REVIEWS                                                                Buy Tickets                  

"THE LAST SEDER, a heartwarming play about a family gathering for Passover amidst difficult personal trials, is a must-see....The Last Seder encapsulates the spirit of the winter holidays in its emphasis on family and love. ...While every actor delivers a believable performance, standouts include Gaby Hoffmann and Kathryn Kates. Known for her roles in Sleepless in Seattle and Now and Then, Hoffmann exhibits substantial maturity and depth, while Kates’ comedic timing balances out the story’s sad undercurrent. Go to this show (but remember to bring along a box of tissues when you do)!"
- Inside New York CLICK HERE for full review.

"This gentle, comic drama by Jennifer Maisel about a family coming together during a difficult time features simmering tensions that can occur at any time of year. Much to the credit of the director, Jessica Bauman, The Last Seder runs smoothly...Greg Mullavey, as Marvin and Kathryn Kates, as Lily are standouts. Mr. Mullavey is unafraid to portray the demeaning effects of Alzheimer’s before flashing glimpses of the splendid father and husband Marvin once was; Ms. Kates slides knowingly into the demanding role of Lily, furious at her lot but determined not to despair. .... Ms. Maisel has sketched a touching portrait of an aging family facing enormous change.... her play is steeped in universal themes audiences of any affiliation can appreciate... it’s in the spirit of thanks for blessings received — a mindfulness that’s always in season."
- The New York Times CLICK HERE for full review.

"A warm and offbeat humor courses throughout" - The Daily News

"An intelligent and sympathetic story that is superior to much of what finds its way to the Great White Way. And director Jessica Bauman does extraordinary work." - The Jewish Daily Forward

"Marvin, the patriarch (heartbreakingly played by Greg Mullavey)...His wife, Lily (Her feisty indifference is perfectly captured by Kathryn Kates)...Jessica Bauman does a good job...Scenic designer Gabriel Hainer Evansohn’s pitched-roof set is a marvel...[an] uniformly excellent cast."
- Back Stage CLICK HERE for full review.

"A spectacularly beautiful and moving event that will have you weeping with both sadness and joy. Sharply written without being overly sentimental, the Seder captures each character’s situation with intelligence and grace, tenderly displaying their humanity and showing just what it means to be a family. Regardless of religious belief, each person takes part in the proceedings, leading to a heartbreaking finale that you will never forget. It will stay with you at Seders to come — and make you want to attend a Seder if you never have before."
- This Week in New York CLICK HERE for full review.

"The crowded Price house becomes a very entertaining and sometimes tense place to visit. Director Jessica Bauman keeps the action flowing smoothly. She is aided by Graham Kindred’s intricate lighting and Gabriel Hainer Evansohn’s imaginative set design. As the beleaguered mom, Kates provides a solid foil for Mullavey, whose startlingly realistic transitions in and out of dementia energize the show with tension and lyricism. The older couple anchors the large and diverse ensemble, all of whom are committed to the material and well cast in their respective parts....its fine performances and timely message of inclusion make THE LAST SEDER a family gathering well worth attending. "
- Show Business Weekly CLICK HERE for full review.

"The Last Seder is indeed relevant and timely....director Jessica Bauman capably keeps the plot aloft...And the cast of eleven is a first-rate ensemble as they engage in banter, accusations, hair-pulling, love-making and fist fights....Maisel’s play is a worthy effort---and no doubt touches a chord within its viewers. Who among us has not gone through some aspect of this family story?"
- All About Jewish Theatre CLICK HERE for full review.

"The Last Seder connects with its audience...The show really shines. Best known for his portrayal as the husband of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Greg Mullavey’s performance is textured and layered....Kathryn Kates, as the wife losing everything but trying to not let life get her down, makes us feel for her predicament. Others in the cast who fair well are the men caught in the cross fire of the daughters and Ms. Solomon as Claire... Jennifer Maisel’s script is touching."
- Times Square Chronicles CLICK HERE for full review.

"The staging is poetic.... The Last Seder will stay with the audience a long time. The humor, the delicious performances, the staging make a painful subject not only endurable, but entertaining."
- Things I Love About New York City, Jan 4 '13 CLICK HERE for full review.

