Dexter

Dexter
a kate west favorite
Warning - Spoiler Alert!





Michael C. Hall has migrated from HBO to Showtime for a show wildly different from the family angst driven "Six Feet Under". In it's second season, the hit show "Dexter" still captivates audiences with it's intriguing glimpse into the mind of a serial killer. With such an innocuous name like Dexter, who would have thought that behind that angelic smile lurks the heart of a mad man.

Hall plays the unlikely anti-hero, who only murders murderers. Raised by foster parents after watching his mother torn apart by a chain saw, Dexter realized early on that he was very different from other little boys. His foster father tells him to direct his dark leanings toward bad men and to always say the opposite of what he actually wants to say, in order to pass undetected through society's radar. This works well, until the second season when the police find the remains of Dexter's victims dumped in the bay.

The fun part of the show is that Dexter works with his foster sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) for the Miami Police Department. He's the blood specialist, a medium in which he obviously excels. Erik King plays Sergeant Doakes, the suspicious police officer who swears there is something off about Dexter. All outward appearances are normal, however, even to the extent of Dexter having a girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz). Secretly though, he does things like kill off the elusive Ice Truck Killer, who just happens to be his real brother Rudy (Christian Camargo). Life's a bitch, sometimes.

It's a testament to Hall that although his character is a cold-blooded killer, we still have sympathy for him and don't want him to get caught. During "Six Feet Under" we never thought of him other than the sweet, gay funeral director son who just wants everyone to get along. Now he fully owns the character of the ultimate outsider, alienated from human feeling. The writing is strong, much of the dark story taken from the Jeff Lindsay novel (see below). Great stuff. But it's mostly Hall we keep tuning in to watch. Will Dexter be found out? Stay tuned.


Created by James Manos, Jr.


Starring
Michael C. Hall
Julie Benz
Jennifer Carpenter
Erik King
Jaime Murray
Lauren Vélez
David Zayas
James Remar
C.S. Lee
Devon Graye
Dominic Janes
Christian Camargo


The Series:
Dexter - The First Season

Where We Know Michael From:
Six Feet Under - The Complete First Two Seasons (2-Pack)

The Book:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter Read more!

Cane

Cane
a kate west reflection










Cane deserves notice as one of the first Latino family dynasty shows. Alex Vega (Jimmy Smits) and Frank Duque (Nestor Carbonell) are brothers by marriage under Nacho Duque's (Héctor Elizondo) reign. The incomparable Rita Moreno is his wife Amalia, forever playing peacemaker amongst the many passionate offspring (eight of them, with the extended family spouses).

The Duques are a Cuban family making rum in Florida for generations now. The latest big controversy is that they will now operate by machine only, eliminating the need for workers in the field. Of course there are scandals and pay offs in the periphery and the local law is keeping a wary eye on the goings on. All making for sexy intrigue and keeping us tuned in. It's not the Sopranos, but it is interesting enough so far.

As a Latina myself, I applaud this trend, portraying different facets of Latino life, giving Hispanic actors fulfilling, well-rounded characters to play. Edward James Olmos campaigned for so long to be the poster boy for Latinos in film, it's nice to have a plethora of talent to choose from now. Not that they' re weren't always around, they just weren't always cast. Ah, Hollywood. Thank you for stepping up, just a little bit more.


Created by
Cynthia Cidre

Starring
Jimmy Smits
Héctor Elizondo
Nestor Carbonell
Rita Moreno
Paola Turbay
Eddie Matos
Michael Trevino
Lina Esco
Samuel Carman
Alona Tal
Polly Walker
Read more!

Sunday In The Park With George

Sunday In The Park With George
a kate west review
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by James Lapine
directed by Oanh Nguyen
musical director Bill Strongin
at the Chance Theater
5552 E. La Palma Avenue, Anaheim 92807
contact (714) 777-3033 or www.chancetheater.com
Thursdays-Sundays
August 3 - September 16, 2007
(Bob Simpson as George; photo courtesy Doug Catiller)

Fed up with recent unusually unfavorable reviews, famed musical composer Stephen Sondheim declared a break from theatre in order to write mystery novels. He quickly changed his mind however, after being newly inspired by an intense discussion on a particular work of art and an artist he could readily identify with. He soon opened "Sunday in the Park with George" on Broadway in 1984, in collaboration with James Lapine. It garnered a slew of Tony nominations, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and most impressively, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and it remains one of Sondheim's most brilliant and lyrically beautiful musicals to date.

