CULTURE WATCH — Next Friday, November 21, the world premiere of a new Henry Jaglom play will finally overcome its unique set’s construction problems and will open at Edgemar Center for the Arts. “Last Train to Zakopan√©” stars Tanna Frederick, Jaglom’s wife.
Jaglom provided me my first experience with “independent film” with his movie, “A Safe Place,” which as it happens, was his first feature film, following a short career as a TV actor and as a film editor on the classic “Easy Rider.” “A Safe Place” starred Jack Nicholson, Tuesday Weld and Orson Welles, not a bad way to kick off a distinguished movie-making career.
He began making more personal films, which he starred in and were based on what was happening in his own life, romantically and emotionally. Orson Welles’ final film appearance was in Jaglom’s “Someone to Love,” memorably set in Santa Monica’s late lamented Mayfair Music Hall. And Vanessa Redgrave and her mother Rachel Kempson appeared together on film only once, in Jaglom’s “D√©j√† Vu.”
Later he delved into films about “first world problems,” more bourgeois but less navel-gazing. He showcased the Chekovian tribulations of a theatrical family living in The Hamptons; “Festival in Cannes” went behind the dazzling movie scene; and “Eating” explored women with eating disorders.
Tanna Frederick, who just completed a year-long run at Edgemar starring in the critically acclaimed “The Rainmaker,” first appeared in Jaglom’s “Hollywood Dreams” in 2006 and starred in several other Jaglom movies after that. By 2013 they were married; his two previous wives also starred in his pictures.
Jaglom has written other plays but “Last Train to Zakopan√©” seems to tackle an unaccustomed subject for him. It’s based on true events in his father’s life as he crossed Poland on a train in 1928.
According to the press materials, in this true story of hate and love, a successful Russian businessman meets a captivating young Polish army nurse on a train trip to Warsaw, and is faced with a life-changing dilemma when he discovers that the nurse he is drawn to—and who is enchanted by him—is fiercely anti-Semitic.Will he reveal to her he is Jewish?Will he move toward love or toward revenge?The actual train-ride across Poland—and the weekend stop-over in the resort town of Zakopan√© that followed—haunted Henry Jaglom’s father for a lifetime.
“Last Train to Zakopan√©” opens on Friday, November 21 and is scheduled through March 29. For reservations, contact www.edgemarcenter.org or call (310) 392-7327. Edgemar Center is located at 2437 Main Street in Santa Monica.
IRVING BERLIN LIVES
Actor, playwright, pianist, producer, director Hershey Felder has portrayed composers George Gershwin, Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin and recently adapted and directed fellow pianist Mona Golabek’s “The Children of Willesden Lane,” the very personal story of her mother’s experience as part of “kindertransport,” the effort to save German Jewish children by sending them to homes outside the country during World War II.
Now using his finely-honed technique, combining acting with concert-level musical performance, Hershey Felder brings us the story of the man whose music defines America, Irving Berlin.
“Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” weaves a narrative around Berlin’s 101-year lifespan, including his long and heartening relationship with his wife, battles against anti-Semitism and his storied music. From the depths of anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia to New York’s Lower East Side andultimately all of the country and the world, Irving Berlin’s story epitomizes the American dream.
Berlin had 232 top 10 hits and 25 number one songs and Felder will feature many of these popular tunes, from “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” to “White Christmas.”
This world premiere, directed by Trevor Hay, takes place Wed., November 19 and runs through December 21 at The Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave. in Westwood. Call (310) 208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.com for tickets and details about events surrounding the performances.
Venice-based artist Andy Moses creates shaped canvases that consist of movement, curves, swirls, shapes and rounded edges of colors running into and out of one another, blending, contrasting, always fluidly organic.
New works by Moses will be on view at William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station, with an opening night reception this Saturday, Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Moses acts as a sort of alchemist, first mixing and transforming his paints for weeks and then applying them in a single marathon session. Critic Shana Nys Dambrot says of his process, “More than a painterly technique, his composition resembles an orchestration of observed natural phenomena: gravity, viscosity, hydrodynamics. He manipulates thickness instead of brushwork, motion instead of gesture, to replicate both natural and transformational processes, forcing idea and matter into a conscious collaboration.”
THEATRE BY THE BLIND
Billing itself as the only blind theatre troupe in the USA, CRE Outreach presents “Losing It,” an original production starring blind and visually impaired actors and written by blind playwright, Caitlin Hernandez.
When Sandra Jones, a famous director, meets the principal actors for her latest production—an exchange student, a small-town girl, and a hot-shot celebrity—she knows she’ll have her work cut out for her. When the unexpected happens, will the show go up in lights, or will she end up losing it all?
CRE stands for “Create, Reflect, Empower,” a non-profit that partners with social service agencies to create theatre-based arts education programs promoting social skills, independence and confidence in the diverse L.A. community that it serves.
Performances run through November 23, Friday & Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Los Angeles Performance Center, 1404 Third Street Promenade. For reservations and information call, 310-902-8220 click on www.creoutreach.org.
Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.