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Los Angeles Scene
by Bill Kaiser
November 2004

The Fall Theatre Scene in Los Angeles began with a musical “Pulp” by Patricia Kane with music by Amy Warren and Andre Pleuss at Celebration Theatre, our city’s ongoing GL theatre company. Pamela Forrest, who cast it beautifully, admirably directed the show. The pulp noire style was enhanced by the ensemble playing the different stereotype roles: Peggy Dunne was Terry Logan, the butch out front lesbian, Jen Hogan the femme fatale, Kristin Ulrich the drag king, Stacy Cunningham the femme and Lisa Roberts, was “Miss Vivian.” The music, dialogue, and humor fit the genre so well. Brava to Pamela Forrest, her cast, and Celebration Theatre. We all look forward to their holiday show; 323-957-1884

The WildeWeek Festival October 10-16, 2004 celebrated the sesquicentennial of Oscar Wilde’s birth. The week began at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives with a dramatic and witty lecture, “Faking Oscar” with author C. Robert Holloway. Mr. Holloway is the author of “The Unauthorized Letters of Oscar Wilde” and the play “Oscar and Speranza.” His new novel, “My Letters from Ludwig,” has just been published. The lecture was a great beginning for WildeWeek, and attentively received by the audience.

A world premiere reading of Lily Sauvage’s The Importance of Being Dolly came next at the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood. The play focused on a contemporary actor played by Ursula Schmidt rehearsing a solo show about Dolly Wilde, Oscar’s Lesbian niece who visited not only by the ghost of Dolly — played by author Lily Sauvage — but by all the other characters in her intriguing life story. The evening was a great success with an enthusiastic audience and an engaging ensemble cast.

The finale of the Festival was the Wilde Birthday on October 16, 2004, at ONE featuring a presentation on Speranza, Oscar Wilde’s mother, which was compiled by me and revised by Ron Edwards. Paula Fins portrayed Speranza bringing this truly Wildean character to life with humanity and humor using Speranza’s own words. Ron Edwards and Bill Chrisley also appeared and Steven deMuth sang Irish ballads. The audience continued the celebration in the ONE garden with a tea party and birthday cake. An exhibit called Wilde Family Values continues at the ONE building at 909 West Adams; 213-741-0094

The following weekend, two extraordinary productions opened. They were totally different, but each had the strength of humanity of characters, and the ability to move their audiences.

First, there was the 25th anniversary West Coast Production of Jane Chambers “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” opened at The Village’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre. This was a LIT (Lesbians in Theatre) production directed by Sue Hamilton and the story of a group of Lesbians dealing with life, love and death in their summer sanctuary. I was pleasantly surprised how timely and moving the show still is, and how finely written. I guess that’s what makes a classic a classic. The cast headed by Nicole Marcks, as the tough but vulnerable Lil, was right on the mark. Peggy Gross as Dr.Kitty, and CB Spencer as the gold-digger Donna, were dead on comic. The whole ensemble showed what a real family is. Through December 5, 2004 so don’t miss it; 323-860-7300

Then there was “Dog Eaters,” an adaptation by Jessica Hagedorn from her novel, tells the story of the Filipino nation. Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivers at the SIPA Center, we are entranced by the characters, the movement, music and plot woven together on a simple stage with an incredible ensemble. The cast of 21 plays many characters. Among them, Rodney To played a complicated hustler, Nick Salamone played a humorous Rainier Fassbinder, and Natsuko Ohama was an imposing Imelda Marcos. You will not see a show like this in a long time, so catch it soon. Running through December 12, 2004; 213-382-1819 ext. 123

Then there is Dorian the Musical, an adaptation of Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by James J. Mellon and Duane Poole with lyrics by Mellon and Scott DeTurk. Directed by Hames J. Mellon, the musical features Kevin Bailey as Henry Lord (a composite of Lord Henry and Basil) and Max van Essen as Dorian. The locale is recent New Orleans. Those adapting wisely omitted the Wildean dialogue, which usually upstages most musical versions of Wilde’s works. They added the element of racism in having Celia Vane and her family be African-America. The ensemble is great and so is the music and the production values are exceptional at the newly renovated NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. This new company, headed by Mellon and Bailey, plans to present Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and other innovative plays. They are a company to watch. Dorian runs through November 21, 2004; 866-811-4111

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