Tag Archives: Falcon Theatre

For Piano and Harpo Hits All the Right Notes at the Falcon Theatre


Ever since the late ’80s we have mostly known Dan Castellaneta as the voice of Homer Simpson on The Tracey Ullman Show and The Simpsons, now we are getting to see a different side of him at the Falcon Theatre in For Piano and Harpo. Castellaneta not only stars in the play, he also wrote it.

The dramedy is loosely based on the life of pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor Oscar Levant during three important times in his life. It starts out in 1962 on The Tonight Show starring Jack Paar, during his comeback after being institutionalized at Mount Sanai Psych Ward in 1956. It also takes place in 1935, when he relocated to Hollywood and moved into Harpo Marx’s mansion without his permission. It also the time that he met his wife. The three time periods interweave into each other therefore it makes sense that the same five supporting actors (Gail Matthius, Phil Proctor, Jonathan Stark, JD Cullum, and Deb Lacusta, who is Castellaneta’s real life wife) play different people throughout his life during these different influential times.

Much of the play takes place during his time in rehab for prescription drug addiction. His roommate is Charlie (Cullum), who doesn’t talk, much like his old friend Harpo Marx. The two create a strong bond as most people do in that situation. Levant’s one-sided talks with his roommate give us an insight to why he was sent there. Something his doctor (Stark) is not successful in finding out during their group sessions. The group includes Barbara (Lacusta), an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom, Shirley (Matthius), an exhibitionist, and Sidney (Proctor), a manic depressant. Levant will fight joining them until he has a realization that explains why he is truly there.


Back in 1935, he moves in with Harpo Marx (Cullum) and although they create beautiful music together, he overstays his welcome. Levant’s obnoxiousness is what makes him star, but it also makes him hated by most. He is his own worst enemy. Eventually, he will make one out of his friend Harpo, just as he meets the love of his life.

One night, while he is out on the town, he meets June (Lacusta) and she has no interest in him. He will do everything in his power to win her over, but she resists. How long can she can resist? Not long because the two fall in love and have two girls.

Two decades later, her love for him forces her to commit her husband one last time. This isn’t his first time he has been in rehab and she wants it to be his last. Mount Sanai is using a new method and this time, hopefully, will be the last time. Not only for him, but everyone that is locked up with him.

Will this sad tale have a happy ending? You will have to see For Piano and Harpo between now and March 5th to find out. A play that is written and acted out so brilliantly, you will feel as though you are sitting in a Broadway audience, just very west of the Great White Way.

I saw this play on Friday night and yesterday when I watched The Simpsons, I gave Castellanta a standing ovation at the end of the episode. His performance left such an impression on me; I will never watch The Simpsons the same way. He wasn’t the only one who blew me away, Cullum was so spot on as Harpo, I could’ve sworn it was the silent Marx brother. The other cast members along with these two, give such fluid performances you never doubt which time they are in and whom they are playing. Everything transitions so smoothly, you never question what time period they are in and that makes you adore this play as a whole even more.

Another thing that I enjoyed was learning more about several entertainers from an era I had not known much about before For Piano and Harpo. When I got home from the show, I went on the internet to learn more about them and was quite intrigued what I learned. I grew up with the Marx Brothers, but the rest are all new to me. It is nice to see something that not only leaves a positive impression on you, but also leaves you wanting to know more. For Piano and Harpo is just all of that, so run out to the Falcon Theatre and see the play before it ends its run on March 5th.

Tickets are available for the 8p performances, Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 4p on Sundays at the Falcon Theatre’s Box Office at 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505 or call (818) 955-8101.

Falcon Theatre Presents the Comedy Buyer & Cellar

The Falcon Theatre is proud to present the second production of its 2016-2017 Season, Buyer & Cellar, written by Jonathan Tolins, directed by Dimitri Toscas, and starring Broadway and TV personality Jai Rodriguez.  Performances run Oct. 5 – Nov. 6 at the Falcon Theatre.  Tickets on sale starting Sep. 7 at www.falcontheatre.com or 818-955-8101.

buyer-and-cellarInspired by Barbra Streisand’s book My Passion for Design, this Off-Broadway hit is an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.  Alex More, a struggling actor in LA, takes a job working in Barbra Streisand’s Malibu basement, as a solo shopkeeper of sorts for her mall-like collection of memorabilia.  One day, the Lady Herself comes downstairs to play, and an unlikely friendship develops.

This one-man-play takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions as Alex navigates a world that is part truth and part fiction.  What is true?  There is a galleria in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home.  Tolins takes this truth and creates a hilarious world where one man services the whole mall for a single customer, Babs herself.

