Tuesday, July 30, 2019

New Play, Sweet Lorraine, Opens August 10

About the Play

Rebel Theater Company, in association with the NAACP Brooklyn Branch Equity in the Arts and Culture Committee, and Rave Theater Festival, will present Sweet Lorraine, a new play written by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and Adam Mace, and conceived and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. Sweet Lorraine stars Tony and Grammy Award nominee Valisia LeKae (Motown the Musical, The Book of Mormon) as Lorraine Hansberry and Christopher Augustin (Dreamgirls, Mother Emmanuel) as James Baldwin. The production will play five performances as part of the inaugural 2019 Rave Theater Festival.  Tickets are available at www.SweetLorraineThePlay.com and thirty (30) minutes before the performance at the Teatro LaTea box office.

Sweet Lorraine is a theatrical interpretation of the final conversation had between best friends, Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin in Lorraine’s New York City hospital room in January 1965. The play is set one week prior to Lorraine’s passing from pancreatic cancer and explores the complex, dynamic and often heated relationship between these two prolific, creative giants and American artists and activists. 
“The world is very divided right now and it is vital to find work and creative space where stories like Sweet Lorraine can be shared, co-writer/director Maharaj said. As artists and activists, our play reminds us all that – One, love wins. Two, Lorraine and James were fighting many of the same societal ills that we find ourselves fighting today, both politically and socially.”

Maharaj continues, “As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of A Raisin in the Sun and the renaissance of James Baldwin’s works with successful projects like “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” it’s really important to know the human beings that created these works along with their incredible canon of art that continues to inspire generations.” 

Sweet Lorraine marks Tony and Grammy nominee Valisia LeKae’s return to the New York stage. “I am honored to tell the story of Lorraine Hansberry during the last week of her life. She has left us all such an amazing legacy and her work continues to inspire the masses 54 years after her death, LeKae said.  As a woman who has faced her own battle with cancer, I am fully aware of what that feels and looks like.  In her death, I honor the life she lived and the sacrifices she made for African American women like myself and others. “

The Sweet Lorraine production team also includes: Adam Mace (Executive Producer), Abdul Tubman (Executive Producer), Paul Wilt (Associate Producer/Sound Design/Production Manager), Ali Coopersmith (Associate Producer), Ciara Walton (Associate Producer), Valisia LeKae (Associate Producer), Leslie Shane Bernstein (Costume Design), and Douglas Cox (Lighting Design).  

Monday, July 29, 2019

Actors Chad L. Coleman and Beau Garrett Set To Star In Haar's 'Saugerties' At Hudson Guild Theatre

Chad L. Coleman
Weird Sisters announced today that they will present SAUGERTIES, a new play by Susan Eve Haar and directed by Abigail Zealey Bess. The production will star Chad L. Coleman who is best known for playing “Tyreese” in the Golden Globe® nominated series The Walking Dead and as the reformed criminal “Dennis ‘Cutty’ Wise”  the Emmy® award nominated HBO drama series The Wire and Beau Garrett who recently starred as “Jessica Preston” in Season 1 of the ABC series The Good Doctor and currently can be seen as “Phoebe” on Bravo’s critically acclaimed series Girlfriends Guide to Divorce. Produced by Sharon Levy/Dovetail Productions, SAUGERTIES plays a limited engagement from August 18 through September 8, at 7 p.m., at the Hudson Guild Theatre (6539 Santa Monica Blvd.) in Hollywood. Tickets are now on sale at OnStage411.com.

Beau Garrett
Set in a remote B&B in the not too distant future, SAUGERTIES tells the story of Jen (Garrett) and Rog (Coleman), who are celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. She’s broken-hearted over infertility, desperate to escape her life and Rog will do whatever it takes to make her happy. Twenty years later a couple not so different from the first return to the same B&B. There to scatter her mother’s ashes, they struggle with their relationship. Games become dangerous and they are forced to reveal secrets that may destroy them both.

SAUGERTIES inhabits the space between what is now possible and our understanding of its significance. As science outstrips what we recognize and the landmarks disappear, one begins to question who we are to one another. This play, which tackles the ethics of new reproductive technologies, explores what it means to be human and grapples with what it means to love.

“I’m drawn to mystery and fascinated by the gap between what we are able to do and what it means. Science tumbles ahead of our understanding now at a rate that is both terrifying and exhilarating. I love that. I am particularly drawn to the rapidly proliferating reproductive technologies. IVF is behind us, seen in the rear window, we are in a brave new world where there are already babies with three parents, and just around the bend are babies who can be grown from skin cells, babies who are cloned. Who will decide how the future is shaped,” said playwright Susan Eve Haar. She added, “The arts are a place to give pause, to explore, to question what it means, to dwell in possibility. To me, that’s the domain of theater and where I want to be.”

