01 Aug Theater Reviews by Morna
MUTT HOUSE (Culver City)
In this delightful musical there’s an awkward young man, (Ryan McCartan), who talks to animals, and a bevy of his furry friends who talk back. All reside in a rundown animal shelter that the cruel lady-Mayor, (Heather Olt), wants to close down. This means euthanasia for the dogs, none of whom deserve to die. When a Best-of-Show French Poodle, (Valerie Larsen), arrives, she is the most elegantly popular Sniff of the Week! It’s a charming show, with joyous canine songs and superb dance numbers by Janet Roston. Creator Tony Cookson’s message is clear: If you love animals help support No Kill groups. Otherwise, adopt one yourself and discover the love that always gives back. So, bring the grandkids – they’ll love it too. And don’t worry, there’s a happy ending with catchy song “All You Need is One!” At Kirk Douglas Theatre.
SCREWBALL COMEDY (Beverly Hills)
Screwball Comedy refers to the American genre of story-telling which had its heyday in the 1930s & 40s. The elements included a male and female who are adversarial at first, but are ultimately ideal for each other; some farcical or slapstick action; a female with the upper hand in the relationship, snappy patter and crackling dialogue. This U.S. Premiere of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Screwball Comedy is both homage to as well as an example of the genre. The year is 1938 and aspiring reporter, Mary Hayes, is struggling to break into the male-dominated world of journalism. Jeff Kincaid may be the hottest reporter in the city, but his job is on the line and Mary might be the one to replace him. Like the zany comedies with Gable vs. Colbert, or Hepburn vs. Tracy, this delightful play crackles with wit and humor! Howard Storm directs. At Theatre Forty, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.
THE LOS ANGELES THEATRE SCENE
is home to a staggering number of companies, all devoted to keeping theatre alive. From Hollywood to Topanga, from Westside to Downtown, exciting new projects take the stage. Here are a few of the theatres developing new works. In LA: Theatre West has an in-house writing group – I just saw their impressive one-act festival; Blank Theatre’s long-running Living Room Series is committed to work by diverse voices; Rogue Artists Ensemble are starting a writers lab to do a festival of new work. In NoHo: Road Theatre Company’s Summer Playwrights Festival has 50/50 male and female playwrights; Actors Workout writers group creates short plays on one theme; Group Rep presents plays from in-house writers. Sherman Oaks: Loft Ensemble gives new playwrights a production platform to explore and develop work; Whitefire has a theater development lab. In Burbank: Garry Marshall Theatre has a new works festival. In Topanga: Theatricum Botanicum’s Seedlings is a hotbed of development.
MAYAKOVSKY AND STALIN (Hollywood)
In this new play, writer-director Murray Mednick explores two distantly connected relationships: that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his wife Nadya, and of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and his married lover and ‘muse’ Lilya Brik. It’s a dramatic character study incorporating historical footage and photos. Mayakovsky was a giant rebel in 20th century Russian literature who was turned into a symbol of the repressive state when, after his death, Stalin declared: “Mayakovsky is the best and most talented poet of our Soviet epoch. Indifference to his cultural heritage amounts to a crime!” Hailed as The Poet of The Revolution, Mayakovsky’s legacy was censored, intimate or controversial pieces were ignored, and poetic lines were taken out of context and turned into slogans. According to Boris Pasternak, this Stalin-sanctioned canonization dealt Mayakovsky a second death. At The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood.