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Los Angeles Scene
by Bill Kaiser
January 2007

The year started with two intriguing productions, an important solo show, a national tour, and the Los Angeles premiere of a hit Broadway musical.

The Bacchae

Todd Kubrak, Mario Simone, Ryan Spahn,
Mike Tauzin, Colbert Alembert, Michael Taylor Gray
photo: Kurt Boetcher  

“The Bacchae” is a superb adapted by Allain Rochel of the Greek tragedy by Euripides. It has relevance to our own warring nation, and the hedonism of some within our own community.

The Chorus — Colbert Alembert, Todd Kubrak, Mario Simone, Ryan Spahn, and Michael Taylor Gray — are a fantastic ensemble, speaking with precision. Michael Sheppard is a playful, yet vengeful, Dionysus. Daryl Keith Roach plays Cadmus, and Bobby Reed plays Tireseas, with humor and agility. Michael Tauzin plays the faithful lover/servant Quintus earnestly, and Bob Simpson plays the priggish, intolerant King Pentheus admirably.

This is the first theater piece that the new company at The Celebration Theatre in Hollywood has completely developed, and it is a fabulous beginning. AD Michael Matthews has directed a frenzied menage of action, wit, and horror.

Another epic tragedy plays at The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. “The Dogeaters” by Jessica Hagedorn was produced in 2004 by Playwrights Arena, TDRZ Productions and SIPA (Search To Involve Philippino Americans) to acclaim. This transformed show has the monumental scope and dynamics of the original production.

It is a novella, a drama, with many interlocking stories, adeptly directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. The entire ensemble, of what seems like a cast of hundreds, is marvelous: from Joey Sands, the gay hustler poignantly played by Ramon de Ocampo; to the wise bar owner/drag performer Perlita, deliciously portrayed by Ivan Davila; to the decadence of Werner Fassbinder, aptly done by Nick Salamone.

Other performances of note were: Esperanza Catubig as Daisy Avila, the beauty queen turned revolutionary; and Natsuko as the elegant but sinister Imelda Marcos. “The Dogeaters” blends history, culture, politics, sex and what is home through the eyes of Rio Gonzaga, splendidly played by Elizabeth Pan, who returned to her homeland from America. This is a must see production!

The solo show “Confessions of A Mormon Boy” with Steven Fales is making its West Hollywood premiere at The Coast Playhouse. The show was a hit off-Broadway telling the story of a gay man who marries, has children, is excommunicated from the Mormon church, and ends up as an escort and actor in New York City.

“Wicked,” the mega musical about the witches of Oz by Stephen Schwartz, is coming to The Pantages in Hollywood for its Los Angeles premiere in February, 2007, for an extended run.

The new national tour of Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” started at The La Mirada Playhouse in January, starring Michael York as Arthur. Adapted, the show downplays the role of Mordred but it is a delight to see the show again as it wends its way across the country.

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