Director Abigail Zealy Bess said, “It was essential to find actors who could embody the highly complex and passionate relationship of Rog and Jen. Chad was a gift. He connected to the play on a deeply personal level. Finding Beau gave us that necessary combination of vulnerability and sensuality so necessary for the chemistry between these two actors. In working on this play it has been inspiring to delve into what drives these two people. There is a fluidity to this material that inspires the very core of human emotion, what we will do for the people we love.”

In addition to Coleman’s lead roles on The Walking Dead and The Wire, he currently stars in Seth MacFarlane’s hour-long, HULU’s comedy-drama series The Orvilleplaying the role of “Klyden,” a Moclan civilian living aboard the USS Orville with his mate Second Officer Bortus (Peter Macon) and their son Topa. Coleman also currently has a recurring role in CW’s hit series All American playing “Corey James.” 

Nothing has slowed down for The Walking Deadstar since his inevitable and shocking departure from the hit series. He had a recurring role for several seasons as “Colonel Frederick Lucius Johnson” in Syfy’s space drama The Expansealongside Thomas Jane and Steven Trait and appeared as the villainous “Tobias Church” in season 5 of CW’s Arrow. Coleman is also widely recognized for his comedic turn as “Gary Miller,” the ex-husband of “Nikki Miller” and father of manipulative daughter “Mackenzie” (Aisha Dee) in the FOX television comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter and for his recurring role as “Z” in the comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Additional TV and film projects include the recent remake of the 1977 miniseries RootsThe Good WifeTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesThe Green Hornet and Horrible Bosses, to name a few.

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Coleman was placed in the foster care system with his two older brothers and two older sisters when he was only 11 months old but eventually returned living with his grandmother at the age of 14. Coleman’s passion for acting was inspired after joining an after-school program where he acted in their production of “Wonderful Town.” Coleman spent 4 years serving in the Army as a video cameraman stationed at the Pentagon in DC. After gaining much experience working on and off camera, Coleman made his way to New York where he starred in a number of Broadway projects including the critically-acclaimed August Wilson production “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” on Broadway. 

Coleman commented on returning to the stage in SAUGERTIES, “Theater is a sacred space to meto share intimate life experiences to help nurture us all. And hopefully, learn and grow to become better people. This play is a rollercoaster ride in existential acrobatics wrapped in a relationship drama – very True West like and it’s very exciting to peel back the layers.”

In addition to The Good Doctor and the Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, Beau can be seen next in the Discovery Channel MOW Capsized as the female lead opposite Josh Duhamel. Last year, Beau played a recurring role in the Netflix series Longmire. Previously, she was also a co-lead opposite Forest Whitaker on the CBS drama Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.

In the feature film space, Beau is known for her roles in Walt Disney’s Tron Legacy, Sony Pictures’ Made of Honor, and 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic 4: Rise of The Silver Surfer. She has also appeared in Turistas, Knight of Cups and Freelancers opposite Robert DeNiro.

Beau has been the face of multiple campaigns including Revlon and Gap.

Beau Garrett shared, “What I am most looking forward to about SAUGERTIES is tackling two different women, seemingly from one shared story. Bringing these words of pain, desperation, fear, uncertainty, and truth alive will be one of the biggest professional challenges I have had to date.

The SAUGERTIES creative team also includes Scenic Design by Joseph Jin; Lighting Design by Pei-Yu Lai; Production Stage Manager, Corey Womack; and Casting Director, Caroline Sinclair.

SAUGERTIES will play at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038 from August 18 – September 8, 2019, with the official press opening on Sunday, August 18 at 7 p.m. The regular performance schedule is Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Performance schedule notes: There will be no matinee performances on Sunday, August 17 and Saturday, August 31. All tickets are $30. Tickets are available online at OnStage411.com. Valet and street parking are available. For more information visit OnStage411.com.

Spider in the Web In Limited Release August 30

SPIDER IN THE WEB is Eran Riklis’s (LEMON TREE; THE SYRIAN BRIDE) riveting new spy drama in the vein of John Le Carré. Sir Ben Kingsley is an aging Mossad agent struggling to maintain his relevance and Itay Tiran is the young operative sent to monitor his activity; their cautious bonding during a secret service operation in the heart of a troubled Europe is a reflection on human relationships as well as on the Europe of today – fragile, troubled, under constant threats from the outside and in turmoil on the inside. Vertical Entertainment will premiere SPIDER IN THE WEB in limited theatres, including New York and Los Angeles, on Friday, August 30, as well as on VOD platforms.

SYNOPSIS – Adereth (Sir Ben Kingsley), a once-lauded but aging field agent of the Israeli Mossad, is deemed past his prime by his superiors. Convinced that he’s been fabricating intelligence to maintain his relevance, they send a young operative, Daniel (Itay Tiran), to ensure that Adereth does not deviate from his mission to deliver crucial information he claims is waiting for him regarding a chemical weapons sale to a Middle Eastern dictatorship. That tip leads to the enigmatic Angela (Monica Bellucci), who is a target. A lover. An enemy. All? Neither? As the lines of trust are blurred, Adereth realizes the hunter may become the hunted in a world of mirrors and deceit.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold in Theatres August 9

The cast of Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players and Nickelodeon Movies Present
In Association with Walden Media and MRC
A Burr! Productions Production
A James Bobin Film
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold”

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora (Isabela Moner) for her most dangerous adventure ever – High School. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots (her best friend, a monkey), Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), a mysterious jungle inhabitant (Eugenio Derbez), and a ragtag group of teens on a live-action adventure to save her parents (Eva Longoria, Michael Peña) and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost city of gold.

James Bobin

Julia Pistor, Eugenio Derbez, John G. Scotti

Kristin Burr, p.g.a.

Tom Wheeler and Nicholas Stoller

Nicholas Stoller and Matthew Robinson

Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Adriana Barraza, Temuera Morrison, Jeff Wahlberg, Nicholas Coombe, Madeleine Madden, and Danny Trejo

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Patina, Shanice and Hailey Go 'Into The Woods'

By Darlene Donloe

The Hollywood Bowl is the prime location for the upcoming musical Into The Woods, set to hit the venue July 27 for a three-show run.

The mysteriously entertaining and movingly stunning work of art, with a book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim will be the 20th annual fully staged summer Broadway musical produced by the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl.

The once upon a time show is enchanting, whimsical and thoughtful. The story goes like this - As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch, a baker, and his wife are childless. Three days before the rise of a blue moon, they venture into the forest to find the ingredients that will reverse the spell and restore the witch's beauty: a milk-white cow, hair as yellow as corn, a blood-red cape, and a slipper of gold. During their journey, they meet Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack, each one on a quest to fulfill a wish.

The opening notes of the “Act One Prologue” of Into the Woods sets the tone for what’s to come with its insistent refrain “I wish…I wish…I wish.”

This incarnation of one of Stephen Sondheim’s most beloved shows is chock full of talent, but what makes it even more special is the diversity of the cast which includes Edward Hibbert, (Frasier) as the Narrator, Tamyra Gray, (American Idol) as Granny/Cinderella’s Mother, Edelyn Okano (Mamma Mia!), as Cinderella’s Stepmother, and Rebecca Spencer  (Phantom - The LV Spectacular) as Jack’s Mother.

The cast also includes Skylar Astin as the Baker, Sierra Boggess as Cinderella, Chris Carmack as Rapunzel’s Prince, Anthony Crivello as the Mysterious Man, Sutton Foster as the Baker’s wife, Gaten Matarazzo as Jack, Patina Miller as the Witch, Cheyenne Jackson as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf, Hailey Kilgore as Rapunzel, Shanice Williams as Little Red Riding Hood, and the voice of Whoopi Goldberg as the Giant. 

I recently caught up with Patina Miller (PM), Hailey Kilgore (HK) and Shanice Williams (SW) during a break in rehearsal, to talk about the upcoming run at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

Patina Miller 

DD: You’re playing the Hollywood Bowl. Talk about what’s it like to work in this iconic venue.

PM: I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard about it. Everyone keeps telling me about it. I think it’s going to be fun. This is the perfect show for that venue.  I’ve never been there before because I’m an east coast girl. I’m from New York. I haven’t been here for a long time. I’ve only been in and out of town. I haven’t seen a concert there yet.

HK: This is the west coast version of Radio City Music Hall. It’s amazing and it’s 17,000 people. I’m a weird actor. I prefer performing in front of incredibly large groups of people – as opposed to small groups of people – because it’s like I know them.