"The play builds well into a culminating point of catharsis for the entire ensemble when the story finally arrives at the actual Seder dinner itself. Greg Mullavey plays Marvin Price with brutal honesty that is undeniably heartbreaking. Any audience member who has been affected by the disease will recognize and relate ...The performances in The Last Seder come from honest, believable places....The piece at its core is undoubtedly coming from a good place." - Theatre Is Easy

"A compelling drama...the acting is impressive." - The Playfixer

"Kathryn Kates brings humor and nuance to the central role of Lily...And as Lily and Marvin’s dutiful daughter Michelle, Gaby Hoffmann creates a complex portrait of a young woman struggling to please her father as he begins to vanish before her eyes... the strange connection that develops between Michelle and Kent (a quite likable Ryan Barry) is the play’s most unexpected delight.
- Capital New York

"Jennifer Maisel’s gentle steeped in themes and sentiments that resonate in any season....the main story benefits greatly from Mr. Mullavey’s standout performance."
- The New York Times "Theater Listings, Jan 4-10, 2013" CLICK HERE for full review.

is a good historical play that catches you up in the rabbi’s dilemma and the woes of the people in his circle of refugees. Director Daisy Walker allows the audience to keep its eye on each new character as they arrive with their problems and the way in which the rabbi gallantly tackles them. She gets good performances from John Michalski as the rabbi, Lisa Bostnar as his wife’s ghost, Ella Dershowitz as Elisa Strewliskie, Michael Kaplan as Sol, Davie Lavine as Jan, Anya Migdal as Gerta, Kenny Morris as the judge, and Sid Solomon as Harold Strewliskie....A stunning conclusion to the play
- History News Network CLICK HERE for full review.

"To the annals of Holocaust plays worth taking seriously, one should add Alan Lester Brooks' thoughtful, concerned A Splintered Soul...directed by Daisy Walker with unfailing sensitivity and played with conviction by the eight-member cast...Brooks makes a memorable point when suggesting that the true Holocaust sufferers were not those slaughtered but those left living and condemned to the aftermath.
- TheaterMania CLICK HERE for full review.

"A compelling exploration into post-World War II identity and belief set in 1947 San Francisco. ... Brooks also interestingly presents the juxtaposition of the American versus Eastern European Jewish experience. ...And Kevin Judge has created just the right closed doors, and what’s behind them, in his beautifully usable set, which is accented nicely by Patricia M. Nichol’s lighting and Valerie Marcus Ramshur’s aesthetically and historically pleasing costumes. Combined with Daisy Walker’s natural direction, a sturdy cast of eight and Gillian Lane-Plescia’s formidable dialect coaching, A Splintered Soul has just the right balance of showmanship and emphasis on Brook’s heady language. A Splintered Soul deftly presents the complicated post-War Jewish world that, on many levels, still exists today."
- Theatre is Easy CLICK HERE for full review.

"SAVAGE IN LIMBO is well done, nicely directed, and boasts some fine performances....In performing their roles, Brian Patrick Murphy is truly outstanding as Tony and both Kendall Rileigh (as April) and Shara Ashley Zeiger (as Linda) are equally good."
- A Seat on the Aisle CLICK HERE for full review.

"LIMBO Has Never Been This Funny... It's a hilarious, tight little drama, superbly acted by five real pros."
CLICK HERE for full audience reviews.

"George Bernard Shaw’s MISALLIANCE comes sparklingly alive in Rosalind Productions’ smashing revival of his 1910 comedy
....explodes with passion and surprises...directed with style and verve by Elina de Santos, who has elicited vibrant performances from her entire cast....this is a Misalliance that looks like a million bucks....In a production as fine as this one, Misalliance is a sure bet to delight."
CLICK HERE for full review.  

LA WEEKLY says GO! "Misalliance...really flies...Solomon's captivating turn...she's seconded in her charm by Maggie Peach, endearing as her wise, albeit mildly ditzy mother....Considerable humor, and it's heightened further by the on-target performances of Mennell...and Schaffer...Delivering up more than our ticket's worth of laughs."
- LA Weekly 
CLICK HERE for full review

BACK STAGE CRITIC'S PICK: "This is a delightful production...still au courant in the affairs of the heart...The production is beautifully cast, by Raul Clayton Staggs, and joyfully directed by Elina de Santos, who doesn't miss a beat...  Greg Mullavey is central as the marvelously awful John Tarleton...super set design by Stephen Gifford...a warmly human Maggie Peach...hunky Nick Mennell...exotic Molly Schaffer...wildly hilarious...a nicely twitchy David Clayberg...  The production is wondrously funny and stunningly visual, and one could hear every word."
- Madeleine Shaner, Back Stage 
CLICK HERE for full review.

