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Hollywood Fringe 2015 Medal Count…

week two, part II

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THE GOLD MEDALS:

ANNABELLA

BOOZE, BALLS AND BLUEGRASS

THE DEVIL YOU SAY

RESERVE CHAMPION

REVOLUTIONARY LOVE

THE THREE MUSKETEERERS: CLOWNS WITH SWORDS

THE BRONZE MEDALS:

FIFTY SHADES OF SHREW

MUDD THE MAGNIFICENT: MAGIC & MAYHEM

NERD ANARCHY

ORSON WELLES & SCATMAN CROTHERS IN ‘A HOLLYWOOD ENDING’

THE EAR WAX MEDALS:

CURSED “MY ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD”

SPIDERPOCALYPSE! A LOW BUDGET HORROR FILM FOR THE STAGE

 

Click HERE for Recap Hollywood Fringe 2015 – Week 2 Platinum Medal coverage.

Week 2 Fringe Festival Gold, Bronze and Ear Wax Medal Winners are unveiled herein:

ANNABELLA (Gold Medal)

Talent is a lovely thing.

Not the end all be all, but a lovely thing.

Talent tempered with ambition is something all together different. Something spectacular.

Sam Johnides and Tony Gonzalez have the promise of spectacular about them.
Annabella harkens back to the golden era of operas.

A travelling puppeteer, (Gonzalez) haunted by an unnamed guilt and tormented by the accusing voices of his puppets is driven over the edge of sanity where he is lost within the darkness of his own soul.

He is brought before Annabella (Kimberly Hessler); some claim she is “a healer,” others whisper of witchcraft.

She is able to revive him, and in doing so senses his troubled soul. She undertakes to free him of his unspoken demons, unaware of the cost it will bring down on the two of them.

As the tortured puppeteer, Gonzalez convinces you of his agony. He brings a strong presence to the stage and a stronger voice. Hessler sings beautifully as well and she and Gonzalez work wonderfully together. One has the sense the show benefited from a firm directorial hand; if this is so then the credit goes to Carol Vaness.

While Annabella is hardly a perfect work, it is nevertheless an impressive one. Gonzalez and Johnides have provided a strong and well crafted piece that speaks of great promise.

TUESDAY JUNE 23 2015, 8:00 PM | 90 MINS
FRIDAY JUNE 26 2015, 10:00 PM
SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 8:00 PM
LOUNGE THEATRE (LOUNGE THEATRE ) 6201 SANTA MONICA BOULEVARD
TICKETS: $10.00

 

boozball1.jpgBOOZE, BALLS AND BLUEGRASS: A DAUGHTER’S JOURNEY (Gold Medal)

One of the mainstays of any Fringe is of course the solo show. Under that heading, there are many sub-genres, and the most frequently seen of those is the bio-presentation wherein the performer calls upon their personal history for the subject they hope to shape into a theatrically viable show.

This is not as simple a task as many might think. But when successfully achieved, it can be among the most satisfying of any staging you might attend, by the power invoked through the artist’s bravery in stripping away the barriers between the emotional truth of the experience and the audience.

In most types of shows there are means and methods for hoodwinking your audience into assuming the production you’ve just put them through isn’t as awful as it actually is; big, boisterous musical numbers, high blown stylishness enforced on acting or blocking, closing the first act with the bloody amputation of a screaming man’s leg.

But in solo shows there’s no wiggle room for such cheating, and if it’s a charade they’re being shown the audience can spot it from the first syllable uttered.

In Laura Carson’s understated, funny, and oh so touching tale of a daughter leaving her L.A. life to care for her ailing father back in Atlanta, Georgia you need not fear such sham.

Carson doesn’t falter at crossing into the less attractive aspects present in any relationship between parent/child, and this display of artistic courage explains to a large degree the success of her show.

We come to know annoyance at our parents’ presence and we all learn the agony of their loss.