“Spectacular. Beyond Brilliant. This show will go down like butta’!” –Entertainment Weekly

Buyer & Cellar Is Inventive, Witty, and Pretty Wonderful” –Backstage

“It’s a seriously funny…slice of absurdist whimsy.” –New York Times

Previews begin Oct. 5 with Opening Night Oct. 14, and runs through Nov. 6 at the Falcon Theatre located at 4252 Riverside, Burbank, CA 91505. Performances are Wed. through Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 4pm.

Tickets, priced from $30-$45, on sale Sep. 7 online at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 818-955-8101. Box Office hours are Tue.-Fri. 12-6pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-4pm, and 1 hour prior to show time on performance days. For more information, please visit www.falcontheatre.com

Jonathan Tolins (Author) is the author of Buyer & Cellar, which was named “Best Unique Theatrical Experience” by the Off-Broadway Alliance when it premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.  Other plays include The Twilight Of The Golds (Broadway, Booth Theatre), If Memory Serves (Promenade), The Last Sunday In June (Rattlestick, Century Center), and Secrets Of The Trade (Primary Stages).  A collection of his plays has been published by Grove/Atlantic.  His film work includes The Twilight of the Golds and Martian Child.  For television, he was a writer for Queer as Folk, the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, and Partners.  He was the author of Pushkin 200: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, acted as script consultant on Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, and co-wrote The Divine Millennium Tour and The Showgirl Must Go On for Bette Midler.  He has written articles for Opera News, Opera Monthly, TheaterWeek, Time Magazine, and the Huffington Post, and is a panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz.  He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut with his husband, the writer and director Robert Cary, and their children, Selina and Henry.  He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America.

Dimitri Toscas (Director) is thrilled to be returning to the Falcon Theatre where he directed Scott and Hem, Class, Bunny Bunny, Laurel and Hardy, and where he wrote and directed family versions of Cinderella! (based on Rossini’s opera Cenerentola), The MAGIC Flute (starring Paul Vogt from Broadway’s Hairspray! and Chicago) and an original musical version of The Little Mermaid.  Toscas garnered critical acclaim for writing and directing two new contemporary English versions of Verdi’s La Traviata and Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, both commissioned by Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee (where he also worked with celebrated opera director Dorothy “Dottie” Danner on a new production of Man of La Mancha).  Directing credits include: Into the Woods, Plaid Tidings, Seussical, King & I, Sweeney Todd, La Boheme, Lucia di Lammermoor (at Virginia Opera, again with Ms. Danner), H.M.S. Pinafore.  Toscas served on an EPCOT Entertainment Task Force developing new shows at Walt Disney World; screenwriting credits include the animated feature Igor (additional screenplay), Playboy (research/writer), freelance writer for Aardman Animations Development Department; show director and writer for Eventide Carolers (General Hospital and Universal Studios, Hollywood), Voices of Liberty (Disneyland); and recently he was a Guest Professor/Director at Pepperdine University.  Follow him @DimitriToscas & www.dimitritoscas.com.

Jai Rodriguez (Alex More) Emmy Award-winning television host and Broadway singer/performer Jai Rodriguez began his career at age 18 when he was cast in the role of Angel in the critically acclaimed Broadway musical Rent.  Jai continued his Broadway career, staring in shows like The Producers and Spinning Into Butter, and he created and performed the title role of ‘Zanna’ in the Off-Broadway sensation Zanna, Don’t!.  Most recognized for his role in Bravo’s culturally groundbreaking series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Jai created a niche role on the Emmy Award-winning series as the ‘Culture Vulture,’ a youthfully savvy addition to the show’s already dynamic cast.  In the past few years Jai returned to TV in dramatic roles on ABC’s Detroit 187, guest star appearances on NBC’s Are You There Chelsea?, FOX’s Bones, and as transgender woman ‘Amanda Knott’ on NBC’s Harry’s Law.  Jai stared as ‘Geoffrey’ on ABC’s comedy Malibu Country opposite Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin, making him the first male to garner fame from a reality series to become a series regular on Network TV.  This past Christmas Jai stared opposite Kelly Clarkson in her NBC Christmas Special, Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Tale.  Currently Jai can be seen opposite Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston in Netflix hit series Grace and Frankie, as ‘Sax’ on the Bold And The Beautiful, as well as the official host of Lifetime’s Dance Moms reunion and Girl Talk specials.

Parallel Lives Is a Comedic Journey You Don’t Want to Get Off

Parallel Lives at the Falcon Theatre, is a two woman, two-act comedic play with ten different scenes, several costume changes, multiple accents and a lot of laughs. The play is based on the Off-Broadway production written by Kathy Najami and Mo Gaffney, and directed by Jenny Sullivan.

Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter (Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter
(Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

Crista Flanagan (MadTV) and Alice Hunter (House of Lies) take it way back to Creation to start it off. The two Angels discuss what color people should be and who should have the baby. Once they determine who should be parent, it is time to figure out how she will do it. Since the woman gives the birth, which they think is very special; the Angels don’t want the man to feel left out. Therefore, they give him something that will make him feel better about not being the one to have the baby. Can you guess what they give him?

As we know, one of the things women get so that they can have a baby is their period. Even though, every woman gets it for a majority of her life, it is still something she is embarrassed about getting. Flanagan and Hunter act out what it would be like if male jocks got their time of the month, Aunt Flow, The Curse or whatever you call it.  It is an original way to deal with the original problem women have been suffering with since the dawn of time.

Women get their, you know, when they are teens and teens have an interesting way of looking at their first loves. Two teenage girls watch the classic musical West Side Story and wonder how far they would go for the love of their lives if they were in the same position as Maria and Tony. Would they still love him if he killed their relatives? There are a lot of one liners in this sketch that includes some of the best teen New Yawk accents I ever heard. I am from New York City, so I would know.

Alice Hunter and Crista Flanagan (Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

Alice Hunter and Crista Flanagan
(Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

Talking about death, the next scene introduces us to two sisters, who are hiding out from their family, during their Grandmother’s funeral. As the family members come to offer their condolences, the sisters make small talk with them as they try to get away from their loved ones. Then their third sister (which means a costume change for Hunter) comes home and she is unlike other two. Even though they are related, they don’t talk or see each other very often. This gathering brings them together and they have a much-needed heart-to-heart conversation. This emotional raw talk takes a break from the comedy to give the audience some heartfelt drama.

The drama doesn’t last long because the final scene in the first act brings the humor back as two elderly women, who are taking Women’s Studies classes, meet up with their classmates at a New Age restaurant. The two best friends, who sound and act like they have been living in Miami Beach since before Miami Vice aired, tell the Hostess their whole story before sitting down at their table. Then, they try to order food at this Vegan restaurant, from a Waitress who has no sense of humor. Finally, their teacher arrives and it is time for another costume change. The old women transform into the performers of a Female Power show to close out the first act.

There is a ten-minute intermission for you to walk around the theater. Make sure you check out the memorabilia from Garry Marshall’s collection.

The second act starts out with a scene that every mother, who has raised her daughter to become a Disney Princess, can appreciate. It is a support group for the Mothers of Disney Princesses. Ever notice that most of the mothers either are dead before the movie starts or die shortly afterwards? I didn’t until this sketch and I will never watch the movies the same way again. These moms are not necessarily bitter as much as they want the best for their daughters. Their confessions are as hysterical as the names the writers came up with for the moms. Can you guess what name they gave Snow White’s mother? Be prepared to say, “OMG,” several times with laughter.

Talking about the man above, the next scene is a look at religion and two women’s outlook of it from their early years until they are in their 30’s. All leading to a shocking ending.

Now it is time to switch things up, for the next scene, as one of the actresses plays a man and the other a woman. They play a couple in bed, who are having relationship problems. Whoever came up with the concept for the set design of the bed deserves a Tony because it was brilliant.

Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter (Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter
(Photo courtesy Sasha A. Venola)

As we put that scene to bed, it is time for the actresses to switch sexes and go to a Southern bar. An intoxicated Hank keeps asking Karen Sue to marry him and she keeps telling him no because she knows he doesn’t mean it. This scene really challenges Flanagan and Hunter and the women are up for the challenge even this late in the show.

Finally, it is time for our Angels to take a look back at all they have done throughout the centuries, and we give Flanagan and Hunter a standing ovation for a job well done.

People say Meryl Streep is a brilliant transformer, but these two actresses gave us over 20 characters in a two-hour period and each was different from the one before and after. With performances like the ones that they gave, it is hard not to jump up and cheer them, for the outstanding accomplishment they just achieved.

Parallel Lives is playing at the Falcon Theatre until Sunday, September 18th. They have performances, Wednesday through Saturday at 8p and Sundays at 4p. Grab your friends and family, and make sure to see it before it closes. Reasonably priced tickets are available at Falcon Theatre’s site or call the Box Office at (818) 955-8101.

Falcon Theatre Presents Parallel Lives

Everyone who loves comedy should head to Falcon Theatre late this summer to see the hilarious Off-Broadway hit Parallel Lives.  Not only is it the first show of Falcon Theatre’s 2016-2017 Subscription Season, but the show is also celebrating its 30th Anniversary. First performed by the authors, comediennes Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, in 1986 at Second Stage in Manhattan, Parallel Lives touches on topics that are still relevant today.  The Falcon production stars Crista Flanagan (MADtv, Mad Men) and Alice Hunter (House of Lies, Another Period), led by director Jenny Sullivan (Weisenthal, The Baby Dance).

