It happens so often at tech rehearsal. And yet, each time it happens, it feels like the first. That magic moment when the colored lights are turned on the first time, the sound is turned up, the costumes are put on, the props are placed in hand. Suddenly the weeks of hard work in the empty rehearsal room blossom to life as the design elements add their wonder. This happened, this week, in tech rehearsals for our upcoming West Coast Premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll. It opens July 29.
The cast worked through their cues under the watchful eyes of lighting designer Ken Booth, set designer Jeff McLaughlin, sound designer/composer Peter Bayne, costume designer Terri A. Lewis and props designer Terri Roberts, all under the guidance of production stage manager Emily Lehrer and director Simon Levy.
The meticulous process of technical rehearsals — when light & sound cues are painstakingly timed and drilled — can be tedious. But the end result can be marvelous.As was the case this week with Baby Doll. It’s going to be a beautiful production.
Enjoy these snapshots from tech rehearsal. You’ll be dazzled when you see the finished production.
This summer, L.A. audiences get to see a brand new play by Tennessee Williams. Simon Levy directs the West Coast premiere of Baby Doll, adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann from the 1956 Academy Award-nominated film of the same name – the first-ever Williams Estate-approved adaptation of this Williams screenplay. Baby Doll opens at the Fountain Theatre on July 16, starring Daniel Bess, Karen Kondazian, Lindsay LaVanchy, John Prosky and George Roland.
Darkly comic and crackling with sexual tension, Baby Doll is the story of 19-year-old married virgin “Baby Doll” Meighan (LaVanchy), who must consummate her marriage in two days, on her 20th birthday — as long as her middle-aged husband, Archie Lee (Prosky), upholds his end of the bargain to provide her with a comfortable life. When Archie Lee burns down his neighbor’s cotton gin to save his failing business, his rival, Sicilian immigrant Silva Vacarro (Bess), arrives to seek revenge. What ensues is a complex mix of desire and desperation, with Baby Doll as both player and pawn.
“The miracle of Tennessee Williams is that he can write these wonderful, wacky, wildly rich and complex characters and situations, yet underneath it all are timeless social and political themes,” says Levy. “It’s almost as if this play is a look at today’s America. It’s astonishing.”
The Fountain Theatre, Levy and Kondazian, who plays the role of dotty Aunt Rose Comfort, have a long combined history with Williams. Levy has previously directed five of his plays for the Fountain, including Orpheus Descending (1996); Summer and Smoke (1999); The Night of the Iguana (2001); The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More (2007); and A House Not Meant to Stand (2011), and the Fountain additionally produced Four X Tenn in 1996. By the time she appeared in Orpheus, Iguana and Milk Train for the Fountain, Kondazian had already starred in numerous Williams productions, including a 1979 production of The Rose Tattoo for which she received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award – and which led to a steadfast friendship with Williams until his death in 1983.
Adapted for the screen by Williams from his one-act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton,Baby Doll was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Karl Malden, Carroll Baker and newcomer Eli Wallach. It immediately caused a sensation, due in large part to the poster image depicting Baker in a crib sucking her thumb. It was labeled variously “notorious,” “salacious,” “revolting,” “steamy,” “lewd,” “suggestive,” “provocative” and “morally repellent,” and Cardinal Francis Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, personally denounced the film before it was even released, declaring that Catholics would be committing a sin if they saw it. Baby Doll premiered as a stage play at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ in 2015; the Fountain production is only its second. “Adapting the screenplay of Baby Doll to the stage has been an exciting process,” Mann said. “Every word is Tennessee’s; my co-adaptor, Pierre Laville, and I simply freed the play within the screenplay to allow the four main characters to live on stage.”
Set design for Baby Doll is by Jeffrey McLaughlin; lighting design is by Ken Booth; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Terri A. Lewis; props and set dressing are by Terri Roberts; fight director is Mike Mahaffey; dialect coach isTyler Seiple; production stage manager is Emily Lehrer; assistant stage manager isMiranda Stewart; associate producer is James Bennett; and Stephen Sachs andDeborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.
