Theater Reviews by Morna

Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell

TAMING THE LION – Beverly Hills

After being shuttered for sixteen months due to the global pandemic, Theatre 40 is re-opening for live performances. It is resuming the interrupted World Premiere engagement of a new play by Jack Rushen, suggested by true events in Hollywood in 1934. Actor William Haines acted in 50 films between 1922 and 1934 and was the number one box-office draw at the end of the silent era. He was also the first openly gay movie star, a fact that the MGM studio attempted to conceal, fearing that Haines’ gayness would prove to be box-office poison. In the play, Studio executives Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg attempt to force Haines to marry a woman, to please the fans. But Haines is devoted to his male lover, Jimmie Shields. So, Mayer sends Haines’ best female friend, Joan Crawford (see photo attached), to try and persuade Haines to marry a woman.  Haines is given an ultimatum: marry a woman and continue to be a movie idol or turn his back on his movie career and lose everything so that he can stay with Jimmie. Produced by David Hunt Stafford. Directed by Melanie MacQueen, (who Theatre 40 audiences might know best from her appearances in the perennial cast of The Manor). Theatre Forty is in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills. Plays July 9-August 1st. Tickets: (310) 364-0535 or Free Parking.



This classic musical comedy, based on the beloved Peanuts comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, will be performed outdoors in Sierra Madre Memorial Park, at 222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre. Here Charlie Brown and the entire Peanuts gang explore life’s great questions as they play baseball, struggle with homework, sing songs, swoon over their crushes, and celebrate the joy of friendship. The cast includes Hamilton Davis Weaver as Charlie Brown, Mary Zastrow as Lucy, Marcha Kia as Sally, Luke Sweeney as Schroeder, Alexander Mashikian as Snoopy, and Melvin Biteng as Linus. This Sierra Madre Playhouse’s outdoor production is the ideal summer entertainment for the whole family. Covid safety protocols will be observed. Seating will be in socially distanced circles, six feet apart, to accommodate parties of two, four, or six. This will primarily be lawn seating (please bring your own blankets), but there will also be circles designated for people who bring chairs. Plays weekends from July 30 – August 29. Tickets at (626) 355-4318 or



Lucy Stone was the first person in history to ever speak publicly for women’s rights and this one-woman show, with songs, illuminates the start of the Women’s Rights movement when one bold young woman stepped forward and demanded equality for women. Over 100 years ago, women got the vote! And over 50 years ago I was an actress on Broadway! Now Jewish Family Service LA asked me to repeat the role I originated as activist Lucy Stone in the musical Only A Woman, that was a hit in both Hollywood and New York City. (Photo: HB Kennedy as Susan B. Anthony, myself as Lucy Stone). Show is based on actual people and true events and, at this time, when #me too is making headlines, this performance informs people about the women – and men – who fought for Human Rights! Composer-lyricist Ralph Martell adapted his original score for this special event, recorded and available on Zoom. Runs about 48 minutes. Click on the link: Then enter Passcode: hW$.H2BD

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