Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ray Richmond’s TRANSITION named one of the Top Ten Los Angeles Theatrical Productions of 2017!

Bulletin! Stop the presses!  The Huffington Post has announced its list of 2017’s Top Ten Los Angeles Theatrical Productions, and high among them is TRANSITION, Ray Richmond’s hilarious tragicomedy about the first Oval Office meeting between President Barack Obama and his successor!

"Using the headline 'Democracy is a terrible thing to waste,' Ray Richmond’s hilarious reimagining of Obama turning over the White House to Trump in a private meeting is uproarious. Harry Murphy has an easy target in an orange-haired despot but it is Joshua Wolf Coleman who completely nails Obama’s speech patterns, authority and his patience.The audience delightedly finally gets to see the latter blown out of the water.

Now how’s that for a New Year’s Eve treat?  A way to head into 2018?  And reason for me to leap off my lounge chair and sprint to the teletype in the middle of my round-the-world winter cruise?!  TRANSITION, which sprang from the mind of renowned journalist and critic Richmond and was staged on a relative shoestring in a small theatre in Hollywood, stands alongside -- and above --  multi-million dollar productions at the Ahmanson Theatre (three of them!) and Geffen Playhouse!

TRANSITION was the world’s first theatrical response to the new Trump era.  Featuring masterfully nuanced performances by Harry S. Murphy as Donnie Trump and Joshua Wolf Coleman as Obama,  the play had a successful run in March and April at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, then returned in June as a hit of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  

Along with our own on-the-aisle review (“The political play of the year! An A+ theatrical experience!  B-O-F-F-O!”), TRANSITION and playwright Richmond won plaudits like these:

“Brimming with raw, visceral energy.” -Discover Hollywood
“‘Transition’ is ingenious and as close to perfection as one can get…A small gem and a delightful night of theatre.” -Joe Straw
“The performances aren’t just Vegas impressions but get to the crux of these two men.” -L.A. Daily News
“A brilliant piece that’s well-researched, plausible and incredibly funny.” -Arts Beat L.A.
“A delicious comedy, well-paced and briskly directed.” -Theatre Notes

With TRANSITION ready to roll out in cities across the country, this latest honor is one great introduction to the future!

(And in the meantime, the show carries on as a viral sensation in the new YouTube series, The Obama Monologues.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

God bless Chris Bearde

Our pal Chris Bearde, one of the greatest comedic talents in television history with a rapier-sharp wit and young man’s rage against injustice, died yesterday.

Chris had many credits, from creating The Gong Show to producing The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.  Most impressively, he wrote the television special Elvis, also known as the 68 Comeback.

A toast to Chris Bearde!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TRANSITION is the political play of the year! Catch it while you can!

Pals and gals, it's a bit of a walk from the Alto Nido to the Lounge Theatre on Theatre Row in Hollywood, but let me tell you I’m glad I took the stroll (with a stop or two along the way -- thank you Lost Property Bar, thank you Sassafras Saloon, oh heck, thank you Hungry Cat!) because there is a theatrical experience happening there on weekends that is well worth taking in.

Ray Richmond’s TRANSITION is a two-man play (with able assistance from a third) about what might have gone on in the first Oval Office meeting between President Barack Obama and newly-elected replacement Donald Trump. No one know exactly went down in that meeting on November 10, 2016, but Ray Richmond’s theatrical imagining draws out the truths.  

To quote President Woodrow Wilson admiring a very different cinematic work more than 100 years ago (the first film to be shown at the White House and one Mr. Trump and his pal Bannon probably watch on weekends),  TRANSITION "is like history written with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

And to quote the reviews that came in after this weekend’s premiere...

How do you spell BOFFO?!   Sam spells it T-R-A-N-S-I-T-I-O-N!

Ray slammed this thing out with a fury after Trump’s surprise victory, a play in which two actors portray two of the most well-known men on the planet -- and pull it off spectacularly!   

This is no farce or impersonation-fest.  Harry S. Murphy as Donald Trump wears the red necktie that extends past his flies, but transcends Alec Baldwin’s lampoon (nothing against the bloviating B brother, but I’m sorry, his Trump reminds me of more of my old pal Shecky Greene than Agent Orange).  Murphy’s Trump is a characterization, not an impression, which makes it all the more frustratingly real -- and scary, pals.  Joshua Wolf Coleman has a less showy role as the cool, principled President Obama, but he’s no less impressive.  With a few twists to the speech pattern, he gets the essence of the man.  Within minutes, we are no longer in a theatre but the Oval Office.

No doubt about it, TRANSITION is the political play of the year.  It’s got elements of comedy, real drama, and a few moments that bring the theatre to a stunned silence.  

And after the bows... well, let me tell ya, more than a few of the oldsters -- yeah, folks my age, what the heck -- in the audience,  feared the Lounge Theatre had been invaded by the ruffians on Santa Monica Boulevard.  It was the rapper Dylan, who within a few lines of his rap, The Divide, had all of us listening intently.  It’s the perfect capper on the evening, and sends the audience out into the night with lots to think about.

Folks, take it from your man Sam, TRANSITION is an A+ theatrical experience, you won’t regret it, they sell wine in the lobby and I ain't saying it because I’m helping promote it

There are still a few weekends left in what should be the first of many productions of this theatrical work that’s perfect for actors of all stripes... in all cities...  to give their takes.  Find tickets at Plays411.