Powerpuff Girls

a kate west reflection

The Powerpuff Girls are three super hero little girls made of sugar, spice, everything nice and an accidental dose of Chemical X, a mysterious component from Professor Utonium's laboratory. Blossom (fearless, smart leader), Buttercup (feisty, dark-haired favorite, guess why?) and Bubbles (silly, blonde, fun one) are Townsville's trio of saviors. The Professor just wanted companionship, but got more than he bargained for not only with three adorable daughters, but a daily method of saving the world too. Super powers often conflict with school, super villains like Mojo Jojo often conflict with bedtime and the incompetent Mayor Mayer keeps getting everyone into trouble.

A good role model for little girls everywhere, check out the Cartoon Network for your local listings now.

Checking Them Out:
The Powerpuff Girls - The Complete First Season

The Powerpuff Girls - The Movie Read more!


Frida Kahlo
a kate west review

written & directed by Rubén Amavizca Murúa
with the Grupo de Teatro Sinergia
at the Teatro Frida Kahlo Theater
2332 W. Fourth Street, L.A. 90057
contact (213) 382-8133 or www.fridakahlotheater.org
running December 2005

The colorful and boisterous love affair between famous Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is captured yearly in the Frida Kahlo Theater/Grupo de Teatro Sinergia’s production of “Frida Kahlo”. In keeping with the fascinating culture of the piece, you can choose between either the English or Spanish version; the actors memorize both scripts. The theater itself gives a nice first impression when one walks in, with a painted sunny floor, happy blue walls and Mexican style décor. The fabulous folkloric costumes and jewelry will catch your eye also, all contributing to a vibrant glimpse into a surreal artistic world.

The play is inspired by an essay by Elena Poniatowska, various letters and documents from Kahlo’s life and from Martha Zamora’s book “Frida Kahlo; The Brush of Anguish”. In a short two hours, you are briefly immersed in Frida’s tumultuous life. She lived in pain, both psychically and emotionally. As a child, she contracted polio and as a young adult was in a terrible bus accident which freakishly impaled her on a pole. As a result, she was plagued with spinal operations for the rest of her life. She also met Diego Rivera. As she says in the play, “there were two great accidents in my life: the bus accident and meeting Diego.” And what a wild ride it was.

The intense Minerva Garcia plays Frida, often deep in monologues, with herself, the audience and a puzzling little character called Judas (Edwin Rivera Corcios). There is a Mexican tradition where the people burn straw effigies of a Judas character and as Frida loved dolls, this character comes to life as her artistic consciousness, signifying death a little too. Corcios plays him too effeminately, coming across a bit grating in the first act, though he tones it down in the second. The story would be just fine without this device.

Other than that bizarre touch, the story is fairly straightforward. Frida meets Diego, they fall madly for each other and Diego spends the rest of Frida’s life cheating on her and making her miserable. He almost can’t help it though as he is a grotesque (although immensely talented) man boy and Richard Azurdia plays him with all the necessary extravagant magnificence. Garcia coos over him as Frida, calling him her “baby toad” but the final straw comes when he sleeps with her sister Cristina (Renée Durón). That he also has the gall to introduce her to his many lovers, including a glamorous actress named Paula Goldberg (Cristina Frías), illustrates the ridiculous lengths they will go to eviscerate each other. However, all the pain in her life most likely made Frida the extraordinary artist that she was. If her life had been easier, had she not had both great pain and great love, would her work have been as open and as raw?

The two main characters are wonderfully well versed, matching each other’s passion very well, and the supporting actors are fine. Director Rubén Amavizca Murúa keeps a good pace, with seamlessly blended scene transitions and well-balanced emotions. It is the merest glimpse into a complex life, but you’ll find it’s a fulfilling night out. The audience this particular night sure loved it. Be sure to get precise directions, though, as the theater is a bit hard to find.

Direct from the source:
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
Read more!

Joni and Gina's Wedding

Joni and Gina’s Wedding
a kate west review
created by Marianne Basford & Ann Lippert; directed by Ann Lippert & David Pavao
at El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd. L.A. 90029; http://www.elcidla.com/index.htm
contact http://www.joniandginaswedding.com/; (323) 769-KISS (5477)
tix* $30 (includes dinner, champagne & cake)
running through December 2005 and may be extended 2006!

In the spirit of the semi-pretend-reality live show “Tony and Tina’s Wedding,” “Joni and Gina’s Wedding” is a lesbian version of its Italian-style predecessor. Patrons are the wedding guests who mingle with Hollywood actors posing as members of an eclectic wedding party.

You are escorted onto the cozy patio at El Cid, a trendy Spanish restaurant in trendy Silver Lake. There you can drink to your heart’s content at the full bar while you wait for the festivities to begin. Some cast members may venture out to greet you, including the Caterer Funqueesha (Brandi Hawkins) with a few appetizers for you, and MadDog (Jane Wolfe). By the time you’ve had a few cocktails in you, you’re introduced to the madcap members of the wedding party, by Rychard, honorary male maid of honor (Alex Garner) and you’re escorted into the banquet room for the marriage ceremony.

Ministress Pat Miass (S. Rachel Lovey) performs the “almost holy matrimony” for Joni and Gina (Lowe Taylor and Jessica Hopper). Interspersed throughout are wholly inappropriate comments by the pretend family members, which of course contribute to the hilarity of the proceedings. After the atypical ceremony, you’ll be escorted out onto the patio for more drinking and then the reception begins, along with the real fun. Dinner includes chicken, rice, salad and a champagne toast. And what a lot of toasts there are. The Best Woman, Maureen (Allie Rivenbark), bitterly remarks on her lost love, Gina, trying to goad Jodi into a catfight. Both sets of parents and siblings make speeches, the stereotypes continue and the sparks fly.

Bruce Cronander, in this performance, is General Armstrong, Gina’s waspish father and plays the stodgy, horrified military man rather well. Gina’s roguish brother Joe (Chris Burton) makes some off-hand boorish remarks and Charisse Savarin, Gina’s mother Margaret, plays an alcoholic somnambulist with no idea where she is. Feuding Jewish ex-spouses, Larry (Tom F. Evans) and Ida (Rebecca Michaels) embarrass their daughter Joni by squabbling endlessly. Joni’s sister perpetuates the Jewish stereotype as Rivkah (Kim Anton), an orthodox, mousy Jewish scholar. Larry’s current girlfriend Wamsetta (Tonya Harris) outplays Alex Garner’s Man of Honor Rychard’s queeny outrage with saucy Puerto Rican fire.

We expect and applaud these stereotypes which would might not work in a normal play but fit in great with a wedding. Because the audience feels a part of the show and have had ample time to drink, we delight in being at a wild party. Making it all worthwhile are Lowe Taylor and Jessica Hopper as Joni and Gina - both very charming and interesting. Joni is the more butch of the two, contrasting Gina’s slightly more demure side. We forget they are an unusual couple by mainstream standards and we root for them wholeheartedly. By the time we are served cake, danced in a conga line and learned to line dance, we are completely won over. Word of advice: don’t go if you don’t want to party. The actors will ask you to dance and none of them are shy, giving new meaning to the words audience participatory. From beginning to end, when the girls run off to their honeymoon, you are swept into this crazy world. Also try sitting near the walls for the best view and make sure you drink – a lot. It’s the best wedding in town if you want to go with the flow. It’s time to let your hair down and catch that bouquet.

*Partial proceeds from all shows goes to the Equality Campaign, the group that helps to fight against constitutional amendments that discriminate against same sex marriage. Read more!


a kate west review
by Peter Shaffer; directed by Tim Dang
at the East West Players, 120 North Judge John Aiso Street, LA 90012
running October - December, 2005; tix $30-$35 regular performances
contact (213) 625-7000 or http://www.eastwestplayers.org/

George Takei, best known as Sulu in the celebrated original "Star Trek" series, takes a different turn as psychiatrist Martin Dysart in the East West Players new production of "Equus". A complex and demanding role, Dysart carries the play, acting as both narrator and protagonist but Takei does not quite pull it off.

The story involves a young boy, Alan Strang (Trieu D. Tran), brought to the doctor's attention after blinding six horses with a steel spike. Intrigued, Dysart agrees to take the case. In the course of his analysis, Dysart uncovers deep emotion and passion in an apparently painfully shy and odd little boy. Colleague Hesther Salomon (Jeanne Sakata) pleads for Dysart to end the boy's pain, Alan's parents Frank and Dora (Alberto Isaac and Dian Kobayashi) are bewildered by their son and Alan himself is at times defiant and at other times pathetically dependent on Dysart. The most surprising revelation of all comes from Dysart realizing that Alan's secret midnight rides on the horses make him more alive and real than the Greek gods Dysart so emulates in the pages of his dusty old books. In the end, Dysart cannot find blame in Alan's average, slightly ineffectual parents or in society and his great conflict comes in knowing that if he actually "cures" the boy, he will also be killing his originality. His own life will seem bleak in comparison, either way.

Director Tim Dang honors playwright Peter Shaffer's original staging with a minimalist stage, an arena roped platform, surrounded by benches for the actors. All the actors remain on stage throughout the play and the horses are symbolically portrayed by actors with metal horse heads stamping about on spring horseshoes. Not only does this convey confinement, but also the idea that the protagonists are under constant vigilance, perhaps even judgment. Also, since Alan is recounting past events, the psychological aspects take on a dreamlike quality. Set Designer Maiko Nezu, Costume Designer Annalisa Adams and Lighting Designer Rand Ryan also aid greatly in providing a perfect clinical atmosphere. All this is not quite enough to instill passion in his actors, however.

George Takei, as Dysart, has a nice, theatrically trained voice, but somehow does not fully encompass a fully rounded character. Tieu D. Tran, as Alan has some nice moments and is quite moving in the climactic scene with love interest Jill Mason (Cheryl Tsai). The actors are all fine, although some of them inexplicably go in and out of British accents. It is a fine production in general, yet does not have the emotional impact the original production must have generated back in 1970's London. Peter Shaffer's brilliant writing makes for a fascinating play, regardless, and as an added bonus, this production will be deeply satisfying to any theatergoers who also happen to be Trekkies. Read more!


Absolutely Fabulous
a kate west favorite

Jennifer Saunders, (of "French and Saunders" with Dawn French), and Joanna Lumley are Edina and Patsy, the ever-wasted exotically stylish duo of the British sit-com "Absolutely Fabulous". Hilariously wicked, these two saunter through life, wreaking havoc among friends and neighbors, especially with Eddie's perpetually mortified daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha). Swigging vodka and chain smoking their little hearts out, no topic is too PC.

We love them for their extremely outrageous behavior and Director Bob Spiers gives them ample creativity. Saunders' cohort in comedic crime, Dawn French, also has a creative hand in the writing, all of which is fantastically brilliant, as the Brits like to say. Jane Horrocks as the bewildered and baffled personal assistant Bubbles is as zany and talented as all the rest.

The precursor to New York's "Sex and the City", this is the show where the ladies really let it all hang out. So don't be afraid, tune in, and learn how to be absolutely fabulous.

Created by
Jennifer Saunders


Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Julia Sawalha
June Whitfield
Jane Horrocks

Opening theme
"This Wheel's on Fire" by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko

Catching Up:
Absolutely Fabulous - Complete Series 1-3

MORE Magazine: www.more.com Read more!