Theater Reviews by Morna – Live Theater is Back!

Morna Martell

LIVE THEATER IS BACK!

AN OCTOROON (Hollywood)

This Obie Award-winning play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins will launch live performances on Fountain Theatre’s new outdoor stage in June. Judith Moreland directs this outrageous deconstruction of a moustache-twirling melodrama by 19th century playwright Dion Boucicault. Matthew Hancock stars as a modern-day Black playwright struggling to find his voice among a chorus of people telling him what he should and should not be writing. He decides to adapt his favorite play, Boucicault’s ‘The Octoroon‘ – an 1859 melodrama about illicit interracial love. The Black playwright quickly realizes that getting White, male actors of today to play evil slave owners will not be easy, so he decides to play the White male roles himself – in whiteface. What ensues is an upside down, topsy-turvy world where race and morality are challenged, mocked and savagely intensified.

This theatrical melodrama tells the story of an octoroon woman – a person who is one-eighth Black – and her quest for identity and love. The cast includes Rob Nagle as playwright Boucicault; Mara Klein as Zoe the Octoroon; Hazel Lozano as a production assistant, and Vanessa Claire Stewart as a Southern belle in love with the plantation owner (Hancock in whiteface). Meanwhile, Leea Ayers, Kacie Rogers and Pam Trotter portray three startlingly modern slave women. The play satirizes racial stereotypes in a whirlwind of images and dialogue that forces audiences to look at America’s racist history exposed.

Production manager for the Fountain’s outdoor stage is Shawna Voragen, with scenic design by Frederica Nascimento. Stephen Sachs and Simon Levy co-produce; associate producer is James Bennett, while Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel are executive producers. Theatre is at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. For information call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.

 

TEVYE IN NEW YORK (Beverly Hills)

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts re-opens in June in an outdoor performance space with tiered seating, creative lighting and sound. With a firm commitment to the health and safety of staff, artists and patrons, it accommodates 100 socially distanced audience members each night. This Return of In-Person Audiences to The Wallis launches with the World Premiere performance of a one-man show written, co-directed and performed by Tom Dugan and co-directed and designed by Michael Vale.

Ever wonder what happened to Tevye, wife Golde, and their daughters, after the curtain came down in Fiddler on the Roof? Tevye in New York finally answers this decades-old question. Follow Tevye as he fights for his piece of the American dream – his journey with his family across the Atlantic Ocean, through Ellis Island, and into the crowded streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. You’ll fall in love with Tevye all over again in this funny and poignant one-man show. For performance dates and ticket information: 310-746-4000 or https://thewallis.org.

 

JULIUS CAESAR & OTHERS (Topanga Canyon)

Best known for presenting lively and engaging renditions of the works of William Shakespeare, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum will open the season on Saturday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. with a fresh look at Shakespeare’s iconic thriller about power, politics and the elusive nature of truth through a different lens. Director Ellen Geer tells the tale from the vantage point of the Soothsayer. Audiences yearning for live theater after a year-long drought can satisfy their cravings by returning the next day, Sunday, July 11 at 4 p.m., for the opening of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. This version infuses the Bard’s beautiful language with music and song to heighten the pleasure. For tickets call (310) 455–3723, or go to www.theatricum.com.

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