Calendar: October 11-17


SAT | OCT 12

“THE HEBREW HILLBILLY”

Yeehaw! Shelley Fisher’s Hollywood journey begins in Memphis, Tenn. — and growing up Jewish in the Deep South with dreams of performing can make for a colorful childhood. This one-woman musical show, with 14 original songs by Fisher, Kenneth Hirsch and Harold Payne, is a deeply personal and hilarious ride. Directed by Chris DeCarlo. Through Nov. 3. Sat. 8 p.m. $35. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (800) 838-3006. SUN OCT | 13

“A DAY OF JEWISH LEARNING AND MUSIC”

Like harmony? Torah? Community? So does the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music! Come be a part of a day of prospective students, cantorial soloists and cantors. Whether you are there for the new repertoire, the professional networking or the spiritual nourishment, you’ll leave with a tune in your head. The program will be followed by an evening of song and story open to the community. Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $25. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jack H. Skirball Campus, 3077 University Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 749-3424. ” target=”_blank”>theautry.org.

SEDER ARTS NIGHT

Don’t worry, it’s not officially Passover — but that doesn’t mean we can’t create some order. Attend a Nu ART SEDER and help directly fund new, creative and uniquely Jewish or community-led projects aimed to inspire. Attendees get a delicious vegetarian meal and a chance to vote on artists’ project submissions. Sun. 7 p.m. $18. RSVP to sederlosangeles@gmail.com. Gabba Gallery, 3126 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. TUE OCT | 15

“CREATIVE COLLABORATION IN MUSIC AND ARCHITECTURE”

Frank Gehry, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Nicolai Ouroussoff are in discussion about the process of planning, developing and constructing the Walt Disney Concert Hall. With a Harvard graduate and internationally reaching architect, a conductor laureate and former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a Los Angeles Times and New York Times architecture critic moderating, the evening will be a special peek into expert passions. Tue. 7:30 p.m. Free (ticket required). Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 443-7000. WED OCT | 16

“THE BEETLE”

With his first child on the way, a rusty yellow Volkswagen Beetle and a nervous wife, Yishai Orian did what anyone would do in his position — he made a documentary. Follow the writer/director as he journeys to meet the previous owners of his beloved car, an auto-renovator in Jordan and, finally, his own newborn. Funny, exciting and sad, the documentary is a testament to letting go and moving forward. Wed. 6:30-8 p.m. Free. UCLA, Perloff Hall, Room 1102, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646. ” target=”_blank”>laphil.com.


THU OCT | 17

GIL HOFFMAN

 

Let’s assume you can’t ever get enough of Israeli political commentary — well, neither can this guy! As the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post, Hoffman is well connected to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, interviewing every major figure across the Israeli political spectrum. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he wrote for American papers before joining the Israel Defense Forces and eventually became “the most optimistic man in Israel.” So, listen up — the man has things to say. Thu. 9:30 a.m. Location to be determined. (323) 761-8000. “>performingartslive.com.

Uncle Vanya’ Hits Sour Note; ‘Amadeus’ in Perfect Harmony


No one ever said Anton Chekhov was an easy fit for American actors. In Chekhov, there may be scoundrels, but no villains; interesting, appealing women, but no heroine; a central figure perhaps, but flawed. Under the surface, it is the human condition that he unfolds for us.

In the present Americanized version of “Uncle Vanya” (an adaptation by Vanessa Burnham), we have everyone flattened out in a perverse kind of social realism. As with many of Chekhov’s great plays, we are called upon to witness the dimming of a familiar world. Vanya and his niece, Sonya, have toiled in the provinces, running the family estate and sending the income to Vanya’s elderly brother-in-law (Sonya’s father), a university professor of art. Now, the professor, involuntarily retired, and his young wife, Yelena, have come to live in the provinces, creating great distress for Vanya and Sonya (among others), whose lives are consumed by the management of the estate.

There are delicious comic sequences, moments of sad absurdity and a sense of life proceeding on its irrevocable course. In Vanya, the characters are wonderful precisely because they are seen in the round — ambiguous figures caught in a changing world that is as real as they are.

The problem with this production is that it is cast somewhat like a television drama — all two-dimensional characters and little context. Sonya (Megan Follows), who toils away at the country estate and whose love for the country doctor, Astrov, is unrequited, is played (wrongly) as an ingenue. Her stepmother, Yelena (Christina Haag), the bored, empty beauty whose life is as wasted in the city she has left as are Vanya’s and Sonya’s and Astrov’s in the provinces, is here presented as a Hollywood seductress (an error). Both women are miscast. All the emphasis is on character and motivation and none on the society that is passing by — which is at the center of the play.

Vanya (Robert Foxworth, an excellent actor), defeated and depressed by his inability to accomplish anything, suddenly has supplanted Astrov as the play’s chief intellectual, with more energy than any two other people in the cast. Meanwhile, Dr. Astrov (Stephen Pelinski) is the country doctor who drinks too much — sort of like a Kennedy who has taken the wrong road and wound up in the provinces. The end effect is a pleasant enough TV program, but not Checkhov.

Michael Langham, a most gifted director who has probably put on more Checkhov plays than I have ever seen, brings his British expertise and his many years in the theater to our Western shores. Perhaps he was looking for novelty — something new, say Chekhov with an American voice. Anyway, I hope that was his intention, because that is what he has achieved. It was a wrong choice.