Recommended Theater: SMILE (IAMA at Atwater Village Theatre)

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by Lamont Williams on October 22, 2022

in Virtual


Hooray! IAMA Theatre is back with its 15th season, its first full season since COVID. One of L.A.’s best companies, IAMA opens with the world premiere of Smile, a new play developed by playwright Melissa Jane Osborne & director Michelle Bossy. It opens on November 12 at Atwater Village Theatre, where performances continue through December 5, 2022. Low-priced previews begin November 10.

Smile is set in 1992, the year a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Senate that was dubbed “Year of the Woman” by the media. But things haven’t changed much for 17-year-old Rachel Olivera, played by Isabella Feliciana (Killer Grades on Lifetime). A kid from the inner city whose mother moved her in order to attend a White, affluent public school in Philadelphia’s Main Line, Rachel is a young girl still dreaming of her first kiss; she’s ill-equipped to navigate a world which defines her solely by gender, race and class. When an “incident” at school lands Rachel in the guidance counselor’s office, her situation sparks the young mother’s own questions and insecurities. Soon, Rachel and Helen (Andria Kozica) find themselves developing a complicated relationship. Also in the cast are John Lavelle (Drama Desk Award for The Royale at Lincoln Center, Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate on Broadway) as Helen’s husband, Matt, and Ronit Kathuria as neighborhood boy Joey.“This play is a great ride, a cathartic story about two very different women who come to lean on each other,” says Bossy. “They have each reached a tipping point. They want to be the authors of their own stories, to not have their identities defined for them. Neither wants to be a victim. 1992 was supposed to the ‘Year of the Woman,’ yet here we find ourselves 30 years later, and nothing has really changed.”The creative team for Smile includes scenic designer Yuri Okahana-Benson; lighting designer Dan Weingarten; projections designer Sean Cawelti; costume designer Vicki Conrad; properties designer Heath Harper; and casting director Jordan Bass. IAMA ensemble member Anna LaMadrid is associate director and dramaturg. Grant Gerrard is the production manager and Kimberly Sanchez Garrido is the stage manager. Tiffany Moon and Kat Kim produce for IAMA Theatre Company.Designated by Playbill as “one of 20 regional houses every theater lover must know,” the award-winning company has seen many plays generated at IAMA travel to off-Broadway, including to Second Stage and Playwrights Horizons, then go on to be performed regionally and internationally. IAMA members have been featured in numerous critically acclaimed TV shows and films as well as in a vast array of theater and live performances on and off-Broadway and across the country.Smile opens on SaturdayNov. 12 at 8 p.m., with performances thereafter on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 3 p.m. through Dec. 5 (dark Friday, Nov. 25). Two preview performances take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11, each at 8 p.m. All tickets are $35, except the opening night performance on November 12, for which tickets are $40 and include a post performance reception, and previews, which are $20.Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039. Free parking is available in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater. For reservations and information, Call 323-380-8843 or go to

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