Once again Santa Monica plays host to the WestEdge Design Fair, Oct. 22 – 25 at the Barker Hangar. For the third year, more than 150 designers, makers and architects from across the nation will showcase the best in contemporary design for the home, ranging from furniture and lighting, to kitchen and bath lines.

The event will include curated selections from leading brands, live demonstrations, and educational panel discussions. Special highlights include MADE:MODERN with dozens of independent designers and artisans debuting one-of-a-kind, custom craftsmanship designs in furniture, lighting, sculpture and accessories.

Explore the world of luxury interior design at the Sunbrella Perspective Los Angeles Lounge. Volvo Cars will unveil the world’s first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. A co-op exhibition of member design is presented by The West Hollywood Design district. The Set Decorators Society of America creates a modern-day speakeasy on the show floor with mixology demos and samples. And the Jenn-Air Master Class Studio features panel discussion with leading industry experts.

It’s only in town through Sunday. Info here: http://westedgedesignfair.com.

Ali and Ryan reunite

“Love Letters” at the Wallis in Beverly Hills reunites tragic screen lovers Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw, stars of the 1970 movie “Love Story.”

A.R. Gurney’s play is bare bones and so is this production: a table, two chairs, a lamp and two actors, reading letters their characters, Andrew and Melissa, have been writing to one another from childhood through death.

A mismatched pair of friends who are deeply attached to one another, their lives unfold through these letters. As a stage production, it’s deceptively simple, and with the actors actually reading and flipping pages throughout, but it’s remarkably effective at taking us through the ups and downs of their respective trajectories and their ultimate return to one another.

O’Neal stumbled a few times, which may have been opening night jitters. But if “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” don’t be sorry. Catch the final performances through Oct. 25. Details and tickets at http://www.thewallis.org.

Ghostly love

In an unusual production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, alt-rock legend Courtney Love is the focus of “Kansas City Choir Boy.” Because of her celebrity status, the spotlight is on her character but co-star Todd Almond is a powerful singer who shines in this hour-long rock opera that he wrote.

As the show opens, Almond is working on a song when he just happens to turn on the TV to breaking news that his former girlfriend has been murdered in New York.

It’s a ghost story in a way. The hour is spent in reverie, remembering their relationship in song from early infatuation to final separation when she leaves KC for NYC.

Aided by some clever lighting design, seating is divided into three sections, including two on the stage. Coming up from behind the audience in these sections are “the sirens,” a group of singer/dancers who accentuate the action. Some of the live musicians are stationed alongside the central seats while others walk in and through the production.

This theatre has produced nothing like this before. It packs an emotional punch into a fast hour. “Kansas City Choir Boy” at The Kirk Douglas runs through Nov. 8. All info is available at www.centertheatregroup.org.

Abstract at SMC

The Santa Monica College Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery presents “Southern California Abstraction Now,” from Oct. 27 through Dec. 5, with an artist reception on Oct. 24 and a guided gallery tour on Nov. 7.

This visually rich and thought-provoking group show features 14 artists selected by curators/artists Sheldon Figoten and Jack Chipman, whose works appear in the show alongside those of Peter Alexander, Hilary Baker, Larry Bell, John Eden, Sam Erenberg, Betsy Lohrer Hall, Charles Christopher Hill, Linda King, Lies Kraal, David Mackenzie, Robin Mitchell, and Maggie Tennesen.

Figoten and Chipman focus on a selection of artists who have contributed to a resurgence in the creation of abstract art in Southern California. All of the artists have established careers in the fine arts, and many also teach or hold artist-in-residence positions at art institutes, colleges, and universities, both locally and abroad.

The gallery is located at the SMC Performing Arts Center on Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street. Exhibits, receptions, gallery tours and talks are free. For more information, call (310) 434-3434.

Ogre alert

For 20 years, the Morgan-Wixson Theatre has been celebrating the holiday season with an annual a full-length youth musical performed almost entirely by a cast of talented veterans and newcomers to the Youth Education/Entertainment Series (Y.E.S.), aged 8 to 18.

This year, they’ll present “Shrek The Musical.” Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, “Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure that brings all the beloved characters from the film to life on stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre – not a handsome prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a villain with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand… and his name is Shrek.

Performances take place Nov. 7 through Dec. 12, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica. Reserved seats available at www.morgan-wixson.org or phone (310) 828-7519.

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 written features and reviews for various publications.

Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

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