Review: ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS Playfully Pokes Fun at Life in American Theatre

By: Apr. 25, 2016
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ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS by Jane Martin is a satirical romp across the stage of American Theatre, that holds a hilarious mirror up to the live theatre entertainment from coast to coast. The story focuses on Holly (Gillian Shure), a wildly popular TV star, who needs to get theatrical street cred to be considered for film. On a whim she signs on to do Anton Chekov's "Three Sisters" in a small repertory theatre in Texas where she can hire directors and pull all the strings as the show's financial backer. The entire cast is portrayed by women in this ensemble piece that combines the depth of Chekov and the levity of a Bravo sitcom.

The play begins with the beleaguered giving us an insider's take on NYC theater hierarchy from Broadway all the way down to regional theaters where one goes not to be seen but to work on your craft, hoping your shot at moving up will happen in your next audition. Courtney Sauls had the audience in stitches, leaving us totally ready to enter into a world of dreams, friendship, and the camaraderie only achieved by sharing a dressing room.

With Helen on her sisterly San Antonio adventure are actresses Casey (Anzu Lawson), a seasoned performer desperate for work, and theatre newbie Lisabette (Dana Pollak) whose enthusiasm spreads out to every situation in her life. Along with Shure, Lawson and Pollak create such distinct characters that you can't help but root for them to make a go of this Chekov production which seems doomed to fail from the start, especially under the direction of Ralph (Claudia de Vasco), who is convinced it must be played for its inherent humor.

As we are taken on their regional stage production adventure, many colorful characters wind in and out of their lives from the show's stage manager (Courtney Souls) and cowboy lead actor Ben (Marguerite Insolia, playing the part with completely realistic male swagger) to Jobe (Jesse Madera) a young critic who is frequently asked by the weary, and wary, actresses how they are doing. I have to tell you that Jobe's sudden appearance seated in the audience with a spotlight focused on her, completely took me by surprise and later had me laughing at how much the character reminded me of myself.

Director Nell Teare first caught my attention at last year's Hollywood Fringe with her direction and choreography of Rock & Roll's Greatest Lovers, an original musical about rock icons John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Here she is playing the show's punch right into the laps of so many local actresses trying to upgrade themselves from TV star to serious film actress, even if, like Holly, her only talent comes from 17 plastic surgeries to achieve the body of her fans' dreams to earn lots of money to do exactly what you want artistically. Ah, life in the theater!

ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS continues through May 14 at The Hudson Mainstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90038. General Admission: Friday $25 / Saturday $30 / Sunday $20. Purchase tickets online at or call 323.960.4418 for more information.

Photos by Rebecca Ocampo

L-R: Anzu Lawson, Dana Pollak, Gillian Shure

L-R: Marguerite Insolia, Gillian Shure, Claudia DeVasco

L-R: Dana Pollak, Gillian Shure, Anzu Lawson