"HIGHLY ENTERTAINING ROMANTIC COMEDIES TO RECOMMEND THIS WEEK: A charmingly witty, deliciously quirky romantic farce...The widely respected, multi award-winning Director, Elina de Santos, has chosen a stellar cast, and guides them with great skill and a playful heart.  You will likely recognize many cast members from previous roles on TV, stage, and film....a superb Abigail Rose animated Orestes Arcuni...a saucily sarcastic Christopher Franciosa...a feisty Maggie Peach...Greg Mullavey (from “Mary Hartman”) and Armin Shimeran (from “Star Trek”), two consummate actors, both give flawlessly fabulous performances as the fathers...Nick Mennell, the hunky pilot is charmingly believable. Molly Schaffer sizzles...Capably rounding out the cast is David Clayberg. Such silly fun! Exceptional behind-the-scenes efforts here too. Stephan Gifford’s detailed set is stunning, Dennis Ballard’s period costumes are gorgeous, and Leigh Allen’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound are technical perfection. A fine production with plenty of spicy twists ‘n’ turns… Do see this one!"
- The Tolucan Times 
CLICK HERE for full review.

"Rosalind Productions’ mounting of MISALLIANCE at the Odyssey is clockwork-precise, strongly acted, and gets its share of laughs....vivacious Abigail Rose Solomon...Elina de Santos has directed Misalliance with an emphasis on excellent timing...Stephen Gifford’s stage set of a classy sitting room is detail perfect...the acting is consistently good...Greg Mullavey, still best-known for his stint on Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, does a wonderful turn... He’s funny and a blowhard without being too much of a blowhard...Peach is also excellent...Molly Schaffer is a scene-stealer and lights up the stage at all times....David Clayberg delivers a multi-layered performance...Misalliance is a jolly good evening of fun."
CLICK HERE for full review.

"The cast moved at a precise pace, keeping the scenes lively and surprising.... All the actors were entertaining and well suited for their roles....Produced by Rosalind Productions, Inc. and under the expert direction of Elina de Santos, Misalliance is a charming show. Rosalind Productions, Inc. succeeds in staging a classic play with contemporary female issues."
- SoCal Magazine
CLICK HERE for full review.

"It’s quite astonishing how fun, funny, witty and clever “Misalliance” is, considering George Bernard Shaw wrote this play in 1909.  This amusing quite apropos and timely for Los Angeles 2009....“Misalliance” is sure to bring a laugh a minute, with its eloquent diction, poetic soliloquies and charming banter and romps between the sexes."
- Campus Circle
CLICK HERE for full review

"Shaw’s frothy Misalliance is entertaining...Despite its venerable age, Misalliance is a thoroughly modern play....Elina de Santos directs with a keen eye and keener ear...under De Santos's glib direction, and with the assistance of dialogue coach Jeffrey Phillips, the dialogue trips liltingly off the tongues of this cast, who keep the pace careening madly from subplot to subplot....The lovely English garden conservatory set is by Stephen Gifford."
- HubPages
CLICK HERE for full review.