Tennessee Williams, 1956.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), born Thomas Lanier Williams III, explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theater of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie (1945) brought what Mr. Williams called “the catastrophe of success.” He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes, for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. Among his many other masterpieces are Vieux Carre, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana and Camino Real.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Season and the 2014 BEST Award for overall excellence from the Biller Foundation; the recent production of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in Charleston, S.C. to commemorate the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel Church; and the naming of seven Fountain productions in a row as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times.
Construction underway for in-the-round seating for ‘Dream Catcher’.
Director Cameron Watson wants Fountain audiences to walk into the theatre and immediately be surprised. To encounter the unexpected. For his mounting of the world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ Dream Catcher, patrons will be startled the moment they step through the lobby door: the seating has been changed to a dynamic in-the-round configuration.
“This play is volatile and exciting,” says Watson. “The muscularity of it got my attention right away.”
Watson doesn’t want audiences to experience the kinetic energy of Dream Catcher in the conventional way. Instead of sitting in the dark and watching the play as an observer, audiences will surround the playing area on all sides and be inside the world of the play with the two characters.
Dream Catcher is set in an empty stretch of the barren Mojave Desert. The construction of a huge solar energy plant in the middle of the desert is threatened to come to a halt when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts are found on the site. Changing the theatre seating to an in-the-round configuration opens up the space to help evoke a feeling of wide expanse. It also creates a sacred circle for the audience, a sense of ritual and ancient storytelling that is central to Mojave Native culture. Even the hoop shape of an actual dream catcher is circular, signifying unity.
“I felt like it needed to be a circular, almost tribal, space,” says Watson. “I felt like it is told in a ring. Communal. That we all need to be part of the experience and commune with the story. Inclusive. The circular space echoes the vastness and isolation of the wide open space and also the circular configuration of the solar field in the desert.”
The new set is being created by award-winning and longtime Fountain designer Jeff McLaughlin. Changing the audience seating required extra effort for Fountain Technical Director Scott Tuomey and his crew.
This is not the first time the Fountain has experimented with altered seating. In 1993, The Seagull starring Salome Jens was performed in-the-round. Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver had a three-quarter setting in 2010, with the audience seated on three sides.
But this current in-the-round seating for Dream Catcher is unique and has an immediate impact on the total feeling of the space. It is kinetic, energetic and alive.
Solar power confronts spirit power in a new drama by Stephen Sachs about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Cameron Watson directs Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell in the world premiere of Dream Catcher, opening January 30 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.
Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his career — the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave Desert — when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threatens to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair.
Inspired by a true event, Sachs wanted to address global warming, climate change and other large issues but weave them into something personal and intimate.
“I’ve always been interested in the battle between science and spirituality, and where they intersect,” he says. “How they are similar, each relying on a kind of faith to explain what we sometimes can’t see. And the paradox of moral certainty. Even when we’re campaigning for something good, sometimes we are forced to discover that we are not who we think we are.”
“This play is messy, complicated, volatile and exciting,” says Watson. “There’s no right or wrong, no bad guy – at least not for the obvious reasons. The muscularity of it got my attention right away. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to be involved, which doesn’t happen often.”
Cameron Watson has received critical acclaim for directing Antaeus Theatre Company hit productions of Picnic (“Best Plays of 2015,” Time Out Los Angeles, and “Best of Los Angeles Theater 2015, Bitter Lemons) and Top Girls, which The Los Angeles Timesnamed one of the “Ten Best Stage Productions of 2014.” Other credits include the Los Angeles premiere of Cock (Rogue Machine Theatre); All My Sons (The Matrix Theatre Company); Trying, The Savannah Disputation, Grace and Glorie (The Colony Theatre); I Never Sang for My Father (The New American Theatre); I Capture the Castle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); and Rolling with Laughter in London’s West End. He wrote and directed the Miramax feature film Our Very Own, starring Allison Janney in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance. He created the new comedy series Break a Hip, starring Christina Pickles alongside Octavia Spencer, Peri Gilpin, Priscilla Barnes, Jim Rash and Allison Janney.
