#JadeMillsSeesShows

If you’re familiar with the LA theater scene, you know there is a magazine called Performances Magazine, and many local theaters use it as their playbill – changing relevant covers, show info, and program info while maintaining the month-long publication’s editorial and advertising content.

Trevor and I have noticed something over the years. A Beverly Hills real estate agent named Jade Mills always, ALWAYS, buys a full page ad, usually on the back cover. And so, we have started to document Jade’s appearances at theaters around town, while also making light of the theater/social media tradition of taking a shot of the program cover with the blank, pre-show stage as the backdrop.

Without further ado, our #JadeMillsSeesShows series begins now! Keep an eye on the right-hand sidebar for photo updates of this series moving forward. Enjoy!

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Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Geffen)

Geffen Playhouse put a lot of eggs in a basket when they decided to produce Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill – to somewhat mixed results.  The run was packed and I’m sure Geffen made money, but the product on stage was not up to par in my opinion. The sets and costumes were magnificent, but the casting was not.

I admire all the actors in this production, but I thought the leads were miscast. Jane Kaczmarek was phenomenal in The House of Blue Leaves (I saw this at CTG a LONG time ago), but she was not right for the role of Mary Tyrone. Maybe it is because she was so iconic as the mom in Malcolm in the Middle, but I think she was acting not within the time period, which is problematic when the rest of the cast is. Alfred Molina is a master of the stage and his acting is excellent in the Geffen production, but he doesn’t come across as a former heartthrob actor. Stephen Louis Grush saved the production of Sex with Strangers last season at the the Geffen, but also felt out of place in this show. I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know if it is his appearance (shorter than a lot of the cast), the performance being a little one-note (yelling), or that I imagine Michael Shannon in the role. I feel bad for expressing those thoughts, so let me write some positive ones.

The lighting, sound, costumes, and sets were breathtaking, and I heard from multiple people that it blew the Broadway production out of the water in those categories. Colin Woodell who portrayed sickly Edmund, was a shining star. He was patient with the words, looked frail, had a horrifying cough, and was the highlight of the show. Maybe Eugene O’Neill intended for the audience to dislike everyone except for Edmund? This brings me to the script.

Mr. O’Neill didn’t want this play to be released until after he died because it was so personal. Since it was released after his passing, the script is a bit too long because no one could edit it. That being said, his words shine through. This is great American playwriting. The words hit you like a sledgehammer at moments you least expect, and some scenes haunt you well after the show is over (Edmund and James Jr). The audience gasped multiple times, which is astonishing for a play so well known.

If you have never seen the show before, you should brace yourself for a long day or night at the theater,  but know that Eugene O’Neill’s words will still resonate regardless of who is on stage.

-Trevor

 

Good Grief (KDT)

Good Grief  at the Kirk Douglas was a little bit of a shock. I didn’t know it was about the loss of a friend. I thought it was going to be a comedy, when in reality it is a drama with comedic moments. This new work by Ngozi Anyanwu has put her on the map, so to speak, so I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Miss Anyanwu wrote a play that speaks to people my age. With references to Nickelodeon and dated music artists, generation Y patrons were nodding in agreement or sometimes verbally saying “yes” aloud during the show.  I thought the show overall had really nice tender moments mixed with honest humor and was wrapped up very nicely, but probably could have used a few tweaks. Some stuff was not explained, like who, for what, and why her character is writing at moments during the show. I don’t know how I feel about her starring in the show she wrote. I know some people didn’t like it.

I enjoyed the play, and I’m glad KDT (CTG) is giving new playwrights a chance for their voices to be heard. Anyanwu’s background and point of view is unique and not often seen by audiences, which I believe is essential for theatre to grow. I have a feeling we are going to see more good work from her in the future.

-Trevor