Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pink Champagne at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

I saw Pink Champagne at the Elephant Stages, part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It’s written and performed by Dylan Jones, directed by Aryiel Hartman.

This show is billed as a cabaret filled with ‘Glitter & Shenanigans.’ I like all of these things, but this play doesn’t provide any of them. To me, it came across as Theatre of the Absurd, with dancing and singing.

It opens with the backup performers warming up their voices, dancing a bit and ad libbing as the audience enters. They begin the show with the cast singing and dancing to showtunes and Dylan Jones, the star, enters.

This is when the show, in my opinion, jumps the shark. Dylan Jones goes through a past life regression and we see three different random scenes, I guess dealing with love and rejection. Or was it four scenes? I really don’t know and I was there.

While sitting in the audience, I remembered when my sister and I would put on impromptu plays for our family. It’s kind of fun to watch, but mostly because the performers are having fun and you’re captivated to see more because you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next.

I left the show wondering, “What the fuck did I just see?” The actors’ energy levels seemed low and maybe Pink Champagne would be better at different performance, but then again you only have one chance to wow your audience and they didn’t do it.

That being said, I hate saying something negative about a production without having an idea about how to improve it. I have no ideas on how Pink Champagne could’ve been better. Maybe if they served booze and if you watched it all liquored up it would be better. I don’t know.

Still though, it’s not a completely terrible show. I guess it’s kind of fun, but not really worth going to see just for this one show. I do have to say I’d go see another show Dylan Jones puts on. She grabbed my attention enough to see what else she can do, but this show didn’t do it for me.

There’s one more performance of this show left, on Saturday, June 26 at 3:30 PM. If you’re there to see the earlier performance of Kill Your Television, which I already reviewed, stick around and see it and let me know what you think.

Kill Your Television at the Hollywood Fringe

Last night I saw Kill Your Television at the Elephant Stages, which is one of the many productions with the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It’s a fantastic one-man show, written and performed by Jeff Gardner, directed by Vicky Silva.

The show itself is one man watching television in his pajamas. He’s alone, except for his stuffed monkey. You watch his, as well as your own, ritual of watching television. The show is completely without any actual dialog, and it feels at times like you’re watching a silent film. It’s Gardner’s simple, yet complex, reaction to the brilliant sound design.

Having slept on it, I’m still left speechless. This is one brilliant show that just does everything right. There’s one more production of this show at 2 PM on Saturday. Go see this play. You won’t be disappointed.

Fiddler on the Roof at the Gem Theatre

I drove down to Garden Grove on Saturday to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Gem Theatre. Why would anyone drive an hour to see a show? Because my friends are in it and I wanted to support them and I’m classy like that. Also, there are good theatre companies in Orange County and One More Productions is one more of them.

This production of Fiddler is like most things in Orange County. It’s a bit too clean compared to LA’s grittiness and when you look close you see things that are wrong. Nothing big, but stuff that stands out.

The set design was decent, with hanging flats of rooftops surrounding an empty stage. Other flats and set pieces are brought on later to convey the different locations. The style of these was kind of retro, a throwback to fabulous musicals in the 60’s.

The acting, singing and dancing were decent, with some people better than others. It’s that way with all shows. I was pretty fortunate to have a seat in the front row. Some actors projected better than others and I think that if I sat in the last row I wouldn’t have enjoyed the show as much.

I feel that the real linchpin scene in Fiddler is the Fruma-Sarah scene, where we see the ‘ghosts’ invade Tevye’s dream. What you see on stage is indeed what nightmares look like and I’m still trying to figure out how they got Fruma-Sarah to fly. It wasn’t wires, it wasn’t just a rolling cart. There’s something there that I just can’t figure out and that’s a good thing. Theatre should be magical and keep you guessing.

The costumes were decent, but the lack of period shoes and spectacles and obviously fake facial hair really put me out of the experience, but I could see that’s not the case for everyone. They do use college ruled notebook paper in one scene that made me go *facepalm.*

The lights were limited but effective. Not a criticism, just an observation. Lights are expensive and they did a good job with what they had.

The program doesn’t warn you about the fog-machine or strobe lights. I’m pretty photo-sensitive so that would’ve been nice to know.

