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Finally, A Frog Finds His Footwear

A Frog And His Really Cool SandalsBy Michael Springthorpe/Illustrations By Enrique AravenaPublished By Reader’s MagnetLength: 69 pagesPrice: $15.81

What is pistachio green?Moves like a well-oiled machine?By the shore does convene?Adorns footwear made for a queen?
Finally, a frog, the main character in author Michael Springthorpe’s new book,  “A Frog And His Really Cool Sandals.”
The writer of the groundbreaking “Harriet’s Journal” takes us, the readers, on a delightful, didactic and delirious journey in which our hero the frog loses his beautiful sandals and goes on a philosophical and metaphysical trip to retrieve them which includes the pelican, horned toad and dark shark.
The wordsmith’s imagery is mind-blowing, colorful and passionate.  It lights a fire under any wooden spire.
Two perfect examples are pages 60 and 66:
“He felt a force of water and then a terrible hit from an immovable weight!  A mountain-sized head appeared beneath him, a dislocation of waters pulled Frog down Into a towering white undergrowth of teeth….THEY WERE THERE!!  Be-jewelled in bright color as ever he knew them …..’Gold and green filigree and lacing so rare, So wonderfully bestowed Attached like skin about his toes And reaching right up to near his ankles!!!”
Springthorpe, an Australian born in Sydney, but now living in Burbank, CA with his wife Kate, displays the same uncanny gift of humanizing animals that he earlier so brilliantly showed in “Harriett’s Journal.”
The actor’s rare and noble ability to have animals triumph over challenging, otherworldly and unique environments makes this book so much more than your run of the mill children’s book for adults. It turns a frog into a hero, a pelican a sage, a dark shark a vanquished foe and a horned toad a loving companion.
The scribe pens a children’s book for adults and vice versa.  It is the “waterless canyons” and “cave-like heads” that stir the imagination and populate the plot with entertaining and artistic themes, subjects and sub-plots.
But it is the masterful sketches of Enrique Aravena that also make the book the grand success that it is and move the story along at warp speed.  The detail, shape and color of the drawings are mind-bending and retina-roasting.
Springthorpe and Aravena’s teamwork is responsible for this masterpiece of rhyme, ribaldry and rambunctious reality.  For each compliments the other in ways that strengthen both.
In the end, “A Frog And His Really Cool Sandals” is uncommonly and tenderly funny, thought-provoking and a work of genius because of the duality of its wordplay, depth of its meaning and its soulful, heartfelt and gentle artwork.
Rarely has a tome come along that stirs the present into the past and climbs the highest tree to find the square root of three with the power and trajectory of this frog and those disappearing ditties on his feet.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book CriticAt the Theatre with Radomir Luza
At the Theatre with Radomir Luza

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre Revival of “In My Mind’s Eye” by Doug Haverty Running on The Main Stage Downstairs Through March 15th in The North Hollywood Arts District, CA

If you are interested in a kaleidoscope-colored, multi-dimensional play about the triumphs 
and travails of a legally blind public school teacher, make a beaten path to The Group 
Repertory Theatre’s revival of “In My Mind’s Eye” by Doug Haverty, running on the Main 
Stage of The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through March 
This is the story of a courageous and committed female public school teacher who finds love 
and pain in her journey from junior high school student to public school educator.
This is drama and comedy as semi-fantasy.
Life as poetry.
Tripping, tugging and twisting on time’s multi colored and thickly layered coat, Patricia or 
Patty (Peyton Kirkner) rides the special needs roller coaster from mother’s couch to lover’s 
The writing is sumptuous, surreal, salient and surprising.
Full of metaphors and alliteration, the show knocks on existence’s door only to find a 
department store of magic and lore.
The language is beautiful, genuine and heavenly leading to a love story for these modern 
times with its share of potent, penetrating and poignant rhymes.
The words stand as stark reminders to the wordsmith and scribe in each one of us,
flashing beacons to the hero in us all.
Wonderfully written with flourishes and embellishments adding to the engrossing and 
achingly powerful nature of the story of a little engine that not only could, but did, the  
memory play is both hilarious and tragic.   
It is of import that we, the audience, remember that having been developed in Lonny 
Chapman’s playwright’s unit, this was the first full-length play presented in the theatre that 
now bears his name. 
After winning a number of Drama-Logue awards, including Best Playwriting, the play was 
published worldwide by Samuel French keeping alive Chapman’s unique and rare vision of
new works that illuminate and enlighten unusual sides of humanity.
Bruce Kimmel’s erudite direction is equally poetic.  The emotional and psychological depth, 
drama and delight are apparent in not merely the set design, but the lighting, sound, 
interplay and entrances and exits of the actors.
The evening flows like a tributary without end thanks mainly to the director’s originality, 
imagination and ability to allow his actors to be themselves.
Haverty’s rollicking reality could not stand on its own without the wonder wheel in Kimmel’s 
The writer, director and star of the cult movie hit, “The First Nudie Musical,” crafts a fantasy 
land of sorts here by trusting the gremlins in his mind and believing not only in the 
playwright’s words, but his own cornucopia of chance and dance.       
The co-creator of the story for the film “The Faculty,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, 
assembles a deeply talented cast here that comprehends the complexities, corridors and 
well-coifed messages in Haverty’s award-winning play.
Stand-outs include Lloyd Pedersen (Calhoun) who almost steals the play with a deeply 
convincing turn that turns the play upside down and all around.
The 16-year Group Repertory Theatre member makes this role matter as he has the dozen 
or more before.  The Northwestern University graduate slices and dices the maybes and 
Rabies of the part by giving himself to the truth and sincerity of the character.
In the end, we, the audience, are left with a bravura portrayal adding to the actor’s growing 
legend at The Group Repertory Theatre and the almost 50 years of professional acting and 
singing preceding this deeply and nobly nuanced and felt characterization.      
But it is Kait Haire (Trish) who runs away with the show by completely breaking away from 
her sexually charged performance as Davina in “Otherwise Engaged” Upstairs last season.
The two roles are so dramatically, dogmatically and ferociously different that one wonders 
how the Vero Beach, FL native found the courage and acting chops to locate the two diverse 
characters in her lithe frame.  
Here, the George Washington University theatre student tosses all doubts about her range 
and dedication as an actress into the garbage with an extremely gentle and tender turn .
In a beautifully and soulfully choreographed dance she brings the wholesome Trish into our
hearts for good with a soft, vulnerable, almost fragile characterization that is simply light 
years away from that in the other production.
The recipient of the Presidential Scholar of the Arts Scholarship for acting while at George 
Washington, gives a timeless, compelling, fierce and dynamic portrayal not to be missed by 
any theatre lover or follower of the arts, for that matter.
This critic hopes to see Haire, who also acts in film, on the stages of North Hollywood and 
Los Angeles again soon.
Furthering the message of the play are Pawena Sriha’s intimate and intricate set design, 
Douglas Gabrielle’s innovative lighting design,  Steve Shaw’s powerful sound design, 
Michael Mullen’s original and imaginative costume design and Jody Bardin’s singular work as

