Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#133 Twelve Angry Men - L.A. Theatre Works

A teenage son is accused of murdering his father by stabbing him to death. It's up to a jury of his peers, twelve men to weigh the evidence that's been presented and decide his fate. If the verdict is guilty the boy faces a mandatory death sentence.  As the deliberation process moves forward much is revealed about these twelve men. While one juror consistently sows seeds of reasonable doubt pushing toward a not-guilty verdict several others have personal reasons for discriminating against the accused. As the discussion and dialogue becomes more and more fervent between this sequestered group sparks fly igniting strong emotional reactions leaving the jury room filled with Twelve Angry Men.

Twelve Angry Men is an engrossing tale that entertains from the open scene right down to the closing credits. This Audie nominated production features a stellar performance by a fine cast of Hollywood actors including Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries, Monk, Last Man Standing, Chicago Hope, Grey's Anatomy ), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Richard Kind (Spin City, Kim Possible, Toy Story 3), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice, Hitch), Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues, NCIS) and more.  Twelve Angry Men is a great drama, wonderfully made and highly entertaining. Definitely two thumbs up for this L.A. Theatre Works productions.

From L.A. Theatre Works:
Over the course of a steamy and tense afternoon, twelve jurors deliberate the fate of a 19 year-old boy alleged to have murdered his own father. A seemingly open and shut case turns complicated, igniting passions and hidden prejudices.

Dan Castellaneta as Juror #5
Jeffrey Donovan as Juror #8
Hector Elizondo as Juror #10
Robert Foxworth as Juror #3
James Gleason as Juror #2
Kevin Kilner as Juror #6
Richard Kind as Juror #7
Alan Mandell as Juror #9
Rob Nagle as Juror #12
Armin Shimerman as Juror #4
Joe Spano as Juror #11
Steve Vinovich as Foreman and Juror #1
Directed by John de Lancie.
Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in November, 2005.


#132 The Graduate - L.A. Theatre Works

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"

Screen legend Kathleen Turner (Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, Roger Rabbit) and Matthew Rys (Brothers and Sisters) headline L.A. Theatre Works Audie Award nominated production of the coming of age classic The Graduate. Ms Turner with her gravelly, sexy voice breathes sultry, seductive life into the character of Mrs. Robinson while Rys brings youthful exuberance and energy.  Both play well off of each other and the whole cast gives a sterling performance which captivates from start to finish. This well written stage/audio adaptation of the original book and screenplay hits the mark. The Graduate is a delightfully entertaining and funny comedy-drama. Without a doubt it's an irresistible listening pleasure.

Benjamin Braddock has just returned home to Southern California after graduating from a college on the east coast. Having no aim or goal in life his well meaning parents desire set him on a course - go to graduate school or begin a career. So to celebrate his return home and kick off his next phase in life his parents throw a party. As the party winds down Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's law partner, asks Benjamin to drive her home. Upon arriving at her residence she invites him in and attempts to seduce him. From here a series of unforgettable events unfold. Not long after Benjamin becomes involved in an affair with Mrs. Robinson he falls in love with her daughter Elaine.  From here the sparks really fly.

So here's to you Mrs. Robinson...

From L.A. Theatre Works:
An American classic adapted for the stage, starring Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson and Matthew Rhys as Benjamin Braddock. A fresh-faced college grad returns home, diploma in hand, to seek an answer to that age old question: “Now what?” Lacking any clear career path, he falls prey to the original “cougar”, the predatory Mrs. Robinson, wife of his father's business partner. But it’s Mrs. Robinson’s daughter who captures his heart.

Includes and interview with the star of The Graduate, screen legend Kathleen Turner.

Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson
Matthew Rhys  as Benjamin Braddock
Bruce Davison as Mr. Braddock
John Getz as Mr. Robinson
Jamison Jones as Hotel Clerk and others
Devon Sorvari as Elaine Robinson
Linda Purl as Mrs. Braddock


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

#131 Die Snow White! Die Damn You! (Yuri Rasovsky)

Famed audio dramatist Yuri Rasovsky's last production "Die Snow White! Die Damn You!" is pure genius. Rasovsky masterfully merges elements from more than one Brothers Grimm fairy tale with the original Snow White story forming an all new twisted yet funny, witty and highly entertaining fable. Listeners should be warned this tale certainly contains a more adult telling of the Snow White account. This retelling may have the Grimm brothers rolling over in their grave but "Die Snow White! Die Damn You!" will leave you rolling on the floor laughing and wishing there were more. Sadly this is the last masterpiece from perhaps the greatest audio dramatist of the modern era. Its distinguished cast features the talents of Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy), Kate Burton (Grey's Anatomy), Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space 9), Robin Sachs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5), Melinda Peterson, Ned Schmidtke, and Barry Creyton.

From Blackstone Audio:
With the premiere of two new film versions of the Snow White tale, Blackstone enters the fray with its own adult, edgy, and not altogether serious full-cast exposé of fairy-taledom. At last it can be told! Was Snow White really as pure as the driven snow? Did her allegedly wicked stepmother get a bum rap from the Grimm brothers? What went on behind the closed Dutch doors of the dwarves’ cottage? How many handsome princes does it take to screw in a light bulb? These and other burning questions may or may not be answered in this new pseudogothic audio play that Blackstone commissioned from award-winning author and audio dramatist Yuri Rasovsky. 

YURI RASOVSKY won wide critical acclaim during his forty-year career as an audio dramatist, writer, producer, and director. His numerous honors include two Peabody Awards, nine Audie® Awards, and a Grammy®. His last two productions for Blackstone, The Maltese Falcon and The Mark of Zorro, were both nominated for a Grammy. 


Audio clip of Die Snow White! Die Damn You courtesy of AudioFarm and Blackstone Audio.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

#130 The Witches of Lublin (Sue Zizza)

The Witches of Lublin is a historic tale of a musically gifted family of Jewish women in 1790's Poland. Presented with a request they dare not refuse Rivke and her daughters are invited to play for the local nobility. The result of sharing their wonderful gift in public could be quite profitable or it could lead to their ultimate demise. This true to life tale is well researched and written by Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz, and Yale Strom and features superb acting and excellent audio design -all of which are trademarks of a Sue Zizza production. Well worth listening to! Very nicely put together story and production.

From SueMedia:
An original audio drama set in 1797 written by Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz & Yale Strom, with music composed by Yale Strom and performed by Hot Pstromi.    

The Witches of Lublin is based on true and little known history of klezmer musicians in Eastern Europe.

Co-writer Yale Strom's research uncovered the facts that there were women klezmer musicians, and that when klezmers would play for gentile nobility, their reward could sometimes be beatings, death or even kidnappings. This history formed the springboard for this work of fiction by Strom, Schwartz and Kushner based on Jewish women's lives in 18th Century Europe, klezmer music and feminist history, with a healthy dose of magical realism thrown in.

The Witches of Lublin tells the story of Rivke and her daughters, women klezmer musicians in the town of Lublin, Poland in the year 1797. It is a celebration of music and family, of lost women’s history, with gorgeous performances by Tova Feldshuh as Rivke, Simon Jones as Count Sobieski, Barbara Rosenblat, and a host of acting and musical talent (including Neil Gaiman as the Count’s lovestruck son!).

The Witches of Lublin has received 3 Audie nominations, a Gracie Award for Best Director and a Wilbur Award from the RCC. It was also the winner of the New Radio Theater's Top 10 Radio Plays contest.