I’m off to see “Heisenberg” this Thursday at the Mark Taper Forum, featuring the critically lauded Broadway cast of Mary-Louise Parker and Dennis Arndt. Next weekend, it’ll be two radio plays by Anthony Minghella (Best Director Oscar, “The English Patient”) adapted for stage by director Michael Peretzian, and a classic of satirical absurdity, “Rhinoceros” by Eugene Ionesco, both productions opening at Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice opening July 15 and July 16. I’ll share my thoughts.

Meantime, here’s a taste of what’s going on around town. Take advantage of our bountiful cultural offerings!

OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY

Hershey Felder, the pianist/dramatist who creates stage dramas around musical personalities, is back at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. In the past he’s embodied George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and one of my favorites among his performances, Leonard Bernstein.

Now he’s taking on “Our Great Tchaikovsky.” Peter Tchaikovsky composed the music for the classical ballets The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, in addition to symphonic works, piano concerti, overtures, operas and chamber music. Nine days after conducting the premiere of his Symphony No. 6, “Pathetique,” the 53-year-old composer, who had been in good health, was dead. His death is still a mystery. Felder brings him back to life, and as he always does, performs some of his most memorable works while taking on his character.

Performances begin on July 20; and on July 31, for one night only, Felder brings “The Great American Songbook Sing-Along” to the Wallis, including 100 years of American music from the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and many more. Audiences are encouraged to sing along with Felder as he leads them through the familiar notes of their favorite songs.

For tickets and information visit http://thewallis.org

THE RAINBOW BRIDGE

We have a prolific and impressive small theatre in our midst. Now in its second decade, The Ruskin Group Theatre, located at the Santa Monica Airport, presents many original plays and supports local writers.

Their latest, “The Rainbow Bridge,” opens Friday, July 21, written by Ron Nelson.

Nelson has written for several television shows and movies including Real Monsters, Roseanne, Sparks, Good News, Dilbert and A Perfect Christmas. He is a frequent contributor to the Cafe Plays series at the Ruskin Theatre, an active member of the California State Bar, and he accepts collect calls from prison.

He went through some tough stuff a few years ago, and says he processes tragedy through laughter. This play is described as being at the intersection of satire and reality, where Jerry struggles to keep moving forward in his life while haunted by the ghosts of his family’s past. This new comedy mercilessly seeks out and pushes any of those psychological hot buttons that aren’t hidden. Be brave, and you just may enjoy a good cry while you’re laughing.

Tickets are very affordable; call (310) 397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com. Ample free parking available on site.

DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

The critically acclaimed duo of Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley, whose recent performances in “The Rainmaker” were the reason the play was extended so often, are together again at Edgemar Center for the Arts, appearing in “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” by John Patrick Shanley.

A rundown bar in the Bronx is the setting where two damaged people strike up a conversation and break down each other’s barriers and reserves. Will they succeed in opening their hearts to a real and healing relationship?

Interesting sidebar: Carl Weathers, formerly a football player with the Oakland Raiders, who became an actor and later a TV director, is helming this unlikely romance. And it’s a production of the Rainbow Theatre Company, which is the brainchild of Tanna’s life partner, Henry Jaglom.

“Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” is expected to run through September 10. The Edgemar Center is located in that classic Frank Gehry building on Main Street in Santa Monica; call 310 392-7327 for tickets and more info.

FREE MUSIC ALL OVER

KCRW is hosting lots of free, all-ages, outdoor music events around SoCal from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, at the Annenberg Space for Photography to the Hammer Museum in Westwood, from Chinatown and Pasadena’s One Colorado to our own Santa Monica Pier. There’s something for everyone: for details visit: http://events.kcrw.com/events/category/events/category/summer-nights/

Now in its 21st season, the Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts once again showcase eclectic music, singing, and dancing in a stunning, one-of-a-kind hillside setting. Reinterpreting traditional roots music from America and around the globe, established and emerging artists will draw music fans from across greater Los Angeles. Added bonus: check out the exhibition Paul Simon: Words and Music, free and open till 10 pm on performance nights.

Six Thursdays at 8 p.m., beginning July 27, will feature Sean Watkins and Friends; Ibibio Sound Machine; Delgres; Dayme Arocena; David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana; and Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo. The concerts are free; parking is $10 and entry to concerts begins at 6:30 pm. It’s first-come, first-served! RSVP is requested online. For details visit: http://www.skirball.org/node/9741

And on Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m., there are three remaining free performances in the Getty Center’s Off the 405 series. Beatboxer and comedian Reggie Watts is up this Saturday, July 8, with a DJ set by Yacht to open the evening. On July 29, indie singer-songwriter Steve Gunn brings his guitar-forward sound to the courtyard, with an opening performance by James Elkington and a DJ set by Mary Lattimore. And closing the season, the 70s nostalgia sounds of Savoy Motel will grace the hillsides and courtyard. Get all the info you need here: http://www.getty.edu/museum/programs/performances/offthe405.html

 

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