Will Power

a kate west review

Shakespeare Festival/LA

Will Power to Youth
A Midsummer Night's Dream

at 1238 W. First Street, Los Angeles 90026
running August 26 - 29
Contact (213) 481-2273
or www.shakespearefestivalla.org

It is very nice to know that amidst governmental cutbacks and arts funding setbacks, there is still a place that brings youth together in the spirit of Shakespearean teamwork. Shakespeare Festival/LA's wonderful program Will Power to Youth presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream" downtown, not blocks away from the mighty Disney Hall and Music Center. They may not have the budget of those bigger theaters, but boy do they have heart.

Several teams of young teens and adult mentors collaborated on a 1970's version of "Dream" which entertains while tugging at the heartstrings and ultimately reiterates the importance of encouraging youth in the arts. Not only did they all memorize Shakespeare, but they also added some retro rock 'n roll and a few unique modern touches. In eloquent monologues, they talk about what their own dreams could be, what they might give an orphan child to survive reality's harshness and what they want from their future. All this pathos runs under two hours and as an added bonus, we get to watch some delightfully funky dance numbers.

The actual story begins with two pairs of lovers who find happiness despite all the obstacles they face. Lysander (Cesar Vargas) and Hermia (Natalie Sosa) love each other, but Hermia's father Egeus (Marco Castaneda) and the royal powers will not allow them to marry. Instead, Hermia is supposed to marry Demetrius (Manuel Mora) but Helena (Michelle Parra) is the one who truly loves him. They all run off into the enchanted forest where they run into fairies and magic. Oberon (Chris Mendoza) and Titania (Alex Geronilla) live there as the Fairy King and Queen and do their best to wreak mischief on their mortal visitors. Lastly are the Players, or Mechanicals, a group of laborers grimly determined to present the tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisby (inspiration for "Romeo and Juliet" no doubt) at the Duke Theseus' (Joseph Patino) wedding to Hippolyta (Claudia Diaz). While in rehearsal, they end up in the enchanted forest as well.

The talent varies, as some of the kids are setting foot onstage for the very first time. With that in mind however, and considering everyone's varied background, plus the fact that this may very well be their first exposure to the arts, it is a very impressive end result indeed. Some standouts include John Geronilla as the energetic fairy spirit Puck and Jorge Martinez as Philostrate, the Master of Revels.
And Jordan Vasconez and Alex Gonzales can't help but have the time of their lives reenacting the sillier version of Pryamus and Thisby. Every single actor and dancer is one hundred percent committed however, and it is more than obvious they are all having unbelievable fun up there. Morgan Williams and Kimiko Broder helped the cast choreograph some fun routines, including magically swirling parasols and hip moves worthy of any popular reality t.v. show.

Director Elizabeth Rainey is to be commended for piecing together so many different ideas, to the delighted surprise of all the parents in the audience. All the staff worked incredibly hard
(see complete production list below) and deserves accolades for such a fun show. The sincerity and earnestness emanating from this project is quite touching and we should all implore the Theater Gods to keep bringing back interested children and help guide them to exciting creative futures.

Elizabeth Rainey

Founding Artistic Director

Ben Donenberg

Director of Youth & Education
& Associate Artistic Director

Chris Anthony

Jeremy Ancalade, Director of Operations
Regina Cabrera, Director of Communications
Sam Greenstone, Director of Advancement
Marina Oliva, Youth & Education Associate
Ivan Robles, Facility Manager
Marcela Robles, Youth Coordinator
Ana Valdez, Development Administrator


Hippolyta (Costume Team)

Claudia Diaz

Theseus (Writing Team)

Joseph Patino

Philostrate (Sound Team)

Jorge Martinez

Egeus (Writing Team)

Marco Castaneda

Lysander (Acting Team)

Cesar Vargas


Manuel Mora

Herma (Scenic Team)

Natalie Sosa

Helena (Writing Team)

Michelle Parra

Peter Quince (Sound Team)

Shaun Reoliquio

Snug (Sound Team)

Min Song

Nick Bottom (Acting Team)

Jordan Vasconez

Frances Flute (Costume Team)

Alex Gonzales

Tom Snout (Scenic Team)

Ricardo Arenas

Robin Starveling (Movement Team)

Jason Mendoza

Oberon (Acting Team)

Chris Mendoza

Titania (Movement Team)

