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Los Angeles Scene
by Bill Kaiser
September 2006

Los Angeles got a Michael Kearns doubleheader in the late summer. The 20th anniversary production of Robert Chesley’s “Jerker” directed by Kearns who also directed the original world premiere at Celebration Theatre in 1986, as well as the 10th anniversary revival. This time around, was a marked change from the earlier versions. The nudity and even the beds and sheets were eliminated. Instead the show was stripped down to Chesley’s text and the emotions the two actors invoke. The show began at Highways in Santa Monica in August and has moved to the Moving Arts space on Hyperion in Silver Lake for what we hope will be an extended.

The original cast of Joe Gill (JR) and Dean Howell (Bert) provided the delicate balancing admirably of comedy and tragedy in the story of these two San Francisco gay men whose phone sex turns into a meaningful relationship. Now Director Kearns will be taking over the role of Bert. Don’t miss this classic AIDS play with its universal story. The Bailiwick in Chicago is also mounting a production and there is time for it to be done at your theatre too!

Another timely Kearns creation is “The Tina Dance,” which he also directed. This played at the Renberg Theatre at the Gay Lesbian Center in Hollywood this August. This ensemble piece tackles the new medical crisis that is the drug crystal methamphetamine, otherwise known in the street as “tina.” As the AIDS plays of the 80s, “The Tina Dance” attempts to humanize those dealing with this addiction. The ensemble cast of Bill Chrisley, Gil Ferrales, Steve Miller, Jon Powell, Chris Rodriguez, and Corey Saucier portray their own personal in a realistic manner. Ian Mckinnon plays the personification of “Tina” with a combination of fascination, fear and revulsion. “The Tina Dance” is as important a docudrama as “AIDS/US” or “AIDS/US/Women.”

An important well-received revival of Terrence McNally’s “Corpus Christi” is playing at The Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood and a delightful production of “Moonlight and Magnolias” by Ron Hutchinson is happening at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. Its focus if the time when legendary David O. Selznick halted production of “Gone with the Wind” and sequestered himself with writer Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming for a week to rewrite the screenplay. While the play has little gay content, there is a line about why George Cukor may have been taken off the picture.

Coming up at the Renberg Theatre September 29 and 30 is Alec Mapa in “Live and in Person” and Celebration Theatre’s new season begins October 27 with the west coast premiere of the musical “Splendora” by Peter Webb, Stephen Hoffman, and Mark Campbell.

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