Monday, March 7, 2011

Death of a Salesman; The LACC Theater Academy with Esai Morales, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Pino & Tony Plana - March 5th, 2011

The Arthur Miller Classic
Morales, Pena and Pino

I think (or hope?) most folks have heard of of the Pulitzer & Tony Award winning play; Death of a Salesman? Maybe even the name of the play's main character; Willy Loman? And possibly even the playwright who typed it out back in the late 40's; Arthur Miller? All three applied to me, but I had never actually seen the play done before (hey, I 'll be honest, I'm usually watching cowboy movies.) But when I saw a couple tickets pop up on Goldstar (a great resource for discount entertainment tickets around the country) for a benefit performance with a top A list cast, I went for it.

Tony Plana; Excellent as Willy Loman!
Esai & Alisha Bakkum
This two performance staged reading produced by Los Angeles City College, the Alma Mater of such Hollywood thespians as; James Coburn, Morgan Freeman, Robert Vaughn and Donna Reed. Did I say it was a terrific cast? Veteran actor, Tony Plana (Ugly Betty's dad, among hundreds of credits, IMDB him) really did a hell of a job as traveling salesman; Willie Loman, who walks a fine line between the past and the present, both as  painful for him as the other. I know that Dustin Hoffman did it on Broadway a few years back, but I didn't see that one... I saw Tony Plana's performance and it was really was wonderful, with charm one moment and heartbreak the next. As I said, this was a reading, a stripped down version; bare-bones, just the words of Arthur Miller and the raw talent of the actors. Also in the cast was Esai Morales (NYPD Blue, American Family, La Bamba and my imaginary Hollywood rival for many years) as the Loman's oldest son, Biff, who's shares a secret with his father that has haunted them both for years, and has destroyed their once close relationship. His return home to his New York family, sparks this Greek Tragedy. Also in the cast was Danny Pino (formerly of CBS's Cold Case) as son, Happy. And the always terrific; Elizabeth Pena (Lone Star, La Bamba) as Willie's long suffering, but faithful wife, Linda.

Catherine Boily (Letta), Al Rossi (Director), Alisha Bakkum (Miss Forsythe)

An extra nice touch, was the fact that some of the actors that rounded out the cast also included several LACC drama Academy students; Alisa Bakkum, Rachel Ranae Barrett, Catherine Boily, Jessa Dea Myers, Anika Noogard, Eric-Lee Olsen, Spencer Steeby, Chris Fairbanks, John Farrell and Leslie Ferreria (as the Narrator.) All contributed to a very nice piece of American Theater. The production was directed by, Al Rossi and produced by Kevin Morrissey. Stage Manager for the show was, Deena Mullen and Lighting Direction and Design, James Moody... nice work everyone. As I watched this marvelous cast work, I though to myself this was more than a play, it was an event! I'm so glad that I went... and by the way, Mister Miller; you still pack a hell of a punch... even after 60 years!

Esai did such a great job, how could I refuse a request to pose for a photo!
An Event; To Be Sure!

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