These guys are hysterical. I actually enjoy watching them and their analysis of what an Asian American is all about. Its entertaining and educational. This time around they attach the East Coast vs West Coast differences. Not the usual attack on Angelenos from the NYT or some condescending post on Angelenos making the move to the big NYC. Its really just a close look at the differences in the two coasts and the Asian communities.
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Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and it was a riotous good time. The play we know, but Alan Brooks and Artistic Director Christian Lebano twisted it up a notch and made this so much more than the bare words on the script. I can’t find a fault in the production, and neither could the audience that laughed pretty much non-stop during this examination of interpersonal relationships among friends and differing personalities.
Where to start, by now we all know the story. Oscar Madison’s wife and kids leave him and move away leaving him to grunge up an 8 room apartment. Shortly thereafter Felix Unger’s wife boots him and he shows up on Oscar’s doorstep with no place to live. Jack Sundmacher as Oscar and Brad David Reed as Felix have terrific chemistry and brought their characters to life. Even in Oscar’s most curmudgeonly moments you felt connected to him and understood him. Felix is just a nutball basket case and he too wound up capturing your heart. His sinus-clearing-ear-unplugging bit was hysterical.
As I mentioned in an earlier post the poker table, played by Richard Van Slyke, Joe Langer, Steve Bean and Vince Donvito had chemistry. It was really as funny as watching a group of guys who’ve been been playing for years, not actors who just recently met. Funny, caring, wise-cracking and FUNNY. You couldn’t help but wish you were in their circle at the table playing poker as well.
The absolute bit of genius was switching up the roles of the “Pigeon Sisters”, the dating interest and neighbors of Oscar and Felix. Played by Kari Lee and Jane Lui was a piece of sheer casting genius. The chemistry and infectious zest for living they brought to the stage really brought the play to life. Typically the two rolls are just simply cast to a couple of blonde bimbos and let the chips fall where they may, these two brought the characters of Gwendolyn and Ceciy to hyper animated life. Between the two of them they capture Felix’s heart and convince him he’s going to be ok. They even twist Oscar around to see Felix for the friend he is. Quite a task and brilliantly played by Ms Lee and Ms Lui.
Don’t forget the contest for “my worst roommate” that runs until May 31. Send the Playhouse your worst roommate story and if chosen you get dinner with this incredible cast! ENTER HERE, or simply mail your story to [email protected]
The play runs through June 27, Order tickets HERE.
DEETS: Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre CA 91024 MAP HERE Box Office 626/355-4318
All pics by me.
AND THERES A NIFTY CONTEST TOO…PRIZE IS DINNER WITH THE DIRECTOR AND CAST
The Odd Couple celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and the Sierra Madre Playhouse production promises NOT to be your grandparents version of the play. There are some interestsing twists. This cast has character and chemistry. The one rehearsal I sat in I was enthralled and had to keep my attention diverted so I didn’t get so wrapped up I spoiled opening night for myself.
Artistic Director Christian Lebano and Director Alan Brooks bring some fun to the table in their interpretation of “The Odd Couple” that won’t go unnnoticed. To give it some local flavor the Pigeon Sisters are played by actors Kari Lee and Jane Lui. The little bit I saw they bring a whole new range of interest and humor to the roles of the love interests of accidental bachelors Oscar and Felix. Worth a see, trust me.
What is really fun is the contest. Since this is the story of a mismatched roommate situation, the Sierra Madre Playhouse is running a contest for the worst roommate story. The stories will be read prior to the play start each week and the winner will be announced at the Sunday matinee on June 12. Story must be entered by midnight May 31, 2015. You can enter by submitting your story on the Sierra Madre Playhouse Facebook page, or emailing them at [email protected] As noted in the headline…the best story gets dinner with the director and cast.
Christian Lebano, the Artistic Director at the Playhouse has his own roommate story to share here:
The Odd couple opens May 8 and runs through June 27. You can order tickets HERE. Here’s an added surprise and reason to attend opening night…you get to go to the opening night reception and mingle with the cast, directors and board of the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Location of the reception is announced at the play…so no crashers.
Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre CA 91024 MAP HERE Box Office 626/355-4318
Sondheim fans will really enjoy this production. New to Sondheim, well Kristin Towers-Rowles diection of “Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street” is a great introduction. She did a pretty terrific if not out right amazing job fitting this production into the small square platform of a theater that is the El Portal. Meant for the big theatre, this small stage carried the impact in its small footprint. No mean feat.
The cast is pretty amazing. Set in Victorian England in the grittier side of town among the poor and barely surviving the story is of a man wrongly accused of a murder and comes back for revenge. I can’t give much else out without you all calling foul and spoiler. Its a good story with some interesting twists. Well worth the time to go see it.
I have to give two specal nods for performances that stole the show. First was the beggar woman, played by Kendra Munger. She manages to upstage others with her decrepit old hooker character begging for alms in exchange for “favors” By far the scene stealer was Alison England who plays Mrs. Lovett the lowly meat pie baker. Mrs Lovett befriends Todd Sweeney to help him with his plan as well as further her ambition. A thoroughly enjoyable and wickedly good performance by Ms England. Loved it.
Sweeney Todd plays at the El Portal in North Hollywood through May 10,2015. Tickets can be ordered by calling 818-508-4200 or 866-811-4111. El Portal Web Site HERE.