The George in the title refers to the neo-impressionist French painter Georges Seurat (1859-1891), whose new "Pointillism” technique* was initially ill received and created much critical controversy. He approached his art scientifically, carefully studying all different classes of people to put into his paintings, using color to balance emotional harmony, much the way a composer might create musical harmony. Small wonder that Sondheim was so drawn to his story; art is harmony, after all, and Sondheim is expert at blending seeming discordance into surprising harmony.

Seurat's most famous oil painting, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” (an agonizing two-year project), is literally the set piece for the musical. The show takes place in two eras, that of the 1800's when George first creates his masterpiece and that of the 1980's, which involves speculations on possible Seurat descendants and the timeless effect of the painting's legacy.

In the Chance Theater's production, Bob Simpson is the definite highlight of the show. He is a sincere and contemplative George Seurat, obsessively focused on minute details like "Finishing the Hat" in his grand work of art, to the exclusion of all else around him, including the woman he claims to love, Dot (warmly portrayed by Lowe Taylor). The show is completely about George, from his unique perspective, which explains why only those closest to him have any real character resonance, rather than just one-dimensional characters in a painting.

Dot (yes, like a dot of paint) represents the mysterious woman appearing so prominently in many of Seurat's pieces, a possible mistress he tried to keep secret until after his death (apparently Madeleine Knobloch, mother to his child). She starts out a spunky illiterate woman of feeling, fancying simple pleasures like going to the Follies, who, under George's manic and worldly influence, transforms into a quieter, more mature woman in charge of her own life. Inevitably, she finally leaves George ("We Do Not Belong Together"/"Move On") in the end, child and all. Taylor has a real immediacy and accessible stage presence.

Simpson and Taylor have many lovely strongly emotional scenes together, and while Taylor is the stronger singer, Simpson absolutely holds his own. He has a fun turn imitating two different types of dogs happily yipping and yapping at one point, as well as maintaining a quiet tortured intensity when attempting normal social interaction, so alien and uncomfortable for such an internal artist. And both of them transition well into the second act, when Simpson plays the frazzled modern artist supposedly descended from Seurat, who presents his laser marvel Chromolume #7 (taken from Seurat's language of using lines and color intensity called Chromoluminarism.) Taylor is his endearing grandmother Marie, who cautions us that life is about more than connecting dots of paint, that we must connect with people too ("Children and Art").

But for the most part, the rest of the ensemble is a bit weaker, unfortunately, and some of them are not quite up to the demands of the complicated musical score (Jonathon Lamer was fine as Jules, George's rival and friend). Also, with such a stylized script, the actors might want to clarify emotion in the simplest ways and not indicate as much (granted, presentational style is always tricky). The production itself appears a little over-ambitious for the small space and might suffer from the producers need to be original. For instance, Set Designer John Robinson inexplicably uses spackled paint, which jars with the projected beauty of the Seurat paintings. And while it may be a more convenient and clever device to use reverse cutouts sliding from the wings, the actual colorful cutouts used so sparingly go better with the back projection, artistically speaking. The general projected effects are O.K. in general, although they might work better viewed from afar. Cassandra L. Stone's costuming was nice, and in keeping with both periods and Musical Director Bill Strongin and his musicians did a fine job as well.

Director Oanh Nguyen might have given the audience a longer time at the end of the first act to drink in the effect of the actors sliding into position and creating an actual living painting ("Sunday"). Again, in such a small space the effect would be much more enhanced had the audience been seated further back, in order to appreciate the overall stage composition. The lights did come down a tad early. The crowd's cacophony leading up to George's frustrated shout of "Order!" works up to a point. Nguyen stages everything fine, balancing movement with stillness, but his company is just not up to the demands of the production. Since his actors comprise manifestations of characters from the painting, except for Seurat himself, the quintessential and imaginative observer, the whole cumulative effect works visually, more or less, just not theatrically. Ensemble pieces such as "The Day Off" and "It's Hot Up Here" are general crowd pleasers though.

