A drama about the afterlife and its acolytes takes shape in “One White Crow” by Dale Griffiths Stamos.
A journalist, Tess (Jane Hajduk), whose adored and recently-deceased father was the ultimate skeptic about all things supernatural, has been assigned to write a profile about a TV medium, Judith Knight (Michelle Danner). Judith’s reputation has been relentlessly challenged by Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes), a professional skeptic trained by Tess’ father who has made a career of debunking such proponents of the otherworldly.
In a twist, the usually media-shy Judith will only cooperate with the profile if Tess writes it. She has a message for Tess from her father-from the other side. The tussle between Tess’ deepest beliefs, instilled by her father, and a long-simmering, long-repressed mutual passion between Tess and Alex set off the tensions in the play. Skeletons in Alex’ and Tess’ closets will be revealed as their relationship, alongside Tess’ and Judith’s, deepens.
The writing is solid, the acting is natural and believable, and the arc of the drama plays out — just until the ending, which I found a trifle contrived, abrupt and disappointing.
But this world premiere is still worth seeing. It runs through June 23 at Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St. in Santa Monica. Call (310) 392-7327 or visit www.edgemarcenter.org.
Afrobeat goes on
“FELA!” is back by popular demand, but only briefly, at The Ahmanson Theatre.
High energy does not begin to capture the impact of this spectacle, a musical that hangs on a loose biographical frame. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was the reigning king of Nigeria’s music scene and internationally renowned as the father of Afrobeat. He was also a severe critic of Nigeria’s corrupt government, which in turn hounded him with more than 200 arrests. He died young, at 58, in 1997 and this music and dance extravaganza pays homage to his legend and his outsized life.
The athleticism of the dancers (to Bill T. Jones choreography) and the deep, loud beat of the music will rattle your ribcage as you stand, call and respond to this rainbow-hued, Technicolor stage production. Go before it’s too late: May 5 is the last performance. Visit www.centertheatregroup.org/ or (213) 628-2772 for more information.
You probably remember Megan Mullally as the whiny, spoiled neighbor Karen in “Will and Grace,” and you’ll know her husband Nick Offerman as the stiff, officious boss Ron in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Now in very different roles, you can see them together onstage in the Odyssey Theatre’s “Annapurna.”
Long-divorced Ulysses and Emma unexpectedly find themselves together again in his trashy, Colorado mountain trailer. Emma has abruptly left her second husband in the way Ulysses remembers how she left him.
But memories of their relationship and the reasons for their breakup are worlds apart, and as the play progresses we uncover those reasons and their unresolved feelings. And Ulysses may not be long for this world.
Despite being a real-life couple, I’m not feeling the chemistry between their characters. There are laughs along the way and the set is utterly amazing — an Airstream trailer whose side has been cut away to reveal its compact, cluttered interior.
But the characters themselves never really take on lives of their own, and some of the dialogue gets tripped over. “Annapurna” runs through June 9 at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in West L.A. For more information visit www.odysseytheatre.com or call (310) 477-2055.
Dance Camera West launches its annual festival of films, live performance and site-specific dance works from May 2 to May 5. This year’s theme is “Get Wet,” putting a spotlight on water conservation, with events unfolding at The Getty Museum, Annenberg Community Beach House, LACMA and The Music Center.
Choreographer Sarah Elgart kicks it off at the Music Center, along with a collection of curated international dance films and an opening night party in the Historic Founders Room.
On Friday, Tony Testa presents a fountain piece at LACMA, followed by screenings of three documentaries including the award-winning “Still Moving: Pilobus at Forty,” “Trashdance” and “The Man Behind the Throne” about director/choreographer Vincent Paterson, who created dances for Michael Jackson, Madonna and Cirque du Soleil.
Saturday, May 4 at the majestic J. Paul Getty Museum fountains, director/choreographers Daniel Ezralow and Kitty McNamee will perform dances inspired by water, followed by “Site and Architecture” a series of architectural dance shorts complementing the Getty Museum Pacific Standard Time exhibit focusing on architecture.
The festival concludes on May 5 with a panel discussion “Choreography and the Environment.” Local choreographers, dance film directors, and environmental experts discuss art and resource conservation, and how the art of dance can bring about awareness of environmental issues. The final film will be “Trashdance” by filmmaker Andrew Garrison. A closing night party and awards ceremony at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica will cap this festive evening. More details and festival passes available here: www.dancecamerawest.org
Art sale for SMMoA
Santa Monica Museum of Art will celebrates its 25th anniversary on Thursday, May 9, with the second annual PRECOGNITO — a spirited gala dinner and preview of the 700 original artworks that will be available for purchase at the INCOGNITO exhibition and benefit art sale two nights later.
Pioneering gallery owner Margo Leavin and iconic opera and theater director Peter Sellars are the honorees. Dinner is envisioned by the inimitable chef Alice Waters and catered by the award-winning Suzanne Goin of Lucques, with décor by dosa’s charismatic founder, Christina Kim.
On Saturday, May 11, INCOGNITO — the ninth annual exhibition and art sale — invites seasoned art patrons and first-time collectors to trust their instincts as they select from more than 700 original artworks by more than 500 contemporary artists. Participating artists include Mark Bradford, Lynda Benglis, Marco Brambilla, Judy Chicago, Catherine Opie, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar and many more.
All artworks are available for only $350 plus tax. Each piece is signed on the back, and the artists’ identities are revealed only after purchase. For more information and tickets visit smmoa.org/support/incognito/overview/
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.