Press Release after the jump. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m not a total rube as I at least knew who Sondheim was before this past weekend’s opening of “Putting it Together” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. I couldn’t have told you what he wrote or even hum a few bars before then. Now I can. He’s a bright lively composer who’s lyrics are not only cunning but witty. Many times the audience broke into laughter during Friday nights performance.
The all star cast is directed and choregraphed by Cate Caplin with Jake Anthony as the music director. The cast consists of Kurt Andrew Hansen, Kristin Towers-Rowles, Chris Kerrigan, Rachel Hirshee and Mike Irizarry who use a series of 31 Sondheim songs to tell a story of love, marriage, and mistresses during the course of a 1 percenters cocktail party. Yup, there’s a twist and the bitterness of the woman scorned comes across in a most comical way.
Of all the songs in the play, “Bang” was my favorite. Didn’t involve guns, but rather was the exclamation point in the digression of young lovers and love making to bitter married folks having dutiful relations in the bedroom. That’s as delicate as I can put it…but that song alone had us laughing out loud during the performance. The actions of the cast added hysterical emphasis.
Putting it Together runs through March 28 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.
Added bonus, if you are interested in Einstein is a Dummy that I reviewed recently, this Sunday, 3/22 Performance is also included in the buy one get one promotion on web sales only. Order Tickets here with the promo code BOGO.
Photograph by John Dlugolecki Photography and used with permission.
Its science to nurture your inner nerd. It has a message…its ok to be curious, its ok to ask why, its OK to be different. All the issues every kid struggles with to be “popular” and be themselves at the same time is explored in this high energy production that opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse this weekend. Think of it as Energy, the good kind like a colorful Saturday morning exploding on stage (and off at times) with the angst of a kid who doesn’t fit in and wants to.
Einstein is a Dummy is written by Karen Zacarias and brilliantly presented under the direction of Derek Manson for the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Add in the musical score by Deborah Wicks LaPuma and you’ve got a show that kids will enjoy while picking up some lessons on personal identity and real science.
This is repertory theatre. The play has two cast so as to stage it for evening performances as well as matinee’s for schools here in the SGV. (This play is aimed at the 3rd-8th grade student). Regardless of which cast you see, you will have fun with your young genius. I saw the Electron cast, those that have seen the Proton cast were equally amazed at the production.
The play starts with young Einstein talk with a stray cat in advance of leaving for a music recital. Here we get the first hint at his curiosity and the gift of a compass that started him thinking about and developing his theory of relativity. Its this first bit where we learn that Einstein sees and hears the world differently. Read the rest of this entry →
Long time Los Angeles resident Gary Owens of radio and TV Fame passed away today. He was the voice of KFI for years but is known nationally as the enthusiastic announcer and newcaster on Laugh In a TV sieries in the late 60s and early 70s. RIP Funny man, thanks for the laughs.
Look forward to your next ‘cast from “Beautiful Downtown Heaven”.
No spoilers. But its a grand performance by all concerned
Last night was the opening of Sierra Madre Playhouse’s performance of “A Walk in the Woods”. It opened to a sold out house. Its an entertaining, often poignant look at the world of diplomatic negotiators during the Reagan Era arms talks and their interchange on what makes us the same and different at the same time. This play by Lee Blessing is directed by Geoffry Wade.
The four scenes take place during the four seasons in an American election year in a secluded forest in Switzerland. The jaded and cynical Soviet negotiator Andrey Botvinnik is portrayed by John Prosky. Andrey has survived several U.S. Negotiators and capably guides his newst adversary through the mine field of arms negotiation. He does this through humor and utter avoidance of the task at hand. The new American negotiator that he must work with is Joan Honeyman played by Nancy Youngblut. Joan is the spunky, starry eyed new kid on the block with ideals she can work out a deal to end the arms race that both sides can live with. Andrey foils her at every step often leaving Joan aggravated and flabberghasted. And the audience roaring with laughter.
Interlaced in this is the big politics of each nations history as a world power and fear of a past repeated. All good stuff, hard to believe one can laugh condsidering the task at hand and the issues they face. Its also a very enlightening look at the process. You walked away wondering how it all went down and how anything was ever accomplished. Or was it? I highly recommend “A Walk in the Woods” if you are looking for a fun and enlightening theater experience. These two actors carried you through the process of negotiations and becoming friends that respect each other very well.
This play is the 4th in the 2014-2015 Season that explores the American experience as told by American playrights. This play and those to come are what will continue Sierra Madre Playhouse’s transformation into a Regional Destination Theatre.
You can order your tickets HERE.
Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024 Phone: 626-355-4318
Photo by Gina Long, courtesy Sierra Madre Playhouse and used with Permission.
By now most of you should know that I’m a complete and utter fool when it comes to Raymond Chandlers works. I’ve read so many of the books and loved how they incorporated Los Angeles history and places into their fictional story.
I caught wind of the operetta a few months ago at a LAVA meeting. Its titled “The Princess and the Pedlar” and is co-authored with pianist Julian Pascal. Sounds pretty cool and should be easy to bring to the stage, right? Not so fast, the estate of Raymond Chandler say its insignificant and won’t grant release of the work. It will have to wait until 2029 at the earliest when its released to the public domain. Sad.
But all is not lost, Kim Cooper of Esotouric and author of the “The Kept Girl” isn’t taking that hard no as a final answer. She has a petition on change.org asking the Estate to reconsider its position. Please sign. I have, its an important bit of the Los Angeles story by one of our own authors that deserves to be seen.