enough, she blows in like a bad breath and immediately makes herself at home, even invites a neighbor for dinner. One of my former co-workers would describe her as a TOB (take-over broad). The play evokes the famous theatrical symbol of two masks. One is smiling, the other sad. The mood darkens when tragedy strikes unexpectedly. If you are not moved by this exquisitely written, superbly directed (by Simon Levy ) and excellently performed work by the entire cast, your heart is frozen somewhere up in Antarctica!

The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. (at Normandie) Los Angeles, 90029. Friday & Monday 8pm, Saturdays 2 & 8pm, Sundays 2pm. No intermission. $25- student, $35- senior, regular and Monday’s $40, premium $45. parking in adjacent lot $5, (323) 663-1525 www.fountaintheatre.com ends 6/23


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre theater suggestion

One of the areas most durable and pioneering vegan dining spots, FLORE, is also one of the tiniest, with six tables plus three on the sidewalk. Bummer: no reservations, period, which makes it inconvenient for theatre patrons. Don’t get me started on the parking situation, either. See below. The “décor” can be described as “Vintage Silver Lake B.G. (before gentrification)”. There’s a large glass vitrine displaying pastries (the berry cake $6, is not bad) which I wish they’d tear out and put in some more tables. The kitchen is in no hurry either but our waiter was a really pleasant fellow. Now comes the good part.

The vegan menu is low-priced, everything seems to be $14 or $15 and farmer’s market fresh. They also serve tacos, burritos, burgers and, of course pizza. I love and admire Wolfgang Puck but I can’t forgive him for elevating pizza from lowlife to aristocrat with his fancy versions. It seems that, nowadays, no restaurant in SoCal dares to turn on its oven without the ubiquitous pie in it. Let’s leave the above to their specialty establishments and instead, enjoy what they do so well, here. When a vegan restaurant offers a salad, they don’t just throw together some tomatoes, cukes, onions and greens. For example, The Salad, $15, is pretty as a still life, in a wheel of egg salad (tofu, actually), roasted beets, shredded carrots, avocado chunks, daikon sprouts, baked and nicely flavored tofu, an assortment of greens etc., with choice of dressing. Really good! If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, try the Comfort Bowl, same price. Therein you’ll find their version of meatloaf and mashers. The bowl consists of quinoa meatloaf, corn, in the good company of sautéed onions, zucchini, sautéed mushrooms and kale, the latter, the weakest sister in the Bowl. Zero seasoning, undercooked, steamed large leaves that are tough to cut.. People tolerate this vegetable because of its soooooo healthy reputation, I believe. The spuds are real but I’d give a kingdom for hefty pat of butter in the middle. Portions are not stingy and Flore is only a ten minute drive from The Fountain Theatre.

Flore, 3818 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles 90026. Open 11am - 4 pm Monday, Tues. thru Friday 11 am – 10 pm, Saturday & Sunday brunch 10am -1pm, dinner 1pm - 10pm. No alcohol, no reservations. Very tight street parking, even the employees have to cruise and hunt for a space. Try the south side of Lucille Avenue and good luck. (323) 953-0611.

OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES by Daniel Okrent & Peter Gethers

Everybody needs a good laugh some of the time but especially now, considering what’s going on in the world. If you’re Jewish, you really need that laugh all of the time. To the rescue comes OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES and you’ll have the antidote for quite a while. The usual advice is “you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this show” but it would most certainly help. If you have Jewish friends who have acquainted you with a few Yiddish expressions, that’s a definite plus and if you’re not offended by slightly off color material, that’s good too. You can even bring Aunt Sadie – if she’s the worldly type. Compared to what’s been seen and heard in local theaters, this is PG-rated.

The stage is bare except for some chairs and uncredited projections. (There’s a hilarious clip from a vintage Alan King TV show) But it soon comes to life, with the entrances and exits of the five actors. They sing, hoof around a little, spout one-liners, tell a hundred jokes and keep us laughing. Handsome Jeffrey Lesser plays the keyboard, Danielle Kay is young and pretty, Arthur S. Brown’s voice is strong and youthful, Julien Ari is a master of accents and the curvaceous Wendy Hammer is a gorgeous woman of a certain age, full of piss and vinegar. They all sound good, have perfect timing and a twinkle in their eyes.

If you’re showbiz-wise, you probably know that many famous Jewish comedians started out as class clowns who used humor to overcome the racial slurs they had to endure as youngsters. Making others laugh brought some attention and popularity into their difficult lives, not to mention starting them on successful and prosperous careers. Jews don’t mind making fun of themselves, as long as it elicits laughter.

The audience is asked not to blurt out any punch lines, since you’ve probably heard some of the jokes before or different versions of them. For example, there is one about four ladies sitting on a park bench. I previously heard it about four Jewish ladies getting together for a bridge game. One sits down and says “oy”. The next one sighs “oy vay” and the third goes “oy vay iz mir”. So the hostess asks “Girls, are we here to play cards, or talk about the kids?! In any case, you’ll leave in a much better mood than when you first arrived, guaranteed!

The Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third Street, between Cypress & Magnolia, Burbank 91502. Thursday 3 & 8 pm. Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 3 & 7 pm. No intermission. $45 - $65. Free parking on site in the Burbank Town Center Mall. (855) 448-7469 or www.playhouseinfo.com Group sales (888) 264-1788 Ends 6/16/19



Hello, Sports Fans! You like to see bloody noses and black eyes? Sorry, wrong show. The boxing lessons here deal with a family that comes together to box up the belongings of their late father, a very successful and famous author whose biggest success was a provocatively titled Christmas book. Now the New York Times wants to publish an obituary. The “boxing” reference is quite misleading but, I guess, “Daddy’s Dyin’ (dead), Who’s got the Will” was already taken. This is one of the most stimulating and original plays and if we were still using the star rating, I’d hand them the Milky Way.

This daddy had a secret hideaway cabin on Puget Sound, presently inundated with smoke from a Canadian wildfire The air inside the cluttered room (set design by John Iacovelli) is almost as polluted by this bunch who detest one another. The daughter Judy (Eve Danzeizen), a tough cookie, is dressed for cleaning out a garage (costumes by Florence Kemper Bunzel). This girl knows more about dear, old dad than all the rest of them put together. The ex-wife, Meg (Susan Wilder), plays it wonderfully brittle and sarcastic. You will love her in spite of her bitchy attitude. This woman shouldn’t even be allowed to celebrate Mother’s Day! One of her sons, the kvetshy Ned (Luke McClure), who lives in Iowa, is anxious to get back to the Midwest but isn’t happy there, either. Her third child, the unpredictable Steve (Stephen Tyler Howell) is autistic, sort of an idiot savant who refers to himself in the third person, has a sonorous voice and is mesmerizing. The last to arrive is Billy (Bruce Nozick), let’s call him a family friend, who is anxious to take care of the post mortem business and finances, since the work of famous writers become even more valuable dead than alive. In the midst of it all is the local Sheriff Bob (Eric Curtis Johnson), not the usual tough, obnoxious cop but a sensitive guy who considers himself part of the mourners.

This is the line-up of fascinating characters (a shout out to Casting Director Victoria Hoffman). They will entertain you, amaze you with their acting skills and astonish you with their personal relationships. This story reveals more secrets than The National Enquirer but with razor-sharp wit. Questions and answers regarding intimacies, paternity and sexual orientations are tossed around like fresh popping corn. The brilliant playwright, John Bunzel’s sparkling dialogue will have you hanging on every word. The inspired direction is by New American Theatre’s Artistic Director Jack Stehlin, celebrating their first year in this new location. This premiere should now travel triumphantly around the stages of America and the world.

The New American Theatre 1312 N. Wilton Place, between Sunset & Fountain, Hollywood 90028. Friday & Saturday 8 pm Sunday 5/26 and 6/2 only at 3 pm . $35. No intermission. Call theater for parking availability at the High School across the street. (310) 424-2980 or www.newamericantheatre.com ends 6/2/19


THE THINGS WE DO by Grant Woods

This gifted playwright, an Arizona native, is a genuine renaissance man. Career wise, he was a member of the late Senator John McCain’s staff, served as AZ State Attorney General and still has a successful legal practice. But he also authored a children’s book, has written screenplays, been a record producer, performer, song writer, hosted a Radio talk show and was Occidental College’s Alumnus Of the Year in 2000. He has written plays, including this one which you should definitely see The Things We Do, a world premiere currently at the Odyssey.

Perhaps inspired by the 1959 hit movie, Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice, a romantic merry-go-round with two couples, this one could be called Bill & Sara, Ted & Alice. However, it has more meat, more relevance to our current world view, liberal sprinklings of humor among more serious philosophy and smart dialogue. Our couples, in their forties, have been comfortably married for about two decades, when the seven year itch, belatedly and unexpectedly, sets in, while two of the people hatch a little plan of their own.

The unusual stage configuration (set by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, lighting by Brian Gale, sound by Christopher Moscatiello) transports us smoothly from locations in Santa Monica to the hills and beaches of Malibu. The story begins in a bar, where the provocatively dressed (costumes by Kate Bergh) Sara (Marlene Galan) sips a drink, her second favorite pastime. She brazenly corners and propositions the unsuspecting Bill (Blake Boyd) and invites him to her house. In a classic case of coitus interupptus, the husband, Ted (Stephen Rockwell) arrives unexpectedly. Sara promptly comes up with a clever ruse to mislead him. Hubby happens to be a Real Estate Agent, always on the lookout for a new client. Sara introduces Bill as such and Ted springs into action. This is how it all begins and it ends and in an amusing and often poignant story about four people who arrive at the crossroad of their lives, patching up or abandoning their relationships.

Much of the play consists of soliloquies as the characters bare their souls. Director Elina de Santos lives up to her impeccable reputation for eliciting superb performances from her cast, I do have one suggestion, if you’ll permit me. Some of the dialogue is delivered from a corner of the stage. Please move the bench back at least one yard, so that more of us can see the actors’ faces. Easy enough to do since the performers double as the stage crew.

Galan sparkles as the rambunctious Sara, a gal always up for fun and games. She’s an open book, tipples unabashedly and was probably born a flirtatious floozie. Ted’s wife , the slender Alice (Liesel Kopp), is just the opposite. An introspective woman with global concerns, she’s a yoga instructor and an environmental advocate of sterling character. The men are not as easily classified. Rockwell is charming as Ted, a hard working guy with an open mind for self improvement and is a contented husband. Boyd’s Bill, whom we first meet as the play opens, giving one of his high energy monologues, falls into Sara’s trap, not quite knowing what hit him but you’ll notice, he doth not protest too much. The things they do aren’t always among the smartest choices but, as the saying goes, to err is human, to forgive divine…..sometimes.

Odyssey Theatre , 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. near Olympic, Los Angeles 90025. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. No intermission. $35, seniors $25. AEA/SAG/AFTRA $20, Students $15. Parking in front $5. Note: the attendant takes your money, you park yourself and he leaves when the show starts. (310) 477-2055 X2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com ends 5/12/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

At the risk of sounding like a car salesman, I’d like to amp up the volume on this page and shout “Folks, this is the deal of a lifetime!’ Because it is. Hidden on the ground floor of the large KMV office building on the corner of Olympic and Purdue Avenue, you’ll find IL MORO, only five minutes west of the Odyssey. You enter the long corridor past not one but two bars (the office crowd here must be pretty thirsty) and you’re in a beautiful, spacious dining room with elegantly set tables and mostly super-sized paintings, obviously by the same eccentric artist, scattered throughout .You also get a view of the gorgeous, oasis-like, adjoining patio. Planning a wedding? This would be the perfect place to start your love match.

Service is prompt and caring but here comes the best part: they offer a three-course, prix fixe dinner daily, for $30, plus tax & tip. The cuisine is authentic Italiano, created by Master Chef Gaetano Foiani . Three choices among the appetizers and the main courses as well and two for dessert. Start with the grilled octopus, pieces cut from the thick center section that are bedded on a yummy chickpea purée. A paper-thin, “waffle”, the size of a slice of toast made with polenta, is the surprise. You can also get minestrone soup or a full-size artichoke salad chockfull of baby greens and nicely dressed, topped with thin Parmesan slices. For the main course, if you’re a fish lover, do pick the filet of sole. An exquisite, firm fleshed piece of fish, delicately seasoned (lemon and capers) very generously portioned, joined by wonderful, garlicky spinach and little, skin-on potatoes. Also available is vegetable-stuffed pasta with pesto and diced tomatoes or a chicken paillard. This large, grill-marked breast must be from the Dolly Parton of the barnyard, beneath a mound of baby arugula and other greens, which gives it a nice texture and the needed, additional moisture which that cut usually lacks. It’s also topped with Parmesan slices - either a favorite of the Chef’s or a bargain buy from the supplier. For the finale you can pick gelato with berries or a slice of flourless chocolate cake beside a puddle of soft custard Pssst – a dollop of whipped cream, the real thing not shot from guns, would have made it even better. This menu is in effect until April 18th. A Passover Menu at $35 from 4/19 through 4/27 has a new list of goodies. Don’t miss it ! The wine list leans heavily toward the Italians, starting at $12 per glass. There are cocktails of every description and you’ll come away with that rare feeling that you got your money’s worth and then some.

IL MORO, 11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles 90064 Entrance and parking on Purdue Avenue. Lunch Mon- Fri 11:15-3pm, dinner Mon-Thurs 5-9pm, Fri & Sat 5-10pm , closed Sun. Full bar .Three hours free, validated parking in building garage, left of entrance on Purdue .(310) 575-3530

THE COUNTRY HOUSE by Donald Margulies

Playwright Donald Margulies never disappoints. His numerous creations, including Sight Unseen, The Model Apartment and Dinner with Friends, have won every award that matters and deservedly so. And Little Fish Theatre doesn’t disappoint, either. This production is first rate and a credit to Director Holly Baker- Kreiswirth and her enormously talented cast. It’s the story of a theatrical family, still reeling from the untimely death of one of their own. The mother of the deceased, Anna Patterson (Belinda Howell) has invited all the relatives to her late daughter’s house in Williamsburg, VA. (set by Scott Walewski, sound and prop design by Baker-Kreiswirth) which turns out to be a mixed blessing. There’s young Susie (Frannie Morrison) a sullen, little thing who doesn’t really approve of the whole idea. Her Uncle Elliot (Bill Wolski), a man who feels unloved and inadequate in his efforts to achieve fame and fortune among his betters. The widower, Walter (Richard Perloff) an elderly, commercially successful director, who brings along his young paramour Nell (Maire-Rose Pike). The invited outsider, Michael Astor (Patrick Vest) is a currently successful TV personality. You’ll acquaint yourself with this lively lot over the next couple of hours.

Howell is terrific as a woman a little past her Broadway-star prime, which she accepts without illusions. Perloff, a veteran member of LFT’s pool of excellent actors is ideally cast as an old geezer with a bum knee, a new Porsche and a chick half his age. His fiancée (Pike) could very well have been a clueless bimbo out for money and security but turns out to be just the opposite. She’s sensitive, empathetic and an attractive, young woman who wins us over with her warmth and sincerity. The moody Susie mellows nicely as we get to know her better. Then we have the visiting TV personality (Vest) whose charm is not lost on the ladies here. He must try to convince us of his irresistibility, a tough task since he doesn’t look anything like the babe magnet he’s supposed to portray but he manages the part without any affectations. The performance you won’t soon forget, however, is Wolski’s Elliot, something of a loose cannon temperamentally. Wolski, in this rare dramatic role, spills his guts, while almost breaking our hearts.

This family drama is not about the usual boorish bunch of lowlife’s, spouting foul language and repressed venom. These are intelligent people who know how to communicate with words that have more than four letters. However, we must deal with their artistic temperaments and their giant egos which, if they had to carry them along, they couldn’t even squeeze into the Staples Center but they do entertain us royally!

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street, San Pedro 90731. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Thurs 4/18 8pm, Sunday 4/14 & 4/28 2pm. $28, seniors $26. Free parking in front and rear. Enter via the alley for rear lot. (310) 512- 6030 NEW TEXT NUMBER (424) 203-4707 or www.littlefishtheatre.org ends 4/28


THE DINING SCENE : Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

You’ll never recognize Mischi’s, the old strudel place, now that it’s become SEBASTIAN’S MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE. It’s still a shoe box but the fresh wallpaper and softer lighting has transformed it into a cozy dining spot, which San Pedro has welcomed like a rich, old uncle about to make his will. It’s so popular, that reservations made a week in advance, is none too soon. All is not perfect, though. The noise level is not jut a din but more of a roar. On top of that, on our night, a Friday, they have a pianist sitting behind what used to be the pastry counter. You can’t hear yourself, your companion nor him, a complete waste of talent and money. You’ll like the reasonably priced menu though, a blend of Greek, Middle-Eastern and Italian favorites, from $17 for a chicken kebab to $20 for beef (filet mignon) kebab, as well as some tempting appetizers. Service is speedy because they have to get you out pronto, even before your seat cools, the next hungry guests are ready to occupy it. The Italian fare is pretty basic – Lasagna, chicken picatta, eggplant parmigiana, $13 - $16. Greek, Caesar or tabbouleh salads, $11- $12 and the above mentioned kabobs. The most fun, though are the appetizers. Choice of four among nine listed for $25 is a bargain.

There are marinated, roasted Yukon potatoes, fried calamari, falafel and tzatziki (Greet yoghurt and chopped cucumbers). We picked albondigas, four plump, beefy meatballs in a fresh tomato sauce; the mini cioppino, a generous bowl of everything that swims (calamari, fish, shrimp, clams and mussels) in a subtle but flavorful broth and chim-chim shrimp in a delicate lemon-garlic sauce. Not so hot, were the “oven-roasted” fresh vegetables, which seem to have been sautéed in oil, lots of oil, and were a veritable salt mine! The menu-listed complimentary tzatziki did not make an appearance. We also ordered a lentil soup, thin, weak and over salted, too. The last two dishes remained, untouched on the table. When the chef/owner’s wife stopped by to ask “how everything was”, we told her about the salt debacle. Did she offer to bring a substitute? No! Did she take it off the bill, uh, uh. I told you, not everything is perfect. What is perfect. Is the location, if you’re headed for the Little Fish. Exit via the back door and walk across the alley, you will be in the theatre’s parking lot. You’ll also love the fact that you can bring your own wine with no corkage charge.

Sebastian’s Mediterranean Cuisine, 309 W. 7th Street near Centre Street. San Pedro 90731. (424) 342-9062 No alcohol. BYOB (no corkage fee). Closed Monday, Tues 5-9pm,Wed-Sun 11am-9pm.Tight street parking.

BAR MITZVAH BOY by Mark Leiren-Young

According to West Coast Jewish Theatre’s Artistic Director Howard Teichman, there is an annual competition for the best Jewish plays, held in New York and Bar Mitzvah Boy was the winning entry in 2017. By its title, one might think it’s the account of one of those outlandish events, filled with hijinks and droll incidents where everything that could go wrong before, during and after the festivities, does. But this is nothing of the kind. It, of course, has entertainment value and lighthearted moments but it primarily explores the question of faith and what the human spirit will endure without losing it. The Canadian playwright created it primarily for non-Jewish audiences to prove a point, namely that, whatever your religion, underneath we’re all the same.

The story opens with, what looks like a little boy exercising furiously to loud rock music. This must be our “Boy”, you think. But wait. Next we’re in a synagogue’s office (set by Kurtis Bedford) where the little guy has morphed into the resident Rabbi, a diminutive, little Size 2 woman (Pamela Heffler), wearing a colorful yarmulke (skull cap). Waiting for her is a sixty-ish gentleman, Joey Brant (R. Emmett Lee), a wealthy divorce lawyer, with a predicament. His grandson Benny, is about to become Bar Mitzvah but he doesn’t know that his own zayda (grandfather) never did go through with his. To remedy this embarrassment, Joey is determined to be Bar Mitzvah’d just ahead of Benny and to this end he insists that only this Rabbi Levitz- Sharon, give him some intensive, private tutoring. When she refuses he pulls out his checkbook to write a big donation…. ahemm ….for the upcoming temple renovation. The audience, not quite hardened by recent headlines, flinches a bit. Does the bribery work? You bet! Heffler possesses a clear singing voice and a dynamic personality. At the moment however, she’s trying to overcome a devastating situation in her own family life , while still maintaining her religious duties and her faith in God. Joey, on the other hand, is a secularized Jew, who hasn’t set foot in shul (temple) for close to fifty years but is about to embrace the old traditions and his faith again. This makes for stimulating, often amusing, repartee. Lee’s performance is especially noteworthy because the actor is not Jewish but has mastered the Hebrew prayers perfectly. (At no extra charge, you get a bonus, little second language vocabulary lesson, by the glossary page in your program, explaining the meaning of those foreign-sounding words.)

Director Teichman keeps his cast in almost perpetual motion, on the large main floor stage. He has carefully chosen this West Coast premiere, which is loaded with religious subjects but is never didactic. Non-Jewish theatre lovers willing to open their minds, will come away with a little more knowledge of the ancient query about what it means to be Jewish. Do stay for the fifteen minute Q & A at the end of the show.

West Coast Jewish Theatre at Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., near Wilshire, Santa Monica 90403, Thursday – Saturday, 8 pm. Sunday 2 pm. Santa Monica residents with ID, $ 30. If you bought tickets online, you get a $5 refund at the door, plus, if you bring a picture of your own Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you also get $5 off. Free parking in Structure at 808 Wilshire Blvd, (the entrance ramp is on Lincoln Blvd. (323)821-2449 or www.wcjt.org ends 5/12/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Without a doubt, a theatre experience is always better when it follows a splendid dinner and INGO’S TASTY DINER is just the place for it. It’s truly tasty but not what we classify as a “diner”. The place has booths for one, two and more , tables with comfy chairs and a bar, in a sort of “ serious coffee shop” motif. Service is flawless and friendly, prices are within reason. The wine list is international but not snobbish, with glasses starting at $10 for a Donnigan Hills Chardonnay, to $15 for a French Burgundy. Cocktails with cute names are $14. Happy Hour is in effect daily until 7 pm, so check that out.

The menu has some Asian, Mediterranean and American influences, in other words, typical L.A. You could start with their Middle-Eastern dip assortment, $13 with toasted pita triangles. Or, an order of the spiced lentils, unlike any you’ve ever tasted, $12. I have not had much luck cooking zucchini squash blossoms at home. Here they do them Japanese tempura style, in a feather light crust and stuffed with all sorts of goodies, for $11. Main courses start at $10 , for a vegan burger, rise to $32 for prime rib and top out to $36 for a filet mignon. If you’re a fan of mussels, let me steer you toward them. Beneath a mound of greens, they’re unbelievably delicious, cooked Thai style, in a broth flavored with Thai basil, cilantro and fresh lemongrass, spicy but not searing. About a 7 out of 10 on the S.Q (spice quotient). Ask for a spoon so you don’t miss a drop, $18. Ingo’s is not an undiscovered gem – the place was packed to the rafters and reservations are a problem, street parking is tight, as well. Other than that, it’s a ”must visit” restaurant. I hate to spoil a nice surprise: you get a good- bye cookie just before you exit the front door.

Ingo’s Tasty Diner, 1213 Wilshire Blvd. near 12th St. Santa Monica 90403. Less than a ten minute drive to the Miles. Full bar. Open 4pm weekdays, 9 am weekends.. Sunday brunch with live jazz 11-2pm. Street parking (310) 395-4646.

THE SOUND OF MURDER by William Fairchild

Love a good mystery? The Brits are masters of the genre and know how to do bad in a very civilized way. Here’s one written in 1959, which lay dormant until Theatre 40’s Artistic Director David Hunt Stafford, discovered and resurrected it. The subjects, greed, deception, miserable marriages etc., are just as relevant today as they were decades ago.

An elegant cottage in Sussex (designed by the talented Jeff G. Rack) is the setting for this murder mystery. The man of the house (the inimitable David Hunt Staffford) who dislikes kids, along with just about everyone else, is nevertheless a very successful author of children’s books. His unhappy wife Anne (Kate Whitney) vainly begs for a divorce which he won’t grant because it might hurt his image as a family man. No deal, even when she confesses to an extramarital affair with an attractive man, Peter (Gabriel Oliva). The less I tell you about the schemes that are hatched on this stage, the better you’ll like the play. The plot has more twists and turns and ups and downs than a roller coaster. Secrets are revealed, private conversations are exposed and clever plans to commit murder hit a few snags. In his directorial debut at Theatre 40, Adrian Cohen makes sure nobody is bored. Stafford plays the villain with his usual gusto. For example, he cheerfully whistles a Gilbert & Sullivan tune, while commanding his long suffering wife to serve him a drink while he’s taking a bath. She’s one miserable lady who would like children but of course, he does not. Her lover (Oliva) cuts a suitably dashing figure. Roslyn Cohn is Charles’ secretary, Miss Forbes. She’s got an eye for the boss and it’s obvious, this is a woman who does not plan to spend the rest of her life taking dictation. Peter Trencher pleases as Inspector Davidson, a dignified investigator, not the usual bumbling cop and David Westbay has a cameo as a constable. Michèle Young designed the vintage costumes and “Sloe” Slawinski, the sound genius, gives us offstage car arrivals and departures plus a doosy of a thunder storm. Don’t even try to guess the denouement.

Theatre 40 Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills 90212 (off Little Santa Monica Blvd). Free parking in the building garage, adjoining the theatre. Thursday through Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $35 (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.com ends 4/14/19.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Ever since EATALY opened with a fanfare worthy of a coronation, I’ve planned to visit this touted foodie heaven before a show at the nearby Theatre 40. I expected authentic Italian dishes, unusual flavors, rare selection –vitello tonnato comes to mind and wonderful, rare, sweet treats like zucotto and zuppa Inglese. What I found was nothing but disappointment! O.K., first the good part. Eataly is a great place to shop. They have a lovely meat and fish section an immense wine cellar and very fresh produce. You want to buy and cook it all up at home. Dinner is another story. Besides the pizza, pasta, coffee and gelato stations, the only serious restaurant is TERRA. It’s a pretty rooftop oasis, ready for al fresco dining, with a few tables and bar in a covered area. Now, for the damper. You’ll find only L.A Italian food at very steep prices. There’s hardly an entree below $30. So your best bet is the two course, prix fixe menu for $28. I have to say, among the appetizers, I really liked the arrosticini, six skewers of nicely marinated, little beef cubes and a slice of garlic toast. The second course was more of a head scratcher. You get a choice of three: chicken, pasta or a lamb chop which, if you read the very fine print, will cost you an extra $8. I don’t care for pasta as an entree, so I ended up with the rotisserie chicken, just like you might pick up at your neighborhood market, for few bucks. It did have nice fingerling potato halves, some cut up asparagus plus a salad, all piled together on one plate, which warmed up the greens while cooling down the chicken. Furthermore, be warned, they validate parking only for one hour. Hell, it takes at least twenty minutes to get up there what with every elevator loaded with baby carriages, navigating to get in or out. To say I got ripped off is an understatement. Arrivederci, Terra, you’ll never see ME again!

Terra, Fifth floor of Eataly in the Century City Westfield Mall, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles 90067. (213) 310-8008.

PARADISE by Laura Maria Censabella

Have you ever caught yourself looking askance at Muslim women wrapped in their hijabs (head scarves) and wondered why they dress like that, now that they live in America? Meet Yasmeen al-Hamadi (Maral Milani), a seventeen year old high school student and she’ll soften your outlook and steal your heart. Please don’t judge her by her first appearance, when she bursts into the modest science lab (set and lighting by Jeff Rowlings, first rate sound by Jon Gottlieb). She’s obnoxiously aggressive but you’ll soon discover that she’s also exceedingly bright, well spoken, ambitious but not ruthless and an altogether likable, young girl. Her face and expressive dark eyes are mirrors of her intense emotion. She’s from a little village in Yemen, her aim in life is to score a scholarship to Columbia University and become a scientist. Paradise is the story of her road towards that goal.

Her good fortune is to connect with a teacher, Dr. Guy Royston (the excellent Jeff Marlow). He’s no pushover to convince that she’s able to collaborate on a paper of scientific importance. She’s dealing with a brilliant man who, due to a mishap, shall we say, in his personal life, has been relegated to this school in the impoverished South Bronx area and who is anxious to return to his former prominence. This gifted Muslim student has come into his life at the right moment.

Refreshingly, there is no physical attraction between teacher and pupil on this stage; their bond is strictly intellectual. He happens to be a devout atheist and she overflows with religious fervor and her culture, but not offensively so. Their discussions make for provocative listening. Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, heads of JUVEE Productions are the producers of this timely, thought provoking work by the much awarded playwright Laure Maria Censabella. They were fortunate to secure Vicangelo Bulluck, a man well known in theatrical and political circles (he opened first the Hollywood branch of the NAACP}, to direct the flawless cast. If there’s a message here, it is that in spite of their differences, they develop a believable rapport and leave us with the good feeling that, if nothing else, common ground and ambition might eventually unite us all.

Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, at Stanley (between Fairfax and La Brea) Los Angeles 90046. Thursday 3/28, 8pm only, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $35. Tight street parking but valet service is available at nearby restaurants,. (323) 960-7724 or www.OnStage411.com/Paradise ends 3/31



If you’re a theatre lover, you’ll want to know what the JWT (Jewish Women’s Theatre) is doing and you needn’t be Jewish or a woman to enjoy it. They have introduced a whole new concept to SoCal, namely Salon Theatre. It’s actually staged readings of short, but always, fascinating stories with four to eight professional actors. Each holds a script but hardly glances at it. They delight us with tales of various subjects, the current one is called IT’S A LIFE and explores the vagaries of our morality. Mind you, it’s not morbid or depressing, some are actually life affirming ; others are moving and many are actually funny.

Over a dozen vignettes are featured. For example, beginning with the droll “Eew”, about a woman who accidentally comes across a dead possum. She’s an animal lover with a social conscience but can’t figure out how to handle this situation. Another story deals with the last wish of a mean spirited father, a despicable man who wants to have a flattering inscription on his headstone. There are no props or costumes on the bare stage. The motto of JWT is “Honor the Word”.

Now for the big surprise. These soirees are held all over Los Angeles and, probably, near where you live, usually in someone’s beautiful home, where they welcome you with coffee and a lavish dessert buffet, homemade cookies plus fruit, nuts and cheeses, included in the price, $45 pre-sale, $50 at the door. JWTs Art and Performance space is The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave.Suite 102, at Yale in Santa Monica, where Monica Piper is currently reprising her local and off-Broadway hit, “Not That Jewish” on Thursday nights at 8 pm, until March 28th. A terrific show!

IT’ A LIFE will be at in the Valley March 13, a performance space on Fairfax Avenue on March 16, in the South Bay March 17 and back at the Braid March 18,19 & 20 , all at 7:30 pm. For future program information and tickets:www.jewishwomenstheatre.org. Questions: (310)315-1400.



Bravissimo to Los Angeles Opera for bringing us Mozart’s most obscure opera, although his Idomeneo isn’t exactly on the Hit Parade, either. Tito first saw the light of day in 1781 in Munich and was the first Mozart opera to be given in London, in 1806. Years later it had a short run at Tanglewood. And why was this work so under appreciated? Because the static staging lacked both inspiration and imagination. When I saw the San Francisco Opera production decades ago, it was like a prescription for insomnia. A mere tableaux for the singers to stand like statues and belt it out. Of course, no one could follow the story because there were no supertitles then.

Leave it to L.A, Opera to mount a magnificent production, intelligently directed by the multi-talented Thaddeus Strassberger, who also designed the scenery, with costumes by Mattie Ullrich.The music is typically Mozartian, inspired, melodious, singable. Wolfie seldom borrowed from his other compositions, unlike Rossini for example, but the Act II trio could be straight out of Don Giovanni, although the melody stands on its own. Here he also avoided saddling his artists with stratospheric high notes (think the Queen of the Night in Zauberfloete), although Sesto’s famous bravura aria ignited the enthusiastic audience.

Tito opens with the staging set in a gilded frame around a painting worthy of a Rembrandt before the figures come to life. The story is full of intrigue at the royal court with Titus (Russell Thomas), a towering figure of a man, as the beloved ruler. He is benign, benevolent and charitable, giving his own precious gifts to the needy. We envy his lucky subjects and wonder where all these politicians of sterling character are now when we really need them? He leaves his lover for the good of the country and plans to marry the daughter of the previous Emperor, named Vitellia (sounds like a tasty Italian dish), powerfully sung by Guanqun Yu, with whom the above mentioned Sesto (Elizabeth DeShong) is madly in love. DeShong is blessed with a ringing mezzo soprano with the timbre of a counter tenor. Her friend Annio is sung by Taylor Raven, whose voice possesses the same, rich quality. In fact, all the singers were in fine form. The glamorous Janai Brugger as Sesto’s sister, looked and sang divinely and James Creswell made an impression both physically and vocally, as Publio, a sort of elder statesman in ancient Rome. The supertitles are in colloquial phrases, so you’ll have no problem following the slightly convoluted libretto.

Strassberger’s set in the second act is breathtaking, with fire, smoke and flames (Rome is burning) almost obscuring the bathing beauties in the back ground.Very effective projection work by Greg Emetaz throughout as well as lighting by JAX Messenger. The L.A. Opera Chorus under the expert preparation of Jeremy Frank always adds to the enjoyment and the orchestra under the baton of Maestro Conlan exceeded all expectations. So, once again, kudos to L.A.Opera for staging a Mozart rarity of which no one is sick and tired!

The Clemency of Titus, The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012. Thursday 7:30 pm, Sunday 2 pm and 7:30 pm. (call for dates). $16 - $299. (213) 972-8001 or www.LAOpera.org/Titus. Parking in Music Center garage $9. ends 3/24/19


TOO MUCH SUN by Nicky Silver

This play has substance, humor and heart. Playwright Silver, who now resides in London, is a master of creating people with whom you can empathize as we get to know them well, warts and all. Each of his characters are given the opportunity to reveal their personality with lines and actions that grab and hold our interest. You leave the theatre as you would at the end of a great repast.Well sated and anxious to share all the delights with your friends.

opens with an actress of a certain age, Audrey Langham,( the magnificent Diane Cary) fully costumed as Medea, rehearsing a soliloquy. She’s being a real prima donna (read pain in the ass), hates the dialogue and her shoes are killing her, so she walks off the stage, fuming. We next see her in Act I, as the very unwelcome house guest at her estranged daughter Kitty (Autumn Reeser)and husband Dennis’ (Bryan Langlitz) summer cottage on Cape Cod.. She sleeps past noon every day and is totally self absorbed. Kitty simply detests her. But the audience loves her. She’s terrific, has an acerbic tongue and looks stunning as she floats about in diaphanous, long, flowered gowns. (outstanding costumes by Michael Mullen). Their mother-daughter relationship is in ruins and has gone from precarious to insufferable but makes for good listening. Kitty’s husband Dennis, a writer, is usually holed up in a solitary room, working on a science fiction novel and waiting for inspiration. He befriends Lucas (he soulful Bailey Edwards), a young man who lives next door. This is a troubled youth, still affected by the trauma of losing his mother at an early age and other tsuris His father, Winston (Clint Jordan) an attractive, grey hired, well heeled gent, catches the scheming eye of the multi-married, flirtatious Audrey who slyly lights and fans the flames of a prospective romance. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the producers of Audrey’s play are stymied without their star and promptly dispense an agent Gil, ( Joe Gillette) to drag her home by whatever means necessary. Gillette is wonderful as a young man in the wrong profession. He hates show-biz and rather sees himself as a wisdom and advice dispensing rabbi. He plays the part with a wide-eyed, appealing innocence.

Director Bart DeLorenzo’s talented touch boosts every scene. The cast is formidable. Set design by Alex M. Calle works beautifully and as mentioned above, Mullen’s costumes are inspired. I’d like to tell you more but it would lessen the impact of this multifaceted story which, I assure you, you’ll enjoy to the fullest. A must see!

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., near Olympic, Los Angeles 90025. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm., Sunday 2 pm. $32- $37. Discounts available for students, seniors and patrons under 30. Call theatre for details and dates. Parking in front, $5. The attendant takes your money, you park your own car and as soon as the show starts, he leaves! Ends 4/21/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

An update on a restaurant formerly called Javan. My favorite Iranian restaurant has had a name change. It’s just about across the street from Laemmle’s Royal Cinema and only a seven minute drive from the Odyssey. It’s now called SAFIR. The menu is unchanged but prices have gone up by a couple of bucks. Service is still rapid fire, important for pre-performance dining. The food is still great, whether you order their salad Olivier, any of the lamb or eggplant dishes or the Cornish hen, it’s all good. Plus there’s free parking in the subterranean garage, enter via the alley.

SAFIR, now known as a Mediterranean restaurant, more fashionable than Iranian cuisine or Persian, even, at 11500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90025. Open daily. (310) 207-5555. How do you say Bon Appetit in Farsi?


Beckman Auditorium at Caltech University in Pasadena, has some interesting programs, from fascinating lectures and concert to pure entertainment like Capitol Steps and their political humor (coming soon). The famous Irish group Lúnasa , played to an enthusiastic audience recently. Also on Campus is the intimate Beckman Auditorium Institute, home to the Pasadena Folk Music Society, which brings musicians and singers from all over the world.

Information for Caltech Public Events : (626) 395-4652

Information for Pasadena Folk Music Society: info@pasadenafolkmusicsociety.org

THE DINING SCENE:Ingrid’s dining suggestion

If Vegan Restaurants get any better, meat and potato people will become a dying breed, in more ways than one. A few decades ago, the first branch of REAL FOOD DAILY opened on La Cienega Boulevard. I was not impressed to put it mildly and didn’t even bother to write a review. But now, wow! The food is flavor-blessed and Farmers’ Market fresh. Some of the ingredients are eclectic but every dish exudes originality. Service is prompt and the cost surprisingly low, the average entrée is $17. Another plus is that the place is quite spacious, floors are bare and lacks partitioned booths, one can still enjoy a dinner conversation without yelling – a rare treat these days. My only disappointment is that because the menu changes regularly, some of my favorites have disappeared, like the hearts of palm taco, something you can’t just grab off a taco truck. Also gone is the wonderful Keto Bowl, with seaweed salad, kale, sauerkraut etc., even the tofu, not one of my passions, tasted good. Unlike, say, a poke bowl, with everything tossed together, these come with the ingredients laid out in all their glory, little mounds you can taste separately or do some mixing (see below). Soup is $4, salads go from $14 - $18. They even offer lasagna- meatless, of course, $17.

Since Keto is no more, you can have fun “building your own bowl”, from two ingredients to five for $17. Among the choice of proteins is a “Beyond Meat” burger, which won’t put the In & Out Burger chain out of business but it tastes quite authentic. The tuna salad is nice but bears no resemblance, taste wise, to the real thing. Among the carbs are brown rice, soba noodles or lentils, which are totally bland and need help. I’m seriously thinking of sending them my lentil recipe . Order the garlicky mushrooms which are divine, so stir those into the lentils and the day is saved. There’s also garlicky spinach, mashed potatoes and gravy and more in this category. In the sauce section you can choose wasabi vinaigrette, lime cilantro etc., but I just love their house made tahini dressing,. Desserts run round $8 or $9. We asked for the tiramisu- sold out. No luck with the caramel banana cake either. Some sweet toothed person must have been ahead of us. But we consoled ourselves with the cheese cake which got a thumbs up.

I must mention that, personally, I have no dietary restrictions and I always joke that “I eat everything that doesn’t eat me”. But recently all my vegetarian or vegan dining experiences have been first class and I recommend them highly. Furthermore, plant-based cuisine is supposed to be very healthy, and planet friendly so that’s a double bonus. Real Food Daily is about a ten minute drive from Caltech and if you don't want to attend any of these events on an empty stomach, keep it in mind.

Real Food Daily, 899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena 91106. Beer & wine. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Sunday bunch.Metered parking lot around the corner serving The Shops on Lake. (626) 844-8900


The only disappointment regarding The Joy Wheel, was the fact that, on my night, the playwright, Ian McRae, was in the audience but they didn’t bring him on stage for a curtain call. The cast got their well deserved applause but the author who created this terrific work, was not acknowledged. But this show has legs and it will, undoubtedly, embark on a successful stage journey for many years to come.

It begins in the modest, Midwestern home (set by John Iacovelli) of Frank (Dann Florek) and Stella (Gina Hecht), a couple married for several decades. Frank is about to retire after forty-five years on the job and is all dressed up in a tux for his retirement party. He’s furious with Stella, who fell asleep in the sun and ended up beet red and in pain with a wicked sunburn. But Frank expects her to accompany him in spite of it all. We can gather that their marriage, once made in heaven, is slowly going to hell.

Frank’s best bud is Stew (Maury Sterling), a paranoid survivalist obsessed with the New World Order, whose entire life evolves around preparing to save the country from enemy attacks and impending disasters. He persuaded Frank to convert Stella’s beloved swimming pool into an arsenal-stacked bunker and has formed a group of likeminded “Bunker Boys”. Stew, in his perennial camouflage shirt, feels important for the first time in his life and lords it over Frank like a military martinet. Stella meanwhile, is persuaded by her pistol of a best friend, Margie (Lee Garlington) to appear in an amateur production of “Tales from my Vagina” (a quasi Vagina Monologues). Being a card-carrying prude, the idea at first repels her but it awakes her inner feminist.

Under the magic touch of famous Director Jason Alexander, this is a “must see and will love” world premiere production. It starts out as a lighthearted romp full of chuckles and snappy repartee but soon bares its teeth to illustrate how friendships can be destroyed by opposing world views, conflicting values and divisive political differences. Does this ring a bell? Performances are unforgettable. Meek, little Stella’s transformation is made thoroughly believable by Hecht. Garlington as the outspoken fem-lib and woman of the world, plays her with just the right mix of raunchy but funny inflections. Florek is stunning in his dramatic outburst, displaying raw emotion with every fiber of his being, And that punk, Sterling, almost steals the show as the combative, basically ignorant type of white supremacist. You may find The Joy Wheel’s last scene anti-climactic but it does explain the title.

Ruskin Group Theatre, 2000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica Airport 90405. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $30 - $35. Seniors, Guild members and students $30. Ample free parking in front of the theatre. (310) 397-3244 or ruskingrouptheatre.com ends 3/24/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Since my favorite Santa Monica Airport restaurant, Typhoon, is long gone. The nearby Spitfire Grill still exists, knock wood, but I have reviewed it favorably more than once. Since parking is never a problem at the Ruskin, we chose to go a little further afield before the show. The newish THE MAR VISTA is about a 10 – 12 minute drive. A spacious, attractive spot with a corner bar and a cute balcony patio. The room is made more intimate with the help of candle light on very table and the warmth of the friendly, accommodating servers.

They still had their Valentine’s Weekend menu in effect Saturday night with its many intriguing selections, like an entrée of a whole roasted celery root the size of a baby’s head, which was sensational. Dear Chefs D. Brandon Walker and Jill Davie, PLEASE bring that back soon, a true original. On the regular menu you’ll find starters like spicy shrimp $18 or salads from $16 - $18. Entrees like a salmon plate with shiitake dust, cauliflower horseradish puree, Brussel sprouts & enoki $30 and a wild boar ragout with penne pasta for $29. There are no bargains but portions are king size and suitable for sharing. Always available are the Hot Pots. I Just loved my prosaically named “Pig.” A hot pot of gigantic proportions. It is courageously seasoned with a Japanese spice called togarashi, with chunks of pork shoulder, swimming alongside rice and scallions. Actually, I asked them to hold the rice in favor of extra zucchini noodles, which worked really well for me. ‘NO SUBSTITUTION” is a phrase not spoken here.

THE MAR VISTA, 12249 Venice Blvd. near Grand View Ave. actually in Mar Vista but the address is Los Angeles 90066. Monday 5-10 pm, Tuesday – Friday lunch from 11:30 am to 10 pm (dinner) Friday & Saturday until 11 pm Saturday & Sunday brunch from 11 am. Social/Happy Hour Tue. – Sun, with dinner menu not available from 4 – 5 pm. Beer and wine. On my night there was an unmanned valet stand out front but street parking is not very tight. (310) 751-6773

HEADS UP FOR BALLETOMANES: One of the world’s best, if not the best, certainly the most original and inventive companies from St Petersburg, Russia, the fabulous EIFMAN BALLET, is coming to SEGERSTROM HALL in Costa Mesa. Over the weekend of May 24-26 their genius director and choreographer, Boris Eifman brings us a new work entitled “PYGMALION”. Info: scfta.org.

SMART LOVE by Brian Letscher

The greatest sin a reviewer can commit, is giving away most of the play’s plot. I promise never to do that. Therefore it’s a little difficult to describe the happenings on this stage, other than to assure you, you’ll enjoy yourself. It’s got surprises, comedy mixed with some drama and a generous sprinkling of science fiction. Letscher has written a story that is, perhaps, dystopian but feels right of the moment.

Sandy Waschofski (Melissa Weber Bales, alternating with Terry Davis), is an attractive widow, enjoying some flirtatious time with her new boyfriend, Victor (the lovable Scott Conte) before embarking on an emotional rollercoaster ride. While a ferocious electrical storm rages outside, who should come banging on the door like a crazy person but her prodigal son, Benji (Zachary Grant), an M.I.T. scholar, loaded with luggage and ready to move into her attic. This guy is something to behold. Part genius, part mad scientist, with disheveled hair and blazing eyes. We don’t know what to make of him. He is accompanied by a dapper gentleman (Michael Mantell) dressed in tails, in his fifties but spry as a youngster with assorted talents, including graceful terpsichorean moves and advanced but unreliable mental capacities.

Directed by the accomplished Elina de Santos, the actors are in top form and always in chacter. Scenic design of the comfortable living room with a piano and a working kitchen, is by David Mauer, the impressive lighting and sound by Leigh Allen and Christopher Moscatiello, respectively. Bales’ permanent look of consternation is certainly appropriate. Conte as the pious suitor has us in his corner and Grant smartly avoids making Benji a caricature. Mantell, the uninvited guest and light stepper transforms a difficult role into a fun turn. If you want to know more, go and see Smart love.

Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice 90291. No intermission. Thursday – Satuday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $25 - $34. Free parking lot in rear of the theatre. Just extended until the end of March 2019.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Almost as difficult as scoring a parking spot in Venice, is getting a dinner reservation at GJELINA, which must be the most popular restaurant in town. They don’t come for the décor, the place is quite plain, dark and very noisy. The patio in rear has a bit more ambience. What’s the attraction here? Definitely the imaginative cuisine, international in scope, brilliant in execution. The menu does not consist of the items you get everywhere else. For example, among the starters is a wagyu beef heart tartare, $20. And interesting veggies? How about celery root gratin; charred parsnips with pistachio gremolata; charred snap peas with prosciutto; or oyster mushrooms with tarragon butter? I could go on but my mouth is already watering like a mountain spring.

Main dishes are equally intriguing and also in my Bucket List. You can have grilled Santa Barbara squid $18 or a whole, grilled red mullet $25, both with salsa verde. There’s lamb Merguez with spiced yoghurt, roasted tongue and pickled fennel. So here are all these exciting new taste possibilities and, would you believe, the couple next to us ordered pizza! When will this pizza craze fade away already?

One of the largest, by the glass, wine selections are out of the ordinary, as well. An Austrian Gruener Veltliner (we should all have such good body) is $16 for smallish pouring. I highly recommend sharing an appetizer like the charred turnips, still firm and well dressed with a slightly tart chimichurri infused, light dressing. Also most enjoyable is an authentic, Southern mélange of collard greens, brown rice, turnips and garbanzo beans. All that’s missing is a mint julep. I ordered Moroccan fish stew $35, because I love Moroccan food. Let me say it was yummy with everything that swims well represented: baby clams, prawns, mussels and rock fish but I could not detect any Moroccan flavors or spices. It was fortified with tomatoes, onions and garbanzos, the latter having recently become the star of the kitchen, right behind King Cauliflower. Service, although exceedingly nice and friendly, is terminally s-l-o-w. Must be the cooks are overwhelmed by the constant flow of customers because the place is jammed from the moment they open their doors and fire up the stove (there’s no signage, tsk,tsk). Allow lots of time if you’re theatre bound but there’s no parking problem at PRT, less than a ten minute drive.

Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd. corner of Milwood , Venice Ca. 90291 reservations recommended (310) 450-1429 Min-Sat 8am-12am, Sunday 8am-11pm Brunch Sat & Sun 11am-3pm , beer & wine, street parking

HIR by Taylor Mac

If there were a contest for the most dysfunctional family in recent theatrical history, HIR (pronounced “here”) might just win the prize. It makes some of the other stage offerings of that genre, look like scenes from Little House on the Prairie.

a hot summer day in California’s Central Valley. The family home is in utter disarray (set design by Thomas A. Walsh). A total mess, with rags and towels covering the floor, old newspapers stacked in a corner, Christmas lights and tinsel garlands still hung on the wall – you get the picture. The lady of the house (ha!), Paige Connor (the remarkable Cynthia Kania), is a despicable harridan who marches only to her own drummer. She paints clown make-up on her severely demented husband, Arnold (Ron Bottitta), a stroke victim and dresses him in a nightgown because it’s easy to take off. This is her revenge for years of marital misery and a classic case of elder abuse. Enter a tall, young man, their son Isaac (Zack Gearing), a Marine home from military duty in Afghanistan. He chose his assignment there in mortuary science, actually the gathering of dead soldiers’ body parts but was dishonorably discharged because of a lingering drug problem. The fourth member of this weird household is Max (Puppett), a person who is a woman in transition to become a man.

Well respected Bart DeLorenzo directs an immensely talented cast whose performances alone deserve your attendance. Bottitta, who obeys his cruel wife like a beaten old dog, is heartbreaking. Gearing, as the returning veteran yearning for the safety and comfort of a welcoming home, is outstanding. He has a very weak stomach for what goes on in this Godforsaken family and one can’t blame him. As Paige, Kania is a dreadful example of a woman on the warpath for power. She pontificates on every subject that comes to her warped mind and delivers a tour de force acting job of major proportions. Puppett, as she calls herself, is an actual transgender actor, a pre-requisite purposely chosen for that role by the playwright, in order to give performers like him/her the opportunity of a stage gig. Puppett sports a flat chest, sprouting facial hair, womanly hips and derriere and no Adam’s Apple. The voice is perfect, the body language flawless.

The multi-awarded Taylor Mac (Pulitzer Prize finalist, MacArthur Genius grant, etc.) is also an actor and performance artist. He has created not just a dark comedy but a very black, over the top dramedy that takes a strong stomach on your part, to watch. If that’s your poison, drink up!

Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. near Olympic, West Los Angeles 90025. Wednesday 2/20 and 3/6 8pm only; Friday 2/8, 15, 22 & 3/1 and 8, at 8 pm. Saturday 2/9, 16, 23 & 3/2, 9 and 16 t 8 pm. Sunday 2/10, 17, 24 & 3/10, 17 at 2 pm. $32 – 37 (reduced price $10 tickets available 2/22 and other select discounts for seniors, students, and patrons under thirty. Call for details. (310) 477-2055 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com ends 3/17/19.


RECOMMENDATION: A return engagement of MISS AMERICA’S UGLY DAUGHTER is at the Greenway Court Theatre on Fairfax until March 24th. Very well done and performed by Bess Myerson’s actual daughter, Barra Grant. It’s the story of the rise and fall of the only Jewish Miss America and really fascinating. Don’t miss it this time. (323) 673-0544. On Mother-Daughter Mondays, buy one, get one free, other days $15 - $40.

LAST CALL by Anne Kenney

This world premiere deals with a situation that has become all too prevalent. It is the problem of how to help ailing, elderly parents without sacrificing your own life in the process, which seems insurmountable. Walter and Frances Vaughn live in their comfortable home (nice set, complete with screened in porch, scenic construction by Jan Munroe). Unfortunately, Walter (Ben Martin) has liver cancer and is physically disabled. Frances (Lynn Milgrim) appears spry and healthy but suffers from a rapidly advancing case of dementia. Their son , Ricky, (Art Hall), a big oof with little talent, has a drug problem, unresolved personal responsibilities and feels unloved. The daughter, Jill (Laura Richardson) is a successful TV writer based in Los Angeles, at the moment unemployed and trying to deal with her frazzled nerves. These two siblings are continuously at odds but they do agree on one thing. Their parents should vacate their home and move into a retirement facility. The old man, who is blessed with spot-on gallows humor, calls it “pre-morgue”.

That is basically the story, which is semi-autobiographical and realistically portrayed. Director Lane Allison gets excellent work from the able cast. Richardson effectively portrays the harried daughter with too much on her plate and a private life that offers no comfort. Poor Martin is so frail, hobbles painfully and is so obviously suffering, that it’s a relief to see him take his curtain call with youthful vigor. Milgrim, as the addled mother, whose mood changes like the wind, uses her expressive face to good advantage. Hall, the son, who is difficult to love or pity, gives an impeccable performance. He has a teen age girlfriend named Jade (Bronte Scoggins) who apparently overlooks his shortcomings and befriends the family. She often speaks in conversational tones rather than in a clearer stage voice, which sounds very natural but is frequently inaudible. Stephanie Crothers appears briefly as a Real Estate Agent and Brian Bertone as Detective Mottinger. The playwright, with her first hand knowledge, smartly injects some quips and comical repartee to lighten the effect of something that may hit too close to home for some audience members and who might otherwise call the play “depressing”. The solution to the dilemma may prove controversial but it’s realistic. Long ago we have come to the conclusion that the world of medicine has succeeded in prolonging life but has failed to help maintain the quality of life. This is a reminder.

Open Fist Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039. Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday 2pm, Sunday 2/11, only at 7:30 pm. $25 - $55. Tight parking in Atwater Crossing lot, one block south of the theatre. (323) 882-6912 or www.openfist.org ends 2/23/19


IT IS DONE by Alex Goldberg

A man walks into a bar…..No. It was a dark and stormy night….that’s been done, too. OK, let’s start over. We’re in a bar, somewhere on a deserted road (superb set by Jeff G. Rack), with a juke box and a stuffed elk head on the wall. The bartender, Hank) the excellent Kurtis Bedford) is holding the fort in spite of the fact that customers are few and very far between. He looks like a slob, paunchy and balding but considers himself quite the ladies’ man, as it turns out. The weather is dreadful. As the door opens, in from the raging snowstorm (sound by Sloe Slawinski), tumbles a half frozen, windblown, bearded man, Jonas (George Villas}, seeking refuge, warmth and quiet. He and Hank soon have words, not the friendliest, one might add. Shortly, a woman, Ruby (Kate Whitney) bursts in, livid because her car stalled in the storm.

They all are interesting characters but Ruby takes the prize. She’s tall, slim and sexy, a woman of mystery who makes a living as a sort of P.I. tracking down individuals wanted by someone willing to pay for that service. These actors are particularly inspired and directed by multi-talented set designer Jeff G. Rack, doing double duty. Villas’ Jonas has a secret and is haunted by a terrifying, recurring dream. He has a clear, sonorous voice and even his cold sweat looks real. Bedford has a flair for comedy and bolds our attention when both verbally or physically engaged. Whitney is devilishly attractive and gives an amazing performance. She’s especially adept as the flirtatious, booze-sipping vixen and spooky person who can make the hair on the back of our necks stand up. In short, Alex Goldberg has created a play that will, from start to finish, surprise, fascinate and grab you by the throat. Go!

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre. 241 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills 90212 on the Campus of B.H. High School. In repertory with Stories from the Zone. No intermission. $35. Performance dates are:February 19, 8 pm; February 14, 8 pm; January 25 8 pm; January 26, 8pm; February 9 8pm; February 3 and 10 at 2 pm; February 10 at 7 pm; February 4 and 18 8pm; January 29 and February 19 at 8 pm. January 30 and February 13 at 8 pm. Free parking in building garage adjoining the theatre (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org. ends 2//19/19.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

First impressions are important and the charming mini walkway leading to NERANO signals something special. Not only is this a lovely restaurant with natural brick walls, well spaced tables and flattering lighting via exquisite ceiling fixtures but it’s as close as you could possibly dine to Theatre 40. You could actually walk to the far end of the adjoining parking lot which leads to a short alley ending at Moreno Drive. The Beverly Hills prices (a euphemism for $$$$) are a bit jarring. Scallops $38, a N.Y Wagyu steak $68! But if you hurry, you can still take advantage of their Dine LA deal, in effect nightly from 5:30, Sunday from 5pm, until January 25th, $59 per person plus t & t, for a three course treat.

Otherwise, be prepared to shell out, you won’t regret it. Service is top notch and I don’t care whether their Chef Michele Lisi is Italian or a Frenchman, I’d like to kiss him on both cheeks. The DLA menu includes celery, red pepper and carrot strips with a creamy balsamic dip. You get one of three appetizers: a tiny, three bite portion of salmon topped with a sliver of red hot jalapeno (try to avoid it); roasted yellow beets and goat cheese or a wonderful, expertly grilled octopus with bits of rosemary gremolata and crispy strips of salsify over feather light mashed potatoes. Choose this one. The main course offers three possibilities: spaghetti with zucchini and squash blossoms; gnudi (gnocchi without potato dough) with chanterelle mushrooms; a slice of Mediterranean branzino filet pan roasted, very fresh and delicate tasting. Daub it with some of the green salsa, similar to Argentinean chimichurri. The accompaniment, squash, red cabbage and asparagus, beautifully done. My pick: Jidori chicken al Mattone, a complete misnomer but a fine meal. Chicken al Mattone is usually a breast, flattened and baked beneath a heavy brick. I call it chicken alla mammogram. This one looks like a disjointed, plump poussin in its natural juices. The description says with Dijon mustard sauce which, to be honest, I could not discern. One can always tell when a restaurant has class though. So often, the veggies consist of a mixture of green beans, broccoli and carrots on every plate. My chicken’s garniture was marble-sized peewee potatoes and yum, still a bit al dente, fresh spinach. Dessert choices are panna cotta with berry sauce and fresh berries, hazelnut gelato with a chocolate mousse bottom and a meringue top or a rosemary/olive oil torte, normally around $12. Mind you, you can find most of these items on the nightly menu but the octopus is $24, the chicken$32, the branzino $37, the yellow beets $15. They serve pasta from $22, sides from $11 for kabocha squash. Unusual, carefully selected wines from global vineyards, start at $17 per glass. If you can’t beat the deadline, come for a leisurely dinner with friends who will split the bill, or better still, owe you a favor.

Nerano, 9960 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills 90212 Open 7 days from 5:30 to 11, Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Full bar. Valet $5 or street parking. (310)405-0155.


Little Fish Theatre’s favorite offering is PICK OF THE VINE, the annual assortment of short plays which are submitted by authors from all over the country and picked like precious grapes off the vines. They come to fruition every January and are as varied as the audience’s taste buds. This year’s bumper crop is filled with humor, eclecticism, poignancy and surprises, so sit back and enjoy, like a glass of nice California Red, White or Rose.


FROZEN FOODS By Ian August, directed by Cinthia Nava-Palmer. A shopper (Holly Baker-Kreiswirth) seems transfixed when realizing that she previously paid full price for a frozen dinner, which now sells 4 for the price of 1. She’s joined by a ratchet-mouthed yenta (Rachel Levy), who soon falls under the same spell with the help of a few special effects (lighting by Charlotte Tierney).

THE SUM OF YOUR EXPERIENCE By Trace Crawford, directed by Richard Perloff. An ill tempered , frustrated fellow (Don Schlossman) unsuccessfully hails a cab but even more annoying is a mugger (Perry Shields) who makes the most unusual demands.

MY SCALE IS LYING TO ME By Scott Mullen, directed by Bill Wolski. An absolute gem ! The audience’s and my favorite, so far. A hilarious situation involving a bathroom scale that knows all and tells all, with Kimberly Patterson, Baker-Kreiswirth and Susie McCarthy.

THE C WORD By Niki Hatzidis, directed by James Rice. A woman (Levy) who’s just had a major health scare, finds sympathy from a total stranger (Ryan Knight).

THE LAST BRIDE OF ANSBRUK VILLAGE By Aleks Merilo, directed by Cinthia Nava-Palmer. An odd, lengthy vignette featuring half a dozen cast members in a long distance wedding between a German POW in the USA circa WWII and his bride back home in Ansbruk Village.(Polite applause).


PICK OF LEVINE By Mark Harvey Levine, directed by Bill Wolski. Levine always makes the cut with his clever submissions and this year’s handful more than lives up to expectations: A couple in a Cafe ordering from an unusual dinner menu. A lady, whenever involved in childhood fun and games, inevitably ended up being “it”. Now as an adult, she thinks she’s finally rid of that….but who knows? A school of fish swimming aimlessly in circles bear an uncanny resemblance to some of the politicians now in power. A vociferous woman regales her friend about the despicable behavior of her significant other and you’ll never guess who THAT is! A contented looking woman travels by train to an unknown destination. These wonderful quickies utilize the entire talented ensemble, Baker Kreiswirth, Knight, Levy, McCarthy, Patterson. Schlossman, Shields and Daniel Tennant.

CANVAS By Andrew Heinrich, directed by Richard Perloff. A Gold Star Mother (McCarthy) berates a homeless man (Knight) wearing a combat jacket, which she doesn’t think he earned.

BEATRIX POTER MUST DIE! By Patrick Gabridge, directed by James Rice. A confrontation between a farmer (Schlossman) and the famous author (Kreiswirth) of children’s books that glorify all these cute, little rabbits who, in reality, gobble up much of the old farmer’s crop. A battle royale ensues.

OLD AQUATICS By Steven Korbar, directed by Bill Wolski. An attractive, dressed to kill woman, (terrific costumes by Rebecca Roth throughout) is alone and lonesome this New Years Eve ( a star turn by Levy). She’s also drunk within an inch of her life and has plenty to say to her volunteer driver (Tennant). He’s a kindred sad soul but is full of hope for 2019 as we should all be. Happy New Year !!!

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street San Pedro. Friday & Staurdy 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm, $28, seniors 60+ $26. Under 25 use code “hipster” for discount. Free entrance and rear parking, via the alley. (310) 512-6030, via text (424)226-6030 or www.littlefishtheatre.org. ends 2/3/19


THE DINING SCENE:Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

The SAN PEDRO CAFÉ has graced the local dining scene for thirty years but it’s only been three months since they decided to serve dinner and I urge you to give them your support. The food is mighty tasty and prices affordable. Décor is several notches above standard coffee shop, with roomy booths in a soothing, beige color scheme. Vintage photographs line the walls, including one dated 1939, when snow fell on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Decades ago, San Pedro was a hotbed of Yugoslavian dineries, to match its population. Serbs and Croats got on famously. In the words of owner John Marovich, this marvelous European cuisine is all but gone. However, although the Café’s menu is a mash up of American and Mexican food, there is a treasure, Cro-kraut, Croatian sauerkraut generously mixed with boneless rib meat and subtle Polish sausage, just delightful. You must have it, an Old Country treat that tastes as good – if not better than homemade, $10. Appetizers go from $8, for four cabbage rolls to an extravagant $12 for a hefty crabcake that sits on a pillow of coleslaw. Nice presentation but the slaw has too much sugar. Ask for some soy sauce if you prefers a tarter taste. Pasta from $10 to $22 (shrimp chipotle). Most entrees include soup or a tossed salad. Tortilla soup is always in stock but bears no resemblance to the Mexican version we know. It does have avocado and tortilla strips and is not bad. Their fresh vegetable mix, by the way is excellent and comes with some of the entrees. The average chicken dinner is $16 (mole, barbecued, Parmesan $17).Fresh fish from $22. Among the meat selections, Wagyu tri-tip is king and appears in a salad, sandwiches and mains, as with Bearnaise sauce or demi-glace for $23. A good choice is enchiladas Tres Amigos for $16. You get three different versions, mole, verde and New Mexico choice of chicken or beef, with cheese, sour cream, rice and beans. Now, if you’re really hungry and I mean really_____ hungry and want one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” dishes, zero in on the SPC Tampiquena. It’s got a perfect slice of grilled to your specs tri- tip, with onions, garlic and a green peppers, chicken or beef enchilada, beans, veggie-flecked rice in the center, corn or flour tortillas …. shall I go on? There’s guacamole, sour cream and a cheese quesadilla, all for $19. I have visions of a doggie bag for the next day. Desserts are homemade and include a pretty berry basket surround by a fine berry sauce, $7. The Café is just a few minutes’ drive from the Little Fish.

San Pedro Café, 605 S. Pacific Avenue, San Pedro 90731. Beer and wine from $7 per glass. Breakfast and lunch, dinners now from Thursday – Saturday. Street parking (310) 547-0961.

DESERT RATS by Nate Rufus Edelman

This is a “don’t miss” theatrical offering with unique situations, wit, suspense and a socko ending. Set in a shabby motel room on the outskirts of the sweltering Mohave Desert City of Barstow whose Chamber of Commerce will not be too thrilled at its depiction here. Two brothers, Frank (Walt Gray IV) and Jesse (Derek Chariton) check in with a plan to execute a “get rich quick” scheme. That would be the kidnapping for ransom, of a rich Valley Girl named Amber( Lila Gavares). Gray, a teddy bear of a man, is ruthless and hardened. Chariton, his younger sibling, is a diminutive, little kvetch who never stops complaining. By their constant bickering it’s clear that there is no love lost between those two. And, it won’ be long before you figure out that young Jesse is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

After they remove their blindfolded victim out of their car’s trunk, they proceed to execute their plan to demand a hefty ransom from her filthy rich father and the plot becomes even more interesting. In order to make the call, Frank has to drive into town, leaving the young people alone for an extended period. Their interplay provides considerable fun and reaches an unexpected denouement. The performers are splendid and under the astute direction of Angie Scott, bring the play to life. Note to Ms. Scott: My one gripe and it’s a big one, is that Jesse, true to type is a chain smoker and fills the small room with an irritating stench. Sometimes, instead of extinguishing it completely, he leaves the cigarette stub smoldering in the ashtray on the desk. Audience: try to grab a seat in the center section to avoid the smoke, it’s open seating. Chariton is an accomplished actor and could easily pretend to be smoking. Other than that, you will enjoy this show to the fullest. The talented playwright credits his technical team, Ivan Robles (sound), Jakelinne Gonzales (costumes),Cameron Mock and Emily MacDonald (set and lighting design) for a large part of the production’s success. But he’s being modest because his authorship of this fine work deserves all the kudos!

LATC Los Angeles Theatre Center’s Avalos Theatre, 514 S. Spring St., DTLA 90013. Presented by the Latino Theatre Company, Saturday 1/12, Sundays 4 pm & 7:30 pm. Last show January 20th. $24 - $50. Open seating. No intermission. Parking in Joe’s Garage next to the theater $5 with box office validation. Metered street parking available or take METRO to Pershing Square, two blocks west of LATC. (866) 811-4111 or thematic.org ends 1/20/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

You want elegance? Luxury? Got beaucoup bucks? Read on. About a two block walk from the LATC, is the exciting French restaurant LE PETIT PARIS and it’s gorgeous! Two bars, chandeliers, spacious as a ballroom with a curved staircase leading up or down from the mezzanine level that’s fit for the entrance or exit by royalty. A separate, more intimate dining area has a beautiful view past the patio, of the adjoining Spring Street Park and red velvet banquettes and chairs to cradle you. The menu prices are not for the faint of heart. Appetizers start at $10 for a salad of hearts of lettuce, $12 for French onion soup, salmon tartar is 16. Don’t even look at the House Specialties without smelling salts: cognac flambéed pasta with truffles in a ring of Parmesan $68. Are you rolling your eyes? Cheer up and keep in mind, they do have a Happy Hour on weekdays from $4:30 to $7 pm, with snacks like mini burgers, foie gras, escargots and more for $9, wine from $7 per glass and cocktails for $9. Another deal until January 25th is the 3 course Dine LA menu for $49. On the regular dinner menu, sea bass seemed like a bargain for $34 and it was lovely, crisp skinned, served with a Mediterranean vegetable medley, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes etc. and sauce Vierge, which neither my trusty, old Larousse Gastronomique nor I had ever heard of. Its olive oil based, with a myriad of chopped veggies, flavored with herbs de Provence. I had my eye on the Dover sole but that fish must have flown first class from Heathrow to LAX and costs $48. I can, however, highly recommend the veal . Sliced rounds of tender, lean medallions with chopped mushrooms, a seldom seen cut of meat nowadays, accompanied by my favorite vegetable, fresh salsify, another rarity. Also known as oyster plant, is a member of the asparagus family, the long stalks are tender crisp and so delicious, your taste buds will remember them forever. The price? $38 and well worth it, believe me! Wines by the glass are mostly from France but I spotted a first class Napa Valley Gewurtztraminer for $14.

were going to splurge on dessert but the otherwise very sharp waiter handed us the dessert menu too late. Their pastry chef conjures up a chocolate soufflé for $16 which would have been the crowning touch, but it takes 20 minutes and by then, we would have missed our curtain. Maybe next time, So, if you have to break the piggy bank, wait for a special occasion o even better, find someone to treat you but don’t deprive yourself of this gustatory DTLA experience.

Le Petit Paris, 418/420 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles 90013. (213)217-4445 (they have a branch in Cannes, if you care to stop by while at the Film Festival). Dinners on weekdays from 4:30 pm - 10pm, Saturday 4 – 11 pm, Sunday 4 – 10. Plus Sunday Brunch 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, Full bar. If you’re attending the show, you could park first and walk the short distance.

I AM SOPHIE written and performed by Corinne Shor

Kate Carter (Corinne Shor) is a nice girl born in Minnesota, who simply wasn’t happy with who she was. She’s always admired the French, their language, their lifestyle, their joie de vivre. So what did she do? She spent two years in Paris and re-invented herself as a French woman. She mastered the language expertly and sounds like a native Parisienne. Her gestures are European. She exudes Parisian charm and she feels more vibrant. Even her French accent, when she speaks English, is as flawless as her complexion. She changes her name to Sophie and the transformation is complete. (She still has her Midwestern body though, right down to her dimpled elbows.)

by Susan Angelo, she’s fun to watch. She only comes home to care for her terminally ill father, to whom she will always be little Kate. Her heart and soul though remain the belle de Paris. She makes the audience her confidantes and tells us many of her secrets. Trouble is, she speaks French a lot and doesn’t always bother to translate. If you know the language, you’re going to enjoy this show a lot more than if you don’t. You come away with the feeling of having spent over an hour with an interesting friend but one, who only wants to talk about herself. So it’s up to you whether or not you approve of Sophie’s choice.

Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 ½ Venice Blvd., Venice CA 90291 $25 - $34 ( Seniors and students $3 off on Thursday & Friday, students $5 off Thursday & Friday, student rush $12. Free parking in lot behind the theater as well as street parking. (310) 822-8392 or www.pacificresidentteatre.com ends 1/27/19



Here’s a Christmas confection for you from the good folks at Little Fish Theatre. It’s not too sweet, very light and easy to digest. The stage (set by Scott Walewski) is arranged in an unusual configuration, that is, furnishings and props (by Madeleine Drake) are placed around the room, which saves shifting the scenery but you may have to crane your head ever so often. Smack in the center is an office run by Cactus O’Reilly (Melissa Brandzel), the owner of this private investigator agency. It’s Christmas Eve. Business has been slow and Cactus is about to call it quits and close up shop for good. This upsets her secretary Fred, real name Frederica, (Faith Streng). Cactus has a suitor, the well-connected, dashing Assistant District Attorney, Stuart Windsor (Doug Mattingly) but she rebuffs him at every turn.

The plot begins to percolate when two fugitives, dressed in prison garb burst in to the office. They are gun-toting Neville Smedley (Mel Hampton) who’s been wrongly convicted (he says) of embezzling beaucoup bucks, a cool two Mil, from the Tiny Tim Fund, a children’s charity. He has come to hire Cactus to investigate who the real culprit is. His buddy Ramon (Blake McCormack) is an illegal immigrant on the run from the ICE. Into this melee, who should drop in but Fred’s mom the slightly addled, Adelaide, ( Mary Margaret Lewis) dressed to the nines, who is delighted to join what she thinks is a Murder Mystery Party.

Director Gloria Iseli sets the pace at full speed and the cast sustains it. Brandzel is prickly as a cactus but her soft interior is not hidden for long. The hyper Streng is always fully charged and her voice projects as though she’s performing at the Staples Center. Hampton relishes his part as the wrongly convicted and has an eye for the matronly Adelaide. McCormack, judging by his name, is of Irish lineage but he does a perfect Ramon Ramirez. He’d make a most desirable American citizen – if only they let him. The tall, athletic Mattingly is a kick, drunk or sober, as Cactus’ ardent, wannabe boyfriend. Last but certainly not least, Lewis’ shtick as a befuddled, old lady who doesn’t know what’s going on but gets right into the spirit of things, is delightful. Think of A Christmas Cactus as a respite from shopping, rushing, cooking and other stress-related holiday activities.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street, San Pedro 90731. Saturday & Sunday 8 pm ($27 regular/$25 seniors/$15 25-and-under with code “Hipster” (this is a G-rated show). Parking lot in rear (enter via the alley) Street parking available. (310)512-6030 or www.littlefishtheatre.org ends 12/16/18



The hilarious Monica Piper is Jewish but she’s NOT THAT JEWISH. What she IS, is a one of a kind comedian who is reprising her sensational local and Off-Broadway, one-woman show. She’ll regale and amuse you with her life story at the Braid in Santa Monica .

NOT THAT JEWISH The Braid Performance and Art Space, 2912 Colorado Avenue #102, Santa Monica 90404 Thurs. & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2pm & 7:30 pm. Added performance on Wednesday 12/12 at 8pm. tickets $35-$45. (3100 315-1400 ) or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org ends 12/16/18

FINKS by Joe Gilford

The McCarthy era, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was not the best of times - it was the worst of times. Senator Joe McCarthy, whose name is never mentioned in this play, was a ruthless, sadistic interrogator who seemed to relish making the witnesses at his House Un-American Activities Committee, squirm. They either had to name names of so-called Communist sympathizers or lose their careers in the entertainment field. This story is about how this affected various personages and one couple in particular.

The stage is sprinkled with vintage objects of the Fifties, the time frame here, and morphs into multiple different rooms (set design by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz) We meet Mickey Dobbs (the inimitable French Stewart), a brash night club comic on the verge of his big show biz break. He falls for a young, enthusiastic activist, Natalie Meltzer (Vanessa Claire Stewart, French’s real life wife) who is one of the many, whose naïve, youthful idealism made them susceptible to the Soviet propaganda of world peace, workers’ rights and membership organizations devoted to these causes. The scenes are frequently interrupted by a switch to the Hearing, presided over by mean spirited, bad tempered Rep. Walters (Matt Gottlieb) the ghost of Mc Carthy?.We recognize many well known artists, Lee J. Cobb (a verbose “fink” who spills names like a waterfall) , Elia Kazan, Budd Schulberg, all “friendly” witnesses aka “finks” Those who pleaded the 5th Amendment were placed on the Black List, whose existence was vehemently denied but included famous actors, directors and writers, some of whom contributed their work under pseudonyms in order to earn a living.

In Act II. Mickey and his wife Natalie are in their little love nest with a baby boy. But Mickey is called to testify before the Committee and while Stewart played the entire first act with pursed lips and clever quips, we now see him subdued and depressed with his mien that of a sad clown (a remarkable acting feat). Natalie is the strong one, supportive, optimistic and undaunted. But the air is rife with anxiety and stress. Mickey’s agent, Phil Lawson (Thomas Fiscella) is desperate because his clients are either unemployed or incarcerated. Mickey’s good friend, Bobby, a dancer (Adam Lebowitz-Lockard) lives in fear of exposure of his sexual proclivity. Bruce Nozick is a memorable “unfriendly” witness as Fred Lang, who refuses to be intimidated. The cast is uniformly talented with some actors playing more than one part Stephen Tyler Howell and Daniel Dorr, handling several roles. Michael Pressman, the son of black-listed parents, directs with a firm and knowledgeable hand and moves the play seamlessly through various locations, utilizing every nook and cranny of the stage. Throughout, Richard Levinson, a successful composer in his own right, is at the keyboard and entertains with appropriate music. This is a thought provoking, ultra political piece of history about the Red Scare that should never be forgotten or ignored.

Rogue Machine Theatre at their new home, Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice 90291. Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 pm, Sunday 7 pm. (dark 12/21. $40. Park in adjoining lot. (855) 585-5185 orwww.roguemachinetheatre.com ends 12/30/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

Vegan restaurants, and I mean first class Vegan restaurants, have sprung up like mushrooms after the rain in a forest. PLANT FOOD + WINE is just such a spot. I promise, you won’t feel deprived for lack of meat. The textures, flavors and presentations will have you ecstatic. The handsome chef, Matthew Kenney, is everywhere and I men all over the globe, with more restaurants than you have jackets. So we are particularly fortunate to have him bless us with this location. The old proverb “you can’t dance a two weddings with only on ear end” doesn’t apply to him.

The interior is very tastefully designed, simple but elegant with dim, flattering lighting. (The Chef likes it on the darker side).Silent, old movies are projected on one of the dining room’s walls but there is also a most beautiful garden out back, ideal for our climate and probably cozy all year. Normally, I avoid prix-fixe, tasting menus. Mostly they are very expensive and since my recommendations usually involve pre-theatre dining, who wants to consume all that food and, God forbid, doze off as soon as the theatre darkens? But this is different. All the things that sounded so appealing on the regular menu appeared on the tasting menu. Individual entrees are around $24, the multi course tasting menu is $70. The stuff is so light (but portions aren’t stingy) you won’t feel sluggish even after the last bite. (I ate the whole thing). Here’s what the bill of fare includes. Carrot soup, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. A bowl is brought, containing a small heap of crisp greens, over which your server pours a ginger-herb flavored broth. Let it sit a minute while the greens come to life. Ours could have been a little hotter but not any better. This is followed by what’s called Wakame seaweed salad Again, nothing like the seaweed salad available in Asian markets. It looks beautiful, in fact. Every course is a frame-worthy still life. Pity it’s too dark to admire it properly. Flashlight, anyone? Next come kelp noodles Cacio E Pepe similar to glass or silver noodles, with pea sprouts, olives, snap peas and a hint of spice, followed by Kung Pao cauliflower. Remember kung pao chicken? This is nothing like it either, no peanuts and a bit on the sweet side. I asked for some tamari sauce, which fixed it right up. The last course is honey nut squash and has here 3 types of squash. Included are spaghetti squash, silky almond ricotta and crimini mushrooms, no honey at all, the honeynut squash variety is currently out of season. The menu includes dessert, coconut cream pie. You were expecting maybe a wedge of crusted, American pie Not even close. This is a small square, like an opera cake and a killer! This is truly where you get the unexpected and experience the divine. There’s a unique but way overpriced wine list, glasses start at $16! Otherwise everything is praiseworthy, the service, the ambience and, of course, the food.

Plant Food + Wine, 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice 90291 Open weekdays from 12 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 10 pm. Beer & wine. Valet parking $9. (310) 450-1009.

THE COST OF LIVING by Martyna Majok

Whenever we see a handicapped person struggling with a walker, leaning on a cane or being pushed in a wheelchair, the initial reaction is one of sympathy followed by gratitude for our own unimpaired mobility. Do we ever wonder what it’s like to live with a disabling affliction? Cost of Living takes us into the parallel world of two such individuals and their caregivers.

The play begins in a deserted Brooklyn bar, late at night where Eddie (Felix Solis) has been stood up by his date. He muses about his life and we find out that he is a temporarily unemployed trucker but costumer Shon LeBlanc has him looking like a street bum. We later meet his estranged wife, Ani (Katy Sullivan), a bitter woman, short tempered, with a loud, shrill voice and a terrible disposition. A more sympathetic pair are John (Tobias Forrest) and his helper, Jess (Xochitl Romero). John has cerebral palsy (fabulous acting job, facially and physically, by Forrest. Jess is efficient, attractive and strong. We see her giving him an actual shower (great set by Tom Buderwitz ). Do we suspect a little spark, just a glimpse of attraction between this unlikely couple? They make a semi-date to meet after her duty hours for which LeBlanc has her wearing the most unflattering, skin-tight dress imaginable, tsk, tsk.

Pulitzer Prize winning , Polish-born playwright Majok is a master of capturing emotions. She writes so well, the audience immediately develops genuine affection both for the disabled and the people who look after them. The cast is extraordinary, under the sensitive direction of John Vreeke. Sullivan, in real life, is an Olympic competitor and record setting champion in the Paralympics in London in 2012. She was in the original cast in the Williamstown production. Romero plays the gentle but firm person we’d all want in a caregiver. Solis has an impressive resume in stage, screen and TV work. As for Forrest, he is so perfect, the part could have been written for him. He uses a wheel chair as a result of a spinal injury.

Incidentally, people with disabilities maintain a strict code of expressions they want us not to use. Including handicapped, brain damaged or wheelchair-bound. Everyone has become so sensitive, it pays to be in the loop. The Fountain Theatre, they say, is the only destination for which Westside theater lovers will cross east of La Cienega and for good reason. The Fountain delivers, time after time, with meaningful, provocative and entertaining material just like this show and deserves our support and patronage. See you there!

The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles 90029. Fridays 8 pm. Saturdays 2 and 8pm, Sundays 2pm. Tickets $40 & 45, seniors $35 students $25. Monday nights regular seating $40. Parking lot adjoining the theatre (stacked when full), $5 for non-members. Ends 12/16/18


THE DINING SCENE:Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Just a ten minute drive from the Fountain, you’ll find yourself in THE KITCHEN. A well loved neighborhood establishment that has weathered the gentrification wars and other demographic upheavals in the area. It’s plain and simple – we’re in the kitchen, after all. But the menu is tempting, you’ll have a head scratching time making a decision. Should you go for the salmon, which they encrust with pistachio crumbs and garnish with mango salsa, accompanied by jasmine rice and spinach, $19.75. How about seared albacore with spicy ginger-ponzu sauce, same price? Or an all-American treat, buttermilk-dipped fried chicken $16? But for something completely different, I recommend the Belgian beef stew, a Flemish recipe of tri-tip, braised in dark beer until ultra tender, which makes the Irish stew or even a Hungarian goulash pale by comparison. The sauce is spoon-up delish, rich as Croesus but not heavy or flour-y, a delight not often seen on local menus, $19. Garlic mashers and nicely seasoned fresh spinach come with. Go for it! We squeezed into the weekday Happy Hour, which lasts until 7 pm. and sipped a glass of the house Chardonnay, albeit a bit harsh, for the bargain price of $5. Apropos, who can resit a Happy Hour nosh, like goat cheese latkes, four for $5. These were not the usual potato pancake shaped ones, more like croquettes, but quite crisp and tasty. Service here is most pleasant and they have a well chosen beer and wine list. I forgot to tell you, they also serve turkey and cheese burgers, stir-fried tofu, salads and sandwiches. The so-called atmosphere is casual, friendly and relaxed. Next time, I’m saving room for their flourless chocolate cake, $8.

The Kitchen, 4348 Fountain Avenue at Hoover, Los Aneles 90029. Weekday lunch, dinner nightly from 4:30 pm. Saturday & Sunday brunch 10am. to 3 pm. Beer & wine. Parking lot in rear. (323) 664-3663.

STEAMBATH by Bruce Jay Friedman

Friedman’s comedy developed an immediate cult following, when it premiered on Broadway in 1970. Ron Sossi, the big macher at the Odyssey Theatre opted to revive the piece as is or rather, as it was. This presents a double edged sword for modern audiences who have gotten used to vulgar language in every form of entrainment. That is to say, the F-bomb doesn’t shatter our eardrums anymore. But now, slurs like fag and dyke make us cringe and it’s grating to hear them in this production. The plot however, is unique and the situations original.

I am not giving anything away because you’ll quickly figure out that the barely clad denizens of this steam room are actually in heaven – or, perhaps in purgatory. One thing is certain, they’re not alive anymore. And who’s in charge? None other than a Puerto Rican God named Morty (comedian Paul Rodriguez, understudied by Peter Pasco), who, as the working attendant, pushes a bucket and wields a broom. What, no scepter? The assorted cast under the aegis of Artistic Director Ron Sossi, performs well. Introducing the show is a tap dancing gofer named Gottlieb (Yusuf Yildiz) Also sweating away is an ambitious but not too successful, stockbroker (Brian Graves), plus two slender gay boys of the flaming variety (Devan Schoelen and DJ Kemp) who do everything in unison, including breaking into roadway tunes while wiggling their butts. Then there’s Tandy (Jeff LeBeau) a well spoken chap who led a happy life on earth and was in the midst of writing his first novel about Charlemagne. Not that he knew a lot about that historical figure, but he liked the classy connotation. He gets cornered into conversations with an insufferable, old goat who never shuts up, rants about everything and wallows in nostalgia (the impressive John Moskal). During one of their one-sided chats, in walks a gorgeous, young blonde, (Shelby Lauren Barry) like a vision of loveliness, on her way to take a shower (cleverly camouflaged by bursts of steam) Tandy’s testosterone is activated and they become something of an item.

There are some scattered laughs here but it was probably funnier and more provocative the first time around, some five decades ago. Paul Rodriguez is one of my favorite stand-up comedians but seems a little out of his element as the Deity. Anthony Rutowicz has a bit as a longshoreman and Shay Denison dances in and out of a scene in Act II so swiftly – blink and you’ll miss her. Gary Guidinger’s set is fabulous and so realistic that when you walk in, you feel like doffing your clothes and grabbing a towel. Sound and lighting are in the capable hands of Christopher Moscatiello and Chu-Hsuan Chang, respectively. I have to say that some of my older acquaintances have held up better than Steambath. Go and see it for its nostalgic value.

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles 90025. Wednesday 11/28 and 12/5 only, Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $32 - $37. Discount tickets $10 on 11/23 and 12/5. On site parking has gone up to $5. Why? You park your own vehicle. The attendant takes your money. Does he guard your car? No! He leaves as soon as the performance begins. Ends 12/16/18


RADIANT VERMIN by Philip Ridley

If you are a slightly jaded theatre buff, let me assure you, you haven’t seen many plays like this. It borders on the macabre with sprinkles of spooky. It involves a young couple, Jill (Britt Harris, understudied by Heather Roberts) and Ollie (Kapil Talwalker, understudied by Nima Jafari), who are expecting their first baby. A real estate agent, Miss Dee (Laura Faye Smith, understudied by Jana Lee Hamblin), the quintessential type, both perky and persuasive, offers them a “dream house”, free of charge. Will they bite the bait? What do you think? We get to watch them renovate, build, remodel, add-on but like Oliver Twist, they want MORE. We sit through endless handling of imaginary props. The set (Pete Hickok), consists of wooden beams framing empty spaces which allows us to imagine one lovely room after another, plus there’s a basement whence strange sounds and lights emanate. Ollie is quite the handyman and obeys Jill’s every whim. She does a lot of screeching and yelling which, in Act II is mercifully interrupted by the appearance of a quiet, homeless woman named Kay (Smith in a dual role).

The cast is exemplary. Harris, a natural blonde with a peaches and cream complexion is stunning in a difficult part. She and Talwalker really come into their own during a garden party, which they throw for their neighbors. They mimic assorted characters at breakneck speed hilariously but the scene goes on ad nauseum and could be trimmed. The dimpled Talwalker, incidentally, seems to have a body made of rubber and moves with the grace of a professional dancer. They often address members of the audience like old friends which is quite effective but on my night, primarily those who sat in the right corner. Director Tim True please note. Sound and lighting design by Chris Moscatiello and Bosco Flanagan, respectively, are first rate.

The name Radiant Vermin does not sound appealing but it appears to be an affectation of the British playwright’s to attach weird ones to his work. Some of his others include Tender Napalm, Pirhana Heights and Vanilla Jungle. His message to us is: find out what you’re afraid of and go live there. No thanks. This Company, called Door Number 3, was formerly based in Portland, Oregon and has landed among us, planning to create some waves on the local theatrical scene. We wish them well.

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles 90025 Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $32, seniors $25, under 30 $22. Paid parking in front. (310) 477-2055 or www.dn3theatre.org ends 11/16/18.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


Once you find a parking place in this overcrowded neighborhood of Asian dineries (not so easy), you’ve got it made. FLORES + SONS is the only restaurant serving American comfort food among all the chopstick twirlers. It’s hidden behind a brown wood fence with a very popular, lovely patio with heaters and a fire pit. The interior is fairly plain but comfortable, enclosed by white-washed brick walls. The menu is straight forward, no exotic ingredients here. They have fresh oysters to start and appetizers from $6 for olives to $16 for shrimp ceviche, ribs or tuna poke. $16. Salads go from $14, spaghetti and meatballs cost $10. The meat, poultry and fish section is a little more exciting. There’s tri-tip, $26, bar steak, trout and seabass all $24. Salmon $26, is the King, wild caught variety with yummy, little potatoes, spinach, red peppers and other tasty adornments. Furthermore, I recommend the “brick” chicken, a good deal at $16. You may be familiar with the Italian specialty, chicken alla mattone a breast flattened while baking under a brick. We used to nickname it, chicken alla mammogram. Here they do it with a boneless leg, very delectable, moist and a nice portion, too. They serve it on top of a salad of cucumbers, mangoes and cherry tomatoes. I asked for it on the side because otherwise the chilled salad gets warm on top and the chicken ends up with a cold bottom. They were very cordial and accommodating, no problem. They pour sake, beer, champagne and have an interesting wine list with bottlings from Argentina, France, Germany and a very fine Sauvignon Blanc from Oyster Bay, N.Z, as well as few gems from California and Washington, from $13 per glass. I wanted some bread with my wine (drinking on an empty stomach is a no, no) but out came some fluffy, white, pretty awful dinner rolls with both salt and sugar on top, worth about half a bite, if that. They showed up as an ugly blotch ($6 ) on my bill. Since nobody mentioned an extra charge for bread, I asked them to take it of my check, which they promptly did. I told you, they were very accommodating. Service is great, the food very good and reasonable plus Flores is less than a ten minute drive from the Odyssey, which all adds up to a convenient, pre-curtain dining experience.

Flores + Sons, 2024 Sawtelle Blvd., near Mississippi, Los Angeles 90025. Lunch and dinner daily.. Closed Monday. Beer wine. Good luck parking. (424)273-6469


The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center hosted the Los Angeles Ballet for a one night stand only but I can tell you, the Company is raising its standards with every passing year and has become a balletic force to be reckoned with. If you plan to attend any performances at that particular venue, here’s a dinner suggestion.

Recommended by a local Pakistani, you will love AL-WATAN, which is about a ten minute drive from the RBPAC. This Pakistani/Indian restaurant is very plain and very clean. Lights are bright and unflattering. They did not spend any money on an Interior Designer. Service is O.K. and prices reasonable. The moment you enter, the scent that fills the room forecasts the taste of what’s to come out of the kitchen. It’s amazing how each of the sauces has its individual, exquisite flavor. “One size fits all” does not apply to Indian cuisine. Ready to go?

of complimentary, crisp papadum bread, they give you a not very interesting tossed lettuce, cucumber, tomato salad ( for a nominal charge) but you can order thick, warm naan for $1.25 for a generous slice. They have tandoori selections from $8 to $19, lamb $12 to $14, rice dishes $9 to $12 and much more. My recommendations are chicken sag, a delightful mix of creamed spinach and chicken, as well as the chicken curry (bones in) in a rich, tasty, tomato -kissed sauce, redolent of exotic spices, $9 each. They prepare their bhindi (okra) differently from what we experienced in the past, which is not crisp and stir fried but sautéed until soft yet equally delicious, $11. Navrattan korma is for those of us who enjoy our greens dressed to kill, as in their assortment of mixed vegetables, described as “in a mild herb and spicy sauce”. Simply great, $9. We also ordered the nehari, an intensely spicy, curried beef dish which never did arrive but these four selections proved ample for three. Plain rice costs $4 extra. Of course you always name your PSQ (personal spice quotient) to make sure your taste buds can take the heat – or not. Mind you, even “medium” has an agreeable tingle on your tongue, in other words, nothing here is bland. If I ever find somebody courageous enough, I’d like to come back to try and goat and the brains….

Al-Watan, 13619 S. Inglewood Avenue, Hawthorne 90250. Open daily for lunch and dinner, 11 am to 9:30 pm. No alcohol. Catering. Street parking. (310) 644-6395.



Thoughtful folks around the globe have heard, read and seen historic evidence of the Holocaust, watched heartbreaking images and shuddered at the unthinkable cruelty of man towards man. We honor and admire the survivors. This play uncovers new territory. It’s talky and serious but above all, enlightening about what happens to arrivals, their struggle with a new language, different culture and problematic assimilation. Those who’ve been through hell may be ashamed of what they had to do to survive. Is their newly found freedom and re-settlement the gold-paved road to happiness?

We’re in San Francisco in 1947, among a group of Polish immigrants, starting a new life in the States. Their leader is Rabbi Simon Kroeller (an outstanding, ferocious performance by Stephen Rockwell). He is an embittered but fair man, watching over his flock like a village priest with teeth bared and the spirit of a warrior. He spars verbally with the local Judge Levinsky (Louis A. Lotorto) and counsels Gerta (Allison Blaize) a tormented, lonely woman, employed by the brittle Sarah (Madeleine Falk)and her meek, kind hearted husband, Leo (Jon Weinberg). When a teenage brother and sister pair (Brandon Root and Quinn Francis) arrive, confess they’re in the country illegally and seek asylum, the Rabbi takes them under his wings to protect them from the police. Problem like these are not only universal but, regrettably pertinent in today’s political climate, which gives the work additional muscle.

Various personal back stories come to light, involving Sol (the above mentioned Leo, as the kind husband, also played by Jon Weinberg), a man with a past and Mordechi (Nathan Mohebbi). Madeleine Falk is the ghost of Sadie, the Rabbi’s late, advice dispensing wife and who also impresses as Gerta’s frivolous boss, previously mentioned and as a visiting countess. The entire cast does remarkable work, astutely and knowledgeably directed by Marya Mazor and it all adds up to a soul-searching but never morbid, experience.

Brooks is a retired physician who was born in San Francisco and grew up with many of these “splintered souls”. He watched, first hand, their difficult transition from the horrors of concentration camps to the challenges of the new, “promised land” His story is proof that survivors’ guilt is not the only trauma remaining. Sound design and thematic musical background is by the expert Dave Mickey, lighting by Donna Ruzika costumes Kim DeShazo, set by Yuri Okahana. Prepare yourself for a play with historical significance and a fascinating ending.

International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way. Long Beach 90802. Thursday 11/1. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm. $47 - $49. Parking in structure opposite the venue on Seaside Way $15. (562) 436-4610 or www.International CityTheatre.org ends 11/4/18


UK UNDERDOG by Steve Spiro

Not only will you be supporting a wonderful cause, START an animal rescue operation but you will be rewarded by eighty minutes of talent in motion. Steve Spiro narrates his life story in a way that will have you open mouthed at his versatility as he creates dozens of characters from his past, with only his voice, body language, facial expressions and attitude. Costume changes consist of a few different T-shirts.

Life was harsh for young Steve, a skinny Jewish lad in a tough London neighborhood. As the object of nasty bullying, he was always the victim. We learn about his home life with a mother forever putzing around in her kitchen, his cab-driving father but best of all, his nana (grandmother) with her hilarious mannerisms and Yiddish expressions (glossary in your program). When he’s not trying to avoid beatings from his arch enemy, John Turner and the gang, he’s worried about the size of his penis. He’s further depressed at being totally ignored by one and all.

Everything changes when he enrolls as a student of Kung Fu. He becomes physically fit, impressively strong and enormously confident. But these words are just the outer wrapping around the gift box that holds this theatrical treasure. It’s the skill of his delivery, all the spellbinding incidents and his mimicry involving people that play parts in his life, all perfectly presented. His self-deprecating humor makes him even more likable. Directed by the razor-sharp Ann Bronston, with lighting by Simon Knowles and expert sound design by Michael Woody, each of whom contribute to its success and make this world premiere a “must see”. You’ll love it!

Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue near Gardner, Los Angeles 90046. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. No intermission. $25. Street parking. (323) 960-7788 or www.plays411.com/ukunderdog ends 10/28/18

THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Meat?......What’s that? Less than a ten minute drive from the Zephyr, and well worth it, is CROSSROADS , a vegan establishment that can hold up its toque with the best of them. An attractive restaurant with seating in the bar area and in a smaller dining room, elegantly appointed, right of entrance (try to score a table there). The menu is highly intriguing. You already know that vegan trained chefs (in this case, my compliments to the skilled Tal Ronnen), cook with no meat or dairy but you can still expect to taste anything your heart desires. The presentations are as beautiful as a still life ready to be framed, textures and the unleashed flavors of the food, are unsurpassed.

There are snacks from $10, salads from $11, pasta entrees from $20 but the smartest route to take is to go with the small plates, from $14 to $20, allowing at least two different selections per person and sharing everything. We loved ‘em all! We drooled over the baked parsnip gratine with sliced trumpet mushrooms and the crisp garbanzo beans in a oven-dried tomato puree. Crab cakes made with hearts of palm, were divine as were the artichoke oysters, five leaves decorated and bite-ready with crispy oyster mushrooms, Bearnaise sauce and a centerpiece of kelp caviar and, oh my God, those “mock abalone” slices made of large, grilled mushrooms are the eighth Wonder of the World. Dessert? Their chocolate fig ice cream is a dream, $10. Service is excellent. Wine from $12 per glass.

These days, you can’t give a dinner party without cooking separately for each guest, or so it seems. One is a vegetarian, some are allergic to seafood, another can only eat gluten-free, strictly kosher, or all of the above. The solution: bring your friends to CROSSROADS and they’ll thank you for opening up the gates of gastronomic heaven – plus, your kitchen will remain spotless

Crossroads 8284 Melrose Avenue corner of Sweetzer. Los Angeles 90046. Weekday lunch, dinner nightly, Saturday & Sunday brunch. Valet parking $8. Full bar. (323) 782-9245.


After the fiasco of Wohl’s semi silent Small Mouth Sounds, ( I hated it ) this is a refreshing change, with timely dialogue plus four gifted actors. It is actually an indictment of corporate negligence versus their low wage employees, disguised as a topical comedy.

On a cleverly designed set (by Justin Huen) we’re about to witness the imminent opening of The Tasty Torpedo sandwich shop, a dead ringer for a Quiznos or Subway branch. Three job applicants Sheri (Laura Mann),Ted (Graham Outerbridge) and Jamie (Anna LaMadrid) are being interviewed by the Manager, a nerd named Bob (Rodney To). The training session of this motley crew emerges as one of the highlights of the show, with To proving to be a little man with a giant talent, in just the first of his various appearances.

Any time but especially during a period of economic uncertainty, opening a franchise serving fast food, seems like a safe bet but as the story proves, the relationship between workers and the distant, demanding corporate headquarters is often as shaky as an 8.5 earthquake. Having to deal with a calamity tests the mettle of this team. There’s Ted (Outerbridge) on a time-out from his previous white collar experience. The shy, soft-spoken Mann has a perennial, deer in the headlight expression but she can handle a crisis. LaMadrid, as a seductive Latina, comes off like a major tramp but she’s fun to watch. The scene stealer par excellence is To, whether he plays a rude customer or a coat & tie representative of upper management, he’s always the master of accents and attitude. Director James Eckhouse keeps this L.A. premiere lively and watchable. His cast also serves as the stage crew, quickly handling props and furnishings during the frequent black-outs. He presents a lamentable topic in an upbeat production. Finally, I’ll bet you’ll never again bite into a Footlong Sub without remembering the gang at American Hero!

IAMA Theatre Company at the Pasadena Playhouse, Carrie Hamilton Theatre, upstairs. 39 S. El Molino, Pasadena 91101. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm. $30. No intermission. Paid parking lot in rear, enter via Playhouse Alley.(323)380-8843 or www.iamatheatre.com ends 10/21


ON CLOVER ROAD by Steven Dietz

In the mood for a psychological thriller? All roads lead to the Little Fish Theatre and to the one named Clover, a suspense-laden piece that takes us to a seedy motel somewhere in America. It’s the meeting place of a mother, Kate Hunter (Renee O’Connor) and a man named Stine (Richard Perloff). She’s on a mission to find her missing daughter (Sara Freedland). A drama that is played out, all too often, in cities and towns all over the U.S and the world. Young people, unhappy with restrictions at home, take flight, seeking attention, fulfillment, love – who knows what else, among strangers. Most frequently they find a cult of other lost souls, with an hypnotic leader, who bestows his “favors” mostly on gullible, young girls.

O’Connor as the anxious mom, brings multiple attitudes to her character. She’s at once spunky and defiant or devastatingly sad and humble, with chameleon-like skill. She has to deal with the despicable Stine, a brutish, cruel, almost sadistic chap. Perloff tackles the role full throttle, in a riveting performance. He’s supposed to be he a deprogrammer in an intervention – or is he? But he promises to help Kate get her daughter back. When he actually brings the girl into the room, we do not see a tearful, heartwarming reunion. She’s sullen, distant and does not even want to be “rescued”. The outstanding Freedland dominates the scene by sheer force of her personality, which makes Kate all the more sympathetic.

The leader of the flock is known as The Prophet, (Jed Sura) an attractive, bearded fellow but he doesn’t exude the charismatic powers of a Jim Jones or that of the villainous Manson. He’s merely a sugar-coated, nasty S.O.B. Following a few unexpected twists and turns, another young woman (Jessica Winworth) enters the picture. She acts distracted and seems to be in a trance. I’ll let you find out what her game is. Directed by Holly Baker Kreiswirth with her usual, impeccable style, this is a theatrical straightjacket that wraps up the audience and never lets go. Unfortunately, the ending, which promises to be spectacular, is anti-climactic. But, perhaps Dietz, the much admired playwright, wanted it that way. He does have a message for us: Men Are Beasts.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre Street. San Pedro CA 90731. Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 10/14 2 pm (talkback). $25(seniors) - $27, 25yrs & under $15 use code “Hipster”. Parking in rear, enter via the alley. (310) 512-6030, text (424) 226-6030) www.littlefishtheatre.org ends 10/20/18.

HEADS UP! The always reliable Jewish Women’s Theatre, headquartered at The Braid, 2912 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, is scheduling three interesting events, so here’s the scoop: After their mega-hit Fried Chicken & Latkes, it’s only fitting that they bring back another winner: CHUTZPAH & SALSA for three performances only, on Thursday October 11, Saturday October 13 at 8pm and a matinee on October 14 at 2 pm. All at The Braid.

JWT 2018 FALL PARTY. On October 28th, an afternoon affair beginning at 1:30 pm for schmoozing and dessert noshing at private home in Brentwood (address provided with ticket purchase). The show starts at 2:30 and is a sneak preview of this year’s coming attractions and is a fund raiser. Single tickets $40. VIP reserved seating $75. It’s called JEWS IN AMERICA.

Finally, A Special Event, a reprise of the popular show PAST & PRESENT. RUSSIAN JEWISH AMERICAN STORIES, on November 11, 2018 at the new Wende Museum in Beverly Hills. Ticket includes private museum showing, reception and more. Save the Date!

Information and tickets for all programs. Get out your Day Planner and PLAN! (310) 315-1400 or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org


A reviewer’s job is to tell you all about the show, without giving away a single surprise, right? This is a tough assignment for Dangerous Obsession because its main attraction is the element of surprise, from beginning to end. But l’ll try. The story takes place in the Conservatory of a luxurious home. The set, by Kathy Dershimer and Bruce Starrett (who also designed lighting and sound), is stunningly beautiful, in an airy, veranda style with a view of a well manicured backyard and golf course.

In comes the owner, Sally Driscoll (Samantha Barrios), a zaftig brunette in a bathing suit, straight from a dip in her pool. She’s waiting for her husband but instead, the face peering out from behind the glass door belongs to a virtual stranger, John Barrett (Dylan Bailey). She reluctantly lets him in after establishing that the Barretts and the Driscolls casually met a year or so ago. This John turns out to be an enigmatic individual with, as you will soon guess, a hidden agenda. When hubby Mark (Michael Willens) finally arrives, they share drinks but the conversation is about as stimulating as a meeting with your tax accountant. But when John’s demeanor switches from Mr. Milquetoast to an interrogator as aggressive as a prosecuting attorney, the situation soon starts to percolate from simmer to full boil. His relentless question make Sally sweat blood and cause Mark to blanch with embarrassment. We eventually find out the reason for this unwelcome visit, which involves attempted extortion, extra-marital assignations, revenge and murder. No spoiler alert is necessary because that’s all you’ll learn from me.

Director Dershimer, a triple talent who also designed the costumes and co-created the set (with Starrett), does her job well and keeps us in glorious suspense. The actors’ English accents don’t distract (the playwright is a Brit) and they all perform effectively, including the Messrs. Smith & Wesson. If you enjoy psychological one-upsmanship, mystery and especially surprises, this is your cup of oolong. Let’s hear it for Community Theatre, the Kentwood Players are here to stay!

Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Avenue, LA CA90045. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $22-$25. Free parking in adjoining lot. (310)645-5156. Ends 10/13/18


THE DINING SCENE:Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


The Westchester Playhouse sits in he middle of a gastronomic desert. No dinners within walking distance. But, not to worry, a ten minute drive takes you to ALIKI, a restaurant you probably never heard of. But it’s a favorite of the savvy locals and you will soon see and taste, why. They serve home-style Greek food, a cuisine that’s become almost extinct in many of our areas. The room is plain but spotless, the only concession to Greek “décor” are the blue and white checkered (plastic) table cloths. It’s really Noisy with a Capital N. Try sitting on the back patio but there you have to put up with the planes about to land (it’s near LAX). No California wines, either. I’ve always loved Greek food and disliked Greek wines, but took a chance on a $10 glass of Assyrto Sauvignon Blanc and guess what? It was petty good, not as full-bodied as the New Zealand product but faintly fruity with a good nose.

Service is excellent and prices reasonable, the food is terrific but not cheap (much less expensive than an Aegean vacation, however). Aliki may be small but their menu is huge. Hot appetizers go from $7.50 for dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) to $15.95 for shrimp Santorini. Cold hors d’oevres start at $7.95 for tsatziki (yoghurt with cucumbers) to $9.95 for a baked eggplant dip. Pasta selections from a la Greco $14.95 to $22.95 for spaghetti with shrimp, You can choose from among 24 different entrees from $15.95 for pastitsio (Greek lasagna) to $29.95 for grilled Lauraki (seabass) or Tsipora (sea bream), imported from Greece. From the traditional Greek main courses come stuffed cabbage, leg of lamb, chicken souvlaki (kabob) and mousaka also available meatless, and quite good, actually, for all you nouveau vegans and vegetarians, $15.95. I enthusiastically recommend the little lamb shank, braised until tender, served with wonderful, lemony potato wedges. They are perfectly textured, an art I thought, only Peruvian chefs have mastered. It’s almost a shame to mash them into the juice if it weren’t so tasty, very light with a subtle hint of tomato, you don’t want to miss a drop. The green beans, of course, are authentically Greek– soft and completely overcooked. Al dente is not in their vegetable cooking vocabulary but the flavor is delightful, anyway. If you have room, don’t miss the galactobouriko, easier to eat than to pronounce, a yummy, custardy dessert, $4.95 and a sweet finish to a fine meal.

Aliki’s Greek Taverna, 5862 Arbor Vitae. Los Angeles 90045. Lunch & dinner, Beer and wine. Catering. Parking alongside the building. Closed Sunday.(310) 645-9555. For catering, call (310) 756-2465.

NATIVE GARDENS by Karen Zacarías

The magnificent stage (set by David Meyer) is a vision of a lush garden in full bloom with a verdant oak tree, shrubs, bushes and flowers, so real looking, people with allergies might sneeze incessantly – between laughs, that is.. Native Gardens will surprise and delight you like a bouquet from a secret admirer. The situations are droll and Zacarías’ dialogue crackles with wit. It’s very cleverly directed by Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame, in an entirely different capacity for most of us. We meet a trio of twinkle toed, swivel-hipped gardeners (Richard Biglia - on my night, Julian Armaya and Bradley Roa II) even before things get going. They dance, they prance and flirt with the front row audience. We welcome their appearance throughout the performance. They’re so much fun, we all wish we had a crew like that in our yard!

Two elderly folks, Frank (Bruce Davison) and Virginia (Frances Fisher) live next door to newbie neighbors Tania (Jessica Meraz) and Pablo (Christian Barillas) a nice, young couple expecting their first child. All is congenial – at first. Turns out Frank raises prize-winning flowers competitively and it so happens, Tanya who’s very eco-minded, grows only ecologically native, low maintenance plants, But this is not the only discordant note. There’s a property line dispute that’s even more divisive but a hoot to watch.

Roaring applause for the cast at curtain call, was, for once, really deserved. Barillas, plays Pablo, a smart lawyer born in Chile, with a pleasing demeanor. He yearns for a partnership in his firm and is hell bent on pursuing the American Dream. His pregnant wife (Meraz) can be volatile but is no shrew and holds her own against the opinionated Frank, who is accused of “blatant xenophobia”. The now silver-haired Davison acts the old codger to the hilt and is the poster boy of a typical Trump voter. The biggest revelation has to be Frances Fisher. You’ll be bowled over by her comic diatribes. Of course, she does have the funniest lines but she handles them with real aplomb. It’s a good thing they hired an understudy (Laura Gardner) because Fisher speaks at high volume most of the time and may be hoarse by the end of the week. Native Gardens will have you grinning throughout our Indian summer. It’s a major upper, works wonders for your disposition and is perfectly legal. Enjoy it soon!

Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101. Tuesday – Friday 8pm, Saturday 2 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. Tickets from $25. No intermission. Paid parking $7, in rear of the building, enter via Playhouse Alley, (626)356-7529 or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org Ends 9/30/18



The title says it all because this world premiere is the story of Barry (the excellent David Mingrino), a fellow who resides in his late parents’ house, nesting like a wild animal. He’s surrounded by all his worldly possessions and then some (stunning set by Evan A. Bartoletti). It looks more like a filthy store room, rather than living quarters, and that’s the problem. Poor Barry lives on his childhood memories, shut off from the rest of the world. He is the King, no, the Emperor of pack rats. He saved calendars from decades past so he can tell where he was and what he did on, say, February 23rd, 1975. Now, however, he has been evicted due to his neighborhood’s re-development project but refuses to leave and part with his “things”. His well meaning but somewhat aloof niece, Darla (Ashley Victoria Robinson) comes to help persuade her Uncle Barry to liquidate and move on, along with his long time friend Chuck (James J. Cox). Old memories of his slightly demented father (Alan Schack) and his complaining mother (Suzanne Collins, alternating with Julia Silverman) show them to be a rather self-absorbed pair that doled out very little love and warmth. The cause of compulsive hoarding has not been established but is now recognized as an illness attributed to loneliness and old age. But our Barry is not senile. This condition, incidentally, is not as uncommon as one might assume. It so happens, there’s a woman in my vicinity who has to rent a van for $19.95 a day, in order to have a place to sleep – her house is crammed full!

The play is well staged and directed by Michael Van Duzer, if a bit repetitious. There are two cleverly costumed (by Maxine Etchison) “helpers” who glide around in silence, arranging furniture, props etc. But the reason to catch this show is to applaud the performance of David Mingrino, who throws himself into the role of the tormented man with all his heart and soul. He seems to have a black cloud over his head that’s about to burst and drown him. Oh, and one more thing, you may be inspired to rush home and clean out your garage with renewed vigor.

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West (opposite Universal City), Los Angeles 90068. $25. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. No intermission. Parking in Panasonic lot across the street now costs $5, come early! (323) 851-7977 or www. theatrewest.org Ends 9/23/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


Let’s get the negatives out of the way. This place is exceedingly noisy so, if you enjoy stimulating dinner conversation, escape to the front patio. Furthermore, it’s expensive for Mexican food. The parent company Cocinas y Calaveras, own multiple locations but fortunately, this one is less than a five minute drive from Theatre West and the food is superb! So now that you’re aware, think twice before you answer when the waiter rushes to you table and offers guacamole. It ain’t complimentary! It costs $12! Starters go from $13 for cucumber salad, many of the others are prepared with fruit which some people consider so “gourmet”. The lowest priced entrée is a chile relleno, very nice at $17, followed by enchilada $20, chicken $24, scallops $29 yet, the joint was packed. I usually pay around $15 for carnitas but shelled out $27 (not a misprint) for them here. But I never tasted better, no kidding. Big, lean chunks of tender, succulent pork that could make a Rabbi stray, a portion large enough for an additional meal, surrounded by roasted cauliflower, sautéed onions and a tiny scoop of their luxurious guacamole. Absolutely divine! A side order of escabeche, spicy, pickled strips of carrots, onion, mango and jalapeños proved refreshing in taste and price, only $3. They offer truckloads of tequila but only four choices of wine by the glass from $11. But I have to say that Mexican Sauvignon Blanc was exquisite. We had a really nice, accommodating server by the name of Jen and would return, in spite of the ridiculous prices. Architecturally, Mercado can be dismissed with a wave of the hand but gastronomically you’ll want to form a circle with your thumb and forefinger!

Mercado, 3413 Cahuenga Blvd. West, (opposite Universal City) Los Angeles 90068. Open weekdays from 5 pm, weekend brunch from 11 am to 11 pm. Full bar. Parking in adjoining lot $6. Reservations strongly advised. (323) 512-2500


THE TANNAHILL WEAVERS a group of Irish musicians, acoustic guitar, fiddle, pipes,flutes etc, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a visit to Caltech, on Saturday, September 25, 2018 at 8 pm. The concert is being held in the intimate Beckman Institute (not to be confused it the large Beckman Auditorium) Open seating. $25. (626) 395-4652 or http://pasadenafolkmusicsociety.org or in person Caltech Ticket Office, 1200 E California Blvd. Ground floor. Free parking in structures on Wilson Ave. south of Del Mar, north of Beckman Auditorium, off Michigan Avenue. See you there!

PARADISE, A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy byBill Robertson, Tom Sage & Cliff Wagner

As soon as you set foot in the theatre, you’re greeted by the sounds of guitar, banjo, mandolin etc., from a top notch bluegrass band led by Jim Doyle and if you don’t start tapping your feet and /or bobbing your head, you’re probably deaf. If you love country or bluegrass music, you’ll think you really are in paradise. Actually, we’re in a depressed, little coal mining town (cute set by Stephanie K. Schwartz), called Paradise, whose church just burnt down and whose economy has gone south. In the midst of this calamity arrives a charismatic, handsome evangelist, the Reverend John Cyrus Mountain (Jon Root) whose devilish good looks and glib tongue convinces the local rubes that building a mega-church will attract the tourists and make them rich, plus filming a TV reality show will make them all famous.

Besides the lively music by Cliff Wagner and witty lyrics by Bill Robertson and Tom Sage and expert direction by Michael Myers, a big hand goes to the cast. We first meet old Ezra Johnson (Dave Florek) the front porch couch potato who, even though blind, doesn’t miss a trick. Kelsey Joyce is the demure Louanne, the local virgin ( no wonder she sings such sad songs). She’s yearning to get out of town and is looking for love, not necessarily in that order. The dynamic John Root, a major talent, is alone worth the price of admission. His blue eyes dimples and all the right moves, hide the fact that he is the baaaaadest dude you could imagine. He has brought along a floozy named Chastity (ha, ha) straight from the strip joints of Las Vegas, she’s poured into a skintight red dress, wears stilettos and when she pole dances, it’s a miracle the pole doesn’t catch fire! We also have the town’s aptly named Mayor Gayheart (the nimble footed Chip Bolcik, who also designed the sound) and his son Tater (Randy Taylor) who sings and dances up a storm. Paige Segal is a blast as the rambunctious Cyndi, with a hillbilly accent that, as soon as she opens her mouth, one can almost taste the grits and smell the moonshine. The TV show’s producer Peter (Jamie Daniels) is a simpatico guy. Just the right soul mate for the lonely Louanne and might just turn out to be “the one” to rescue her from the doldrums.

Special hollers and whistles go to Cliff Wagner of the Old#7 Band for that wonderful music, to costumer Dianne K. Graebner, to Edward Salas for lighting design, choreographers Tor Campbell and Jess Hopper and, of course to genius Casting Director Paul Ruddy, for assembling an ensemble that can act, dance and have great voices. This show made its debut here five years ago and was a roaring success. They took it to New York and now brought it back, added some new songs and a few four letter words, so y’all must see it. It’s the most fun you can have…..in public. Who knew life among the shit kickers could be so hilarious?

Ruskin Group Theatre Co. 3000 Airport Ave.(inside Santa Monica Airport) Santa Monica 90405. Ample free parking in front lot. (310) 397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com ends 9/23/18



Audiences disinterested in provocative material or think pieces a la Pinter and Albee are tailor made for this show. We’re talking light, lightweight content here, some chuckles but no rolling in the aisles. It also helps to be Jewish, as Yiddish expressions flow like matzo ball soup before and after Yom Kippur.

It takes place in Brooklyn in 1966 and opens amusingly enough with the pre-curtain appearance of the splendid John Pleshette, as the ghost of the reputedly well endowed Zeyda (grandpa) Grazonsky, who tells us in his unique way, to silence all electronic devices and introduces himself from “paradise”. He returns sporadically thereafter from the hereafter. A pair of young people arrive at the home of widowed Minka Grazonsky (a feisty Cathy Ladman), a wonderful dual-level, multi-room set by Joel Daavid. It’s grandson Joseph Grazonsky (Hunter Milano) wearing a Jewish Afro, who’s visiting ostensibly, for the High Holidays but actually on some real estate business with his boozing dad David (Travis York) with whom he’s been feuding, like forever. He has brought along his fiancée (Sammi-Jack Martincak), who is not only pregnant but a Shiksa with the unfortunate name of Caitlin McCarthy Heitler. This girl fakes a deep Southern drawl that would make a Mint Julep evaporate in minutes. Minka, who runs a Brighton Beach boarding house, is kick of a bubba (grandma), who spruces up each time she answers her phone as though she were on Skype. Her raspy voice is that of an old crone but she glams up nicely for the Rosh Hashanah dinner for which she’s been simmering a high sodium soup all day. She gets most of the laughs and her comic bent radiates thorough her performance. Among the boarders is another yenta, a Mrs. Feinstein Laura Julian who flaunts sequins and lace costumes (by Wendell C. Carmichel), and keeps busy spying on one and all. There’s also the elderly Mr. Goldman (Marty Ross) and Sally Schaub, who has a tasteless cameo as woman with a severe digestive problem.

This is a world premiere, from the pens of a pair of married, veteran comics, Jo Anne Astrow and Mark Lonow, who also directs. Their inspiration came from the memory of their families, Jewish immigrants who fled the deadly, anti-semitic pogroms in Russia. Most of them remained devoted Bolsheviks, including our Minka, who in her flaming youth, hooked up with Stalin, Trotsky and other hot Reds.

Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue near Stanley, Los Angeles 90046. Friday, Saturday and selected Mondays, 8 pm. Sunday 3 pm. $35. Street parking . (323)960-4412 or www.Plays411/Matzoballs ends 9/23/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pretheater suggestion

The Dining Scene is pretty bleak . THE SNAKE PIT ALE HOUSE is an old, old Hollywood landmark and has two things going for it, besides pleasant service. 1) it’s walking close to the theatre, 2) it’s got The Happiest Hours, daily from 3 to 8 pm. Now a funky pub, it’s strictly for those who don’t want to sit though a show with an empty, growling stomach. So, if a glass of beer, ale or the house wine $6 before 8 pm plus nibbles of pub grub is good enough for you, you’ll be OK. The most interesting item on the regular menu, is their version of a ham chop. It sells by the ounce, bone in and comes with mashed potatoes and fresh, steamed veggies. I opted for the nine ouncer, $11.70. Big mistake. It was skinny, tough, dry and mercilessly over cooked. If you must, order at least the 11 oz. cut or larger. You’re much better off, snacking on the Happy Hour bar food. There’s a nice quesadilla with salsa and dips $6, mini tacos, vegan black bean chili $5 with meat, add $2.50, mini tostadas $7, ceviche $5. The terrific sweet potato fries are $6 anytime, and worth it. Fine dining will have to wait for another evening but cheer up, your check will be moderate and you’re only two blocks from the Martix.

Snake Pit Ale House, 7529 Melrose Avenue, corner of Sierra Bonita, Los Angeles 90046. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Full bar, Street parking (323)653-2011.

YELLOW FACE by David Henry Hwang

Race, patriotism and show business are some of the volatile ingredients that make this theatrical kettle boil and bubble. It will stimulate post – performance discussions and private thoughts. Author Hwang, famous for his prize winning play, M. Butterfly, presents a well researched story based on personal experience which makes it even more poignant and timely, since the subject of diversity hangs over every phase of the entertainment industry.

It all started in the early Nineties when the London production of the hit musical Miss Saigon, featured a Caucasian (the brilliant Jonathan Pryce) as the mixed race pimp, a role in which he excelled, however it enraged the artistic world of Asian performers. They felt very strongly that the part belonged to an Asian. Protests were held, tempers flared and Hwang considered it a personal affront. He had just completed a new play calling for an Asian cast but what did he do? He was so impressed by the audition of the tall, handsome Caucasian Marcus G. Dahlman (Roman Moretti), he gave him the lead and a new stage name, Marcus Gee. The repercussions of this bold if misguided, act will mesmerize you.

Impeccably directed by Robert Zimmerman (a man who has worked with the best) inspired this amazing ensemble, with only chairs on the bare stage, to rise and shine as they portray dozens of characters, sans costumes or props, utilizing only their talent, vocal inflections, facial expressions and gestures to pull it off. John Pendergast is the announcer who identifies them all. Only Jeffrey Sun as D.H. Hwang and Moretti, who possesses a sonorous, unforced speaking voice, retain their original personae throughout the two acts.

The audience favorite (mine, too) is Alfonso Faustino in all of his many roles. He is especially moving a D.H. Hwang’s elderly father, a Chinese man whose love for his adopted country, the land of the free and the home of Frank Sinatra, James Stewart and Clark Gable, runs deep. Plus the author has given him a lot of quotable lines and he charms in every part he assumes. Also impressive is Lisagaye Tomlinson who masters accents and gender, Dennis Nollette brings authenticity to the roles of agent, politician etc. and Jennifer Vo Le can be loving, temperamental and super sexy with equal ease. The above mentioned Pendergast., in addition to his announcing job, is well cast as a sophisticated, crack reporter/interviewer. Theatre lovers will sink their teeth into this production, which ends up surprising and enlightening us as to who our real enemy is.

Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 S. Robertson Blvd. near Gregory Way, Beverly Hills 90211, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm, $30. Seniors $20. Street parking. Dark Labor Day weekend (8/31 – 9/2) www.plays4111/com/yellowface ends 9/26/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

The ideal situation is to score a parking spot, have a good dinner and walk to the show, without moving your car. And here it is!! Just across the street (intersection Robertson/Gregory Way), a little Persian restaurant, TEHRAN inside a bakery which is called La Maison de Crè me, Look for that sign, TEHRAN RESTAURANT has zero signage, which has become annoyingly fashionable. Just walk, under the cement archway into the alley – and there it is on your left. It’s probably the tiniest place in town with its four table interior but there is al freco seating on the charming patio alongside, protected from the breeze, in the rarified air of Beverly Hills. The food is regal, fit for the Shah, Persian and the menu reasonable and quite extensive for this tiny treasure. All those famous chicken kabobs are here for $14 - $16 with rice and tossed, green salad. Chicken Barg (marinated tenders), Koobideh (ground) plus Filet Mignon kabab, Cornish hen, three fish entrees and more. You’ll love those labor intensive stews, flavored with exotic (mild) herbs, especially the Bademjan with eggplant in an intricate tomato-onion sauce. It comes with chicken or veal, I suggest the former. The Ghaimeh with yellow lentils with beef or vegan style, is not bad either. Sumac, which looks like paprika is at table for sprinkling. Are you a connoisseur of potato salad? If so, share their salad Olivieh as an appetizer, $10, a little pricey but so good, with pickles, egg, chicken and green peas. But it will curb your enthusiasm for any other potato salad in the future. We figured a bakery, let’s try the tiramisu $6. We were not impressed. The lone server was most accommodating. Being on a beach season, low carb diet, we asked him to please substitute the rice with salad or vegetable (a mountain of al dente carrots, celery, cabbage and cauliflower), which he did with a smile. They sell beer and wine, which comes in a covered, individual glass $6, you can take home as a souvenir.

TEHRAN (Interior shared with La Maison de Crè me Bakery) 265 S. Robertson at Gregory Way, Beverly Hills 90211. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beer & wine. Street parking. Reservations an absolute MUST!! (310) 855-7290.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE by Stephen Sachsr

Whether or not you remember the famous, vintage film Brief Encounter, starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, with a script by Noel Coward, you’ll be captivated by this updated version of a love story that might have been. It’s utterly unique. Performed by the principal pair of actors who are hearing impaired, every word in ASL (American Sign Language) is subtitled on the backdrop screen like a foreign movie.

We are now in the present day, instead of the old British Railway station, the locale is the heart of the Big Apple. Projections show bird’s eye views of New York and are spectacularly effective, whether you see the bustling pedestrians on crowded streets or commuters dashing full speed through the 56th Subway Station Stop. Brilliantly done and a big part of the play’s success. Kudos to Nicholas E. Santiago (video design) Peter Bayne (sound & music) and Matthew G. Hill for scenic design. Multiple award winning playwright Stephen Sachs who is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder (with Deborah Culver) of the Fountain Theatre, sensitively directs the fine cast. He was inspired to give the story a new spin, via his close friendship with the married couple, Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur. who are the stars. She’s hard of hearing and he is completely deaf. As Emily and Sam, they meet by chance in the subway station, when he offers to help her remove a cinder from her right eye. They’re both married but there’s an undeniable chemistry between them, well, you’ll see…..

The lanky Kotsur is a lively one, full of humor and charm, with quicksilver hands as he signs enthusiastically. She is reserved, attractive, supposedly a woman with a past but you’d never guess. She’s married to Doug (Brian Robert Burns) a wannabe pastor who is a real estate salesman, ü ber religious, a crashing bore, not bad looking but preachy and whose most exciting plan for his wife is her baptism! No wonder she’s a little tired of this dude. A new and quite superfluous character is introduced, Emily’s kvetchy daughter Jule (Aurelia Myers) a teen with a well deserved low self esteem. Note: From September 7th until the 10th, the role will be assumed by Kyra Kotsur, the couple’s real life daughter). She keeps busy fretting and texting her friend Carlee (Claire Elizabeth Beale) of whom we get only a glimpse. Much more fun are the goings on at the coffee stand, where Mya (Jessica Jade Andres), a pretty, young thing, has caught the eye of Russell (Shon Fuller) the Station cop who’s in hot pursuit, totally smitten and randy as a cat in heat. The most remarkable detail about this production is that much of it is “spoken” in ASL but never distracting due to the skill of Adam Burch and Stasha Surdyke, who perfectly synchronize their voices so they sound just like they came out of the mouths of our protagonists, Emily and Sam. All the emotion, fervor and hesitations are there. This takes talent but they make it look easy. Of course, the captions always clarify any of the dialogue you might have missed. The lovely Sturdyke comes into her own in the final scene as Emily’s ditzy friend, Marjorie. This is a show that does justice to Fountain Theatre’s reputation for quality, reliability and stimulating repertoire. You won’t be disappointed.

The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Avenue at Normandie, Los Angeles 90029. Monday, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2pm. No intermission. $35 - $49. Seniors $30. Students $20. Rush tickets 15 min. before show time $ 20. Mondays pay what you want. Parking lot next door. (323) 663-1525 or www.Fountain Theatre.com. ends 9/30/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

The Rose is blooming! Coming back to the L.A. ROSE CAFÉ after many years, when it was a tiny, bare bones hole in the wall, (originally researched for my annual “bargain dining” column in Los Angeles Magazine), was pure joy. They have enlarged, spruced up and extended the still reasonable menu and is only minutes away from The Fountain, another oldie but very goodie.

For quite a while now, the food pundits have predicted that Filipino cuisine is going to be “the next big thing”. I’ve been waiting and waiting as a long time fan. Most of the entrees here are below $20, so you can check out and perhaps share several dishes to see if they meet your expectations. The timid among you should be aware that they also serve steak brochettes, salmon, stir-frys of vegetables, chicken, meat and tofu, filet of sole and empanada appetizers, similar but bigger than the Argentinean ones.

Most entrees come with rice and a heaping little bowl of salad, sprouts, greens, mushrooms, sliced, black olives, cucumbers, garbanzos, nice variety and dressings, red wine vinaigrette, creamy Caesar or sesame vinaigrette. A perfect introduction to Filipino food, would be the pork or chicken adobo in its spoon-up good, heady sauce. Not spicy but lots of flavor. My special favorite is pancit bihon, pronounced punsit beehon. Comes in three sizes, a toss of different meats, shrimp and veggies among thread-thin noodles. Add some soy sauce. At home I always also squeeze over a little lemon juice, a trick taught to me by a Filipina friend. Additional authentic items are kari-kari (oxtails in a peanut flavored sauce), chicken curry, and fresh lumpia, similar to Vietnamese spring rolls and not fried. Service is very obliging and the Rose Cafe now has genuine, old fashioned charm and décor and, as stated before, is the ideal choice for Fountain Theatre audiences.

LA Rose Café, 4749 Fountain Avenue at New Hampshire, Los Angeles. 90027. No alcohol…. BYOB No corkage. Street parking. Open daily for breakfast and lunch . Sunday brunch until 4:30 but no dinner Sundays.


This is not quite the “laff riot”we all could use right now but, coming from the pen of Norman Foster, affectionately called the Canadian Neil Simon, you know it’s going to be good for some chuckles. Foster’s time frame is smack in the Late Thirties and the production crackles with authenticity – the background music, the clothes (by Michèle Young) and, especially the dialogue with all the old-timey expressions, back when cool was chilled and gay meant happy. And, how refreshing not to be bombarded by four-letter words and sentences beginning with “I’m like…..”

It all starts in the office of The Chronicle, whose grouchy Editor, Bosco Godfrey (Daniel Leslie) dictates a letter to his spunky secretary Jonesy (Gail Johnston) who has stenopad in hand. The paper’s owner, matriarch of the Diddle Family, demands that prominent space be given to her son’s upcoming nuptials. She’s a bit suspicious of her future daughter in law and old Bosco hopes to uncover a juicy scandal behind the scenes. To this end, he assigns his star reporter to cover the story. Complications arise when a young woman applies for that job and Bosco decides to pit their talents against one another’s to see who writes the better story and earns a spot on the staff. More about these two rivals, later.

As they try to sniff out all the intrigue going on in this quirky household, we get to know the dowager Dolores Diddle (Sharron Shayne) who plays the role of the merry, still attractive, if slightly over-ripe widow, full throttle. She’s love-struck by her flamboyant suitor Peter (George Villas) who affects an aristocratic accent and strokes his toupee, while flattering the bejeezus out of the receptive Dolores. They are strictly from Overactors Anonymous but good for some laughs. The fiancee under suspicion of being a first class gold digger named Gloria (Jean Mackie) is a slinky femme fatale and the twitchy groom, Chauncey (Nico Boles), Dolores’ cherished sonnyboy, appears not to be the freshest egg in the basket but is not quite the simpleton he’s portraying As the charming ace reporter, Jeff, Lane Compton is perfect. Good looking, well dressed, with a wicked smile, a naughty boy demeanor and a line most women would find irresistible. He’s a bit of a male chauvinist pig and burning with ambition. But he meets his match in Mary (the excellent Kate Whitney) a spinsterish but endearing young woman, the rookie wannabe vying for his job. Stylishly attired in white gloves, hat and color-coded burgundy outfit from head to toe, she represents the business girl of the era. She’s altogether appealing as she tries to break into the male dominated field of journalism. Keep in mind, this was eighty years ago – she’s looking for love and a career. Sound familiar? The most hilarious character on stage is the Butler, Reginald, played by Mr. Theatre 40 Himself, David Hunt Stafford . One look at him and the audience breaks up. He’s clad in tails with a “do” of outrageous curls and a demeanor that’s both subservient and audacious. Unforgettable!

Highly acclaimed Director Howard Storm, gets to work with a game cast that has a grasp of this type of humor and Theatre 40’s resident designer, Jeff G. Rack has created a set worthy of his reputation with the help of Brandon Baruch on lights and Sloe Slawinski on sound. A good way to cheer up any summer night.

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, off Little Santa Monica, on the Campus of Beverly Hills High School. Beverly Hills 90212. Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $35. Free parking in building garage, adjoining the theatre, same floor. (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org ends 8/19


MISS AMERICA’S UGLY DAUGHTER, Bess Myerson & Me written and performed by Barra Grant

For those who are too young to recall a beauty contest held in the Forties, the lovely Bess Myerson is the only Jewish girl ever, to be named Miss America. Not only was she beautiful but also very bright, a mover and shaker both during and after her reign. Active in politics and humane causes, a socialite and - eventually, a disgrace. But this is not HER story. What you will hear comes from the mouth of her only daughter, Barra Grant and all about Myerson’s one major failure: the role of a mother. You might call her a Jewish “Mommy Dearest”- without the physical abuse.

The highlighted focal point on stage, symbolically, is a throne with an ermine trimmed, red velvet cape draped around it. The show begins with the familiar fanfare, “Here she comes…..accompanied by an array of photo projections, very well done throughout, by Fritz Davis. The set is cleverly designed (by Elisha Schaefer), as it switches to various locations without interruption. Barra Grant, the titular “ugly” daughter, is actually an attractive, slender woman with a gorgeous head of long hair who was, she tells us, a chubby, bucktoothed kid with frizzy hair and no discernible talent, not just ignored by her mother but often deliberately hidden from view.

Grant’s soliloquy is spellbinding, gossipy, heartbreaking yet always truly entertaining. She may have lost her self-esteem under the circumstances but not her sense of humor. Watch her expression as the maturing yenta keeps phoning her at all hours of the night. The voice of the wonderful Monica Piper is heard as Bess and she’s as funny as she is annoying. This woman was so self-centered, if her neighbor’s house burnt down, she would probably bitch about having to smell the smoke! Barra’s gallows humor comes into play describing her and her mother’s assorted boyfriends, her efforts to launch a career in Hollywood and her childhood, which you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. But read her bio in your Footlights program – she did allright for herself, so there ! The play is stylishly directed by the talented Eve Brandstein and should not be missed.

The Broad Stage , Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, in the 99 Seat Edye Theatre, 1310 11th Street. between Arizona and Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica 90401. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $55 Talk Backs with Grant will be held after the 3 p.m. Sunday matinee performances on July 22 and 29 and August 5 and 12. (800)838-3006 or misamericasuglydaughter.com or www.brownpapertickets.buytickets.com Parking lot in front. No intermission. Ends 8/26


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

The restaurant called ESTATE is about a ten minute drive west but it’s worth it. From the outside, you see a big grey/brown box but the interior is tastefully done on dual levels with the appearance of a private club and a prosperous looking clientele. They describe the cuisine as Asian Fusion, a popular nomenclature of the moment. The menu actually has an international flair with the emphasis on good health and great flavors. Not cheap- entrees gallop from $26 to $32. We lucked into the time frame of the citywide Dine L.A.Week promotion, thus were able to taste several different dishes at a much reduced rate, three courses for $39. A steal. Appetizers of tuna tartare on top of little toasted brown rice squares, hit the spot and the broccolini/quinoa salad was no slouch, either, a generous portion served in a wooden bowl. These normally cost $12 on the regular menu. Mains offered choices of salmon, filet mignon or Pad Thai. Reporting on the latter two, the fist-size steak was done to specs and perfection with a side of broccolini (they must have gotten a deal on those at the Farmer’s Market that morning) and a mound of purple Okinawa potatoes. These have a reputation of being very good for you but I was not enchanted and found them mushy and rather tasteless. Only the Szechuan pepper sauce around the steak saved them. The Pad Thai was the best ever, a heap of flat noodles, studded with veggies and without the brown sugar load that often makes it cloyingly sweet. Dessert offerings were pear tarte, cheesecake or sorbet. They serve cocktails and wine from $12 per glass. Service is informed and professional. We can hardly wait for our return visit.

Estate Restaurant & Bar, 1519 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90403 open 7 nights a week from 5pm, happy hour 5-7. Full bar. Valet parking $10. Metered parking around back enter on 16th ST. (310)394-7722


You may become fascinated by this historic, albeit tall tale, no matter what your politics are. We all remember what Teddy Kennedy did on that fateful July night in 1969 at Chappaquiddick But do we really know? This play neither condemns him nor does it exonerate him and is strictly a figment of Lefcourt’s imagination, who lays no claim for accuracy, from the get go.

We are in a room of the Shiretown Inn in Edgartown, Massachusetts. It’s furnished in elegant, fiftyish style, like a parlor, with classic rock background music on the radio. Set design by Nina Caussa, sound by Dino Herrmann. Suddenly, in storms an agitated, young man, Teddy Kennedy (Thomas Piper). He’s in a major panic. having just left his young female passenger to drown, after plunging his car off a bridge. SPOILER ALERT, if you want the surprise element to kick in, read no further.

When the door opens, who should walk in? The two dead Kennedy Bros, JFK (Blake Boyd) and Bobby (Tim Redmond) as well as the Old Man, Joe Kennedy ( James Gleason), wheelchair bound and debilitated after a stroke. But he does supply some levity with his droll reminiscences and politically incorrect opinions. These fine actors bear no resemblance to the actual personages, even more obvious with the occasional projection of family photographs. Only Boyd tries to replicate Jack’s accent and distinctive vocal style. They quickly put their heads together in a damage control effort to rescue their naughty, little brother out of hot water, so to speak and preserve his Presidential chances. Director Terri Hanauer keeps a tight reign on the cast as the guys roughhouse, gossip, kid around and trade jabs, not just physical ones, just like they might have done when they were alive.

In Act II the drama ferments with the appearance of Mary Jo Kopechne (the petite Cathryn Dylan alternating with Sarah Navratil), also reincarnated, of course. We never really knew very much about her but the Emmy and Drama Desk Award winning author gives her the full spotlight. He re-imagines her as a determined, young woman full of ideals, with a strong social conscience and a prescience about the strong role of women in the future. Her performance is extraordinary, fiery, passionate and she bears a striking resemblance to the late Mary Jo – in fact, she steals the show! This fairytale sustains our interest, even though we remember how it all played out. Ted Kennedy never realized his, or rather the Kennedy Clan’s Presidential ambitions. He remained in the Senate and became a respected elder statesman until his death.

Odyssey Theatre 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W. Los Angeles 90025. Friday & Saturday 8 pm. 2 pm on Sunday. $30 - $34. Parking in front $4. (323) 060-4418 or www.Plays 411.com/Mary Jo ends 8/22/18



One of the nicest things about Southern California’s summer time is the annual return of the FESTIVAL OF ARTS and the PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beach. An enormous variety of art in every imaginable medium fills the grounds all season long and the Irvine Bowl comes to life with the famous spectacle of “living pictures” posed by local volunteers. This unique show is in it’s 85th year – we should all age so well!

This years theme is “UNDER THE SUN” and has educational as well as entertainment value. It’s a love letter to Laguna, beginning with projections of the perfect, gentle Pacific waves and verdant vistas of this picturesque town. It segues into a history lesson, from the time of Old Laguna to the present. It glorifies the inviting beaches, the fun, the exhilarating sport of surfing and the music known as the California Sound. The first act concludes with a beach party that will knock you socks off.

Act II opens with the paintings of the celebrated French impressionists. Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and John Singer Sargent and concludes with Da Vinci’s solemn Last Supper. The live orchestra adds to the enjoyment of the evening, traditionally narrated by the sonorous voiced Richard Doyle.

You’ll be pleased to know that many other forms of entertainment here will keep you busy all summer long, many of them free . There’s Art & Story Time, Mondays 11:30 a.m. Concerts on the Green (live music) on Saturday 8/4 & 18 and 9/1. Art Workshops, Fine Art Tours daily at 2 and 5 p.m. and much more. For details visit Lagunafestivalofarts.com.

To simplify your “dinner and a show all in one place” experience, there are dining options located on the grounds. Gina’s Alfresco provides their smoked chicken pizza (small but tasty) $15, parmesan-garlic fries $8, (includes Gina’ famous sauce, which is too thin for dipping without dripping); a poke bowl $13, a pair of short rib tacos $12 etc.

HOT FLASH; The former Tivoli Terrace has been replaced by the new TERRA (same location) a contemporary dining establishment which sounds promising. Hope to give you a full report next summer. Meanwhile, the reservation number for right now is (949)494-9650. Hope it meets all expectations.

Addenda: This fall you can return for Halloween to attend the PAGENT OF THE MONSTERS. The backstage area will be transformed to a Hunted House and the grounds will have live music, tricks, treats, wandering zombies and spook—tacular surprises. The dates are October 26, 27, 28 and 31, 2018. 6 to 9:30 pm. Adults $15 in advance $20 at the door. Kids 12 under $10. (not recommended for children under 5)

FESTIVAL OF ARTS 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. Laguna Beach, 92651 (949) 494-1145 lagunafestivalofarts.org July 5 – September 1, 2018. Weekdays noon to 11:30 pm, weekends 10 am to 11:30 pm (closing early at 1:30 pm on August 25th. Admission; weekdays $10, weekends $15 Students/Seniors weekdays $7, weekends $11. Children 6 – 12, daily $5 Free for children under five, for military and Laguna residents, free always.

PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS same location, Irvine Bowl July 7 –September 1, 2018. Performance nightly at 8:30 pm. Upper Tiers $20 - $60, , Side Loge $170, Centre Loge $198. Pageant Tickets (800) 487-3378 or www.PageantTickets.com

There is a well marked parking area (paid) on Laguna Cyn. Road and lots of paid lots near the venue, Binoculars and blankets are available for $10 and $3 respectively. I suggest BYO, don’t forget a warm wrap and/or sweater – it does get chilly.


NOTE: Don’t let summer pass by without your Shakespeare fix. Shakespeare By The Sea’s 21 season is the opening of A Winter’s Tale followed by The Merry Wive’s Of Windsor in rep. For information visit www.shakespearbythesea.org


The play opens to the familiar sound of tennis balls being whacked back and forth, to put us in a courtside mood. Soon the old adage “behind every successful man stands a good woman” will evolve into “behind every successful child performer stands an ambitious mother”. This well told, smartly directed (by Tyne Rafaeli) and flawlessly acted piece, takes you behind the scenes to the tribulations of a stage mother extraordinaire. Regardless of whether the child in question is guided to fame in athletics, stage or screen, in this case, the tennis court - it’s a blood sport.

Showing promise as a ten year old, little Carlin (Abigail Dylan Harrison), shepherded by single mom, Cyn (Mamie Gummer), is soon guided by her new coach Jay (Joe Tippett), who has scant credentials but a big heart and noble spirit. Remarkably, Playwright Amanda Peet, a successful actress who writes with an insider’s view and one would expect, from personal experience but neither her bio nor in her interview with Director Rafaeli (in the program) mentions any similar career-driven experience on her part, unlike the “write what you know” theory.

Performances are strong. As Jay, the passionate man of honor, Tippett is perfectly cast as a strict but loving coach. Gummer, a tall, sinewy woman with the unmistakeable facial features of her mother, Meryl Streep, delivers a brilliant turn as the ultimate stage mom, willing to sacrifice all for the fame and glory of her kid but with the ever present desire for self-glorification. Young Harrison babbles on in her little girl voice but her acting is devoid of affectations and always natural. Caroline Heffernan takes over later as a conflicted teenager and makes a strong showing in Act II. Tyee Tilghman impresses as a sort of talent scout with the ability to spot future tennis champs. The technical aspects of this show deserve mention, the set design by Tim Mackabee, lighting Lap Chi Chu and sound by Lindsay Jones. My one wish is that the very last scene were more climactic/dramatic, rather than leaving us with that up-in-the-air feeling.

Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave. Westwood, Los Angeles 90024 Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, 3 and 8 pm Saturday, 2 & 7 pm Sunday $60 - $85. (310) 208-2028 or www.geffenplayhouse.org Garage parking underground next door or in the Trader Joe’s building on Glendon, with validation from the theatre’ lobby desk, only $4 ends 7/29/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

About a fifteen minute drive from the Geffen, is a place called FUNDAMENTAL Los Angeles (there’a another in DTLA). They serve contemporary, slightly eclectic but terrific food, catering to those who already love vegetables and to those who need convincing that your mom’s frozen Birdseye boxes are as pass é as black & white TV. But don’t worry, they also make branzino $24, Scottish salmon $27. Diver scallops $32 and Flat Iron steak $28 and more for those not devoted to vegetables, no matter how well prepared.

This is actually a wine bar and left of entrance you will see about a hundred bottles standing at attention along a shelf. The available wine list is staggering and glasses start at $10, during their nightly (even on Saturday) Happy Hour, just right for theatre goers. Even a teetotaler can have fun here, sharing the smaller plates of imaginative veggies. Try the Kung Pao snap peas with the additional textures of almonds and farro in a kicky Asian sauce. There’s roasted cabbage, slightly al dente, tasting unlike any cabbage preparation you’ve ever had. Their big bowl of cauliflower, hot and very spicy with chili lime, is fabulous, if you can take the heat. The only weak sister was the steak tartare, on the bland side, crying out for some mustard, capers or minced onion, only good for putting out the fire of the cauliflower. These are all reasonably priced between $9 and $15 and when shared, a good deal. The staff is well informed and friendly, the small, narrow room plain but pleasant. Unless you have your own ample upholstery, your backside has to endure excruciatingly hard seats. We plan to BYO cushions on our next visit.

Fundamental LA 1303 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles 90024. Lunch & dinner (310)444-7581 Closed Sunday & Monday. Tight street parking.

SACRED RESISTANCE written and performed by Vicki Juditz

When you’re fortunate enough to attend one of Jewish Womens Theatre’s one-woman shows at The Braid, you just know it’s going to be a winner, based on their track record (not a lemon among them). The current SACRED RESISTANCE is no exception. Juditz, whose life story is most probably more fascinating than most of her audience’s has performed all over the country (see her bio in your Footlights program) to well deserved success. A tall, pleasant looking, middle aged woman, she arrives on stage wearing a navy blue top with a pair of black pants (the Fashion Police would not approve). She begins to speak at top speed in a high-pitched, nasal voice. But, five minutes later she has us in the palm of her hand. Also, she’s an expert vocal impersonator and imitates the sound of an old lady on Fairfax Avenue, the sonorous tones of a rabbi and many other male and female voices, a good part of the time.

She cleverly covers her pathetic love life, the frantic search for a husband (she’s willing to settle), her move from N.Y. to L.A. and her conversion to Judaism. A born Lutheran, now her Hebrew rolls off her tongue like an accomplished Bar Mitzva boy. She visits relatives in post WWII Germany (perfect accents, of course). Her social conscience awakens as she becomes an activist and a real Mensch with a purpose to “do good”. It’s all very moving, inspiring and humorous, throughout. Smartly directed by Susan Morgenstern, with lighting design by Ernest McDaniel, the action is never static as she cris-crosses the almost bare stage and we, mesmerized, follow her every move. Don’t miss the subject-related Art Show by Laurie Katz Yehia in The Gallery. There will be reception and Art Talk at 6 pm before the 7:30 pm performance on Saturday, July7th, in The Gallery of The Braid.

The Braid, 2912 Colorado Avenue #102, near Stewart, Santa Monica, 90404. Thursday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $30 - 35 Free parking lot in front. (320) 315-1400 or www.Jewishwomenstheatre.org ends 10/7


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

There’s nothing more convenient than LE PETIT CAFÉ for a pre-performance dinner. This previously reviewed little French restaurant is just across the parking lot from The Braid. They serve delicious food, average price $23 for an entrée. Lovely red snapper in light mustard sauce $22, sand dabs in caper butter $23 with fresh, crisp vegetables and mashed potatoes or rice. On my last visit, I loved the calves’ liver, done French style, medium well with shallots and a touch of red wine vinegar. If you have room for dessert, don’t miss their original version of crême brulée, studded with fresh fruit, $10. Ready to celebrate Bastille Day? On the 14th of July, you can storm Le Petit Cafe for a prix-fixe , three course meal ( choice of appetizer, main and dessert , no substitutions) $40 plus tax & tip.

Le Petit Café 2843 Colorado Avenue near Stewart, Santa Monica . 90404, Reservations a must (310 829-6792) . Parking lot along side. (Closed Sunday )

LOVE/SICK by John Cariani

Be prepared to be royally entertained by a succession of nine vignettes about relationships and the vagaries of love. The romance factor is not sugar coated here but sprinkled with grains of salt – just like real life.

The backdrop (set design by Catherine Mak) shows a wall of tchotchkes for sale at The Supercenter, which is the locale of this lively play. John Cariani cleverly incorporates a mention of this establishment into each story. His subjects are varied, original and the dialogue squeaky clean. Shinshin Yuder Tsai directs the diverse, talented cast with panache, as each of them assumes more than one part. Bravos all around!

The first skit shows an Obsessive/ Impulsive couple (Devod DeLamora & Maria V. Oliveira) who cannot keep their hands off each other, followed by Elijah Douglas, limber as a rock star in motion, delivering a fateful, Singing Telegram to the love-struck Karen Owens. The vignette entitled What? has a pair of male lovers (DeLamore & John Phelan), one of whom gets so overwhelmed in emotional situations, he loses his hearing and other functions. The Answer shows us the pre-wedding jitters of a nervous groom (William Jaramillo ) and his bride-to-be ( Holland Renton). In Ah & Oh, a longtime married couple (Douglas & Oliveira) tries to fan the fading flame of jaded love. Lunch & Dinner brings on Owens & DeLamore, each of whom enjoyed a business lunch with zero calories. In Forgot, Elspeth Carden and Phelan are celebrating her birthday but realize the good married times went by without attending to a very important matter. Where Was I ? features a squabbling lesbian couple with children, (Carden & Oliviera), arguing over task assignments. Finally, Destiny is about a chance meeting in The Superstore between a pair of former lovers (Jarmillo & Carden) which produces an interesting denouement.

Hope I got these chameleon-like actors in their right parts because it all moves at an uninterrupted, record pace but always involving the audience in a theatrical feast for both the romantic as well as the slightly cynical among us.

Long Beach Playhouse, The Studio Theatre upstairs, 5021 E.Anaheim Street. Long Beach 90804. Saturday 8pm $24, senior $14. Free parking lot in rear, enter via 14th Street. (562) 494-1914 or www.lbplayhouse.org ends 7/17/18.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestions

Within easy walking distance of the theatre, is THE CROOKED DUCK, recommended by the playhouse’s executive Director (Thanks, Madison!), which adds up to a first rate evening. This popular spot has the feel and vibe of a brewpub, decorated with ducks and water skis, but the menu is more varied and sophisticated. If you love duck, you’ve come to the right place but even if you want a more casual meal, you’ll be well served. Furthermore, they don’t have one of those snooty chefs whose motto is “No Substitutions”, thus allowing you to customize whatever you order. My companion had a killer portobello mushroom sandwich $13, in a completely different configuration than described, created without the raise of an eyebrow. On weekends they feature half a roast duck $28. If you want it crisp of skin, ask for the pomegranate sauce on the side. It’s sweet enough to sip as dessert. Remember, the bird takes a half hour so allow extra time if you’re making a curtain but it’s worth it. It comes with mashers and a vegetable. I asked instead for spinach and broccolini Also included are soup or salad, instead I wanted to try their duck chili which was “lite”, brothy and mild, studded with black beans and veggies. No problem with these substitutions. Duck not your passion? Not to worry. There’s garlic chicken, dinner salads.,soups and burgers etc. About the name: When Owner Joey Rooney was a boy, water skiing on a lake in Illinois, he accidentally hit a duck Every body fretted and thought he’d killed the poor creature. But, miraculously, it survived except for a visible kink in its neck. So, here you have it.

The Crooked Duck, 5096 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, 90804. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Full bar. Wine by tge glass from $8. Happy Hour daily, on Friday & Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Parking in front or, you can park at the Long Beach Playhouse and walk (About five minutes.) (562)494-5118 (reservations for 6 or more only ( Closed Monday)

BEARING WITNESS written and performed by Thomas Bird

The almost bare stage displays a projection of the entrance to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, a country which, as now claimed, was the first to be evaded by the Nazis. On the contrary, they welcomed the German Anschluss, a word meaning “joining together”. The Mauthausen camp murdered 119.ooo, the largest camp death toll for its size. But the core of this outstanding play is the heartwarming back story of the father/son relationship forged by wartime experiences. Tom Bird, a Vietnam War veteran, loved and admired his dad, an army doctor who volunteered to treat the wounded soldiers after WWII. and whose tor of duty included the liberation this death camp.

Years later, Tom visits Mauthausen and his narrative evokes tears and goosebumps. We also get a very personal picture of a broken soldier returning from South East Asia. If you’ve wondered what caused the stress syndrome afflicting so may veterans, Bird’s vivid account of the dehumanizing battlefield trauma will enlighten you. Bird’s autobiographical journey beginning with his boyhood, is truly fascinating. His delivery impassioned and his story mesmerizing. Brian Delate’s direction is impeccable, the projection, which later morphs into a collage of memorabilia and memories,is uncredited. Now,score your tickets, this is a very limited engagement.

The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. West Los Angeles 90025. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 p.m. Parking lot in front $4 (310) 477-2055 ext 2 or www.bearingwitnesstheplay.com ends 6/17/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

If you want to treat yourself to a superb, authentic Chinese meal without the shlep to the San Gabriel Valley, hop over to HOP WOO, just a short walk from the Odyssey. Look around the fairly plain but spotless room and you’ll see that the clientele is ninety percent Chinese, alway a reassuring sign. The menu lists whole fish, lobster, clams and shrimp galore. Beef, pork and chicken dishes are around $11 to $18, not cheap but good portions and top quality in exciting preparations. It would be ideal to come here with group of friends but it’s a treat even for two. Order three dishes and doggie bag the leftovers. Years ago we’d have to reheat in the oven, rendering the vegetables limper than a nervous bridegroom. But today we can microwave! Highly recommended are the scallops with asparagus, mild and tender with a heap of crisp asparagus $16.95. Szechuan style eggplant in chili-garlic sauce is terrific. If you’re using chopstick, cut the long strips into bite-size with the serving spoon so they don’t hang down your chin, $11.95. Stir fried chicken in spicy black bean sauce and bell pepper is divine and not spicy unless you bite into the little hot wheels of jalapeño (we found only three), $10.95. Each and every one a gustatory delight. They brought copious amounts of steamed rice in a lacquered dish, for which they charged $2 per person.Let this be a caveat. Fortune cookies and fresh orange wedges are complimentary. Allow lots of time if you’re catching a show. They are very busy and the staff is overwhelmed by the voluminous take-out business.

HOP WOO, 11110 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 1086, corner of Sepulveda, Los Angeles 90064, (310) 575-3668 (reservations recommended) No alcohol BYOB (no corkage). Tight parking in mini-mall lot, Open daily 11am - 9:30 pm


Spring is in the air and romance blossoms on the stage of San Pedro’s treasured Little Fish Theatre Written by Wil Calhoun, not a household word but who has visited yours, via his successful television shows, (Friends, Sons & Daughters, Caroline in the City etc.) He’s a master of clever, contemporary dialogue. This delectable play takes place in Chicago in the late Nineties, light hearted and appealing from start to finish, as we watch the unfolding of the friendship between the two, thirty-something protagonists. Talk about geographic desirability! They live in an apartment building with adjoining balconies (smart set by Chris Beyries)

It’s late at night, Karen (Tara Donovan) is already wrapped in her robe (costumes by Aja Morris-Smiley), when she gets a noisy, unwanted visit from pesky Paul (Greg Prusiewicz) whom we will meet later. All we know is that he’s been stalking her mercilessly since she broke up their relationship. Karen’s next door neighbor is Alvin (Patrick Vest), a reclusive writer, specializing in historical subjects. He has a problem more serious than her unwanted attention dilemma. He’s something of an agoraphobic, completely in denial, of course. Still, he piques Karen’s interest and she sets out to win him over. Their amusing banter sounds perfectly natural and we never lose interest. Incidentally, the talented Vest has choreographed a fight scene that’s a real stunner.

In Act II, we encounter the heard but unseen Paul, an obnoxious, short tempered boor who still carries an inextinguishable torch for the beleaguered Karen. Directed by the versatile Bill Wolski, who utilizes his twelve season acting experience on LFT’s boards to now sensitively guide his amazing cast behind the scenes . Hurry up and catch this lively show which ends soon.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street, between 7th and 8th, San Pedro 90731. Wednesday & Thursday 8 pm. Sunday 2 pm. $15 – 27. Parking in rear. Enter via the alley. (310)512-6030. Text (424)226-6030or www.littlefishheatre.org ends 4/5/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

If we get another rainstorm or you just want to save a few bucks, your best bet is the HAPPY DINER, an old Pedro favorite, within easy waking distance of the Little Fish Theatre. The beauty part is, you can park your car in the theatre’s lot and march a block and a half towards 7th Street, where you will find this plain and simple restaurant. You provide your own atmosphere and enjoy a reasonable dinner and friendly service. This is red, white and blue American food in all its simplicity with a homey vibe and generous servings. Their meatloaf, $12.95 is as good as your mama’s, unless she was Julia Child. Chops and steaks are a good value and the lemon-herb salmon is fresh and a hefty portion as well. Dinners come with salad or soup, on my night a yum spinach-potato soup with a little kick to it that never saw the inside of a can. Entrees come with vegetables, choice of rice or mashers but they’re flexible. I asked for all veggies and my plate was loaded with green beans, carrots, spinach, squash and tasty , sliced mushrooms, $14.95. Most dinners are even lower priced but would all taste even better with a nice glass of wine. Alas, they don’t serve any.

The Happy Diner, 617 S. Centre Street, between 6th and 7th, San Pedro 90732. Breakfast, lunch and 241-0917 dinner. No alcohol. Street parking. (310) 241-0917


Don’t let the first part of the title mislead you, this is a charming, modern love story, well worth seeing. Inspired by the political upheaval in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and the fact that, for lack of trees the logging elephants are no longer needed to haul timber and therefore jobless. That’s all you need to know about the exotic locale and you’ll relish the situations, the chance meeting at an airport of two very good looking people and their little white lies. Of course, you’ll predict the inevitable attraction between these two strangers, Jane (Brea Bee, alternating with Lily Rains) and Alex (Marshall McCabe) but it’s the road to that end which will captivate you.

The Victory’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Maria Gobetti, helms the action with her accustomed style and wit. The set (by Evan Bartoletti) consists mostly of a few chairs which the cast unobtrusively moves about, helped enormously by the spot-on projections created by Nick Santiago. Jane, the lovely Bee, is on her own on this trip, which would have been her honeymoon if some cad hadn’t ditched her. Alex (McCabe) is tall, with black hair and blue eyes, a dry wit and a slight air of mystery about him. He must be taken with a few grins of well seasoned salt as he tells her he’s on assignment from Animal Planet for a possible TV feature. She has a cynical side but also a vulnerable one which is served well by the snappy dialogue penned by Wendy Graf, a deservedly successful playwright (see program bio). If you’re a theatre lover and, of course, you are, you’ve applauded her work on many occasions as you will, most certainly at this world premiere.

The Little Victory Theatre Center, 3324 W. Victory Blvd. Burbank 91505. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 4 pm. $24. Preferred seating $34. Street parking. No intermission. (818) 841-5422 or www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org ends 4/15/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

The perfect choice for a pre-performance dinner and less than five minutes from the Victory, is LA MARIA. You may want a change from Thai, Chinese, Italian and Japanese but you haven’t had your fill of Colombian, right? That’s what they serve at La Maria. It looks like a colorful, little hut with a wall of murals, umpteen pictures and enough “décor” to fill a place twice its size. There’s a menu page of Cuisine of the Americas, which looks to me like Mexican food. The Colombian section, is mostly under $15, vegetarian dishes under $10. There’s Colombian Bistek a Caballo with criolla sauce. Sudado de pollo (chicken leg and thigh), Picada (assortment of meats and starches) offered in largeor small portions, etc. On a previous visit we enjoyed their meat and chicken entrées, this time I can report on Suldado de Pescado, grilled, fresh tilapia, $13.99. A nice piece of fish beneath onions sauted in a curry colored sauce but not curry flavored, with Colombian spices (mild). It comes with platanos and perfectly cooked rice, alongside chopped greens and tomatoes. The dressing’s little sweet but a few spoonfuls of their salsa fixed it right up, for my taste. There are also strips of yuca (cassava) a South American root vegetable, very starchy with a stringy center. Soak up the good juices with the rice unless you love two starches. My only gripe is the noise level. Business is brisk, so between the roomful of people, a few crying babies on top of the loud music tapes, dinner conversation is a pipe dream. Otherwise this is a winner with good service and tasty, reasonable food. Your kids want a burger? No problema! Checkout the last page for the fast food menu. Wine by the glass is $8.

La Maria, 10516 Victory Blvd., NoHo 91606. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, catering. Beer and Wine. Small parking lot in rear. (818) 755-8811.

THE ALAMO by Ian McRae

First off, let’s get one thing straight. This is not a Western about the historic, lost battle in Texas. The Alamo is a slightly shabby bar (great set by John Iacovelli) in present day Brooklyn, a blue collar area which is rapidly becoming gentrified, much to the chagrin of its long time residents. Some of the regulars here are retired firemen and cops who still struggle with the mental scars of the Vietnam War and the horror of the toppling Twin Towers, which they watched from the roof.

The show opens with a political diatribe from Joey (Bobby Costanzo) who hates everybody! His opinions are mostly outrageous but, I bet, you’ll occasionally nod in agreement. The proprietor is Munce (Tim True), a stoic with money worries. His ambitious wife Carmen (Eileen Galindo) who comes across as a major nag, is determined to upgrade the business and attract a more affluent clientele. To this end, she hires young Micaela (Kelsey Griswold) to get started on a new paint job. That upsets Mary (Milica Govich), Micaela’s mom who works in the gift shop of the 9/11 Memorial, and who wants her daughter to get a college education instead. Among the customers are Dominic (John Lacy), a sympathetic, low-key kind of guy and the diminutive Tick (Jack Merrill), who wears a METS T-shirt among these avid Yankee fans.

These are the characters in this multi-faceted story, without revealing the family situations as told by the talented playwright in this delightful work. Succinctly written and impressively performed, he gives each of the actors their chance to shine - and shine they do! The audience gets to know them up close and personal.

Brilliantly directed by Kent Thompson, the character development is a joy to watch. The shrewish Govich evolves into a caring human being and awakens unaccustomed feelings in her introverted hubby. The mother/daughter rift takes on a new light. Tough Joey, the wonderful Costanzo, bares his romantic side. Little Tick is involved in a surprising incident and the attractive Nancy Georgini, as his wife Claudine, creates quite a stir in her brief scene late in the play. If you’re ready for a timely, funny and thoroughly entertaining evening – Remember the Alamo!

Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica Airport 90405. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $27 - $30. Students, seniors and Guild members $17 - $20. Free parking in front lot. (310) 397-3244 or www.ruskingroupheatre.com ends 3/31/18


4PLAY Sex in a Series by Graham Brown with Nathan Faudree and Lisa Roth

If you’re in the mood for a unique theatrical experience, go for 4Play, which has enjoyed successful runs in Chicago and New York. The set-up is unusual, the audience sits on bar stools at tables all around the room, sipping drinks. You feel as though you’re in a cozy bar rather than in a theatre. The action moves all over the space, as directed by the triple threat Graham Brown, actor, director, playwright.

The show opens with the tall and glamorous Marian Frizelle belting out a tune by Cole Porter, “Just One of those Things” which sets the mood for this creation,light and bubbly like a good champagne with a chaser of stimulating relationships. At it’s core is the realization that we all search for the same things : love, respect, fidelity and a connection with a soul mate.

Although Director Brown has an ex-wife (Frizelle), he also had a previous affair with his volatile “best friend” (Cameron J. Oro). who now has a new boyfriend, the baseball loving Dustyn Gulledge.Brown is now directing an Off Off Broadway play and falls madly in love with an auditioning blonde, Eve Danzeisen. To further pepper the scenario, we have a lesbian couple, the self assured Ariana Anderson and the sensitive Zoe Simpson Dean. The cast never calls each other by name, so it’s not easy to sort out who is playing whom. Thus, the program lists the efficient Kaitlin Large simply as the Stage Manager, the beautiful Christi Pedigo as the Tequila, Zoquera Milburn the Actress and the Little Sister is played by Bevin Bru who is short of stature but has a dynamite personality. They’re all attractive and talented. We get to watch the lesbian lovers work through the their ups and downs, while the gays bicker like an old married couple and the heterosexual pair must face the durability of their love. So, you see, underneath our skin, just where the heart beats, we’re all alike.

The Actors Company, 916 A North Formosa Avenue, Los Angeles 90046, ( just west of La Brea and a block and a half south of Santa Monica Blvd.) Thursday – Saturday 8 pm. $25. Limited parking alongside the theatre, street parking available. (800) 838-3006 or www.tripnyc.org ends 3/17/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

The closest dining opportunity is JONES, on the corner of Formosa and Santa Monica Boulevard. This is a vintage restaurant that has for many years enjoyed great success – and still does. On my Friday night it was fully booked until 9 pm. But I learned a lesson, always call ahead, then I would have known that they don’t open until 7 pm for dinner, on weekends. That meant , a leisurely meal with a glass of wine (from $9.50) was out of the question. Instead, I had to sit at the bar and order the one thing I was certain could be just heated and served: short ribs, $29.50. They were ultra tender and wonderful, alongside roasted root vegetables (turnips, carrots etc.) crisp and perfectly seasoned. Jones’ menu is not particularly exciting, standards like salmon, steaks etc. and the least expensive, roast chicken for $20. The bar area is dark as a dungeon but unfortunately not as quiet. If you have something interesting to say, you’ll have to yell it. Headed for the Actors Company? Try to score a parking spot right next to the theatre and walk the loooong block or park halfway between Jones and the venue.

Jones, 7265 Santa Monica Blvd. at Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood 90046. Full bar. (323) 350-1726.

IRONBOUND by Martyna Majok

Romance among the working class, is the theme here. According to an interview with the playwright, by Dominique Morisseau in the Playbill, Majok’s story was inspired by her mother, a Polish immigrant who worked in one of the many factories in the Newark N.J area before they all shut down. To earn a living, she became a cleaning woman and our heroine Darja (Marin Ireland), followed in her footsteps. We first meet her, a thin, pale girl, in a park. The bench and lamppost are credited to set designer Tim Mackabee. Darja is involved in a nasty squabble with her current live-in, Maks (Josiah Bania) about his philandering and, or course, the ever present problem, money. She lives below poverty level and is in desperate need of cash for a car, to locate her missing son. This woman is not living the good life in America! But she’s feisty and so tough a cookie, nobody is going to chew her up and spit her out.

Director Tyne Rafaeli never lets the pace lag and inspires excellent performances by the quartet of actors, who appear and disappear in the course of this time-traveling work. Ireland speaks in an authentic Eastern European accent and portrays a myriad of emotions devoid of a single smile. We see some dream sequences bathed in golden light (design by Lap Chi Chu) which, at first, I thought were actual memories of romantic encounters but they’re merely dreams involving harmonica playing Tommy (Christian Camargo), a cherub faced, sweet fellow who contributes a few moments of happiness to the stressed-out Darja. As the brash Lothario Maks, Bania commands every scene, has a sonorous speaking voice and a bold stage presence. Just after Darja beds down on her park bench, a stranger appears. It’s Vic (Marcel Spears), a droll, chubby black fellow, bundled up in a down jacket. He’s the comic relief, has a little hip-hop routine and might just be the unlikely hooker with the heart of gold. You’ll come away, if not quite dazzled, pleased by the pragmatic denouement.

Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theater, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024. Wednesday – Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $33 - $90. (310) 208-5454. $4 parking,(with validation from the lobby desk) at Glendon Apartments Parking Garage, in the Trader Joe’s building, 1008 Glendon Avenue, Westwood 90024. ends 3/4/18.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

Here’s a hot hint for the frugal and convenience conscious theatre patron. Just a few steps left of the Geffen is a RALPH’S MARKET. Due to more than usual annoying traffic conditions on a Friday evening, there was no time for a relaxing dinner prior to the show. To the rescue: a round of hot and cold selections at Ralph’s buffet for about $8.75 a pound. There was not much left of the beef Bourguignonne or the chicken masala. But there were plenty of sesame noodles, sausage and peppers, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms galore. The salad section had some real winners, excellent shrimp ceviche, seafood salad, edamame, garbanzo and egg salads, quinoa ,cous-cous and more. There are tables inside and out on the terrace and you won’t have to worry about the speed of service. It was the cheapest dinner of the week, $11.95 per person. You can consume whatever quantity you’re comfortable with and simply walk to the show!

Ralph’s Market, between Le Conte and Weyburn Avenues, Westwood 90024

UPDATE: The previously (favorably) reviewed BUGABOO & THE SILENT ONE at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, has been extended until February 24th. 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (800) 838-3006.

ALRIGHT THEN by Orson Bean

If you were fortunate enough to have seen Orson Bean’s show, “Safe at Home” at Pacific ResidentTheatre (for which he won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Show), you already know that this charming man is a top notch raconteur. Here he is joined by his wife, Alley Mills and it’s combo to rival Ham & Cheese . He’s the former (not meant disparagingly) and she’ll make you smile. This couple has been happily married for a quarter Century, against all odds. They’re both in show business and he’s twenty-two years her senior. What’s their secret? In a word, LOVE!

They tell you their life stories, both products of broken homes, surviving difficult childhoods but they’ve kept their sense of humor and are absolutely superb. Bean began performing at age twelve, entertained with his magic tricks and lucked into various gigs that made him a star. He regularly breaks into apropos songs, golden oldies mostly and sounds pretty good. I mean his is an octogenarian! He has an unmistakable twinkle in his eye whenever he digs into his unlimited arsenal of jokes. You’ve got to love this guy! Alley gets a chance to display her acting chops, tells delightful stories of her rebellious girlhood and is very adept at imitating the voice of her beloved nanny. In addition, she radiates genuine affection for her husband, is very pretty and doesn’t look a day over thirty-five. Direction is by Guillermo Cienfuegos, sets by Cienfuegos and David Mauer, lighting by Matt Richter, sound by Christopher Moscatiello. This uplifting theatrical treat is filled with laughter and joie de vivre – alright then, if you miss it, I’ll never speak to you again!

Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice 90291. Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $25 - $34. No intermission. Parking lot in rear. (310) 822-8392 or www.pacifictheatre.com ends 3/25


PICK OF THE VINE 2018 by various play writes

The best possible way to start your New Year, is to see PICK OF THE VINE, Little Fish Theatre’s annual showcase of short plays culled from hundreds of submissions by playwrights across the country. This year’s show consists of ten unique pieces, all sweet grapes – no sediment. Many are LOL funny, some poignant and touching. Life, after all, is not always a barrel of laughs but stimulating, full of surprises and yes, short.

IMMERSION THERAPY by David MacGregor, directed by Bill Wolski. A husband (Daniel Gallai), plans a very special birthday present for his hyper wife (Rachel Levy). A character named Jocko (Perry Shields) delivers much more than hubby bargained for….

DITMAS by Glenn Alterman, directed by Bill Wolski. Perched on a bar stool but not for long, is a feisty Brooklyn gal (Kimberly Patterson) who encounters an old acquaintance (Gallai) ,who is a completely different person than the one she remembers.

STAY by Dagney Kerr, directed by James Rice This is a bitter-sweet tale of the relationship between a senior (Mary-Margaret Lewis) and her younger rambunctious best friend (Olivia Schlueter-Corey).

MOST POPULAR by George Sauer, directed by Marlee Delia. Two losers (Patterson and Shields) crash a High School reunion, impersonating the former reigning King and Queen of the Prom.

THE LAST WORD by JC Cifranic, directed by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth A tongue-in-cheek skit about two thugs (Gallai and Ryan Knight), who plan to off their victim (Shields), if they can ever shut up.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING KNOW-IT-ALL by Mark Saunders, directed by James Rice Sherlock Holmes (Shields) as you’ve never seen him before! Namely at home, obnoxious, pedantic and seriously getting on he nerves of his wife (Lewis) and two daughters (Levy and Schlueter-Corey).

FLAT EARTHER by Mario Rivas, directed by James Rice An argumentative pair, (Knight and Patterson) debunk some popular myths. They relish the repartee – until it becomes personal.

WISHES by Mark Harvey Levine, directed by Marlee Delia A quickie but goodie, featuring a fellow (Gallai) looking for coins in a fountain who has a unique ability that annoys his partner, then fascinates a passing, red-headed stranger (Levy).

THE TRAIN by Irene L. Pynn. Directed by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth Watch two subway riders (Knight and Schlueter-Corey), culminating in a cute number reminiscent of…well, you’ll see….

There you have it. The simple but effective sets are uncredited but props were supplied by Madeleine Drake, the costumes designed by Elena Vannoni, sound by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and lighting by Hector Quintero.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90731. Friday & Saturday 8 pm. Sunday 2 pm. $27, seniors $25. Parking in rear, enter via the alley. (310) 512-6030. text (424) 226-6030. Ends 2/17/18



The previously reviewed PAPPY’S SEAFOOD in the old Papadakis space, has changed for the better. You no longer have to wait at the counter while the folks in front of you ponder the menu, discuss what to order and pay the tab, while your stomach grumbles. Wine prices have gone up a few bucks. Décor has been spruced up with some green plants and photographs. The food is better than ever. The Brazilian Moqueca seafood stew has been toned down, spice-wise, from a 3 hanky nose blower to a 1, a must have, $18. Grilled fish of your choice, say seabass, topped with chimichurri sauce (Brazilian style pesto) with tasty sliced potatoes and a small salad, gets points for the presentation before you even take the first delicious bite, $11.

Pappy’s Seafood, 301 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, 90731. Open daily. (424) 224-5444.


This almost wordless play may have been written solely to attract the curious. I fell for it. I mean, the lovely Beth Wold is a well known playwright and the idea that, if nobody speaks on stage, it’s probably very poignant and emotionally involving. In an interview by Jessica Gelt in the Los Angeles Times, Wold wants the audience “to intuit what’s going on behind the surface. “Well, my friends, nothing very exciting. One guesses that business at the hearing assist desk is weak these days, as well.

The story is set at a retreat where silence is golden, a rule that applies to all guests but not to the Narrator (Orville Mendoza) who speaks in a foreign accent (Filipino?) and is invisible until the curtain call. Laura Jellinek is credited with the “set design”, which consists of six chairs in front of video projections, (mostly of inclement weather conditions) by Andrew Schneider. Rachel Chavkin has the unenviable task of directing the silent but talented cast which tries is best to keep us from dozing off. There’s the bearded Connor Barrett, a sort of guru figure(watch him quietly mouth the Narrator’s dialogue). Two women of color (Cherene Snow and Soccoro Santiago) seem to be lovers when they’re not squabbling. It looks like they might bail about an hour into the show but they have to stick it out just like the rest of us. The bespectacled Ben Beckley is a tragic/comic figure whose life is one continuous hard luck story. He spouts philosophical drivel, all negative, mostly via the Narrator. The last to arrive is the cookie-cutter dizzy blonde (Brenna Palughi) who eyes the handsome Asian (Edward Chin-Lyn), a practitioner of yoga who shows off his body and athletic prowess every chance he gets. He’s either topless or totally nude and could be Korean. I might mention that Korea is the country in which the most penis enlargement surgeries in the world, are performed.

From the moment the play opens, with one of the frequent deafening bangs (sound by Stowe Nelson), several people in Row G and H began to laugh and continued to guffaw at EVERYTHING. It is my, not so humble, opinion that they were paid shills hired from some studio acting class. If we were still on the star system, I’d give this piece a minus 1. Want to do a favor for your theatre loving friends? Tell them to stay away!

The Broad Stage, 1310 11th Street Santa Monica 90401 between Santa Monica Blvd and Arizona. Thursday & Friday 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 2 & 7:30 pm. Tickets from $45. Free parking in front lot. No intermission. (310) 434-3200 or www.thebroadstage.org ends 1/28


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre theater suggestion

The evening was saved by a most enjoyable pre-theatre dinner at SOLIDARITY, a multi-room cottage with a cozy, Old World vibe, specializing in Polish cuisine. The menu is full of Mittel European specialties and you’ll want to try them all. Salads $6 like cucumbers in dill flavored yoghurt or beet salad, starters include beef tartar $10, piroghi (Russian-Polish ravioli with assorted stuffing), large order $20. Soups $8, red borscht and Polish tripe soup (why not?). Main courses go from beef Stroganoff $18 to filet mignon $30. The famous Hunter’s Stew (next time for me) is $20. If your taste leans toward the more familiar, you can order chicken or fresh salmon for $19. I highly recommend the Long Island roast duck half. Its skin is so crisp it echoes in your mouth. A dietary no no - but I loved it. The meat is never dry and one person cannot possibly finish that bird so box it for tomorrow. It comes with spaetzle (little dumplings) but I requested cabbage, instead. No extra charge and at this time of year, after all the holiday indulging, a veggie is smarter than a starch.The cabbage, sauteed with red and yellow peppers, was lovely. Service is really nice and there’s a patio that stays open late. Solidarity is less than a five minute drive from the Broad Stage.

Solidarity 1414 Lincoln Blvd., between Broadway & Santa Monica Blvds., Santa Monica 90401. (310) 393-8831. Full bar. Parking in rear.

Please Note: Beginning January 2018, *STAR * ratings will no longer appear on willcall.org.


The stage is transformed into an authentic-looking jail cell in Henderson County, West Virginia. Hats off to scenic designer Michael Fitzgerald, Karyn Lawrence, (lighting) and Cricket S. Myers (sound). A middle-aged prisoner Bugaboo (the amazing Heidi Sulzman), has practically been in solitary for almost two months. She’s a compulsive, solo, tic- tac- toe player and uber pious. She fondles a well used bible and talks volumes to herself, with equal time given to God. Each time she swears or uses the Lord’s name in vain, which is often, she quickly asks forgiveness. The guard, Peterson (Michelle Gardner) brings in a new inmate (the beautiful Jacqueline Toboni), who immediately huddles in her bunk into the fetal position and stays that way for quite a while. She’s The Silent One of the title. Eventually she thaws and doesn’t seem to mind the ratchet-mouthed Bug’s attempts to proselytize the hapless, young girl into another Jesus freak.

The three women perform admirably, under the direction of the playwright. Sulzman rattles on for just about seventy-five uninterrupted minutes, in a genuine, Southern hillbilly accent. She may annoy you but she won’t bore you. Gardner perfectly personifies what we think a prison guard should look and act like. Compliments to the anonymous Casting Director. Toboni’s delivery borders on monotones and she never changes the expression on her pretty face but, perhaps, that is de rigueur for the character she portrays. Award-winning author Marja-Lewis Ryan gives us a unique situation, as we wonder – are these two going to bond or are they destined to remain strangers in spite of their confined quarters? Find out!!

Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd,. one block west of Vine, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $34. No intermission. Street parking. (800)838-3006 or batso.brownpapertickets.com ends 1/27/18.


UPDATE: The previously reviewed FARMBOY KITCHEN. Corner of Santa Monica & Vine, has not yet, changed its name to Charlie & Hunter (red tape). I went back for a casual pre-theatre dinner (delightful) and asked whether I could leave my car in the mini-mall lot in front, until after the show. The answer was “yes”. So, get their OK and take advantage of that “one stop” deal. 1050 Vine Street, Los Angeles 90038, just one block west of the Lounge Theatre. Open daily.


The stage is almost bare (set design by Sarah Steinman), with the exception of a cleaning cart used in hotels and offices. It is the most prominent piece of scenery and rightfully so because we are in the world of folks we know mostly by what they do, rather than who they are. Playwright Mayer, in his program notes asks: do you know the name of the parking lot guard or the people who tidy up your office building? His purpose here is to prove that the underprivileged class and minimum wage earners in this country, suffer the same anxieties, disappointments and perhaps the lack of love and affection as the more affluent.

Inspired by one of Spain’s most prominent authors, the late Federico Garcia Lorca (The House of Bernarda Alba) and his “Yerma”, written eighty-plus years ago. It has been updated with social and political implications and relocated in the hot, dry American Southwest. The cast is primarily made up of multi-racial cleaning ladies employed by a fancy University, just like the titular Yerma (Jean Murillo), a zaftig Latina with curves made to hold onto in case of earthquake. She’s in a state of depression because she yearns for a baby but it childless, all the more heartbreaking when one of her co-workers ends her unwanted pregnancy by abortion. In contrast, the janitorial crew is a jolly lot of joking, gossiping and laughing women (Marilyn Fitoria, Gisla Stringer, Essence Brown and the funny, lanky Meeghan Lewis, plus a vendor (Chris Gavilanes). Yerma’s superior, Trini (a sassy Brenda Banda) has a bossy ‘tude and questionable business ethics. Yerma has an admirer, Victor (Paul Tully), the chief security guard on Campus. A gentle ,romantic fellow with whom she should get it on for a little happiness. The poor thing even visits a fertility clinic, Professor Stallworthy (Spencer Weitzel) in charge. Turns out, she’s not barren at all, the fault lies with her husband Juan (Anthony Bryce Graham).This ambitious oaf who has just been promoted and wears his new security guard uniform with the pride of a glittering toreador, is only concerned with bettering himself economically. This guy has musical talent and some great moves, alas apparently only vertically, not horizontally. He’s just not that into her – one could even say he’s not into her at all and repelled by her scent of chlorine. When Yerma finally loses it completely, it gives the play the potent ending it needs. Direction is by Marlene Forte and Edgar Landa .

Greenway Court Theatre, 44 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles 90036. Friday 8 pm, Saturday 2 and 8 pm. $15 - $40. No intermission. Free parking in adjoining lot. (323)673-0544 or www.GreenwayCourtTheatre.org/Yerma ends 12/16.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion:


You can park and walk less than two blocks down to an iconic L.A. restaurant. CANTER’S, one of the few remaining, authentic delis in town. The family has been dishing it out since the Twenties and elicited loyalty oaths from a diverse and devoted clientele. On my last visit, weeks ago, the kitchen was inoperative, having gotten into a little trouble with the Health Department and serving only sandwiches and salads. Nevertheless, there was a line out the door and the salad trio, including chopped liver and an especially good eggplant salad, tasted just fine. Now they’ve cleaned up their act and the full menu is back all reasonably priced. Every conceivable deli item is represented: pastrami, corned beef, chicken, turkey, beef and their famous soups, hot cabbage, and cold beet borscht, chicken and mish mosh. The complete dinner section has some interesting stuff - a roast tongue. Don’t say yeccch! In other parts of the world, this is a prized dish. Give it a try. I have to hit Cuban or Filipino restaurants to score a decent lengua but they do a fine job here, delicately sauced and heaped with sautéed onions, $17.95, with two sides. I picked fresh string beans and potato salad, the latter so sugary it could pass for dessert. My good waitress, not the typical, short tempered deli dragon, whisked it off the table and smilingly brought a bean salad. A mound of yellow and green beans, garbanzos, kidney beans and for extra crunch, celery, red bell peppers and onions in a perky vinaigrette. We wish them success for another eighty years!

Canter’s Delicatessen, 419 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles 90036. Open daily. Reservations for large parties only. Full bar. Parking lot. (323)651-2030.


The Rogue Machine Theatre Company likes to push boundaries. They’re not afraid of controversy. You may not enjoy what you are watching but you’ll not be bored, guaranteed. The idea for this play, with an enigmatic title, according to a page in your Footlights Program, came from recurring ad on Craigslist in New York. A well-to-do man who owns a desirable two bedroom apartment in the East Village, is looking for a slender, young woman who, as a tenant, would pay a mere portion of the going rate, and can move in immediately. The only stipulation is that she must be willing to walk around in her underwear, no sex involved.

Inspired by this odd arrangement, Playwright Fowler tries to flesh out the personages involved. We are in a modern apartment (set by John Iacovelli) when the first and only, applicant arrives. She’s Penelope, Pen for short, (Alexandra Hellquist), a skinny English girl with slightly Asian features and a fake, shrill Manchester-style Cockney accent (Tracy Winters, is the responsible Dialect Coach). The landlord, Keith (a brilliant Benjamin Burdick) is a short, pudgy oddball of a man but he has kind eyes and a sympathetic mien, contrary to Pen’s abrasive mannerisms. These two blend like oil and water. Slowly we become privy to their past lives. He’s struggling with a childhood trauma, disdains his dying (of cancer) mother and is a workaholic. He wants to touch her but can’t bring himself to pursue any degree of intimacy. Instead, he watches porn and masturbates, She is saddled with one of the most grating roles, yells whenever she speaks ( in one scene, Keith asks her to “please stop talking”. She’s been used and abused. How low class is she? She sprays room deodorizer into her armpits and private parts, after sex! They’re both damaged goods but he, at least, is bearable. Nathaniel Meek plays the occasionally visiting boyfriend, Billy, handsome, well built but an insufferable boor – he’s just there to come and go, so to speak. In Act II, Pen’s blonde friend, Monica (Rachel Brunner) has a superfluous cameo but, of course Billy hits on her, just to prove what an utter louse he is.

Directorially, Cameron Watson has a difficult mise en scene to tackle. A big box of a TV, blocks the action of the writhing Hellquist on the floor, for some of the audience. There are bedrooms on either side of the stage and while illuminated during the minor action that takes place therein, can only be seen by less than half of us. This could be blamed on the set design but it’s frustrating as hell. Ruth Fowler is determined to shock us, however, the current headlines of blatant behavioral quirks that pass for sexual gratification and the perennial objectification of women, have blunted our sensibilities so that, I’m afraid, we don’t even shake our heads or mumble in disgust, at this point.

Rogue Machine Theatre Company at the MET Theatre, 1069 N. Oxford Avenue, off Santa Monica Blvd. near Western Avenue, Los Angeles 90029 (Just east of the 101) $40. Saturday and Monday 8:30 pm, Sunday 3 pm. Street parking. (855) 585-5185. ends 12/19/17


MORE MURDER & MAYHEM at “THE MANOR” The perennial favorite show, MANOR MURDER & MADNESS AT GREYSTONE has arrived for about a two month stay in Beverly Hills. If you’ve never experienced this unusual entertainment, it’s a must see. The fabulous Greystone Mansion serves as the “stage” for a fascinating murder mystery (true story). You’ll be walking around the rooms and spending a little time outdoors, so dress accordingly. The address is Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive, above Sunset Blvd. Free parking .Admission $65, reservations essential. Information:364-3606 or www.theate40.org. ends 2/4/18

THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s Pre-theater suggestion

A few steps round the corner from the MET, heading west, sits the tiny gem called TLAYUDA, serving Oaxacan-style Mexican food. It can at best, seat about twenty people and the décor consists of blue walls hung with a few pictures. The beauty lies in what comes out of the kitchen! It’s as if a devoted abuela is at the stove, cooking old family recipes. The name, Tlayuda stands for a giant tortilla heaped with absolutely everything and is available for $15.99. They do a chilaquile, with meat, for $13.99, arroz con pollo is $11.99. chicken mole $13.50. Oaxcans are renowned for their moles but I find the rich, dark sauce usually a mite too sweet for my taste, I heartily recommend their fabulous plato mixto, a platter laden with excellent black beans, two rectangles of queso fresco, pico de gallo fragrant with fresh cilantro, shredded lettuce topped with avocado slices and red onion strips, a side of two green chile peppers (whole) and bedded over rice, a tasty slice of pork and a thick piece of ultra moist chicken breast. Unless you’re with a growing teenage boy, this is enough for two consenting adults to share. You can always order one of their tacos $6.50 - $7.50 to supplement. Service is friendly but this minuscule spot is quite noisy. However, you’ll notice that, as soon as the food arrives, quiet reigns supreme as everybody shuts up and digs in, save for the occasional sound of lip smacking. A real find and talk about convenience!

Tlayuda, 5450 Santa Monica Blvd. at Oxford Avenue. Los Aneles 90029. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner 9 am to 9 pm. No alcohol. Street parking. (213)261-4667.

TURN ME LOOSE by Gretchen Law

The closest thing to actually being at a Dick Gregory (Joe Morton) night club performance is happening for one more weekend at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. The room is cleverly configured (scenic design by Chris Barreca), with tables and chairs on the orchestra level. You can sip a drink or two (the lobby bar sells booze) and roll back the years when the late Gregory dominated that scene. As a young man, he was all fun and games, so to speak, amusing audiences with his sharp wit, the disguise for his searing, racially infused stab at white customers. As he matured, his attitude turned serious and he became a civil rights activist and a powerful spokesman against the overt prejudice toward black Americans.

Joe Morton, a fine artist in his own right, impersonates Gregory admirably. His performance is visceral, fearless, impassioned and often abrasive, closer to the jugular vein than Beverly Hills theatre goers may have expected. His language is such, that if all the four-letter words were eliminated, this ninety minute show would last a mere half hour. No matter - he regales us with tales of his impoverished childhood, his love for his mama, his breakthrough gig at the Playboy Club in Chicago and his many encounters with well known political figures. In short, we witness his stand-up routine interspersed with his story, which Playwright Law has well researched and brought to life on this stage, expertly directed by John Gould Rubin.

John Carlin opens with a few lame jokes but is otherwise terrific in cameos as a taxi driver, interviewer etc. and an all too real racist heckler from the club audience. Dick Gregory died about three months ago but will live on as long as Turn Me Loose is done with the panache and skill as it is at The Wallis!

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theatre, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills 90210. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday 2:30 pm. $60 - $75. No intermission. Parking in underground garage $8. (310) 746-4000 . ends 11/19/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


Park and walk around the corner to Canon Drive, where one of the newest vegetarian hot spots has taken up residence. (others are in DTLA and Larchmont). The place is sparkling white, with clean lines and a long bar at right of entrance. It looks much bigger, as reflected in the solid mirrored wall, opposite. The menu features plant based cuisine with prices that can be considered bargains, for Beverly Hills. Starters from $10 include their superb Buffalo cauliflower (a veggie that has become king of the kitchen) and which I remember fondly from my last visit to downtown. Salads $16 - $18 and Bowls around $16. If you’re interested in a hearty and amazingly delicious dinner, pick the “Wellness” entrée. Everything here has cutesy names: Dazzling, Magical, Elated, Glorious – you get the drift. But back to the Wellness. It’s served on a plate with colorful mounds: red skin mashed potatoes, (slightly undercooked)kale, a crisp lentil and squash patty, beets plus a yummy, spicy red and green cabbage slaw. Sensational! Another plus about dining here is, you can leave your guilt at the door because everything sounds so healthy and organic, it makes up for all the foodie sins you’ve committed throughout the week. Wine from $8.28 per glass, cocktails from $14. I sat at the bar and had excellent service from the bartender, a dude who understands the meaning of Curtain Time.

Cafe Gratitude, 419 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills 90210. Full bar. There’s a garage a few feet north toward the Boulevard that charges a $5 flat rate, in the evening. ( 424) 389-1850.


If you refuse to sit through one more Nutcracker or, heaven forbid, another High School production of A Christmas Carol, head for San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre. They’ve come up with a new version of the holiday hassle, injected with a healthy dose of humor and a fairy tale dusting of surprises.

Carol (Madeleine Drake) and her husband Lou (James Rice) live in a New Jersey suburb whose residents tend to go overboard with outdoor Christmas decorations and our couple is in heavy competition with their across the street neighbors. Their family consists of a divorced daughter, Pia (Kimberly Patterson) and Lou’s middle-aged sister, Mona (Belinda Howell), who is currently dating a Jewish guy, which makes for some comical yiddishisms scattered into her conversation. In fact, there are plenty of laughs in every scene, which will take your mind off your overdue shopping list, Post Office lines and what to get for your ever growing gang of children/grandkids/office crew – take your pick.