stage manager.
All in all, “In My Mind’s Eye” succeeds because of its otherworldly, ethereal meteor shower  
of a presence, not despite it.        
The play is a riveting, rewarding and radiant example of a woman’s bravery and dedication  

in the face of sure failure and severe bullying.
She turns tomatoes into tomato juice and alienation, desperation and isolation into true love 
and commitment with intelligence, insight and instinct.
This ribald, raunchy and rip-roaring love story and romance forces us, the audience, to see
Patricia, and later Trish, as a real human being , not a freak or misfit at someone else’s 
dinner table.
For a child with special needs, that is a rare and wonderful breakthrough.
So, Haverty, the brand new Group Repertory Theatre Artistic Director,  chooses Haverty, the 
playwright, for his initial production.
Not only does he pull it off beautifully, but the oft-produced playwright does it with the flair, 
charm and joie de vivre of an up-and-coming artistic lightning bolt who cannot and will not 
allow himself to do bad, lousy or shoddy work.  
Let us, the theatre goers and audience, hope that this mindset continues, as this artistic 
spitfire leads this, one of Los Angeles’ most innovative and original theatrical ensembles into 
a potentially historic, award-filled and potent future.
Kudos to all involved.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critic
Showtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pmSunday Matinees at 2:00 pmTalkbacks with Cast and Staff on 2/16 and 3/1.Running Time: 2 Hours with One Ten Minute Intermission.General Admission: $30.00.Seniors & Students with ID: $25.00.Parties 10+: $20.00.
Reservations and Information: (818) 763-5990.WHERE: Lonny Chapman Theatre at The Group Repertory Theatre at 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.   

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of the world premiere of “A Twisted Christmas Carol” by Phil Olson Upstairs in The Lonny Chapman Theatre


If you are interested in a Texas spoof of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” run do not walk to The Group Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of “A Twisted Christmas Carol” by Phil Olson running Upstairs on  
the second floor of The Lonny Chapman Theatre of The Group Repertory Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through January 12th.
This is the story of Buford Johnson, a barbecue joint owner in a small town in West Texas who has an accident in his pickup truck and ends up in a coma on Christmas Eve where he is visited by 
ex-business partner Hank Walker, who plays the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
This play with non-stop hilarity punctuated by heartfelt sincerity is nothing but genuine honesty amid ever-present lunacy.
The down home warmth and charm power a manic energy that proves infectious and addictive during the two hour show..
The writing is colorful, original and tight, helping us, the audience, understand not only Texas, but the world as a playground of female karma, male genitalia and human regalia.  The Second Act, especially, brings us, the audience, the redeeming power of love.  The rapping late in the act is a highlight of the play for this critic.
This is the perfect comedy for the Me Too Movement, combining the strength and focus of female intuition with the passion and emotion of marriage, longing and true redemption.
Like a Filet Mignon, the language is powerful and lean, juicy and especially keen.
Like a magnificent river under an old-fashioned wooden bridge, the words never stop flowing.  Like a dancing stream through a lush valley, the laughter never stops coming.
The show enriches everything it touches.  Empowering voices never to hush.  The reality here is one of family and friends moving forward to create a more compassionate and caring universe that
everyone from children to geriatrics can understand.
Olson’s 16 published plays with over 400 productions in seven countries are akin to the little engine that could.  Ten of his plays are published by Samuel French.  
The “Don’t Hug Me” series of plays standing alone as a mainstream success story in both content and popularity and testament to local pride and civic loyalty.
The playwright has also sold two screenplays, script doctored three screenplays that were produced and has two screenplays under option.
Director Doug Engalla, in his eighth production as Director at The Group Repertory Theatre, hits pay dirt again and again.
The veteran Group Repertory Theatre photographer and promotional videographer, in his sharp and concentrated style, allows the actors to be themselves, but primarily in service to their roles
and the script.
Engalla has long been one of the city’s most intense, painstakingly original and energetic of directors.  Here he proves once more why his love of the stage results in one massive hit after another
and one outpouring of human zest and feeling, lust and emotional unpeeling on top of another.
The NAACP Theatre Award Nominee is so talented at his craft that more producers and theatres should consider hiring him.  Engalla does not know how to direct a bad show.
Here he assembles a gifted cast which comprehends the sense-of-humor and philosophical yet sunny vision of its playwright. 
All five actors shine like lighthouses on a dark bay.
Stand outs in this two hour estrogen extravaganza include Lisa McGee Mann (Darla) who nearly steals the play with a deeply convincing turn as Johnson’s long-suffering wife.
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Alumnus’ vulnerability and sensitivity have made her the top-notch dramatic actress that she is (“Agnes of God,” “Tartuffe,” “Hot L Baltimore,” “Vanities”).
Mann turns this role into her own journey of emotional and psychological redemption.  It is an outing we, the audience, will not soon forget.
Running away with the show, however, is the multi-talented Veronica Roy (Daisy) whose spontaneous, passionate and hilarious portrayal helps make the play into the hit that it is.
The unique beauty, compassion and wisdom of this SAG action actresses’ triumph triggers a spiritual, sexual and psychological explosion that fits her character to a tee.
The energy, love and radiance of the performance are of the highest order, touching and moving soul, heart and mind at once.
This critic would very much like to see the actress, writer and producer again soon on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles, CA.
Furthering the message of the play are the detailed set design of Chris Winfield, innovative lighting design of Kenny Harder, groundbreaking sound design of Steve Shaw and colorful and intimate costume design of 
Stephanie Colet.
All in all, “A Twisted Christmas Carol” succeeds like cowboys, cactus, humidity and football in Texas because of, not despite, its extremely funny and intelligent writing.
The chemistry between the actors, talented eye of the director and raw and naked language of the playwright create an inspiring, illuminating and enlightening evening of
exhilaration and exclamation of an highly unusual American portrait.
On the second Sunday night of the run on which this critic saw the show, not a seat was to be had or an audience member glad when the action onstage ended.
This twisted Texas tale with one ten minute intermission unearths a narrative touching on everything from relationships to the meaning of Christmas and friendship.
This is a brilliant comedic spoof of existence squared and bared, leaving all involved joyful and at their peak, happy yet bleak.
As with most comedies, there is more here than meets the eye.  The characters are each attempting not to live a life that is a lie.
Beat after beat, we, the audience, see people in their own personal cages trying to find the keys to their cuffs, the way out of their prison cells.
It is no coincidence that The Group Repertory Theatre, now in its 45th season, is staging and presenting this production, as the leadership of Co-Artistic Directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield once more 
uncovers gold.
The caliber of the company’s material, for instance, once considered “community theatre” fare, but now substantive in content and style, has quickly changed this acrobatic ensemble from a modest and mediocre  
theatre group to the well-respected and productive unit it is today. 
Unfortunately, for the entire Los Angeles theatre community, the powerful pair/dynamic duo is stepping down from their respective positions at year’s end.
Fortunately, for artists and craftspeople alike, new Artistic Director Doug Haverty possesses the vision, courage and inner fortitude to take The Group Repertory Theatre into uncharted waters
in the new decade.
The angels and saints are forever looking out for this most formidable of theatre ensembles, and as both productions Upstairs and Downstairs (“The Man Who Came to Dinner”) prove, now is always better than then 
in terms of quality, quantity and accessability.  
Kudos to all involved.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book CriticAt the Theatre with Radomir Luza
At the Theatre with Radomir Luza
Showtimes:Saturdays at 4 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m.Talk-back after Sunday show on 01/04/2020General Admission: $20.00.Seniors & Students with ID: $17.00Information and Reservations: (818) 763-5990WHERE: Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre at The Group Repertory Theatre at10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.The Upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.Website:  