ParallelLives-First Rehearsal02-cropped(1)From deciding what colors the human race will be to determining whether men or women will get the privilege of giving birth, a pair of capricious supreme beings orchestrate a hilarious montage that makes fun of modern life while celebrating it.  With boundless humor, the audience is whisked through an outrageous universe, where two women portray numerous characters, both male and female, struggling though the common rituals of life.  Each scene can stand alone, yet taken as a whole they contribute to the overall theme that people can be and do anything.  Through various relationships the audience is presented with a witty, sometimes raucous, view of gender issues, equality, and interpersonal connections.

The LA Times proclaims, “It’s an ‘I’m OK, you’re wonderful’ kind of show” and Variety declares, “Parallel Lives is a smart, provocative show.”

Written by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney; Directed by Jenny Sullivan; Starring Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter; Set Design by Trefoni Michael Rizzi; Costume Design by Alex Jaeger; Lighting Design by Pablo Santiago; Sound Design by John Zalewski; Stage Managed by Dale Alan Cooke.

Parallel Lives runs Aug. 17 through Sep. 18, Wed. – Sat. at 8pm and Sundays at 4pm at Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505. Box Office: 818-955-8101. Tickets on Sale Jul. 20.  More information available at www.falcontheatre.com.

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New Falcon Theatre Season Announced

Falcon Theatre Founder, Garry Marshall, is thrilled to announce the Falcon Theatre’s 2016-2017 Five-Play Subscription Season. Falcon Theatre’s 15th subscription season brings five entertaining productions to Burbank, including a holiday collaboration with the award-winning Troubadour Theater Company, and a world premiere written by and starring Dan Castellaneta.? For the 2016-2017 season, the Falcon has also partnered with Malbec restaurant in Toluca Lake to give subscribers a delicious bonus benefit.

The season begins with Parallel Lives, written by Mo Gaffney & Kathy Najimy and directed by Jenny Sullivan. With boundless humor, the audience is whisked through the outrageous universe of Kathy and Mo, where two women portray a crew of characters struggling through the common rituals of life:? from teenagers on a date, to sisters at their grandmother’s funeral, to a man and a woman in a country western bar.? They aren’t afraid to tackle any issue and the result will leave you in stitches!

Next, the Falcon is excited to bring Buyer & Cellar to the stage, written by Jonathan Tolins and directed by Dimitri Toscas.? This Off-Broadway hit that the New York Post calls “fantastically funny” is an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.? Alex More, a struggling actor in LA, takes a job working in Barbra Streisand’s Malibu basement, as a solo shopkeeper of sorts for her mall-like collection of memorabilia.? One day, the Lady Herself comes downstairs to play, and an unlikely friendship develops.?

The Ovation Award-winning Troubadour Theater Company returns for the holidays, reimagining a holiday show favorite, Little Drummer Bowie directed by Matt Walker & Joseph Leo Bwarie. This show mashes up the journey of Ziggy., “The Little Drummer Boy”, with the sounds of the legendary rock singer/songwriter in a tribute parody that is both touching and hilarious.? “Full of mischief, anarchy, and creativity, Little Drummer Bowie rocks.” –Entertainment Today

The Falcon kickstarts 2017 with a world premiere, presenting Laugh Then Think’s production of For Piano and Harpo, written by and starring Dan Castellaneta. Oscar Levant, the brilliant, witty, pill-popping concert pianist, wakes up to find himself in the Psych Ward of Mt. Sinai Hospital. His past collides with his present, as he grapples with his demons to save his marriage and his sanity. It’s a nightmarish, and sometimes hilarious journey, from addiction to redemption, as he verbally jousts with Jack Paar, is haunted by the genius of George Gershwin, and moves in with his only friend, Harpo Marx.??

Rounding out our season is The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) written by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor, directed by Jerry Kernion. From the high-brow to the low, this fast-paced, madcap ride covers comedy through the ages, from Aristophanes to Shakespeare, Moliere to Vaudeville, Charlie Chaplin to The Daily Show.? Find answers to the age-old questions, “Who’s on first?” and “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

 

SUBSCRIPTIONS ON SALE:

June 25 – Sept. 18, 2016,  Current subscribers may renew starting May 21, 2016
TO ORDER visit FalconTheatre.com or call our Box Office 818-955-8101
WHERE:? Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505

Falcon Theatre 2016-2017 Five-Play Subscription Season

Aug. 17 – Sept. 18, 2016
Parallel Lives
written by Mo Gaffney & Kathy Najimy
directed by Jenny Sullivan

