Anybody who has trod the boards knows that little blitz of stage fright that can flood through an actor when a member of the family is in the audience.
The 1960s spawned a plethora of comedy albums, among them a hugely successful satire of the Kennedy White House, called “The First Family,” written and produced by Bob Booker, who went on to write and produce for television, working with some of the most famous names in the entertainment industry.
Set in 1930s Algiers, this animated adaptation of the beloved series by French comic-book artist Joann Sfar tells the story of a widowed rabbi, his beautiful daughter and a cat that swallows the family parrot and gains the ability to speak.
In Hollywood, the logline for this story would be: A playwright who has outwitted his demons to find balance in his life, has, after a devastating TV experience, returned to the stage with a play whose plot twist is as transformative to its actors, and to the audience’s assumptions about the characters, as writing it was for the playwright. The play is a success off-Broadway and then a bigger success on Broadway. And then, as validation and final vindication, he brings it to Los Angeles.
It’s an age-old, common dilemma faced by adult children of aging parents: What is the right thing to do when those parents begin to lose their faculties? That theme is at the heart of “Surviving Mama,” by playwright Sonia Levitin, which opens Oct. 12 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica.
David Katz knew minutes into watching Bryan Fogel’s “Jewtopia,” a star-studded independent film adapted from the hit comedic play about interfaith dating, that it would anchor his Malibu International Film Festival. Unfortunately, Katz had his epiphany at 3 a.m.
Early in Theresa Rebeck’s comic play, “Seminar,” four aspiring writers cower in an Upper West Side New York apartment as Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), their imperious creative writing teacher, scans just one page of a short story before lambasting its author.
The situation created by writer David Gow in his two-character play, "Cherry Docs," is virtually guaranteed to produce explosive drama. A skinhead facing trial for a racially motivated murder is being defended by a Jewish publicly appointed attorney. The cherry docs of the title refer to the steel-toed cherry-colored Doc Marten combat boots the youth wore when he repeatedly kicked his victim.
As he researched the complex life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for a new musical, playwright Daniel Wise found a surprisingly candid source.
The latest production from Moriah Films, the Oscar-winning film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, explores of the life and times of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. Co-written and produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and directed by Richard Trank, the film features narration by Ben Kingsley and stars Christoph Waltz as the voice of Herzl.
John Logan’s two-person play, “Red,” which spotlights the legendary Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko, is set a decade before the notoriously prickly painter committed suicide in 1970. The drama, which opens at the Mark Taper Forum on Aug. 12, begins as Rothko (Alfred Molina) has accepted a hefty commission to create a series of murals for the swanky Four Seasons restaurant in New York’s iconic Seagram Building. He intends his luminous, contemplative paintings to transform the space into a “temple,” while his initially timid new assistant, Ken (Jonathan Groff), grows bolder and insists that the work will merely serve as décor for pricey boozing and dining.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg has written a play revolving around the Holocaust.
William Peter Blatty was a Georgetown University student in August 1949 when he came across a front-page story in the Washington Post titled “Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip.” Blatty, a devout Catholic, was fascinated by the accounts of the 14-year-old’s bed violently shaking and torrents of curses in Latin whenever the exorcist commanded the demon to leave the boy.
When the hit comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors” comes to Broadway this spring, I’ll be able to say I saw the London production. I also saw the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “Don Giovanni” with the Polish tenor Mariusz Kwiecien. As for bragging rights, it’s hard to match having seen David Hallberg’s debut with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow in “Sleeping Beauty.”All this, without ever leaving Los Angeles.
The notorious attorney Roy Cohn (Barry Pearl), onetime counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, deals with his demons in Joan Beber’s surreal play, “Hunger: In Bed With Roy Cohn,” currently running at the Odyssey Theatre. Beber, who is having her first production in Los Angeles at age 78, places Cohn in a state of limbo, a purgatory of the mind, where he is nurtured by a sexy maid (Presciliana Esparolini) and haunted by significant figures from his past, including his mother, Dora (Cheryl David); hotel heir G. David Schine (Tom Galup); Ronald Reagan (David Sessions); Barbara Walters (Liza de Weerd), who remained a loyal friend because Cohn had once helped her father; and convicted spy Julius Rosenberg (Jon Levenson).
At one point in “Bring It On: The Musical,” inspired by the rival cheerleading film of the same name, Bridget, the team’s chubby mascot, gets some moxie from a pep talk about a boy she likes.
A Chinese Hitler, dressed like a mall cop, mopes in an underground bunker in 1945 as his empire is collapsing around him. But it’s not all bad news. “My stomach hurts, and it’s bigger. I’m pregnant!” Hitler exclaims, stroking himself mindlessly.