The modern second act is a good follow-up, delving into financing art, a necessary skill of which Sondheim is probably all too painfully aware ("Putting It Together"). Seurat never learns to deal with real people's emotions, yet profoundly moves everyone around him and gives us insight into a brand new perspective. The classic misunderstood artist, dead by age 32, never having sold a single painting. In the show, he comes to understand his surroundings only through the next generation. Nguyen tries to be sensitive to this conflict in the artist in his staging which is really the key to mounting this show. It is most important to be true to the integrity of the story, that of balancing color, light and harmony with the struggle of humanity within the artist. And of course the musical score is sublime, and Sondheim's best.


*Refers to breaking up the surface of the painting, by painting pure dots of color on the canvas to create pure color. Viewed at a distance, the dots appear to fuse together, creating brilliant color. The human eye blends the colors instinctively. The "Sunday in the Park" painting is currently in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Get the original Broadway score:
Sunday in the Park with George (1984 Original Broadway Cast)

Read more about it:
The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat Read more!

Faith In Our Time






















St. Robert's Jubilee
a kate west reflection

In this day and age, Catholicism seems so archaic and medieval; however, it often provides comforting ritual ceremony. Certain traditions like incense, the repetitive prayers that we all know and all that genuflecting are so richly engrained in many of us. It is truly an audience participatory rite. You can reach a divine meditational state just as easily recting the rosary as you can chanting in a yoga pose. Plus the music is great. And often more passionate than less traditional pop Christian faiths. Speaking of which, prominent local Burbank church, St. Robert Bellarmine, celebrated its one-hundredth year this September, with a recorded cd to prove it.

Combining several choirs (Children’s, Filipino, Contemporary and Adult Choirs), St. Robert's Music Ministry recently recorded their greatest hits, including well-known spirituals like "Wade in the Water" and "Precious Lord, Take My Hand". There is also a lovely Latin chant version of the "Ave Maria" and some pieces the choirs play during Good Friday, when they musically reenact the Passion of the Christ. There are a few nods to their annual Christmas Concert as well ("Sing Noel") and to good will toward man ("Peace") as well as many other favorites. If you like choral music, it's a nice local cd and, if you live in Burbank, California, a nice way to support your community.

And by the way, contrary to certain opinion, it is possible to be a Liberal Catholic, with some doubts here and there. In fact, that's probably even healthy. Life is contradictory, not black and white. As with everything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Besides, religion is very personal and private (and should always be separated from state).

The Music:
Faith In Our Time - 100 Years of Music
St. Robert Bellarmine Music Ministry
Leo Marchildon - Music Director
Father Lawrence Signey - Beloved Pastor
(April 4, 1961 - March 10, 2007)


To learn more (or order the cd) check out www.srbburbank.org. Read more!

Rescue Me

Rescue Me - FX channel
a kate west favorite









In it's fourth season, "Rescue Me" is still as hot as ever. Hot firefighters, hot action and hot dialogue.

Executive Producer, writer and star Denis Leary (pictured above) has created an intriguing look at tough men who live and play hard. His character, Tommy Gavin, is multi-dimensional, talks to dead people and tries to rise above his nature. As do they all. Facing death every other day, these volatile firefighters are in turn crude, offensive, charming, vulnerable and very real. The relationships are basic and everyone is deeply flawed. That's what makes it so fun to watch. Stereotypes are encouraged and often turned inside out until you come to understand the desensitization these guys are subject to. Fire purifies, annihilates, destroys and renews and no one understands that better than these brave men. Noble in battle, they are infuriatingly impossible in daily life. A great contrast. (The intervention scenes are fun family fodder.)

Kudos to Leary for daring to be edgy and for taking such a personal and active creative role. And this season's finale is a killer too, complete with a divine baseball scene. Ah!


