LA Theater Scene shows & reviews May & June 2017

Theater that makes you sing and dance, plus laugh, cry, ponder, and sometimes go crazy were among the May and June stage shows audiences were excited to embrace. And they continue to be part of the vibrant LA Theater Scene.

“E.D. Blues the Musical,” June 16, 17, 18, at the El Portal Theatre

Preview feature: “E.D. BLUES THE MUSICAL” (June 16, 17, 18) is at the historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The exciting new romantic comedy has a crazy funny subject matter, along with great characters and great songs—such as “Big Daddy’s On the Pill.” It is a musical about E.D., aka Erectile Dysfunction, that offers men and women lots of laughs and a real happy ending.

Butch Dubarri
(photo by MargieBarron)

“We need to have fun and forget our troubles and that’s what we’ll do,” said Butch Dubarri, creator and co-director, who also co-wrote the original songs for the show that showcases pop, jazz, gospel, and, of course, the blues.

There’s a big multi-ethnic cast singing, dancing and romancing, but Dubarri insists there’s nothing offensive or vulgar about the funny show. He said, “If it were a movie it would be PG. It is suitable for women and men of all ages, even church groups would enjoy the humor.”

The topic offers a lot to laugh about. Dubarri explained, “Erectile Dysfunction, it’s a medical term. It’s something that everybody knows about. There’s all the commercials about Viagra, etc. on TV because it’s an important subject for the male population, and for women too. But we have some fun with it and we cure it in the show. I call it a street opera for the common man. We tell the story through characters we all know, a couple of ex-jocks, a preacher, a hairdresser, a nurse, a plumber, an ex-wife, etc. There’s a tender May-December romance, and it ends with a wedding and the big theme song ‘Feeling the need to be loved.’ It will touch every soul in the place, because who isn’t feeling the need to be loved—from the White House to the outhouse. It’s just a feel-good show that’s the right fit for the intimacy of the El Portal Theatre.”

Just like Menopause the Musical, E.D. Blues will have audiences laughing about a topic that needs some attention. “We have adapted the line that Viagra uses in their ads for our show. We say ‘Ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough to laugh out loud for two hours!’ Because we’ll have you laughing from the very beginning,” Dubarri promised.

The huge cast is led by Broadway veteran Eloise Laws, directed by Jeffrey Polk and Kent “Butch” Dubarri Sprague, and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk. LMP is presenting “E.D. Blues the Musical,” at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, June 16, 17, & 18. Go to www.elportaltheatre.com. #

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The Pasadena Playhouse presents “Hold These Truths,” May 30 to June 25

“Hold These Truths” starring Ryun Yu

Preview feature: “HOLD THESE TRUTH” (May 30 – June 25), presented by the Pasadena Playhouse, is an inspiring, entertaining and powerful story about a true civil rights hero, Gordon Hirabayashi. The acclaimed show is from playwright Jeanne Sakata with a highly-praised performance by Ryun Yu, directed by Jessica Kubzansky, and produced in association with East West Players.

“More than anything else, you won’t regret meeting Gordon Hirabayashi,” Ryan Yu said with great admiration about the courageous man he portrays. “What makes this show so special is Gordon. He is one of the true American heroes. What he did is so staggering. He stood up for what is right. We all think we’d be the person who would do the right thing, but he did. And it’s amazing to me the way he did it.”

Ryun Yu said, “Hirabayashi was 23 and a college student at the University of Washington, and the entire country was moving in a direction during World War II. His community was putting pressure on everyone to show loyalty and support the government. But Japanese Americans were being sent to internment camps, and this college kid stands up and says ‘this is not right.’ Gordon’s reasons were pure. He loved America and the Constitution. He believed what he was doing was right and in the bedrock of the Constitution.”

Hirabayashi fought all the way to the Supreme Court and beyond. It took up his whole life. He was finally vindicated in 1987. When asked why he did it, he said, “To make sure it never happens again to any other group of people.” Of course, the irony is that it is so relevant now.