Carson shares her humanity with the audience, and the audience responds in kind. For this alone her show would be labeled a success. But Carson goes above what the audience’s expectations are for this show.

She takes her sense of loss and from that pain spins a golden conclusion to her tale in a moving affirmation of life.

How rare the performer who can share pain with her audience, then point out to them the reason to feel thankful for it.

SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 8:30 PM
THEATRE ASYLUM (ELEPHANT STUDIO – 1078 LILLIAN WAY LA. CA. 90038)
TICKETS: $15.00

devilyu2.jpg
THE DEVIL YOU SAY (
Gold Medal – chiefly for the puppeteering)

This is a beautifully constructed show that begins with a classic Punch and Judy puppet show and ends with a philosophical diatribe by the devil.

The puppets are magnificently fashioned, and the puppetry is of the first order. Yet for all its visual splendor of the instruments and the skill of the performers, the show is basically a lecture to the audience by the devil done with poetic elegance.

FRIDAY JUNE 26 2015, 11:30 PM | 45 MINS
THEATRE ASYLUM (THEATRE ASYLUM – 6320 SANTA MONICA BLVD. LA. CA. 90038
TICKETS: $14.00

 

reserch1.jpgRESERVE CHAMPION (Gold Medal)

 

A sincere, heartfelt solo show by Christopher Piehler concerning the period of his childhood when he rode in youth equestrian competitions and the relationship he had with his horse “Atom Ant”. The show succeeds in touching the funny bone while tugging on the heart stings.

An endearing work, with a delicacy and brevity of a haiku. Thomas James O’Leary directs.

 

(SADLY NO MORE PERFORMANCES)

 

(More Hollywood Fringe Festival Fest 2015 HERE
 

 

THE THREE MUSKETEERERS – CLOWNS WITH SWORDS (Gold Medal)

 

Mauricio Gomez as Pono, Jeff Heapy as Klaus, Alec Tomkiw as Hugo and Cassandra Gonzalez as Sookie are featured in this absolutely inspired broil of swashbuckling silliness and clowning in the truest sense of the word. As they gyrate and gambol about the stage, there is no missing in their performance the style and masterful physical tomfoolery of people who take clowning very seriously. Watching their antics one is almost intoxicated by the mirth.

 

THURSDAY JUNE 25 2015, 7:00 PM
SUNDAY JUNE 28 2015 5:30 PM
ACTORS COMPANY (OTHER SPACE THEATER) 916 N.FORMOSA AVE
TICKETS: $15.00

 

 

revlov1.jpgREVOLUTIONARY LOVE (Gold Medal)

This celebration of the life and work of Turkish poet and social activist Nazim Hikmet (Ryson Allman) is structured as an operetta of poetry.

Director Fulya Diner expressed this was a labor of love, and that truth is proven by the stunningly beautiful staging of the show.

Elif Savas fulfills a trio of functions, as Hikmet’s wife, as his muse and as the country he so loved despite his imprisonment in it and eventual banishment from it.

This is a visually breathtaking production, and even if it weren’t, Allman’s soaring portrayal of the poet Hikmet alone would be reason enough to see it.

SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 1:00 PM | 1HR
COMPLEX THEATRES (RUBY THEATRE, 6476 SANTA MONICA BLVD)
TICKETS: $10.00

 

50shade1.jpgFIFTY SHADES OF SHREW (Bronze Medal)

Shakespeare meets E.L. James thanks to Broads’ Word Theatre, an all female company.

A gimmick is a gimmick is a gimmick. What next, Petruchio and Katharina ala Dr, Seuss? Other than some slight spanking, a few neckties, and suggestive glints in the eyes of the cast, the S\M concept had a greater presence on the program cover than in the play.
Still, when all the dust has settled (and the ball gags and whips put away) what you wind up with is a commendable production of “Taming of the Shrew”, that is visually stunning. The cast is a capable one, especially Jen Albert as Katharina and Dawn Alden as Petruchio.
SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 10:00 PM| 90 MINS
LOUNGE THEATRE (LOUNGE THEATRE ) 6201 SANTA MONICA BOULEVARD
TICKETS: $15.00

 

 

muddmag1.jpg

MUDD THE MAGNIFICENT – MAGIC & MAYHEM
(Bronze Medal)
“Comedy Magician” Jimmy H developed the character of the picaresque rogue “Mudd” for the Queen Mary Halloween Celebration. While he handles both competently, there is nothing startlingly original about either his comedy or his magic. For me, however, the main failing of the show was its total lack of the promised “mayhem.”