Series Directed by
Jace Alexander (17 episodes, 2004-2007)
John Fortenberry (11 episodes, 2004-2006)
Peter Tolan (10 episodes, 2004-2007)
Ken Girotti (4 episodes, 2006-2007)
Adam Bernstein (2 episodes, 2004)
Jefery Levy (2 episodes, 2005)
Don Scardino (2 episodes, 2007)

Series Writing credits
Denis Leary (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Peter Tolan (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Evan T. Reilly (11 episodes, 2005-2007)
John Scurti (3 episodes, 2004-2006)
Salvatore Stabile (2 episodes, 2004)
Mike Martineau (2 episodes, 2005-2007)

Series Cast

Denis Leary ... Tommy Gavin (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Mike Lombardi ... Mike Silletti (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Steven Pasqual ... Sean Garrity (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Andrea Roth ... Janet Gavin (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Daniel Sunjata ... Franco Rivera (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
John Scurti ... Kenny Shea (48 episodes, 2004-2007)
Callie Thorne ... Sheila Keefe (45 episodes, 2004-2007)
Jack McGee ... Chief Jerry Reilly (44 episodes, 2004-2007)
James McCaffrey ... Jimmy Keefe (40 episodes, 2004-2007)
Natalie Distler ... Colleen Gavin (29 episodes, 2004-2007)
Tatum O'Neal ... Maggie (24 episodes, 2005-2007)
Dean Winters ... Johnny Gavin (23 episodes, 2004-2007)
Charles Durning ... Tommy's Dad (21 episodes, 2004-2006)
Trevor Heins ... Connor Gavin (21 episodes, 2004-2006)
Lenny Clarke ... Uncle Teddy (20 episodes, 2004-2007)
Olivia Crocicchia ... Katy Gavin (20 episodes, 2004-2007)
Diane Farr ... Laura Miles (19 episodes, 2004-2005)
Robert John Burke ... Father Mickey Gavin (19 episodes, 2004-2007)
Peggy Scott ... Jeannie / ... (14 episodes, 2004-2006)
Michael Zegen ... Damien / ... (13 episodes, 2004-2006)
Michael Mulheren ... Chief Perolli (13 episodes, 2004-2006)
Ed Sullivan ... Billy Warren / ... (11 episodes, 2004-2006)
Cailin Stollar ... Keela (11 episodes, 2004-2006)
Sherri Saum ... Natalie (11 episodes, 2006-2007)
Milena Govich ... Candy (8 episodes, 2005-2006)
Anthony Mangano ... Bobby Vincent / ... (8 episodes, 2004-2007)
Bernardo De Paula ... Jesus / ... (8 episodes, 2005)


Rescue Me - The Complete First Season Read more!

A Midsummer in Barnsdall Park

A Midsummer Night's Dream
a kate west review
by William Shakespeare
directed by Melissa Chalsma
Independent Shakespeare Company
at Barnsdall Park
4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 90027
running through September 2
tix free, reservations needed
contact (818) 710-6306 or www.independentshakespeare.com
(Sean Pritchett as Puck)

Love is ultimately fulfilling, enriching, euphoric and even noble. It can also be confusing, neurotic, irrational and even mad at times. Shakespeare understood this better than anyone and showcased such contradictions in one of his most popular plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The members of the Independent Shakespeare Company do a terrific job mounting "Dream" in their outdoor venue at Barnsdall Park. Director Melissa Chalsma (also Hippolyta/Titania) culls intense performances from her actors and offers us an entertaining and quite accessible show.

Love is the main story here, apparent from the start, when Hermia (Maude Bonnani) begs her father Egeus (Bobby Plasencia) to allow her to marry her true love, Lysander (Erik Matthew), instead of Demetrius (Ahmad Enani). The royal court, represented by Duke Theseus (Freddy Douglas), commands she obey her father, to the displeasure of his fiancé Hippolyta. One puzzling Shakespearean choice is that Demetrius is apparently of the same age, stature and general qualities as Lysander, so it seems an unnecessarily arbitrary decision to force Hermia to marry the former. It must just be one of those maddening obstacles standing in the way of youth's ardor. At any rate, Hermia will have none of it and runs off to elope with Lysander, pursued by Demetrius and Helena (Aisha Kabia), lamentably spurned by her love Demetrius.

