Los Angeles Spotlight: March 2005
Lion in Winter
Reversing a recent trend toward musicals, the March lineup is dominated by promising sounding dramas, such as Papa, by Pulitzer-winning journalist John deGroot (Hollywood's Open Fist Theatre, opening March 11). Set in Ernest Hemingway's home in Cuba over a long afternoon, it's a glimpse into the life of this 20th century literary giant, based on interviews with those who knew him. Another biographical piece, in its California premiere, Brian Harnetiaux's National Pastime charts Jackie Robinson's entry into the Brooklyn Dodgers, integrating Major League Baseball for the first time (Pasadena's Fremont Centre Theatre, opening March 19). More fact-based drama arrives in The Sand Storm: Stories From the Front, Mark Seabrook and Sean Huze's documentary-style play (Hollywood's Elephant Asylum Theatre, opening March 18). The show's solo anecdotes are based on first-hand experiences of the Marines of the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Iraq. Navy veteran David Fofi directs. In a similar vein, Sean Branney's stage documentary Mine Eyes Hath Seen (Burbank's Gene Bua Theatre, opening March 4) is compiled from a wide body of first-person writings and music from the Civil War. And to stretch the point a bit, Shakespeare's history-based tragedy Julius Caesar is on tap (Glendale's A Noise Within, opening March 5).
Several other dramatic offerings sound enticing. The U.S. premiere of Brian Crano's 12th Premise (Hollywood's Lillian Theatre, opening March 10), is helmed by Ovation-winning director Kristin Hanggi (bare). It examines the friendships, relationships, and rites of passage of three disaffected young men who set out on a crash course in survival and end up discovering a hope-filled coda for living. A hard-hitting drama set amid the underbelly of society, Killer Joe (Hollywood's Gardner Stages, opening March 11), by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Tracy Letts, has its West Coast premiere. The Chicago-originated 1993 play garnered rave reviews, and has been performed in 20 languages in 26 countries. The Asian American-focused Lodestone Theatre Ensemble offers Judy Soo Hoo's Solve for X (Burbank's Grove Theatre, opening March 19), about a troubled relationship between a young math teacher and an older tea mogul, described as a poetic tale of loneliness, betrayal, and searching. And one of L.A.'s most renowned playwrights, Murray Mednick, premieres a three-play repertory (The Gary Plays) with Tirade for Three and Gary's Walk (opening March 31), and Girl on a Bed (opening April 1). All of them, presented at Venice's Electric Lodge, chart the experiences of Gary, a destitute former actor, who attempts to come to terms with the senseless and random murder of his son.