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  • gilwilson 5:30 PM on February 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , latw. l.a. theatre works   

    She Stoops to Conquer By: Oliver Goldsmith (L.A. Theater Works) 

    She Stoops to Conquer9170561
    By: Oliver Goldsmith
    Performed by: Rosalind Ayres, Adam Godley, Julian Holloway, James Marsters, Ian Ogilvy, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf
    Length: 1 hr and 51 mins
    Release date: 08-25-11
    Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

    I just can’t get enough of these productions by L.A. Theatre works. They can take a live performance record the audio and release as audiobook without losing anything. Sure it’s nice to be able to watch the performers in action, especially this production’s star, James Marsters. I’ve enjoyed Marsters since back in the Buffy days, but more recently I’ve been enjoying his voice on James Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels he really brings those to life. So while looking at the L.A. Theatre works catalog I see him acting in a couple of the performances and I am eager to give them a listen.

    Back when I was in college getting one of my degrees in Theatre, we saw the play “She Stoops to Conquer.” I thought it was mildly funny at the time. I mean come on this takes the mistaken identity genre to a whole new level. Where the main characters Hastings and Marlow are tricked into believing the home of Mr. Hardcastle is an inn. Both behave badly and hilarity ensues. Okay like I said it was mildly funny.

    This performance is more than mildly funny, I actually laughed out loud several times during the nearly 2 hour performance. L.A. Theatre Works definitely knows the right cast to put into all of their recordings, but something about this one completely surprised me. I think the best part about this was that the actors weren’t necessarily known for comedy, making the “accidental” comedic occurrences even funnier. No one tried for the laugh, just let it happen. It worked. Have some fun and then let people know you listened to a stuffy play from the year 1773. It’ll make you appear more scholarly.

    While the mistaken identity part of the comedy is fun, this play teaches us a little something about class, greed and behavior versus appearance. Just enjoy.

    Publisher’s Summary:

    Starring James Marsters, this classic comedy of manners from 1773 is still widely performed and studied. Love, lies, and dysfunctional families. Sound like your last family gathering? Try this one on for laughs. Two randy young gents, Charles and George, set out to woo the alluring and upper-crust Kate and Constance. But inexperienced Charles is shy and clumsy around upper-class ladies, so it’s the barmaid who catches his eye. But is she really who she seems? Bawdy high-jinx, popped pretensions, and good dirty fun are the hallmarks of this romping frolic that’s kept audiences laughing for over two centuries.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring (in alphabetical order): Rosalind Ayres as Mrs. Hardcastle; Adam Godley as Tony Lumpkin; Julian Holloway as Elder Marlow/Stingo; James Marsters as Charles Marlow; Christopher Neame as Roger; Paula Jane Newman as Bet Bouncer/Pimple; Ian Ogilvy as Mr. Hardcastle; Moira Quirk as Constance Neville; Darren Richardson as Diggory/Jeremy; Joanne Whalley as Kate Hardcastle; and Matthew Wolf as George Hastings. Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, in June 2010.

    Public Domain (P)2011 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , bertold brecht, church doctrine, , galileo, galileo galilei, , , latw. l.a. theatre works, , ,   

    “The Life of Galileo” by Bertold Brecht (produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 


    “The Life of Galileo”
    by Bertold Brecht
    translated by David Hare
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours

    I was getting ready to start a couple of audiobooks that were time consumers (any audiobook over 10 hours falls under that label for me). Not only were they long but they were both going to be espionage/government cover-up type stories and those require a huge commitment, especially since I was going to start them both at the same time. Before I tackled those two books, I wanted to listen to something that swallows you into the story, so I reached for one of my favorite go to publishers of audio, L.A. Theatre Works. I have a list of several go to(s) that I know will entertain me. What I like most about LATW is that they are plays that have been performed on stage and the producers take special care to record all the audio so that nothing is missed.

    As a proud owner of a degree in theatre, I have always been aware that theatre is a visual medium, especially if you ask all my theatrical designer friends, but also being a proud owner of a Radio / TV broadcasting degree I know that the theatre of the mind power of radio is a strong power. L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to make sure their performances that are transferred over to an audiobook format take the visual artistry and make it work in an audio format. This is achieved with excellent sound effects, music and of course the great acting. When an actor is describing a prop that is seen by the audience, the production and performance create the image in the listener’s mind that ensures nothing is missed.