THURSDAY JUNE 25 2015, 11:30 PM | 1HR

SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 11:30 PM
THEATRE ASYLUM (ELEPHANT STUDIO – 1078 LILLIAN WAY LA. CA. 90038)
TICKETS: $10.00

 

nerdana1.jpg
NERD ANARCHY
(Bronze Medal)
While Nerd Anarchy falls short of being successful in performance it more than succeeds in being classic Fringe.
A musical based on a group of obsessed Dungeon and Dragons players who are mysteriously sucked into the reality of the game and forced to do battle as their role characters as they desperately seek to discover what dark force has them in its grip. David Labarron, Karen Grundege and Will Norris share between them six constantly interacting roles which muddles the whole narrative.

Still it’s hard to hate a show with a song entitled, “I Get to F_ _k a Unicorn, But not in a Weird Way.”

WEDNESDAY JUNE 24 2015, 6:00 PM | 75 MINS
THURSDAY JUNE 25 2015, 11:55 PM
THREE CLUBS (THREE CLUBS STAGE ROOM) 1123 N VINE ST
TICKETS: $10.00

orsonw1.jpgORSON WELLES & SCATMAN CROTHERS IN ‘A HOLLYWOOD ENDING’
(Bronze Medal)

Well into the twilight of their lives and professional careers Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers had a chance encounter when both were auditioning for the 1985 animated film “The Transformers: The Movie”. It would be the last film either would work on. Playwright and director David Castro uses this blissfully absurd meeting as the springboard to explore the disparity between those who see their creative efforts as art and those who see their efforts as a way to earn a paycheck.

Other than the odd ball Hollywood history, the selling point for this show are Rob Locke as Welles and Dennis Neal as Crothers both of whom fill the very big shoes they’ve been given with great skill.

FRIDAY JUNE 26 2015, 8:30 PM | 1HR
SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 2:30 PM
THEATRE ASYLUM (ASYLUM LAB – 6320 SANTA MONICA BLVD. CA. 90038)
TICKETS: $10.00

 

 


cursed1.jpgCURSED “MY ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD” (
Ear Wax Medal)

I write this without the least rancor towards Ms. Mendoza.

I don’t know the woman.

I do understand she is something of a figure in the entertainment industry.

So what?

Her position or influence is of no concern to me and meaningless to this appraisal of her one woman show, Cursed “My Road to Hollywood.”

I sat through it.

It was terrible.

That is a very sad thing for me to have to say, but that is my honest opinion.

What is even sadder is there was really no reason for it to have been a terrible show.

One must imagine, after a long career as a film and television director, that Ms. Mendoza has accumulated a ponderous store of anecdotes, remembrances, insights and observations; however, none of these seem to have found their way into this show.

I understand this is the fourth staging of Cursed; a fact I find rather depressing.

After four prior opportunities to assess and re-work it, this project has no excuse to be encumbered by flaws so basic. With the knowledge of these previous productions the glaring inadequacies of the present staging reflect poorly on her creative team, and sadly, on those friends who undoubtedly attend in “support” of Ms. Mendoza.

The lack of development displayed by the current state of the show points to only three possible conclusions:

Either Ms. Mendoza’s creative team, and those that made up her audience, reframed from expressing their honest opinion of the show out of concern of incurring her displeasure.

That both team and audiences lacked the necessary experience required to identify and determine what in the show had merit and what did not.

