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Actor Finds His Identity In King Of The Desert

King of the Desert, actor René Rivera’s one-man show about his journey from San Antonio barrio to Broadway is one of self discovery.

The joy of it is watching Rivera assume all the roles in his story—especially his dysfunctional family including his resigned-to-his-fate father, long-suffering mother and drug-addict criminal brother.

Stacy Martino, Rivera’s wife, wrote the piece in an effort to understand her husband’s life and learn about her daughters’ Mexican-American heritage. She’s peppered the story with large chunks of Mexican history and tales of the  godlike Aztecs and Mayans told by Rivera’s heavy-drinking father,  He interlaces them among stories of his of his early innocent courtship and later Willie Loman-like dream’s.

Rivera is touching as a slow-witted childhood friend and himself as a young boy, loving his first ever role as an avocado in a school pageant and vowing to make acting his career. Hence the play’s tag line, “A boy. A barrio. A dream.”

The story takes Rivera to Juilliard, where he won a full scholarship, and facing the reality of working as a hispanic actor—often stereotypically cast as a junkie, gang member or criminal.

The play’s snippets of Shakespeare, in English and Spanish,  come naturally and reveal an actor of skill and yearning. And indeed, the bard’s works are a big part of Rivera’s actual theater credits.

After a life in New York with nicotine, alcohol, other drugs, and relationships where  “I never let anyone in,” Rivera is ultimately redeemed by love and the birth of his children. And able to say, “I know who I am.”

Rivera is exhausting, thrilling and a marvel to watch as he bounds around Danuta Tomzynski’s two-level set, playing everything from police offers, fellow actors, teachers and more.

Sound design by David Marling and projections by Blair Thompson—everything from fireworks, a freeway overpass, lights on the Great White Way and a star-filled sky—contribute greatly to the evening’s effectiveness.

The play is presented by Josefina López, founder and artistic director of Casa 0101 theater and David Llauger-Meiselman, artistic director of American Latino Theatre Company, in association with Martino, founder and artistic director of CoActive Content.

The production runs through Sunday, Feb 12, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and  Sunday at  7 p.m. on the new Main Stage at Casa 0101 Theater, 2102 E. First Street, Boyle Heights.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $17 for students and seniors.

For more information, visit the websites www.casa0101.org and www.thekingofthedesert.com.

—Steve Simmons

Kellerman Brings ‘Something Cool’ To Vitello’s

Sally Kellerman, will perform “Something Cool” at 8 pm., Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Vitello’s Jazz & Supper Club, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City,

The Oscar-nominated actress will preview two new songs (from her cabaret show (which is currently being developed as a national tour) and perform classic covers and audience favorites.

Sexy, sometimes whimsical, blues-oriented tunes such as “I Want To Make Love To You,” “Your Mind Is On Vacation,” “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” “Love Potion #9” and “I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl” suit Kellerman’s style.

She renders “Just One of Those Things” pensively, “Say It Isn’t So” intimately, and “I’ve Got a Crush on You” as she strolls through the room,

Tickets are $15. For reservations, call 818-769-0905 , or visit, ticketweb.com

Wolpe To Discuss ‘Sins Of Religion’ At Skirball

The Plato Society of UCLA will present Rabbi David Wolpe, named by Newsweek as the #1 pulpit rabbi in America, speaking on “The Sins of Religion,” Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.

Wolpe will discuss the questions: “Does religion promote violence?” and “Are our ethics better than our religion?”

There is no charge for the lecture and reservations are not required.

Refreshments will be served at 1 p.m. with the program at 1:30 p.m.

The Plato Society is a lifelong learning program for adults. For membership information, call 310-794-0231.

America-Israel Cultural Foundation Sets Concert

Cellist Thomas Loewenheim and pianist Hatem Nadim will be featured in the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) Los Angeles Chapter’s concert and light super at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18 at eh Beverly Hills Country Club, 3084 Motor Ave.

The program will feature Brahms’ Sonata in F major, Beethoven’s Sonata in A major and Tartini’s Variations on a Theme by Corelli.