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through January 12th

If you are interested in a comedy that is a tonic for today’s seemingly drab and humorless world, look no further than The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of 
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner” running downstairs on the Main Stage of The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood
Arts District through January 12th.
This is the story of a sharp-tongued New York City radio personality who accidentally slips and falls, injuring his hip outside of the front door of the house of the well-to-do local 
factory owner who he was invited to dine with.  Confined to a wheelchair in the house for a month, he drives his hosts crazy by disrupting the proceedings in an almost cartoonish manner until he receives his just reward.
This play does what a comedy is supposed to do: make the audience laugh.  
In the third and final act, audience members were literally jumping out of their seats trying to contain their joy and glee.
The language is nothing short of compelling, electric and jaw-dropping.
Each syllable loaded with wit and comedy, the writing leading a life of its own.
The words here are so genuinely funny, specific and well-oiled that name references that would seem dated and above the audience’s heads, simply are not.
Every 10 seconds, it seems, society is being measured, civilization given a tongue lashing and humanity an eye-opening bath in the truth.
If the purpose of comedy is to make the audience not only laugh, but also look at itself in the mirror, then this comedy meets those expectations broadly, brilliantly and blatantly.
Hart and Kaufman are both masters of massaging the meaning and direction of a word, phrase or sentence so that it travels in a direction different than what we, the audience, expect.
The two geniuses do it time and again, and do it with such confidence, detail, nuance, feel and grace that we, the audience, are left in stitches, shock and awe.
Written and set in 1939, this play is clearly one of the best written American comedies, if not plays, of all time.
It pushes, pulls and prods until we, the audience, have no choice but to react, recoil or regurgitate some sort of laughter.
Director Bruce Kimmel is best known for his work with Kritzerland, his own company that produces updated albums of classic musicals as well as recordings of new ones like his “A Carol Christmas” 
produced at The Group Repertory Theatre last year and currently nominated for several Broadway World awards.
The writer, director and star of the cult movie hit, “The First Nudie Musical” puts the C back in comedy with such flare, passion and abandon that he actually makes the writing work even harder and 
and stand even taller than it usually would.
The co-creator of the story of the hit film, “The Faculty,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, wags an acerbic tongue and irreverent index finger at the world in general, and people in particular
so much so that he seems the perfect choice to direct this time-tested holiday classic.
The Grammy-nominated producer of theatre music on CD, does not stand in the way of the actors, and allows them the freedom and space to be themselves, sincerely and honestly.
The thespians are encouraged to be as physical as possible in stretching and enriching their characters as much as they can.
The producer of 180 albums assembles an awesomely-gifted cast that comprehends the wisdom, scope and sensitivity of the writers.
Stand outs include: Chris Winfield (Beverly Carlton) who almost steals the show in exploding onto the stage like an unplugged hand grenade and exiting the premises 12 minutes later.
The triple threat (Co-Artistic Director, resident set designer and builder and actor) gives possibly his most memorable and nuanced portrayal of many at the final Group Repertory Theatre run 
in this, his first foray onto the stage in some time.  The film and television actor gives a convincing turn as the rather egotistical and self-centered, but hilarious Carlton.
Kudos to Winfield for the generosity, mental agility and self awareness he displays in super sensurround. 
We, the audience, are the better for it. 
But running away with the show is Jim Beaver (Sheridan Whiteside) whose presence, passion and power are something out of a bygone era.
The Shakespearean actor (Macduff in “Macbeth”) and star of television shows from “Supernatural” (Bobby Singer) and “Deadwood” (Whitney Ellsworth) to
“Breaking Bad” (Lawson) and “Third Rock from the Sun” (French Stewart’s boss) and over 50 feature films, here mesmerizes, mystifies and milks about all he can from his character.
In carrying the play hook, line and comedy sinker, Beaver exhibits a knack for timing and delivery rarely seen among actors of even his rarefied air and ilk.
The lead’s performance seems informed by a wry sense of humor, worldly charm and an ageless spirit regardless of an ever-so-slight cynicism as to the state of the world. 
The actor, who once played Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, here makes it crystal clear that his somewhat sarcastic attitude comes from experience,
emotion and existential angst.
After all, why would a successful big city radio personality want to stay in a wheelchair in a house in a small town where he is not wanted unless his life is not quiet what and where it should be?
Beaver deserves credit for breathing fire into the belly of Whiteside in a manner which will not be easily forgotten or duplicated.
This critic hopes to see Beaver on the boards in North Hollywood or Los Angeles again very soon.
Also furthering the message of the play are Winfield’s masterful traditional set design, Douglas Gabrielle’s innovative lighting design, Michael Mullen’s colorful and effective costume design and Steve Shaw’s brilliant 
sound design.
In the end, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” succeeds because of its unapologetic narrative, not despite it.
In a world mired in sadness, suffering and hypocrisy, this play rises above the partisan bellyaching and caterwauling to confront social, political and personal demons equally with a mix of
vinegar and wine, salt and pepper and radish and radiance.  In so doing, this finally-tuned and well-paced vehicle never manages to forget its primary goal: to entertain and amuse.
While commenting on the human condition, the play also functions as an elixir for what ails this generation: a tendency to take itself too seriously and too importantly as if no other existed.
Let us, the audience, also not forget that this is the final production overseen by Winfield and Larry Eisenberg, the highly productive pair of Co-Artistic Directors stepping down after the run of the play.
For it is this dynamic duo that for a decade changed the landscape and shape of theatre from a “community theatre” driven  mindset to a more bold, mainstream and substantive nature, in affect saving the company and 
This critic thanks them both for their soulful and heartfelt contributions and wishes them both well on their respective new journeys.
This critic also welcomes new Artistic Director Doug Haverty into the fold, and wishes him a successful and inspired tenure.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book CriticAt the Theatre with Radomir Luza

Showtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm.Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.Talk backs after Sunday matinees on December 15th and December 29th.There will be two intermissions.Approximate Running Time: Two Hours.Tickets: $25.00. Seniors 65+/Students with ID: $20.00.Groups of 10 or more: $15.00.Information/Reservations: (818) 763-5990.WHERE: The Group Repertory Theatre-The Lonny Chapman Theatre-Main Stage,10900 Burbank Boulevard,North Hollywood, CA 91601 
At the Theatre with Radomir Luza

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Main Stage Production of George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

If you are interested in a new adaptation of a classic horror film, make a beaten path to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of George A. Romero’s 
“Night of the Living Dead,” adapted for the stage by Gus Krieger and running on the Main Stage of The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through November 10th.
This is the story of the emergence and spread of a deadly pandemic which engulfs seven strangers attempting to flee the armies of flesh-eating, bloodthirsty zombies ravaging the countryside in a
abandoned Pennsylvania farmhouse.
Beset by the walking dead outside and personal tensions within, the group attempts to survive the longest night of their lives.
Krieger’s adaptation of Romero’s movie intelligently and effectively converts film to theatre in a 75 minute play without an intermission.
In so doing, the play takes on the winning traits and characteristics of the movie such as moving and biting interpersonal relationships, believable and realistic ghouls and a government seemingly powerless to do  
anything about stopping them.  
The plot moves along quickly and efficiently.  The writing, gripping and electric, makes us, the audience, believe that this invasion of zombies could happen today.
The production is more than a feast and smorgasbord for the eyes, it is a philosophical and metaphysical buffet. 
Towards the end of the show, we, the audience, begin to ask ourselves if there is anything more on this planet than the human race?
Where did we come from?
What are we doing here?
The fact that the film and this theatrical remake attempt to answer these time-honored queries can only be interpreted as a thirst for knowledge on the part of
Romero and Krieger.
Director Drina Durazo brilliantly mirrors this film with the theatrical work.
The veteran Group Repertory Theatre director not only understands Romero’s penchant for gruesome and satirical horror films, but Krieger’s eclectic theatrical history 
as a writer and Associate Artistic Director of The Porters of Hellsgate, which will become the first Los Angeles theatre company to produce the complete works of William Shakespeare.
Durazo does not get in the way of the actors and lets them be themselves.
The longtime director moves the action along swiftly without affecting the relationships that develop along the way.
The director of Krieger’s “The Armadillo Necktie” (7 Scenie Awards) understands that the classic horror film deserves an equally riveting theatrical counterpart.
She achieves the goal with wit, imagination and a shot of ghoulish delight.
Durazo assembles a gifted cast that comprehends the difficult yet meaningful conversion of film into play.
Stand outs include:
Kate Faye (Barbara) who almost runs away with the play by giving a convincing turn as the clear headed undead sister of her zombie brother Johnny.
Displaying a deep sensitivity and intelligence, the Porters of Hellsgate resident artist exhibits a artistic knowledge and range belying her age.
Marc Antonio Pritchett (Ben) steals the show with a wise, realistic and almost spiritual portrayal of the undead Ben.
The veteran Theatre of Note and Sacred Fools actor carries the play on his more-than-capable shoulders.
Pritchett’s stage presence and mastery combined with his work as a fight coordinator and musician in the Los Angeles area prove to be a boost to his magical performance.
This critic hopes to see the Shakespearean actor (“Othello,” “Richard III”) on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again soon.
Furthering the message of the play are Chris Winfield and Durazo’s innovative set design, Douglas Gabrielle’s ingenius lighting design, Angela M. Eads’ comfortable costume design, Julia Hapney’s effective makeup  
design and Kenny Harder’s brilliant sound design.  
In the end, “Night of the Living Dead” succeeds because of, not despite, its power as a new theatrical adaptation.
The marriage of Romero and Krieger not only has horror fans everywhere excited, but theatregoers not familiar with the genre.
Both should be happily surprised and contented with the final product.
The Halloween treat proves once and for all that The Group Repertory Theatre is not afraid of bold risks and sharp turns.
Under the steadying influence of Co-Artistic Directors Larry Eisenberg and Winfield, who are both stepping down at the end of the year after nine miraculous years of service, 
the ensemble has proven that it can produce and cast shows as different, experimental and edgy as this one without a second thought.
One believes in and hopes for at least another decade of dreams delivered and aspirations achieved with new Artistic Director Doug Haverty.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre/Film/Book CriticAt the Theatre with Radomir Luza
At the Theatre with Radomir LuzaShowtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PMSundays at 2 PMSpecial Performances: Wednesday, October 30th andThursday, October 31st at 8 PM.Talk Back after Sunday Matinee on October 27th.Ages 13+
Tickets:General Admission: $25.00Seniors 65+/Students with ID: $20.00Information/Reservations: (818) 763-5990Where: Group Repertory Theatre at Lonny Chapman Theatre at10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of BARRYMORE by William Luce Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre

If you are interested in a play about legendary actor and early Hollywood number one Bad Boy John Barrymore, run do not walk to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of “Barrymore” by William Luce running 
Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through November 3rd.
The story concerns stage and screen icon Barrymore and his effort to recreate his critically acclaimed performance of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” in 1942.  
But we, the audience, find a Barrymore afraid of this major undertaking, and instead wasting valuable rehearsal time sharing comical, scandalous, family and oft-tragic stories about his life with the 
anonymous group of invited friends and guests.
Barrymore recalls his triumphs, struggles, loves and career in short and long monologues triggered by an ever-present fear of repeating the Bard’s Historical play.
The wandering and lonely actor, who died at the age of 60, reminds of a little boy asking for chocolate at his favorite candy store.
Luce’s writing here is electric, gripping and jaw-dropping.
It is beautiful in both subject and syntax.
Rhythmical to the eye and ear.
The language flows like a lazy river running to its inevitable conclusion.
The words are pregnant with wit, imagination and keen observation.
This is poetry ripe with imagery, compassion and deep longing.
Barrymore proves to be an actor interested in more than wealth and fame.
This production is nothing less than a sumptuous delight, a full literary buffet, a vulnerable and funny visit into the mind of a true genius
who saw this world a little differently than you and I and paid for it.
Luce wants us, the audience, to understand that alcohol, doubt and illness brought this massively gifted actor from the rafters to his knees.
This huge chess piece in what was America’s first family of theatre knew suffering and pain and tried to use a sense of humor to deal with
them as long as he could.
Luce, a stage and television writer, who specialized in penning one person shows such as “The Belle of Amherst” which ran on Broadway 
and starred Julie Harris as poet Emily Dickinson, “Bronte” about writer Charlotte Bronte, “Zelda” about Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald,
which later became “The Last Flapper,” “Lillian” about playwright Lillian Hellman, which ran on Broadway and starred Zoe Caldwell.
Director and actor Robert Benedict directs the play with substance and style.
The classical actor possesses enough dignity, integrity and grace for ten Barrymores.
This wonderland of wisdom, soul and guile is a rare glimpse into the psyche and gift of one of this country’s foremost performers. 
As the title character of the play, Benedict is nothing less than brilliant.
The Shakespearean actor (“Othello,” “Measure for Measure,” “Richard II”) channels 23 characters to get the point of Barrymore’s current existence across clearly, concisely and imaginatively.
The Group Repertory Theatre veteran performer shows sincere humility and modesty while falling through the cracks in Barrymore’s ego.
Benedict’s stage presence is commanding and complete as he rules and dominates the stage Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre.
It is obvious that Benedict comprehends and has studied Barrymore.
His ability to seamlessly transform himself into the complex and oft-difficult actor is akin to slipping on a new suit, coat or uniform over the one you already have on.
This critic would like to see Benedict on more stages in North Hollywood and Los Angeles again very soon.
Also furthering the message of the play is Kenny Harder’s innovative lighting design.
All in all, “Barrymore” succeeds because of, not despite, the celebrity and renown of its namesake.
It leans on his many triumphs and human foibles like a broom does a wall.
This play should be standard viewing for anyone interested in a career in acting.
The production is a love song to theatre and film and the performing that ties them together.
If Barrymore was a victim of his own self-destructive tendencies, then the play is also a robust warning that love for something
is not enough if there are vices in the way.
The Group Repertory Theatre is one of the few theatre companies in the city that can produce and create a piece of art as 
raw, naked and nimble as this show.
Co-Artistic Directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield, both stepping down at year’s end after nine years of productive and outstanding service, 
have provided performing arts buffs in Los Angeles a forum where they can deepen their understanding of the art that much further.
It is a play like “Barrymore” that elevates and helps make us, the audience, that much richer and fuller in terms of American and art history.
It is a theatrical ensemble such as The Group Repertory Theatre that inspires, invigorates and illuminates us by giving this production 
a green light and a nurturing home.
Kudos to all involved.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre/Film/Book Critic
Show Times:Saturdays at 4 PMSundays at 7 PM 
Talk Back after Performance: 11/2/19Not Recommended For Minors
Tickets:General Admission: $20.00Seniors and Students: $17.00Information/Reservations: (818) 763-5990Where: Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre on the Second Floor of The Lonny Chapman Theatreat 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.The Upstairs Venue is Not Handicapped Accessible.

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of Simon Gray’s “Otherwise Engaged” Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre

If you are interested in a play about the decadent and sexually-charged 1970’s, run do not walk to The Group Repertory Theatre production of 
“Otherwise Engaged” by Simon Gray running Upstairs at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through September 8th.
This is the story of Simon Hench, a sexually indulgent London book publisher whose life falls apart in a matter of two hours as he is visited by
neighbors, friends, relatives, strangers, aspiring writers and even his wife back from out-of-town with late breaking news when all he craves is a 
peaceful afternoon.
This play is blessed with a life and equilibrium all its own.  It is alive from the first taste of Wagner’s “Parsifal” to the last.
Humanity, dark humor and a sort of manic happiness explode from this production’s belly like a torpedo.
Sex is everywhere, everyone seems to be having an affair and children are to be avoided at all costs in Gray’s modern, frank and ripe glimpse 
into the mind of a gifted artist going mad.
The playwright, who passed away in 2008, finds the problematic gray middle ground between being genuine and wicked.
The writing is a neon rainbow, a screaming peacock and a deep and abiding analysis of an anti-hero at his most challenged, confused and
The language has a breath, voice and rhythm all its own.  It is penned with compassion, great wit and utter delight, but also great insight into 
the volatile machinations of the human soul.
In this, the playwright’s masterpiece, even true love and faithfulness somehow find an exit out the back door.
The words sky rocket off the page like an Apollo mission and fill the mouths of the characters like a four-course meal, never seeming artificial or
straying too far from the glories of the human heart.
This play won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1975 and the Drama Desk Award for Best Play (foreign) in 1977.
Gray, a friend and collaborator of the British playwright Harold Pinter, was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 2004 for his service to
Drama and Literature for a career that also included the plays, “Butley,” “Quartermaine’s Terms” and “The Common Pursuit” along with
novels, television plays and a series of witty memoirs.
Director Linda Alznauer brings the disparate characters filling Hench’s flat into focus with a deft, gentle and sensitive touch.
The USC film school graduate fully understands the yearning in each character’s heart of hearts, but is also keenly aware that everyone who enters
Hench’s world on this day wants something from him except for his brother Stephen. 
The veteran theatre director and actress directs the play moment-to-moment in real time and allows the actors to be themselves by getting out of the 
Alznauer has a very real and bright future as a director because she knows how to stage and sculpt a play from the bumpy beginning to the troublesome 
end better than many of her more renowned contemporaries.
This critic would very much like to see her bite off larger productions by more famous playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill, 
Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee.
The Los Angeles and New York City thespian has the talent, drive and theatrical chops to go as far as she desires.
Alznauer assembles a gifted cast that comprehends the unique, complex and naked throughline of the playwright’s work.
Stand outs include:
Fox Carney (Stephen) who almost runs away with the play by giving a confident yet tender turn that foreshadows a bravura portrayal of Hench’s married 
father of a brother who is as different from his sibling as one can be.  The veteran Group Repertory Theatre actor has excelled in nearly everything he 
has done on stage for the company.
This role is no exception.  With a toughness that belies a wounded yet galant soul, Carney scores yet again by finding the difficult balance between 
sadness and grace.
But it is Michael Robb (Simon) who steals the show with a mesmerizing raw, fluid and natural performance as the deeply flawed book publisher.
In a characterization that embraces both the time and place it is set, the veteran stage and screen performer embodies his character with the zest, 
intensity and ferocity of an African lion.
If Robb’s last few turns Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre are any indication, this unusual, emotionally edgy and offbeat actor has a deeply 
promising future ahead of him cobbled in platinum and gold.
Here he is in every second of every scene as the lynch pin of the production.  If he fails, the play follows.  But the effusive entertainer misses nary a beat.
This critic would like to see Robb again soon on the stages of North Hollywood and Los Angeles.
Furthering the message of the play are the ingenious set design of Chris Winfield, the innovative lighting design of Kenny Harder, the brilliant 
sound design of Steve Shaw and the timely and modern costume design of Victor D’wayne Little.
All in all, “Otherwise Engaged” succeeds because of, not despite, its embodiment of the time and place it is set.
This play is no mere small time dark comedy.
It is a testament to the sex-fueled, materialistic, me first decade that was the 1970’s.
It soars and falls with a new generation at that point in time.
Few other plays embrace their circumstances more vividly, realistically or dramatically. 
Gray’s genius lies not in the fact that he does not get involved in the details and specifics of this play enough, but that he gets involved too much.
Only such a caring and daring playwright could write a chronicle or diary of a man losing his mind as well as his grip on life so accurately, poignantly and 
soulfully that we, the audience, believe every crazy, tainted and tattered moment truthfully, sincerely and honestly.
That alone is a feat worth rewarding.
A play such as this would not have seen the light of day were it not for the wise appointments of Larry Eisenberg and Winfield as co-Artistic 
Directors in 2010.
This perfect pair has brought a bolder, purer, more courageous, artistic and mainstream ambiance, environment and vision to the once
“community theatre” oriented and driven theatre ensemble.
No easy task.
It is with a heavy heart and sad soul that this critic has learned of the departure of both artistic directors come the new year.
One hopes that Doug Haverty, the new Artistic Director, can spark the same genius, spontaneity, determination, confidence and perseverance in the
company that Eisenberg and Winfield did.
But if there is a person and committed group of artists that can get through any difficult and trying transition, it is the multi-talented Haverty, who can 
currently be seen both Downstairs and Upstairs and doing the graphics for both shows through September 8th, and this astonishingly resilient family of 
theatrical high wire acrobats.
Change seems constant, yet probable, pliable and feasible on Burbank Boulevard.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critic