SW: Everyone keeps talking about it. I’m like, “Stop, you’re scaring me.”  It’s magical. I’ve heard about the number of people. I’m used to just jumping into things that I’ve never done before. It’s something that I had to get into. It’ll be magical for me and with my cast behind me, it’s going to be a blast.

DD:  The show is quite diverse. Talk about the ethnic makeup of the show. Is it wonderful that we’re talking about the diversity of the cast today or is it a shame that we’re STILL talking about the diversity of the cast today?

PM:  It’s beautiful. It’s a fairytale. I love that the creators have gone this route. It's refreshing and creative. It’s necessary. It’s needed. It’s wonderful to be part of a cast where most everyone is represented in an amazing way. It just goes to show you it doesn’t matter. I love that Rapunzel is a black girl because there are lots of women who hear these fairytales but don’t feel represented.  That’s important. Whoever comes to the Hollywood Bowl, I want everyone to feel like they are represented. It’s wild. It’s going to be fun. This is the perfect show to be doing this venue.

SW: I think they did a great job in casting this show. Everyone is perfect in their roles. It doesn’t matter about their color. Honestly. It shouldn’t be something we have to talk about. I’m just proud that we’re here and doing it like this. It’s going to be amazing.

HK:  It’s sad that you have to talk about the diversity of the cast. It’s something that we are doing, but we have a very, very, very, long way to go.  When it comes to diversity, I just want to see someone who looks like me. The day that we don’t have to say it’s a diverse cast of people, playing fairytale characters, will be a really exciting day.

DD: This show has a short run. Some actors don’t like short runs because they say they don’t really know or get into the character until weeks in. What are your feelings?

HK:  You have to do every rehearsal like it’s your last performance. If you’re not giving a full-out performance, maybe vocally you can hold it back for whatever reason. If you’re not treating each run-through when you know it’s only three shows, like it’s a performance, that might make it a little difficult for you. I’m excited because I get the chance to do Rapunzel three nights – three different ways.

Shanice Williams

SW: We just gotta do everything from the jump. I’ve been talking to the director about the depth of my character. When it’s short like that, you have to be super prepared. Who knows what will happen in the future. We’re having a good time together.

DD: Tell me about your character and how you went about developing her?

PM: My character, some would say, is the villain of the piece. She’s the witch. She’s the one that puts spells on everyone, but it turns out she’s the one who gets everyone to own up to who they are.  She’s the one with all the lessons in the end. I’m going about it thinking about my own life, thinking about my mother. Thinking about the lessons I’ve learned. I just became a new mother so this role means a lot to me. It’s about a parent and a child and what that relationship is. It’s a lot of things. It’s deep.

SW: Well, in this show she really grows. She is naïve at the beginning. I wanted to take the seriousness of that into the show and like and make it really important. She meets someone and she gives him the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t think twice about trusting him – and that’s really dangerous. We have to teach our youth to use their intuition and know the difference between nice and good. I’m just bringing that into my character and giving my loving, youthful energy to it. It’s been fun.

DD: Why did you want to be part of this show?

PM: I wanted to be part of this show because I love Sondheim. Into the Woods is a historic and legendary show. It's a show where I’ve always been a fan. This is an amazing opportunity for me to take on a role that is iconic and to put my own thing on it.

Hailey Kilgore 

DD: Tell me about your character and how you came to develop her?

HK: Most exciting this is that I have the opportunity to make a fairytale character human, How can I make her special, especially someone who has been driven into a state of madness. The exciting thing is layering the part – in which you see a more human approach into seeing how she’s getting to where she’s going.  I’m just trying to make her believable. Also, I’m a woman of color so how do we make her not be just a crazy black woman. It’s been really fun to build on that.

DD: Sondheim is brilliant. Talk about what you’ve learned.

SW: It’s about diction, diction, diction. It’s inTO the woods, not into the woods. Everything is sharp. My vocal coach was like, do you even understand what you are about to do? She was on it with me from day one. I appreciate her for that. It’s the little things.

Into the Woods is directed and choreographed by Tony® nominee Robert Longbottom and conducted by Kevin Stites, who is also the musical director.

Into The Woods, Hollywood Bowl, Fri., July 26; at 8 p.m.; Sat., July 27, at 8 p.m.; and Sun., July 28, at 7:30 p.m. Subscriptions and single tickets for performances during the Hollywood Bowl 2019 summer season are available at hollywoodbowl.com, 323 850 2000, or in person at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office.

