Highly Recommended Reading: THE PEOPLE vs. LENNY BRUCE (Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank)

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by Tony Frankel on July 6, 2024

in Theater-Los Angeles

The People vs. Lenny Bruce, presented by Cause Célèbre Productions and Henderson Productions, is the third segment of All The Court’s A Stage, a series of plays that are based on seven of Martin Garbus‘s cases. With a dramatic adaptation by Susan Charlotte from the 1964 obscenity case, and directed by Antony Marsellis, it will make its Los Angeles premiere at Garry Marshall Theatre (4252 W Riverside Drive) on July 21 at 6pm & July 22 2pm and 7pm. This marks producing company Cause Célèbre’s L.A. premiere as well. A Q&A will follow with the cast, writer Susan Charlotte, director Antony Marsellis and Martin Garbus. Tickets for the staged reading of The People vs. Lenny Bruce are $45 and can be purchased by visiting Garry Marshall Theatre.

Matthew Arkin as Narrator-Martin Garbus
Michael Citriniti as Herbert S. Ruhe
Nicholas Guest as Richard Kuh, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney (July 21 at 6 only)
Larry Pressman as Richard Kuh, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney (July 22 at 2 & 7)
Scott Marshall as Forrest Johnson (Minister)
Martha Hackett as Dorothy Killgallen
Greg Mullavey as Jules Feiffer
and Alex Purcell as Lenny Bruce

Martin Garbus, who has been called one of the world’s finest trial lawyers, has represented: Lenny Bruce, Philip Roth, Samuel Beckett, Igor Stravinsky, John Cheever, Daniel Ellsberg, Al Pacino, and Susan Sontag, to name a few He also smuggled letters from Andrei Sakharov to Jimmy Carter.

In April 1964, Lenny Bruce appeared twice at the Cafe Au Go Go in Green.wich Village, with undercover police detectives in the audience. He was arrested along with club owners Howard and Elly Solomon, who were arrested for allowing an obscene performance. On both occasions, Bruce was arrested after leaving the stage. A three-judge panel presided over his widely publicized six-month trial, prosecuted by Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Richard Kuh, with Ephraim London and Martin Garbus as the defense attorneys. Bruce and Howard Solomon were found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964. The conviction was announced despite positive testimony and petitions of support from—among other artists, writers and educators—Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jules Feiffer, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin, and Manhattan journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans. Bruce was sentenced to four months in a workhouse; he was set free on bail during the appeals process and died before the appeal was decided. Solomon, the owner of the club where Lenny was arrested, later saw Bruce’s conviction overturned.

Garry Marshall Theatre is the perfect place for this reading as Garry himself was greatly influenced by Lenny Bruce and played the drums in the nightclub where Lenny worked. In a 1991 interview Garry had with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, he said: “A great influence on me was Lenny Bruce, who really, you couldn’t write for, but you could kind of pitch…his formula was very clear, which was pain plus time equals humor.”

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