“The American Jewish community has a problem keeping silent,” says scholar Michael Berenbaum, and he ascribes the “problem” to guilt over our collective failure to speak up during the Holocaust.
He was often called “the Jewish James Bond” and “the Conscience of the Holocaust” for his activities in the pursuit of Nazis. It was a mission to which the late Simon Wiesenthal dedicated some 58 years of his life, after having been a prisoner in several concentration camps during World War II. The iconic figure lives again in the one-man show “Nazi Hunter — Simon Wiesenthal,” starring and written by Tom Dugan. The production is now running at Theatre 40, a professional theater company located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.
“How long must I roam, to find my way home …”
Bon Jovi will perform in Israel in the coming year, the band's lead singer Jon Bon Jovi told Larry King on his talk show.
At a recent dress rehearsal at Temple Beth Am for the Jewish Women’s Repertory Company’s (JWRC) November production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Margy Horowitz, the company’s founder, musical director and accompanist, played piano while the narrator belted out the famous opening line: “Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do, before their time on this planet is through.”
For the first time, young American Jews and German Catholics will formally debate the meaning of Germany's controversial Passion Play at Oberammergau.
As an "accidental Mexican" born to an Eastern European family, author and essayist Ilan Stavans has hurdled critics to become one of the nation's foremost commentators on Latino culture. As a Mexican American, he has written widely on immigration, the clash and fusion of languages and the quest for acceptance.
In the defining moment of Sara Felder's performance piece, "Out of Sight" -- about a mother and daughter who clash over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- she juggles machetes while precariously balancing on a rola bola.
We think of Albert Einstein, and we conjure up the image of a frail, unkempt and absent-minded old man, but a visit to the Einstein archives at Caltech provides quite another picture.
The man who radically transformed our understanding of the universe was adored by women, at 23 fathered an illegitimate child and after marriage had a few side flings with other women.
"Showing Our Age" is a play about stories, and the fact that everyone has one. It's a project that I started more than 10 years ago, though not specifically as an idea for a play. I was a participant in a community outreach program in which we interviewed senior citizens, used their remarkable life stories to write monologues and then performed them for the seniors and their families. The simplicity of just the details of a life -- without sets or costumes -- created some of the most powerful theater I had ever been involved with. And I have been involved in theater for a very long time, as an actress, writer, director and teacher. I wanted more! I wanted to take this idea and expand it.
"Everything I write is a question of identity," Jonathan Tolins says over tea after a yoga class in Sherman Oaks. "What choices do you have? What roles do you take on?"
Calendar Girls picks and clicks for April 5-11
In an atmosphere of increasing British anti-Semitism and vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric in the left-wing press here, the play we're about to see, "An English Tragedy," couldn't be more timely. Written by South African Jewish playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), it is the story of John Amery, son of a Cabinet minister, who along with the infamous Lord Haw Haw made propaganda radio broadcasts for the Nazis that were beamed to England.
Spring arts calender.
The Actors' Gang, now in residence at the historic Ivy Substation in Culver City, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The substation, constructed in 1907 by the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad, looks more like a Spanish mission than an electric power facility, strangely appropriate for The Actors' Gang, which is both a theater troupe with a strong sense of mission and a longtime source of power plays and electric performances (and that's as far as I'm willing to stretch this metaphor).
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has stymied generations of statesmen and commentators, so why not try a witty song-and-dance musical? Such was the thought of playwright Oren Safdie and composer-lyricist Ronnie Cohen, and the result of their collaboration is "West Bank, UK," which opens March 21 at the Malibu Stage Company.
"The Boychick Affair: The Bar Mitzvah of Harry Boychick," is the latest addition to the ever-amusing genre of interactive theater, known in the business as "environmental theater." In such plays, the conventional fourth wall is broken as actors directly interact with members of the audience. Each character has a detailed background, either created on the spot or written prior to the performance. While the show is staged and scripted, about 30 percent to 40 percent is improvised, said playwright and director Amy Lord.
In a story line that turns a sacred office of psychiatry into a house of fraternizing, a secretary into a jungle cat, a librarian into a sex fiend and a stripper into an academic, writer Mark Troy presents many shocking juxtapositions in the world premiere of his play, "Paging Dr. Chutzpah," at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre in Toluca Lake.
"The Kid From Brooklyn," a musical based on the life of Danny Kaye, now playing at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood, takes us back to the heyday of Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky), a versatile performer whose tongue-twisting verbal artistry and physical high jinks have influenced such modern-day performers as Robin Williams and Jim Carrey.
The painfully familiar bickering of a traditional Jewish family meets a sexy yet clueless striving-to-be Hollywood starlet in Deborah Zoe Laufer's play, "The Last Schwartz," which returns to the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose Avenue Jan. 4, after a hiatus.