Showtimes (Upstairs)Saturdays at 4 PM,Sundays at 7 PMTalkbacks with cast and staff on Saturday Afternoons, 8/17 and 8/24.  After the Matinee. Ticket Prices:General Admission: $20.00Seniors/Students with ID’s: $15.00Information/Reservations: (818) 763-5990WHERE: Second Floor of The Lonny Chapman Theatre at                The Group Repertory Theatre at 10900 Burbank Boulevard,                North Hollywood, CA 91601                The Upstairs is not handicap accessible.         

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of Theresa Rebeck’s “Loose Knit”

If you are interested in a play about a New York City women’s knitting circle make a beaten path to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of 
“Loose Knit” by Theresa Rebeck running at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in the No Ho Arts District through September 8th.
This is the story of five New York City women who meet once a week in the heart of the city to knit.
The thing is, knitting is about the last thing they do.  As the yarn increases, so do the pain, suffering and anguish.
Liz is sleeping with her sister Lilly’s husband Bob, Margie is contending with a dating service and a new therapist, Paula is wondering why she is a  
therapist and Gina just wants her old job back. 
In-between, the quintet all meets with Miles, a self-confident businessman who earned his first million dollars before he was thirty-years-old and owns a 
Rolls Royce to die for, on a series of blind dates at a sushi restaurant.
This play could not have been written about or for men.
No, it is ladies, ladies and more ladies that make it so multi-layered and fascinating.
The passion, purity and possibility that the fairer sex provides is alive and kicking here in writing so opulent and ample that it penetrates the pores and 
sinks into the soul.
The language and plot intertwine like a Tango near Paris’ famed River Seine.         .
One leaning on the other like battle-tested veterans after the Battle of the Bulge.
Indeed, Rebeck’s words prove so proud, plentiful and pliable that they create scenarios and scenes on their own.
The prolific and widely produced playwright who this Fall will premiere her fourth Broadway play, “Bernhardt/Hamlet” as part of the Roundabout Theatre 
Company’s 2018-2019 season making Rebeck the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time here shows why.
In television and film, the talented scribe has made a name for herself as well as a writer for shows like “L.A. Law,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order: 
Criminal Intent” and feature films such as “Harriett the Spy” and “Gossip” and the independent features, “Sunday on the Rocks” and
“Seducing Charlie Barker,” an adaptation of her play, “The Scene.”  
Director L. Flint Esquerra, who this critic last encountered when he helmed Larry Eisenberg, The Group Repertory Theatre’s soon-to-be-departing co-
Artistic Director as Morrie in The Sierra Madre Playhouse production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” this past March, here does the impossible: he makes
the women of the knitting circle seem like close friends at the beginning of the evening.
He continues to perfect their humanity and heart at the cost of their ego and vanity and ends up with five full, plump and fat character outlines. These  
females stain, stomp and swing their way into your being as well as your blood.  
Esquerra is a brilliant director who understands that art is a reflection of life, but that that angle of refrain depends on how heightened the reality is.
The veteran stage director simply sees and does what very few other directors can or ever will.
Esquerra assembles a deeply gifted cast that comprehends the complex and creative patterns and undertones of the playwright’s work.
Stand outs include Julie Davis (Margie) who just about runs away with the play by giving a confident and comfortable turn as the forever dateless and  
manless friend who discovers that working on herself far exceeds any attempt at getting a romantic partner.
The Shakespearean actress who appeared in last year’s Group Repertory Theatre production of “Romeo and Juliet” captures this play’s quirky dark 
humor and unique psychological transparency better than just about any other actress in the production.
Davis’ sincere and direct honesty is a most refreshing change and challenge in the play.
Her pretty countenance belies a courageous and competetive spirit that plays right into Rebeck’s aggressive theme and attitude.
But it is Marie Broderick (Liz) who steals the show with a completely spontaneous, intelligent and sexy performance as Lily’s younger and more rebellious 
The actor, director and producer operates on her own land somewhere between rainbow and Wrigley, but moves like a neon lion between issues, 
problems and situations.  
Born in Vietnam, Broderick came to Los Angeles after earning a BA in Drama with a minor in Dance from the University of Washington.
The longtime actress is a study in not only physical adeptness and awareness, but emotional sensitivity and bravery.
Broderick owns the stage from beginning to end, and her presence not only charms and cajoles, but dices, cuts and slices.
This is an electric, riveting and totally compelling portrayal not to be missed.
This critic hopes to see Broderick on the boards of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again very soon.
Furthering the message of the play are the beautiful and innovative set design of Chris Winfield, the eye-popping lighting design of Douglas Gabrielle, the 
colossal sound design of JC Gafford and the supple and rich costume design of Angela M. Eads.
All in all, “Loose Knit” succeeds because of, not despite, its freedom of thought and deed, wisdom and weight.
Every subject from race to the opposite sex to American Imperialism to Donald Trump is covered and hotly debated.
The wit and fierceness here are unparalleled.  Each character with her own timeline and trip to the turquoise sky.
Every wide river maneuvered, high peak scaled, and deep valley crossed in the attempt to humanize and color the personal journey and perspective 
of each and every character on stage and audience member in their seats.
This social, civil and philosophical examination and analysis touches on everything humane and good in the universe even though it often parades, 
pinches and punches as improbable, impossible and immoral.   
As the eighth character in the play, New York City awakens to its awesome potential and absurd divinity in a way only this playwright can pen, this  
director instruct and this cast perform. 
Before the appointment of co-Artistic Directors Eisenberg and Winfield there is no way a project of this magnitude, delicacy and gentleness would have 
gotten off the ground on Burbank Boulevard where “community theatre fare” was the standard and mediocrity reigned like jelly donuts. 
Therefore, it is with sadness that this critic recently learned of the retirement of Eisenberg from his position.  This company owes much to him not only
as a leader, but a talented administrator.  Eisenberg’s love of and passion for live theatre is unequaled.  This critic wishes the director and actor well in the 
future and hopes that Doug Haverty, the replacement, can step into his shoes and deliver as Eisenberg always did efficiently and effectively
during his nine plus years.
The future of the ensemble seems to depend on it.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critic

Showtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sunday Matinees at 2 PM. Talkback Sundays, August 11 and August 25After the Matinee.General Admission: $25 Students/Seniors with ID: $20.Groups 10+: $15.Information/Reservation: (818) 763-5990. WHERE: The Group Repertory Theatre/Lonny Chapman Theatre-Main Stage at 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601   

Review of The Hollywood Fringe Festival Production of “The Notorious M.O.M.S.” by Yvette Saunders at Flight Theater in The Complex on Theatre Row on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, CA

If you are interested in a play about the degradation and humiliation life can offer, run do not walk to The Hollywood Fringe Festival workshop production of Yvette Saunders’ “The Notorious 
M.O.M.S.” running June 23rd, 28th and 29th at Flight Theater in The Complex on Theatre Row on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. 
This is the story of Ella, an actress who tries to commit suicide because she does not know how to cope with recently being raped.
But to her shock and dismay, her interactions with the voice of legendary stand-up comedienne Moms Mabley save her life and bring her back to reality.
The writing here is tight, taut and titillating.  Ella overcomes the unthinkable through her own courage, conviction and clarity.
The language flows like a peaceful river and dances like Marlon Brando in “The Last Tango in Paris” or Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain.”
The words come together to paint a portrait of black skies interrupted by a shimmering sun, a dark tunnel bathed in train light or a raven soaring over field and mountain alike.
In other words, the premise here works.  The play, even at 50 minutes, is substantial and strong and electric and aching with possibility.
On the first Sunday of the run when this critic saw the show, the lighting design was especially effective and added to the angst, anxiety, but also, the artistic and comedic nature of the 
Director JC Gafford infuses what could have been, in lesser hands, a dragging, moralistic study of rape and suicide, into a show with a sense of humor and style from ear-to-ear and  
beginning to end.
The 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival participant returns this year by helming a play too deep and troublesome for many, with beauty, boldness and bravery.
The veteran director, who will next be the Assistant Director of “Loose Ends,” The Group Repertory Theatre’s upcoming Main Stage production, creates seamless transitions and memorable
moments with instinct, intuition and talent alone.
Having Ella and Mabley both address the audience, for example, is a courageous and insightful piece of blocking that works on every level and from every angle.
The teaching and blues and funk artist has the makings of a major director, especially if he gets a few mainstream theatrical successes under his belt.
Here he glows like a full moon on a clear night. 
Gafford has cast a proud and potent partner in Saunders.
Saunders (Ella/Moms Mabley) excels in the dual role.  The NYU Tisch School of the Arts BFA gives a convincing turn in what is nothing less than a one-person show.
Though there are moments at the beginning of the piece where Saunders needs to dig deeper to make the character more believable,
overall, the program performer in New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company gives an inspired and exhilarating performance complete with a spot-on portrayal of Mabley 
that captures the trailblazing stand-up comedienne’s charm, charisma, chutzpah and unique sense of humor.
It is not lost on Saunders that Mabley was an African American, female, lesbian performer in the 1930’s earning $10,000 a week at a time when each of these traits alone was deeply 
frowned upon. 
The veteran stage and screen actress, modern dancer and choreographer here enchants, illuminates and educates us, the audience, as to the rejuvenative and restorative powers of  
humor and love.
This critic hopes to see Saunders on the stages of Hollywood and Los Angeles again very soon.
Choreographer Fernando Christopher adds to the play’s power with tight, nimble and athletic dancing that is subtle and effortless in its presentation and character.
His is a rare and valuable gift. 
Furthering the message of the play are the innovative and imaginative set and sound design of Saunders and Gafford and the simple yet sumptuous costume design of Kayle Williams.
All in all, “The Notorious M.O.M.S.” succeeds because it is a powerful one-person show, not despite it.
Whether we, the audience, consider this a play or a workshop production is thoroughly unimportant.
What matters is that there is humanity, integrity, dignity and truth percolating directly beneath Saunders’ feet.
The premise here is so abundant, ample and bountiful that next to nothing can derail it.
The play runs on its own fuel, in its own engine and on its own interstate.
Little more need be said.
Except that this critic yearns for the collaboration of Saunders and Gafford again soon if for nothing else than a rich, rollicking and vital voice at a time when Los Angeles theatre and the 
world need it the most.
Kudos to all involved.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critic
Showtimes:Hollywood Fringe Festival:June 23rd, 28th and 29th       Tickets: All Shows Are Pay What You Can.  $10 Sale Price.Information/Reservations: Flight Theatre in                The Complex at                 6472 Santa Monica Boulevard, (between Cole Avenue and Wilcox Avenue)                On Theatre Row in                Hollywood, CA 90038


