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3D Theatricals revives ‘The Producers,’ Japanese Noh theatre at Chapman, CSULB

Isaac James

I finally caught up Broadway reincarnation of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” last weekend, and while nothing can compare with the original Zero Mostel-Gene Wilder movie version, I found it hugely entertaining. It’s the musical numbers that set this show the apart from the initial film—notably “I Wanna Be a Producer” and “Along Came Bialy,” with its chorus line of little old ladies with walkers—and they’re performed to perfection in the 3D Theatricals’ revival (at Fullerton’s Plummer Auditorium through Feb. 16; at Redondo Beach PAC Feb. 21-Mar. 2).

Jay Brian Winnick doesn’t mimick Mostel or Nathan Lane but hits just the right note as broken-down producer Max Bialystock; Jeff Skowron doesn’t resemble Wilder but channels him vocally as accountant Leo Bloom. David Engel is terrific as flamboyant director Roger De Bris. Norman Large (Franz Liebkind) and Hillary Michael Thompson (Ulla) are also quite good. Call 714-589-2770.
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Japanese Noh theatre, the lesser known cousin of Kabuki, tells stories using movement, music and masks informed by centuries-old traditions (Noh means "Skill" in Japanese). An innovative and original adaptation of this tradition, “A Night of Noh Theatre,” will be performed at Chapman University's Waltmar Theatre Feb. 13-15 and 20-22. It’s the third such program conceived and directed by Tamiko Washington using the movement style of famed director Tadashi Suzuki, and having seen the first two I can highly recommend it. Call 714-997-812.

“Traditions Transfigured,” at Cal State Long Beach’s University Art Museum through Apr. 13, is an exhibit of contemporary works by Noh mask maker Bidou Yamaguchi. The forms, techniques, transformative spirit, and mysterious elegance of Noh masks are applied to iconic female portraits from the European art historical canon, as well as Kabuki actor prints by Sharaku, Japan's enigmatic 18th century portrait master. Call 562-985-5761.

Hot tip: Friends With Benefits Cabaret Series debuts Feb. Feb. 16 at Theatre Out!, 402 W. 4th Street in Santa Ana, benefiting the Alzheimer's Association of Orange County.

More from Jordan:

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Academy Award Losers, 1912-1939:
Great Performances in the Oscar Hall of Shame, Vol. 1

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