Ultimately, my final say is that it’s a fun show and that’s the most important thing about it. Theatre needs to be enjoyable and this production is incredibly enjoyable. So, if you live near Garden Grove or really love Fiddler on the Roof, check it out this weekend. You’ll have a fun time.

Venue:

The Gem Theatre really is a throw back to when theatre was an outing that brought the community together. The lobby is large, the venue beautiful, concession plentiful and they even have a raffle. It’s a wonderful place to spend an evening.

Other Notes:

Damien Lorton, Director, Musical Director and Artistic Director for One More Productions, should really teach other theatre companies stewardship. He does a superb job of introducing the audience to the production and making everyone feel welcome. He even got the mayor pro-temp of Garden Grove to attend and introduced donors. good for him.

Defending Against Eros: BLERG

Review:

So, I went to see Defending Against Eros: Three One Act Plays at the Complex, one of the plays in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

The whole premise of this series of productions was that each playwright had to write a one act play based on Adolphe William Bouguereau‘s painting A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros. The painting is beautiful and I personally find inspiration to write from seeing paintings, so I thought I’d go so this show.

The show didn’t live up to the hype that I created in my own head. The first play in this series is Eros, written by Bryy Miller and directed by Gwendolyn Dreyer. It features four greek gods visiting earth to view this painting.

It was quite bad.

The actors were lackluster and didn’t know their lines, dropping their speech and back tracking as they remembered their words. The script itself seemed phony, with jokes that didn’t work and filling in the dialog with too much exposition about each individual god. Furthermore, there’s no goal, no driving force that carries the plot along. The direction was OK and the costume design added a delightful touch with having an owl-print t-shirt on Athena and Dionysus wore a wine-colored silk shirt.

The second one act was Interrogation, written by Nicholas Doan and directed by Joshua Grant. This play features two police detectives interrogating a Suspect for killing 8 people on the 3rd Street Promenade with arrows. This production worked better for me than Eros, but still just didn’t do it for me. The script itself was fairly well done, working with issues of love and acknowledging that you are indeed worthy of love. The direction didn’t really work for me, with the actors just kind of standing there reciting their lines and no sense of suspense as you watch this crime-drama play out. The acting was fairly two dimensional, but a vast improvement than the first play. There were only a few dropped lines, but then again one dropped line that is noticed by the audience is too many.

Just at this point, I was honestly wishing I had sat next to the aisle so I could ninja my way out. Then the last play, CODA, performed, at it was good. Really good.

CODA, written by Cynthia Glucksman and directed by Vincent Tula, is about four people in a Co-Dependency Anonymous (CODA) meeting. The four characters, Brian (Scott Cooper), Craig (John Cragen), Diana (Nancy Solomons) and Jillian (Cady Zuckerman) sit on chairs, surrounded by the items which drive them in life. As the play unfolds, Cynthia Glucksman bends time and space. Each character is talking about the same co-dependent relationship, some during the relationship and others years later. It does a great job of working in the painting by focusing on the theme of wanting a love so badly, yet forcing it away because it’s unhealthy.

The entire cast did a great job and the direction was spot on, but I do have to single out Cady Zuckerman. She was simply brilliant and being a young actress I am excited to see how her career grows.

Other Notes:

The house manager wasn’t bad, but pretty inexperienced. Not too friendly greeting the patrons, but not rude. She ushered guests in late, which really did disturb everyone else.

The directors were actually standoffish. It’s no that I introduced myself or anything, but they didn’t seem happy to have people in the audience. The crowd was pretty big, but I think it was mostly people they knew. Young directors: if someone you don’t know has paid money to see your show, please be nice to them. Those are the people you want to see.

Both Eros and Interrogation really could’ve benefited from a few more re-writes and more rehearsal time. The premise was there for both of them, but the productions really lacked. CODA, as I mentioned, was really good. If you see it being produced near you do yourself a favor and see it.

The Venue:

The Complex is kind of a nice space. It’s several, maybe a half dozen, theatres in one building. That’s nice because you could, hypothetically, go there as a destination and find  a show to see. The spaces themselves are cramped and stuff like concessions and bathrooms that won’t get you pregnant are non-existent.