"George Bernard Shaw's MISALLIANCE
, a play about strong spirited women, aristocratic personnel, not-so-traditional romantic efforts, and some company who just "drop in", open its run as a guest production at West Las Angeles' Odyssey Theatre. 
     Taking place on a single Saturday afternoon at the Traleton family estate near the hamlet of Hindhead, Hypatia (Abigail Rose Solomon) the daughter of John Tarleton (Greg Mullavey), a self made underwear manufacture tycoon, feels that she had her fill with the stuffiness that is going on within her life, being the fact that she is currently engaged to Bentley Summerhays (Orester Arcuni), a man from a rather aristocratic background. (His father is the noble Lord Summerhays-performed by Armin Shimerman). Bentley may possess the brain power, but lacks the physical and emotional stability to be in a high status that such blue-bloods tend to hold. Hypatia feels that she should be part of the "new women", a sort of clan that shows strong independence in wit and spirit. But she, along with the entire dominance, receives a pair of visitors who arrive at the home not by motorcar or carriage; They arrive in those newfangled "areo-planes"! Dropping in are Joseph "Joey" Percival (Nick Mennell) and his companion, aviatrix Lina Szczepanowska (Molly Schaffer) an eastern European acrobat. Another visitor, "Gunner" Baker (David Clayberg) who seeks revenge while packing a firearm, proves that in spite of all the situations, every element ties itself up to the merry end-GBS style! 
    This play was first performed almost one hundred years ago (c.1910). Although it's at its near century mark, all of the wit and wisdom of playwright George Bernard Shaw still holds out. It's also a frolic that pays tribute to the art of flight, something that was rather a novelty back in the day when such a feat was performed by the mechanically inclined, and by those that risked their lives doing such! With plays of this vintage, it's rather "talky" with each character speaking out lines upon lines! But since each line possess lots of discipline within its writing, early 21st century audiences will find every bit of dialogue to ring out true. (Attention spans were a lot longer in those days as well!) Outside of the writing and plot structure, this production does boast a terrific repertory line up that also includes (besides those noted above), Maggie Peach and Nick Mennell. Each member of the cast performs in their high ethnic personas (British and Polish), under the stage direction of Elena de Santos.
     It's been stated by the theater scholars that one can never lose with a George Bernard Shaw play. MISALLIANCE is one of those plays that just get better with age! It's so classic, it's nearly new again! It's just like taking to the air was new then when such flying meant being free, and there were no bottlenecks at the airport 'cuz there were no airports! Alas, this reviewer isn't as witty as Shaw was to end this report on a humorous state of mind! And it's just as well, too!
MISALLIANCE, presented by Rosalind Productions and performs at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. (North of Olympic, and south of Santa Monica Blvds., West Los Angeles, until April 26th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees @ 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (310) 477-2055, or via
-Accessibly Live Off-Line (Week of March 23rd, 2009, Vol. 14-No. 12)

"PROOF's staging adds up... In her modestly scaled and thoughtful staging at the Macha Theatre -- an extended run of a production that initially played at The Odyssey Theatre-- director Elina de Santos offers the opportunity for quiet reevaluation....  Auburn's ultimately uplifting play revolves around a very human core....Adam Blumenthal's poignantly dilapidated set... De Santos has reined in her performers to a fitting emotional spareness, a bracing naturalism embraced by her able cast. Most notable is Mullavey, who captures the tragic glint of self-awareness under Robert's manic optimism....Robert's sudden, crushing realization of his incapacity is the evening's most exquisitely realized moment."
CLICK HERE for full review. 

"This adaptation of "Proof" is beautifully cast and directed by Elina de Santos.  Abigail Rose Solomon depicts the character of Catherine with grace, delicacy and fearlessness.  Ariana Johns plays Claire and is so convincing as the controlling older sister...Robert, a lovely and endearing performance by Greg Mullavey, will break your heart.  One of the most spectacular experiences of this show is observing the dynamic relationships between the characters in such detail and complexity...this is a truly great production.  It will leave you guessing at every turn, warm your heart and even bring out a few tears."
- Campus Circle 
CLICK HERE for full review. 

"Abigail Rose Solomon, the actor playing the Gwyneth Paltrow role in "Proof," at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood...gave a profoundly moving performance...She has that rare quality to freeze time and allow you into her very soul, without having to say a word."
  ---Laurence Vittes (of The Hollywood Reporter)

"Under the focused, inventive and passionate direction of Elina de Santos, a strong cast takes us on an in-depth journey of the mind and heart...Abigail Rose Solomon gives a captivating performance as Catherine. Capable of great range and dimension...Greg Mullavey, as her gifted fearlessly flawless, and the scenes shared between the two are theatrical magic!...This is a rewarding evening of riveting and thought-inspiring theatre, with humorous moments for comic relief."
- The Tolucan Times 
CLICK HERE for full review. 

"A wonderful's a pleasure to be able to suggest that anyone who enjoys theater should make the time to go see the current production of David Auburn's Proof, directed by Elina de Santos, at The Odyssey Theatre...Ms. Solomon’s company, Rosalind Productions, aims to produce plays with vital, complex, and influential women characters, and it has certainly hit that target here."
CLICK HERE for full review.

