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Los Angeles Scene
by Bill Kaiser
March 2007

Two important revivals are currently running in Los Angeles: “Beautiful Thing” by Jonathan Harvey at Celebration Theatre and “Diversions and Delights” by John Gay at Ruby Theatre at the Complex. Both are fine productions that entertain and inspire.

Beautiful Thing

Nathan Frizzell, Mike Tauzin
photo: David Elzer  
“Beautiful Thing” was a successful London production in 1993 and was made into a romantic film. Celebration Theatre’s revival retains the edge and charm of the original. It is refreshing to see a coming-of-age play which has so much hope and courage to it. Despite all odds, we cheer them on as their love unfolds in a most unlikely working class setting.

The two teenage boy leads, Nathan Frizzell (Jamie) and Michael Tauzin (Ste), aptly carry this urban fairytale. Frizzell was last seen in the edgy “Four” and Tauzin in the equally provocative recent adaptation of “The Bacchae.” Sarah Taylor as Jamie’s understanding and humorous mother Sandra; Kelly Schumann as Leah, the trashy Mama Cass wannabe neighbor, and Nate Clark as Tony, Sandra’s sensitive lover, add to the spice and poignancy of the production.

Artistic director Michael Matthews, who directed “Beautiful Thing,” “Four,” and “The Bacchae,” manages the delicate balance between reality and fantasy in “Beautiful Thing.”

Diversions and Delights

In “Diversions and Delights,” we are inspired by Hutchins Foster as the fading, but still lively, Oscar Wilde-in-exile. It is after his devastating two years at prison hard labor as he gives a lecture in small Paris theatre in 1899, a year before his untimely death. This play was performed to acclaim by Vincent Price here in 1981, however, Foster actually adds a vitality that reminds us that Wilde was only 45 at this time.

The play weaves Wilde’s own repartee and that of some of his beloved characters into a delightful diversion. The set by Keith E. Mitchell captures the faded elegance of the period. The piece is firmly but lovingly directed by August Vivirito. All Wildeans in the Los Angeles area and everyone else should see this production at The Ruby Theatre at The Complex in Hollywood before it is gone.

Other Shows of Interest

“Confessions of A Mormon Boy” with Steven Fales has been extended again at The Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood. Celebration Theatre has another late night cabaret show on Friday and Saturday nights called “Lovers & Lullabies” hosted by Peter Bedard and featuring vocalists Bob Mundy, Richard Tanner, Victoria Tilford and Cynda Williams with dancers Angelique Perrin and Rusty Hamrick.

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