When I first heard that When Wrong Is Right, now playing at the Eclectic Company Theatre in Valley Village, CA, involved a dance marathon, my thoughts immediately went to the movie, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Indeed, this play and that film have a lot in common. They’re both set during the Great Depression, and both stories have an air of hopelessness and despair. When Wrong Is Right, however, uses those elements to weave a very different kind of story.

In its latest Main Stage performance, LA-based theatre company Theatre Unleashed (TU) presents a beautifully crafted production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, illustrating humanity's continued struggle for connection, empathy, and compassion as we maneuver through life's experiences.  Calling upon Steinbeck's classic tale of loneliness, hardship, and social stigma, Theatre Unleashed delivers a production that is poignant in its timeliness and necessary to our society's ongoing conversation of inclusion, understanding, and equality.  Through Of Mice and Men, audiences will no doubt be in awe of the company's endless talent and creative energy while walking away with a renewed desire for embracing goodwill and sensitivity.

"What do you know about this mendacity thing? Hell! I could write a book on it! I could write a book on it and still not cover the subject. Think of all the lies I got to put up with!–Pretenses! Ain’t that mendacity? Having to pretend stuff you don’t think or feel or have any idea of?"  This line from Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, artfully encapsulates the quagmire with which we find ourselves in relationships, as a society, and - horrifyingly - within the political climate of our country: forced to survive within an unending battle of truth and lies, all for varying purposes, leaving us struggling to clarify fact from illusion - either finding our place within the world or succumbing to the madness it provokes.  It is this exhausting battle for honesty that influences the characters of The Antaeus Theatre Company's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which recently inaugurated the company's new home at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale, CA.  In a powerful production that expertly examines the depths to which humans will augment, reshape, and blatantly disregard the truth to maintain their place in the world, avoid their fate, or willfully remain ignorant of its costs, Antaeus' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof deftly tackles one of Williams' most incredible masterpieces at a significant time in our history, when mendacity knows no bounds and threatens to be our undoing.

Each year, the winter holidays bring with them countless traditions and customs that help to make the season more memorable and festive.  Likewise, the formation of new traditions can make the holidays that much brighter for generations to come.  One such tradition that should find its way into your holiday activities is to attend the annual performances of Theatre Unleashed’s A Very Die Hard Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.  The North Hollywood-based theatre company’s dynamic productions offer a wide range of raucous, good cheer and sincere warmheartedness, ensuring that there will surely be something for everyone to enjoy. 

As an annual participant in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, LA-based theatre company Theatre Unleashed (TU) consistently stages phenomenal performances that span most every genre while never wavering in their quality or spirit.  Encompassing everything from westerns (Round Rock) to sexual politics and gender relations (Sleeping Around), TU remains a mainstay in the LA theatre community by providing a solid platform for talented creators to hone their craft and entertain audiences through a variety of artistic endeavors.  This year, the ensemble returned to the Fringe Festival with the 2015 hit, A Feast of Snackdemonstrating that even musical theatre is no match for the intrepid members of Theatre Unleashed.

Every year, the Hollywood Fringe Festival provides countless writers, directors, actors, choreographers, and other talented individuals in the theatre community with the opportunity to hone their craft and, perhaps more simply, to do what they love.  Creators of all experience levels take the stage to experiment, to take chances, to make their debut, to revel in the creative process, and - in some occurrences - to truly leave a lasting impact on their colleagues, the audience, and the community as a whole.  Having recently attended a performance of the one-woman show, My Big Fat Blonde Musical, I can say with utter certainty that this show is what the Fringe Festival was made for: to provide a platform for rising stars to shine.  While the show may appear to be a musical comedy that pokes fun at Hollywood and the entertainment machine, it transcends mere folly to stand as a glowing example of female empowerment and body positivity.

LA-based production company AwesomeTech Industries has joined Hollywood Fringe Festival this year with a new and improved production of Wheel of Invention, a dark, dystopian comedy that gives audiences a first-hand look into the twisted fictional theme park, Weintraubsylvania, and the demented mind of its creator, Herman J. Weintraub.  Wheel of Invention invites visitors to explore Weintraubsylvania through a guided tour, painting the picture of a troubled visionary who dared to dream big, creating a disturbing theme park full of bizarre attractions with a strong, underlying theme of anti-authoritarianism.  With a stylized playbill designed to mimic a theme park brochure, a personalized tour of the park, and the chance to see several attractions, Wheel of Invention delivers a strangely unique and thought-provoking experience for theatregoers.

As an audience member of LA-based theatre company Theatre Unleashed (TU), you can be sure that you will always be in for a real treat.  Whether it's a thought-provoking commentary on gender politics, a musical sung by the Pope, a sweet and genuine examination of how and why we find human connection, or clear and undeniable proof that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, TU relentlessly strives to break new ground and celebrate the pure art of theatre, all the while entertaining its audience as if inviting us to join in on the creative revelry.  In its latest performance, The Devil's Bride, Theatre Unleashed effectively illustrates that - be it contemporary, classical, or Shakespearean material - the company's cast and crew are dedicated to producing theatre of the highest caliber that will engage, entertain, and impress.

Antaeus Theatre Company recently launched its 2016 season with Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9, unequivocally demonstrating to audiences that its cooperative theatre ensemble intends to break free of boundaries and examine deeply ingrained social inequities with admirable intentionality.  Antaeus and director Casey Stangl rightfully recognize Cloud 9 as a truly great contemporary play, allowing this latest interpretation to not only reflect on the social influences of the time when it was written, but also to speak volumes as to how those same influences still resonate today and what that means for our future.  Through a zestful, yet affecting, performance, Antaeus' cast of supremely talented players envelops the audience in two very different worlds, casting light on the disparities and parallels of social change, then and now.

In this festive time of year, we all have our own ways of commemorating the spirit of the season. Whether you're a devotee of the Rankin-Bass claymation classics, you can pinpoint every Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye bloop in White Christmas (from your 1,001 viewings of the film), or you get a bit misty every time a bell rings, there will always be something special for you and your loved ones that makes us "all act a little nicer . . . smile a little easier . . . cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!"  For some, nothing says the holidays like a certain 1988 action movie starring Bruce Willis as an off-duty copy fighting against a West German Alan Rickman (with a British dialect) who is intent on stealing millions of dollars from a Japanese-run company during its holiday party.  While the debate rages on as to whether Die Hard actually constitutes a Christmas movie, there is absolutely no doubt that Theatre Unleashed's West Coast premiere of A Very Die Hard Christmas is the merriest and most fantastically hysterical way to ring in the holidays this year!  

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