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Archive for Steven Leigh Morris

THE FUNNY MAN, Write Act Repertory at the Brickhouse Theatre

Sam Aaron in The Funny Man. Photo by Audaur Kountz

Sam Aaron in The Funny Man. Photo by Audaur Kountz

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Playwright Will Manus’s one-man homage to humorist and screenwriter S.J. Perelman (Sam Aaron) is a bit of throwback, and that’s a compliment. In a world as lunatic and partisan as ours, when the divide between evidence and superstition has melted across huge swaths of the country (strategically and cynically, some would argue), it’s not a bad idea to spin back to a lecture hall at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1976 and listen to a then-renowned wit describe his travels around the world, his philosophy of writing, and his associations with the Marx Brothers (for whom he wrote screenplays). Perelman was a frequent contributor to The New Yorker in the 1930s and 1940s (that gets short shrift in Manus’s play), and received an Oscar for his screenplay of Around the World in 80 Days (which gets longer shrift). He died three years after the lecture at UCSB that playwright Manus and Aaron fictionalize, under Judith Rose’s direction. Read more…

Now through July 17

4 SEASONS TOTAL SH!TSHOW at Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre – Hollywood Fringe Festival

Photo by Hiro Korsgaard

Photo by Hiro Korsgaard

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

The extent to which we’re governed by amoral/immoral power brokers is now evident in surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Partnership for Public Service that Americans’ confidence in government to address our problems has plunged over the past decade across party lines. Only one in 10 Americans now has strong confidence in career federal government employees to act in the best interests of the nation — about the same, anemic percentage of Americans who trust that candidates running for federal office have any interest besides their own advancement.

So if you feel cynical and jaded, no, it’s not just you. And this is why it’s hard to laugh at political sketches on Saturday Night Live, or at comedy sketches such as 4 Seasons Total Sh!tshow, which is really a variation on the themes of a typical SNL political lampoon. Read more…

Now through June 25

GRIEF: A ONE MAN SHITSHOW at The Broadwater – Hollywood Fringe Festival

Photo by Rebecca Asher

Photo by Rebecca Asher

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

“There are no words . . .”

This phrase is among the platitudes that writer-performer Colin Campbell excoriates in his solo performance about people straining to offer comfort in the aftermath of his losing his two teenage children in a car crash, on the other end of a drunk driver with already one DUI conviction who T-boned Campbell’s car. (Campbell was driving, and his wife, a fellow passenger, also survived.) There are in fact plenty of words, and Campbell has them at his disposal in his Spartan performance, directed by Michael Schlitt. “They’re in a better place,” is another. No, they’re not, he points out. They’re in a wooden box six feet underground.

There is nothing maudlin in Campbell’s colloquial, animated approach to what might be called an unimaginable horror, except that Campbell imagines it in detail, working through a multitude of aspects that accompany such heartbreak. Is losing a family so instantaneously better or worse than losing them slowly to cancer? Is it better to be present, to watch them die, as he did, or to learn about it through a phone call?
Read more…

Now through June 25

UNCLE VANYA at Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Technology zooms forward, but human nature remains stubbornly persistent. Thus a play such as Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, which premiered in 1899, can still speak to us today, can still cause us to laugh or cry at its characters’ folly or heartbreak. The new production of Vanya at the Pasadena Playhouse, featuring a powerhouse lead performance from Hugo Armstrong, is a clear and entertaining demonstration that humanity is the same regardless of the century it’s in. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw, Notes From Arden

Hugo Armstrong Transforms Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Having been largely weaned on the plays of Anton Chekhov, and his turn of the 20th century mingling of regret and humor while something, always something, is ending (Chekhov wrote as the Russian Revolution was brewing), I admit to a trepidation in seeing productions of plays by the Russian literary giant, because they so rarely rise to their complex occasion. They’re usually suffocated by affectation of some kind – such as an obsequious devotion to kitchen sink realism, and samovars and wicker furniture, or, in American or British hands, an effort to invent what it means to be Russian in 1899; that rarely turns out well. Read more…

Now through June 26

SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM at Ophelia’s Jump

Photo by Randy Lopez

Photo by Randy Lopez

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Originally conceived and directed by James Lapine for a brief Broadway stint in 2010, this revue of Stephen Sondheim’s life and work received a new charge of pertinence in the wake of Sondheim’s death in November at the age of 91. The show includes a strong video presence of the composer-lyricist via interviews for the Broadway production plus prior interviews on various TV outlets. In many ways, these interviews are the show’s highlight, providing context for the potpourri of Sondheim’s songs across the spectrum of half a century of Broadway theater. Read more…

Now through June 5

 

KING LEAR at The Wallis

Photo by Jason Williams

Photo by Jason Williams

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Shakespeare’s play gets a Wooster Group-ish makeover in John Gould Rubin’s modern dress staging for the Wallis. Tech is omnipresent, almost omniscient. Narrow, vertical panels on both sides of the stage provide screens for Keith Skretch’s projection design, featuring striking images of fires and floods now generally associated with climate change. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