Previews: Aug. 17 – 25
Opening: Fri., Aug. 26
Closing: Sun., Sept. 18
Oct. 5 – Nov. 6, 2016
Buyer & Cellar
written by Jonathan Tolins
directed by Dimitri Toscas

Previews: Oct. 5 – 13
Opening: Fri., Oct. 14
Closing: Sun., Nov. 6
Nov. 30, 2016Jan. 15, 2017
Little Drummer Bowie
by Troubadour Theater Company
directed by Matt Walker & Joseph Leo Bwarie

Previews: Nov. 30 – Dec. 8
Opening: Fri., Dec. 9
Closing: Sun., Jan. 15

 

Feb. 1 – Mar. 5, 2017 

For Piano and Harpo
written by and starring Dan Castellaneta
A Laugh Then Think Production

Previews: Feb. 1 – 9
Opening: Fri., Feb. 10
Closing: Sun., Mar. 5


Mar. 22 – Apr. 23, 2017
The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)
written by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor
directed by Jerry Kernion

Previews: Mar. 22 – 30
Opening: Fri., Mar. 31
Closing: Sun., Apr. 23

All performances, unless scheduled otherwise, are Wed., Thu., Fri. and Sat. nights at 8pm and Sun. at 4 pm. All productions and artists are subject to availability.
Subscribers may choose from a variety of 5-PLAY Subscription Packages
Opening Galas (includes champagne reception with cast) $275
Weekends (Sat/Sun $190
Weekdays (Wed/Thu/Fri $170
Previews $150

Individual Show Ticket prices
Previews $32.00 – $35.00
Opening Night  $55.00 – $60.00
Wed/Thu $37.00 – $40.00
Fri/Sat/Sun $42.00 – $45.00

Individual show tickets available for purchase four weeks before the first preview.

‘Class’ Is A Class Act At The Falcon Theatre

Class is a class act and then some. It’s riveting entertainment. It’s years’ worth of acting lessons rolled up into two masterful performances by GILDART JACKSON (Elliot) and CALLIE SCHUTTERA (Sarah.)

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson (Photo Courtesy Jill Mamey)

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson (Photo Courtesy Jill Mamey)

Class is also a lesson in great playwriting. Playwright CHARLES EVERED gives us dialogue that is elevating without being elevated. Director DIMITRI TOSCAS polishes every facet of this jewel of a play and allows its Shakespearean spirit to comfortably don the garb of modern day sensibilities.

Class begins with Elliot confronting his new students, invisibly among us in the audience. They had to pass an audition with him even to be admitted to his celebrated acting class. All the same, in spite of their showing “some promise of talent,” he tells them that nearly all will fail to make a living at acting, never mind rising to stardom. But, he continues, the few who really succeed will gain the power to move their audiences, whether a few dozen or many millions.

It’s a great, Pattonesque opener, one that challenges us to consider what does—or should—move uncounted thousands to gamble their lives and fortunes on an acting career.

Later, Sarah enters Elliot’s studio. She had not done the audition, and had missed the first class, but hopes she can take acting lessons from Elliot nonetheless. Elliot asks the twenty something about her experience, but even her high school acting resume seems spotty. Still, there’s something about her unmistakably sincere desire to learn the art of acting, not to mention a nagging sense of familiarity. Elliot decides to make an exception and give Sarah lessons.

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson in CLASS now playing at the Falcon Theatre (Photo Courtesy Jill Mamey)

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson in CLASS now playing at the Falcon Theatre (Photo Courtesy Jill Mamey)

The play goes on to move in unexpected directions, following its own brilliant logic. Elliot and Sarah each have their own heart-wrenching crosses to bear, and they allow us to see that mastering the craft of acting can lead to mastering the art of living.

Class invites us to consider where honesty is more at home: when we put on a play in a theatre, or when we put up an act outside it? Truth is more than true statements. Honesty roots itself in a shared understanding, and can no more endure without an underlying context than can a flower without water. Example: A certain politician, when asked about possible past drug use, said that he had violated no domestic laws. He had made a true statement but hoped that most listeners wouldn’t catch that he shifted the intended context of the question: did he smoke a joint or didn’t he?

Acting gives us the context can sometimes be deliberately hidden from us in real life. And here’s a fine irony for you: actors are never more honest than when revealing the truth of the made-up story they are in and being the made-up characters they are pretending to be. And this leads to an occupational hazard: actors may carry this honesty into their own very real lives, with painful realizations that can’t be left on the stage.

Empathy can be another occupational hazard. To understand characters is to understand people, and that quality, as well, can spill over into real life.

A third hazard is good taste. It may be hard to mouth day-to-day vulgarities after Shakespeare’s rolled off your tongue.

