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–Steven Stanley
November 17, 2023

All hell breaks loose when a dating couple and two sets of parents get together for the first time in A Family Business, Matt Chait’s thoroughly entertaining follow-up to Bearings, which won the playwright a 2022-2023 Best Of The Year Scenie.

30ish Julio Gold (Eric Stanton Betts) may be the son of one of Hollywood’s richest and most power-wielding studio heads but it’s Juli’s (pronounced Hooly) own talents and entrepreneurship that have fueled the Gold Studio scion’s business success providing home-grown organic produce to some of L.A.’s classiest restaurants.

Rose Klein (Allie Brown), on the other hand, may come from relatively more modest roots (her dad is a retired business owner and her mom a therapist), but her fledgling catering business has already served up scrumptious homemade eats (like tonight’s bruschetta) for a number of Gold Studio events.

And though Seth and Harmony Klein (Bruce Nozick and Julie Pearl) have graciously opened their five-bedroom home to Max and Elena Gold (Lindsay Merrithew and Michelle Jasso), the first thing the bombastic Hollywood heavyweight does upon arriving is inquire about the square footage of the Kleins’ “very charming little house” (emphasis on “little”), implying that it could probably fit inside one tiny wing of his own megamansion.

Worse still, as far as Seth is concerned, Max refuses point blank to re-park the $300K McLaren 720S he has left dangerously far from the curb of the curvy road on which the Kleins live, because as far as Max is concerned, if anyone should happen to crash into it, it would be no shirt off the movie mogul’s back to replace it with even newer model.

And don’t get Max started on just how big a bigshot he is because as he so immodestly puts it, “I’m Max Gold and I’m fucking invincible!”

Can tonight’s dinner party be anything but a disaster? Can Julio and Rose possibly forge a future together, especially once Rose has revealed plans to let Max finance a “partnership” that will have her catering studio galas in her very own commissary. (As if Max Gold could ever be anything less than the man in charge.)

All of this adds up to a swiftly moving 90-minutes-in-real-time roller coaster ride of emotions, one whose first act ends quite literally with a bang.

On the slightly minus side, A Family Business does require a certain suspension of disbelief in asking us to buy into one particular character’s shall we say “change of heart,” but performances are so strong under Brian Shnipper’s more than capable direction and A Family Business reaches so satisfying a conclusion that this reviewer allowed himself to cast doubts aside and just go with it.

Merrithew’s egomaniacal, grandstanding Max may command every scene he’s in with the thundering braggadocio of a Louis B. Mayer or Jack Warner or Harry Cohn, but the always terrific Nozick’s increasingly frazzled Seth isn’t about to go down without a fight, not where his daughter (Brown, a radiant, gritty Rose) is concerned.

Jasso’s elegant, endlessly patient Elena and Pearl’s earthy, endlessly caring Harmony are equally fabulous, Betts’ warm-hearted hunk of a Julio reveals the musical theater triple-threat’s dramatic chops, and all four supporting players earn bonus points for their subtle, in-character reactions to Merrithew’s and Nozick’s men-behaving-badly shenanigans.

Last but not least, playwright Chait couldn’t have asked for a classier venue for A Family Business’s World Premiere than the Hudson Mainstage, or a classier design team than the one assembled here.

Stephen Gifford’s warmly burnished living room set, Dianne K. Graebner’s pitch-perfect costume choices, Matt Richter’s accomplished lighting, and Ross Chait’s reality-enhancing sound design (Juli’s cellphone ringtone actually comes from the phone itself!) are as good as it gets in L.A. intimate theater.

A Family Business is produced by playwright Chait and casting director Michael Donovan and presented by The Complex. Erin Treanor is associate producer. Dan Lovato is stage manager.

Amelia Brantley, Tim Martin Gleason, Victoria Hoffman, Daniel Lench, Deborah Ramaglia, and Ray Tezanos are understudies. Click here to read my review of their stellar performances.

