May 2019

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Happy Days opens at the Mark Taper Forum May 22nd (Starring Diane Wiest)


  • By Deborah Behrens
  • Photo Courtesy of CTG

Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway) stars in Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist 1961 comedy Happy Days at the Mark Taper Forum. Famous for its iconic Act I imagery of a 50ish woman named Winnie buried up to her waist in a mound of dirt, the herculean role is considered on par with scaling Shakespeare’s Hamlet or King Lear with renowned theater legends tackling the part throughout its nearly 60-year existence.

James Bundy, Dean of Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of Yale Rep, directs the two-hander, which co-stars Michael Rudko (The Audience) as Winnie’s 60ish henpecked husband Willie who resignedly reads the newspaper in his nearby gopher hole. Los Angeles audiences last witnessed Beckett’s existential angst at the Taper during its acclaimed 2012 revival of Waiting for Godot. This time Winnie is the one who cheerfully waits for each day’s dawn to deliver her from an inevitable fate and the monotonous hours to be filled until then: “Sometimes all is over, for the day, all done, all said, all ready for the night, and the day not over, far from over, the night not ready, far, far from ready.”

“She [Wiest] shows us what a deeply womanly role Beckett has written, albeit one whose tragedy is refracted through a distorting comic lens.” – New York Times

Plays May 15 – June 30.  For more information, click here.

Invisible Tango

Invisible Tango plays the Geffen Playhouse May 7-June 16th

Invisible Tango

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo By Ger Ger

I love magic of any kinds from close up sleight of hand to giant illusions.  It makes me feel like a kid again and that’s a good thing so I was simply thrilled when I heard magician extraordinaire Helder Guimarães was returning to the Geffen Playhouse this month in a world premier one-man show, INVISIBLE TANGO.  The show explores the very nature of secrets and the unknown…. and just how far we are willing to go to discover them INVISIBLE TANGO is directed by legendary film producer and director Frank Marshall (Jurassic World, Indiana Jones et al) and musician Moby has composed original music for the show.  To quote Moby, “The audience is going to experience an intimate, symbiotic relationship between the sounds and the visuals, and not one sense will be left to its own devices.”

It’s been seven years since Guimarães appeared at Geffen Playhouse in the smash hit show Nothing to Hide which was extended four times before moving to New York.  Variety raved “Marvelous! Amazing! Gasp again and again!” and The Los Angeles Times named the show a Critic’s Choice and called it “Exceptionally Clever! Astonishing”.

Guimarães was a consultant on the caper movie, Ocean’s 8 and personally trained Oscar-winning actresses Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett for their roles.  Using his expertise in magic, deception and illusion, he created the feeling of a real jewelry heist.

For tickets and more details, click here.

Bronco Billy

Bronco Billy, The Musical’s Eric B. Anthony and Amanda Leigh Jerry playing at The Skylight Theatre (Photo Ed Krieger)

Bronco Billy

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo By Ed Krieger

I think all of us who grew up watching TV and Hollywood Westerns dreamed of running off and joining a Wild West Show.  Now one of my favorite Western films, Bronco Billy starring (and directed by) Clint Eastwood, has been reimagined into a new musical production, BRONCO BILLY – The Musical, for the stage thanks to the Skylight Theatre Company, one of Los Angeles’ top theater companies and leaders in developing plays and new playwrights.  I’ve been a supporter of Skylight’s work and was thrilled to learn about this first musical production.

Set in 1979 somewhere in America’s heartland, we meet “Cowboy” Bronco Billy who is struggling to keep his traveling Wild West show alive.  But when Billy meets a Manhattan heiress on-the-run who wants to join his ragtag troupe of characters, the fun starts as we see his world spinning in a whole new direction.

There’s also a serious side to the mayhem as we explore the importance being a part of a family even if you have to create your own. Director Hunter Bird said, “I think our audiences will appreciate this upbeat musical about reinvention, identity and living your passion.”

Dennis Hackin wrote the original novel and the film version of Bronco Billy as an homage to his parents who wanted to be cowboys and moved their family from Chicago to Arizona to live out their drams.

For tickets and more details, click here.


Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill May 15-June 2nd at Garry Marshall Theatre


  • By Deborah Behrens

Award-winning actress and LA audience favorite Diedrie Henry (A Raisin in the Sun, Parade, Yellowman) travels back to 1959 to play jazz icon Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill at the Gary Marshall Theatre. Directed by Gregg T. Daniel (The Mountaintop), the show reimagines one of Holiday’s final performances in a seedy South Philadelphia nightclub before her untimely death just four months later. The 2014 Broadway revival won Audra McDonald her sixth Tony Award.

The legendary singer covers such classics as “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Strange Fruit” backed by an onstage band led by musical director Abdul Hamid Royal (as pianist Jimmy Porter). Between songs, Holiday regales the audience with amusing, bawdy and often heartbreaking tales from her past while struggling to shake off the effects of heroin addiction. Spend an evening with an unforgettable talent unlike any other before or since. Limited VIP onstage seating is available that includes a complimentary bottle of wine or champagne delivered to a table for two. Must be 21.

“Henry’s breathtaking performance as one of entertainment’s most tortured souls is worth the price of admission.” – Broadway World

Plays May 15 – June 2. For more information, click here.

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