Elliot has succumbed to all three of these hazards, abetted by Callie’s own circumstances.

GILDART had once been a Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer, one who had been offered a partnership. But he had come to realize that his ladder of success was leaning against the wrong wall. So he went from representing actors to being one, with both film and TV credits, and thereby defying the odds that his Elliot had so eloquently laid out. CALLIE is an apt pupil in real life with a physical grace on stage that belies her modest disclaimers when asked about her dancing background.

As Class neared its end, there was sniffling and even audible sobbing from the audience. It seems that GILDART and CALLIE themselves are among the few who have gained the power to move the human heart with the truth of their art.

Class continues through Sunday, April 19 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank. Performances occur Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets range from $36.50 to $44.00, but there’s a Student Rate (valid student ID required) of $29.00. For tickets, call the Falcon Theatre Box Office at (818) 955-8101 or visit FalconTheatre.com.

Go See A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George At The Falcon

You’ve heard it said, “If you can remember the 60’s, you weren’t there.” But one woman remembers them very well. She had a ringside seat as the best and worst of those times took off their gloves and squared off in the family arena.

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Kelly Carlin in A Carlin Home Companion, Growing Up With George at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy Sherry Greczmiel)

The woman is KELLY CARLIN, the only child of the late George and Brenda Carlin. She was the apple of her parents’ eyes, and lucky for us, she didn’t fall very far from the family tree. A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George, now playing at The Falcon Theatre, lets us see the Carlins through the eyes of a precocious young girl, a troubled teen, a searching twenty something and, happy ending, a woman with hard-won wisdom.

The director of the one-person show is PAUL PROVENZA, who showed the audience that multimedia has indeed come of age, with music, photos and film clips woven into a seamless garment of entertainment wrapped around Kelly’s talent. It’s no easy task to recapture the ambiance of Kelly’s impromptu reminiscing back in 2010 on “Lew’s Cruise.” As Kelly tells us in the program notes, comedian Lewis Black oversaw “an alcohol-fueled cruise through the Caribbean,” with “seven of his favorite comics and 400 hardcore comedy fans.” Kelly wanted “to take these stories on the road to my father’s fans,” and Paul told her, “If you want to do it, I want to direct it.”

Their four-year effort to bring Kelly’s stories to the stage paid off. They’ve given us a window into a remarkable family and through them, a window into the watershed era that influenced them.

Her father George Carlin had looked at the world around him with fearless eyes. He told us what he saw, and shook us like an LA earthquake with his humor and wit. He shouted into the abyss, and made it echo with our laughter.

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Kelly Carlin in A Carlin Home Companion, Growing Up With George at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo by Sherry Greczmiel)

Her mother Brenda was beautiful and brainy. She had been heading for university and the upper middle class good life when she got derailed. But she dumped the derailer, met George, and their romantic fireworks upstaged the sun. She helped him hack a fresh path through the jungle where comedy and serious politics circle and spar, treacherous territory that only a few other brave souls, like Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, had dared to enter.

To those wishing to make their own mark, it’s heartening to see that George needed time to master his craft and to realize he was more at home on a live stage than a film or TV set. He’d mingled with other pioneering 60’s artists, tried this and that and became a Mark Twain for modern times, making us laugh and cry at our reflections in the American mirror.

But the early days of transformation had their blind spots. Wives and girlfriends were often relegated to the mimeograph copier as their men folk laid plans to liberate the world from racism and war. (And these were the guys on the cutting edge.) Women’s lib would come into its own in the years ahead, but for much of the 60’s, bright women like Brenda were still trying to emerge from the bushel, a task made all the more difficult when there’s a dazzling light beside you and you’re the designated stay-at-home parent.

Kelly had to face the dark side of the 60’s as well: drugs. At one time or another, they complicated the life of Kelly and her parents. Sometimes Kelly had to be the parent to both George and Brenda. Imagine doing that with no sibling to share the burden. It’s even harder when the same personality traits that fuel creativity are also fueling a coke habit. But in spite of all the madness, she and her parents remained “the three Musketeers” as George cut ever-larger swaths as an original comedic voice.

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Kelly Carlin in A Carlin Home Companion, Growing Up With George at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo by Sherry Greczmiel)

But a bad as drug abuse can be, Kelly shows us that the most heart-wrenching conflicts are not good-versus-evil but good-versus-good. No less than the recent discipline of “positive psychology” has confirmed what had already been known to commonsense: mastery of a valuable and challenging craft is enormously satisfying. Exercising that mastery can be so satisfying that it can seriously compete with other essential sources of happiness, like maintaining relationships. George Carlin and deceased “American sniper” Chris Kyle were light years apart in many ways, but both of them were caught in the tug-of-war between being “in the zone” and being with family.

