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Los Angeles Scene|
by Bill Kaiser
June is pride month, and with all the tragedy, there is still much to rejoice, especially in the arts.|
Celebration Theatre reopened last year at a new location — the Lex Theatre in Hollywood — with three great shows starting their season. “Booty Candy” by Robert O’Hara was hilarious, full of interconnecting vignettes of queer people of color. The entire cast was outstanding including Celebration’s co-artistic director Michael A. Shepperd (pictured above) and directed expertly by the other co-artistic director, Michael Matthews.
Their second hit was “Dream Boy” adapted by Eric Rosen from Jim Grimsley’s coming of age novel. A completely different theme from “Booty Candy,” “Dream Boy” was a gothic, repressive yet poignant story of two teenage boys finding love in 70s rural North Carolina. The leads, Matthew Boehm and Randall Ray Clute, were amazing and again great directing by Matthew Matthews.
Their third, current hit show, “The Boy from Oz” is by Peter Allen, Nick Enright and Martin Sherman. Celebration has taken the Broadway show and reconfigured it for an intimate space, and it works beautifully as did their earlier production of “The Color Purple.” Having seen the Broadway version with Hugh Jackman, I have to say that lead Andrew Bongiorno is just as delightful playing Peter Allen. Michael A. Shepperd has directed superbly, and the show had been extended through July, 2016.
Gay rights pioneer and co-founder of the Mattachine Society, Chuck Rowland (for whom the award is named), founded Celebration Theatre in 1982, when he leased a storefront in Silver lake to start a community theatre dedicated to producing gay-themed material.
At another UCLA mixer, I met actor Jazzmun Nichcala, and her colleagues on the documentary “In Full Bloom: Transcending Gender.” This movie follows the journey of 13 transgender actors, and two gay actors, as they prepare for the world premiere of the play “Lovely Bouquet of Flowers: An Exploration of Non-Traditional Gender Voices” by Jazzmun Nichcala and David Hays Gaddas. It was another fascinating and inspiring event.
The Alliance Of Los Angeles Playwrights held their 8th annual Pride Play Reading Festival in West Hollywood, on June 25. Six wonderful short plays were read including “Library” by Benjamin Scuglia; “Lunch with ‘Friends’” by Rhea MacCallum; “The Cellophane Closet” by Felix Racelis; “Grandpa and the Gay Rabbi” by Jonathan Josephson; “To Bury a Stranger” by Judith Allen and Ann L. Gibbs; and “SASM” by Thomas J Misuraca. On June 26, a full-length play “Passing” by Steve Shade was scheduled. The Festival was hosted by co-chairs Dan Berkowitz and Jonathan Dorf and vice-chair Ann L. Gibbs.
For further information: celebrationtheatre.com or call 323-957-1884.
Remember to see an LGBT play tonight, and when you travel!