THE CAST: Kirsten Kollender, Joshua Bitton, Peggy Dunne and Jennifer Pollono star in 'Lost Girls.' (Photo courtesy John Flynn)

THE CAST: Kirsten Kollender, Joshua Bitton, Peggy Dunne and Jennifer Pollono star in ‘Lost Girls.’ (Photo courtesy John Flynn)

This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the event called “Kristallnacht,” the night of broken glass, Nov. 9, 1938, when Jewish businesses, temples, schools, hospitals and homes were systematically vandalized, damaged or destroyed across Nazi Germany and parts of Austria. Some 90 Jews were killed and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The holocaust had begun.

Jacaranda, Santa Monica’s deeply intelligent and important concert series, honors the anniversary of Kristallnacht on the date itself, this Saturday, Nov. 9, with its “Shattered Glass” concert.

Variations on the anniversary’s theme are expressed through music, including the sounds of Europe’s Jewish shtetls (little villages) and ghettos in Samuel Adler’s “Klezmer Fantasy” for solo clarinet. And the concert opens with Erik Zeisl’s 1944 “Hebrew Requiem,” the first musical work to commemorate the holocaust. This will be performed under the baton of Mark Alan Hilt, Jacaranda’s music director and resident conductor, with soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Remembering the trains that carried Jews to the concentration camps, Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” for string quartet and pre-recorded tracks is on the program. Along the way, the Jacaranda Chamber Singers will perform two brief unaccompanied choral works about peace and endurance (Arnold Schoenberg’s “Friede auf Eden” and “De Profundis”).

This classical music series, known for rarely heard, new and modern music, is itself celebrating its 10th anniversary. Concerts take place at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second St., a dramatic architectural and acoustic space for these unique concerts. Call (213) 485-0216 or visit www.jacarandamusic.org for more information.

 

Honoring veterans

 

America’s veterans not only serve to protect our country; they’ve been prominent in the arts as well. Just a few noted names of veterans in the arts and culture are actor James Earl Jones, poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, chef Julia Child, singer Lou Rawls, songwriter Irving Berlin and writer Kurt Vonnegut.

Nov. 11 marks Veterans Day, and the United States Veterans Artists Alliance (USVAA) presents the closing performances of two critically acclaimed plays, featuring a cast of U.S. veterans.

A multi-disciplinary arts organization founded by military veterans, USVAA networks in the arts and helps to find funding for individual projects in theater, film, television, visual/fine arts, and a wide variety of crafts. They help to heal and highlight issues such as the transition from military to civilian life, education, employment, post traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and homelessness.

“Tracers,” originally conceived and performed by John DiFusco and other Vietnam veterans, is now revived with modern day vets providing crisp and chillingly authentic performances.

And “The Long Way Home,” DiFusco’s one-man show, unveils DiFusco’s personal healing via the development of “Tracers.” This dual-show undertaking connects two generations of veterans and artfully reminds audiences that war and recovery are themes that remain ever-present, ever-gripping.

“Tracers” runs through Sat. Nov. 9 with shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The final run of “The Long Way Home” is tonight, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m.

The USVAA Theater is located in the AMVETS Post II Building, 10858 Culver Blvd., Culver City. For reservations, call (855)585-5185 or visit RogueMachineTheatre.com.

 

Finding Lost Girls

 

There’s a reason that Rogue Machine Theatre, the mid-city small theatre production company, receives so many awards (more than 50 so far).

They do original work featuring good writing, good acting, good directing and they know how to maximize a minimal amount of space without sacrificing production values.

One of the most lauded works to come out of Rogue Machine is about to make its off-Broadway debut in New York. That play, “Small Engine Repair” by John Pollono, is still being spoken of in reverent tones by fellow reviewers. Sadly, I missed it, and hope it returns for a reprise in L.A. soon.

Now Pollono has written a related play, “Lost Girls,” which stands on its own merit. I’m a little late coming to this one, which opened in September but once again, Pollono has given us realistic working class characters with whom we can connect emotionally, and hard-edged situations that generate genuine sympathy.

Plus there’s a completely surprising twist that really caught me off guard, and left me frankly a little teary-eyed at the play’s conclusion.

Set in small town Derry, N.H., a divorced mom, hanging on by her teeth financially and emotionally, lives with her mother and her daughter. The tensions are obvious. A foreboding and monstrous blizzard is beginning to blanket New England.

Lead character Maggie (Jennifer Pollono) tries to leave for her job at a discount store, but finds her car is missing. Thinking it was stolen, she calls the police. Her former high school sweetheart and ex-husband, the now-sober state trooper Lou (Joshua Bitton), who happens to be in the neighborhood, jumps in to help. He’s accompanied by his current wife Penny (Kirsten Kollender), whom he was driving to a doctor’s appointment.

With that set up, the play grows darker and relationships more complex. We find out that Maggie and Lou’s daughter Erica (Anna Theoni DiGiovanni) is also missing. We cut between scenes of the family’s despair, going deeper into the dysfunction, old wounds and old passions, and a motel room, where Erica and Scooter (Jonathan Lipnicki) have run away in Maggie’s car.

This is a story about choices, good and bad, that people make when they’re not thinking about the consequences. Maggie, her mother Linda (Ann Bronston at the performance I saw), and even Linda’s mother had children as teenagers, and they’re worried Erica could be next.

I won’t reveal the surprise, but it’s very effective. Applaud Pollono for his sympathetic take on working class women, whose lives are limited by the realities they face. It’s not perfect but it’s a very engaging and well-made play, directed by John Perrin Flynn, artistic director of Rogue Machine Theatre.

This is a theatre company worth following. Call (855) 585-5185 or visit www.roguemachinetheatre.com for details on “Lost Girls.”

 

Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.

 

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