If you are interested in The Group Repertory Theatre’s presentation of its third NINE WINNING ONE-ACTS play festival, with world premiere short plays chosen from over 250 submissions
from the English-speaking world, make a beaten path to the second floor (Upstairs) of the Lonny Chapman Theatre.  Performed as one program and running through July 14th in the North Hollywood Arts District, the 
event is co-produced by Belinda Howell and Helen O’Brien. 
The stories here range from discrimination to suicide, and take place in locations as different as a traveling circus and an art gallery.
The quality of the one-acts varies from brilliant to average, but what matters most in the end is that these never-before-seen short works are being born on the stage and that we, the audience, 
have the opportunity to be touched by their pink neon, electric yellow human roller coaster of a ride for the first time. 
All nine one-acts exhibit talent and integrity.  The writing as colorful as a meadow in the Summer and as sharp and clever as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill  during Dunkirk.  The directing as full as the earth’s  
orbit around the sun and the acting as deep, dignified and free as the Grand Canyon at sunset.
The three one-acts that moved this critic’s soul and spirit the most are: CLIFFORD’S by Lawson Caldwell, ART ATTACK by Cary Pepper and DESTINY AND DAMAGE by Chris Shaw Swanson.
The former concerns discrimination against a gay groom written with humanity and sincerity about a realistic world where people and opinions are not always what we would want or like them to be.
Directed by Cheryl Crosland with specificity, detail and the deftest of dramatic touches, the direction allows for the important transitions to be seen on the visages of the three characters rather than
through the dialogue.
The second one-act about two friends visiting an art gallery leaves nothing or no one spared.  The language is brave, bold and cutting edge.  The direction by Victor D’wayne Little courageous and brutally frank.  The  
last minute leaving us, the audience, shocked, breathless and wanting more.  
The latter concerns a young woman’s suicide attempt interrupted by a stranger knowing more than he lets on.  The words, precise, proud and powerful, force us all to confront our own fears, failings and faults.
The direction by Barbara Brownell extraordinary and exquisite in scope and scale, while yet terribly specific in emotion and body language.
All three directors assemble gifted casts that comprehend the truths and complexities of the writing.
Stand-outs include: Cynthia Bryant in WHOSE PLOT IS THIS?, Mishia Marie Johnson in ART ATTACK, Bix Barnaba in INFESTING THE MOB and
Michael Robb (Man) (DESTINY & DAMAGE) who gives a convincing turn as a Greek God in charge of the “undeclared.”
Robb uses his face and body brilliantly and beautifully in cementing the part into our conscious and sub-conscious minds.
The actor has the courage to tackle a very difficult role, and succeeds because of his vision, talent and choice of playing the part as an every man.
Nearly stealing the program is Fox Carney (Robert) (CLIFFORD’S), (He) (THE UNFORGIVEABLE SIN OF FORGIVENESS)
The veteran Group Repertory Theatre performer proves adept here at drama and comedy.  In CLIFFORD’S, Carney is brilliant as a father who changes his opinion of his homosexual neighbor.
The transition comes spiritually and emotionally through his legs, arms and chest as well as his face.  In SIN, the longtime stage actor makes us, the audience, flip our wigs in laughter by upending the truth.
His light and airy touch display a deeply funny comedic actor.
But running away with the festival is Doug Haverty (CLIFFORD’S) whose simple, but atomic performance stayed in this critic’s mind on the first Sunday that he saw the festival all evening long, and which in its slow but 
budding brilliance proves that acting is nothing more than reacting, and genius little less than trusting everything and everyone but yourself.  Here, the veteran Group Repertory Theatre and stage actor, seems so 
comfortable that it is as if we are talking to him ourselves off-stage. 
Less is more.
When minimum converges with maximum on that very special place known as the stage, character portrayals are embedded karmatically and legends born dramatically.
This critic hopes to see Haverty on the boards of Los Angeles and North Hollywood again soon.
Furthering the message of the festival are the stellar technical direction of Kenny Harder, the disciplined stage management of Jody Bardin and the innovative and powerful sound design of Steve Shaw.    
All in all, the FESTIVAL OF NINE WINNING ONE-ACTS succeeds not because each one-act is perfect or somehow brilliant, but because together as a group the one-acts try to be the best that they can with what
they have.  That alone is reason not only for celebration, but theatrical rebirth and regeneration.
Not one of the one-acts disappoints or abandons its purpose and duty as a work of art.
They are all staged with presence, class and skill.
 For the third time, kudos also go out to co-artistic directors Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield  for taking a chance on these virtually unknown playwrights.
In giving back to the community, the pair proves once more that transporting the Group Repertory Theatre from the theatrical Dark Ages of community theatre fare to the Modern Ages of of classical and contemporary 
theatre has been a lightning bolt from the Gods in terms of quality of work, quantity of theatre goers and talent of playwrights, directors and performers. 
In this case, the third production of the season Upstairs is proof that the Main stage is not the only place where theatre flourishes on Burbank Boulevard, just the latest.
The Upstairs has also proven to be an experimental laboratory for the Group Repertory Theatre where work not fitting the Main stage, can be displayed and kindly nurtured.
Thank Eisenberg and Winfield for this arithmetic of hope and faith.
These are equations after our own making.
The playwrights are: Lawson Caldwell, Pamela Weiler Grayson, Aleks Merilo, Dan O’Day, Rich Orloff, Cary Pepper, Margie Similof, Joe Starzyk and Chris Shaw Swanson.
The one-acts are being directed by: Linda Alznauer, Barbara Brownell, Cheryl Crosland, Jack Csenger, Kathleen Delaney, Victor D’wayne Little, Stan Mazin, Bruce Nehlsen and Helen O’Brien.
The cast features performances by: Nick Asaro, Bix Barnaba, Michele Bernath, Barbara Brownell, Cynthia Bryant, Fox Carney, Stephanie Colet, Cheryl Crosland, Bert Emmett, Kait Haire, Doug Haverty, Mishia Marie
Johnson,  Saana Laigren, John Ledley, Victor D’wayne Little, Stan Mazin, Lisa McGee Mann, Joseph Marcello, Helen O’Brien, Beccy Quinn, Michael Robb, Judy Rosenfeld, Adam Smith, Sal Valletta, Sascha Vanderslik,
David Vu and Wyatt Wheeler.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book CriticAt the Theatre with Radomir Luza
At the Theatre with Radomir LuzaShowtimes:Saturdays at 4 PMSundays at 7 PMTickets: $20.00Students/Seniors with ID: $17Information/Reservations: (818) 763-5990Upstairs at The Group Repertory Theatre is locatedon the second floor of the Lonny Chapman Theatre at 10900 Burbank Boulevard,North Hollywood, CA 91601The second floor is not handicapped accessible.The 32 seat black box theatre has AC/Heat. 

Get in touch Radomir!