Alex Geronilla

Mustardseed (Costume Team)

Juan Castillo

Puck (Acting Team)

John Geronilla

Peasblossom (Scenic Team)

Magdalena Rafael

Teardrop (Writing Team)

Kevin Cruz

Moth (Movement Team)

Kevin Castillo

Thistle (Sound Team)

Allan Mancia

Starlight (Costume Team)

Gema Gomez

Firefly (Sound Team)

Luis Mateo

Movement Team

Cleavon Tatum



Kimiko Broder

Facilitation Director

Rani DeLeon

Costume Mentor

Hanalani Lee

Lighting Designer

Jose Lopez

Scenic Mentor

Akeime Metterlehner


Judeth Oden Choi

Stage Manager, Graphic Designer

Marina Oliva

Music Mentor, Facilitator

Ivan Robles

Youth Coordinator

Marcela Robles

Acting Mentor, Facilitator

Jon Royal

Movement Mentor

Morgan Williams

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John Hughes

a kate west reflection

This man was my whole high school experience. I was an MTV 80's teen and reveled in all the pop culture America could give me. Finally, someone understood the teen point of view and spoke our dialogue. In our time. From Ferris Bueller's rebellious independence to all the Breakfast Club angst, Hughes gave us what we wanted and needed and made us feel normal in our brand new 80's world. We'll never forget you.

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. "

The Classics:

The Breakfast Club Ferris Bueller's Day Off Bueller...Bueller... Edition (Special Collector's Edition) Home Alone Some Kind of Wonderful (Special Collector's Edition) Pretty in Pink (Everything's Duckie Edition) Uncle Buck Planes, Trains and Automobiles Weird Science (High School Reunion Collection) Read more!

Carved in Stone

[Jesse Merlin, Levi Damione, Leon Acord, Kevin Remington, Curt Bonnem]

a kate west review

by Jeffrey Hartgraves
directed by John Pabros Clark
at Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Fridays and Saturdays @8:00 PM
running Jun 19 - Sep 05
contact 310-473-LIVE (5483) or

Remember the question, "who would you most like to have dinner with, living or dead?" How about Truman Capote, Quentin Crisp, Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams? Or maybe even William Shakespeare? Playwright Jeffrey Hartgraves expands on that idea with a visit to the after life in "Carved in Stone".

Gryphon Tott (Levi Damione), an aspiring writer, dies suddenly in a train station and immediately finds himself in every reader's dream situation - being able to talk to his favorite authors, all of whom happen to be dead. Oh, and gay. In a common sitting room, and in denial about a few things, in death as in life, Tott eventually admits the truth about himself, to the surprise of all. Director John Pabros Clark (who also designed the cozy set) presents an amusing and witty look at Hartgraves version of what might happen if all these literary giants had a chance to mingle and pry into their lives. And make fun of each other mercilessly.

Kevin Remington is amazing as Capote, as he not only captures the voice and mannerisms perfectly, but makes it his own, with natural-sounding rapid-fire dialogue, as if there were no script at all. Curt Bonnem is a very sexy Williams, Jesse Merlin is a rumbling baritone and quite delightfully dry Wilde and Leon Acord plays Crisp with proper demure affection. Most definitely portrayed by strong actors, the rapport amongst these characters plays beautifully real and each one of them has something fascinating to impart. One could listen to these four wonderful performers for days.

Levi Damione, as the new author Tott, is a bit weaker, however, not having a famous personality to impart, but his presence does give something for the others to focus on. In addition, Alex Egan and Amanda Abel come in and out of the stage, as various characters, from Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, to Frank Nelson and Judy Garland, and with a special Shakespearean appearance (Egan). They are fine as some added comic relief, but it is rather confusing to have some seemingly arbitrary famous non-literary characters pop in from time to time, although gay icons are frequently mentioned. More perplexing though, for some reason they are not allowed to interact with the main players. You do get some good musical numbers however, and maybe that is enough to entertain.

Overall, it is great fun to watch the drama unfold, as Tott tries to figure out why he is the one selected for this divine privilege. It's not Shakespeare, so to speak, but it is a play about love of literature and it is obvious the playwright had great respect for these legends. As do we. This particular evening had a few barely noticeable technical glitches, which hardly seems to matter in the big scheme of it all, as the show has been extended through the fall. So brush up on your classics and come get some insight into genius for a while. Have a shot of bourbon afterwards.
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