Also prominent in this classic Athenian tale are the day laborers or Mechanicals, who are rehearsing a tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisby for the upcoming royal nuptials. Bernadette Sullivan is a confident Peter Quince, the leader of the troupe, trying vainly to whip them into respectable shape. Playing the lead is Nick Bottom (the delightfully versatile and talented Danny Campbell). The whole gang is a lot of fun, from the gentle Snug (Bobby Pasencia) who timidly portrays a lion, to Matt Hurley's girly Francis Flute, resigned to play the doomed Thisby. Thomas Ehas is a likeable elderly Robin Starveling and Amy Urbina is fine as Tom Snout and the fairy Cobweb.

Everyone ends up in the enchanted forest, which is full of mayhem and mischief, in the form of a whole host of magical sprites. Sean Pritchett is a wonderfully strong, virile and rambunctious Puck, fairy minion to Oberon (the gallant Freddy Douglas), King of the Fairies. He leaps and bounds tirelessly throughout the show, winking at the audience and wreaking glorious havoc among all the characters. For starters, he causes the two pairs of lovers to love all the wrong people and then puts a donkey head on Bottom. Melissa Chalsma is the dignified and haughty Queen Titania, tricked into loving the half-man, half-donkey, as punishment for crossing her King. Her fairy entourage is adorable, from Mary Guilliams as Peaseblossom to Jinsoo Choi's Mustardseed (also the flute player).

The lovers are all entertaining and fun, although this particular Hermia is a slight problem. A native Italian, Maude Bonnani gives a valiantly energetic performance as Hermia, but is less sure with the actual text. While normally this would be less of a problem in a modern play, it is rather distracting in Shakespeare. Her scenes seem a bit slower paced than the rest. The two men, Erik Matthew as Lysander and Ahmad Enani as Demetrius, work well together, however and Aisha Kabia's Helena is fine.

Ultimately, the lovers are all properly reunited and everything is set to rights as they awaken the next morning as if from a dream. There is a triple wedding, of course, and the Mechanicals perform their hysterically inappropriate tragedy, much to the amusement of all. Oberon and Titania reconcile, as do their counterparts Theseus and Hippolyta. The double casting of Freddy Douglas (Theseus/Oberon) and Melissa Chalsma (Hippolyta/Titania) works well, by the way. As does Pritchett's Puck and Philostrate (assistant to Theseus).

Although there is no set, the costumes are all fantastic, from the Mechanicals charmingly simple woven garments to Puck's outrageously fun and furry red shorts. Costumer Rachel Ford Pritchett ingeniously outfits the actors in retro-modern garb, conveying an appropriate timelessness. The fairies are especially beautiful too and Titania's flowery bed is a cleverly decorated handcart. The actors provide the music, with flutes, guitar and makeshift drums, etc. Production-wise, it's a pretty simple affair, all the better to showcase the impressive strength of these professional thespians.

So if you're looking for a nice evening in the park, please support this company. They do Shakespeare right. Remember to bring a blanket, some picnic food, a jacket (it gets cold at night!) and maybe a low chair if you want to sit on the lawn, although there is limited seating available. And while the production is free, the gallant company members do rely on donations so make sure you drop a few quid their way.


A Midsummer Night's Dream (New Folger Library Shakespeare) Read more!

Midsummer Shakespeare in the Cemetery

A Midsummer Night's Dream
by William Shakespeare
a kate west review
directed by Chrisanne Blankenship
a Tall Blonde Productions and Hollywood Forever Production
at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038
running August 10 - September 2, 2007, Fridays and Saturdays
contact http://shakespeareinthecemetery.com/; tix $20; free parking

One of Shakespeare's most popular plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a fantastical light summer faire, often done, and often a sure bet with audiences. Los Angeles' newest outdoor theatrical venue, Shakespeare in the Cemetery, does indeed offer a much more entertaining follow-up to its previous flawed production of "Hamlet". Originally set in Athens, Greece, in this version of "Midsummer" the players frolic New Orleans style, thanks to a jazzy soundtrack, Edgar Revilla's fun and flirty southern costuming and a set that looks like a cross between a Louisiana mansion and Athenian pillars.