An effective and affecting Abigail Rose Solomon...a gruff-tender Greg Mullavey...a lusty Ariana Johns...well designed by Adam Blumenthal...Director Elina de Santos makes good use of the lovely...Mullavey serves the play well, as does Johns."
- Back Stage West

"A splendid, deeply affecting Abigail Rose Solomon...Accomplished director Elina de Santos...makes full use of the attractive setting...Solomon is the lovely waif in dubious charge of the situation, feeling but unsentimental, down-to-earth when she needs to be, but pulsatingly sad at soul's level, demanding not pity but understanding."
- Park Labrea News/Beverly Press

 "David Auburn's PROOF, a melodrama about a middle 20's woman, Catherine (Abigail Rose Solomon) dealing over the recent loss of her father Robert (Greg Mullavey) a math professor at the University of Chicago. During the final years of his life, Robert wrote hundreds of mathematical theories in dozens of notebooks, all stashed away in his study. Catherine, who took care of her father, feels that much of what's in these notebooks is nonsense. But a one time student of his and currently a mathematician, Hal (Micah Freedman) discovers that her father may have found some sort of equation that has let to be released to the math world. Meanwhile, Catherine's older sibling Chaire (Ariana Johns), who is in town for their father's funeral, encourages her younger sister to move with her and her fiance back to where she lives for the family's sake. Could it really be that Robert really discovered a new theory that had mathematicians baffled for generations, or was his writings in his 100+ notebooks really just a load of crap??
     "This is a solid play that harks on the notion between grief (a loss of a loved one) and how one's mind can work in unique ways. (Creating an element that can start of revolution within its own right, while that same mind can turn into mush!) Elina de Santos directs this cast of four that shows its proof that this play, winner of the coveted Pulitzer prize, is a prime number to its fullest! (Puns intended!!)  

"PROOF, presented by Rosalind Productions, performs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees @ 2:00 PM, through June 1st.  Performs at the Odyssey Theater, 2055 Sepulveda Blvd. (North of Olympic Blvd, and south of Santa Monica Blvd.), West Los Angeles. Reservations, call (310) 477-2055, or via the web site"

-Accessibly Live Off-Line  (Vol. 13-No. 18-Week of May 5th, 2008)


"AS YOU LIKE IT Recommended" - LOS ANGELES TIMES.  CLICK HERE for review.

"AS YOU LIKE IT is a superb production" - THE TOLUCAN TIMES.  CLICK HERE for review.  CLICK HERE for a PDF copy.

"And Yes, Mad Likes It" - MADELINE SHANER, PARK LABREA NEWS.   CLICK HERE for review.

As You Like It
May 17, 2007
By Travis Michael Holder
Since 1993 the L.A. Women's Shakespeare Company has turned the tables on tradition, reversing the original concept of male actors playing the Bard's female roles by casting only women in its productions. LAWSC attracts hugely talented performers eager to pencil in sideburns, adopt a wide-legged swagger, add a well-placed sock, and find a new kind of artistic empowerment. This time it's even more interesting, not only because of the already gender-bent nature of the material but because the Forest of Arden has astral-projected into the American West of the 1880s.
Lisa Wolpe directs with an assured hand, cleverly adding period music and dance to grace a magically versatile rough-hewn set by Mia Torres, which, accompanied by the faint clink of spurs, transforms from frontier town to open plains to cathouse-saloon, the actors decked out in Christina Wright's splendid cowboy drag. Suspension of disbelief happens with surprising alacrity, thanks to such stalwart L.A. stage royalty as the formidable Fran Bennett, who bellows in perfectly modulated Shakespearean tones as both Dukes; the durable Mary Cobb, almost unrecognizable as the bewhiskered Corin; and Brady Rubin as Adam, turning the aged servant into a resident Gabby Hayes. Among many unswervingly committed performances, Wolpe is riveting in her simplicity as the melancholy Jaques, Kimberleigh Aarn crafts a suitably dashing Orlando, Katrinka Wolfson teases effortlessly as Celia, Kate Roxburgh is a slickly Cockney Touchstone, and Emme Geissal makes an auspicious L.A. stage debut as the Chaplin-faced Kid.

"A great play...  I just really enjoyed that so thoroughly...  They play the parts really well and they're funny...  This was really good."

In "Travis Michael Holder's PICKS OF THE WEEK"

"The technical elements come together nicely- particularly Christina Wright's costumes and Alex Wright's musical arrangements....Katrinka Wolfson delivers an assured performance as Celia, Rosalind's cousin and close friend.  The best moments come from among the supporting players, including Brady Rubin as Orlando's fiesty 80-year-old manservant, Dreya Weber as the wrestler Charles and Allison Allain as the love-smitten shepherd Silvius.  Paired with Cate Caplin's choreography, the musical numbers- which extend to include the cowboy classic "Dogie's lament" ("get along, little doggie")- prove charming." 

"Expert makeup on the "male" faces... the voices of Wolpe (Jacques), Dreya Webber, and Mary Cobb are convincing."

