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Los Angeles Scene
by Bill Kaiser
September 2005

It sizzled in Los Angles this summer and it wasn’t just the weather — there was hot theatre all over the area, with more to come.

The first production of Justin Tanner’s new company at Third Stage in Burbank was OKLAHOMO! and it was SRO. The premise was a gay adaptation of a classic musical that was in rehearsals in a small theatre. Written and directed by Justin Tanner who has achieved cult status in LA for his numerous edgy plays has not failed with this show.

Tanner plays the director-from-hell in the show. He makes life miserable for his former lover, the adaptator of the play, bravely played by Brian Newkirk. The stage manager, a lesbian born-again Christian, is hilariously protrayed by Maile Flanaganand. Comic turns were taken by Ellen Ratner as a TV star slumming in little theatre, and Mary Scheer (of SNL fame) as a vocal coach who dies during rehearsal. We can’t wait for Tanner’s adaptation of TOBACCO ROAD which is just opening.

Celebration Theatre’s new AD Michael Matthews begins his tenure with the world premiere of BUDDIES based on the novels of Ethan Mordden, adapted and directed by Scott Edward Smith. The show follows the life of the narrator Bud, sharply played by Hutchins Foster, who was such a delight as Oscar Wilde in CT’s NAKED WILL, and his buddy Dennis Savage, who is the epitome of the uppercrust gay Fire Island/Upper East Side New Yorker. Another character, Little Kiwi, was sweetly acted by David Clark Smith. In act two, we realize that Bud, Dennis and their buddies represent a real “Stonewall philosophy” of life that celebrates gay uniqueness. If you remember these novels and this life fondly, don’t miss BUDDIES.

Celebration’s 2005-2006 season includes:

FOUR by Christopher Shinn beginning November 3, 2005
the long awaited JUDY AT THE STONEWALL INN by Thomas O’Neil beginning January 19, 2006
THE CHILDREN’S HOUR by Lillian Hellman beginning March 30, 2006
plus, a world premiere musical contest winner (they seek submissions). Opens June 8, 2006.

The NoHo Arts Center, a beautiful renovated theater space in North Hollywood is presenting THE FATE OF THE MONARCHS, written and performed by Hunter Lee Hughes. He blends a narrative on monarch butterflies with vignettes on the sexual and spiritual journeys of five gay men. His talent shines as well as the fascinationg story of the monarchs. The Noho presented DORIAN, a musical version of The Picture Of Dorian Gray as well as ANGELS IN AMERICA in its first year so watch for their shows.

This Summer there was also a staged reading of Lily Sauvage’s new play, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DOLLY at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives on July 9. The plays centers on an actor rehearsing a one womyn show about Dolly Wilde, Oscar’s outrageous Lesbian niece.

The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena and The Antaeus Company did an acclaimed production PERA PALAS by Sinan Unel. This was a multi-generational tale set a luxury hotel in Istanbul with a gay subplot.

I AM MY OWN WIFE by Doug Wright and starring Tonywinner Jefferson Mays directed by Moises Kaufman played the Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles before moving to the LaJolla Playhouse.

The Summer concert of the LA Gay Men’s Chorus was “They Had It Coming” an homage to the music of the great Kander and Ebb at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. It was a fine time celebrating the work of two great artists.

The 23rd LA Gay & Lesbian Film Festival OUTFEST was held July 7-18 in venues around the city.

Other productions just opening or coming up:

LOOT by Joe Orton at Theatre East in Hollywood, coproduced by the Lily Tomlin Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center thru October 23, 2005 - 323-957-5782
BUNBURY by Tom Jacobson at The Road Company in North Hollywood about Wilde’s unseen character in “The Importance of Being Earnest” - 818-761-8829
VALHALLA by Paul Rudnick about a mad king and a wild Texas teenager at Diversionary Theatre in San Diego - 619-220-0097

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