As a kid in Los Angeles, Disney movies offered a wonderful way to escape to a dark movie theater and enjoy the cool air conditioning on a hot summer afternoon. And there was The Mickey Mouse Club on TV, perfectly timed to start just as I got home from school. But I remember my first look at Walt Disney was when he hosted The Wonderful World of Disney which called on families of all ages to come together and enjoy wholesome entertainment together. However, I never really knew much about Walt Disney as a person other than that he created Disneyland, the happiest place on earth for a child with no idea what it really cost to want it all what you saw there. All I knew was that there was Magic. Joy. Joy. Right in my own garden!
And now the premiere on the west coast of Public reading of an unproduced script on the death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath, written using biographies and imaginary tales, explodes the ideals of Walt Disney in this fictional tale of the last years of his life, his brother Roy, his daughter Diane and his son-in-law Ron who gathered around a table to listen to Walt read/act out a script he wrote about all things Walt, wanting to make sure the truth is told before he dies of lung cancer ravaging his body. Convinced he needs to be sure his family and everyone else Disney will miss him when he’s gone, Walt’s need to be in charge takes over, always making sure that any mistakes being made road are Roy’s fault. It’s a play about egos, empires, and changing the world whether it wants to change it or not.
Director Peter Richards shares, “Walt wants to live forever and control his legacy. But, in the end, those aspirations remain out of reach, and its attempts to shape its final narrative – write its own story, if you will – are a bit sad and most definitely funny. I’m not interested in demonizing him; I’m fascinated by his obsessions, as well as how those close to him – his brother, Roy; daughter, Diana; and his son-in-law, Ronald Miller – navigate their relationship with him.
Public reading of an unproduced script on the death of Walt Disney is produced by Theater Planners for Working Barn Productions as a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre, starring Kevin Ashworth in a tour de force as Walt; Thomas Piper as his brother Roy; Brittney Bertier as her daughter Diane; and Cory Washington as Ron, his football-obsessed son-in-law. And while so many of the facts presented are most likely as far from the truth as possible, many interesting imaginary tales are shared about the creation of Walt’s entertainment legacy as well as his dream of creating a perfect city, which will become more later known as Epcot. like the trials and tribulations of his creative processes. Ultimately, Hnath’s ferociously funny and highly meta storyline completely upends the public persona of the self-taught American folk hero, creator of “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Remember, don’t believe everything you hear is true.
Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., until May 1. All tickets are $30, general seating at the matinee I attended. The Odyssey Theater is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. On-site parking is available. For reservations and information, go to www.Onstage411.com/Disney Vaccination cards, photo ID and masks worn indoors are required.
Raised Jewish in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, writer Judy Carter (who broke gender barriers as America’s first female magician) stars alongside Kevin Scott Allen and Lyndsi LaRose in A death-defying escape, a dark and inspiring new comedy about escaping life’s emotional shackles to find love. The play features real, live, stage magic as a metaphor for our ability to ‘escape’ the emotional issues and dysfunctions of our past, combining Jewish humor, lesbian romance, disability awareness and interactive scenes breathtaking with the audience. close-up magic scene in the 43-seat theater.
Led by Lee Costello, in-person performances take place Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday 3 p.m. by May 8. Tickets for the in-person performances and the streaming version are $30. The Hudson Guild Theater is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. Proof of vaccination (including a booster if eligible) is required for admission and temperature checks will be performed on all guests prior to entry. enter the theatre. Masks (no cloth or scarf) must be worn at all times inside the theater, which is wheelchair accessible. To purchase tickets for the in-person show or virtual stream, visit www.deathdefyingescape.com.