 Week of July 24th, 2006, Vol. 11-No. 30
      Abigail Rose Solomon's STAGES, a melodrama about one woman's relationship between her best friend, her "boyfriend", her soulmate of long before, and her own being, makes its reappearance at the Matrix Theatre in Hollywood.
      Solomon plays Rebecca, a mid-20's actress living in a San Francisco apartment with her roommate and close friend Sarah (Jocelyn Jackson) who works for a local non-profit organization.  Both have known each other since their middle college years, and they also look after one another inspite of their differences. Sarah is no nonsense, while Rebecca is more of a free spirit. (After all, she is an actress!) Currently, Rebecca has a role in a Shakespeare play at a regional, but prominent theater company. One of her cast members is Michael (Christian S. Anderson), who is a bit of a slacker type who later becomes her "boyfriend". But among all of this, one special person comes back into her life: Priscilla (Sarah Sido), a friend since childhood. However, she died unexpectedly five years before, so it's her spirit that returns. Priscilla acts as a muse, a guidance cohort, and a real soulmate to Rebecca that offers her the chance to ease away the guilt she has carried for all of those years in not being there for her best friend right when she passed away shortly after her 21st birthday. It's a production that shows some of the "stages' within Rebecca's short but sturdy life.
      This play, had it been originally a novel, would have had a shot of being on Oprah's book club hit list. It contains all of the qualities of a character and emotional driven story; the kind that caters to the 24-39 female demographic. This element is not to be confused with something that's called "chick-lit" that can at times become overly aloof and borderline silly! In fact, the play itself is very well written and successfully compacts one person's moment in life on stage in a neat one-act ninety minute package.
      STAGES is a emotionally moving piece or work. Perhaps this play is loosely based on a real episode within the playwright's life? Maybe.
      Nevertheless, it is a show that offers everything from joy and pain, to comfort and hope, to a peace of mind.
STAGES, presented by Rosalind Productions, performs at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, until August 20th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons @ 3:00 PM. Reservations, call (323) 960-7782. Tickets may also be obtained via the web site

"The dialogue is well-crafted, and the story- complete with a twist- is interesting.  The work is aided by naturalistic performances and Jon Lawrence Rivera's sharp direction...  Rivera's evenly paced direction allows the characters room to develop the relationships without making them seem forced...
 Solomon's script and performance are realistic... Bathe offers subtle bits of comedy...[Willcox] is enjoyably ethereal... Recognition should be given to Kimberly Lyons' set design."
                     --- BACKSTAGE WEST

"Director Jon Lawrence Rivera and his cast give the piece an efficient and professional staging"
                     ---LA WEEKLY

"They say that some friendships can survive almost anything and Abigail Rose Solomon's Stages...certainly illustrates that point on a number of levels...The wrong guy, played by Nick Hoffa, was right on target: intense without going over the top, with an excellent comedic range.  But it's Ryan Michelle Bathe who really stands out with an admirable portrayal of the troubled control freak who is Rebecca's longtime friend/roommate."

The Hudson Mainstage Theatre

By the name, you may think this could be a story about the Old West where people traveled in stagecoaches – WRONG!  Others may think it has to with theatres and plays and actors – and to some extent, it is.  But Stages is more a metaphor about various periods of the lives of people – different stages where values and beliefs are often molded or shattered by singular events, seemingly trivial at the time, but overwhelmingly significant as time goes on.

Stages could be considered the theatrical equivalent of the type of films some people call “Chick Flicks”, which by some definitions “ . . . mostly include dialogue-laden, formulated romantic comedies (with mis-matched lovers or female relationships), tearjerkers and gal-pal films, about family crises and emotional catharsis, some traditional 'weepies' or fantasy-action adventures, sometimes with foul-mouthed and empowered females, and female bonding situations involving families, mothers, daughters and children.* ”

That pretty much covers the story, and if not for some excellent acting, it could slide right into that genre.  However, there is a good twist involving Priscilla, best friend of Rebecca, who died while Rebecca was in Europe with her boyfriend.  That’s not the twist.  The good parts come when Priscilla appears to Rebecca – a ghostly figure trying to help her get through the guilt and the problems she faces now.

