Stella's Last J-Date Review - Feel Free to Come Inside

Andy Rooster Bloch’s new comedy is a hoot, a no-holds-barred exploration of today’s internet dating scene. Stella Weinstock (Amy Smallman-Winston) and Isaac Tarsky (Barry Livingston) - two slightly tarnished 40 and 50 somethings meet in a modern millennial manner - after perusing their on-line personas. This may be THE special coupling - or simply a moment made in hell! Will the two share a final breath in a nursing home someday?


Animal trainer Stella has been taking guilt-control classes at the Jewish Center trying “to kill her stress in a room full of single’s like going to an AA meeting at a liquor store.” It doesn’t help that Stella has ADHD and low self-esteem “which means I put myself down but quickly forget why.” Isaac is a sedate fifth-grade teacher who simply can’t believe how he’s come to be in the same room as this wild-eyed neurotic who never stops talking. Of course, alcoholism and his weakness for Glenlivet may have something to do with his unattached status.


Enter Don (Elvis Nolasco), a suave, cool, and dangerous guy in his 30's wearing a fedora. The mysterious Don gets to say what is often unspoken. He’s the man who knows the score - especially about Stella - and lets Isaac know things he doesn’t want to know. Don’s the scary character who warns Isaac off - with increasing threats as the story builds. Who is he? You’ll have to see the play to figure that out.


STELLA’S LAST J-DATE is an uproarious tale of two mismatched singles and their desperate attempts to get to know each other. At the foundation of this hysterical comedy is a poignant study of loneliness in today’s society. Bloch’s approach is a machine-gun rat-a-tat of very funny lines and very funny situations which keep the audience laughing non-stop. Director Bryan Rasmussen helms this play with a firm hand and pulls out every comedic moment these actors have to offer. The talented cast ekes laughter from each line, making pauses and eye-rolls part-and-parcel of this exuberant experience. This is a play for anyone who has ever been involved in the dating scene - whether via internet or blind dates or socials. Under much of the laughter there is just the tiniest edge of discomfort and recollection.


Bryan Rasmussen’s set is simple and focuses on the two characters trying to find their way in a complicated society. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Morgan DeGross’s costumes add the right dash of fun to the show.


Amy Smallman-Winston, Director Bryan Rasmussen, Barry Livingston, and Elvis Nolasco at the after party - Photo by Elaine L. Mura

STELLA’S LAST J-DATE runs through May 5, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Tickets are $25. For reservations, call 838-990-2324 or go online to Brown Paper Tickets




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