Elizabeth Frances has performed at various theaters including the Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Los Angeles Theater Center, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Native Voices and the Kirk Douglas Theater. She has worked with artists such as Travis Preston, Phil Soltanoff (Mad Dog Theater), Jim Findlay (Wooster Group), Shirley Jo Finney and Chris Anthony, and performed in world premiere by writers Randy Reinholz, Marcus Gardley, Josefina Lopez, Carolyn Dunn and Melinda Lopez. Film/TV credits include Ghost Forest,Hunting (Cannes), Her Story (produced by Eve Ensler) and Drunktown’s Finest(Sundance) with executive producer Robert Redford. Elizabeth was featured as one of twelve actors in the ABC Networks’ Talent Showcase. She holds a BFA from CalArts.
Brian Tichnell’s theater credits include Circle Jerk (REDCAT); Some Cars (Padua Playwrights); Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (L.A. Theatre Works national tour);Peace In Our Time, The Curse of Oedipus and Macbeth (Antaeus Theatre Company); Camino Real (Theatre @ Boston Court); and Hamlet (Oxford Shakespeare Festival). On TV, he recurs as Eric on Silicon Valley and has also been seen in Castle, The Newsroom, Body of Proof and Happy Endings among others. Originally from South Mississippi, Brian attended the University of Mississippi and California Institute of the Arts.
Stephen Sachs’ plays include Citizen: An American Lyric (adapted from the internationally acclaimed book by Claudia Rankine); Heart Song (Fountain Theatre, Florida Stage); Bakersfield Mist (2012 Elliot Norton Award, Best New Play; produced in London’s West End with Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid, in regional theaters across the US, and translated into other languages and performed worldwide); Cyrano (LA Drama Critics Circle Award, Best Adaptation); Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (Fountain Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Canadian Stage Company, LA Drama Critics Circle award and LA Weekly award nomination for Best Adaptation, and recently published by Dramatist’s Play Service); Gilgamesh (Theatre @ Boston Court); Open Window(Pasadena Playhouse, Media Access Award for Excellence); Central Avenue (PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Back Stage Garland award, Best Play); Sweet Nothing in My Ear(PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Media Access award, NEA grant award); Mother’s Day; The Golden Gate (Best Play, Drama-Logue); and The Baron in the Trees. He wrote the teleplay for Sweet Nothing in My Ear for Hallmark Hall of Fame which aired on CBS starring Marlee Matlin and Jeff Daniels. Sachs co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.
Consulting with the Fountain on Dream Catcher are Jean Bruce Scott, producing executive director and co-creator of Native Voices at the Autry, and her staff. Set design is by Jeffrey McLaughlin; lighting design is by Luke Moyer; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Terry A. Lewis; props are by Terri Roberts; production stage manager is Emily Lehrer; associate producer is James Bennett; andSimon Levy and Deborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Season and the 2014 BEST Award for overall excellence from the Biller Foundation; the just-closed West Coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, named to Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty’s “Best Theater of 2015” list; and the last seven Fountain productions consecutively highlighted as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times.
Dream Catcher opens January 30 and runs to March 21.
The production and design team for our upcoming world premiere of Dream Catcher met at the Fountain yesterday for its first meeting to discuss launching the exciting new play by Stephen Sachs. Solar power confronts spirit power in this riveting new drama about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Inspired by a true incident, Dream Catcher opens in January.
Thursday’s production meeting was led by producer Simon Levy. Playwright Sachs and director Cameron Watson shared their vision for the new play with set designer Jeffrey McLaughlin, lighting designer Luke Moyer, sound designer Peter Bayne, costume designer Terri Lewis, and props designer Terri Roberts. Also present were technical director Scott Tuomey, associate producer James Bennett and stage manager Emily Lehrer.