With San Francisco as the background, we meet Rebecca’s new best friend and roommate, Sarah, an artist who has very little self-confidence, who seems way too needy at first, until we learn the truth about a terrible experience in her teens. The pieces begin to float, albeit gently, into a neat fitting puzzle where the two women who share an apartment have formed a fragile bond based primarily on the fact that neither one has anyone else close.  Rebecca is an actress, involved in a production where she plays Rosalind.  Shakespeare’s Rosalind wants to find a lover without losing her sense of self in the process. She is a lovesick maiden and yet she remains an intelligent, witty, and strong character. 

By no small coincidence, the character of Rebecca is almost exactly the same, and when she hooks up with fellow actor Michael, things seem to be going well, until Rebecca receives an offer to do a film in Los Angeles .  Now the decision is – should she leave her apartment – her roommate and her new love for a career, or pass up the chance of a lifetime to keep those she loves.

The actors do a great job developing their characters, and the ménage works well intertwining their problems and stories.  Nick Hoffa, who is excellent as the somewhat reluctant love interest to Abigail Rose Solomon’s Rebecca, handles Michael’s role with total credibility, now jumping all over Rebecca with passionate sex, but quickly backing off when she brings up the “L” word – and even worse, when the “M” word slips in.   Author Solomon draws a woman who has been without love for some time and now seems to wants to make up for the lost time.  She’s great at depicting a woman conflicted between a career and a relationship, all the while dealing with the apparition of her best friend who seems to nag her at times.  Madison Dunaway actually seems to float as she plays the spirit of Priscilla – sometimes funny, sometimes introspective and almost omnipresent.  If you watch Boston Legal on TV you’ve seen Ryan Michelle Bathe, a hot lawyer with a sharp mind.  Here she plays Sarah, self-serving, sort of spoiled and ready to lie at the drop of a hat if it means saving her skin.  You like her at first – then you don’t and then you like her again – sort of.  She's great at switching the bitchy factor on and off.

Director Jon Lawrence Rivera moves the quartet easily around a set that has huge transparent flats painted with swirls, waves and cloud-like splashes, perhaps to simulate the environment where Priscilla navigates.

Anytime a man interacts with two women, there are bound to be problems and the problem the characters have to confront becomes a huge issue that threatens to destroy all sense of trust between them.  Given the circumstances, the characters do the best they can, proving again that when people reach certain stages of their lives, they often have to make choices that may not always mesh with their set of beliefs.

It's a fun show that brings up some issues that seem targeted to narrow group, and it's pretty clear that Abigail Rose Solomon writes her character to provides a vehicle for the author to vent or make a personal statement.  But then again, so did Woody Allen in the early days.

Stages continues through July 9, 2006 at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre, Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA.  Reservations at (323) 960-7782

Stages is a comedic, touching play about a young woman who is working through her grief over the death of a dear friend that haunts her and even visits her as a spirit.  The author of the play, Abigail Rose Solomon, plays the lead character that she created, Rebecca Golden, with great verve and wit in this world-premiere production directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera and presented at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre.
      The play begins with Golden deep in a dream of a lost golden time in her childhood.  She's playing with her pal Priscilla, played by Jules Willcox (filling in for Madison Dunaway) with sweetness and grace.  It's the wistful dream of a woman who's been out drinking all night and feels tormented, a woman whose first thought each day when she wakes up is that Priscilla is gone.
      Soon Golden's roommate, Sarah Jakea, played with a terrific naturalness and ease by Ryan Michelle Bathe, wakes her up.  They're college buddies, but the intensity of their connection isn't equal to Golden's feelings for Priscilla.  The story moves quickly through scenes involving Golden's struggles to find herself in San Francisco and come to terms with career and personal issues.  A boyfriend, Michael Smith, played with fine dunderheaded verve by Nick Hoffa, adds complications to her life.  And, throughout, Golden is being visited by the ethereal, sprightly spirit of Priscilla, who challenges her to face her feelings and her past and move on.
      The play is a production of Solomon's Rosalind Productions company, an organization devoted to creating and promoting stories that show women in roles as complex, vital and powerful often played by male characters.  This play succeeds in doing that and is enjoyable, fast-paced, funny, and moving.  At times, however, it seemed a little precious, a tale of a privileged woman whose big issues in life have to do with her sadness over a childhood friend who died young and whether to stay in a role in a major production of "As You Like It," or take part in an independent film directed by a friend.  In that context it feels a bit like a sitcom about the torments of well-off friends moaning about relationship and career issues.  Even so, it's a moving story because Solomon's emotionally charged performance is so effective at bringing us into her world and causing us to share her feelings.
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