“The Cape and the Klan” is absolutely the best show in townLos Angeles Post-Examiner

“The Cape and the Klan” is absolutely the best show in town

Okay I will admit that if you are the type of theatre goer who only enjoys musicals then by all means renew your Pantages membership. You can also explore the hundreds of smaller venues that saturate the greater Los Angeles area. But for a serious deeply entertaining drama you really must see The Cape and the Klan currently playing at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. Let me break it down for you.

Every stage play begins with a script. The problem in this wonderful City of Los Angeles is that if you could gather up every script currently in existence in this part of the world and place them all on the deck of the USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 that giant ship would sink. So writing the right script that tells a spellbinding story in a way that informs as it entertains is a huge challenge.

Bix Barnaba and Doug Haverty

Playwrights Tin Penavic and Ted Ryan have done exactly that with their true masterpiece The Cape and the Klan. They and their production and acting team also deserve extreme kudos for their courage in using some language that in today’s world is deemed severely politically incorrect. But it is not done for shock value but rather for the very good point of creating the truth about a very real world as it existed in 1951, the time in which their story took place. In other words, they focused on reality rather than pander to popular trends and notions. But what is this story about?

The Cape and the Klan is about how ordinary flawed humans can do extraordinary things when motivated. A less than perfect journalist finds himself in America’s Deep South on an assignment when he comes upon a situation he believes absolutely must be told to the world. That less than perfect journalist is Harry — and he is played magnificently by Doug Haverty.

What he sees is the murder of a woman for the sin of having a cup of coffee and being black while doing it. The woman Rita Walker, hypnotically portrayed by Shalonda Shaw Reese, shows strength and courage beyond what most people could even imagine, yet her portrayal is heart wrenchingly real.

Then there is the bad guy, the almost unbelievably bad guy Sam, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, played so convincingly by actor Bix Barnaba, that at times you really want to jump up and strangle the guy, but then you realize it just an act but an extremely well done acting job.

Matthew Hoffman and Natalia Santamaria

In order to gain further knowledge of the true inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan Harry pretends to be sympathetic to the Klan’s purpose and goals and he seeks admission into the Klan. Harry knows very well how extremely intolerant and wildly violent the Klan can be yet his drive to seek and expose the truth drives him into taking virtually insane and absolutely life threatening risk. Indeed by the end of Act One it seems as if he is killed.

Getting the truth is one thing and a very important thing but informing the world of that truth can be and often is a nearly impossible task. Fear, all manner of fear including fear death or financial ruin can and often does silence potential truth tellers resulting in the continuation of deep evil. But through hard work and unrelenting perseverance the truth in this case does finally get told. The vehicle for that exposure becomes WOR Radio one of America’s most powerful radio stations in New York City.

In actual fact a journalist by the name of Stetson Kennedy did indeed infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and what he discovered became the basis for a 17-part radio play entitled The Clan of The Fiery Cross. Playwrights Tin Penavic and Ted Ryan have taken some creative license in their creation of “The Cape and the Klan” but in a way that merely adds depth and dimension while delivering important truth.

Shalonda Shaw and Bix Barnaba

The entire cast, under the direction of Stan Mazin, have brought to life a story that is every bit as important and relevant today as it was in 1951 when the real events took place. Moreover, they have done so in a way that is saturated in entertainment value without in any way distorting important elements of truth.

The Cape and the Klan is a show deserving of worldwide attention. But for now you will have to see it and enjoy it at a rather diminutive but pleasant venue upstairs at the Group Rep Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, California 91601.

This is as close to a must see show as I have ever witnessed and to see it all you need to do is to either go online at: www.thegrouprep.com or call 818-763-5990. Currently it is scheduled to run only Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. now through March 11th 2018. There is a possibility it may be extended but don’t take a chance, go now. You can thank me later.

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Find more entertainment at: www.ronirwin.net.

Photos by Troy Whitaker
Top photo: Bruce Nehlson, Scott Seifert, Kristin Towers Rowles and Mike Thatcher





About the author

Ron Irwin

Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author. Contact the author.

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