In Dream Catcher, Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his young career: the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave desert. But Roy suddenly finds himself thrust into the center of a crisis when the discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threaten to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair.
Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs is the author and/or adaptor of thirteen plays, including such Fountain hits as Citizen: An American Lyric, Heart Song, Cyrano, Bakersfield Mist, Miss Julie: Freedom Summer, Sweet Nothing in my Ear and Central Avenue.
Cameron Watson recently directed acclaimed productions of Picnic and Top Girls at The Antaeus Company, and Cock at Rogue Machine Theatre.
In addition to the glorious playwriting, acting and directing, our west coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek has earned joyous accolades from critics and audiences alike for its exquisite set. Designed by Jeff McLaughlin, the Fountain stage has been transformed into a South African hillside decorated with exuberant, vibrantly colored rocks. Guess what? Now these rocks can be yours!
Because each of these marvelous hand-painted rocks are truly one-of-kind art pieces, the Fountain is offering them for sale. They are too unique and artful to be ignored when the production ends on December 14th. Each rock is being offered for only $100. All proceeds benefit the Fountain Theatre.
Looking for a unique holiday gift for someone with an artistic soul who would appreciate a present that is out of the ordinary? Or a one-of-a-kind decoration for your garden, yard or patio? An original art piece for your home?
Has been individually hand-painted by artist Clairfoster Josiah Browne.
Is a real rock with a unique size and shape. Each is approximately two feet wide and one foot high.
Is covered with a waterproof sealant.
Your rock will be available December 15th and must be picked up at the Fountain Theatre. Each rock fits easily into the trunk or on the seat of a car.
Is this cool or what? Get this one-of-a-kind holiday gift or unique decoration for your home — and support the Fountain Theatre!
Launching the Fountain Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season, Simon Levy directs Kristin Carey, Ryan Doucette, Joanna Strapp — and some very unusual, one-of-a-kind dolls — in the Los Angelespremiere of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn. How far would you go to create a family?. A darkly funny psychological thriller that takes an unsettling look at work, motherhood and the power of healing, Reborning opens at the Fountain Theatre on Jan. 24.
In Reborning, a young artist who crafts custom-made dolls begins to suspect that a demanding client may be the mother who abandoned her at birth. As she tries to unravel the mystery, she discovers the path to her own “reborning.”
“The play is funny and twisted, but also deeply emotional and very moving,” says Levy.
Ryan Doucette and Joanna Strapp
A reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible. Although many consumers collect reborns as they would regular dolls, others use them to replace a child they once lost or a child that has grown up. The dolls often come with fake birth or adoption certificates, and their “parents” care for them as they would an infant. Because of their realistic appearance, reborn dolls have occasionally been mistaken for real babies and rescued from parked cars after being reported to the police by passers-by.
“It’s a pretty dark play, but kind of a comedy too,” explains Dohrn, who first became aware of reborn dolls when his wife was pregnant and they were searching for baby clothes online.
“We stumbled across numerous sites and forums for reborn dolls,” he says. “Buyers would testify how the dolls comforted them. I was trying to balance my own fears and hopes about becoming a father with my work as a writer and an artist, and I became fascinated. These dolls are realistic enough to be upsetting — beautiful and grotesque and odd all at once.”
Reborning received a workshop production at The Public Theater in New York City, followed by a world premiere production at The SF Playhouse in San Francisco. San Francisco’s Eagle News called it “A major triumph… a taut thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. You don’t want to miss it,” while the Chronicle praised the play’s ability to balance “humor, suspense, and trauma.” The SF Weekly wrote, “Reborning proves that grim topics and taboos can also be damn funny.”
Zayd Dohrn’s other plays include Outside People (The Vineyard Theatre/Naked Angels), Want (Steppenwolf First Look) and Sick (Berkshire Theatre Festival. His work has also been produced and developed at Playwrights Horizons, the Atlantic Theater Co., Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodman Theatre, South Coast Rep, Ars Nova, Kitchen Dog, Theatre for One, Boston Playwrights’, New York Theatre Workshop and the Royal Court Theatre in London, among others. He has written screenplays for the American Film Company, Bedlam Productions, and Vox3 Films, as well as a pilot for HBO. He earned his MFA from NYU and was a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard, where he twice received Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Prize. He teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University.
