Theatre

King Lear opens at The Wallis May 10th

KING LEAR

  • By ARLENE WINNICK

LAArtsOnline’s First Night pre-show party returns to The Wallis Center for the Performing Arts with this month’s King Lear.  I usually like my Shakespeare in the traditional style, but this new production of King Lear has changed my mind. Shakespeare’s timeless story of trust, love, power, loyalty and redemption remains the same – however, the play has been bravely radically reinvented and is now set in a future world ravaged by environmental and manmade disasters. The King has cleverly brought his country through the turmoil but at what cost? He must now face the harsh realities of political and familial betrayal as he loses his grip on his power, his country, his family and eventually reality.

Starring as King Lear is Emmy Award winner Joe Morton, one of my favorite performers.  Who can forget him as the legendary Brother from Another Planet or recently as Dick Gregory in Turn Me Loose.

The theater has been reconfigured with a dramatic design featuring original music, videos and projections that cleverly surround the audience and visually transports them into a future American dystopia filled with environmental catastrophe and social chaos. Director John Gould Rubin notes, “By immersing the audience… our King Lear confronts us with a looming apocalypse which is the America – indeed the world — we must strive to avoid.”

This adventurous production is not to be missed and one The Bard would surely approve.

For tickets and more details, click here.

Man of God plays at Geffen Playhouse

MAN OF GOD

  • By ARLENE WINNICK

It’s hard to classify Man of God, coming to the Geffen Theatre, this month. On one hand the play deals with a serious subject, but the way the victims handle things was very funny so I guess it’s a dark comedy or feminist thriller.

The subject: during a mission trip to Thailand, four Korean teenage girls discover their pastor (and chaperone) has hidden a WebCam in their hotel bathroom.  Initially shocked and horrified, each girl reacts very differently when they discuss how to navigate the situation (far away from home with no internet connection) as their distinctive personalities and revenge fantasies run wild. The perfectionist and bookish Jen is worried how this might affect her college applications. Naïve Samantha is personally offended but considers a kung-fu style battle with the Pastor. For Kyung-Hwa it brings out difficult memories and conflicts with older men.  Lastly there’s the rebel Mimi who contemplates a more gruesome and painful revenge.

There’s lots of forces at play here – one minute they are serious and arguing about gender politics; next they are genuinely frightened and very alone, and then the foursome turns comical by conducting a deep dive into wacky Instagram followers. As the play unfolds, so does the stories of each girl, which gives a clearer understanding of the final resolution.

Man of God by Anna Ouyand Moench was premiered by East West Players in January 2019.

For tickets and more details, click here.

The Sleeping Beauty presented by L.A. Ballet

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY

  • By CYNTHIA LUM
  • Photo Courtesy of Reed Hutchinson/Los Angeles Ballet

One of the most treasured story ballets of all time, Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty will be performed by the Los Angeles Ballet on Saturday, May 28 through Saturday, June 11 at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall, UCLA, and Alex Theatre in Glendale.

This cherished fairy tale with magnificent music by Tchaikovsky tells the story of an enchanted sleep, and the love between a beautiful princess and a handsome prince. Arrested by a powerful evil, inner beauty lies dormant, to be awakened after one hundred years through the power of pure love.

The original choreography was by Marius Petipa, ballet master of the Imperial Ballet. Considered to be the most authentic of Mairus Petipa’s work, and the epitome of classical ballet, Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary’s production Sleeping Beauty is not only true to the tradition but presents the story with drama, excitement, and stunning beauty.

The Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky’s second ballet, premiered on January 15, 1890 at the Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. It is his longest ballet, lasting nearly three hours. After the ballet had been staged, he stated, “I admit that I love to work within a time limit, I love the excitement, the urgency. And this does not reflect at all on the quality of my works. The Sleeping Beauty may be the best of all my compositions, and yet I wrote it improbably quickly.

For tickets and more details, click here.

Both And at Boston Court Pasadena through May 22

BOTH AND

  • By KEN WERTHER

Now onstage at Boston Court Pasadena is its first live production in over two years! Covid protocols are still in place (proof of vaccination and masking indoors required at all times) but the show, Both And (a play about laughing while black) has been charming audiences, making them both laugh and cry since opening last month. Through clowning, poetic text, and a tour-de-force performance, writer-performer Carolyn Ratterayinvestigates the nucleus of Black joy. As her mother is dying, the character of Teayanna finds herself in a netherworld between life and death, struggling to help her mother cross over. The journey reveals the wisdom of the ancestors, invokes the legacy of the Middle Passage, and unfolds the surprising secrets within her mother’s purse (my favorite part of the show!). This unique and powerful story, rich with humor, raw honesty, and passion, becomes a brilliant meditation on how to reconnect with joy. ColoradoBoulevard.net said, “Ratteray gives a transformational one-woman performance, rich and engaging.” And LarchmontBuzz.com called it, “Mesmerizing and magical.” Ratteray is an Emmy-nominated actor and director who has appeared off-Broadway and at regional theatres as well as in television, film, commercials, and voiceovers. She is also an assistant professor of theatre at Pomona College. Both And is a smart, funny, tender, and moving 90 minutes for everyone. It’s time to get out from behind those Zoom screens and return to enjoying live performances!

For tickets and more details, click here.