    This production features a full-cast performance featuring: Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

    What attracted me to this particular production from the vaults of L.A. Theatre Works is that the part of Galileo is played by Stacy Keach. Every performance I’ve ever seen or heard with Mr. Keach, whether comedy or tragedy, he has owned that role. Not so long ago I listened to an LATW performance of “Death of a Salesmen” in which Keach played Willie Loman and that became my favorite performance of that play. I will always be a fan of his.

    This play portrays Galileo Galilei as he shatters the world’s beliefs which have been dictated by the church for two millennia, in that we are not the center of the universe. When Galileo first lays his hands on a telescope and observes that the Earth is one of a few planets in the solar system that revolve around the sun and that the planets and stars are not held in suspension through crystal spheres, as believed by the church, he becomes a target for the Holy Inquisition. Committing such heresy Galileo is made to suffer torture, mentally and physically under the inquisitor. Galileo provides proof that only needs to be observed but the church stands firm.

    In a play that shows how advancements in science are hindered by long held beliefs this production from L.A. Theatre Works, is one that should be heard by anyone seeking truth.

  • gilwilson 9:43 PM on June 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrew Hawkes, , , , Ben Diskin, , concentration camps, , , incident at vichy, , , Jon Matthews, , , latw. l.a. theatre works, , , , Robert Lesser, Shahar Sorek, socialism, ,   

    “Incident at Vichy” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Incident at Vichy”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works
    starring: Ben Diskin, Arye Gross, Jamie Hanes, Andrew Hawkes, Gregory Itzin, Robert Lesser, Jon Matthews, Lawrence Pressman, Raphael Sbarge, Armin Shimerman and Shahar Sorek.
    70 minutes

    “Incident at Vichy” has got to be one of the most intense one-act plays ever. In just over one hour Arthur Miller manages to tell a story that begins with hope but ends with hopelessness. Knowing world history this is one of those plays that while the world knows the general outcome, of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, but this play explores the how. Looking back from our 21st century viewpoint it is really hard to see how Germany got by with what was done to the Jews and how they managed to gather all those listed as inferior and put them in Death Camps. This play demonstrates how human nature, guilt, fear, and enabled the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust with so little resistance.

    This one-act play takes place in a police station where a group of detainees are waiting for inspection by German officers. The detainees are all trying to deny the actual reason they were brought in (because the are suspected of being Jews) and try to tell themselves that it is a routine document check. But when some bring up that their noses were measured, and they all realize that most of them are Jews, then the fear of the real reason begins. Each one has story to tell and most of the stories are about escaping German occupied France to Vichy where they think they would be safe.

    At one point one of the detainees tells of rumors of the Death Camps and the furnaces. Some of the more able-bodied remaining detainees attempt an escape but it is thwarted by the French major who is an injured veteran of the German / French part of the war, and is now forced to assist the Germans. Each one is pulled into the interrogation room some leave to go back to work some are not seen again.

    The final scene in this play is when the last detainee is trying to convince the major to let him go and the discussion over whose life is more valuable begins.

    The play is an enlightening glimpse into the darker side of human nature and is by no means one that will lift your spirits, however,the cast in this performance are perfect in their character representations. Another great production from L.A. Theater Works.

  • gilwilson 2:56 PM on March 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , contemporary drama, contemporary play, Dane DeHaan, deborah zoe laufer, , Josh Clark, Kate Rylie. end days, Kenneth Houston, latw. l.a. theatre works, ,   

    “End Days” by Deborah Zoe Laufer 

    “End Days”
    by Deborah Zoe Laufer
    Full-cast performance featuring: Josh Clark, Shannon Cochran, Dane DeHaan, Arye Gross, Kenneth Houston and Kate Rylie.
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    2 Hours and 22 minutes

    Being a fan of theatre, I get a little anxious when I see coming up on my reading list something from L.A. Theatre works. I think even more so when it is a contemporary play such as this one. By the way, Yes, I make a list of books to read.