When it all becomes too much for Lou, he decides to “cancel Christmas” and escape to Hawaii for a tropical holiday get-away, substituting cool cocktails for hot toddies. And that’s all you need to know in advance. The inimitable Drake is in her element, playing the sharp tongued wife with her usual gusto. Rice fits the role of the dominated but stubborn hubby perfectly but he flubbed quite a few lines. Opening night jitters, perhaps, besides both the playwright and the director were in the audience. Patterson, as the prickly, motormouth of a daughter, exudes just the right dose of sarcasm but never becomes obnoxious. Howell, as the drop-in sister-in-law, has us smiling whenever she makes an entrance. We also meet two very interesting characters in Act II, the spry, boyish Rudy (Greg Prusiewicz) and the handsome, debonair Nick (Allen Barstow). They’ll make a believer out of you! The set designer is Phil Buono, lighting by Stacey Abrams and the apt direction by Gigi Fusco Meese. This is a really cute story and suitable for every member of the family. Bring them and all the skeptics on your Christmas card roster.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90731. Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 11/19 and 11/26. 12/3 at 2 pm. $23 - $27. Parking lot, enter via the alley. (310) 512-6030 or www.littlefishtheatre.org ends 12/16/17


NOTE: Little Fish Theatre has scheduled a Launch Party for their 2018 Season, on November 18th from 2 to 4 pm. Mix and mingle with the artists, nibble hors d’oevres and watch a brief performance piece. Tickets are . $25 in advance, $30 at the door .(310)512-6030, text: (424)226-6030.

THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre theater suggestion


San Pedro’s beloved Mishi’s Strudel shop is gone and will be missed. But don’t cry! In its place is now PUNTO CUBANO, the only Cuban restaurant in town. Since we are on friendlier terms with this Caribbean nation (at the moment, anyway), let’s find out what’s cooking down there.

The room is about the size of your guest bathroom, with the most uncomfortable chairs in the South Bay. The good thing is, Cubans have a way with pork, in fact, they marinate their meats and poultry in citrus juices and mild spices, Here, using their Grandma Victoria’s recipes, they share these wholesome, home-made flavors with us. Dinner plates are nicely arranged, garnished with sweet platanos, sprinkled with chopped parsley and served in separate cups for their wonderful black beans and white rice. Combine these two and you have the Cuban staple, moros & christos. The lechon asado, a cup of tender, juicy pieces of pork, interspersed with grilled onions, is very tasty even though I could not detect the mojo sauce mentioned on the menu. Prefer chicken? Pollo a la Plancha is a generous portion of chicken breast, with the identical sides but it was a total salt mine! When we complained to the waitress, she just laughed. She laughed! That was her reaction. In the old country, they say when a dish is over salted, the cook’s in love. This one must be head over heels. At any rate, your blood pressure will drop again when the check comes. Most of the dinner entrees are only $11.99, with the exception of ropa viejo $12.50 and arroz con pollo $15.99 Soup and empanadas are $4.50 and the famous Cuban sandwiches, $7.99. We intend to come back to try the bistek de Palomilla and the other beef called picadillo Criollo habanero but we’ll start out with “Easy on the salt!”

Punto Cubano, 309 W. 7th street (around the corner from Little Fish Theatre), San Pedro 90731. No alcohol. Street parking. (424) 477-5813.

THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s Redondo Beach preheater suggestion

If you’re planning to attend an event at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, you don’t want to do it on an empty stomach, right? Only a five minute drive from the venue is BROGINO’S, where some hearty Italian fare awaits your visit. This is exactly what most Italian restaurants in town used to look like. Pitch dark, cozy booths, colorful strings of light and greenery for décor. Only the fake grapes and Chianti bottles dangling from the ceiling, are missing. At the same time, the pace has a warm, friendly vibe and la cucina is the next best thing to having your own Italian mamma doing the cooking.

Appetizers like fried mozzarella, fried calamari or an antipasto platter, are $12.95 for two. Chicken, in every imaginable guise (piccata, cacciatore, Alfredo etc.) cost between $15.95 and $17.95. Seafood goes from $24.95 (scampi, scallops, mahi mahi etc.) to $27.95 for cioppino. House specials of cannelloni, fettuccine, lasagna etc, from $19.99, complete. When I say, complete, that means they bring on a tureen of home made soup and a tossed salad, both lip smackers, plus plenty of garlic bread. Pizza from $14.95 and pasta from $13.95 are available, as well.

Their veal Florentine is a treasure trove of mozzarella, spinach, spaghetti and marinara sauce, deliciously oven-baked, $19.95. Also recommended is one of their Specialties, chicken Sardegna. That could be Sardinia, since the menu spells osso buco “osso bocco”. No matter, it’ s another plateful of tender chicken wrapped in ham, with artichoke hearts, spinach, mushrooms plus pasta and so creamy rich, d-i-e-t suddenly becomes a four-letter word, $25.95 complete. While the portions and flavors are Old World, they have adapted to modern tastes by using only fresh, not frozen veal and chicken, fresh vegetables, no chemicals, extra virgin olive oil and for most sauces, wine, not oil, it says on the front of the menu. A glass of fine Sonoma County Chardonnay from St. Vincent Vineyards is $10. We had a nice and very sharp waitress who never took a single note but remembered all our “specifics” – angel hair instead of spaghetti, vegetables instead of pasta etc. So, if by now your mouth is watering and you crave home-style Italian food, don’t even wait for a performance date, just go. As they say in Italian, “Avanti!”

Brogino’s, 24423 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach 90278. Beer and wine. Street parking on Phelan Ln. Open Sun-Thurs 4-9pm, Fri & Sat 4-10pm (310) 370-4827

NABUCCO Giuseppe Verdi

A welcome change from the old warhorses , Verdi’s NABUCCO has made a triumphant return to L.A.’s Music Center. Some of us sat through so many Traviatas, we feel like breaking into “Libiaahhhmo, libiamo” every time we have a drink. Nabucco is an early Verdi melodious masterpiece, all too rarely performed. And where are Ernani, Sicilian Vespers, Giovanna D’Arco and I Lombardi? Management please note.

The remarkable Placido Domingo in the title role, is the eighth wonder of the world. His voice has lost none of its power and warmth (knock wood). The MET Radio Station Sirius XM frequently plays Domingo’s tenor parts, some twenty and thirty years old. Most of his colleagues have either retired or are now singing in the celestial choir. Domingo has, what the Germans call “Eigenstimme”. A unique voice. Even today you can recognize its certain timbre, a special quality one can identify at first sound. (A good thing, because no one recognized his first appearance, with a long, black beard, wearing what looked like, a gold bucket). Acting wise-baritone roles are quite demanding but also more interesting. Domingo masters the emotional demands effortlessly and sings with youthful vigor. In the opera’s tenor part, Mario Chang cuts an imposing figure but is plagued by a frequent vibrato. Lacking only Domingo’ star power, bravos go to basso Morris Robinson for his vocally and histrionically brilliant , Chief Rabbi Zaccaria. Another outstanding performance. wildly appreciated by the audience, is that of the buxom Russian soprano’s Liudmyla Monastyrska as the wicked Abigaille, an ambitious lowly-born former slave. Her tone goes from fiery high to burnished gold, almost in the mezzo range, with noteworthy breath control and imposing stage presence. The gentle Fenena, the attractive Nancy Fabiola Herrera the real mezzo who plays Nabucca’s daughter who tries to save the Hebrews from annihilation, floats lovely, almost lirico-spinto tones but, of course, Monastyrska has all the meat. Gabriel Vamvulescu appears as a vocally strong but physically debilitated High Priest of Baal and it’s good to see him spryly sprint onto the stage to take his curtain call.

We are grateful for the elaborate, exotic sets designed by Director Thaddeus Strassberger, the ornate costumes (by Mattie Ulrich) and in general, honoring the Assyrian locale. This summer, Salzburg presented a bare-bones Aida – even the Triumphal March was eliminated, can you imagine? He only draw there was Anna Netrebko in her first Aida. Directorially, Strassberger made his presence felt by introducing several novel ideas, not all of them good There’s a candle light ceremony, a regiment of marching soldiers and gorgeously gowned, wasp-waisted ladies and their escorts, gliding onto the stage - and that’s just the overture! Staging Nabucco as a play-within-a-play is, to say the least, confusing. During the famous Va Pensiero Chorus, the singers are relegated to the background, in statue-like formation while some distracting stage business goes on. There’s card game in progress, dancers rehears, a be-wigged page moves about, all really annoying. This chorus, which attained fame as an Italian cry for freedom from Austria’s rule is so poignant and moving, audiences all over the world demand, by endless ovation, an encore. On my night it was met with polite applause. (Strassberger made up for it later, via a surprise). The orchestra, under the guiding hand of L.A. Opera’s Music Director, James Conlon, sounded inspired, as usual. Only three performances left, so hurry and expect an operatic tour de force.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012, 11/8 and 11/11 77:30 pm, 11/19 2pm. $52 - $359. (213) 972-9001 or www.laopera.org Garage parking $9. Ends 11/19/17


SINNER’S LAUNDRY by John Lavelle

Are you a fan of the supernatural, love a mystery and watch reruns of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone? Then this could be your cup of witches’ brew. This word premiere has been described as Waiting for Godot meets Orange Is The New Black meets the Book of Revelations. There you have it. We’re looking at the tiny Rec Room of the Newport Women’s Correctional Facility with several empty orange jail suits lying about (set by Rachel Myers). After an ear - splitting sound, we see two young women, one black , Jess (Courtney Sauls), one white, Sam (Christine Woods), glancing anxiously about. It seems all the other inmates have mysteriously disappeared, hence the empty clothing. Sam’s a tough cookie and ascribes it all to a rapture. Jess is more skeptical.

What follows is a ninety minute - getting to know you – hate you – love you- gabfest. They try to distract and amuse each other, as well as the audience, reveal their personalities and play an especially fun Talk Show game. The two girls are quite wonderful. Their relationship is predictable, the ending is not. Woods is hard as nails and never displays even a soupcon of fear. She’s the kind you’d want to have around for company if you’re trapped under strange circumstances. Sauls is a spiritual being, sweet natured and well spoken. She’s the sort you’d like as your BFF.

The piece is well done and perfectly synchronized via sound (by Peter Bayne) and lighting (by Josh Epstein). What left me personally dissatisfied is that we never find out what landed these two interesting ladies in the clink, in the first place. And, I’m dying to know what the hell happened to everybody – but perhaps, that’s the point.

IAMA Theatre Company at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. at El Centro, just west of Vine, Hollywood 90038. Playing in repertory with Redline on Saturday 11/4, 11/11 at 2 & 8 pm, 11/18 at 8 pm. , Sunday 11/19 2 pm. $30. Tight street parking. (323)380-8843 or www.iamatheatre.com ends 11/19/17 (matinee).


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion


If you’re interested in a luxurious, formal meal, this will not be of interest. But for a casual dinner before a performance at The Lounge Theatre, it’s perfect. Park your car and walk one block west, to Vine Street. There, around the corner of the mini-mall, facing Vine, is a spic ‘n span eatery which will soon change its name to Charlie & Hunter (a legal matter).

You’re handed a menu at the counter and while standing there, the deli case with colorful salads caught my eye. It being a warm night, eggplant salad, curried chicken and blue cheese cole slaw looked yummy. The regular menu consists mostly of sandwiches (Kalua pork, pancetta, chicken & Brie etc), $11 - $14.50 and salads (Cobb, seared ahi, baby arugula & enoki etc.) $7 for half a Caesar to $11.95 for the ahi. The trio of deli salads for $9.50 seemed like the right choice – and was it ever! Enough for two, with two toast triangles and a slice of dill pickle. The blue cheese slaw is excellent, tart and crisp, not sweet and mayonnais-y. The Italian vegetable, actually an antipasto like creation of eggplant, garlic cloves, bell peppers and onions can hold up its head against the best, homemade caponata, lacking only the capers. Divine! The curried chicken is too bland and sweet for my taste but may be just right for yours. I doggie-bagged it, fished out the apple chunks, spruced it up with a little Sriracha and sprinkles of Indian spices and felt like I’d made a prince out of a frog. If you prefer a hot dinner, they specialize in rotisserie chicken with potatoes, $15 a half,$10 a quarter bird and there’s always homemade soup. Next to the register on the right, you can check out the desserts, cookies from $2 to $6.75 for cocoanut cake. Fine wines from $8 to $16 by the glass, beer is available. The lone waiter doubles as cashier and order taker, so be prepared for pleasant but s–l-o-w service.

Farmboy Kitchen, soon to be CHARLIE & HUNTER, 1050 Vine Street, at Sta. Monica Blvd., Hollywood 90038. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no dinner on Sunday but brunch from 10 am to 1 pm. No reservations. Wine and beer. Parking lot. (323) 848-4790 .

BRIGHT STAR Music, book and story by Steve Martin, lyrics, music and story by Edie Brickell

Steve Martin is the definitive modern Renaissance Man. He was a riot in his “wild and crazy guy” days, is an accomplished magician, a sexy, handsome movie leading man, successful as a novelist as well as a screenwriter plus, he plucks a mean banjo. (I used to see him in the crowd at the annual Banjo & Fiddle Festival in Agoura). Now he has perfected his craft to the point where he toured with the Steep Canyon Rangers to sold-out houses and put out award winning albums. Most recently, he and the multi-talented Edie Brickell, have collaborated on this musical bursting with joyous tunes and a soap opera worthy libretto, mercifully sprinkled with humor.

The show is “corny as Kansas in August”, as the song goes but it’s an upper all the way. It’s manna from Bluegrass heaven, if you’re a fan of this genre. If not – the jury is still out but let’s hope you’ll become one before the final curtain. The band on stage never stops churning out lively melodies, they make the foot-stompin’ dance numbers take second place. A little clogging might make the difference (choreography by Josh Rhodes). This melodrama takes place in North Carolina and spans several decades. It’s based on the true love story of Alice (Carmen Cusack) and Billy (A. J. Shively), fraught with obstacles, an out of wedlock pregnancy, paternal animosity, well, you’ll see it all. The first act closes with a horrendous act, which will not be disclosed here.

The actors all speak with a Southern twang and the women sound like Dolly Parton. I have to say, from my seat back in Row T, it was difficult to see their faces or judge their acting ability but they have the right moves, the production values are first class, with lighting by Japhy Weideman, sound by Nevin Steinberg and a fabulous, ever changing set designed by Eugene Lee. Among the principals, Kaitlyn Davidson as Lucy, is a phenomenal dancer, Jeff Austin is the bad guy, Jeff Blumenkranz provides comic relief. Shively is fine as the love interest and Patrick Cummings as the young Billy Rae. They’re all good but the star of the show that shines the brightest, is the leading lady, Carmen Cusack as Alice. She mesmerizes the audience with her remarkable, operatically trained voice, strong and clear, with a captivating yodel-like lilt you never get tired of hearing. She was nominated for a Tony and has won numerous, well deserved awards. The show’s Broadway Director Walter Bobbie is at the helm here, as well. The musicians are the superglue that holds the performance together and so talented, they should be named individually. They are, on banjo: George Guthrie; on guitar: Eric Davis; on mandolin: Wayne Fugate; on violin: Martha McDonnell; on bass: Skip Ward; percussion: Joe Mowatt; viola: David Gold and cello: David Mergen, conducted by Music Director Anthony DeAngelis. Let me hear you yell and whistle for them!

Ahmanson Theatre, The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los 
Angeles 90012. Tuesday – Friday 8 pm, Saturday 2 & 8 pm, Sunday 1 and 6:30 pm. $30 - $135. Parking in Music Center Garage $9. (213) 972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org ends 11/19/17


NEW YORK WATER by Sam Bobrick

If you believe that a good laugh is worth its weight in gold, you’ll emerge richer than ever, from this two-header created by funnyman Sam Bobrick , a prolific playwright and television writer. His classic, “Norman is that You?” is currently running in Israel. The expert direction is by Howard Teichman, West Cast Jewish Theatre’s President and Artistic Director.

The courtship of Linda (Bridget Flanery) and Albert (Ross Benjamin, a dead ringer for his dad, Richard) takes us to both Coasts with a sojourn in the Midwest and goes, non-stop, from simply hilarious to screamingly funny. Linda, who is as attractive as she’s neurotic, has devised a unique way of connecting with eligible guys and Albert took the bait. We first see her hysterically getting ready for his first visit to her modest ($3,600 a month!) Manhattan apartment and they hit it off. Fed up with the Big Apple’s crime-ridden neighborhoods and brownish drinking water, they seek tranquility in Davenport, Iowa and nearly expire from boredom. Hollywood suddenly beckons and their new life reaches a surprisingly one-sided plateau.

L.A. takes plenty of verbal, above and below the belt, hits. We’re superficial, phony, full of ambitious brown-nosers and obsessed with youth and power. We’ve heard it all before and can laugh it off because we KNOW this is the most exciting city in the world, filled with creative, talented people – plus our water is clear and if not, we call Sparkletts.

This comedy bites and tickles at the same time. Romance soon gives way to envy and contempt but never loses it sure-fire sense of humor Flanery is an absolute dynamo, speaks loud enough so older folks can turn off their hearing aids and Benjamin makes his shlemiel-like character consistently appealing. The set, which undergoes several transformations in record time, is designed by Kurtis Bedford with stylish but uncredited costumes. Young, old and all of you in-between, lighten your day or brighten your night but don’t miss this show!

Pico Playhouse, 10506 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles 90064. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $40 . Street parking or in lot on Prosser Avenue, two blocks west of the theatre, north of Pico Blvd. (323) 821-2449 or www.wcjt.org ends 12/17/17.


A LOVE AFFAIR by Jerry Mayer

Local playwright Jerry Mayer, has made us laugh for almost forty years, at his second home, the Santa Monica Playhouse, which is celebrating its 57th birthday. You’ll agree, if we’ve ever needed cheering up, it’s right now! This delightful rom-com was written over three decades ago – we should all age so well. The dialogue is fresh and funny and if you’re married, have ever been or are contemplating a move into wedlock, this is the play to see. It follows Jimmy Diamond (Chris DeCarlo) and wife Alice (Evelyn Rudie) through thirty-eight years of togetherness.

We first see them elderly, bickering amusingly, as they clean out their attic for a contemplated move. But soon we meet them in the Fifties, as honeymooners played by Jacob Cooper and Andrea Adnoff, young, good looking and crazy in love. The story might well be autobiographical, because the real live Jerry, disguised here as Jimmy, also moved from the Midwest to Southern California and soon achieved success as a TV writer (M.A.S.H, All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show etc.) When he eventually became his own boss as a playwright, there was no stopping him. Audiences flocked to see Almost Perfect, Aspirin & Elephants , 2 Across and many more, all premiering at the Playhouse. Whenever Mayer is involved, you know you’ll leave with a grin on your face.

The production is expertly directed by DeCarlo who, with Rudie owns the venue, and is well acquainted with Mayer’s work. The performers are letter perfect. The two newbies , Cooper and Adnoff hold their own in collaboration with veteran actors DeCarlo and Rudie. Not to forget the excellent contribution of Rachel Galper, who appears as a femme fatale, a doctor, a Starving Student smoother mover etc., etc. Every witty line and comic situation comes to life on this stage. If all husbands and wives shared such hilarious repartee, nobody would get divorced, what with the built-in entertainment values right at Home Sweet Home. This couple sticks it out trough better, worse, sickness and health. Come see how it’s done! Hint: love and humor play a big part. Bravos also for Eric Jon’s lighting, video and the terrific set, spot-on costumes designed by Ashley Hayes and music contributed by Jerry’s son, Steve. Happy Birthday, Santa Monica Playhouse!

Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 – 4th Street, at Wilshire, Santa Monica 90401. Saturday 7:30 p,. Sunday 3:30 pm. $35, students , seniors, military and teachers, $27.50. Any couple married longer than 38 years gets a discount. Bring the marriage license. Paid parking in City Lot #1 across the street. (310) 394-9779 or www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com/a-love-affair.html ends 11/19/17


ON THE VERGE or The Geography of Yearning by Eric Overmyer

This quirky play follows three zany Victorian ladies in long dresses, petticoats and pith helmets, toting umbrellas and duffle bags into uncharted territory, a.k.a. Terra Incognita, as they search for adventure. They’ve already been to every exotic location on the globe, unafraid of cannibals, gone without bathing for eons and in 1888, probably laid the groundwork for feminism. They’re slightly nutty but lovable. Mary (Holly Baker-Kreiswirth) is the unofficial leader. A fearless anthropologist she takes copious notes and demands full attention when she speaks. Fanny (Presciliana Esparolini) is the smartest and has pithy dialogue, plus she turns out to be a graceful ballroom dancer. Pretty Alexandra (Branda Lock) is the queen of malapropism and an intrepid photographer who “Kodaks” at every opportunity. The women are amusing but stealing the show is the inimitable Don Schlossman. He keeps popping up as a method actor, the Abominable Snowman, a gypsy fortune teller, a saloon owner etc. etc., always meticulously attired, thanks to Diana Mann’s fanciful costumes. But brace yourself for a long sit.

Act II brings a welcome change of pace, involving their uncanny gift of prescience. They experience “things to come” via time travel to 1955. Eisenhower is running for President and Rock & Roll is entering the music scene. Directed by Richard Perloff on a minimal set (by Angeline Sandoval) which would be greatly enhanced by some colorful projections, with lighting by E Madry and excellent sound by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth. By the way, were plastic umbrellas de rigueur in the Eighteen hundreds? Eric Overmyer, a successful television writer, has dreamed up a two and a half hour long, truly original story, whimsical but overloaded and often just plain silly. It will appeal to science fiction fans, enthusiasts of trekking, geography buffs and ardent feminists. As for the rest of us, time doesn’t travel fast enough.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90731.Wednesday October 11 at 8 pm, Thursday October 12 and 18 at 8 pm. $27, seniors $25. Parking lot via the alley. (310) 512-6030 or www.littlefishtheatre.org ends 10/19/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

San Pedro’s legendary Papadakis Taverna is now PAPPY’S SEAFOOD. So many months under construction, one expected elaborate changes in décor but I can tell you, this room is not going to win any beauty prizes. A plain, high ceilinged fish house, bare tables and a white tile floor, therefore noisy. It would be interesting to see John Papadakis’ face, when he first sees his former domain.

Since it’s all very casual, you don’t have to dress up. You order at the front cash register and pay the cashier. This causes a delay, as people study the menu and discuss their choices while the hungry folks wait in line. Just one of the kinks that need to be ironed out. But, the good news is that the food is delicious and reasonably priced. Grilled fish (mahi mahi, sea bass, salmon or shrimp) $11 - $14, can be ordered in the style of your choice. There’s poke or fish and chips for $12. They do boiled fish, fried fish and much more. Wine from $7 by the glass, beer $6. The most interesting and the most expensive menu item is the Brazilian Moqueca fish stew, $18 and worth every penny. It’s like an exotic, cumin scented cioppino but in a broth that’s spoon-up thick and rich with tomatoes, onions, garlic and bell peppers, floating large shrimp, still crunchy, topped with King crab legs beside a mound of Jasmine rice. What the menu doesn’t tell you is that this is a triple nose blower loaded with hot pepper, that will melt the wax in your ears. If you love Spicy with a Capital S, tears of joy will flow down your cheeks. Unfortunately, even though partially cracked, there is no utensil for digging out all that tasty crab meat (I used the pointy end of the claw). Service is pleasant and obliging and Pappy’s will undoubtedly be a successful addition to the Pedro dining scene, with just a few improvements.

Pappy’s Seafood, 301 W. 6th Street, San Pedro 90731. Beer and wine. Street parking or in lot opposite the restaurant. No reservations. Open daily for lunch and dinner. (424) 224-5444

VINO VERITAS by David MacGregor

We’re in the messy living room of a couple, Lauren (Christine JoËlle) and Phil (Shawn Savage), as they quickly clean up the debris left by their kids’ Halloween party. They’re expecting their friends, Ridley (Daniel Kaemon) and his wife, Claire (Kirsten Kollender) and plan to attend a Halloween party as a foursome. Designer Angela Nicholas has outdone herself, especially dressing the women. JoËlle wears a sexy witch’s gown and cone hat and Claire is absolutely stunning in an Elizabethan-style costume, perfect from head to toe.

Before leaving for their festivities, the hosts serve up a mysterious brew, disguised as a pre-dinner cocktail, which acts as a powerful truth serum and then some. We see their personalities change during the soiree, which is fun to watch. In Vino Veritas is Latin for In Wine There’s Truth and this potion, made of South American Blue Dart tree frogs (no kidding), does the job only too well, causing proper behavior and polite discourse to deteriorate after a few sips.

Kaemon, a physician, plays the proverbial party pooper, being careful how much he drinks, having to return to the hospital later. His wife, on the other hand, lets loose and is a lot more fun tipsy than sober. Savage soon loses his milquetoasty behavior and some of his host-of-the-party manners. JoËlle, who starts out as a nagging ball breaker, ends up eliciting warm feelings from the audience. Director Michael Karm doesn’t miss a trick to present this Halloween treat with a few unexpected tricks. Kudos to Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski for sound effects and Jeff G. Rack for the terrific set. The action, regrettably, slows down after sobriety sets in again but this West Coast premiere is a timely, enjoyable, G-rated show.

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, off Little Santa Monica, on the Campus of Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills 90212. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $30. Free parking in building garage.(310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org ends 10/15/17



Tears and laugher mingle, mostly but not always, successfully in this play, winner of the dubious distinction for the longest title in theatre history. Just as this concept borders on the ludicrous, so is what you’re about to see, directed by Trip 

The scene is a semi-private room in New York’s Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (set by Lauren Helpern). Two patients, Marcie (JoBeth Williams) and Geena (Eileen T’Kaye) are asleep in their beds, separated by a privacy curtain. A young woman, Karla (Halley Feiffer, the playwright herself), a professional stand-up comic, is working on her routine, mainly about her amorous involvement with her vibrator. Spewing one F-bomb after the other, one can only hope that this amuses a club audience after a half dozen (or more) drinks. The loquacious Karla is doing her dutiful daughter bit by visiting her cancer-ridden mom, Marcie but comes across as an emotional mess with an irritating personality. Unbeknownst to her, Don (Jason Butler Harner), he son of the other terminally ill woman, arrives for his visit, separated only by the curtain which prevents him from actually seeing her. But he hears her obscenities loud and clear. He looks unkempt, greasy, stringy hair, shabby clothes, in short, you wouldn’t want to sniff him up close. It would be unfair to give away what transpires between these two stressed out individuals but the play improves as it rolls along for eighty-five, uninterrupted minutes, with blackout scenes (lighting by Matthew Richards).

Diretorially, the production could use some tweaking. Note to ticket buyers: try to score seats in the center section because, for example, on the right side you’re unable to see but only hear, the riotous goings on in the bathroom. If you’re on the far left of the auditorium, you’ll miss Don’s arrival and more, until he pulls back the curtain. Williams is phenomenal. When she finally utters her first words, the famous line from The Boys in the Band, you’ll know right away from whom the daughter gets her potty mouth. Williams’ attempt at flirtation with the kind hearted Harner is one of the best scenes in the show. T’Kaye is a woman of few words here but makes an impression, nevertheless. Harner, as you will see, cleans up very nicely indeed. He’s dynamic as he vents his rage and appealing as he unburdens his frustration with his son and estranged wife. It’s always exciting when a playwright performs his or her work on stage, knowing the precise intended nuances expected of the role. Feiffer hits the mark unfailingly but her Karla character is too brittle and obnoxious.You’re ready to run up on stage, grab her by the shoulders and tell her to Shut Up! Incidentally, she gets to wear the world’s ugliest sweater, embroidered with what looks like cocoanut bra cups (Costumes by David Kay Mickelson). One of the redeeming features of this work is that it tackles serious themes (illness and death) with a healthy dose of sex and good humor.

Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theatre, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024. Wednesday – Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $25 - $90 (subject to change). No intermission. $4 parking with validation from the lobby desk, at the formerly called Palazzo Garage, now the Glendon Apartments Parking, next to Trader Joe’s, at 1008 Glendon Avenue. (310) 208-5454. ends 10/8/17


ATTENTION PLEASE, Annie Korzen Famous Actress at The Braid theatre in Santa Monica has been extended for a second time through Oct 22nd.

ELEVATOR by Michael Leoni

Have you ever thought of how you would react if you were stuck in an elevator for ninety, uncertain minutes? This is what happens to seven total strangers in an office building and you are the proverbial fly on the wall. The play is double cast and it’s hard to imagine any other actors portraying these fascinating characters. But you can be confident that this team has s**t together in all departments; it’s brilliantly written and directed by Michael Leoni. The stage is a perfect replica of a spacious elevator (set and lighting expertly designed by David Goldstein, who also produces, with killer sound by Paul Saradarian). It soon becomes a battleground, as tempers flare, egos inflate and anxiety grows in the suddenly claustrophobic space. There’s the young musician ( guitarist Devon Werkheiser), of questionable background. The self-important female CEO (Deborah Vancelette), fighting loneliness and middle-age. Then we have the mysterious, taciturn seventeen year old clutching a big box (Jaqui Vené); a chubette (Erica Ketzin) with, what else, a weight problem plus a drop dead gorgeous blonde (Karsen Rigby) whom the women envy and the men would like to bed. (We are privy to their innermost thoughts, which is, of course, hilarious) Finally, there’s the building’s maintenance man (William Stanford Davis), the voice of reason whose outward calm betrays his serious concerns. All off-stage voices belong to Gavin Leatherwood.

This nervous group gets tossed around and frightened mercilessly as they await their release from this unexpected “prison, which for some, will become a life-changing experience. Intriguing things happen, certain personal secrets are unearthed, some individuals bond, some break down but many mellow out and reveal endearing personalities. You’ll love ‘em all! Vancelette exhibits major comic skills, Ayed evolves from an ogre into a mensch. Vené transforms from an annoying, spontaneous screamer into a sympathetic, young girl. Werkheiser stops bragging while Katzin displays a hidden talent. Rigby is wonderful to look at but, let’s just say, her body projects better than her speaking voice and Davis, if you close your eyes, sounds a lot like Harry Belafonte. Elevator had a previous, very successful run, garnering several awards. It has been brought back and extended until the end of the year. When that happens in L.A., you know you’ve got a winner, so don’t miss it again!

Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. east of La Cienega. WeHo 90069. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm and starting September 24th, Sunday at 7pm as well. $40 general admission, $50 reserved seating. No intermission. Municipal parking lot just west of the theatre on King’s Road. (424) 279-4816 or www.elevatortheplay.com ends 12/31/17.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

We had planned to hit he old neighborhood favorites, Basix or Matrix for a pre-show dinner but passed by SAMMY’S THAI Restaurant, a storefront shoebox. The flavors and aromas of Thai food, just the thought of them, tickles the palate irresistibly, so that’s where we ended up. Their chairs and benches are hard on the tush but you’ll be perfectly comfortable using the various pillows that are strewn about.

In addition to Thai cuisine, they have added Asian fusion specialties, chicken satay tacos (Indonesian/Mexican), crab toast (Rangoon), K-Town bahn min (Vietnamese/Korean) etc., $10.50 - $12.50. Almost everything on the Thai menu clocks in at $10.50. There are those colorful curries (red, yellow and green) stir-fry favorites plus a couple of Chinese items, kung pao and sweet/sour. We are addicted to pad woon sen, a mixture of glass or silver noodles as they are sometimes called, with meat and veggies, not to be found on this menu. Luckily they had those slippery, long noodles in the pantry and it all came together, well prepared, with meat ( your choice), tomatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots – you get the picture, for $10.50. You’ll also enjoy their larb, ground chicken and cucumber sticks, bedded over romaine, in a gently spiced lime dressing, $11.50. Service? Well, the lone waitress was certainly accommodating and friendly, but she tends to disappear behind the scene, most of the time. Sammy’ is less than a two minute walk from the Coast Playhouse, so try it.

Sammy’s Thai, 8281 Santa Monica Blvd., WeHo 90046. Lunch and dinner daily. Closed Monday. No alcohol. (323) 654-6138.


This cute, Indian summertime diversion should be called The Marriage Twilight Zone. It’s pure fantasy but smartly written, full of unexpected developments and sprinkled with chuckles. Giving away the plot would be tantamount to a mortal, theatre critic’s sin. Therefore, I’ll try to beat around the bush but still give you some clues.

The attractive, fortyish couple, Cal (Jeff Pride) and Beth (the stylish Rene Ashton) have a son, Ryan (Zach Louis) who, in typical teenage fashion, seems permanently connected to his electronic device via ear buds. Their house has just been put on the market (drab set byAllison Schenker). Enter a young, engaged couple, Skip (Liam Donafee) and Ellie (Megan Barker), who are buying their first home. They’re crazy in love and can’t keep their hand off each other. After some amusing repartee among these four, two older folks arrive. They are Liz (Jacee Jule) and Mike (Alex Hyde-White), a pair of ostensible lookie-loos who “happen to pass by” and saw the For Sale sign.” I’m not going to annoy you with spoiler alerts etc. but will tell you that these people have more in common than you would expect. The play is double cast and I’m certain that the actors you will see are equal to the three fine pairs on my night, directed by the playwright himself.

The bickering Pride and Ashton convincingly portray a long married –but not always blissfully – husband and wife. Donafee is funny and likable as the enamored stud. The perky Barker with a Body by Barbie, has him, as well as the audience, enthralled. Young Louis doesn’t have many lines but is a natural. Hyde-White is perfect as a man approaching senior citizenship who’s more honest than polite, a little grumpy but always funny. The bespectacled Jule almost steals the show with her poker-faced cynical remarks and wry humor. Jeff Gould, who has had considerable success writing good humored farce (his play It’s Just Sex, is performed around the globe), has come up with a truly unique idea, a world premiere audience pleaser that has just been extended.

The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Bld. NoHo 91601. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $40. Seventy minutes, no intermission. Metered parking in municipal lot across the street. (323) 960-7764 or www.Plays411.com/marriagezone ends 9/24


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

THE ECLECTIC has always gone with the flow. That is to say, they’ve been here forever but as tastes change, so does their menu (and name). Not too long ago, they called themselves Eclectic Grill and before that, Café if I remember correctly. Right now tapas are still popular and will never go out of style for theatre buffs. You can sate your appetite with small portions and stop before you feel so stuffed you’re likely to doze off as soon as the houselights dim.

Their goodies are sectioned into very tiny servings, medium size, large and regular dinner selections that tend to escalate from $27 (chicken) to $54 (rib eye). We had the marble size meatballs in marinara sauce with toast points $3.50 and the avocado mousse on small slices of toast, topped with sprouts, $4.50. From the medium section, which offers pasta, Asian stir-fry, charcuterie etc. I recommend the beef tartare $9, excellent, shaped like elongated eggs and served on toast as well. We would have gladly sprung for an interesting dessert if they’d had one but a brownie with vanilla ice cream (the only one available), doesn’t give anybody goose bumps. Besides, we were full of those delicious pieces of toast that came with all three selections.

The restaurant’s free form rooms lend it a certain style with its black booths and chairs, black napkins and brown paper table covers. Service is exemplary and the wine list is short but well selected, from $10 per glass. Creative cocktails are $12. Best of all, it’s less than a five minute drive to the Secret Rose and several of the NoHo theaters.

The Eclectic, 5156 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo 91602 Full Bar. Street parking. (818)760-2233

SILENT SKY by Lauren Gunderson

San Francisco based Lauren Gunderson is this year’s most produced, living playwright, with sixteen of her works playing at theaters across the U.S. This play, based on a true story, is a timely arrival just after everybody, almost everywhere, stared at the total eclipse. It delves deeply into the celestial realm, as it discloses the role of women, one in particular, Henrietta Leavitt (Jennifer Cannon),who helped clarify some of its mysteries.

Henrietta’s head, eyes and soul are in the stars. Even though she has to leave her family, including her loving sister, Margaret (Erin Anne Williams), she’s determined to set out to become a professional astronomer. She realizes her dream when she’s hired by the Director of the Harvard College Observatory, to be part of the team of women known as the Harvard “computers”. The task at hand is to classify the stars, measure their brightness, observe the galaxies and stuff like that. The head of the group, but not for long, is Annie (Leslie Stevens), and includes Williamina (Jennifer Parsons), a former maid. The sole male, their colleague Peter, is portrayed by Eric Wentz.

Cannon is marvelous as the uber-enthusiastic, dedicated scientist. Her diction is impeccable and she shows us a life that’s exciting but ultimately sad, without being maudlin. Parsons adds humor to the serious proceedings and Stevens is fun to watch as she embraces the cause of the Suffragettes. Williams is touching as Henrietta’s talented sister, Margaret. But the most amusing personage on stage has to be Wentz, especially in the first act, as the ardent but ultra shy suitor of our heroine.

What is remarkable about this piece is that it brings to light the unheralded accomplishments of female scientists. Even if you’re unfamiliar with astronomic research, you’ll recognize the name Hubbel Telescope, which is but one of the many achievements that were made possible by the Harvard ladies. A very well done show with a simple but effective set (by Christopher Morillo) that morphs easily from projected skyscape (lighting by Donna Ruzika) to a living room etc. Todd Nielson, besides skillfully directing this fine cast, is visually aided by Kim De Shazo’s costumes and hair and wig designer Anthony Gagliardo, recreating the styles’ time frame, 1900 to 1920. Having seen Silent Sky, chances are you may never look at the Milky Way, the moon and gazillion stars, the same way.

International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach 90802. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $47 - $49. Parking in Seaside Way Garage $15. (562) 436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre. Ends 9/10/17


SEQUENCE by Arun Lakra

This complicated work opens like a circus act that wants to defy superstition. A slender, grey-haired gent, Theo (Gary Rubenstein) dances around with an open umbrella (a no no, indoors), dashes under a ladder and tops it off by smashing a mirror!

Next, we are in a basement laboratory (set by Jeff G. Rack) the domain of scientist, Dr. Guzman (Maria Spassoff) who races against time in a personal battle against a disease affecting her vision. Enter a young man, Mr. Adamson (Crash Buist) in a wheelchair and the battle of words begins. He is ever so pious, keeps a bible handy for reference and goes verbally mano-a-mano with the professor. At the same time, mind you ,we once again, encounter Rubenstein as the author of a book on how to change your luck, having been fortunate enough to win billions betting on the Super Bowl. This is a man who believes that every phase of life is based on sheer luck. Next to make an entrance is a pretty, young, black woman Cynthia (Kacie Rogers) who’d like to change hers and, at the same time debunk Theo’s theory. Each pair of performers is oblivious of the other two on stage. They argue, interact and cajole while the overloaded dialogue flows uninterrupted, beginning a sentence just as the other, spoken by the different couple, ends. Very clever.

Sequence is a true original, written by award winning, Canadian playwright Lakra and expertly staged by Director Bruce Gray. He keeps the actors in perpetual motion, even the guy in the wheelchair is constantly on a roll and the action is never stagnant. It’s just not very entertaining and that’s the problem.

The performers are self-assured and convincing, Spassoff in particular, stands out as the impassioned scientist. Rogers is perky and sharp but rattles her lines at top speed. Following her dialogue is taxing. Rubenstein’s character is a mite too eccentric and Buist’s secular arguments don’t stand a chance against the brilliant doctor’s. This West Coast premiere however, has a finale that’s absolutely dynamite (videography by Patrick McGowan).

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, off Little Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. Free parking in building garage. No intermission. $30 (310)364-0535 or www.theatre40.org ends 8/20/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Less than a five minute drive from Theatre 40, is PANINI KABOB GRILL, a Mediterranean restaurant with primarily Lebanese dishes, influenced by Greek and Iranian recipes. It’s the best bargain in Beverly Hills! The large room is brightened by plentiful paintings and photographs but it’s more fun to sit out at the sidewalk tables and watch the Boulevard scene. Service is very good and the food even better. They specialize in, you guessed it, panini, which is a cousin of the flatbread/pizza family, and kabobs. There are wraps around $10 and soups $3 - $6. If you’re here for a pre-performance meal, check out the entrees. In addition to the usual kabobs (beef, lamb and chicken) they have a few vegetarian dishes such as a stuffed, red bell pepper that’s simply sensational. It’s surrounded by a fresh, light marinara sauce and has bulgur wheat, mushrooms, cheese and other treasures, plus a little cup of hummus for $12.95. Also recommended: the koobideh kabab, ground sirloin, intricately but mildly spiced and charbroiled, $13.95 for two, $10.95 for one, which is ample. It’s longer and thicker than a Dodger dog. Included are charbroiled tomatoes, onions, red peppers and broccoli plus rice, brown or basmati or the carrot-colored bulgur wheat pilaf. Take the latter, it’s excellent. Usually, one has to mash up the broiled tomato into the rice or grain to give it more flavor but this one needs nada, it’s perfect. Both of these mains come with a salad of your choice. The Greek has bell peppers, greens, cukes, feta cheese and sliced Mediterranean olives in a balsamic vinaigrette. The romaine-avocado’s got diced cukes, tomatoes, romaine and half a sliced avocado in a basil-lime vinaigrette, both lovely and enormous. They come on the same plate, which I passionately dislike since the dressing tends to creep into the meal and makes everything cold and/or soggy. Fortunately these salads are sparsely dressed and entrees include tart tsatsiki (yoghurt and cucumbers) so you may want to spoon some over your salad. They have a small but interesting wine list, including my favorite Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand for $8.50 a glass.

Panini Kabob Grill, 9601 N. Santa Monica Blvd. corner of Camden Drive, Beverly Hills 90212. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beer and wine. No reservations. Parking in elevated metered lot in rear. (310) 2447-9300.


Do you want to forget all about the current traffic conditions, global warming, the debacle du jour at the White House etc.? I’ve got the spot for you! Drive to the Santa Monica Airport for some lighthearted fun and ninety minutes of hilarity, when you head over The Rainbow Bridge. That’s the name of a lovely poem about something most of us have thought about after losing a beloved pet. We fantasize about meeting our dog or cat again, in another life.

The play opens at a veterinarian’s office, where Jerry’s (the excellent Paul Schakman) little doggie has just breathed his last. The sexy vet, Dr. Stein (Jaimi Page), a leggy babe who is marvelous, with a body toned like a race horse, is determined to seduce the happily married to Karen,( Emily Jerez), Jerry with maximum effort but minimal success, A hoot! Poor Jerry, a successful lawyer, is haunted by the ghosts of his potty-mouthed relatives, his yenta of a mother (Lynne Marie Stewart) and hard-core sis (Mary Carrig), both absolutely terrific. They follow his every move and harangue the hell out of him. His current client, Theodore (the wonderful L. Emille Thomas), a black, gay, arsonist (yes!), has problems of his own. I’ll say no more.

The many scene changes are swift but it’s a waste of time to adjust the backdrop strips again and again since our attention is riveted on the droll situations and perfect performances. Ron Nelson’s dialogue is smart, witty and original and the ensemble, thanks to Casting Director Paul Ruddy, is stellar, from the beleaguered Schackman to Mouchette Van Helsdingen, whose most memorable cameo is as a wheelchair-bound invalid. Kisses and bravos to Director/Producer Michael R. Myers and to everybody out there, a nudge in the direction of the ticket source.

Ruskin Group Theatre, Santa Monica Airport, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica 90405. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $25, seniors $20. No intermission. Free parking in front. (310)397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com ends 9/17/17



If the playwright’s name looks familiar, you’re a movie fan. Minghella won the Oscar in 1998 for directing The English Patient. What you will see here, is a live version of two BBC Radio plays which accentuate the written words while missing the stage action but the actors’ expressions and movement, albeit limited, keep our interest.

It’s the Eighties in England, Margaret Thatcher is in Parliament and the dialogue uncannily reflects the zeitgeist without making it seem dated. The first, the curtain raiser HANG UP, consists of a telephone conversation between a man, Jason Downs (alternating with Michael Balsley) and a woman, Molly Schaffer (alternating with Jeanette Driver) in an obviously strained relationship.

CIGARETTES AND CHOCOLATE is more elaborate but again in the same sparse format, with a cast of seven, stepping up to the lectern. A woman named Gemma Marwa Bernstein, is discussed, dissected and endlessly talked about. Meanwhile she sits there like a sphinx, having taken a vow of silence (for the most part). Her friends and acquaintances consist of Lorna, Jeanette Driver (alternating with Ursula Brooks),Gail, Tania Getty, Sample, Jason Downs (alternating with Michael Balsley), the nerdy Alistair, Jaxon Duff Gwillim, a sad sack of sorts, who’s desperately in love with Gemma and her husband Rob, Matt Letscher (alternating with Jason Downs). We also have a cleaning woman, named Conception, which the Brits pronounce the English, not the Spanish way, as is their wont , played by Katerina Tana who also plays Mother (alternating with Jeanette Driver and Molly Schaffer). The whole thing is rather lukewarm until the moment Rob, the dynamic Matt Letscher, takes over and regales us with the story of an unforgettable night in London, involving an American and a homeless woman, Muriel, both sight unseen but so vividly described, you can envision them perfectly.

Director Michael Peretzian’s job here is fairly uncomplicated since the cast is certainly talented, can glance at the script if necessary, their British accents pass muster and nobody has to worry about bumping into the furniture. This is a West Coast premiere.

Pacific Resident Theatre. 705 ½ Venice Blvd., Venice 90291. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm $25 - $30. No intermission. Free parking in lot behind the theatre. (310) 822-8392 or www.pacificresidenttheatre.com ends 9/10/17



Prolific local playwright Art Shulman, (The Rabbi & The Shiksa, Rebecca’s Gamble, Doubting Thomas etc.) brings us his latest, as a sequel to the wildly successful Rabbi & The Shiksa, which chronicled the improbable attraction between two very different people.

Years have passed and our Rabbi Jacob (Paul Michael Nieman) is the administrator of a Mission’s soup kitchen, instead of presiding over his flock at Temple Judea. He’s busy helping his assistant Richard (J. Kent Inasy) who is also credited with the set design), in his job hunt and lifestyle upgrade. His good friend, Al (Stan Mazin) is an old Jewish cowboy who recites droll, little ditties about the “vild, vild Vest and Billy the Yid” and so on. But Al has a family problem. His son David (James Haley), has his own Shiksa named Marcy (Shalonda Shaw, alternating with Barika A. Croom), much to Al’s chagrin and it looks serious, oy veh. In yet another story line, who should walk in, carrying a pot of her famous minestrone for the poor, but Theresa (Rebecca Westberg), the Italian love interest of the original play. Will the spark rekindle?

Nieman’s Rabbi possesses a sonorous voice that could carry to the top tier of Disney Hall. Furthermore, he is an attractive, silver-haired gentleman who could hear my confession anytime….oops, sorry, wrong religion. Westberg’s Theresa has a pleasant demeanor, a toothy smile and is altogether likable. Shalonda Shaw is irresistible as Marcy, who uses her feminine wiles in a disarming manner and to hear some of those Jewish expressions come out of a black woman’s mouth, is guaranteed entertainment. As her boyfriend, Haley unfortunately, is totally miscast. He’s tall and slender but has Asian features and a weak delivery.

There are intelligent but overly lengthy philosophical discussions about religion and the Rabbi’s tiresome shtik of talking to the portrait of his departed wife, Miriam, could be circumcised by half (at least). Nevertheless, Shulman has written and directed an amusing, multi-layered story, with some comical and squeaky clean dialogue, suitable for the whole mispoche.

T.U. Studios, 20943 Camarillo Street. (entrance around the corner, just east of the intersection of Vineland, Camarillo and Lankershim) NoHo 91602. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $24, seniors $18. Free parking in lot in front of the theatre. (818)265-8699 or www.TheRabbisMission.com ends 8/29/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

Around the corner on Vineland, is THE IDLE HOUR, a pub-like establishment that specializes in BBQ dishes. Service is congenial, prices are fair. The food? That depends on your taste. There are sandwiches $12 - $15, salads $11 - $13 and a good selection of beer, cocktails and a few wines. A nice glass of California Sauvignon Blanc costs $10. Generous slices of brisket $17 come with two sides, as do most entrees. For $15 there’s pulled pork, a little dry with sauces too sweet for me but you may like them. The cole slaw has the same sugar jag problem and the potato salad looks and tastes like diced apples, no kidding. For the side choices, I suggest the french fries and the tossed salad, both very good. They brought me extra pickles, which I loved. This is a casual spot with beautiful knotty pine paneling and a lovely patio in back. It has cooling sprays, just like I first saw in Palm Springs, in case the Valley temperature soars. The crowd is amiable and I decided to suggest The Idle Hour because it’s a really convenient, one time parking location, just a few steps from the theatre.