Or, what one hopes to be the case, both of these groups hold such fondness for Ms. Mendoza that they were unable to critique her effort truthfully out of concern for the pain it would cause her.

I may be mistaken, and certainly hope that I am, in assuming M.s Mendoza has not made a point of attending many of the other shows that the 2015 Fringe offers.

If this is indeed the case, as so many solo shows this year have been generated by women, it would be a great shame for Ms. Mendoza to have missed such a golden opportunity to view and compare hers against others.

  • No, Traveler
  • Anna in the Darkness
  • Nell Gwynne
  • I Died…I Came Back…Whatever
  • Tiananmen Annie

These are superb shows which anyone stands to learn from.

The failure of Cursed has its source at the most fundamental level – it isn’t a show.

There’s no narrative structure, there’s no journey described.

Ms. Mendoza began as a little Mexican girl living in Detroit, she came to L.A. to work at a record store, went to lots of concerts, became a production intern, met Robin Williams, met President Obama, met her husband, the end.

This isn’t a story it’s a collection of mileage markers.

Ms. Mendoza’s show includes a large number of photos; Photos of herself with famous musicians, photos of herself with famous comedians, photos of herself with “famous” famous people.

In my show, Out My Window I share 248 photos with the audience.

Unless you’ve captured the burning of the Hindenburg or the impact of Oswald’s third shot, there is nothing intrinsically dramatic about a snapshot.

It is the story behind the taking of a particular snapshot where you’ll generally find what is dramatic. Only when enhanced by specificity and connected by details rooted in emotional honesty do you make a ‘snapshot’ dramatic and a story gripping.

Somewhere there is a snapshot of when I met Joseph Campbell.

This ‘snapshot’ is, at best, marginally interesting.

But wait!

The mother of my girl friend at the time was flying in from Asia with her friend Joe. They were scheduled for a two hour layover in LAX. My girl friend wanted me to accompany her to the airport and keep Joe occupied so she could have some time alone with her mother.

I consented to her wishes and we drove to the airport.

Joe turned out to be one of the most engaging and convivial people I have ever encountered. He was also smart, able to talk to anyone, and told really great Irish jokes.

For the next three hours we “played” at LAX, “played” in that wondrous childlike way that is lost to us in adulthood.

When it was time to board their flight Joe handed me his card and invited me to visit him up north.

I put his card in my pocket and we embraced.

It was a week afterward that I actually looked at the card and realized who I had been playing with.

I am not the type who is intimidated by others.

Meeting God would probably intimidate me. Or Shakespeare.

Meeting Joseph Campbell did. That I never followed through on his invitation to visit is one of the three regrets of my life.
Now that “snapshot” is dramatic.

Ms. Mendoza’s snapshots remain snapshots.

There is no genuine story told here, it is merely a recital of isolated events which reduces Ms. Mendoza’s presentation to little more than a dramatic reading of her IMDB page, only without the “dramatic” aspect.

In the end, what I sat through was some forty-five minutes of:

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me –“ (show photo of me with someone famous).

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me – “ (show photo of me with that really famous someone).

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me – .“

She described “steps” to the audience, taken over her career; one “step” after another “step,” until there were a pile of “steps” there on the stage before us.

But she failed to weave these steps into a story. She did not share her “journey” with the audience.

When she was done talking I stood up from my seat and left the theatre.

And the saddest part of it all?

I took nothing away with me.

(NO MORE PERFORMANCES)


spiderhf.jpg
SPIDERPOCALYPSE! A LOW BUDGET HORROR FILM
(Ear Wax Medal)

Devoid of everything except a pretty good title. I’ve seen better shows put on by six-year-olds using cardboard boxes as their theatre and the household cat for an understudy.

SATURDAY JUNE 27 2015, 9:30 PM | 75 MINS
COMPLEX THEATRES (ACME THEATRE, 6470 SANTA MONICA BLVD)
TICKETS $14.00

 

For complete schedule information go to: www.hollywoodfringe.org.

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest's stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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