The story primarily concerns two pairs of lovers who ultimately find happiness with each other in spite of all the obstacles they are constantly faced with, both real and supernatural. Lysander (Ryan Pfeiffer) and Hermia (Italome Ohikhuare) love each other but Hermia's father Egeus (Royce Thomas Johnson) and the royal powers that be will not allow them to marry. Instead, Hermia is supposed to marry Demetrius (Michael Perl) but Helena (Katharine Brandt) is apparently the one who truly loves him. They all run off into the enchanted forest where they run into fairies and midnight magic. Oberon (Sean Sellars) and Titania (Brianna Lee Johnson) live there as the Fairy King and Queen and do their best to wreak mischievous havoc on their mortal visitors. Representing yet a third type of class are the Players, or Mechanicals, a group of laborers determined to present the tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisby at the Duke Theseus' (T. J. Lowther) wedding to Hippolyta (Jenny Martin). While in furious rehearsal, they end up in the forest as well, and are likewise bewitched.

This particular production is set outdoors in an actual cemetery, among deceased celebrities, including the crypt of Douglas Fairbanks. As the audience enjoys pre-show picnic dinners, fairies creep out and try to steal food. (Careful, they will also move your lawn chairs to block your fellow patrons' view.) Our next fairy encounter is with Puck (Zoe Jarman), Oberon's powerful little minion, the official first spritelike appearance in the show. She spars with rival fairy Peaseblossom (Katherine Everett) and we learn of Puck's bad boy (girl) reputation. (Director Chrisanne Blankenship casts a girl in this role, a common modern choice, making Puck more impish, and less formidable.) Zoe Jarman is a cute and peppy Puck, zipping and dancing her way in and about the grassy set in deference to Oberon's will.

Sean Sellars, as her commanding master Oberon, focuses much of his energy on being heard in the difficult outdoor surroundings and he projects quite clearly. The role is also very physical, and he spends most of the play leaping from above, crouching covertly and tussling with his fellow actors, all of which he does with finesse. Less strong is Brianna Lee Johnson (co-producer), his Fairy Queen Titania. She does not portray much character development in the role and most of her scenes are rather uninspired. Also, she is in danger of falling out of her tightly corseted bodice. In dispute over a foundling child, the couple quarrel. Oberon bids Puck to do his worst, in vengeance on Titania's defiance, the result of which Titania falls under a love spell and fawns over a half-man, half-donkey, Bottom.

Eric Hunicutt is a likeable and funny Nick Bottom, the main actor of the Mechanicals, chosen as the heroic Pyramus. During one of the rehearsals, he runs off into the forest and returns with the head of a donkey, thanks to Puck's inevitable interference. Parvesh Cheena is also likeable as Peter Quince, the leader of the group, who tries vainly to maintain order and good acting among his players. The rest of the gang, with the exception of Blake Silver's amusing high-pitched Francis Flute as the doomed lover Thisby, is a bit weaker. Also double cast as Titania's fairy crew, Alexandra Adair is Snug and Rebecca Russ is Starvelling, rounding out the players. Bottom ends up happily as Titania's love slave for a time.

Puck's manic spellbinding extends to the young lovers running amuck deep in the forest. Hermia and Lysander elope and Helena tells Demetrius, in the hopes that he will reward her with a favored glance at least. Both men are in love with Hermia, but are hexed into thinking they are both in love with Helena. Katharine Brandt (also co-producer) is an appropriately charmingly awkward and despairing Helena, although with an inexplicable costume stripping, down to her corset. Her entertaining screeching exits work well as her screams continue on after she leaves. Italome Ohikhuare is less noteworthy as Hermia, unfortunately. In the first place, she does not project at all, so many of her lines are lost and secondly, she does not seem to be having as much fun as her fellow cast members so her Hermia does not stand out. The casting of an African-American actress in the role works fine, however. Both men, Ryan Pfeiffer as Lysander and Michael Perl as Demetrius, are fine and quite amusing in their attempts to knock each other's blocks off. The physicality of the four works well.

Eventually, Oberon and Puck set everything to rights and passionate balance is restored. Titania's spell is broken and she reconciles with Oberon and the four lovers are matched up with their destined partners. The Duke and soon-to-be Duchess find them in the forest the next morning, where everyone awakes as if from a strange dream. Was it all real? Shakespeare leaves that to us to ponder. Reality rewards them all with wedding nuptials and all the counterpart pairings end well. The Mechanicals are rewarded by putting on their terrible, but hysterical tragedy. The lesson must be that love makes people blind, foolish and confused, but in spite of this, everyone manages to find romantic joy. Shakespeare's chorus of fairies are constantly amused ("Lord, what fools these mortals be!") even though they themselves are subject to love's trickery.