• Dr. Loewenheim is a renowned cellist who combines teaching, conducting and performing around the word.

A native of Israel, Loewenheim is a graduate of the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. He received his master’s degree at the University of Michigan with AICF scholarship funding, and his doctorate from Indiana University.

He currently holds multiple appointments at Fresno State University including professor of cello, head of strings, and two conducting posts.

• Nadim is originally from Egypt. He is the collaborative pianist at Fresno State and lives in San Francisco.

AICF is privately funded by donors who provide financial support for talented Israeli youngsters and cultural institutions in Israel. It awards more than 1,000 scholarships a year in music, dance, theater, fine arts, film and television.

Tickets are $75 per person. For more information, call 310-476-5397.

WAIPAC Sponsors Briefing, Political Strategy Conversation

The World Alliance for Israel Political Action Committee (WAIPAC) will present a special briefing by David Siegel, consul general of Israel and a conversation with three political strategists and media experts, beginning at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1399 Roxbury Dr.

• In August, Siegel assumed the post of consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, where he serves as the senior representative of the state of Israel for the southwestern United States.

Taking part in the conversation will be:

• Robert Hertzberg, partner at Mayer Brown LLP, as well as co chair of California Forward, a coalition working for a more responsive, representative and cost-effective government. He was a California assemblyman from 19996-2002 and speaker from 2000-02.

• Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. He was worked on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns.

• Michael Wissot, a senior strategist at Luntz Global and general partner at SymAction Communications.

Lee Ziff, the new WAIPAC president will be installed at the event.

Tickets are $25 per person. for more information, call 323-466-6620 or email rsvp@waipac.org.

Poulenc, Bax Faure At Salon De Musiques

The Sunday, Feb. 26 Le Salon de Musiques’ program on the fifth floor banquet room of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, will feature Poulenc’s Flute Sonata With Piano, Arnold Bax’s Elegiac Trio for Flute, Harp And Viola and Faure’s Piano Quartet N.1 In C Minor Opus 15 with Steven Vanhauwaert on piano, Marcia Dickstein on harp, Pamela Vliek on flute, Tereza Stanislav on violin, Victoria Miskolczy on viola and John Walz on cello.

The performance is accompanied by champagne, food by Patina and informal conversation introduced by musicologist Julius Reder Carlson.

Concerts are from 4-6 p.m once a month at the Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., through May 20.

Tickets are $65 and $45 for students (including concert and refreshments) and are available on line at www.LeSalondeMusiques.com or by calling 310-498-0257.

Created by French pianist/melodist Francois Chouchan, the salon series was inspired by Marie Antoinette during 1780 when the Salon de Musique was erected at the Petit Trianon Domain within the vast gardens of the Chateau de Versailles.

By removing the stage, Le Salon de Musiques offers a more personal touch to listeners eager to familiarize themselves with chamber music.

Grammy-Nominated Trio Mediæval To Perform At Bradbury Building

Built in 1893 and an amalgam of the futuristic and the classic, the Bradbury Building will serve as the setting for the voices of Trio Mediæval at 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3.

The voices of Oslo’s Trio Mediæval have captivated the concert world with their performances and recordings of a diverse polyphonic repertoire that features medieval music from England and France, contemporary works written for the ensemble, and traditional Norwegian ballads and songs.

Founded in 1997, the Grammy-nominated Trio developed its unique repertory during intense periods of work at the Hilliard Summer Festivals in England and Germany between 1998 and 2000.

The Bradbury Building, 304 S. Broadway, was built in 1893 for mining millionaire Lewis Bradbury, The building has endured for more than a century, and is now one of Los Angeles’ prized architectural landmarks. The Bradbury has the additional distinction of being one of only four Los Angeles buildings to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

The revitalized building, with its open cage elevators and ornamental cast-iron pieces (first displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair), is a centerpiece in Grand Central Square.

Tickets are $43 and $39. For information or to buy tickets, call 213-477-2929 or visit www.DaCamera.org.

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