It was enjoyable to see Kelly in a film clip that showed off her own comedic gifts. Indeed, Kelly writes for film and TV with hubby Robert McCall, and is a radio show host as well. I hope that future audiences—as well as future readers of her upcoming memoir (St. Martin’s Press in 2015)—will see more examples of Kelly’s own creative emergence, beyond what is currently revealed by the monologue itself. That would be a triumphant ending indeed for the “third Musketeer.”

The Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George continues through March 1 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $36.50 to $39 Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $41.50 to $44 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Students, $29 with valid ID. To purchase tickets, please visit www.FalconTheatre.com or call 818-955-8101.

The Last Act Of Lilka Kadison Makes A Lasting Impression

Falcon Theatre founder Garry Marshall said of The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, “I thought this was a pretty special play we have here.”  Saturday’s standing-ovation audience thought so too.  The play is brilliant. And magical. And must-see.

Mindy Sterling and Usman Ally star in the West Coast Premiere of THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON, directed by Dan Bonnell and now playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. (Michael Lamont)

Mindy Sterling and Usman Ally star in the West Coast Premiere of THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON, directed by Dan Bonnell and now playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. (Michael Lamont)

Lilith Fisher (played by MINDY STERLING) is having a bad hip day.  At 87, she’s entitled.  And she’s not one to keep her bad moods to herself. Lilith kvetches at her Pakistan-born caregiver Menelik Khan (USMAN ALLY). She rails on the phone at her son in Maine, which is about as far away as he can get from her San Fernando Valley home without leaving the country.

But Lilith has kept a huge secret to herself. One that goes back 70 years, when Hitler and Stalin unleashed hell on Poland and she lost both parents and all her siblings.

Back in 1939 Poland, Lilith was Lilka Kadison (BRITTANY UOMOLEALE), a high-spirited 17-year-old in spite of being very poor and very hungry. By chance she meets Ben Ari Adler (NICHOLAS CUTRO), a charming performance artist who’s willing to pay someone to help him write the fractured fairytale version of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.  She takes up his offer and the story of her secret begins.

But 70 years later, that story has not yet ended. Ben’s ghost is haunting Lilith, making her relive the eventful days of their youth in the shadow of invasion and war.

(And incidentally, the Falcon itself apparently had a ghostly visitor, no less than the ghost of Errol Flynn. At least that’s what the shaman told the desperate Falcon, who had hired him to stop a stubborn roof leak that seemed to defy the very laws of nature. So a photo of Errol Flynn was hung in the Falcon, and there hasn’t been a leak since.)

Back to the play. MINDY STERLING does full justice to dialogue that is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. USMAN ALLY is totally believable as a caregiver who himself is no stranger to separation and loss. BRITTANY UOMOLEALE and NICHOLS CUTRO have delightful  chemistry together. Director DAN BONNELL must have had his own special chemistry with the actors to draw out such superb performances.

Nicholas Cutro and Brittany Uomoleale star in the West Coast Premiere of THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON, directed by Dan Bonnell and now playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.(Michael Lamont)

Nicholas Cutro and Brittany Uomoleale star in the West Coast Premiere of THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON, directed by Dan Bonnell and now playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.(Michael Lamont)

Magic Supervisor CHRISTOPHER HART deserves a special bow for the seamless integration of magic into the developing romance between Lilka and Ben, not an easy feat for live theatre. As Garry Marshall noted, “Magic on a budget is a whole other thing.”

Co-Playwight ABBIE PHILLIPS spent her childhood in Burbank only blocks away from the Falcon. “We grew up in a vivid, diverse community of survivors, refugees and even blacklisted artists and musicians.” And she came to know that many of them had searing experiences during WWII, with secrets trapped below a hard crust.

Especially for the Europeans who went through it, WW II was an unprecedented nightmare. Never (up to then) had technology been more advanced, and never had so many civilians been wantonly killed. High tech barbarism would leave many survivors with lasting psychic wounds. The Last Act of Lilka Kadison reveals their hidden pain and their enduring humanity in spite of everything.

In Footlights, publisher Peter Finlayson wonders if theatre reviews really bring in the audiences like they had once done. He’d put his money on word-of-mouth instead. He may be right. So I’m hedging my bets and telling my friends and family face-to-face that they must see The Last Act of Lilka Kadison.

Presented by the Falcon Theatre, Abbie Phillips and Jan Kallish, in association with Lookingglass Theatre Company. Continues through Saturday, April 19 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.  Tickets range from $29.50 to $57.00, with group discounts available.  For tickets, call the Falcon Theatre Box Office at (818) 955-8101 or go online at www.falcontheatre.com.