Director Blankenship gives us an entertaining and festive "Dream", just right for a hot summer night. The jazzy theme is fine, although some choices (such as the fairies singing "Fever") don't fit as well. The production is not an overall statement of anything in particular, but pretty fun to watch. Both audience members and actors have a good time for the most part; it's diverting to see the cast merrily point out the helicopters that pass frequently above the park, for instance. There's no intermission, but that's hardly noticeable as it's a fast-paced and well-balanced show. If you're going, don't forget to bring food, blankets and sweaters - the cemetery gets cold and damp at night!

A Midsummer Night's Dream (New Folger Library Shakespeare) Read more!

Side Project






Side Project
a kate west recommendation

at Westside Eclectic
1323-A Third St. Promenade, Santa Monica 90405
(Located in the ALLEY between 3rd and 4th Street
just west of the corner of Arizona and 4th Street.
The red brick building just past the food court.)
Fridays 8 p.m.; call (310) 451-0850
http://www.westsideeclectic.com
http://www.myspace.com/sideprojectimprov

"Side Project" is the latest incarnation of the popular long form improv format. Actors get suggestions from the audience, and "clap in" on scenes. They may reference past subjects, bring up new ones or go somewhere different altogether. It's all based on the Groundlings "Uncle Joe Show" format (www.groundlings.com) and Stan Wells long form techniques (www.emptystage.com) and just as fun. Go check it out when you're on the west side.

The company members are from all over Los Angeles comedy: the Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade and Empty Stage. Past participants include James Adomian, Paula Christensen, Brian Clark, Dorien Davies, Drew Droege, Alex Enriquez, Ed Flores, Sami Klein, Travis Nelson, Zack Oldham, Nicole Paone, Avi Rothman, Annie Sertich, Kenny Stevenson and Amir Talai.

SAVE THE DATE

ALL LONG FORM IMPROV

All Benefiting Aids Project Los Angeles

www.aidsmarathon.com


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 @ 8 P.M.

Westside Eclectic

1323-A Third Street Promenade

[ALLEY between 3rd and 4th Street, west of Arizona and 4th]

Santa Monica, CA 90401

310.451.0850

www.westsideeclectic.com

Side Project Benefit $15

with the regular Side Project crew

Paula Christensen

Dorien Davies

Travis Nelson

Zack Oldham

Avi Rothman

Annie Sertich

Kenny Stevenson

Alex Staggs

Amir Talai


Read more!

Fries On The Side



Fries On The Side
a kate west recommendation
at 5124 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood 91601
running Saturdays at 9:30 p.m.
contact 800-838-3006 or 323-319-5009
or visit www.friesontheside.com



"Fries On The Side" is a local fast-paced comedy sketch show with a unique twist: the actors only have two hours to learn their lines each week. Writers submit scripts ahead of time and they are reviewed by the Fries staff and if deemed worthy, mounted on Saturday night. They may even invite you to perform with them. Plus they have the occasional celebrity host, such as Alan Ruck (Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), and a musical guest a lá "Saturday Night Live".

It can be hit or miss sometimes, since the performers are literally winging new material (although they do have teleprompters to work off of), but it's always fun. And frankly, they are more hit than miss. Oh, and you get free beer. Be in on the latest Hollywood success story. Check it out!

Executive Producer: Shane Elliott
Creator & Director: Shane Elliott
Executive Producer: Garrett Morris

Staff Writers:
Dorien Davies
Shane Elliott
Alex Enriquez
Marc Hershon
Jeff Huit
Christian Kendra
Kenny Stevenson
Daniel Yates

Main Cast:
Dorien Davies
Shane Elliott
Alex Enriquez
Jeff Huit
Zack Oldham
Rachel FordPritchett
Sean Pritchett
Avi Rothman
AJ Schuermann
Kenny Stevenson
Read more!

Debbie Does Dallas The Musical!

