The late great Joe Orton wrote three of 20th Century England’s most outrageously funny, audacious, and sexually provocative screwball farces, though you’d hardly know it from the misguided revival of 1969’s What The Butler Saw now playing at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre under Ben Lupejkis’ direction.
Imagine that the fate of the entire free world, or of these United States at the very least, depended upon a single individual … who just happened to be the foulest-mouthed, reddest-necked single mom in all of small-town southern Missouri.
Playwright Jason Wells does just this in his uproarious, outrageous, yet frighteningly plausible political comedy thriller The North Plan, the funniest/ edgiest show in town and a terrific welcome back to Elephant Theatre Company.
The brief but artistically blessed life of legendary Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart now serves as the inspiration for Falling For Make Believe, a Colony Theatre World Premiere musical that entertains, elucidates, and ends up this spring’s most unexpected treat.
“And I am telling you, I’m not going!”
No, it’s not Effie White belting out a showstopper in Dreamgirls, but the spoken words of Dr. Philip Gottschall, an 81-year-old Texas megapreacher unwilling to give up the pulpit of a church he’s built up to a congregation of 30,000 and counting, and it’s not Deena Jones who’s in Eve Harrington mode, but 40something San Antonio pastor Jeremiah Mears, whom fully half of the pastoral search committee would like to see replace their aging leader. As for the other half, the status quo is fine, just fine.
Playwright David Rambo pits preacher against preacher in God’s Man In Texas, the latest offering from the newly re-energized Sierra Madre Playhouse, and if being forced to listen to considerable sermonizing by the kind of Christian fundamentalists who have recently made it their mission to “protect the sanctity of marriage” proved tough going in Act One, once Rambo’s central concern became evident in the play’s thoroughly compelling second act, this reviewer came to realize that any Act One discomfort was personal, and no reflection on what ends up one humdinger of a play.
Frank Galati’s 1990 stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath, Sarah Ruhl’s 2003 take on Eurydice, and now Ken Ludwig and Thornton Wilder’s 2006 adaptation of The Beaux Stratagem… Has A Noise Within ever had as contemporary (and 2013 audience-friendly) a season as the three plays now in rep at their Pasadena digs?
The hate crime that was the brutal 1998 murder of 21-year-old University Of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard brought playwright Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project to the town of Laramie in search of answers. Who could have committed such a barbaric act (and why?) … and how did the residents of Laramie react to Shepard’s murder, and to the attention it focused on their city of 28,000?
The result of Kaufman and his team’s* eighteen-month research was The Laramie Project, which Los Angeles audiences got their first look at when the Colony Theatre Company staged it to memorable effect in 2002.
Ten years after their initial visits, Kaufman and the Tectonics returned to Laramie to find out how much the city and its residents had changed in the ensuing decade, the result of which is The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.
Orange County’s award-winning Chance Theater now presents both plays in rep, offering Southern California audiences the rare opportunity to see not only where we were at the time of Matthew’s murder, but also how far we’ve come since then, and assuming Oanh Nguyen’s staging of the original is as powerful as the sequel reviewed here (as I’m certain it must be), then Angelinos and Orange County residents alike are in for a humdinger of a double feature.
You don’t need Broadway sets and costumes and professional credits a mile long to put on a bang-up show, not if you’re the talented team of artists at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center and the show in question is Monty Python’s Spamalot.
A pair of powerhouse performances would make Actors Co-op’s revival of William Gibson’s Tony-winning The Miracle Worker must-see theater if only attention been paid to sightlines, or had the Co-op staged it at the David Schall Theatre next door.
Note: See update at end of review.