Hollywood Fringe Festival and Other Shows this Weekend

The Hollywood Fringe Festival kicked off last night. I’m excited about this festival. I was always jealous of my friends who took part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Many of these shows are U.S. or world premieres and there are performances throughout the day. The Hollywood Fringe Festival‘s website offers a comprehensive schedule that you can search through by both date and a venue, so it’s easy to find a play. Bitter Lemons has been doing a great job covering this festival.

I’m interested in Defending Against Eros: Three One Act Plays. I always like the idea of writing plays based on paintings, so this show appeals to me. I’m sure you can find something that appeals to you as well.

I’m also going to see Fiddler on the Roof, produced by One More Productions. The show is at the beautiful Gem Theatre in Garden Grove, CA. I know for many of us in LA are hesitant to make that drive, but if this show is anything like there past production of A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, it will be worth it.

On Sunday at 11 AM there will be a special reading of Velina Hasu Houston‘s The Territory of Dreams at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon. Velina’s plays are incredible, the venue is gorgeous and it’s free. Pack a picnic lunch and spend your afternoon outside!

Also, I don’t think I’ll be able to go see this show, but Sacred Fools is now staging Forbidden Zone: Live in the 6th Dimension. I’ve head great things about this production and wish I could make it. Check it out yourself and let me know what you think.

I’ve seen I Made Out With Him Anyway twice; it’s so good

Review:

I Made Out With Him Anyway stars Kirstin Eggers and Evie Peck. These two ladies share their adventures in dating with you in a very funny, honest and brave show that is short and sweet. They recall their different horror stories, often taking on the role of each other and their dates. It’s quick, like stand up comedy, but has the polish of a play. It’s a very personal show and when you watch it you feel like you’ve been friends with them for years, like your discussing dating over coffee or a beer.

What I liked most about this show is that it isn’t crass or place blame. When I search for a new play to see, I oftentimes see shows that really go deep into sexuality and infidelity and the (boring and gross) drama that ensues.

This show is not like that.

It’s about dating. It’s about Kirstin and Evie dating. With this distinction, this show really opens up to a larger audience. We all have had dates, good and bad and boring, so we all can relate with this show. While it doesn’t censor itself, it doesn’t get crass. If you’re easily offended, don’t worry, you’ll love this play.

Also, this is a play that tells stories and doesn’t place blame on the men they dated. It easily could’ve become and hour long rant, but it’s not. It’s a solid, funny good time and I recommend everyone go see it.

On the technical side:

The set design, by Kim West, is three painted flats. Simple, elegant and exactly perfect for this show. She also has some great art work on display in the lobby.

The lighting design, by Dan Weingarten, is spectacular. It does a great job of establishing location and enhancing the story while never distracting from the performance.

The direction, by Nick Hoffa, was spot on. Great use of the stage, the space and the time. You never check your watch to see how much longer you have to sit there.

Stage Management, by my beautiful and wonderful sister Heather, is perfect.

The space:

The Lost Studio, is tremendous. Located at 130 S. La Brea, it’s centrally located in Los Angeles and a short distance to drive from anywhere in the city. I had no problems finding parking. You will have to walk up a flight of stairs, so I’m guessing no wheel chair access.

The lobby is very welcoming. I feel that a benefit of theatre, compared to music or film, is in the lobby. It’s a great place to meet other members of the audience before a show and discuss what you just watched afterwards.

Evie, Kirstin and the director are there after the show to thank you for coming and talk about it with you. Many of the audience members were even recounting their own dating stories. It really makes this show more of a community event.

Also, the restrooms at The Lost Studio are big, clean and stocked.

Other stuff:

The show is cheap at $10. In order for theatre to be competitive in the digital age, the cost needs to be equivalent. They do offer beer, wine, water and pop. No coffee.

For sale are buttons for the show and wax lips for safe making out, cheap at like $2. Totally worth buying.

Go see it:

The show is an hour long, Friday and Saturday night at 8 PM and 10:30 PM. Take advantage of the community aspect.

Check out the I Made Out With Him Anyway website here: http://www.imadeoutwithhimanyway.com/

You can purchase your tickets there, as well as see some brilliant date clips that they’ve produced, including this one with Kyle Gass!