Falcon Theatre Delights With “Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland”

Winter One-Hit-Wonderland-2-high-res

Photo By Chelsea Sutton

A few nights ago I went to see the annual holiday show at the Falcon Theatre. This year’s show was “Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland.”

The Troubadour Theater Company, made up of actors, musicians and comedians has performed annual holiday shows at the Falcon Theatre for over 10 years.

To me, there is nothing that says Christmas more than the Falcon Theatre. The Troubies always put on an excellent and captivating show. They are known for their witty dialogue, which masterfully incorporates current events, as well as their notorious use of breaking the fourth wall. The storylines are always clever, and often feature cameos by characters from past shows.

The Falcon Theatre holiday shows always incorporate a certain singer or band into their holiday storyline.

Past shows have included “The First Joel,” featuring Billy Joel songs, “A Christmas Carol King,” featuring Carole King songs and “A Charlie James Brown Christmas,” featuring James Brown songs.

This year, instead of focusing on the hits by one artist, the Troubies decided to use famous “one-hit wonders” as the featured music in the show. Selected songs from this year’s show included “Somebody That I Used To Know,” “I’m Too Sexy” and “Take On Me.”

This year’s show seemed to be even more amusing than past years. The actors were quite artful, performing jokes and adlibs with impeccable timing. Active audience participation, including dressing an audience member up in a Santa suit, made the show engaging and hilarious.

My family and I have gone to the Falcon Theatre’s holiday show for over five years now. The comedy is sharp and the music is captivating. Our holiday tradition would not be complete without the Troubies.

Make the Troubies part of your holiday tradition. “Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland” runs through Jan 19, 2014
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Visit http://www.falcontheatre.com/winter_one_hit_wonderland.html for more information and to purchase tickets.

Enter The Laughter Zone At The Falcon Theatre

Twilight Zone UnScripted is so hilarious, you should make it part of your diet. You’ll probably lose five pounds just from laughing so hard.

The Ensemble of Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre.  (Photo Courtesy of Dan O’Connor)

The Ensemble of Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Dan O’Connor)

Falcon Theatre’s latest gift to Burbank is the Impro Theatre, and it really does put the “pro” in “impro.”  The audience gives the actors a word or short phrase—some person, place or thing—and then the amazing ensemble proceeds to improvise a 30-minute Twilight Zone episode on the spot. Before the performance is over, they will have done this four times.

And what the Impro Theatre does is the comedy equivalent of a high wire act. Except that in the case of this super-talented ensemble, somebody deliberately shakes the wire every so often. And once in awhile, somebody teeters on one leg, as if about to fall. Except that no one does. (Or at least they to grab on to the wire in the nick of time.)

Nick Massouh and the Ensemble of Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre.  (Photo Courtesy of  Chelsea Sutton)

Nick Massouh and the Ensemble of Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

To draw humor from the very act of on-the-spot improvisation without sacrificing the humor within the story being improvised—well, that has to be one of the most difficult comedic challenges you can imagine. And the cast of Impro Theatre pulls it off, giving us a double dose of laughter.

The original Twilight Zone was brainchild of the late, great Rod Serling, with his distinctive voice and opening patter. In its day (late 50’s/early 60’s), Twilight Zone was arguably the most original, inventive show on TV. Perhaps because of its sci fi/fantasy themes, the series could comment on social issues that other TV shows wouldn’t dare touch. The Improv Theatre’s comedic inventiveness pays a very fitting homage to a series still beloved by so many of us.

Stephen Kearin, Jo McGinley, Kelly Holden-Bashar and Brian Lohmann in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre.  (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

Stephen Kearin, Jo McGinley, Kelly Holden-Bashar and Brian Lohmann in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

You don’t have to be a Twilight Zone aficionado to enjoy this show. But if you are, you’ll have the additional pleasure of hearing improvised dialogue that captures the Twilight Zone’s cadences and conventions.

During the intermission of Friday night’s performance, the delight of the audience in the lobby was palpable. The only bellyaching from this show will be from the comedy crunching your abs.

Kudos to directors JO McGINLEY and STEPHEN KEARIN and their wonderful ensemble cast.

The Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank.  Show runs through September 29, 2013. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.  Weekday prices are $34.50 to $37.00; weekends are $39.50 to $42.00. Student rate is $27.00. For tickets call (818) 955-8101 or go to Falcon Theatre.com.

Brian Lohmann and Mike McShane in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre.  (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

Brian Lohmann and Mike McShane in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

Kelly Holden-Bashar, Jo McGinley, Lisa Fredrickson and Floyd Van Buskirk in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre.  (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)

Kelly Holden-Bashar, Jo McGinley, Lisa Fredrickson and Floyd Van Buskirk in Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted at the Falcon Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Sutton)