The Idle Hour, 4824 Vineland, near Camarillo Street, NoHo 91602. Full bar (818) 980-5604 No reservations.

ANNIE KORZEN FAMOUS ACTRESS written and performed by Annie Korzen

If you want to meet the funniest old, Jewish lady in the Western Hemisphere, head for THE BRAID in Santa Monica. Korzen is a storyteller who could have you in stitches reading the proverbial telephone book. Her material is blessed by the God of Laughter and her delivery could serve as a training guide for aspiring comics. She tells her life experiences with self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty. I won’t spoil the fun by quoting her, instead just tell you some of her topics: her bit part on Seinfeld as Doris Klompus, her dream of stardom (pssst – her first New York gig was as an aging hooker named Dusty Pussy), childbirth, motherhood, weddings, fear of “you name it” and her hospital stay where the Filipino nurses dubbed her “Annie Korzen Famous Actress” (Filipinos love nicknames).

Her mother, who figures prominently in her monologue, made her take those dreaded piano lessons, which have paid off cleverly in this show. Projections of her playing (video/audio by Andrew Fromer), with suitable rubber-faced expressions and dead-on relevance to the current story, add a whole new dimension to this stand-up performance. Expertly directed by Susan Morgenstern, you cannot spend an hour and a half, nor your forty bucks any better, anywhere, at any time! Don’t miss out. Not Jewish? No problem, the subject matter is universal.

Jewish Women’s Theatre at The Braid, 2912 Colorado Blvd at Yale Avenue, Santa Monica 90404. Thursday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 5 pm. $40 - $45. No intermission. Free parking in front lot. (800) 838-3006 or www.jewishwomensheatre.org ends 9/9



This is not your mother’s Pageant! Years ago, the sole attraction, albeit beautiful, were the tableaux vivantes (living pictures) posed by local volunteers of classic paintings, part canvas, part humans. Now, however, the show is like an elaborate theatrical production. It not only comes to life but there are living and breathing people moving in those pictures and out of them, too. Spectacular! You can take this around the globe journey, without shlepping luggage, tipping every outstretched palm, converting mysterious foreign currency, enduring TSA lines and all other annoyances and stress, connected to embarking on a lengthy voyage.

This year’s GRAND TOUR is all about travel and it’s truly Grand. It opens with young Charles, a seventeenth Century English aristocrat setting off on a world tour. Instead of plain, old narration, we are kept in the loop via letters to his father , cleverly worded and informative, voiced by Richard Doyle. He visits France, Italy, Scotland etc. and, of course, America, with a foray into Harlem that pays tribute to black musicians.

Without giving away all the surprises, let me just tell you that you will see a gondola floating past an operatic performance at Venice’s La Fenice, with soprano Savannah Greene singing an aria from Mitridade, a Mozart rarity; details of Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson’s scandalous romance and the audience favorite, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which brings down the house. Everything on that stage is stunning, including the exquisite sculptures around its periphery. The orchestra, lead by Maestro Corey Hirsch, adds to the excitement. Congratulations to Director Diane Challis Davy and her team, for making the 85th Anniversary what we say every year: Better Than Ever!!

Pageant of the Masters, Irvine Bowl, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach 92651. Nightly at 8:30 pm. $15 - $210. Your Pageant ticket entitles you to free admission to the Festival Of Arts all summer long. Expensive parking in lots near the Bowl, There are meters and free shuttle service from a nearby (paid) lot (signs posted). (800) 487-3378 or www.PageantTickets.com ends 8/31/17



Supplied entirely by local talent, this exhibit of paintings, photographs, sculptures, enamel, wood, ceramics and more, is a walking tour of wonders, all over the newly renovated grounds. Plus, there are fun happenings here all summer long:

Mondays - Art & Story Time 11 am ages 5 and under.
Tuesdays - Rising Star Music Series 5:30 pm.
Wednesdays - Art Talks & Tea noon.
Thursdays - Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate (tastings $50 plus Festival admission) 5:30 pm.
Fridays - Step into the Spotlight Music Series 5:30 pm.
Saturdays - Concerts on the Green 1 pm 7/15 and 7/22. 8/5 & 19 1 – 2:30 pm free with Festival admission, limited reserved seating $25 call in advance (800) 487-3378.

Fashion Show 8/12 noon – 3 pm. Family Art Day 7/16 noon to 3 pm. Salute to the Arts Sundays until 8/27, 2 – 4 pm. Festival of Arts Birthday Bash. All day free admission to the Art Show, on Sunday 8/13 and a Special Celebrity Benefit Event, which includes a concert by Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, plus a special performance of The Grand Tour hosted by Bryan Cranston, August 26, Tickets from $50 to $230.

Festival of Arts. 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach 92651. Grounds open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 pm daily Weekdays $8. Students & seniors $5, weekends $12 and $8. Free for children under 12, military and Laguna Beach residents (w/ID). (800) 487-3378 or www. LagunaFestivalofArts.org ends 8/31/17

THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

It’s no longer necessary to pay tourist prices dining at local restaurants before the show. Besides Tivoli Gardens in the complex, GINA’S AL FRESCO concession has reasonable fare and some interesting selections. Besides the peripatetic pizza pies, there’s Bratwurst, a skewer of turkey meatballs. fresh Hawaiian tuna poke with chips, tasty pork gyozas with Asian slaw and more, around $13 each. Wine Bar offerings average $12 per glass. This is a self-service, line up at the window kind of deal and requires patience. It took close to 15 minutes for our order (the latter two above mentioned) to appear. Even the tiramisu $5, which has got to be ready to go, took a good while. The best news is that the new “floor plan” has added more table seating in the ground’s center area, so allow ample time for eating and browsing and you’ll have a marvelous evening. See above for address etc.

THE CAKE by Bekah Brunstetter

This delightful story with a  sweet vibe in more ways than one, will resonate with liberals and conservatives. It’s as timely as recent headlines and accentuates the human aspect of how we relate to each other, even though we may have diametrically opposed opinions – on just about everything.

First, a word of advice. It’s absolutely essential that you have dessert before the show. It takes place in a bakery in North Carolina (set by Pete Hickok) with a display of luscious looking cakes. The owner is Della (the petite Debra Jo Rupp), and as you observe her lovingly frosting one of them, it’s hard not to drool even on a sweet-sated tummy. This darling little lady, whose raisons d’etre are sugar, cream and butter, has a dream: to compete and of course win, the Great American Baking Show. She is seen regularly conversing with its M.C, George (voice of Morrison Keddie) with colorful lighting by Pablo Santiago and sound by Jeff Gardner.

Della’s husband is a nice, blue collar guy named Tim (Joe Hart), whose sluggish libido has crippled their sex life. But her biggest problem at the moment is spiritually and professionally related. Her beloved, late friend’s daughter, Jen (Shannon Lucio) whom she cherishes like her own, has asked her to bake the cake for her impending nuptials….to Macy, who happens to be a young, black woman (Carolyn Ratteray). Torn between her Southern Baptist teachings and her affection for Jen, this is the situation that keeps us laughing, sympathizing and at full attention.

Rupp is an actress so natural and sincere, we love her the moment she appears. She plays it with folksy, nasal twang and practically owns the stage. Her first words should be taken as gospel by all amateur bakers: Baking is an art and a science. Don’t try to improvise by adding a pinch of this or that or messing with the prescribed quantities. Stick to the recipe! ( I once tried to double the one for my Viennese lemon/nut torte …….don’t ask!!) Hubby Hart is easygoing and aces one of the funniest scenes in the show. Lucio, the bride caught between loyalty and true love, gives a winning performance whether happy or sad. Her partner, Ratteray, a journalist whom we first meet interviewing Della, is a young woman of conviction, very smart and in control. She’s neither butch nor effeminate and it’s credible that even someone with a strict, religious upbringing, could fall for her.

Brunstetter has written a multi-layered confection, aptly directed by Jennifer Chambers, with an ear for the current happenings in the realm of same-sex marriage, spiked with humor and blessed with lots of heart. You’ll enjoy this world premiere, so delicious and no calories!

Echo Theatre Co. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue off Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles 90039. Monday, Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 4 pm. $34, Monday $20. No intermission. Parking in the (much too small) lot just south of the theatre complex. (310) 207-3753 or www.EchoTheatreCompany.com ends 8/6/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion for The Music Center

About two years ago, when AU LAC, a Vietnamese-Vegan restaurant serving plant-based food first opened, a group of us ventured in before an L.A Opera performance. It was so god-awful, we figured it wouldn’t last a year and wasn’t even worth a write-up. But, guess what? They’re still here! Therefore, something good must have happened in that kitchen, maybe a new chef? Sure enough, three of us, each ordering something different, emerged smiling, well sated and ready to send YOU.

The room is elegantly designed with a separate bar area, lighting is soothing, the noise level pleasant enough for amiable dinner conversation. Everything is organic, even the cocktails and wine, from $12 per glass. Dinner prices are reasonable. $16 and $18 for most main courses. An appetizer of five, pesto-stuffed crimini mushrooms, one of the few items that is not served raw, is $8 and very enjoyable. Look around, you’ll see it at almost every table. They do a nice tostada with a cornmeal bottom, rife with chopped vegetables, plus salad for $18. The curried rice arrives in a cute heart shape and will steal yours at first bite. It’s studded with bits of vegetables and enhanced with macadamia sauce. It tastes rich, spicy and wonderful. They will substitute noodles for the rice and aim to please. The bowl called Bun 33 is very Vietnamese, especially the dressing with its little bite. It has a base of kelp noodles (exactly like my favorite, glass noodles) with everything from the produce section as well as pickled daikon radish, beansprouts etc. piled on, same price. The menu goes into minute detail, giving you every ingredient short of salt and pepper but it’s all good and, of course, healthy (Vegan!!!), so just enjoy. If you plan to end the meal with dessert, their version of tiramisu, with its mealy texture, is, in my opinion, not worth $9, in spite of the pretty, edible orchid.

We lucked out with our server, the darling Kristine, who patiently answered every question, substituted what we requested and was altogether charming. Her only misstep: I had ordered a Chardonnay for $12 per glass but a few moments later, spotted an unusual, organic Riesling from E. Meyer Vineyards (no price given), which she assured me, costs around the same. But it showed up as an ugly blotch on my bill- $16! But still, this waitress is a gem! If all this doesn’t encourage you to give Au Lac a try, let me tell you that you can park your car in their garage, underneath the Promenade Building (1st & Hope) for two hours free with validation or a total of $7, if you’re headed for the Music Center or Disney Hall, both across the interaction

Au Lac, 710 W. 1st Street, Street Level. Los Angeles 90012. Open daily, full bar. Validated parking in building basement, enter off 1st Street. (213)617-2533

FOOTNOTE - The excellent show,“Building The Wall” at The Fountain Theater has once again been extended, Showing through Aug 27th.


If you haven’t been to one of the At-Home Salon evenings, created by the JWT (Jewish Women’s Theatre), put that on your immediate bucket list. Talk about intimate theatre! These are usually held in someone’s exquisite living room filled with folding chairs and if you were any closer to the actors, you’d be “on stage” with them. Come early and enjoy complimentary refreshments such as dessert, fruit and cheese, cookies etc.

Around a half dozen performers clad in black, script in hand, at which they occasionally sneak a glance, read short stories, skillfully written and acted out. The subjects are varied and many. A few have Jewish themes, some are very funny, others are sad and moving. Many are about love, friendship and family and all are concerned with our humanity and Weltanschauung, a high falutin’ German word, meaning our take on life and the world around us.

The Space Between brings us a dozen stories with intermittent musical interludes by Guitarist/Vocalist, Jesse Macht. The other performers are, in alphabetical order: Michael Hanson, Zoe Lillian, Donnabella Mortel and Kyla Schoer. The audience favorite is, without a doubt, the touching vignette called The Second Best, written by Julie Meyerson Brown, about a young girl ((Zoe Lillian) who, guided by her grandmother (the outstanding Kyla Schoer) must visit her terminally ill mom (Donnabella Mortel) in the hospital, And, for laughs, Sigi Gradwohl’s My Friends Tied but I Did Knot, performed by the “always a bridesmaid but never a bride” Zoë Lillian.

The Space Between, presented by The Jewish Women’s Theatre is scheduled to be in Santa Monica on June 21, in West Hollywood on June 22 and in Westwood on June 25, 2017. $10, Brown Paper Tickets, (310) 315-1400 or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

NEXT UP: A world premiere solo performance, “Annie Korzen Famous Actress” at The Braid, JWT’s home base at 2912 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, from July 8 to 13, 2017. (310) 315-1400.


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

The Arts District in DTLA has a new tenant, CAFÉ GRATITUDE, whose Larchmont location is the Holy Grail for Vegans, Vegetarians and ordinary folks who are curious to see how the other half eats. The place is large, white and airy, in the motif of a very clean kitchen. If you’re catching a performance, come before 6 pm and take advantage of the Happy Hour prices, A very fine California Chardonnay is available for $6 per glass and appetizers are only $5. On the regular menu you’ll find soups, salads, wraps etc., all with cutesy sobriquets. A main course, the stuffed phyllo, is the size of a baseball, chock-full of veggies, good flavor but slightly starchy texture, $16. Same price for the soul food plate. Tempeh (not my passion), greens on the tough side plus rice and beans, the night’s weakest dish. I ordered from the Happy Hour menu and hit the jackpot. A cup of curried dal, absolutely wonderful, like a thick, rich, yellow lentil soup, $4 plus the buffalo roasted cauliflower, $5, a big portion deliciously covered in adobe sauce, tingling but not searingly spicy. It didn’t even need the cashew aioli dip nor the celery sticks, which someone in the kitchen forgot to de-string which ended up on my plate, like a pile of used dental floss. Desserts sound scrumptious but the fruit cobbler topped with ice cream, made with not quite ripe, tart apricots, was far from orgasmic and cost $12.The little chocolate ball (from the vitrine), specifically the brazil nut ganache, is a dream but the price, $5.50, is a nightmare. We looked around the room and didn’t see anybody especially healthy or good looking, so tomorrow it’s back to meat, eggs, cheese and my motto “I’ll eat anything that doesn’t eat me”

Café Gratitude, Arts District, 300 S. Santa Fe Avenue, DTLA 90013 Beer & Wine. Convenient two hour free parking (with validation) in the center of Santa Fe Plaza lot. (213) 929-5580.

LES BLANCS by Lorraine Hansberry

We have come to expect great things from Rogue Machine Theatre and they do not disappoint us with LES BLANCS, a powerful piece of theatre, indeed. Lorraine Hansberry, the legendary author A Raisin in the Sun, has written this story decades ago yet, regrettably, it’s timely and relevant even today.

Set in an unnamed African country, it depicts, with brutal honesty, the topic of Apartheid, the struggle for equality and the price paid for independence. Africa is no longer colonized but has progress been made? Under European rule nobody starved nor died of plague-like diseases and one never saw photos of babies with extended bellies. An interesting program note from Director Gregg T. Daniel informs us that Hansberry, who died at the much too young age of thirty-four of cancer, never saw the play performed. In fact, she didn’t even get to finish it but her husband, Robert Nemiroff, edited the final draft. He pulled no punches either, in portraying the whites (Les Blancs) with their cruel , militaristic, iron fist and Les Noirs (the blacks) in all their murderous savagery. The story s fascinating but what makes is so unique, is the amazing performance it is afforded here, under the direction of Mr. Daniel. The ramshackle looking set (by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz) cleverly morphs into a missionary hospital, a hotel frontage and a dwelling, with the flicks of the wrist. A lone drummer (Jelani Blunt) beats a rhythm that grows in intensity, joined by a remarkably authentic African dancer (Shari Gardner), both of whom make intermittent appearances. The large cast is headed by the charismatic Desean Kevin Terry as Tshembe Matoseh, a tall, attractive man who lives in London and seems fully Europeanized and who has come home for his father’s funeral. He has a brother, Abioseh (Matt Orduño) who is now a Catholic priest and a half brother, a boy of mixed race, Eric (Aric Floyd). The mission’s hospital is run by Dr. Willy DeKoven (Joel Swetow) and a beautiful blonde physician, Dr. Marta Gotterling (Fiona Hardingham). Also at work there is Peter (Amir Abdullah) a type of gofer. He is particularly watchable because, on he job, he is subservient and cowering but, in private, he stands tall, imposing and is a dangerous radical.

Into this milieu comes an American journalist, Charles Morris (Joel McBeth), a liberal white man, anxious to tell the story of this conflict and determined to make friends, starting with the impenetrable Matoseh. He has an eye for the pretty, young doctor, one of the Christian missionaries who came to this dark continent purely for humanitarian and unselfish reasons, Hardingham affects an odd accent for the part. Australian? Afrikaans? Most affecting is Anne Gee Byrd as Madame Neilsen, the old, blind wife of the head of the mission (unseen). She commands our attention with every word and has a mesmerizing stage presence. Also impressive is Bill Brochtrup in the role of Major Rice, whose unenviable task is to keep order and discipline in dangerous situations, The entire cast is praiseworthy and Hansberry has given most of them their shining moment on stage, even Jonathan R. Sims as a ferocious warrior and the various villagers and soldiers all do their bit to create this spellbinding tale, A Los Angeles premiere and an absolute “must see”, with music and sound by Jeff Gardner, choreographed by Joyce Guy.

Rogue Machine at the MET Theatre,1089 N. Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles 90029. Saturday & Monday at 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $40 (855585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com Tight street parking. Ends 7/3/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pretheater suggestion

Dinner before the show? No problem! Park near the theatre and walk (less than five minutes) a block and a half east to the North and South ramps of the 101 Hollywood Freeway. There, on the corner, in a yellow building, is KAVKAZ, a Russian restaurant. It’s spotless, the size of your garage, maybe smaller, with five tables, glass topped, with good china and white napkins decoratively folded into gleaming glassware and the Russian dishes are delectable. Could you ask for more? Yes, friendly service and reasonable prices. The most expensive entrée is $16.99 for filet mignon kebab. They have salads from around the world, Greece, Russia, Armenia etc. about $5 each. The appetizer you must order is the eggplant caviar, $4.99. Chopped eggplant, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and more, a popular dish in many countries. The French know it as ratatouille, the Austrians, melanzani, the Israelis hatsillim but the Russkies who call it paklahzhana , do it best. It comes with paper-thin lavosh. There are all sorts of kabobs, chicken, beef, lamb, mostly $10.99. You’ll like the big, marinated chunks of lean pork kebab or the lula kebab of ground chicken (also beef or lamb), two skewers, each dish with choice of rice or home fries plus salad on the same plate. Everything comes topped with mild onion rings and the tomatoes in that salad taste just moments ago picked off the vine. The dressing is a lovely vinaigrette but my advice is, save your empty appetizer dish and transfer the salad onto it because the dressing tends to seep into the crisp potatoes, making them as limp as a nervous bridegroom. Water comes in a bottle for $1 but you can bring your own wine, no corkage fee. Incidentally, Kavkaz stands for the Caucasian mountain range between the Black and Caspian Seas. Now here is a Russian connection of which we can all approve!

Restaurant Kavkaz, 5341 Santa Monica Blvd, at Serrano, East Hollywood 90029 Open daily until 8 pm, BYOB. Street parking. There are two spaces in the front, difficult to get in and especially, out of. (323) 464-2224.

SEPARATE TABLES by By Terence Rattigan

This Terence Rattigan double bill is combined into one story about the guests in a genteel, residential hotel in Bournemouth, England. The wigs by Judy Lewin and Michele Young’s costumes are in the authentic style of the period and Jeff G. Rack’s ingenious revolving sets almost exude a slightly musky odor. It opens in the dining room, with most of the residents sitting at “separate tables” and being waited on by the chatterbox Doreen (Suzan Solomon), whose probably very funny lines are almost inaudible, due to her exaggerated Cockney accent which must have escaped the much admired Director Jules Aaron’s discerning ear. We meet two, immaculately evening-attired women, elderly but still attractive, Lady Gladys Mathison (Mariko Van Kampen), a gentle soul whose late husband attended Oxford. The Brits brag about their education, Oxford being the Valhalla, almost as much as our local USC grads, Mrs. Railton-Bell (Mona Lee Wylde), a dragon lady so far still in cocoon. Also in attendance, Mrs. Meacham (Michele Schultz) a tough cookie with a no-nonsense attitude, a young couple, Charles and Jean Stratton (Caleb Slavens and Melissa Collins) and an old fogey, Mr. Fowler (john Wallace Combs).

The hotel is run by the angelic Manager, Mrs. Cooper (Diana Angelina), a kind-hearted lady with a sweet disposition, who is in a low-key romance with Mr. Malcolm (not his real name), a dynamic man with a checkered, striped and polka-dotted past. Unfortunately for Mrs. Cooper, the unexpected arrival, from London, of his ex-wife, a slightly fading but still very glamorous model, Mrs. Shankland (Susan Priver), causes a stir in the hearts and loins of these two former lovers

The second act brings the play to life, with the appearance of “Major” Pollack (David Hunt Stafford), Theatre 40’s genial Artistic/Managing Director/Producer, a portly gentleman who poses as a retired, high-ranking officer and has to face the consequences of an unseemly behavioral incident. He has befriended Sybil (Roslyn Cohn), the plain, timid daughter of the volatile Railton-Bell, a sweet but troubled spinster. She’s thirty-three, with no prospects, an age considered over the bridal hill, in that era. Their relationship is the most touching aspect of the play and their sensitive portrayal of these two characters will add one more to your unforgettable theatre memories.

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 , Moreno Dive, off Little Santa Monica Boulevard on the Campus of Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills 90212. $30. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. Free parking in building garage, theatre level, (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org ends 6/18


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s preheater suggestion

The last time we ate at RONI’S on Little Santa Monica, it was so awful, I vowed never to set food in there again. But, the good news is, it has changed hands and menu. Let me say, it’s not going to be he most exciting gastronomic experience of the week but the food is simple, wholesome, American and reasonable. The highest priced entrée is $19.50 for chimichurri steak. There are salads, soups, sandwiches etc. You can have the chicken piccata or the smokey flavored meat loaf for around $15., with fresh veggies, one with linguine, the meatloaf with nice, lumpy mashed potatoes and gravy. The best part is, it’s only a two minute drive to Theatre 40. Service is pleasant but you better allow ample time, they’re no getting any speeding tickets here.

RONI’S, 9011 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, Ca 90212. Wine and beer. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Street parking. (310) 772-0044.


This play hasn’t decided what it wants to be. Is it a satyrical send-up of the architectural profession? Is it a fairy tale based on an ancient German legend? Is it a horror story? All of the above? None of the above? You figure it out.

Gregor Zabrovski (Danny Scheie) is a famous, or should we say, infamous, architect. We’re in his new home at water’s edge, in a white, spacious, cold, modernistic room (sans chairs). A party is in progress. Gregor’s young paramour, Tamsin (Annie Abrams) has invited her former room mate, Rita (Susannah Schulman Rogers) and her husband, Dieter (Aubrey Deeker) to toast the new glass house. The latter two are up and coming architects, struggling to get a foothold in their profession and in awe of Gregor’s international fame. It soon becomes obvious that the old boy has his eye on the attractive Rita and he tries to lure her into working with him while he is not above usurping their important pending commission, for himself. He is a thoroughly despicable and insufferable egomaniac. He doesn’t just talk, he proclaims and has a habit of turning up the volume of every third word. He is in a love-hate relationship with Tamsin, that it, he makes love to her but she definitely hates him. Amy Freed, a well regarded playwright, whose portrait hangs in the lobby bar alongside such over luminaries as August Wilson and Beth Henley, has written a highly technical work, difficult for the layman to follow. (Reading some of the program material in advance, helps).

The one * is for the production values, always world class at SCR. Exquisitely detailed sets (by Tom Buderwitz), glide on and off the stage as soothly as though virgin olive-oiled. Director Art Manke works well with the game cast. The diabolical Scheie is indefatigable as the bloviating builder of the title. His live-in, the acrobatic Abrams, in addition to being very pretty, has a grip on the girl who’s no brainiac, but is a little bit smarter than Gregor thinks she is. The team of the architectural firm called The Third Place, the sharp Schulman Rogers, an SCR regular and Deeker, handle their parts very well, even though Deeker has the unenviable assignment of playing a husband about to be betrayed at any moment. Colette Kilroy and Gareth Williams, as the wealthy Pandermints, prospective clients, ready to spring for the restoration of a historical boat house, are amusing. She continuously flaunts her high society background and he, a millionaire, looks as though he shops at Goodwill. Angela Balogh Colin gets credit for the costumes, Rodolfo Ortega for sound design . This outrageous, over the top story, author Freed’s specialty, may appeal to some folks, as for me, all I could muster at the end was polite applause.

South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa 92628.Tuesday & Wednesday 7:30 pm, Thursday & Friday 8 pm, Saturday 2:30 and 8 pm, Sunday 2:30 & 7:30 pm. $30 - $79. (714) 708-5555 or www.scr.org ends 6/4/17


ACTUALLY by Anna Ziegler

This provocative “he said, she said” exercise will spark differences of opinion on a subject currently and consistently in the news, namely sexual assault. Was it or wasn’t it?

The play begins and ends with two chairs on an empty stage, with only the lighting (by Lap Chi Cho) to designate the encounter between the two students intimately involved for one night and the hearing that follows its consequences, The evening that starts out with fun and games (2 truths, 1 lie) and to much booze, ends badly but is one of the weakest cases of “rape” as even the most militant feminist would agree. Or would she? You can render your own verdict n the way home.

Tom (Jerry MacKinnon) is a tall, personable black man. Amber (Samantha Ressler) is white, skinny and mousey but with a certain quirky appeal. The audience becomes the confidant for their diverse stories, We hear all abut their families, their past, their weaknesses and their triumphs, as it were.. Ziegler’s dialogue captures the current vernacular of the young with the constant “I’m like, he’s like”…..

MacKinnon is thoroughly immersed in the role of Tom, a likable guy with a kaleidoscopic personality. H loves the music of Mozart. He adores his mother, But, he spends his evenings relentlessly pursuing women for casual, meaningless sex. On the other hand, Ressler’s Amber has a serious inferiority complex, not without cause, one might add. She sounds like the typical Valley Girl, not like a Princeton co-ed and ends every sentence with a question mark. Mercifully missing: awesome/amazing. Fortunately, their revelations, accusations and conversations are fascinating, often steeped in self-analysis, frequently funny and flawlessly delivered, under the direction of Tyne Rafaeli. All three, with impressive credentials, are making their Geffen Playhouse debut. Actually is a co-world premiere with the Williamstown Theatre Festival and is reminiscent of David Mamet’s hit play of a few decades ago, “Oleanna”.

Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Theatre, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, CA 90024. Tuesday – Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 and 8 pm, Sunday 2 and 7 pm. $60 - $82. No intermission. Underground parking in adjoining garage $7, at Palazzo Garage on Glendon, in the Trader Joe’s Building, $5, take a ticket at the Concierge desk. (310 208-5454 or www.geffenplayhouse.org ends 6/11


KISS by Guillermo Calderón

In my press packet was a big print sheet: SPOILER ALERT, asking me not to disclose details of the plot of Kiss, to sustain the surprise element of the piece. This should be the credo of every critic. Too often, the entire synopsis, the best lines, even the denouement appears in the review. Instead of piquing the audience’s interest, the result being “why bother going?” Needless to say, I will heed the plea.

The action takes place in Damascus, Syria, in 2015 in an ornate living room, beautifully furnished in Middle-Eastern Moderne. Four friends (Kristin Couture. Kevin Matthew Reyes, Max Lloyd Jones and Natali Anna) gather to watch a soap opera on TV, a popular form of socializing in that country, torn by war under an oppressive regime. Author Calderón is from Chile which has had its share of dictatorship and political upheaval and his play reflects some of that struggle.

Award winning Director Bart DeLorenzo, esteemed for his tenure at the Evidence Room Theatre, works with a young cast whose passion and emotions keep us at attention but I found this play too gimmicky. For example, we are not handed a program until AFTER the show, although there’s really nothing in it that would spoil the effect. Kiss begins as a quasi love triangle and ends up as something else entirely, with spectacular sound effects (uncredited) and lighting by Katelan Braymer. A clever Skype projection, featuring an interview with a female playwright (Cynthis Yelle) who, via a hokey interpreter (Nagham Wehbe) enlightens us as to what “kiss” really stands for. Yes, theatre is an art form which, we hope, will triumph over repression, fear and even bloodshed. So, perhaps you will like this West Coast premiere better than I did.

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles 90025. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm (Wednesday 8 pm 5/17 only) (Thursday 8 pm 5/25 only). $25-34. No intermission.Parking in front $4. 310-477-2055 or www.odysseytheatre.com ends 6/18



You were expecting, maybe the whole Italian clan and a dozen Jewish family members? Me, too, But, guess what? His is a one-man show, a stand-up comedy routine actually. But you won’t be disappointed. Before you leave, you will have met Brooklyn-born author Solomon’s parents, grandparents, in-laws, uncles and aunts, as impersonated by Peter J. Fogel. He mimics their expressions, copies their voices, is a master of sound effects and generally keeps the audience in stitches. He peppers his monologue with new and old jokes but he doesn’t just rattle them off. Instead, he cleverly incorporates them into the narrative so that even if you know the punchline, you’ll still chuckle at his delivery. Did I mention he also plays the piano?

Fogel covers every subject under the chuppah – mixed marriage, kosher households, old age etc, The dialogue is never vulgar (you can bring Grandma Rose) and moves along at a good clip, as directed by Andy Rogow. Fogel frequently makes eye contact with his audience and is so personable, you want to take him home to hear some more of his funny stuff. Also. this show is suitable for all ethnicities. Need a good laugh right now? Nuf said!

The Colony Theatre, 555N. Third Street, Burbank 91502. Wednesday 8 pm, Thursday 8 & 3 pm. Friday & Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $45 - $65. Free parking in Town Center Mall, theatre level. (855)448-7469 or www.Playhouse info.com ends 6/25/17


Note: The front of Town Center Mall is being remodeled and is a mess. The Food Court is closed. On our evening San Fernando Road was closed to automobile traffic. We parked at the theatre, went down to street level, outside the Macy exit, within a few steps is California Pizza Kitchen, where we ended up.

BALLETOMANES, ALERT! If You are a devotee of dance, you will recall Matthew Bourne’s all-male Swan Lake, which played to full houses at the Ahmanson a few years ago. Now, something of a discovery, three ballets under the title MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES choreographed B.S.L. (before Swan Lake) is having its American premiere in Beverly Hills from May 12 -21 The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, 90210 (310)746-4000 or www.TheWallis.org/Bourne

PURE CONFIDENCE by Carlyle Brown

Even if you care zilch about horse racing, you’ll be intrigued by this fairytale-like story of Simon Cato, the legendary, black jockey whose performance on the race track was of championship caliber and whose life was the stuff of fiction.

We are in Kentucky Bluegrass country, a mural of which curves around the stage (set by Tom Buderwitz, projections by Nick Santiago), with the sound of Camptown Races in the air. Simon (Armond Edward Dorsey), wearing the traditional winner’s wreath of roses, is all bluster and pride, having won a small fortune for his current master, Colonel Johnson (William Salyers). He makes no secret of his burning desire to buy his freedom from the man who hires him out, the despicable George Dewitt (Eamon Hunt). It’s jarring for today’s audiences to hear the N-word bandied about so blatantly but we must remember, this is the Deep South in the eighteen hundreds and that’s how the white folks spoke, as they lorded it over their slaves. The Colonel’s wife, Mattie (Deborah Puette), whose regal bearing belies her tender heart, has her “own girl”, named Caroline (Tamarra Graham), who catches Simon’s eye. He is not more determined than ever to earn enough to buy freedom for both of them. The first act ends just as the Civil War breaks out.

Act II plays on a different turf. It’s a decade later and everything has changed, including the career of Cato, who was injured in the war, He works at a hotel in Saratoga, ironically, the city of his former track triumphs. Hunt now plays the equally obnoxious desk clerk but again a racist. A New York City reporter, Tom Roland (Dylan John Seaton), whom we saw as an auctioneer in Act I, is on the trail of the once famous jockey, ostensibly for an interview. You’ll have to see for yourself what comes next.

The talented Director, Marya Mazor, gets to work with a splendid cast, expertly costumed by Mylette Nora and voice coached by Adam Michael Rose, to assure that everyone’s Southern drawl is as authentic as a frosty Mint Julep. Dorsey, who seems a little too hefty to be one of those diminutive jockey we are used to seeing, makes up for that shortcoming by playing the cocky “colored boy” to the hilt. His love object, the demure Graham, shines in her one dramatic scene. The Colonel, Salyers, as a gentleman of the Old South possesses the proper dignity and gravitas for the part and his sympathetic wife, the tall, slender Puette, lends warmth and elegance to Miss Mattie. Hunt and Seaton, in dual roles, display their versatility portraying men of different appearance and accents convincingly. This West Coast premiere leaves us with the good feeling that, while we are not yet perfect, conditions have come a long way since the Civil War era. Now let’s work on our current civil war problems.

Lower Depths Theatre Ensemble at Sacred Fools Black Box Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, off Santa Monica Blvd., just west of Vine, Los Angeles 90038. Tight street parking. Friday& Saturday 8pm, Sunday2 pm. (323)960-7745 or www.lower-depth.com/on-stage ends 5/14



This historically pertinent drama pays homage to the man described as “the most polarizing figure in American political life” - until now. Antonin Scalia, Justice of the Supreme Court until his death in 2016, was easily the most colorful person in this illustrious position and he comes to life on the Playhouse stage, warts and all. Edward Gero, a Shakespearean trained actor with a resonant voice and majestic bearing, inhabits the role like a second skin. He’s sharp of tongue with a twinkle in his eye. The first sound emanating from is throat is the brindisi (drinking song) from the first act of Verdi’s La Traviata and he confesses that, since he didn’t become an opera singer, he “performs” on the bench. He is the most conservative of conservatives, hates liberals, is against gays, abortion, alternative action and gun control, in short the only thing I could share with this so-called “monster”, is his love of opera. Incidentally, he and Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, who is diametrically opposed to his politics, used to go on opera dates together. We too learn to overlook his flaws and love him on stage. His wit fluctuates between self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. Strand’s dialogue is exceptionally well researched, superbly written and humorous, yet can sting like a tarantula but with less of the deadly poison.

Scalia hires a new law clerk, the irrepressible Cat (Jade Wheeler), a young, black woman with impeccable credentials (Harvard Law School) and he meets his match. She’s super smart and sassy, always respectful but not cowering. Her politics are ultra liberal and they go at it without a safety net. She can take it as well as dish it out. Wheeler masters this difficult part with expertise and rattles off dates, facts and historical trivia, never missing a beat - or a line. Not to be overlooked is the short but effective appearance of Brett Mack, as Brad, a brown-nosing, obnoxious law clerk and the object of Cat’s wrath and ridicule. What you will see here is an intellectual and ideological sparring match that will stimulate and entertain you. The smart, simple set design is by Misha Kochman, which allows the production to ebb and flow effortlessly, under the letter-perfect direction of Molly Smith, who also directed its opening at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. This must have had quite an impact on the denizens of our nation’s Capital. Costume design is by Joseph P. Salasovich, sound and lighting by Eric Shimelonis and Colin K. Bills, respectively.

Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino, Pasadena 91101. Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, Saturday 4 & 8pm, Sunday 2 pm. (dark 4/25 with one added Sunday performance on April 30th at 7 pm) No intermission. $25 - $115. Paid parking lots nearby $3 - $5. or street parking. (626)356-7529 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.com ends 5/7/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

In the same building as the Pasadena Playhouse, is RED WHITE + BLUEZZ which has lasted longer than any of the dozen or so restaurant occupying this wonderfully convenient location. It’s basically a haven for jazz enthusiasts, an attractive, large, rectangular room with windows looking out on the Playhouse’s courtyard. There’s a bar featuring custom blended cocktails and wine starts out at $7 per glass. I expected a strict New Orleans style menu but they have salads, soups and entrees from $21 (chicken) to $39 (rib eye). They smartly added Tapas, the ideal pre-theatre fare, not cheap but exquisite, some showing genuine Spanish influence. I can recommend the Moroccan chicken, little rounds of boneless meat, with skin-on potatoes and harissa aioli, spicy but not lethal, $10. The grilled octopus is served on toasted french bread slices, $14 and shrimp Pil Pil comes in a garlic and Spanish paprika sauce, same price, all appetizingly presented. These three were sufficiently satiating but you may want to share a dessert, to end on a sweet note, as should everything in life. We fluctuated between the banana bread pudding and the flourless chocolate cake and the latter won. Ridiculously priced at $12, I can tell you, it was worth it. A slender strip of heaven, flanked by a mound of real whipped cream with raspberries and a scoop of ice cream. It disappeared slowly like a beautiful sunset, as we savored every bite. Next time we’ll get one each!

Red White + Bluezz, 37 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101. (626) 792-4441. Full bar, entertainment, dinners nightly, weekend brunch. Closed Monday.

BUILDING THE WALL by Robert Schenkkan

This world premiere could have been written this morning. The brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning Schenkken feels the pulse of the nation in every line of this powerful play that will send shivers up and down your spine. The Wall of the title is not the U.S/Mexican border but more like the wall of distrust and hate we are starting to build around ourselves.

The setting is a prison visiting room. A young black woman, Gloria (Judith Moreland) faces Rick (Bo Foxworth), a stocky man in orange prison garb. Is she a reporter? A parole board member? She turns out to be a history professor, aware of the heinous crime committed by this solitary confined inmate. While satisfying her own curiosity, she is giving him the chance to air his side of the story, provided he will be completely honest about what happened to put him behind bars. And, it’s not going to be revealed here.

Schenkkan, who wrote the legendary Kentucky Cycle and the outstanding script for Hacksaw Ridge, pulls no punches. It becomes immediately clear where his political sympathies lie. His protagonist is a portrait of a Trump voter - a middle-aged Texan of limited education, an Army brat who spent his “career” in low paying jobs (think security guard). He denies he is a racist but blames immigrants for all of America’s ills. Regrettably, this ordinary guy is thrust into a position of authority, in way over his head and unable to deal with the truly devastating - but not unimaginable - situation in the not too distant future.

Foxworth gives the most emotional portrayal I have ever witnessed and is absolutely magnificent. Director Michael Michetti has us in the palm of his hand so that ninety minutes fly by and end up as a call to arms, with discussions following on Saturday nights. Moreland is credible as a concerned academic and her performance is on the mark but she does not project well and when she turns her back on us side-seaters, is not always as audible as we would wish. Note: spring the extra five bucks for a seat in the center section (see below). Meanwhile, be prepared to be moved to action!

Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Avenue at Normandy, Los Angeles 90029. Saturday, and Monday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $35 (center) $30 (side), $25 seniors (side only), $20 students. Monday night, pay what you can. No intermission. Adjoining parking lot $5.(323)663-1525 or www.Fountain Theatre.com ends 5/21/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

It’s always a bit risky to indulge in a buffet dinner pre-theatre, since overstuffing yourself may induce you to doze off as soon as the houselights dim. Luckily, the play currently at the Fountain is so stimulating, you’ll never even close one eye.

KING BUFFET is one of those big, Asian owned and staffed halls, with about a 70/30% Asian clientele, always a good sign. The menu is mostly Chinese but you have a sushi-french fries-teriyaki mashup as your choice. Buffetsmanship is an art that should be practiced prodigiously. First, you walk around the entire display to check out what is being offered. (only then do you start discriminately selecting). Personally, I think those skinny crab legs aren’t worth the mess. Salads are nice but one can easily toss them at home (except for the seaweed salad which is yummy and very healthy). Soups are great but they tend to fill you up from the start. If you can’t do without, ladle them up at the end, like they do in China at big banquets. Start with sushi, sashimi and chilled items. The Chinese entrees are uniformly good: chicken in different preparations, black pepper squid, Chinese longbeans, broccoli beef etc., etc. The coconut shrimp are too sugary but can be fixed up with a generous dousing of soy sauce (at table). Seafood scampi is mixed with what looks like faux crab but turns out to be a doughy dumpling (give it a miss) but the shrimp taste fine. For dessert, they have ice cream and better than average petits fours, judging by the one that looks like opera cake, with many layers and chocolate topping, also in orange squares. I did not see any fresh fruit. Now, for the best part - it’s only a six minute drive to the Fountain Theatre and prices are reasonable, $18 for adults, $16.20 for seniors.

King Buffet, 1375 N. Western Avenue, at Fountain, Los Angeles 90027. No alcohol. Open 11 am - 3:30 pm for weekday lunch, Saturday and Sunday, dinner from 11 am to 9:30 pm. Free parking in adjoining lot. (323)468-9398.

CAT’S PAW William Mastrosimone

Mastrosimone is the author of a number of very successful plays, two of which have a special place in my theatre memory, namely The Woolgatherer and Extremities. Therefore, I knew Cat’s Paw would live up to expectations. With a stroke of prescience, the playwright created this story in 1986, so pertinent to todays ecological crises, it’s uncanny. He revised it in 2011 with an updated kick in the guts and that is what you will see.

A Washington D.C. warehouse stocked with deadly weapons and explosives (set by David Potts), serves as the headquarters of a radical group, so-called eco-warriors, whose activities are tantamount to domestic terrorism. The head man, the militant Victor, (Sean McHugh), has taken a hostage, David Darling (Vito Viscuso), a minor executive of the Environmental Protection Agency, whom he keeps under strict house arrest. This poor guy is beyond subservient, cowers at every harsh word and is completely intimidated. Victor has an accomplice named Cathy, (Ivy Beech), an idealistic young woman who is determined to “make the world a better place”, by force, if necessary. Oddly enough, Victor has consented to have Darling interviewed on television. Picked for the job is a dynamic reporter, Jessica Lyons (Deborah Marlowe), a type of Barbara Walters but with claws and macho balls (not the Passover specialty). Watching her dance around the acceptable and/or forbidden questions, is something to behold. Directed with vital force by Stephen Rothman and impressive sound effects by Adam R. Macias, the tale spins like a modern suspense novel and reverberates with the threat of global water pollution etc.

McHugh brings an imposing, menacing presence to the villainous leader. Beech is touching as a misguided, young idealist, ready to sacrifice herself for the cause. Viscuso is ideally cast as a hostage on the verge of succumbing to the Copenhagen Syndrome and the intense Marlow commands the stage unequivocally, with every move. This is a riveting work, with a headline grabbing subject and somewhat bitter food for thought. Well done!

Crossley Theatre, Actors Co-Op, 1760 N. Gower Street, Hollywood 90028, on the Campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2:30 pm. Saturday April 8th, at 2:30 pm. (dark Easter weekend, 4/14- 4/16) $30, seniors $25, students $20. No intermission. Free parking in lot opposite the Theatre.(323) 462-8460 or www.ActorsCo-op.org ends 4/30/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, you can park in the theatre lot, head for Gower, turn right, walk up to Franklin, take another right to #5925, a restaurant called BIRDS. I made it in 13 minutes, in heels. It’s right next to the popular Upright Citizens Brigade and therefore very crowded and, of course, noisy. On a brick wall is a huge photo of Alfred Hitchcock with, what else, two big birds. The reigning one here, is rotisserie chicken and they do it justice, the high ticket, $15.50 for a half (white meat). They also have salads, wraps, sandwiches, appetizers, soups and wings, burgers and more. Wine by the glass starts at $5.50. The selection is limited but you’ll find something you like to drink and there are cocktails, as well.

Are you also tired of chicken breasts? You can have a delicious bargain of a dinner, $8.95 for dark meat, lavosh, choice of a dip (interesting ones, some spicy) plus one side. They have mac’n cheese, black beans, brown rice, mashed potatoes etc. I recommend the garbanzo bean salad, top notch, with bits of tomato, bell pepper, onions and sliced olives in an excellent vinaigrette. My chickie must have had a large thigh problem (lucky for me). A really meaty piece with crisp skin, some of which I peeled off and dipped into my artichoke aioli because my chicken needed no adornment, it was so nice and moist. Service is friendly but what they should bring you is a finger bowl or, at least, a Wet Nap because this birdie needs to be picked up and chewed to the bone.

Birds, 5925 Franklin,Hollywood 90028. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Saturday & Sunday brunch. Full bar. Valet parking $7. No reservation except for large parties. (323)465-0175.

PUNK ROCK by Simon Stephens

First off, please don’t let the title deter you. This 70s-style music is only heard on the sound track between scenes. This show is not a nascent Broadway musical. It’s a dark, stark look at contemporary youth in the U.K. and takes place in the library of a prep school (set by John Iacovelli). Not for the faint of heart, this ferocious piece of theatre is both frightening and enlightening, inspired by an event in America, which captured headlines around the world and is the dormant but ever present fear of every parent of a school-age child.

The bunch of seventeen year olds you are about to meet are fairly typical of today’s adolescents. They are hormonally overloaded, peer pressured, self absorbed, yet bothered by the current global imperfections whose weight and fate they seem to carry on their shoulders. Americans believe the Brits are more civil and better mannered but these kids are cruel, rude, their language is in the gutter, in other words, just like ours. When one of them reaches the breaking point, it’s easy to empathize. It’s tough to be young, nowadays.

The cast is exemplary. Zachary Grant as William is a boy who feigns superiority to hide his insecurities. He woos the new student, Lilly (Raven Scott), a wisp of a black girl who is worldly and self-assured. She favors the handsome jock, Nicholas (Nicholas Marini). The girls are Cissy (Miranda Wynne) an attractive but shallow blonde and Tanya (Story Slaughter) who is the butt of insults by Bennett (the dreadlocked Jacob Gibson), an intolerable bully. He also mercilessly needles the smart, introverted, pessimistic Chadwick (Kenney Selvey). Mark Daneri appears briefly as Dr. Harvey. Sound and lighting are credited to Christopher Moscatiello and Brian Gale, respectively. Without disclosing any more of the story, I want to say that it is artistically and directorially (by Lisa James) impeccable. As an ensemble,the talented, young actors are amazing. Once they slow down, they manage their English accents almost flawlessly, although a few misplaced cockney inflections creep in, now and then. The plot is brilliantly delineated by author Stephens, who was once a schoolteacher and utilizes his experience to give the work pertinence and authenticity. This juicy drama, a Los Angeles premiere, is an experience you’ll long remember and is highly recommended.

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, West Los Angeles 90025. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. Additional performances Wednesday 4/12 and 5/3, Thursday 4/27 only. $25 - $34. Parking in front lot, $4. No intermission. (310)477-2055 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com ends 5/14/17


THE GUN by Justin Yoffe

This play has a lot to say and says it well. But it’s only a one-acter, an appetizer that leaves us yearning for the main course. Contrary to some recent, overly long shows, this one is actually too short. We want to know what happened to the principal characters after their life lessons. If Yoffe writes a second act, I’d like to come back .

Meanwhile, three people, the tightly wound Mike (John Colella), an alpha male dissatisfied with his job, his lovely wife Ellen (Austin Highsmith Garces), who feels used and yearns for a more meaningful marriage and their good friend Steve (the athletic Josh Drennen), an aspiring actor, weary of fruitless auditions while career success seems out of reach, enliven the stage. Their fate is affected by a coincidence, one that would be endorsed by the NRA - Steve finds a gun in a trash can. Just holding it and aiming it empowers him to the point where the testosterone rush gives him the brass balls that have eluded him so far. From a personal point of view, I wish the trigger, so to speak, that sets off the gist of the story, namely, that we must find the courage to change the unsatisfactory elements that sour our days and do it, while there’s still time to “get a life”, were something other than a firearm.

The dialogue borders on the didactic but is redeemed by the skilled performers and the deft direction by Dave Florek, which gives this world premiere the flow and impetus it enjoys. Lighting design is by Edward Salas, set by Hillary Bauman. which is rather spartan but well served, with seamless scene changes from an apartment, to a theatre stage, a street and a bar, all done by the accomplished actors. Mouchette van Heldsdingen is convincing as a casting director, Hamilton Matthews personifies a homeless man camping out on the sidewalk and L. Emille a sympathetic bartender.

Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica Airport, 90405. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm (dark 4/14 - 4/16 and 4/29. $25, seniors, students and Guild members $20. Free parking in front. (310)397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com ends 4/30/17


PLASTICITY by Alex Lyra & Robert McCaskill

This unusual piece of theatre, rooted in neuroscience, is one of the most imaginative stage offering you’ll ever see. It’s world’s premiere mounted by a group of award nominees and winning artists. Co-author and star Alex Lyras, Director and co-author Robert McCaskill, editor Peter Chakos, with music and sound effects by Ken Rich, Matt Richter’s lighting and Corwin Evans’ projected video images in ever changing, stimulating succession. It’s primarily a one-man show but is multi-faceted, dealing with a man whose twin brother is hospitalized in a coma. His relatives, physicians and assorted characters are all portrayed by Lyras. In the future, terms like “brain dead” and “pulling the plug”, may change your attitude, once you’ve seen the secrets of the human brain in all its complicated wonder of self-regeneration.

As you enter, the theatre is dark and foreboding, with a scrim reflecting something like smoke curls and a back screen with patterns viewed through, perhaps, a medical microscope. Technologically, the show reaches new heights with its visual props, along with Lyras’ interpretation of numerous characters.He affects the genuine accent of an Indian doctor, an Italian attorney, wears glasses as the psychoanalyst and a gown and stethoscope as a male nurse. I did have problems identifying some of the others for lack of distinguishing vocal inflection and appearance and found some of them, for example, the open-mic performer, irrelevant. The intermission- less performance is almost overwhelming, as told in four parts and many, many days (I stopped counting at 84). If you’re in the mood for light hearted entertainment, look elsewhere but the audience, on my night, was ecstatic.

Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Friday, Saturday and Monday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm. $30. No intermission. Street parking. (323) 960-7787 or www.plasticitytheplay.com ends 4/10/17


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre theater suggestion

Located in the Hudson Theatre Complex, is the previously reviewed EAT THIS CAFE. It has no competition for pre-theatre, casual dining convenience. The menu is limited to sandwiches, soup, salads, wraps and other simple but healthful fare. Service, by the lone waitress-cashier-order taker was exasperatingly s-l-o-w on my last visit, so this is to advise you to allow lots of time. EAT THIS CAFE, 6547 Santa Monica Blvd. at Hudson, Los Angeles 90038. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Saturday & Sunday brunch. Beer & wine. No reservations. Street parking. (323) 999-2003.

EXTENDED: Richard Pryor’s daughter,Rain Pryor’s ***show, FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES at the Braid in Santa Monica (see previous review for details), has been selling out and is extended until June. Don’t miss it, because I can assure you, Rain will shine!

FAMILY ONLY by Darryl Vineyard

Here’s another chapter in the ever popular dysfunctional family saga. This bunch lives in L.A. and we get to meet them at a housewarming party thrown by Will (Frank Gargarossa) and his goody-goody wife, Nicki (Riley Rae Baker). Will has a good job and glows with pride over his new home in Sherman Oaks, with a swimming pool! If only the family would rejoice with him. Will is the kind of guy who forever seeks the approval of his father,(Roger Kent Cruz) a man perennially out of luck and a frustrated inventor who schemes and dreams of striking it rich. His second wife, Brenda (Sheila Shaw) is loyal and loving. His daughter Andrea, on the other hand, is an ogre without a single redeeming character trait but is performed very well by the buxom Anne Leyden. This is one of the most despicable females created by a playwright and, other than not plotting murder, makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa. One can only hope she was not inspired by one of the author’s actual acquaintances. Andrea has a ten year old daughter, Cleo, equally unbearable, a spoiled brat whom we mercifully, never see. The most likable member of this conflicted family is Grandma Amanda (Dianne Travis), a feisty, old lady who has survived three husbands and doesn’t mince words. Aside from the fact that this world premiere desperately needs tightening, Director Arden Teresa Lewis does the best with the talent at hand. Set design is by Jeff G. Rack, lighting and sound by Yancey Durham and Paolo Greco, respectively.

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles 90068. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $20, seniors $15, students under 25, $5. Free parking across the street.(323)851-7977 or www.theatrewest.org ends 3/19


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s suggestions

PLEASE NOTE: The California Canteen space is still empty and the nearby Marketplace does not serve dinner on Saturday night. The place to dine before the show is the previously reviewed MERCADO, just one block away and within easy parking and walking distance. The food is authentic Spanish and very good, with matching service. 3413 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles 90068. Reservations imperative on weekends (323) 512-2500.

FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES Written & directed by Rain Pryor

If you ever were and perhaps, still are, a fan of the late Richard Pryor, I got a treat for you! His daughter Rain, is performing her one-woman show at The Braid, the showcase for Jewish Women’s Theatre, in Santa Monica. They’ve been serving up mega feel good hits, better than chicken soup.

Rain was born in 1969 to a Jewish mother, a go-go dancer, and the famous black comedian, Richard Pryor (fried chicken and latkes, get it? ). One grandma was a typical bubba, the other the madam of a whorehouse. With a background like that, you just know this is going to be interesting. Rain is a tall, handsome woman who bears a slight resemblance to her dad but has light skin and a Jewish soul. She observes the Sabbath, pops out Yiddish expression in an apropos and entertaining manner and has a side-splitting gift for mimicry. She tells her story with humor and honesty, even giving us a few minutes of her father’s stand-up shtik, complete with facial expressions and his unique voice.

Growing up in “liberal” Beverly Hills in the Seventies, which wasn’t so liberal then, she took some racial taunts but it didn’t dampen her spirits. She was a spunky kid and is an even spunkier grown woman. We’re all skeptical of many an offspring thrust into show biz merely by the grace of a famous parent’s name (you know who they are) but Rain certainly has talent locked into her DNA. Even if you’re not Jewish you’ll love her but if you are, you’ll want her as a personal friend to liven up a bridge party or to make a Seder dinner seem less long before the afikoman.

The Braid, Jewish Women’s Theatre, 2912 Colorado Blvd., Santa Monica 90404. Thursday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $40. Free parking in front, (800) 838-3006 or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org ends 3/30


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre-theater suggestion

NOTE: The previously reviewed, charming LE PETIT CAFE, shares the parking lot with the theatre and it’s not only convenient for dining before the show but serves excellent French food. Closed on Sunday, however. (310)829-6792.


”Mozart 4 Laffs” is what they’re doing at the Music Center. It would be the ideal vehicle for newbies to opera,since it’s pure fun, nobody dies and the music is gorgeous. Never having been in favor of updating the original, changing locations, modernizing costumes etc. Why muck with perfection? Mozart operas are perfection. I came to scoff and ended up applauding like crazy. This Abduction is an absolute delight, Wolfie, who had a sense of humor, would adore it!

Instead of in a Turkish harem, it takes place in the Twenties , during the Constantinople to Paris trip, on the legendary Orient Express. Everybody is aboard, the Pasha (Hamish Linklater),his harem,his servants,headed by his major demo,the wicked Osmin (Morris Robinson), two Spaniards, Pedrillo (Benton Ryan), employed as the Pasha’s valet, an abducted woman, the lovely Konstanze (Sally Matthews) and her maid Blonde (So Young Park), who’s crazy about Pedrillo and the last passenger to arrive,Belmonte (Joel Preto), who passes himself off as an architect, the Pasha’s pet profession, who is actually out to rescue his beloved Konstanze.

The genius who designed the set, Allen Moyer, should take a curtain bow. It’s one of the most impressive in recent memory, with lighting by Paul Palazzo. The direction is flawless, as well. American Director James Robinson grabs every opportunity to bring out the wit and charm of the work. The stage is alive with talent. Morris Robinson,who did not start singing seriously until thirty years of age, is a basso profondo and a kick to behold and to hear. He looks like he could be a eunuch but he’s hot for the maid. Everybody else it slender and good looking, a new era of opera singers, who prove you don’t have to look like the usual caricature in a horned helmet, to succeed in this career. Linklater is tall, elegant and vocally accomplished. This generous Pasha knows how to woo a girl, why on earth does Konstanze turn him down? The latter possesses a powerful voice which sounded shrill and forced in ActI but she warmed up later and elicited clarion tones. Ryan is in his first “big role”, an alumnus of the Domingo-Coburn-Stein Young Artists Program. He has his acting chops but could use a little more fortissimo. Puerto Rican tenor, Prieto is also very attractive, sings passionately, with a stunning legato and admirable breath control. As the maid Blonde (they could have given her a blonde wig) Park the spirited Korean soprano exhibits not only a perky personality but also a beautiful voice. The facility with which she sings, betrays the skill and talent this difficult role requires. Watch her, she’ll be snapped up by one of the European opera houses before too long. James Conlon conducts the always reliable orchestra and our thanks go to whomever decided to let every melodious, hummable aria be sung in the original German but the speaking parts translated into English. The only improvement would have been to show us these as supertitles also, since it would take classically trained stage actors to project beyond the Grand Tier. The text has been colloquially updated by members of the Houston Grand Opera, a good thing because translating it literally would, as the Viennese might say, sound geschwollen (pompous ) . The whole thing is so clever and funny, please try to catch the last few performances. You won’t regret it.

The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012. $19 - $209. February 16, 7:30 pm, February 12 & 19, 2 pm. (213) 972-8001 or www.laopera.org


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid’s pre theater suggestion

The most convenient pre-curtain dining has always been at KENDALL’S BRASSERIE, in the Dorothy Chandler building but aren’t we all tired of that menu? Here’s good news: Chef Jean-Pierre Bosc, late of the charming, French restaurant Mimosa on Melrose Avenue, is now in charge of the kitchen. The new menu has some retro favorites, I can’t wait to try the cassoulet. Meanwhile, I can recommend the skate wing, beautifully done with capers and almonds, moist as the dew and generously portioned. You’ll have to deal with a few bones, but it’s worth it. Also exquisite is the salmon, perfectly prepared, which, to quote my friend, Tina,“melts in your mouth”. Prices are no bargain, starting in the thirty dollar range. Park in the Music Center garage, since we’re having such a rainy winter.

Kendall’s Brassserie, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angele 90012. (213) 972-7322 (reservations imperative), Full bar.

FUGU by Steven G. Simon & Howard Teichman

This compelling work is based on a true, little known event that occurred in November 1941, just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In a humanitarian gesture, the Japanese Consul in Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, issued visas for Kobe, Japan, to 6,000 Jews, thus saving them from the gas chambers. His heirs claim that he also granted visas to European Jews from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia etc, to emigrate to Shanghai, China. This can be disputed by the fact that Shanghai was an open port at that time, consequently 16,000 refugees arrived there in the late Thirties, none of them with visas. It should be noted that it was the last resort, since America demanded an affidavit, preferably from a relative, vouching that no one will pose a burden to the Government. For England, one needed firm employment, Switzerland required a substantial amount of Franks in a Swiss bank. Israel did not yet exist. In Vienna, there was a rash of visas sold, to places like Bolivia and Ceylon(now Sri Lanka) but all proved to be fraudulent. (There’s always going to be someone taking advantage of the disadvantaged).The playwrights, Simon and Teichman, have done an excellent job researching the historical accuracy, presenting vintage photographs and documents, via projections. They keep us in suspense as we become privy to the machinations of diplomacy.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colonel Yohiro Yassue (Ryan Moriarty), is hosting a Sabbath dinner in his home (set by Kurtis Bedford), for the head of the Jewish Community, which has settled and prospered in Kobe, Dr. Avram Kaufman (Warren Davis), his pretty daughter Sarah (Rosie Moss) and the local Rabbi, Shlomo Shapira (Peter Altschuler). The dinner party is to introduce their Fugu Plan, an attempt to persuade the good doctor to journey to America as Japan's Goodwill Ambassador, to meet with prominent and influential Jews in Washington and Hollywood, to emphasize the splendid hospitality the Kobe Jews have enjoyed, courtesy of the "benevolent” Japanese. This, they believe, will avoid the ravages of war and any bloodshed by the two nations. Unfortunately, we know how that turned out… By the way, a fugu is an edible blowfish, an exquisite aphrodisiac when skillfully prepared but a deadly morsel otherwise.

West Coast Jewish Theatre's Artistic Director, co-playwright and producer, Howard Teichman, directs a first class cast. Adding some love interest to spice up the story. Colonel Yassue has a young assistant, Satruzo Kotsuji (Scott Keiji Takeda), a serious minded, cute guy, who has spent time in Palestine, is a maven of Jewish history and speaks Yiddish with a droll Japanese accent. No wonder Sarah falls head over heels in love with him and he, too, is totally smitten, at first sight. Moriarty is impressive as a man of honor, has an imposing persona and a resonant voice. The Rebbe, (Altschuler), is adorable and spouts amusing rabbinical homilies. Marcel Libera plays the stout Captain Matsuoka, who puffs up like a blowfish and arouses our immediate ire. Even more vile is the sinister Nazi, Colonel Josef Messenger, a.k.a. the Butcher of Warsaw, (the perfectly cast David Preston), who is out for Jewish blood and threatens Yassue with the wrath of his German allies in Berlin. Moss is a delight as the rebellious young girl and the matronly Mrs. Davich (Bryan Weiss) is on stage for comic relief. She's the ultimate yenta and anticipates coming to America to find husband #4. The show is framed by two solo dancers, one Japanese (Kaz Matura) and a young Hassidic, (Matt Gottlieb), which adds more time to a rather lengthy production. However, the play, a world premiere, is intense and very well done, leaving us with a feel-good ending which may be apocryphal but adds a final dose of drama, so, in Shakespeare's words, the Play's the Thing and this play is a very good thing. Sound by Bill Froggatt, costumes by Shon Le Blanc, lighting by Ellen Monocroussos and the fine casting by Raul Clayton Staggs.

West Coast Jewish Theatre at Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90064. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $40, seniors $37.50, students $25. Street parking (323)821-2449 or http://www.wcjt.org ends 3/19


THE FOUND DOG RIBBON DANCE by Dominic Finocchiaro

The Echo Theatre Company opens its 2017 season with a quirky offering that explores our need for human contact in these techno-saturated times. It's actually about a lost dog (Daniel Hagen), found by a kind, young woman, Norma (Amanda Saunders), who is determined to find its rightful owner. This ploy allows the playwright's imagination to conjure up assorted personages, some odd, some pushy, some needy but none, as it were, dull.

The stage is a spacious apartment (set almost in the round by Kirk Wilson), with the most prominent piece of furniture, a big bed, Norma's workplace. But it's not what you think. She has a relatively unknown, new age career that no college curriculum is offering - yet. She's a professional cuddler! You need a nice hug? A head in your lap? A foot tickle? She's your gal! It's all strictly platonic, nothing more. Her clients include a horny, grabby, would-be Lothario (Eric Gutierrez), a taciturn, elderly gentleman (Gregory Itzin), a teenage girl with beaucoup problems (Clarissa Thibeaux), embarrassed by anything remotely sensual,and a handsome, but nasty Asian man (West Liang). Equally intriguing are the folks who recently lost their dog and have come to claim him. First off, a brash, irritating kid on a skateboard (Gabriel Notarangelo), then a volatile mom (the terrific Julie Dretzin) who definitely needs a hug or a Valium, preferably both.

Saunders is a thirtyish, slender, natural looker with a pleasant voice and gentle demeanor. However, she's basically lonely and in need of a good cuddle herself. On a trip to buy coffee, she befriends Norm (Steven Strobel), the clerk, not high powered enough to be called barista. He's a little weird but charming in his own way, he loves the music of Whitney Houston and keeps hanging around, playing with the doggie. His shy approach appeals to Norma and we can only hope these two loners can break down their personal prison walls. A world premier and a true original, under the sharp direction of Alana Dietze.

Echo Theatre Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039. (Enlist your GPS) Friday Saturday and Monday, 8 pm. Sunday 4 pm. No intermission. $34, Mondays $20. Tight street and adjacent lot parking. (310) 307-3763 or The Echo Theater Company ends 2/26


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid's pre-theater suggestions

A note about the previously reviewed MOMED, the Mediterranean restaurant about a hundred yards south of the Atwater Crossing Complex. You'll note the following changes: Instead of the funky, bare bones place it once was, Momed is now glamorously refurbished, romantic and especially stunning at night, with flaming torches in wrought iron cages all around the large room.There are also overhead heaters to keep you snug. The next thing you'll notice is that the prices have been up ticked exponentially. Cocktails are abundant and wine,by the glass starts at $11. A bowl of chicken soup, albeit very good, which any grandma would gladly claim as her cure-all, costs $9.50 (this is not a misprint). For more frugal theatre goers, may I suggest ordering some exotic dips, really tasty, with warm buns. There's eggplant, tzatziki, ikra, avocado hummus and more. Choice of three $16.50, Momed is unbeatable for convenience and one-time parking. Momed, 3245 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039 (323)522-3488.


If you find yourself in Long Beach, perhaps for one of the varied shows given by the CARPENTER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, the lovely venue of CalState University, let me tell you about E.J. MOLLOY'S, a Brewpub about five minutes away. It occupies the space once belonging to Long Beach's oldest seafood restaurant, Fish Tale. We sort of fell into it, looking for the latter. It's a convivial sports bar, with more televisions than servers. But there's someone in the kitchen who know how to cook! Prices are a blessing, also. Dinners include soup (this night lentil with ham and New England clam chowder) or salad. Not your basic toss of greens but spruced up with cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrots, tomatoes etc. Their generous slice of salmon comes with lots of farm-fresh roasted veggies, $19. Shepherd's pie overflows with ground meat and brown gravy over mashed potatoes that tastes of home, $12. Same price for lean, chunky slices of corned beef and cabbage (it'll be St. Paddy's Day soon), with the same good mashers and green cabbage. I would have preferred that it be cooked with the corned beef and taken on some smoky flavor but that's a minor quibble.There are nightly blackboard specials you might want to try. On our first visit we had a pork dish and couldn't wait to come back. Service is obliging and friendly but way understaffed. Allow lots of time if you want to make your curtain.

E.J.Molloys's, 5566 E.Britton Drive, Long Beach90815. Full bar. Parking in Shopping Center. Reservations for 6 or more, only. (562) 694-8771.

LATE COMPANY by Jordan Tannahill

Judging by its title, one would expect a frothy comedy about late arriving dinner guests, cracking jokes about the overcooked roast and limp salad greens. But that's not what awaits you here. This is a powerful story, involving two families, which will grab your heart like a vice and affect every fibre of your being. It is beautifully written, exceptionally well cast, impeccably directed by Theatre 40's Resident Director Bruce Grey and flawlessly acted.

The time is the present,the location Toronto, Canada, in the dining room of a prominent politician, Michael Shaun-Hastings (Grinnell Morris) and his wife, Debora (Ann Hearn). The table is elegantly appointed, with gleaming silverware,a floral centerpiece and glowing candles (set by Jeff G. Rack). The expected company is slightly overdue but the tension in he room has nothing to do with it. The tardy couple, the Dermots, Bill (Todd Johnson) and Tamara (Jennifer Lynn Davis), have brought along their teenage son, Curtis (Baker Chase Powell), who looks like he'd prefer to be at least five hundred miles away. It would probably be best if you were to stop reading right now and be surprised at the drama that unfolds in the next ninety minutes but, if you really want to know ''what it's about ?'' , let's try and be as vague about plot development as possible, or - skip the next paragraph.

Michael and Debora are grieving for their son, Joel, whose suicide followed a period of merciless bullying by his high school peers. They cruelly mocked his lifestyle, his flamboyant demeanor and his attempt at comedic performances on social media. His classmate, Curtis, was the chief instigator of the harassment and both parents have come together to try for closure and forgiveness. Is it going to happen? By all means, see for yourself.

The cast is nothing short of inspired. They're all terrific but most impressive is Powell, a youngster with uncanny talent. He's the typical sullen, yet sensitive kid, in a role that fits him like a pair of jeans. Not to disparage the adults, because as the dead boy's high-strung mom, Hearn is riveting. She's a creative artist with deep resentment against the fate that has befallen her, that of a mother surviving an only child. Morris, the father, is hurt but visibly calmer and more diplomatic, as befits a public officeholder. Davis, as protective of her young as a lioness, gives a potent performance and Johnson, Curtis' short-tempered dad with a bit of a redneck attitude, is letter perfect. Costume design is by Michèle Young, lighting by Ric Zimmerman, sound by ''Sloe'' Slawinski. Tannahill is a prize-winning, up and coming Canadian playwright, who drew from his own youthful experiences. Late Company is having its American premiere at Theatre 40 and is a theatrical tour de force. A must see!

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, off Little Santa Monica, Beverly Hills 90212, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $30 No intermission. Free parking in the building on the theatre level. (310)364-1535 or www.theatre49.org ends 2/19



They did it again! For fifteen years, LITTLE FISH THEATRE has picked the best short plays, submitted from all over the country, for their PICK OF THE VINE. Every playwright wants his work to be included but only nine qualified by offering the sweetest theatrical grapes. You'll marvel at the ability of these eight actors,in alphabetical order: Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Geraldine Fuentes, Brendan Gill, Rodney Rincon, Don Schlossman, Olivia Schlueter-Corey, Jessica Winward and Bill Wolski, under uniformly excellent direction, transform themselves from one character into a completely different one in rapid succession, never losing their focus. It's not all fun and games, this year. There are some think pieces, a couple of heavyweights and one downer but all worth experiencing .

I DON'T KNOW By James McLindon, directed by Madeleine Drake. A tough drill sergeant (Rincon), gets scolded by his marching troops (Baker-Kreisworth, Gill, Schlueter-Corey and Wolski)for a traditional but politically incorrect cadence.

SANTA DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE By Patrick Gabridge, directed by Gigi Fusco Meese. An elderly couple, (Fuentes and Rincon), have raised a son (Brendan Gill).who at thirty, still believes in Santa Claus.. and other lies.

WHEELCHAIR By Scott Mullen, directed by Richard Perloff. A roguish dude (Wolli), is in for a surprise from a determined, wheelchair-bound, young lady (Schlueter-Corey). A very black comedy, extremely well done.

THE WAY IT REALLY, TRULY, ALMOST WAS By Brendan Healy, directed by Elissa Anne Polansky. A depressing bit, set in a hospital room,where a comatose patient Baker-Kreiswirth) and her visiting spouse (Schlossman), reminisce, hovering between truth and fantasy.

THE HOLY GRILL By Gary Shaffer, directed by Madeleine Drake. One of my favorites, which has a young couple (Winward and Wolski) about to get married, face an interrogation from an unexpected source (Schlossman and Rincon), with Fuentes.

THICK GNAT HANDS By Erin Mallon, directed by Elissa Anne Polansky Is there something funny about two guys (Schlossman and Wolski) hooked up to a dialysis machine? You bet,when one of them is an intolerable windbag!

SCREAMING By Stephen Peirick, directed by Richard Perloff. A gripping piece about a distraught, sleep-deprived, new mother (Jessica Winward) at her wit's end over her constantly screaming infant. Wolski is her solicitous husband. This stunning play will send shivers down your spine.

A VERY SHORT PLAY ABOUT THE VERY SHORT PRESIDENCY OF WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON By Jonathan Yukich, directed by Gigi Fusco Meese. The ailing Harrison's limited presidency is enacted with amazing realism by Rincon, with the help of his faithful assistant (Schlossman). Truly hilarious!

A WOMB WITH A VIEW By Rich Orloff, directed by Richard Perloff. Ai birthing, as seen through the eyes of the embryo (Baker-Kreiswirth), who'd rather stay where she is-and who can blame her? Aided by the medical and technical staff, consisting of Fuentes, Gill, Schlueter-Corey and Winward. They leave us laughing!

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street near 8th, San Pedro (0731. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 1/22 & 29 at 2 pm, Thursday 1/26, 2/2 and 2/9 at 8 pm. $27, seniors 60 and over $25. Parking lot in rear, enter via the alley. (310)512-6030 or The Little Fish Theatre ends 2/11


THE ROOMMATE by Jen Silverman

A roommate can be a girl's best friend. They can divvy up expenses, borrow each other's accessories, take turns doing chores and dish the dirt on dating. But this exquisite play is not about your average roommate situation. Thank heavens!

Set in a neat, little house in Iowa (design by John Iacovelli, lighting by Brian Gale), Sharon (Linda Gehringer), a sturdy, middle-aged blonde, is a lonely empty-nester and decides to share her home with a woman named Robyn (Tessa Aubergonois), sight unseen, background unknown. This makes for an amusing combination and the naive Sharon, at first a little leery, soon become totally fascinated by the worldly New Yorker. I'll tell you only that this is a gal with a Past, I mean with a Capital P. Even though her activities aren't exactly above board, Sharon elevates her to a role model. So, here we have a frumpy, meat and potatoes Midwesterner, living with a lesbian vegan, a team that serves up an hour and forty minutes of uninterrupted delight.

Interspersed with genuinely poignant moments, are hilarious verbal exchanges about motherhood, men, marijuana, telephone scams, online dating and so much more. Jen Silverman has written a play that every actress over forty would love to have in her repertoire. Gehringer, a tall, talkative woman blessed with a gorgeous head of hair, is most impressive and fun to watch. The petite Aubergonoi, the real life daughter of eminent actor Rene Aubergonois, is perfect as the brittle, adventurous sophisticate, ready to embark on a simpler lifestyle. SCR's co-founder, Martin Benson's expert touch, guides these two phenomenal actresses with a proven, directorial hand. Don't miss this West Coast premiere.

SOUTH COAST REPERTORY, JULIANNE ARGYROS STAGE 655 Town Center Dr. Costa Mesa 92628 (Part of the Segerstrom Center Of The Arts). Tues-Sat 7:45 pm, Sat/Sun 2pm,dark Mondays and the evening of Jan 22nd. No intermission. Tickets from 22$.Parking $10 in near by garage off Anton Blvd. (714)708-5555 ends 1/22/17


THE DINING SCENE, Ingrid's South Bay suggestion:

If an event brings you to the Carson area, you'll want to know a good place to eat. Put THE HOUSE OF SEAFOOD on your Bucket List. Located in the midst of a busy shopping center (IKEA is close by the restaurant, which is on a corner opposite LA Fitness), the place is pleasant but not flossy, with very fine food, fresh fish, good service and easy prices. Take the cioppino (please do). It has a hefty portion of Alaskan crab, unfortunately without any cracker or digger, so we doggie bagged it, lots of shrimp, mussels and fresh fish, in a light, tomato-infused broth, topped with toasted slices of ciabatta, for $14.99. We've all paid more for much less. There's a yummy shrimp pomodoro pasta dish, with big daddy-size crustaceans over al dente angel hair, enlivened with garlic and basil, a pleasure for $13.99 (with chicken, $11.99). Grill items include tilapia $10.99, barramundi $13.99, crab stuffed salmon $15.99 and more. For a change of venue, you can order Mexican entrees plus fried specialties, a rib eye $18.99 and all manner of Cajun type steamed seafood, from $10.99 (for clams), crab, shrimp etc., in custom toned sauces from mild to dripping-sweat spicy, with optional extras like corn, Andouille sausage, potatoes, rice or zucchini, from $1.50 to $5.50. On my night they had a special going: a glass of wine $4.50, the second one 99 cents. If you have room, their tiramisu is a winner $4.99 and big enough to share. This is the sort of serendipitous find that you wish were in your neighborhood.

The House of Seafood, 940 E. Dominguez Street, near Avalon Blvd., Carson 90746. Beer and wine. Easy parking in Shopping Center lot. (310)965-9799.


This bit of seasonal nonsense will appeal to people with a sense of whimsy, to those who've sweated over table settings and seating, cooking methods and, most of all, to devotees of spectator sports and the announcers who provide play-by-play accounts of the action on the field. If you qualify for any of the above and have just read one of the longest sentences in the world, go and see the quirky play with just about the longest title, ever. As soon as family and friends arrive, the announcing team (Christopher Neiman and Kjai Block), who later double as "the twins" who speak only in unison, goes to work. They preside over a set consisting of a looooong table and ten chairs. Their commentary is akin to broadcasting a football game, baseball game or, in hushed tones, a golf tournament. Clever at first, this becomes a little tiresome as the evening wears on. The fine cast, however, seems to really be enjoying themselves. They've all been given silly names like the two hostesses, Cherry Pie (Tegan Ashton Cohan) and Trifle (Debbie Jaffe), who spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting the holiday table. Cheesecake (Sarah Lilly) appears to be in charge but has lost her sense of smell and is constantly hassled by her blind mother, Snap Dragon (Judith Ann Levitt). GrandDada (John MacKane) is on the verge o f dementia and doesn't hear too well, either. Cheesecake's daughter, Gumbo (Nicole Gabriella Scipione), perennially late, is a clumsy oof who screws up whatever project she tackles. David Bickford and Rebecca Knight appear in various roles, all well performed.

Director Laramie Dennis' assignment is not an easy one. Since we don't see any of the dishes, can't smell the turkey baking, get no glimpse of the festive board, she has to make sure the ensemble, via facial expressions and body language, convinces us that there's something cooking here. The sound design is by Marc Antonio Pritchett. The ending is as macabre as the play is, shall we say, very odd?

Theatre of Note, 1517 N.Cahuenga Blvd, just north of Sunset, Hollywood 90028. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm. No intermission. Public parking $6, on the same side of the street, halfway between Sunset and Selma. (323) 856-8611 or Theatre Of Note ends 12/10/16


THE DINING SCENE, Ingrid's Pre-theatre Suggestion:

DESPERATION TIME: If you've been caught in the worse than usual holiday traffic and have no time for a real dinner, note that right across from the Theatre of Note, at a so-called wine bar and coffee shop, DEMITASSE, you can snack on a plate of charcuterie (so-so), three small slices of cheese (excellent), some toasted bread and sip a glass or two of fine wine, for $43. No bargain but, at least, your stomach won't growl during the performance (it happens....) They have no olives, pickles or other suitable condiments, not even mustard. Instead they give you honey (???!!!) and a cube of quince jelly. I would have had a cup of their touted coffee but no decent dessert was available. Can you believe, they have three other locations (Little Tokyo, Wilshire and Santa Monica). As I said, if you're desperate.....

Demitasse, 1542 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood 90028.

WAITING FOR GRACE by Sharon Sharth

Life is complicated for Grace (Sharon Sharth), a volatile redhead who is always looking for the right word and the right man. She'll tell you all about it, in this amusing, semi-autobiographical play, all the more interesting because the titular heroine is performed by the author herself.

The story unfolds on an almost bare stage (set by Pete Hickok, lighting by Denny Jackson, sound by David D. Marling, costumes by Michael Mullen) and doesn't need elaborate scenery. Sharth is totally honest and each of us gets an earful of her triumphs and disappointments as though we were her new BFF. She keeps dating an assortment of losers (portrayed by Jeff LeBeau and Bob Telford) with moral support from friendly Lily Knight and a gruff psychologist, Pamela Dunlap, in multiple and dual roles, respectively. Her dilemma will strike a familiar note among women of a certain age. Remember when the feminist movement dictated that "homemaker" was a dirty word and "career" is what we must embrace for true fulfillment? Sounds good but Grace's biological clock is not only ticking, it's about to detonate. She's desperate for marriage and motherhood, not necessarily in that order. Her squabbling parents (Dunlap and Telford) don't provide the role models for a union made in heaven but they give us unlimited chuckles. Even after she meets the ideal man, David (Todd Babcock), there's anxiety, a nervous rash, laryngitis, money problems and complications. But, as they say, true love never runs smoothly and if it did, we wouldn't have a play that's as enjoyable and funny as this one.

Sharth is wonderful as the charming neurotic, who grabs our attention as we silently cheer for her. Babcock is exceedingly handsome and perfectly cast, but has a habit of frequently lowering his voice to a whisper. The seasoned ensemble in multiple capacities is first class and Director Lee Costello never allows a dull moment to creep onto this stage. The play's script has won a number of awards but this Odyssey production is a world premiere. It ends soon so don't wait too long for Grace!

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., near Olympic, West Los Angeles, 90025. Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 8pm, Sunday 2 pm. $35. Parking (paid) in front or on the street. (323)960-7788 or Plays 411 ends 12/11


THE DINING SCENE Ingrid's Dining Suggestion:

GOOD BYE AND GOOOD LUCK: Almost around the corner (on Sawtelle) is 2117, one of my favorite restaurants, which I hoped to recommend before the show. Alas, Chef Hidayo Mitsuno, whose specialty is "Japonais" cuisine, that is he's a Japanese chef trained in French cuisine, is closing here and opening a new place in Japan. He's open until the middle of January, at 2117 Sawtelle Blvd. West Los Angeles 90025 (310) 477-1617. Parking is a pain in the butt but we'll miss his cooking. Ave Adque Vale! (Latin for hail and farewell!)

ICEBERGS by Alene Smith

On stage is A stunning, contemporary living room (designed by Anthony T. Fearing), in the hills off L.A.'s hip Silverlake District. It's all the more eye-popping because "Icebergs" evoke visions of an adventure story, a Polar expedition, perhaps. The title however, is relevant. The attractive, thirty-ish homeowners, Calder (Nate Corddry) and his wife, Abigail (Jennifer Mudge) both work in the Industry. He's a filmmaker involved in a project set in the Arctic, a true tale gleaned from a book. In the opening scene, he's on the phone with his agent, brainstorming how to raise the funds, the solution being, to cast a well known star for the movie to be a blockbuster or, at least a financial success. Calder's ambition is to consequently receive some important directorial assignments. The hook is that Abigail, a talented actress, would like the starring role but realizes the practical aspects of this deal making. This much of the plot is evident early on and I will not spoil your enjoyment of this stimulating, entertaining piece, by giving more away.

The astute director, Randall Arney, has a cast made in heaven. The brilliant Smith has created characters so distinctive and appealingly fleshed out, we soon feel we actually know these people. Calder is a man totally involved in his art but he has character and his values are in the right place. As Abigail, Mudge is lovely, intense, a "concerned citizen" and when she tells the story of her good friend Molly's current romantic interest, she positively sparkles and could light up the auditorium. Our Molly (Rebecca Henderson) has a commanding stage presence. She's a lawyer with an interesting sideline. A tall woman with a boyish haircut, she's quick with a quip, slightly sarcastic but a straight shooter. She tells it like it is and she tells it very well. Even Calder's agent, Nicky (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe), is not the typical, obnoxious member of his profession. He's actually quite likeable and plays him with an insouciance all his own. Last but not least, is Calder's college friend, Reed (Keith Powell), visiting L.A. from Missouri. He's a black man, a paleontologist, attending a scientific convention. He's an educated, charming, fun-loving fellow, hoping to have a good time in the Big City, away from home. You'll admire him most in his poignant soliloquy about what it means to be an African-American in an enviable professorial position, even today. Icebergs, a world premiere, is a passionate play of the moment and could have been written yesterday, pertinent in every aspect. It addresses global warming and the earth's ecological problems by incorporating them into the smart dialogue. Don't miss it!

Geffen Playhouse, 10866 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024. Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 PM, Sunday 2 and 7 pm. Tickets from $43 -$90. No intermission (forget that second cup of coffee). Parking in adjoining underground garage $7, in Palazzo Garage, next to Trader Joe's, 1010 Glendon Avenue, $4. Get your ticket validated at the desk just left of entrance. (310) 208-5454 or The Geffen Playhouse ends 12/18



In the style of Pick Of The Vine, Little Fish's greatest hit, they present us with the gift of laughter. Eight short plays by their favorite contributor, that are a "must see". As Levine writes in his program notes, as a Jewish boy growing up in Philadelphia, he was always a little jealous that Christmas was such a big deal and nobody gave a hoot for Hanukkah. Providing equal time for the two joyful holidays, everyone who loves to celebrate in ecumenical fashion, will enjoy - and how! -this truly very special holiday offering.

OY VEY MARIA, starring Madeleine Drake, Daniel Tennant, Amanda Kerr, Susie McCarthy James Rice, Margaret Schugt and Bill Wolski. Setting the mood with the opening scene, an absolute laff riot, we are in a manger with Baby Jesus and his parents, who couldn't find room at the Inn, you know. Madeleine Drake is unforgettable as Mary's Jewish mother.

THE LIGHT, with Drake, Rice, Tennant, Wolski, McCarthy, Karr and Schugt. So, this is how they managed the miracle of the light that had only a day's worth of oil but burned for eight days! Could we adopt this energy-saving method right now?

I'LL BE HOME FOR BRISKET, with Karr, McCarthy, Rice, Schugt, Tennant and Wolski. This is the tale of the very first Santa Claus, perfectly portrayed by the versatile Wolski.

A VERY SPECIAL HANUKKAH SPECIAL, with Drake, Karr ,McCarthy, Schugt, Tennant and Wolski. A man named Murray Baum (Rice) spins the dreidle and makes a wish, in this delightful Hanukkah story.

OH TANNENBAUM, with Margaret Schugt and James Rice. Act II opens with a taking Christmas tree (Schugl) and you'll never guess what this tree tells the man of the house (Rice), a duo you'll cheer like crazy for.

BEST PRESENT EVER, with Karr, McCarthy and Wolski. How to enjoy Christmas with your pets, is given a heartwarming interpretation by the trio of the pixie-ish Karr, the randy Wolski and the cuddly McCarthy.

YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, with Drake, Karr, McCarthy, Rice, Schugt and Tennant. A home invasion by vigilantes, who insist that there MUST be a tree, tinsel etc. but it all ends on a Happy Holiday note.

LES MISERABELVES, with Drake, Karr, McCarthy, Rice, Schugt, Tennant And Wolski. The fabulous finale, Little Fish and Levine's interpretation of Les Miz, is truly amazing in that we discover that this troupe not only acts extremely well but they can sing, too! There are some great voices here and Tennant can float a falsetto worthy of an operatic countertenor. It's narrated by Rice in his best Maurice Chevalier accent.

Direction by Holly Baker-Kreiswirth is flawless. The costumes by Diane Mann and the props by Madeleine Drake, are inspired, Levine's clever blending of popular Christmas carols into the hilarious dialogue, is a continuous source of amusement. If you don't catch this show, you are depriving yourself of the best holiday present, this year.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90731. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Thursday 12/8 and 12/15 at 8 pm, Sunday 11/20,27 and 12/11 at 2 pm.$27, seniors $25. Parking lot in back, enter via the alley. (310) 512-6030, text (424) 226-6030 The Little Fish Theatre ends 12/17



Art Shulman has written some excellent plays, The Rabbi and the Shiksah as well as Rebecca's Gamble, come to mind, but this is not one of them. Perhaps it was opening night jitters or the majority of the cast was under-rehearsed but even Shulman, the playwright himself, seemed frequently unsure of his lines as though he forgot what he wrote. Kaz Matamura's direction is another point of contention. Why do the women face the audience while conversing with one another? Shift the furniture around, Sir!

The story takes place in Coach Craig's (Shulman) living room (set by Chris Winfield). He is planning to present awards to his winning team of basketball players, the Yentas, members of the Women Over 60 Basketball League (lots of synchronized cheering) He is also romantically pursuing the team captain, Tess (Ellen Bienenfeld), who is playing hard to get. Her co-captain, Becky (Nancy Kramer) seems to be involved with Mary Margaret (Sue Molenda), a former nun. We also have the grandmotherly Anne (Anita Barcia), the flirtatious Janice (Carol Anne Seflinger). a somewhat over-ripe hot tomato, who could be the poster child for "Sex After Social Security". A neighbor, Rabbi Jake (J. Kent Inasy) is, in Craig's opinion, his rival for the love of Tess. The ladies now form a new group, a Chapter of the Red Hats (outrageous costumes by Liz Nankin) and, of course, devise a new cheer: gimme an R, gimme an E, gimme a D, gimme an H, gimme an A, gimme a T gimme an S. Shulman does have some funny one-liners (hence the lone star) and everyone tries hard for laughs. Perhaps things will jell further into the run. But the screeching too often gets unbearably loud, at which time the Coach blows his, even shriller, beloved whistle so that one would give a kingdom for ear plugs. Forgive me for being politically incorrect but most of the players would be more believable as Champions of the Food Court and how many times must we watch these post menopausal cheerleaders strut their stuff? Gimme a B-R-E-A-K!

Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., NOHO, 1 1/2 blocks west of Lankershim 91601. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $24, seniors $18. Street parking. (818) 285-8699 or The Yentas Wear Red Hats ends 12/18/16


THE DINING SCENEIngrid's pre-theater suggestion


If your idea of a pleasant evening out includes dinner and a show with one-stop parking, you'll happily head to JARIN, which is just across the street from the Secret Rose Theatre. We re so lucky in SoCal, that the Thai food here is generally wonderful and a lot better, and less oily, than in Thailand, I can tell you. This is a sweet, little spot with about a dozen bare, but gleaming wood, tables and a mirrored wall that give it a trompe l'oeil effect of a larger space. There are some Thai travel posters and on a used brick wall hangs an elaborate work of art, depicting glittering elephants - that's your "atmosphere". Food and service are upper class, prices in the lower echelon.

They have popular appetizers, ribs, wings and a satay of beef or chicken from $6.95. Salads start at $7.95 for papaya to $11.95 for salmon with everything from the garden. One, with grilled shrimp is a dollar more. A few old Chinese faves are sprinkled throughout the menu for timid eaters. For us, no Thai dinner is complete without Pad Woonsen, glass noodles tossed with your choice of meat, shrimp, tofu or veggies, $8.95. Entrees come with white or brown rice but when you get those tasty, slippery, transparent noodles, you don't really need extra starch. Among the main dishes is Prik King, which my late colleague, Stanley Ralph Ross used to say, was named for his agent. Green beans and bell peppers in red curry sauce, choice of meat, $9.95 and Mongolian beef (or your choice), with green onions and bamboo shoots, $8.95. This time around, we tried the tilapia in green curry sauce (red, yellow or panang are options). The small fillets are whole, very fresh and delicate tasting, the sauce with a hint of sweetness, loaded with crisp broccoli, carrots and greens, $10.95. If you're a lover of eggplant, their spicy eggplant is cut into large chunks, again mingled with broccoli and carrots and also onions. It has a tingle of spice but no explosions, $8.95. The only drawback here is that they have no license and you can't BYOB. You may have to settle for Thai tea or coffee for two bucks but it makes up for it with the convenient location, quality and value. I'll drink to that, with water if absolutely necessary!

JARIN, 11255 Magnolia Blvd. NOHO 91601. Monday - Saturday 10:30 am to 9:30 pm, Sunday noon to 9 pm (closed the last Sunday of the month). No alcohol. Street parking. (818)763-8767.

GOING...GOING...GONE! by Ken Levine

The World Series are just about a memory and how come the Dodgers lost to the Cubs??? There's always next year, right? Meanwhile, baseball fever still rises at the Hudson Theatre Guild in this entertaining confection. If you've ever wondered what the hell goes on in that press box, you'll soon see and the stage is set up to look exactly as we imagine it (designed by Gary Lee Reed). We meet Dennis (David Gabich) as the new Official Scorekeeper. He pops pills to stay calm and to take his mind off his pain-in-the-ass wife. Plus he is in the nerve wracking process of bidding on a new house in Mar Vista. Mason (Dennis Pearson) is the sports writer for the L.A. Times, which is struggling for readership. He is an attractive African-American with a worldly attitude and a sharp sense of humor. Then we have Big Jim Tabler (Troy Metcalf), a four hundred pound teddy bear, acerbic, hot-tempered, basically lonely and a far cry from the poplar "good-natured fat man" type. But he can also make us laugh. He writes for a website and scoffs at the old-fashioned print media guys. Into this milieu comes a substitute for the regular female reporter, named Shana (Annie Abrams), a gorgeous, young woman, very pleasant and smart who, as expected, causes quite a stir in the press box, particularly in the heart - and other parts - of the nebbishe Dennis. She plays a woman whose job, as a sort of roving interviewer, leads to her involvement with one of the star sports personalities. She's a savvy professional but vulnerable, not a brittle ball breaker. She charms the audience as well as her colleagues.

Andrew Barnicle, hand picked by the author to direct this witty world premiere, he scores a home run with the help of his outstanding team of players. We get to know them intimately during a marathon seventeen innings, between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Playwright Levine has written what he knows best. He's not only a passionate lover of baseball but was himself a sportscaster (Dodger Talk on L.A. Radio Network,ESPN, Fox Sports). He is an Emmy-winning TV writer/director/announcer/blogger. His dialogue smacks of authenticity and is uproariously funny. Even if you're not into spectator sports, you'll relish this show. And if you're a baseball fan, well......I only wish they'd let us bring our beer and peanuts.

Hudson Guild Theatre, 6534 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $30. No intermission. Paid parking lot at the corner of Hudson and Santa Monica Blvd. (323) 960-5521 or Plays 411 extended to 11/20/16


WELCOME BACK! One of he biggest hits at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood was BAKERSFIELD MIST. Which has, since then, had successful runs all over the world. It's back with the original cast, from November 16 to December 12. Don't miss it! 5060 Fountain Ave., Hollywood 90029. Friday, Saturday and Monday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com

BUYER & CELLAR by Jonathan Tolins

Pure delight, amusing whimsy and a generous helping of charm, make playwright Tolins' and actor Jai Rodriguez collaboration a genuine treat at Garry Marshall's beautiful Falcon Theatre. Barbra Streisand's book, "My Passion for Design", a vanity work found on coffee tables largely unread, inspired the author to invent an unusual job for Alex More (Rodriguez), a gay, young, unemployed actor. He becomes the lone custodian of a mini-shopping mall in the basement of Streisand's Malibu home, complete with yoghurt and popcorn machines, which we never see but can almost smell. It houses her collection of memorabilia, antiques and precious tchotchkes.

Besides the presence of talented, likeable Rodriguez, the production is visually enhanced by an almost magical set and projections (designed by Adam Flemming), exquisite lighting (Nick McCord) and sound (Robert Arthur Ramirez), which contribute to the illusion that this could all very well be real. Rodriguez' gift for mimicry is top notch. Whenever the legendary diva visits her subterranean domain to chat or shop, he impersonates her mannerisms, the Brooklynese inflection in her voice, the way she brushes the hair off her face - the only thing he doesn't do is sing, although he hoofs a little. He also briefly imitates her brusque assistant, Sharon, her handsome hubby, James Brolin and his own Jewish boyfriend, Barry. He tells us of his encounters in a sweet, gossipy manner, treating the audience like his dear friends and making us chuckle in appreciation. His face is familiar to viewers of TV's Queer Eye and Tolins has penned many successful works, including Twilight of the Golds, for stage and screen. If this is a figment of his vivid imagination, so what! It could be true and if Streisand ever opens her shops to the public, my credit card is at the ready.

Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank 91505. Wednesday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 4 pm. No intermission. $30 - $45. Parking lot -free. ( 818) 955-8101 or The Falcon Theatre ends 11/6/16.


THE MODEL APARTMENT by Donald Margulies

The word that best describes this, Donald Margulies' early work, is .....bizarre. It plays in many short, blackout scenes at a model apartment (stylish set by Tom Budewitz), at a luxury condo complex in Florida, in the late Eighties. An older couple, Lola (Marilyn Fox) and Max (Michael Montell) have bought a unit but it's not move in-ready yet. They've been given the key to this show place which is perfect cosmetically but sadly lacking in practicality. They seem like a devoted pair who have left the cold New York winters for the promise of Florida sunshine and idyllic lifestyle. Not surprisingly, this isn't about to happen. They say "you can't get away from your problems because they'll follow you no matter where you go". You'll soon see what that means. Meanwhile, let me tell you that Max and Lola are Holocaust survivors. They have an adult daughter, Debbie (Annika Marks), a singularly unattractive, overweight and mentally unstable girl. She has a new boyfriend, Neil (Giovanni Adams), who is also a few sandwiches short of a picnic. When they these two feel the urge, they blatantly get right to it, privacy being the least of their concerns. One can only utter a silent prayer that they don't procreate!

The only reason to see this play is for the beautifully defined and acted performances, under the direction of Marya Mazor. Marks in particular, is brilliant in a difficult and demanding role. In a tour de force, she also plays the lovely, young Deborah, a figure that dominates Max' eerie dreams and memories, while Puccini's aria 'Il bel sognio' (beautiful dream) from the opera La Rondine , is heard in the background. He softly sings Yiddish songs to Deborah, his voice filled with love and longing. Max is not a happy man and Montell plays him with admirable sensibility. Fox, a veteran actress who is also the Artistic Director of the well regarded Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, is always excellent. Here she's the good hearted, Jewish mother, using a slightly nasal inflection, who's only occasionally annoying but always in character. Adams, the simpleton boyfriend, doesn't have a lot to say but his facial expressions and body language are right on. The expert sound and lighting are by Lindsay Jones and Brian Gale, respectively. Having seen almost ten of the talented Margolies' plays, I must confess that this is my least favorite.

Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024. Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $60 - $76. Parking at Palazzo Garage, next to Trader Joe's, 1010 Glendon Avenue, $4. Get your ticket validated at the theatre's desk, just left of entrance. (310) 208-5454 or The Geffen Playhouse ends 11/30



Donald Margulies is a much awarded playwright and rightly so (the Pulitzer, two OBIEs, L.A. Drama Critics and Ovation etc. etc. If you're a theatre regular, you've undoubtedly applauded many of his works: Sight Unseen, Dinner with Friends, God of Vengeance and more. This play, with the longest title in history, demands three unusually gifted actors and ICT's got'em.

The stage is bare at first, when a limping, old man introduces himself as the explorer Louis de Rougemont (Jud Williford), who tells wondrous tales, aided (and how!) by two others, the beautiful Laurine Price and the hilarious Nick Ley. Soon it all comes to life with projections on a set designed by Tesshi Nakagawa, highly imaginative props by the Briles Family, amusing costumes by Kim DeShazo, exciting sounds by Dave Mickey, lighting design by Donna Ruzika and most importantly, expert direction by Luke Yankee, a man who understands the magic of theatre and wields his wand to astonishing effect. As Louis recites chapter after chapter of his adventures on the storm-tossed sea, on a deserted island, in the Australian Outback among the Aborigines, you see his "assistants" provide sound effects and transforms themselves into almost thirty different characters, including a doggie named Bruno whom you'll want to take home. These two are incredible and almost overshadow the marvelous performance by Williford. But not quite. He is a fascinating raconteur, limber as a gymnast and irrepressibly enthusiastic.

Act II is a bit of a let down because, as hour hero rises to fame and fortune in 18th Century England, after publishing his best-selling memoirs, the National Geographic Society starts debunking his life story, not unlike puncturing a colorful balloon. We believe him - why can't they? "Shipwrecked!" is truly an Entertainment with a Capital E and should be on your "must see" list. You can bring your smart teen or even your Aunt Tillie, she'll love it (it's squeaky clean)!

"Shipwrecked" An Entertainment - The Amazing Adventures of Louis De Rougemont (as told by Himself) International City Theatre, Beverly O'Neill Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach, 90802. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $47 - $49, children - 18 years of age, $25. Parking in garage on Seaside Way (well marked). (562) 436-4810 or The International City Theatre ends 11/6/16



It's safe to call Jerry Mayer Santa Monica Playhouse's resident playwright, since he's given us great stuff there: Aspirin & Elephants, Almost Perfect, Two Across and more. Guess what- he has not lost his rib-tickling touch! This work is totally timely but will still be pertinent long after the 2016 Election is over. It takes place mostly in the McCoy residence in Beverly Hills. I have to say, the furnishings look a little shabby, even if it were in Beverly Hills Adjacent. But, the set is serviceable (by James Cooper), shifting to various locations, courtesy of Cooper's lighting skills and the ever changing projections by Fritz Davis, which are priceless. Who knew politics could be so funny?

We first meet Margie McCoy (Elizabeth Ellson), dictating her diary and fretting over her parents' Tim and Ruth's (Dan Gilvezan and Rachel Galper) tumultuous marriage. He's a staunch Republican, she's a liberal Democrat. He's Catholic, she's Jewish. But it's not the different religions that divide them. On the contrary, she's taught him lots of cute, Yiddish expressions, which he pronounces perfectly and uses appropriately. No, it's their politics that seriously alienate them and even wreak havoc with their sex life. Fully aware of their antagonism, Margie therefore hates politics and smartly avoids siding with either of their parties. Much to mom's delight, she brings home her new boyfriend, Lenny Klein (Adam Mondschein), a full fledged Democrat, running for the current Republican Congressional seat, against the incumbent Mark Bliss (Matthew Wrather), Margie's other prospective suitor, thanks to scheming dad. This scenario is rampant with clever dialogue, dozens of zingers (a Mayer specialty) and consistently fine acting. Director Chris DeCarlo who, with his wife, Evelyn Rudie, owns this little treasure box of a theatre, guides his likeable cast through lots of short, socko scenes, with éclat. Ellison keeps us guessing about the romantic denouement in a spirited manner. Gilvezan, the hard-nosed Republican, has a twinkle in his eye and a soft spot for his "little girl". Galper is not the usual yenta of a Jewish mother but an attractive, clever woman who knows how to get what she's after. Mondschein, as the Jewish Democrat, is her choice for the ideal son-in-law. When he makes his entrance, he looks more like a hirsute slob, but he soon wins us over with his personality, amusing body language and witty delivery. His balding rival, Wrather, is no Adonis either but he's quite charming (for a Republican) and very straightforward and truthful (for a politician). How To Love a Republican should become a classic like Dickens' A Christmas Carol every holiday season and be revived for every election for the next hundreds of years, so that Mayer's grand and great grandchildren can collect the royalties. Meanwhile, it's yours to love and enjoy right now!

Santa Monica Playhouse, Main Stage, 1211 4th Street near Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90401. Saturday 7 pm, Sunday 3 pm $29.50. Seniors, students and Military $22.50. Parking in City Lot #1 across the street. (310) 394-9779 or The Santa Monica Playhouse ends 12/18/16.


WHAT THE NIGHT IS FOR by Michael Weller

Can an old flame be rekindled or will the embers quickly lose their glow? That is the question hanging over the stage in What the Night is for at the Little Fish. A two-header that unites former lovers, meeting again after about a decade. It happens in a luxurious hotel room (exquisite set by Mitch Rossander). A table gleams with champagne flutes and two dinners sous cloche, the prominent bed looks inviting... Melinda (Stephanie Schulz) has invited Adam (Andrew Oliveri) to her room for, perhaps some reminiscing about old times. They are now both successful professionally if not martially, which becomes pretty clear early on. We also learn that they had a torrid affair in New York City, which neither has forgotten. We wonder, was it a relationship or just a one night stand? Between the free flowing bubbly and the romantic setting, the events become fairly predictable - or do they?

Playwright Weller has created two characters who are difficult to embrace. They are both still marred to others but it's not the morality of the story that's off-putting. It's that their personalities are not exactly endearing. He's ambivalent about his family, the type that wants his cake and eat it too, to float an old adage. She's neurotic, with a temperament that borders on hysteria and becomes unhinged as the long night wears on (fine performance by Schulz, unequivocally). The direction by Branda Lock is above reproach. Schulz appears severe and uptight at first, until she literally lets down her hair, looks sexy in spandex and could seduce a monk. He is equally attractive, well built, carries the torch unabashedly without a speck of guilt and is a persuasive suitor. A fascinating pair, too bad they don't quite reach our hearts.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90231. Wed & Thursday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $27 Entrance and parking in back, via the alley. (310) 512-6030 or The Little Fish Theatre


MORAL IMPERERATIVE by Samuel Warren Joseph

Have you ever wanted to kill someone? The schoolyard bully? A vicious boss? Your mother-in-law? Just planning a murder can be stimulating, even therapeutic. Executing it, is another matter altogether.

We are somewhere in New England, at Briarton, a prestigious college which is undergoing a leadership transition. Professor Seth Colby (Martin Thompson) and his wife, Mary (Susan Dement), a doctor and also his colleague, are entertaining Robert Salenger (Ken Kamlet) and his wife, Karen (Kyoko Okazaki in their home (handsome set by Jeff G. Rack). What we glean from the intellectual banter is, that a fellow faculty member, Oscar Bryant (David Hunt Stafford), has been chosen by the Board of Trustees to be the new President of Briarton. This does not sit well with the ambitious Seth and his protégée Robert, who consider Oscar to be a monster, an evil, despicable man whose plans include ruinous changes, such as the elimination of tenure for the teaching staff. What starts out jokingly as a whim to off the new appointee, becomes a serious possibility after much discussion and several rounds of drinks.

Playwright Joseph has so overloaded the plot that we expect it to start rattling like a pressure cooker about to explode but it certainly holds our interest. Thompson, as the scheming Seth, cuts a fine figure and possesses an impressive, sonorous voice. Damant projects the warmth and wisdom of a loyal wife. Kamlet stumbled over his lines a bit, during the first act but warmed up and found his footing in his big, emotional scene, performing convincingly even though the part seems to call for a younger man. Okazaki is perfectly cast as hit little Japanese wifey, turned irrevocably pious after some sorrowful circumstances. Stafford, Theatre 40's beloved Artistic Director as the onerous Oscar, has a scene of Shakespearean proportions. He's riveting. Just watch the blood rise to his head! Brandee Steger amuses as a sassy police detective, a regular Chatty Cathy. Directorially, Howard Storm has the action flowing smoothly and the actors in fine form in this world premiere. I would suggest, however, that the cocktail cart be relocated, so that the other half of the audience can witness the important deed that takes place there. And, by the way, when a woman leaves her husband, she carries more than just her handbag. The sound design by "Sloe" Slawinski, the costumes by Michelle Young and lighting by Ric Zimmerman uphold the high standards of this classy, little theatre.

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, 90212. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2pm, Monday 8 pm. $30. Free parking in building garage adjoining the theatre. (310) 364-0535 or Theatre 40 ends 10/17/16


BARBECUE by Robert O'Hara

This play is a lot of fun but difficult to review. The pleasure it provides is not only in the fine cast and direction, de rigueur for the Geffen, but in it's many surprises, an important part of the theatrical experience. The color scheme is black and white, that is to say, the diverse actors are truly interchangeable.

It opens in a public park's shabby gazebo, with a picnic table and benches (set by Sibyl Wickersheimer). A family, consisting of a brother, James T (Travis Johns) and three sisters, Lillie Anne (Frances Fisher), Adlean (Dale Dickey) and Marie (Elyse Mirto) await the arrival of their black sheep, crack head sibling, Barbara (Rebecca Wisocky) whom they've nicknamed Zippidy Boom, a druggie and boozer extraordinaire. They have conspired to perform an intervention, to get Barbara into rehab. Calling the kettle black, this bunch ain't no saints, neither - to put it into their vernacular. To describe them as low class seems like flattery. Their trailer trash vocabulary and outrageous outfits define them. (Cheers for costume designer Kara Harmon). Spoiler alert: In order to continue, I must give away a surprise. We have a blackout and in Scene II, what do we see? A replicated group of picnickers - except all these people are black! James T is now Omar J. Dorsey, Yvette Cason is the bossy Lillie Anne, Heather Alicia Simms is Marie, in identical getup and cornrow hairdo, Adean with her cigarette and cane is Kimberly Hebert Gregory and, on my night, the versatile Cherise Booth eventually became Barbara. The story takes place in Middle America and is told in unusual sequence but it all works out. Director Colman Domingo, who has collaborated with author O'Hara previously, has captured the work's humor, originality and element of the unexpected to perfection, including the uniformly excellent cast's typical manner of speech and 'tude. This is one juicy BBQ you won't want to miss.

Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theatre, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024 Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $43-$84 (310) 208-5454 or The Geffen Playhouse. Parking in adjoining underground garage $7, in Palazzo Garage, next to Trader Joe's, 1010 Glendon, $4. Walk through the alley; show your theatre ticket at the exit booth, no need to stand in line at the validation machine. Ends 10/16



If you're feeling guilty about missing church on several Sundays, see THE CAPTAIN OF THE BIBLE QUIZ TEAM and you'll pay for all your sins, sitting through an endless sermon. Just kidding, just kidding! Actually, this is a well acted, one-person "show" which, however, brought to mind an unforgettable line uttered by the late, great character actor, Peter Ustinov as Nero. Said he: 'Too much religion is bad for the liver" and this, folks, is a lot of religion.

The idea is splendid, i.e. performing in various churches around the Southland, at different times. Furthermore, the starring role of the Pastor is shared by four diverse actors, two men and two women (Wayne Tyrone Carr, Mark Jacobson, Deborah Puette, who can currently be seen at the Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood (review on Will Call) and Amielynn Abellera, who played the freshly minted Pastor on my afternoon. She has an endearing manner, a lovely smile and showed off her emotional range to great advantage, as Landry Sorenson, the adopted daughter of the Pastor of the Kandota Church in Minnesota. Due to his serious illness, she flies in from L.A. to sub as temporary Pastor. She has an odd, one-sided relationship with her father, is self conscious and somewhat timid. But, as she stands at the pulpit and preaches seven (count 'em, seven) Sunday sermons, her voice is strong and clear and her opinions, as she expresses her and her little flock's objections to the stand on sexuality, taken by the powerful ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) are admirable. The piece is thoughtfully written, if overly lengthy, but what it lacks is humor. A few light-hearted lines sprinkled throughout the eighty minutes, would certainly have brightened this Biblical tome. It is charmingly set in a cute, little church in West Los Angeles (no scenery needed), directed by Michael Michetti, with organist Barbara Browning.

Rogue Machine at Lutheran Church of the Master, 10931 Santa Monica Blvd, between Westwood and Sepulveda Blvds., West Los Angeles, 90025. Free parking in adjoining lot. $34.99. Saturday 3 pm, Sunday 3 and 7 pm. No intermission. (585-5185) or Rogue Machine Theatre For additional locations and times The Captain of The Bible Quiz Team ends 10/3/16


PARALLEL LIVES by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimi

An utterly delightful show, which displays the talents of the two performers, Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter as well as the wit and savvy of the authors. Directed with just the right touch of whimsy by Jenny Sullivan, it takes us on a non-stop succession of vignettes with a minimum of clever props, designed by Warren Casey. Each woman impersonates either sex, young, old and in-between, which makes their audience believe they're seeing an ensemble rather than just this dynamite duo.

On a stage that resembles a galaxy from outer space (set by Trefoni Michael Rizzi, lighting by Pablo Santiago, sound by John Zalewski and costumes by Alex Jaeger), it begins with two majestically winged angels in the process of creating absolutely everything and making fun of it. Nothing is sacred here. They take on the nuns in a convent, the vagaries of the confessional, a Tampax spoof, a support group for the mothers of Disney characters, like Snow White's and Bambi's moms and many more. You'll love the two elderly ladies in the health food restaurant and the scene in a Country Western bar. Hell, you'll love everything! Some of the material is a bit dated; the piece was written thirty years ago. For example, as explained in your Footlights program, the E-Ticket Ride at Disneyland is long gone but the humor is timeless and universal. The late, great Garry Marshall left us a wonderful legacy when he built this beautiful theatre. If he's watching from above, he's having a good laugh right along with us, you can bet on that!

Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank 91505. Wednesday -Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 4 pm. $37 - $45, students $30. Free parking lot. (818) 955-8101 or The Falcon Theatre ends 9/18/16


THE DINING SCENE: Ingrid's pre theater suggestion

Only four blocks from the Falcon is an Argentinean restaurant called MALBEC, after their famous red wine. The place is dark and cozy, built in sort of a semi-round with a correspondingly shaped bar and a sidewalk patio. Fresh bread and chimichurri appear at once. Chimichurri is the Argentinean version of Italian pesto, a green mixture of parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar and oil and so tasty, if ever there is something you don't like, cover it with chimichurri and it'll be delicious. Wine by the glass from $9, from an eclectic selection. A look at the menu tells you that dinners are a little pricey, but tempting. However, the Falcon has a deal with them, so ask the box office for the Malbec discount card and get $10 of you bill, if it exceeds $50 (no sweat). Salads go from $9.95 - $13.95, soups from $7.95 to $17.95, appetizers $8.95 (empanadas) to $18.95 (sweetbreads). See what I mean? Pasta starts at only $18.95 but why order pasta at an Argentinean place? Instead, venture into something exciting like the Napolitano, a kaleidoscopic arrangement of a breaded tenderloin (or chicken breast), topped with ham and mozzarella, surrounded by mashed potatoes, broccoli, yellow squash, carrots and turnips, a bargain for $22.95 and not just a pretty picture. Beef is king in that country, so you might try their entraña, a skirt steak with char-grilled red and yellow peppers and a tomato half. This is no filet mignon and can be chewy but ordered medium rare and accompanied by a sharp knife, it's A-OK. Lavish it with chimichurri, spooned only from the bottom or you'll have an oil field, $25.95. Feeling flush? They have various more luxurious beef cuts. Service is O.K. By O.K., I mean our waitress was pleasant enough but never once come back to check if everything was fine or I would have asked for more chimichurri - I can never get enough of that stuff. There's a chocolate ganache on the dessert menu that has "next time" written all over it....

Malbec, 10151 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake 91602. Full bar. Easy street parking. (Additional locations in Pasadena and Santa Monica). (818) 762-4860


Please don't let the title of this exquisite work confuse you. It has nothing to do with the classic Becket of history but is a contemporary play, very much of the moment, about a well to do, showbiz-connected, Los Angeles family and their struggle with their son, one of those charming losers who are always supposed to "turn their life around" but can't seem to get their &%?! together.

The story spans several decades and opens as young Emily (Rachel Seiferth) and her twin brother, Becket (Hunter Garner), romp on a playground, busy with children's games. The set (by Evan A. Bartoletti) is beyond minimal but your - and our talented playwright's imagination - bring it to life in many different guises, without ever moving a prop. Emily adores Becket and lives in his shadow. He is handsome, charismatic and a child of privilege, whose parents, Rob (Rob Nagle) and Grace Diamond (Deborah Puette), repeatedly have to bail him out of disastrous situations. This kid doesn't just get into hot water, it's more like a permanently boiling kettle. Emily, a little mouseburger of a girl but smart and level headed, supports him to exhaustion, and is forced to neglect her own life, being busy shoring up that of her nogoodnik bro.

The play will resonate especially with parents, even those who have never had to choose tough love over indulgence. Nagle as the father faces a dilemma that has no solution. Puette, the mom, is, sadly, too lenient and multi-forgiving but, she's a mother, after all, deluded and ever hopeful. The youngsters are mesmerizing. Seiferth's narration has us truly spellbound. Garner is an incorrigible weakling, yet we root for him and understand how, in spite of his shortcomings, his twin ends up missing him like a severed body part. Kiff Scholl's insightful direction does justice to Graf's enthralling writing, her sympathetic yet complex characters and unforced, smart dialogue. Wendell C. Carmichael designed the costumes, Kelley Finn, the lighting. My one gripe is that the smoking in this small theatre, permeates the room unpleasantly. They easily simulate telephone conversations, why not simulate smoking? But don't let that deter you from seeing this memorable world premiere.

Sacred Fools Black Box Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., one block east of Vine, corner of Lillian Way, Los Angeles 90038. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm, Monday, 6/29 only, 8 pm(dark 8/26) . $25. No intermission. Tight street parking. (323) 850-7745Plays411 ends 9/18




In the very heart of Hollywood and easily the classiest place on the block, BIRCH sits like a graceful tree with, hopefully, deep and permanent roots. A sleek place with a very prominent bar (they're heavily into cocktails, here) but you might want to check out their quiet, little patio while our evenings are mild and pleasant. Out of an ugly alley, they've managed to create a cute space and the good servers do not neglect you out there. They feature a $49 prix fixe dinner, something to consider on a non-theatre night. The Sacred Fools Theatre is about a ten minute drive, the Theatre of Note is across the street, Among the array of appetizers and small plates, three of which make an ideal pre-curtain repast for two, I can recommend their chicken liver mousse, silken with a thin gelée topping, a cornichon, a caperberry and three slices of toast, in a word, divine, for $14. The gazpacho is presented in an unusual manner. On a rimmed plate, sit a half dozen shrimp decorated with crisp, fried dill, radish etc., before the pretty pink, creamy, chilled soup is poured around them, $12. We also ordered the mushroom tart, which could double a decadent breakfast item. Bedded into a mille feuille "muffin", are rich, wild mushrooms, crunchy prosciutto slices, Hollandaise type sauce, a fried egg and whatever Chef Brendan Collin feels in the mood to add, $17. There you have it. Should you want an entrée all to yourself, they have gnocchi $20, lobster Bolognese $26, Indian style chicken strips with rice $23 and a pork shank for $35. Wine by the glass from $12. If you're looking for more of a bargain, you have to come on Sunday for their famous Roast at Birch, $24, beginning at noon. Could be roast beef and Yorkshire pudding but call for details or log on to birchlosangeles.com.

Birch, 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood 90028. Open daily for dinner from 6 pm, Sunday from 5 pm. Full bar. Valet parking $10. (323) 960-3369.

THE HOW AND THE WHY by Sarah Treem

This riveting psychological drama is so brilliantly written, its author might possess a Master's Degree in any given scientific subject. Yet, the language is not so high falutin' that you scratch your head, wondering what the hell it's all about. It is an illuminating character study of two women, connected yet estranged.

The scene is an office (set by Phil Buono) where Zelda (Mary Wickliffe) sits at her desk, busy with paperwork. A tall, slender, pale, much younger woman, Rachel (Natalie Beisner) approaches timidly, obviously ill at ease. The silence and tension are thicker than Thule fog but once they communicate, it becomes clear that they share a history. At the moment, however, the question is whether Rachel's hypothesis, based on novel biological findings, will receive a hearing before the Board of which Zelda is an influential member. Rachel is currently a student at NYU, whose revolutionary theories on the how and the why of female sexual functions, conception, menstruation and menopause, can be accepted as valid. Guys - don't be put off by all this estrogen-heavy discussion. What makes this play worth seeing for everyone is the chemistry (or lack thereof), of two women of science, their backgrounds and our glimpse into their personal lives. The charismatic Wickliffe seems at once softly feminine but also a combative fighter for her own difficult climb to achieve academic equality and fame. Beisner's expressive face lays bare her emotional range. At first tentative, then forceful and determined, with a rapid-fire delivery in a multi-faceted portrayal. When her eyes fill with tears, she breaks our hearts as well. Danielle Ozymandias' expert directional touch is evident throughout this fascinating story and the proscenium staging gives us an unobstructed view of the performers' moods, frowns, smiles and everything in between. A cerebral theatrical experience that commands your attention and does not disappoint.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90731. Wednesday 8/24 and 31, Thursday 8/18 and 26 and 9/1. S27, seniors $25. Parking lot and entrance via the alley. (310) 512-6030 or The Little Fish Theatre ends 9/1/16


RAPURE, BLISTER, BURN by Gina Gionfriddo

The genius Sigmund Freud - or was it Einstein -asked, "What Do Women Want?" but did not come up with an answer. RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN doesn't either but is a wonderful example of two women who each want what the other has. Catherine (Suzanne Dean) is a brilliant career woman, author, lecturer and teacher but she's alone, albeit with an adorable mother, Alice (Mary- Margaret Lewis), who is supportive but recovering from a heart attack. On the other hand, Gwen (Christine Morrell), Cathy's former roommate, is married to Don (Patrick Rafferty), Cathy's boyfriend at one time and has two children, fourteen and four. (The space between them speaks volumes). She in turn, craves the glamour and excitement of a career in the Big Apple. She's miserable with Don, who's a flake, drinks excessively and is addicted to porn. If this sounds soap operatic, don't you believe it. This is a yeasty, thought provoking work with dialogue that's both witty and pithy. It explores a myriad of themes and variations like a melodious symphony: women's lib, sexual fantasies, horror movies, generational differences etc., without pontificating.

The cast, under the capable direction of Mark Piatelli, is flawless. Dean as Catherine, is accomplished yet vulnerable. Morrell, the prudish, frustrated housewife, is torn between motherhood and feminine empowerment, while the battle between Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly still divides the female population and "having it all" remains an unattainable goal. Lewis, as the old fashioned mom incarnate, has an understanding heart and an irrepressible persona plus that rare quality, a mother who knows when to let up. You'd think that that slacker of a husband would be altogether loathsome but playwright Gionfriddo has given him delicious lines and Rafferty imbues the role with believable, personal charm. He fesses up to his weaknesses and one tends to forgive him as one would a naughty but endearing puppy.

The most interesting character on stage belongs to Kimmy Shields' Avery, whom we first meet as the married couple's babysitter. Tall and boyish (for a few minutes, I actually thought this was a guy), in a role that could have been written for her. She's got a smart mouth but is a realist who tells it like she sees it. Furthermore, the advice she constantly dishes out, actually makes sense and she doesn't have a neurotic bone in her body. The New York-based playwright is given short shrift in the program, in fact, no shrift at all but you'll be interested to know that Rapture, Blister, Burn was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist and you may have seen some of the episodes she wrote for television's Law & Order and House of Cards. Set design is by Phil Buono, costumes by Marlee Delia, lighting by Stacey Abrams and projections by Nicolas Dean-Levy. By the way, don't we first burn and then blister? At any rate, you won't want to miss this stimulating production.

Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre Street at 8th, San Pedro 90732. Friday & Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm only on August 26th. $27, seniors $25. Free parking (enter via the alley to the rear of the theatre) (310) 512-6030 or The Little Fish Theatre ends 9/3/16


AL FRESCO FUN: When it's summer in L.A., all roads lead to the Hollywood Hills and the FORD THEATRE, Located opposite the Hollywood Bowl, this is a miniature version of the world famous venue but more intimate and charming. It has been completely refurbished this year and awaits your patronage. The audience-pleasing repertoire is as diverse as our population. This month, the Gay Men's Chorus perfo9rms on the 20th at 10 am. Most evening performances start at 8 pm. The Jewish Symphony plays on the 21st, bluegrass fills the air on Sunday the 28th. On September 3rd, is Mozart's delightful opera, Abduction from the Seraglio by the Pacific Opera Project. Mariachi music on the 25th, the Angel City Jazz Festival on October 2nd. KCRW's Afro Funk happens on October 15th, etc., etc. For info, check below.

Ford Theatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood 90068 Call for details (32303673 or www.FordTheatres.org Paid, stacked parking lot. A new structure would have been a most welcome improvement. Maybe next year????



Crime and comedy among the varicose vein set proves to mix well at Theatre 40. In a genteel boarding house (set by Jeff G. Rack, spot-on, as usual), in jolly old England, things are going splendidly but lack excitement for its proprietor, Dame Beatrice Appleby (the venerable Melinda DeKay), her worldly, ex-con maid Lily (Alison Blanchard), Miss Nanette Perry (Flora Plumb), a hard as nails vocal coach, retired Brigadier Bertie Rains, (the stiff upper lipped Lary Ohlson), the timid Hattie Hatfield (Jean Kauffman) and the aristocratic Lady Alice Miller (Katherine Henryk), the lodgers. More or less inadvertently, they pull an illicit switch involving a precious fur stole of grey Breath of Spring mink. Their adrenalin rush, as they plan to clandestinely return it, is so exhilarating, they embark on a life of crime, purloining expensive furs. They steal from the rich but do give to the poor.

The story takes place in 1960, a time when nobody gave a thought about the animals which provided them and fur was proudly worn by every elegant woman who could afford one or had a husband or lover to present one. Costume designer, Michèle Young,must have scoured every thrift shop in town to procure the "loot" here.

There's a rollicking entr'acte between the first and second scene of Act II, by the spunky maid (Blanchard) and Joshua Olkowski, who later appears as a detective (with bobby, Richard Carner}. But the fun really starts when Scotland Yard gets wind of the thievery and comes to investigate this mysterious crime spree. Everybody pulls the "old folks: card to the amusement of the audience. Ohlson who ran the operation with military discipline almost loses his cool and Kauffman is hysterical being hysterical. Bruce Gray has his actors perfectly attuned to their roles and their British accents are not exaggerated, as is often the case. If the plot seems familiar, you may have seen the classic film Make Mine Mink, starring the toothy Terry Thomas. Nevertheless, this play comes like a breath of spring during our scorching summer.

Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, off Little Santa Monica, Beverly Hills 90212, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm $30. Free parking in adjoining garage in the same building. (310)364-0535 or Theatre 40 ends 8/21/16


RIGHT LEFT WITH HEELS by Sebastian Majewski

City Garage at Bergamot Station is known and admired for its eclectic repertoire. With this production, they may have gone slightly ûber-eclectic. Written by a much awarded Polish playwright, it is cynical, stridently political and difficult to follow. I found it uninvolving and needlessly repetitive but, to its credit, cleverly staged and marvelously acted by two young women to whom the above two stars exclusively belong. The story is "narrated" by a pair of shoes made of human skin, especially for Josef Goebbels' wife, by the doomed prisoners in Auschwitz. We've heard of soap from cadavers as well as lamp shades of human skin but the shoes' origin (which may be apocryphal), is a horror heretofore unknown.

On the stage is a cage-like, metal contraption (set, lighting and video by Producer Charles A. Duncombe) and two red chairs, soon to be occupied by the blonde Alexa Yeames and the brunette Lindsay Plake, who voice the stories of the pumps' various owners chronologically. Note: Read the program notes "About the Text" by Eva Sobolevski, if you want to follow their progression more clearly. In red dresses over black slips (costumes by Josephine Poisot), the sassy girls cavort, sing, dance, fuss with their hair, mimic and grimace tirelessly for ninety minutes, directed and choreographed by Frederique Michel, City Garage's Artistic Director who dedicates the production to her uncle and grandfather who perished in Auschwitz. Right Left With Heels has been surrounded by controversy, including withdrawn funding from the local Polish Consul who was, perhaps, expecting a love letter to Poland. But, after all, this is history, ugly and unvarnished.

City Garage, Bergamot Station, Building 11 (close to Cloverfield), 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica 90404. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. $25, seniors and students $20. Sundays, pay what you can, at the door only. No intermission. Free parking in compound. (310) 453-9939 or City Garage ends 8/14/16


RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD music and lyrics by Andy Cooper, book by Matt Donnelly & Jamelle Dolphin

This show premiered at the 99-seat Lillian Theatre in Hollywood last year. It was so successful, it won high praise from the local media and a number of "by popular demand" extensions. Now, New York producer Lou Spisto's magic touch has transformed the piece into a full-fledged, Broadway-worthy musical, with a 6-piece band on stage, twenty-one performers, new songs and sizzling dance numbers.

It's a true L.A. story, encompassing ten years, 1948 to 1958, when one man, black entrepreneur John Dolphin, nurtured the nascent L.A. music scene into prominence, with his record store in South Central (he was unable to rent anywhere else in those days) but he called it "Dolphin of Hollywood", anyway. It attracted fledgling singers and artists who became big names and, above all, a mixed race crowd happily partying and dancing together. This irritated the cops on the block, who mercilessly harassed the owner (what's new?) and eventually closed the place down. There's much more to this story, of course, which you must discover for yourself.

The well integrated cast, directed by Denise Dowse, is headed by veteran actor Stu James, as "Lovin" John Dolphin, a man who, if he had to carry his ego behind him, would have to rent the Forum. But, in order to survive and realize his dream, needed brass balls - and he had 'em. He fell in love with one of his employees, Ruth (Jenna Gillespie), a tall and slender woman of accomplishment and, together, they built the country's most famous record store, giving jobs and fame to singers like Sam Cooke (Thomas Hobson), Jesse Belwin (Wilkie Ferguson III) but always discouraging the eager Percy (Eric B. Anthony), a man with a high voice and happy feet. The music blends multiple genres, early rock 'n roll, rhythm & blues, gospel, male and female quartets with their then de rigueur synchronized movements and more. There are love songs, soulful ballads and even a rousing civil rights inspired march that electrifies the audience. The dance numbers are snappy and toe tapping, with booty-shaking choreography by Cassie Crump. The diverse ensemble exudes energy and you will notice that the "chorus girls" are not the usual Size 2 nymphs but come in all shapes and sizes, I mean, something to hold onto in case of earthquake. Costumes and varied and imaginative, designed by Mylette Nora and wig expert Aishah Williams is kept very busy. This is a true, bigger than life, story of a man of flawed but unique character who, by rights, should be better known than Barry Gordy of Motown, whose fame he preceded and of whom Angelenos should be especially proud.

Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City 90232. Thursday - Saturday 8 pm, Saturday 2 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $39 - $59. Free parking underground Culver City City Hall, enter on Duquesne, just south of Culver Blvd. (213) 972-4488 or Recorded in Hollywood ends 8/7/16


THE DINING SCENE: dining suggestions


This French bistro's primary asset is location, location, location! Only separated by an alley from the Kirk Douglas Theatre and it's just across the street from where you're parked (City Hall's underground garage). The place is Gallic cute, filled to the brim book shelves and wine bottles lined up in front of the exhibition kitchen. The tiny, white tile floor reverberates sound like an echo, making it just about the noisiest restaurant in Culver City Next time I'm sitting on the sidewalk patio and so should you, if conversation plays a role in your dining enjoyment. You also won't find many bargains here. So, what's good about it, you ask. The food is excellent and service better and friendlier than in Paris. And, of course, there's the location. Their specialty is moules frites, seventeen different styles of mussels with generously portioned, crisp shoestring potatoes, around twenty bucks for the small size. They come in little pots whose cover doubles as receptacle for the shells. (On Tuesday and Wednesday, it's all you can eat with eight different sauces for $29.95). The truffle-mushroom version is terrific, in a creamy sauce flavored with leeks and magic. You'll be happy they supply a spoon and crusty French bread. Mussels not your thing? Hors d'oevres start at $10 (escargots) and there's bouillabaisse, coq au vin, boeuf Bourguignonne and all your French favorites $27 - $29. I recommend the duck confit, a good looking leg in a winner's circle of Brussels sprouts with a sprinkling of lardons (três Francais), in a heady, dark sauce smacking of red wine and, perhaps, a splash of red wine vinegar, very, very good, $27. Wine goes from $9 per glass, desserts $8 - $10.

9727 Culver City Blvd., Culver City 90232. Open daily. Full bar. Not going to the theatre? Park free for two hours, one block east on Cardiff. (310) 815-8222



There's a clever dictionary out, called "Yiddish for Yankees", listing every Jewish expression ever coined. Next to the translation of Yenta (an annoying woman with a big mouth), thee should be the likeness of Olive, the titular heroine of this play. Our Olive (Gail Bernardi), an elderly actress and former star of an old sausage commercial, inhabits a comfy, lived-in looking New York apartment (set by Tony Pereslete).with no visible Jewish artifacts but a prominent, gilt-edged mirror (more about that, later). The only time her ratchet mouth doesn't emit insults or complaints, is when it's closed (not often). Her only friend is Wendy (Alison Mattiza) who also works in show business and has just been offered a new job in Hollywood. You'll be amused at the typical New York rant about L.A. - and they don't even touch upon all the nose and boob jobs. Olive is feuding with her neighbors, Robert (Ken McFarlane) and Trey (Daniel Kruger), a gay couple, whom she, nevertheless,, invites to an impromptu Passover Seder, with ingredients mostly procured by the affable McFarlane. Another invitee is Sylvan (Martin Feldman, who is visiting in the building. He's a Jewish man, portly but not without charm. Could a mature romance be in the offing?

This is a holiday meal no one will ever forget, brittle as the matzo and bitter as the traditional herbs but funny as hell. The cast is directed with a knowledgeable hand by Kirk Larson, costumes designed by Elizabeth Summerer. As the self-centered Olive, Bernardi is brutally honest, her sharp teeth solidly sunk into the role. McFarland and Kruger contribute lots of fun, especially the latter as a Sir Swishyness himself. Somebody will probably kvetch about stereotypes and political incorrectness but the rest of us, who have a sense of humor, don't give a damn. The playwright (not a word about him in the program), happens to be an openly gay man, multi-award winner and Tony nominee. We certainly feel for Mattiza's Wendy, a singe lady somewhat past her prime, trying to befriend the embittered Olive and we wish Feldman lots of luck, trying to tame this shrew. There's quite a bit of nonsense about the aforementioned magic mirror, which affords glimpses of a peripatetic man named Howard, which eventually shrinks the six degrees of separation in a surprising way. Olive and the Bitter Herbs may be a theatrical trifle but it's a sweet and tasty one and loaded with laughs. Embraced by the community, the Kentwood Players have been performing six plays a year for sixty-five years at the Westchester Playhouse and we wish them broken legs well into the future.

Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester 90045. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $25, seniors $23. Parking lot plus easy street parking. Reservations by phone Wednesday - Saturday (310) 645-5156 or The Kentwood Players ends 8/13/16



The question that audience members at THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beach, ask annually is "How do the geniuses behind this spectacular show (specifically Challis Davy), come up with new ideas every single year, to keep it fresh, innovative and exciting?" And, this summer's event is no exception. In addition to the tableaux vivants (living pictures), posed by local volunteers, who create images of stirring intricacy and beauty, as well as sculpture, photography, video etc., there are myriads of surprises, none of which shall be revealed here but they await your enjoyment and amazement.

This year's theme, "Partners", celebrates, among others, the likes of Lewis & Clark, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, the Wright Brothers and dance partners Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Dance, in fact, is the highlight of this production and it's beautiful to behold. The show opens with a stunning image, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, followed by a live, hot tango number. The second act begins with a fiesta, honoring the tempestuous relationship of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and closes with the solemn, traditional Da Vinci masterpiece, The Last Supper. Richard Doyle reprises his informative narration and a live orchestra, which sounded a little tinny this year, supplies wonderful music, not the usual original compositions but exquisite classical pieces, perfectly suited to the images on stage and all around the Irvine Bowl.

Your ticket admits you to the Festival of Arts, an exhibit of the works of local artists, unbelievably fabulous and multi-faceted, which makes us wish we were millionaires so we could go on a buying spree. The season is filled with special events: Rising Star Music Series begin Tuesday July 12, 5:30 - 7:30 pm; art lecture series Wednesdays, noon to 1 pm; Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate, every Thursday from 5:30 to 7 pm, $20; Sunday Concert on the Green 1 - 2:30 pm; Family Art Day on Saturday July 16, 12 noon - 3 pm, a Fashion Show 1 to 4 pm August 13; Books & Brunch on Sunday 7/24 and 8/21 $75 and Sunday Afternoon in the Park With Music, 2 - 4 pm. Most of these are free with Festival admission. A gala Fundraiser is scheduled for August 27th $50 - $230, with a Cabaret performance and the Pageant.

Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, Irvine Bowl, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach 92661. Performances nightly at 8:30 pm. ($15 - $230) (includes unlimited admission to the Fine Art Show, daily at 10 am - 11:30 pm.) Separate Festival of Arts tickets available from $8 - $12, seniors $5 to $8. (949) 494-1145. For the evening shows, bring a warm wrap, a seat cushion and binoculars, both available for rent on the premises. Pricey parking in lots all around. Free shuttle from a well marked lot on Laguna Canyon Road. Info and tickets (800) 487-3378. Or The Pageant Of The Masters ends 8/31/16.

Quickie dining suggestion: The prices at 230 FOREST RESTAURANT have risen like yeast dough, since my last visit. However, their food is first class and the location convenient to the Festival (about a ten minute walk, depending on what kind of shoes you are wearing). There is food available on the Festival grounds but scoring a table is akin to winning the Lottery. So, if you want a tasty bite before the show, let me suggest their mustard rubbed lamb chops, from the Appetizer section, $16. Three small but delicious chops, tender as a lover's touch, with a garnish of sliced cucumbers, carrots, mint yoghurt and sprinkled with feta cheese. Nice service and ambience.

230 Forest Restaurant, 239 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach 92651. Full bar. (949) 494-2545.


BIG SKY by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros

One of the reasons dysfunctional families have become so popular in plays and movies, might be that they make our own folks seem almost angelic. Take Jack (Jon Tenney) and Jen (Jennifer Westfeldt), a good-looking, well to do couple whose marriage is in deep doo-doo. They are currently on an all expense-paid semi-vacation in Aspen, where Jack is interviewing for a lucrative, new job. The place is gorgeous (set by Derek McLane), a luxurious condo in the midst of Colorado's winter wonderland. Jen finds volunteering at a hospice more satisfying (in every way), than sharing any intimacy with her husband and his powder keg of a temper. Their daughter, Tess (Emily Robinson), is an unbearable brat. Jen still refers to her as "our little girl", meanwhile, this 17-year old is having hot sex with a Native American porter named Catoni (Big Sky), whose Indian customs shticks fascinates her. The only appealing personage on this stage is Jonathan (Arnie Burton), a gay family friend, an older guy whom Jack has invited along. He's a pot-smoking freeloader without any visible means of support but everybody loves him, comes to him for solace and trusts him with their innermost secrets.

Act II brings on a fierce blizzard (sound by Jon Gottlieb), with power outages and other inconveniences but the weather out there is mild compared to the storm that rages within the walls. Things come to a head - and to blows - but allow the considerable acting skills of the capable cast to come full throttle. It saves the show, which is otherwise sabotaged by highly unlikable characters. Burton, of course, is adorable. He has earthy but comical dialogue and the best lines tat his command. Tenney plays a self-absorbed, overly ambitious Wall Street type, who juggles his personal finances to keep up with the proverbial Jones'. Westfeldt's Jen is an utter failure as a coddling mother and turns positively glacial in response to her husband's awkward advances. Robinson, given to endless hysterical outbursts, is the epitome of a rebellious teenager at a stage all too familiar to parents of every generation. John Rando his directed the cast's excellent performances in this amusing world premiere that stimulates the mind but fails to touch our hearts.

Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theatre, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood 90024. Tuesday - Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 2 & 7 pm. $43 - $82. Parking in adjoining underground garage $7. In Palazzo Garage, 1010 Glendon Avenue, next to Trader Joe's, $4 but must show your ticket upon leaving. (310) 208-5454 or The Geffen Playhouse ends 7/17/6



Anton Chekhov, the famous Russian author's favorite characters are generally the bored aristocracy in their suburban dachas, somewhere in the lovely countryside, bemoaning their empty lives, unrequited loves, aimless existence - pick any or all of the above and you have a successful classic. Christopher Durang, lover of the quirky, connoisseur of human foibles and master of the comic slices of life, has placed his actors in a contemporary farmhouse in bucolic Bucks County, Pennsylvania (very Chekhovian), where Vanya (Stephen Rockwell), a slightly past middle age nebbish, lives with his adopted sister Sonia (Jennifer Parsons), rent free, thanks to the generosity of their sister Masha, (the o gorgeous, redhead Leslie Stevens), a successful actress (films, TV, whatever). She arrives for the weekend with her toy boy Spike (Connor McRaith) in tow. Strictly for laughs but very effective in the part, is their cleaning lady Cassandra (Murielle Zucker) a mysterious creature of psychic powers, a weird sense of the dramatic and a practitioner of voodoo.

The unforgettable weekend holds surprises, funny situations and some life lessons, too.. The sad sack Vanya, gives us a rundown of his favorite era, the Fifties. The mousy Sonia dons a royal blue sequined number for a party (great costumes by Kim DeShazo) and transforms herself into a one- night glamorpuss. Masha, the sexy star, is fabulous as a woman who realizes that youth is fleeting and who captivates her young stud only until he lays eyes on Anna (Emily Goss), an ingénue longing for fame on the stage. Splendidly directed by Mary Jo DuPrey, this is a non-stop, entertaining parody with a perfect cast. You don't even have to know how to spell Chekhov, to enjoy it. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike which garnered a well-deserved Tony for Best Play of 2013, has maintained its relevancy and solar plexus punch since then and onto the distant future.

International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach 90802. Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm. $47 - $49 (562) 436-4610 or The International City Theatre Paid parking in garage across the plaza (same side) ends 7/3/16


A THORN IN THE FAMILY PAW by Garry Michael Kluger

This saga follows the Goodman Family through several decades (1945 - 1992). World War II just ended and young Eddie Goodman has returned to his pregnant, little wife, Susie (Katie Adler). It's their third wedding anniversary but only the first they're spending together. All is bliss and kisses.

In the following scene, the couple is now older (played by George Tovar and Julia Silverman, respectively). They have been married twenty-seven years, have a single, twenty-three year old daughter, Samantha (Heather Alyse Becker) and a younger son, Jamie (Ian Lerch). Things have changed by the time the couple celebrate their thirty-eighth anniversary and to write a more detailed review would do an injustice both to the playwright and the audience. Suffice it to say, there are enough plot devices for three plays. I mean, you have generational differences, a death, sexual orientation revelations, a separation, a life threatening illness etc. (not necessarily in that order) - a long sit. But you won't be bored. Arden Teresa Lewis directs the action toward a smooth tempo, with non-intrusive scene changes and convincing performances. Jeff G. Rack's set displays a vintage home with a red velvet couch and matching chair with a head doily, very 1945 and the costumes, also designed by the versatile director, Lewis, are authentic in every detail, young Susie even wears a slip, de rigueur in the forties. The appearance of Jamie as a teen is then completely altered in 1980, merely by doffing his stocking cap. Lewis is also heard as a radio announcer, along with playwright Kluger. The latter has smartly chosen background sounds of the popular melodies of every era. The story concludes on the fiftieth anniversary and re-introduces Katie Adler as granddaughter Emily, again a clever transformation thanks to wig stylist Lisa Fabio. What you will like best about this world premiere is that this family is not the usual vulgar, dysfunctional bunch but a civilized group with yes, different views and problems (lots of those) but who would never think of resorting to violence. Praise be!

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles 90068 (opposite Universal City. Friday & Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $20, seniors $15, students under 25, $5. Free parking in lot across the street. (323) 851-7977 or Theatre West ends 6/26

AUDIENCE ALERT: The excellent production of THE LEATHER APRON CLUB, previously reviewed, is returning to Theatre West this summer, from July 15th to July 31st. This is a political thriller you should not miss. Tickets: (323) 851-7977 or Theatre West

Review by Ingrid Wilmot

THE DINING SCENE, Ingrid's dining suggestion:


Now that the old standby, California Canteen is shuttered, the good news is that a sharp, new place called GC MARKETPLACE, is only about a hundred yard walk from Theatre West, for a one time parking, dinner and show, experience. It's a big, white, airy hall, with marble-topped tables and glass vitrines laden with edibles positioned around the room. There's a dessert counter, a fancy cheese display, salad, juices, wine and beer, coffee etc. Go ahead and take an exploratory look around. As befits a "culinary boutique" (their sobriquet), the menu is interesting and international in concept Wine by the glass starts at $10 for a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc or an ever better Austrian Gruener Veltliner, truly first class. Should you arrive during the Happy Hours of 3 - 6 pm, a glass of their house wine or beer will only cost you $6. You can start with a slice of quiche $9.50, or soup, from $6 (tomato basil cream) to $7.50 (for lobster bisque). Salad choices include tuna Nicoise, Thai beef and Chinese chicken $10 & $12. Sandwiches, pizza and pasta are all between $10.50 and $12. We loved the slice of lamb, no fat, no grizzle no bones, scented with rosemary and discretely garlicked, topped with pickled onions and also the grilled Atlantic, miso glazed, salmon, $12 each. The latter comes with a big mound of baby greens, slivered carrots and beanprouts and generous enough to share with your companion. It had a sweet dressing which was promptly neutralized by a sprinkling of soy sauce (my remedy for too sweet savories) and a few drops on the salmon didn't hurt, either. The reasonable entrée prices allowed for some dessert indulgences, namely an oatmeal raisin cookie (for him) $2.25 and a slice of chocolate mousse cake with blackberries, for me, $4.50, both yum! A cup of coffee is $2.55.smiling service and the close proximity to the theatre make this a win-win experience. Try it soon.

GC Marketplace, 3315 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles 90068.Breakfast, lunch and dinner weekday, plus Saturday brunch and dinner. Closed Sunday. Catering services. Beer and wine. (323) 465-5269


In spite of its title, this is not about kids fighting over the swing set. Instead, it's a charming love story, over thirty years in development, like a complicated movie project. Kayleen (Sara Rae Foster) and Doug (Jeff Ward), meet on a playground when they are eight years old. She's earnest and opinionated even then. He's a typical boy, rambunctious and accident-prone. In fact, the play contains a running gag of how many times that fellow can hurt himself. We follow their lives, switching between their teens, twenties and thirties, watching them mature in different ways. Sidebar projections (designed by Dustin Reno) keep us apprised of their current age and a center screen features different images, sometimes totally unrelated but a good supplement to the spare but serviceable set (by J.R. Bruce).

Performances are exquisite. Foster's Kayleen hides a multitude of problems, both mental and physical. Ward's ebullient acting matches his personality. We know from the get-go that they have feelings for one another but years of intermittent separations and life's vagaries keep romance at bay. Joseph's dialogue is uncanny in