Debbie Does Dallas The Musical!
a kate west review
adapted by Erica Schmidt
conceived by Susan L. Schwartz
music by Andrew Sherman
directed by Troy Heard
at The Key Club, 9039 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90069, between Doheny and San Vicente
contact (310) 274-5800 or http://www.keyclub.com www.myspace.com/debbiedoesvegas
tickets $35-$55

discounted tix on http://www.goldstarevents.com
running Thursdays through August 30, 2007

The original 1970's film "Debbie Does Dallas," starring Bambi Woods, is a notoriously campy pornographic film that many curious adolescents grew up idolizing. The subsequent mystique and whereabouts of its star only added to its appeal. In fact, its infamy inspired many sequels, spin-offs and even a documentary called "Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered." And in 2001-2, it was converted into an even campier musical, first created and performed off-Broadway by Susan L. Schwartz, performing in various locations, including San Francisco. Now playing at Los Angeles' Key Club, "Debbie Does Dallas The Musical!" continues to titillate modern audiences.

The basic story of both the film and musical is that of Debbie, the high school cheerleader, whose sole ambition is to become a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, which in both versions is called a Cowgirl. In order to make money for her trip to Texas, she and her helpful friends decide they need to do sexual favors for all of their employers in return for some cold, hard cash. This is particularly difficult for Debbie since she's always wanted to save herself for marriage, but the sad reality of achieving cheerleading Mecca forces her to compromise her innocence. Without any other noteworthy skills, what's a girl to do? The musical version follows the porn plot exactly, except without the nudity. It is fairly suggestive though, so no wonder it's playing at a 21-and-over night club (i.e. don't bring the kids!)

Director Troy Heard smoothly maintains campy fun in an endearing satirical take on an already ridiculous set-up. Aurelia Rose plays Debbie, the vivacious cheerleader with a conscience. She's spunky and charismatic, complete with a quirky girlish voice, just like the head cheerleader from your youth. Her cheer squad bumps and grinds their cute little selves into increasingly compromising positions, so to speak. Heather Moody, Angel Reed, Jessica Kiper and Cheryl Texiera round out the troupe and all have a delightful stage presence, with the possible exception of Texiera (also Choreographer), whose aggressive over-the-top delivery would work better if everyone else went to that extreme, but she alone seems fiercely determined to actively hunt for the laugh, rather than allow the absurdly bad original lines to generate the humor. (The audience loved her on opening night, though). Drew Droege, Brett Nelson, Dylan Vox and Eric Pirooz play the goofy men in the girls' lives, from boyfriends to football players to lustful employers. All the boys are adorable. Droege has a particularly fun turn frantically switching between Mr. Biddle and the Spanish teacher Señor Bradley, complete with hilarious spontaneous wig changes. And Eric Pirooz does an appropriately sweaty turn as Mr. Greenfelt, who steers Debbie onto a darker path.

There are endless funny takes on the well-known older film scenes, including the decadent carwash scene with two girls wetting each other and a very silly orgy scene in the locker room. We never see Debbie actually in Dallas, but we do see her realize that she is her own person, in spite of what she now does for change. And it's all O.K. The scenes are wildly entertaining, although Rose has one perplexing scene in which she dons a Dallas Cheerleader costume and then appears to break character (?) and turn into an actress in a musical and then back into Debbie. It comes out of nowhere and adds nothing to the production. Everything else flows nicely, however, and given the hooting and hollering from the audience, the whole show is a definite crowd pleaser. Brema Ebbing provides delightfully spirited costumes to match Texiera's Rockette-like Choreography (a tad complicated at times maybe, but awfully fun to watch). Director Heard does a great job of conveying a tongue-in-cheek tribute to all versions of "Debbie" and the actors seem to be having the time of their lives. Andrew Sherman's songs are quite catchy as well and turn blatant parody into an actual memorable musical.

So if you are looking for a wild night out, this is as legally raunchy as you can get, complete with a two-drink minimum. You may even end up wanting to rent the original flick. It's a good date night choice, for sure, and won't it be fun to check out the Hustler store down the street afterwards, for a quick coffee and maybe some Debbie-inspired toys?
www.hustlerhollywood.com

The Documentary:
Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered Read more!