Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell

ANIMAL FARM – Pasadena

This stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1945 novel still resounds today as the animals of Manor Farm rise up against their oppressive human owner in a struggle for rights and equality. Led by an honorable pig, they take over the farm from the cruel Mr. Jones. All the animals: horses, goat, donkey, cat, raven, cows, sheep, hens and pigeons are now happily equal. Until two bully pigs yield to the lure of power and decide that “some animals are more equal than others!”

This 1984 adaptation by Sir Peter Hall, with music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell, is directed by Julia RodriguezElliott. The all-animal cast are Stanley Andrew Jackson III, Bert Emmett, Geoff Elliott, Nicole Javier, Deborah Strang, Philicia Saunders, Jeremy Rabb, Sedale Threatt Jr., Cassandra Marie Murphy, Rafael Goldstein and Trisha Miller.

At A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Tkts (626) 353-3100 or



In Henrik Ibsen’s controversial 1881 play, adapted by Richard Eyre, recently widowed Helene, desperate to conceal her late husband’s philandering, is preparing to open an orphanage in his memory. However, when her son returns from Paris, she is forced to confront the ghosts of the past. As it touched on incest, venereal disease, religious hypocrisy and divorce, theaters in Europe refused to produce it and the original 1882 production scandalized Chicago audiences.

Director Bart DeLorenzo states, “One of the shocks of working on this play is how up-to-the-minute it is… Eyre’s striking adaptation is funny and sexy, a breathless adaptation that is as true to the original as it is to our time.” Cast includes Pamela J. Gray, Alex Barlas, Barry Del Sherman, Viva Hassis Gentes and J.Stephen Brantley. At The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West LA. Tkts: (310) 477-2055 or


Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – La Mirada

Sally Struthers is starring as “Frau Blücher” in this live musical version of Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan’s famous show. Set in the present when Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous inventor Dr. Frankenstein, inherits the family estate in Transylvania. Once there, with the help of a hunchbacked sidekick named Igor, and pretty lab assistant Inga, Frederick finds himself following in the mad-scientist tradition of his ancestor. He also creates a monster for this century and when this monster escapes, hilarity abounds.

In London, reviewers called it “a love letter to American vaudeville” and “an evening of gloriously impure fun.” Directed by Jeff Whiting, with choreography by James Gray, and musical direction by Benet Braun. At La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada. Free parking. Tkts: 714-994-6310 or at


BEARINGS – Hollywood

In this World Premiere engagement of his new play, playwright/director Matt Chait describes the story of this enigmatic saga: “Richard Kalvar crossed a line. He did something he never thought he would do; and then something happened. Can Detective Mike Salcedo help him piece together the weird, passionate, hilarious fragments of Richard’s shattered life and make sense of them again? Can Richard Kalvar ever regain his bearings?”

The L.A.-based creator has also placed the action of his narrative locally, in Pasadena, in particular at the Langham Huntington Hotel. The cast includes (in alphabetical order) Vanessa Born, Will Bradley, Leandro Cano, Kim Estes, Trip Langley, Valerie Larsen, Rebecca O’Brien, Jane Papageorge and Allison Reeves. Presented by The Complex, executive producer is Erin Treanor. At the Flight Theatre, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.



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