Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell


This new play reveals the remarkable story of Robert Smalls, born into slavery in South Carolina, who carried his family and others to freedom by commandeering a Confederate warship into Union waters and delivering the ship—including an arsenal of rebel weaponry—to the Union army. He was declared a hero, awarded $1500, introduced to Abraham Lincoln, then went on to be elected to five-terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Adapted by Ellen Geer from the historical novel by Rebecca Dwight Bruff, Gerald C. Rivers portrays the older Robert Smalls looking back on his life. Terrence Wayne, Jr. plays his younger self and Earnestine Phillips is his mother. The play’s spirituals are sung by a cappella group Street Corner Renaissance. The title Trouble the Water comes from the African American spiritual, Wade in the Water. Information and tickets, call (310) 455–3723, or go to


This is adapted from a 1738 French farce and is set in Paris when apparently there was a particular craze for poetry. Metromaniacs are people who are nuts about poetry, so David Ives’ play is being performed in rhyming couplets. In it a young poet has fallen in love with the works of a mysterious poetess, not knowing that she is really a middle-aged gentleman. Meanwhile, a non-literary friend has fallen in love with that man’s daughter, who mistakes her new suitor for her favorite poet!

Add to the chaos some scheming servants, pseudonyms, and disguises, and there is much to untangle before love-plots are resolved and a happy ending found. Based on La Metromanie by Alexis Piron, directed by Marjorie Hayes, and produced by David Hunt Stafford. In the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills. Free parking. Tkts: (310) 364-0535 or

NEWSIES – Thousand Oaks

Based on the 1992 Walt Disney film and inspired by the true story of the 1899 New York City newsboy strike, this rousing musical is about standing your ground and fighting for what’s right. It follows a scrappy band of ink-stained street kids as they push back against the corporate greed of Big Apple media barons Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Has a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. Songs like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe” deliver a powerful, timeless message: “Wrongs will be Righted, if we’re United!”

At every performance there is ASL signing as well as talkbacks with cast and staff. This 5-STAR THEATRICALS production is at the BANK OF AMERICA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks. Tickets call (800) 745-3000 or online


It’s the late ’90’s and you’re hanging out in the basement of a home in suburban America, with two teenage boys as they stay up on a school night, chugging soda and watching MTV. As the morning approaches, their seemingly innocent sleepover reveals another purpose… Warns playwright Tim Venable, “I felt like I knew these boys… like me and my friends, they must have had fun. Yet all the while they were harboring this terrible plan? I wanted to explore that duality.”

Director Guillermo Cienfuegos states, “This season at Rogue Machine we’ve committed ourselves to presenting stories and questions that don’t have easy answers…”  To add to these warnings, this play tags: SUGGESTED AGE 18+ / CONTENT ENGAGES IN SUBJECTS OF SEX/VIOLENCE/MURDER.

This Rogue Machine world premiere is at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. Reservations call 855-585-5185 or


Remember: Vaccine cards and masks are still mandatory at all of these live theatre events!

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