Simon Levy was honored with the 2011 Milton Katselas Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. Directing credits at the Fountain include The Normal Heart (LADCC Award for Best Revival), Cyrano (LADCC Awards for Direction and Production), A House Not Meantto Stand; Opus (LA Weekly Awards, Best Director); Photograph 51;The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Backstage Garland Award, Best Direction); The Gimmick (Ovation Award-Solo Performance); Master Class (Ovation Award-Best Production); Daisy in theDreamtime (Backstage Garland Awards, Best Production and Direction); Going to St. Ives; The Night of theIguana; Summer & Smoke (Ovation Award-Best Production); The LastTycoon, which he wrote and directed, (5 Back Stage awards, including Best Adaptation and Direction); and Orpheus Descending (6 Drama-Logue awards, including Best Production and Direction). What I Heard About Iraq, which he wrote and directed, was produced worldwide including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Fringe First Award) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival (Fringe Award), was produced by BBC Radio, and received a 30-city UK tour culminating in London. He has written the official stage adaptations of The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon for the Fitzgerald Estate, all published by Dramatists Play Service.
Set design for Reborning is by Jeff McLaughlin; lighting design is by Jennifer Edwards; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Naila Aladdin Sanders; prop design and set dressing are by Misty Carlisle; consulting doll artist is Amy Karich; associate producer is James Bennett; assistant stage manager is Shawna Voragen; and the production stage manager is Terri Roberts.
The Fountain Theatre has gobbled up 26 Theater Awards from Stage SceneLA for our acclaimed 2013-14 productions of The Normal Heart, My Name is Asher Lev and The Brothers Size. StageSceneLA editor Steven Stanley announced the winners this week after seeing and reviewing 268 productions from September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2014. The overall awards list is long and there are multiple winners in many categories. All of it demonstrating, as Steven Stanley affirms, that “theater in Los Angeles and its surrounding communities is alive and thriving and quite often simply as good as it gets. “
These 2013-14 Fountain productions received the following awards:
The Normal Heart
Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup in ‘The Normal Heart’.
Production of the Year – The Normal Heart
Best Director, Drama – Simon Levy
Best Performance, Lead Actor – Tim Cummings
Best Performance, Lead Actor – Bill Brochtrup
Best Performance, Featured Actress – Lisa Pelikan
Best Performance by an Understudy – Ray Paolantonio
Best Performance, Featured Actor – Matt Gottlieb
Best Performance, Featured Actor – Fred Koehler
Best Performance, Featured Actor – Stephen O’Mahoney
Memorable Performance, Featured Actor – Dan Shaked & Jeff Witzke
My Name Is Asher Lev
Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja and Joel Polis in ‘My Name Is Asher Lev’.
Best Production, Drama – My Name is Asher Lev
Best Director, Drama – Stephen Sachs
Best Performance, Lead Actor – Jason Karasev
Best Performance, Featured Actor – Joel Polis
Best Performance, Featured Actress – Anna Khaja
Best Costume Design – Shon LeBlanc
Best Lighting Design – Ric Zimmerman
Best Scenic Design – Jeff McLaughlin
The Brothers Size
Gilbert Glenn Brown and Matthew Hancock in ‘The Brothers Size
Best Director – Shirley Jo Finney
Best Ensemble Cast, Drama
Best Choreography, Play – Ameenah Kaplan
Memorable Lighting Design – Pablo Santiago
Best Scenic Designer – Hana S. Kim
Sound Design/Composer of the Year – Peter Bayne, The Brothers Size, The Normal Heart
Best Props Design – Misty Carlisle – Asher Lev, Brothers Size, Normal Heart
Our thanks to Steven Stanley and StageSceneLa for this acknowledgement. We appreciate and applaud his enthusiasm and support for theatre in Los Angeles.