    The production quality behind L.A. Theatre Works’ releases is always high, which is why I look forward to these audio theatre performances. The casts of all their works are perfect, but what makes it even more entertaining, is that while these are plays for viewing L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to produce these into great audio drama. The sound effects, music, and acting all place the listener into the middle of the audience.

    This time around the play “End Days,” came up on my list and I wasn’t sure what to think. Reading the synopsis on the L.A. Theatre Works website (http://www.latw.org )gave me a good idea.

    “In Deborah Zoe Laufer s End Days, a suburban family is undergoing a spiritual crisis following the September 11th attacks. Sylvia Stein has turned to Christianity to save her disaffected husband Arthur and her rebellious teenage daughter Rachel. But as Sylvia races around preparing for the Rapture, Rachel is learning that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy.” The performance also includes an interview with physicist and theologian Robert John Russell (Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences).

    Science and Religion both represented in one play? I knew there was going to be some sort of clash and then a ripping apart of the very fabric of reality. But no, that wasn’t quite it. To look at this play you have to first examine the quirks of each of the main characters.

    First off we have Nelson Steinburg who lost both his parents. His mother was a big fan of Elvis and one year for halloween he dressed as Elvis and his mother loved it. At her funeral and ever since he has dressed as Elvis. This strange way of dressing gets him beat up a lot in school, but Nelson is so optimistic about life that it doesn’t bother him. With his new “Step-Parents” he is converting to Judaism and is getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah and memorizing sections of the Torah. He has also become infatuated with the new neighbor, Rachel Stein. He gives her a copy of the Stephen Hawking book “A Brief History of Time,” telling her it will changer her life. Nelson is not only uber optimistic, he is also eager to please everyone.

    Rachel Stein is the daughter of Sylvia and Arthur Stein. The Stein family has recently uprooted and fled Manhatten after the events of 9/11. The family has all been devastated by the tragedy and have coped with the devastation in their own way. Rachel has become a bit anti-social and Goth. But when she read’s the Hawking book, she soon starts getting spiritual guidance from an etherial Stephen Hawking.

    Sylvia Stein has decided to take Jesus into her life, maybe more than that, she seems to have conversations with Jesus every moment in her life. He even offers her sweetener when she’s having coffe, “yes, thank you, Jesus.” To which Jesus replies, “You’re welcome, I love you.” Sylvia has taken it upon herself to have everyone in the world know Jesus. She hands out pamphlets all day, and holds prayer vigils. When Jesus comes to her in a dream and let’s her know the Rapture is coming, she does everything she can to make sure her family is taken in the Rapture.

    Arthur Stein was in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and was the only person in his company to escape and survive. Since leaving Manhatten has never left the house, even worse he has never even gotten out of his pajamas. He lives life only to nap and suffer his own depression. And with all the family members coping in their own way he only sinks deeper.

    Nelson is the catalyst which stirs up the whole family and gets them on the path to healing and feeling. He confesses his love for Rachel to Arthur, even if he’s only known her a couple of days. Eventually he convinces Arthur to get dressed and go to the store when Rachel gets upset about never having any food in the house. Rachel wants cereal and only Nelson can save this crisis. Not knowing what kind of cereal his own daughter likes, Arthur is convinced by Nelson to buy one of each.

    Nelson also shows Rachel that Science is a great way to finding answers to everything and that even if you don’t find the answers it’s the questioning that will lead you to the right path.

    Sylvia is convinced the Rapture is Wednesday and insists that all the family stay together that day and pray. Nelson even offers to make the dip and the family, including Nelson, prepare for the Rapture.

    This play is one of the most uplifting performances I’ve heard in a long time. Everything from helping the depressed, finding truth, and even questioning life is included in this performance. While listening to this performance I ran the gamut of emotions, a bit of sadness, elation, pure joy. Each one of these included outbursts that I’m glad I was alone while listening, anyone seeing me go through these emotions in such a short period would have probably thought I was a bit unstable. But the writing and the performance in this kept me alert and at the end I was emotionally cleansed.

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