Yu said, “This play was written 10 years ago and there are certain things in this play that scream out as if it were written today. The play draws people into the spirit of this guy. There’s a joy and a kindness to go along with his spine of steel that makes his story so good.” “Hold These Truths” runs from May 30 through June 25, 2017.

The Pasadena Playhouse rounds up its 2016-2017 Season with two more summer programs following “Hold these Truths.” They are ​”SHOUT SISTER SHOUT! The Gospel of Rock. The Spirit of the Blues,” a world premiere musical about Sister Rosetta Tharpe – The Godmother of Rock & Roll, from July 26 to August 20, 2017. And “​ZEN SHORTS,”  a puppet show for all audiences featuring video projections and original songs, about a Zen master panda, based on the Caldecott award-winning book​,​ from June 10 – 25, 2017. All productions presented at the Pasadena Playhouse, located at 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. Go to www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org. #

“Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures” presented at The Wallis

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills has also had a great lineup this season. And its new 2017/18 season has just been announced and will continue its mission to bring great art and artists to our wonderful theater in Beverly Hills. It is a showcase for the most innovative theatrical experiences, according to The Wallis’ Artistic Director Paul Crewes, who said, “I strive to bring wonderful stories and remarkable performances to our stages.” For an up-to-date schedule of upcoming shows and events visit www.TheWallis.org.

Review: “MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES” (at The Wallis May 17-21) offered a sassy and ultra-charming look at the early life of the wildly popular and successful British choreographer/director Matthew Bourne. Through the magic of dance, Bourne’s “Early Adventures” is a program of three whimsically staged pieces that show what life was like growing up as an English school boy in London town and in the countryside. Plus, a gay Parisian finale is the climax of the celebration of Bourne’s choreography. Thanks to the most talented troupe of dancers the show was an effervescent delight.

The Wallis also presented the heroic “BATTLEFIELD” (May 24-28), based on the great Indian epic Mahabharata, with the play written by Jean-Claude Carrière. The internationally renowned team of Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne and Jean-Claude Carrière together revisit the Mahabharata thirty years after Brook’s legendary production took world theater by storm. The stage is the immense canvas for the ancient tale that is both timeless and contemporary as it asks how we can find inner peace in a world divided by conflict.

“The Pride” presented at The Wallis

Preview: “THE PRIDE” (coming June 8 – July 9) is a gorgeously-drawn drama alternating between two very distinct time periods and sets of characters whose fate is written by their eras. In 1958, Philip is married to Sylvia, but is secretly attracted to her colleague Oliver. In 2008, Philip lives with his boyfriend Oliver, who continually destroys their relationship with his addiction to casual sex and turns to their friend Sylvia for guidance and support. As the past and present worlds collide, the complex love triangle provides a provocative, humorous and insightful look at fidelity and forgiveness.

Intelligently written by Alexi Kaye Campbell and directed with heart by Michael Arden, “The Pride” features Neal Bledsoe, Jessica Collins, Augustus Prew and Matthew Wilkas. [Be warned, the production contains brief nudity, sexual content, strong language, violence and uses atmospheric haze, herbal cigarettes and strobe effects.]

Preview: “THEBES” (coming June 10-11) is an ambitious production from The Wallis Youth Theater Company that puts the citizens of Thebes in the spotlight. The people are ravaged by climate change and shaken by political turmoil, yet they know they must find a way to unite in order to revolutionize their democracy. From Oedipus to Antigone, the story of Thebes remains a fascinating exploration of fate, morality and power, two and a half thousand years after the saga was originally written it is remarkably relevant.

“Thebes” by Gareth Jandrell (after Sophocles, Aeschylus) is directed by Madeleine Dahm, and features Trecey Dory, Malaikai Jones, Jayde Kief, Samantha Marino, Kelvin Morales, Clementine Overy, Jordan Rodriguez, Alexander Sheldon.

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Go to www.TheWallis.org. #


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc.
Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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