For the complete list of StageSceneLA Award winnersclick here.
Thought-provoking, unpredictable and wholly magnificent
by David C. Nichols
Saw My Name is Asher Lev last night. Will likely be thinking about it for quite some time to come. The Fountain Theatre continues its ongoing roll with this potent three-hander based on Chaim Potok’s best seller about an Orthodox Jew in post-WWII Brooklyn torn between Hasidic tradition and his nascent artistic gifts. That last aspect typifies the production, which is, even by this venue’s high standards, thought-provoking, unpredictable and wholly magnificent.
Stephen Sachs has done meaningful direction before, and often. Yet the emotional acuity, transitional clarity and specificity of detail he mines from Aaron Posner’s affecting adaptation is at an elevated level from anything previous seen. Design credits are refined and resourceful across the board: Jeff McLaughlin’s symbolist set, Ric Zimmerman’s pin-point lighting plot, Shon LeBlanc’s usual spot-on wardrobe choices, Diane Martinous’ wigs — it’s ALWAYS about the hair — and Lindsay Jones’ evocative music and sound cues add immeasurably to an unusually engrossing and polished execution.
Speaking of which, the cast is exceptional — seamlessly vivid, nuanced and committed. Jason Karasev, so memorable in Tape at the Fringe a couple of cycles back, is heartbreaking as the title character at various ages, surmounting the pitfalls of playing so wide a range with faultless technique, so invested that a late-inning embarrassed moment finds him blushing, just as the character would.
Joel Polis has long been a local exemplar of character acting, so proficiency is expected. However, his assumption of Asher’s father, rabbi, uncle, artistic mentor, etc. literally seems like a different person with each entrance, from subtleties of dialect to physical posture and so forth. An astonishing turn, even from this actor.
And the ever-remarkable Anna Khaja, whose name this observer would enjoy merely seeing in print, reaches mesmeric, even preternatural depths inhabiting respectively, Asher’s mother, first patroness and the artist’s model who elicits the aforementioned blush, her inwardly shifting reactions and light-to-dark-and-back modulations defying criticism — a transcendent performance.
Which essentially describes the whole deeply touching show. It’s an early bar-setter for the theatrical year, an unprepossessing triumph for all concerned and an unforgettable experience. Don’t. Miss. It.
David C. Nichols is a freelance theater reviewer at the Los Angeles Times.
The design and production team for our upcoming Los Angeles Premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev gathered on Saturday to discuss the many design elements needed for the production. It’s going to be a beautiful and powerful production with a fluid, quick-moving mixture of set, lights, music and sound supporting three talented actors who play a variety of characters.
At Saturday’s production meeting, director Stephen Sachs spoke to the designers and shared his vision for the play. Producer Simon Levy led the meeting with Technical Director Scott Tuomey. Adding their artistic contributions were set designer Jeff McLaughlin, lighting designer Ric Zimmerman, costume designer Shon LeBlanc, props designer Misty Carlisle, and production stage manager Terri Roberts. Composer/sound designer Lindsay Jones was out-of-town but a few samples of his gorgeous original music were played.
Based on the bestselling novel by Chaim Potok, My Name Is Asher Lev is the powerful coming-of-age story of a Jewish boy’s struggle to become an artist against the will of his Orthodox parents, community and tradition. Asher Lev could be the next Picasso. But as the son of devout Hasidic parents who struggle to understand the value of his art, Asher Lev is torn apart. He knows he is commanded to honor his parents, but he must also be true to himself. As we glimpse the pieces of Asher’s painful past, we witness events that climax in his most famous work and the decision that will change his life forever.A recent hit Off-Broadway and winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and the John Gassner Award.
The Los Angeles Premiere at the Fountain theatre stars Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, and Joel Polis.
Snapshots from the ‘Asher Lev’ Design Meeting
My Name is Asher Lev Feb 15 – April 19 (323) 663-1525MORE