Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

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

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 http://www.plays411.com/anton 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




From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary schools,... (read more about this author)


Interview: Meg Lin on Developing Her Solo Show WHAT AM I, CHOP SUEY?
June 29, 2022

Prior to pursuing her childhood dream of becoming an actor, Meg Lin was a former K-12 teacher, school principal, college professor, and non-profit CEO. But along the way, she struggled finding her true identity as a Chinese American as the first in her family born in the U.S. In her original solo play What am I, Chopped Suey? Meg shares how she struggled to defy cultural norms to 'save face' while coping with challenges she went through to overcome stereotypes and redefine what it means to be Asian in America. I decided to speak with Meg about how universal her first-generation American tale will resonate with so many, as well as her plans to continue presenting it as an Encore selection from this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival.

BWW Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
April 21, 2022

The ability to totally transform yourself into the physical, emotional and intellectual persona of another person so believably that audience members will see the character and not the actor is one of the most fascinating elements of live theatre to me. This is especially true for actors I follow, seeing them in several productions and always being surprised at the new person presented in front of me, often having nothing in common with the real personality of the actor. One such actor is Ron Bottitta, an English-born actor who has called the USA his home since 1980, who I spoke with about his characters in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre,

BWW Interview: Director Elisabeth Tsubota on the World Premiere of LIVE AT THE PURPLE LOUNGE
April 20, 2022

Crimson Square Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of Live at the Purple Lounge, a drama by five talented female playwrights featuring a cast of five women (plus a few men) involved at a stand-up comedy club. I decided to speak with playwright/director Elisabeth Tsubota about her experience working with the all-female writing team and almost exclusively female cast to bring the production to the stage.

BWW Interview: Sona Tatoyan on her Multimedia Theatrical Experience AZAD at the Pico Playhouse
April 15, 2022

During the darkest of times, surprise discoveries of childhood joy can allow the sunshine in on even the bleakest of situations. And with Ukrainian refugees in the news daily, when I heard about Sona Tatoyan's Multimedia Theatrical Experience AZAD ('free' in Armenian) which offers 'one woman's magical, multi-generational, healing journey from the Armenian Genocide to the Syrian war,' I decided to speak with her about her creative journey to, as she shares, 'find the brightest light from the deepest shadows, while living in an upside-down world.' And we can all understand living in that type of situation given the past two years. Performances April 21-22-23 at the Pico Playhouse.

BWW Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall
March 30, 2022

GMCLA's next long-anticipated event, QUEEN of the night, featuring the greatest hits from the critically acclaimed legendary rock band Queen, mixed with opera and high-energy dance numbers performed by the Chorus, live, in-person at UCLA Royce Hall on Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. To find out more about the production, I spoke with GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto about the creation of this special event concert