01 Feb Theater Reviews by Morna – 02/19
WITNESS UGANDA – A DOCUMENTARY MUSICAL – Beverly Hills
Based on a true story, we follow Griffin (Jamar Williams), an American volunteer, as he arrives in Uganda to help build a village school. When he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he finds himself driven by a mission that will change his and their lives forever. From the rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside, to a stifling apartment in New York City, here is a joyous celebration of African youth. Written and directed by Griffin Matthews, who co-authored with music director Matt Gould, this off-Broadway hit was called “a vibrant, pulsating musical,” described as “exuberant and soulful… releases gale-force waves of faith, hope and love.” Winner of the Richard Rodgers Award and others. At Wallis Annenberg Center, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills. Tickets: (310) 746-4000 or TheWallis.org/Witness.
LAST CALL – Atwater Village
When is it time to give up the keys to the car? In semi-autobiographical play, the Vaughn family’s defense mechanism of sarcasm and mordant humor falls short when the aging parents hatch a not-so-funny way to avoid the retirement home. Says playwright Anne Kenney. “I watched my parents’ health degenerate as they got into their ’90s and had to come face-to-face with the quality vs. quantity of life question. The only way that my parents and I and my brother got through it was with an abundance of gallows humor and a lot of compassion.” Ben Martin stars as 85-year-old Walter Vaughn, and Lynn Milgrimas Frances, his 83-year-old wife. Says director Lane Allison, “It’s a beautiful story about the love of family and how much that influences our life decisions.” An Open Fist production at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave, Atwater. Tickets: (323) 882-6912 or www.openfist.org. Free parking.
SMART LOVE – Venice
A contemporary comedy with a scientific twist, the Wachowski household is turned upside down when their son makes a surprise visit home from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)with an unexpected guest. Says playwright Brian Letscher,“I turn on my TV and find a documentary on the explosion of technology and the possibilities moving forward in this Brave New World of technology! I am severely over-stimulated. I cannot fall asleep, but a year later I have this play.” Directed by Elina de Santos, who brought last months’ challenging scientific drama, A Misunderstanding, to life at the Complex. At Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd. Tickets: (310) 822-8392 or www.pacificresidenttheatre.com
DEATH HOUSE – North Hollywood
This drama by Jason Karasev explores justice, redemption and the possibility that we are all more connected than we realize. It takes place on the night when a prison chaplain is meeting with the confident young pastor who will replace him. When they encounter an enigmatic prison inmate, their beliefs and lives are changed forever. Directed by Michael Peretzian for Road Theatre Company. At The Road on Lankershim, 5108 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo. Tickets: (818)761-8838 or www.roadtheatre.org.
A WALK IN THE WOODS – Westwood
Lee Blessing’s award-winning play, starring Alfred Molina and Steven Weber, directed by Cameron Watson, is just one of L.A. Theatre Works star-studded performances at UCLA’s state-of-the-art James Bridges Theater. These shows are recorded live in front of an audience for radio broadcast, distribution on CD, digital download and online streaming. This syndicated Radio Theater Series broadcasts weekly on public radio stations across the U.S. (locally on KPFK 90.7 FM); can be heard in China on the Radio Beijing Network; can be downloaded as a podcast via iTunesand NPR One; and can be streamed on demand at www.latw.org.