After three years of preparation, The Wallis somehow made the decision to greenlight a befuddling presentation of one of Shakespeare’s most powerful plays and its chief character in the process.  The result is detritus. Read more…

Now through June 3

THREE TABLES at the Zephyr Theatre

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

The times have caught up to playwright Murray Mednick, now an octogenarian, who has sustained a singular, uncompromising vision in his plays over the course of half a century. The vision is grim, but not without humor. I found myself smiling throughout his latest play, Three Tables, but unable to laugh. That feels just about right for this cultural moment, though it’s getting harder even to smile. Read more…

Now running through May 22

2017 LADCC Award Show Photos

Here is a selection of photos from the 49th Annual L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards. Congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you to all who attended! Thanks to our photographer, Jayne Calucag. All photos are available for free low res download at her website, JayneCalPhotography.com HERE. There is a service charge for edit and high resolution images.

Judi Davidson and Steven Leigh Morris, winner of the Gordon Davidson Award

Judi Davidson and Steven Leigh Morris, winner of the Gordon Davidson Award

Cast and Creatives of Rotterdam

Cast and Creatives of Rotterdam

Shirley Jo Finney

Shirley Jo Finney

Julian Reeve

Julian Reeve

Artists from Actors Co-op representing 33 Variations

Artists from Actors Co-op representing 33 Variations

Michael Michetti and Jessica Kubzansky

Michael Michetti and Jessica Kubzansky

Jon Imparato & the LA LGBT Center posse

Jon Imparato and the LA LGBT Center posse

David Lamoureux, Dottie Reiner Michael Betts

David Lamoureux, Dottie Reiner and Michael Betts

Stephanie Kerley Schwartz & Michael Schwartz

Stephanie Kerley Schwartz and Michael Schwartz

Artists representing Geffen Playhouse

Artists representing Geffen Playhouse

Liz Ross & Alex Alpharaoh

Liz Ross and Alex Alpharaoh

Jaime Robledo

Jaime Robledo

Harry Groener, Dawn Didawick, Bill Brochtup and Kitty Swink

Harry Groener, Dawn Didawick, Bill Brochtup and Kitty Swink

Artists representing King Hedly II

Artists representing King Hedley II

Joel Daavid

Joel Daavid

Alessandro Canon and Belle Reve Theatre

Alessandro Canon and Belle Reve Theatre

Christopher Moscatiello

Christopher Moscatiello

Tim Cummings

Tim Cummings

 

TIME TELLS by Steven Leigh Morris

Keith Mills, Anton Chekhov, and Seven Spots on the Sun

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Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Keith Mills was an actor. He was other things, too. He ran, or was part of, a soft-water company in the San Gabriel Valley. He was a husband, father and grandfather. But mainly, he was an actor, from Toronto. He lived for decades in Claremont – that’s about 40 miles east of downtown L.A., at the edge of the county, and he worked a bit in Los Angeles, on stage and in TV. Until he didn’t. That never stopped him from being an actor. Read more…

BLACK VIRGINS ARE NOT FOR HIPSTERS at the Marsh, San Francisco

Photo by Alex Keenan

Photo by Alex Keenan

The Marsh, in San Francisco, is the Bay Area’s answer to Son of Semele’s Solo Creation Festival in L.A. The San Francisco venue, however, is a year-round breeding ground of solo performances.

Echo Brown’s Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters was supposed to run through August, and has been extended through October, understandably so given the blend of Brown’s infectiously bubbly personality with her sometimes satirical, sometimes melodramatic insights into gender and racial politics.Read more…

Now running through Oct. 29.

PAUL BIRCHALL’S GOT IT COVERED – September 2, 2015

From Paul Verdier to Dakin Matthews to A. Jeffrey Schoenberg to Stephen Sachs

Paul Verdier   (contributed by Steven Leigh Morris)

Steven Leigh Morris – Stage Raw

Yet another passing of another era was marked September 6, when actor-director-playwright-producer Paul Verdier died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease while under hospice care in West Hollywood.  Read more…

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Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

In an attempt to grasp control back over the way they are perceived, Actor’s Equity Association has launched a promo campaign to improve its much-tarnished image.  I suppose this was meant to dovetail with the Labor Day holiday, the national celebration of the many truly good things that the unions have done for workers.  If you’re a Union and you can’t get good press on Labor Day, well, something is wrong  Read more…

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AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY at the Theatricum Botanicum

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Steven Leigh Morris  – Stage Raw

Perhaps it’s Quixotic, but I find Theatricum Botanicum to be a kind of beacon, a shining light on the hills of Topanga Canyon. The alfresco venue was co-founded by TV actor and Old Leftie Will Geer, whose fame was cemented – if fame is ever cemented – by his role as grandfather Zebulin Tylor Walton in the 1970s TV-series The Waltons. Read more…