Zombieland Double Tap In Theaters October 16

A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland 2: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family. Directed by: Ruben Fleischer Written by: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham Produced by: Gavin Polone Executive Producers: Paul Wernick Rhett Reese Rebecca Rivo Ruben Fleischer David Bernad Cast: Woody Harrelson Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone Abigail Breslin Rosario Dawson Zoey Deutch 
Luke Wilson

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Review: Once Upon A Time....In Hollywood

By Darlene Donloe

Quentin Tarantino’s latest and ninth film, Once Upon A Time….In Hollywood, set to open nationwide July 26, may well be one of his best.

It’s well written, well-directed, well-acted and has the accouterments to make it a winner.

The film, written and directed by Tarantino, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Zoe Bell, Luke Perry, Kurt Russell (who also narrates), Dakota Fanning, James Marsden, Austin Butler, Mike Moh, and Al Pacino. Bruce Dern (who deserves a nod for his one scene that was originally supposed to be played by Burt Reynolds, before he died,) also stars.

There are moments in the movie, without spoiling any plot points, where the audience really doesn’t know which road Tarantino is going to take. He builds tension in all the right places and just when you’re sure where he’s about to go – he does a signature 180 move that leaves the audiences scratching its head and wondering where he’s going next.

It’s hard to review a film when you can’t talk about the best parts because you’ve been sworn to secrecy.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Just know that you're going to enjoy the ride from beginning to end. You have '60s Hollywood, black and white TV, AM radio, and hippies with hair under their armpits. There are some drop-dead funny ass moments in this flick that will probably become iconic. 

There are three stories going on at the same time that center around Margot Robbie, DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters individually.  Tarantino jumps around between the three bringing it all home in the end – which is one of his signature moves.

The film, Tarantino’s love letter to Los Angeles is a kind of buddy comedy set in 1969 during a time when a TV star named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is coming to terms with his career’s mortality. I use the words “buddy comedy” loosely because there is some Tarantinoesque gratuitous violence. Once a hot commodity when he was star on the hit television series, “Bounty Law,” Dalton’s popularity is starting to wane and he’s not taking it well. He’s looking for a way to set the screen on fire again. DiCaprio is a beast in a scene when, after completing a scene on the movie, he goes to his trailer and practically falls apart at what he deems a piss poor performance.  DiCaprio is brilliant in that moment.  

This film tells the story of an incredible friendship between Dalton and Booth. Tarantino is a great storyteller. He's also incredible at character development. We get to know Dalton and Booth as they are separately and what they are like when they are together. Both turn out to special. 

Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) Dalton’s stunt double, driver (because of a drunk driving offense) and loyal friend has his back and occasionally pats him on the back to remind him he still has the acting goods.

Both Dalton and Booth are trying to rekindle their glory days – but in different ways.

Throughout the film, set against a backdrop of the Manson Family murders, we watch as Dalton tries his best to make the transition from television star to movie star. It’s no easy task. Enter Marvin Schwarzs (Al Pacino) a man with connections who is a fan of Dalton’s and decides to help him regain his rightful place in Hollywood.

Kurt Russell

(l-r) Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Pacino 

Dalton decides to take the role of a bad guy in a movie and receives some rather strong advice from his co-star, an eight-year-old star played by Julia Butters. 

When he’s not driving Dalton around, Booth is living a rather simple existence. He lives in a ratty motor home behind a drive-in movie with his dog, Brandy, who steals this movie. One day he sees a girl at a bus stop. Then he keeps seeing the same hippie girl around town dressed rather scantily. One day, when she is hitchhiking, he offers her a lift.

It just so happens that she lives in the Manson Family compound/Spahn Movie Ranch.  It also just so happens that Dalton lives on Cielo Drive, next door to Sharon Tate. It’s all very eerie – too eerie.  That part of the story is always hanging, like smoke, just above the rest of the story.

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood

Margot Robbie is fantastic as Sharon Tate. She really holds her own in a movie with two superstars.

The film is filled with nostalgic undertones at every turn. There’s a meeting in Musso & Frank, there are 60’s television scenes playing on the tube featuring FBI, The Green Hornet and Mannix.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood

Kudos to Tarantino for the pairing of DiCaprio and Pitt who both outdid themselves, turning in stellar performances.

The look of the production is a wonder.  It’s for sure that if even one element was out of whack – the movie would not have worked. The costumes, the locations, and the cinematography are on point. The music ROCKS, but it always does in a Tarantino film.

Once About A Time….In Hollywood is not to be missed!

Tarantino, Shannon McIntosh and David Heyman produce.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Once Upon A Time….In Hollywood (Columbia) gets an E (excellent).