Matt Chait’s ingenious, Twilight Zone-esque Bearings was one of last year’s best new plays, and his latest endeavor further reveals the veteran actor/producer-turned-playwright’s talents and versatility.

Not only that, but its mid-November arrival proves a particularly well-timed gift for playgoers in search of something other than yet another How The Grinch Stole A White Christmas Carol. And just how great is that!

The Hudson Mainstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Through December 31. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 Sundays at 3:00. No performances December 23-25.


–Steven Stanley

An all-around fabulous understudy cast has put their own unique stamps on characters created by Matt Chait in his crowd-pleaser of a dramedy, A Family Business, at the Hudson Mainstage.

Opening night introduced audiences to Chait’s colorful cast of characters—Hollywood mogul Max Gold, his tirelessly supportive wife Elena, retired shop owner Seth Klein, and Seth’s therapist wife Harmony, a foursome meeting tonight for the first time in a soiree-for-six organized by the Golds’ son Julio and the Kleins’ daughter Rose, 20somethings who’ve been dating long enough now that tonight’s dinner party at the Kleins’ could be postponed no longer.

It doesn’t take long, however, for Julio and Rose to wish they had waited another week, another month, another year, another eternity for their two sets of parents to meet.

It’s a set-up rife with disastrous possibilities, and one that had me so captivated on opening night that I jumped at the chance for a second visit, this time with an all-new cast.

And what an understudy cast Brian Shnipper has directed, beginning with 3-time Lead Actor In A Musical Scenie winner Tim Martin Gleason, whose good-guy appeal (think Alan Alda meets Tom Hanks) makes Max Gold’s megalomania come as rather a shock when it first emerges, but also makes us believe that this is a man capable of change, of redemption.

It’s a star turn that is one of the year’s best performances, and lucky for you, it is Gleason who has taken over the role for the remainder of the run.

Supporting performances are so absolutely spot-on, you’d think the alternate cast had had the same full-length rehearsal process afforded the main sextet, beginning with Deborah Ramaglia, who gives Elena an earthy quality and inner mettle that suits the role to a T.

One glance at the terrific Daniel Lench’s Seth and you can see the flower-power hippie he once was (and remains at heart to this day), and Victoria Hoffman’s Harmony lights up the stage with the kind of grown-up girl-next-door appeal that made Meg, Julia, and Sandra rom-com icons.

Breakout Performance In A Musical Scenie winner Ray Tezanos proves himself equally adept at dramatic, in-the-moment acting in a second breakout turn as Julio, and Amelia Brantley gives Rose a just-right combination of outer loveliness and inner strength.

All of this adds up to an understudy cast who deliver the goods, and then some, making this reviewer’s return visit every bit as memorable as A Family Business’s opening night.

If only last night’s second understudy cast performance hadn’t been their last. They are absolutely worth being granted a third go-round.

Note: Hoffman takes over the role of Harmony for the play’s closing weekend.

A Family Business Review – Food, Film, Family, and Fun
November 21, 2023 Elaine Mura Entertainment (Splash Magazine)

Spread the love. If you’re ready for a dramedy with prominent chuckles and scars hidden underneath, then A FAMILY BUSINESS is for you. Playwright Matt Chait has outdone himself as he examines food, the film industry, and two unique families. Matt Chait has spent the greater part of his misbegotten life in the theater and has excelled as an actor, an acting teacher, a playwright, and an entrepreneur who started The Complex and Theatre Row in Los Angeles. Now audiences have the opportunity to see the world premiere of his latest play, A FAMILY BUSINESS, at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Los Angeles.

To quote playwright Chait, “There are worlds within our visible world, way too subtle for us to see, and worlds beyond our visible world, way too large for us to even imagine. That’s what I try to impart in my plays; that there is something greater and more wondrous to us and to the whole human experience than the habitual ways in which we have defined ourselves and the people around us.”

Skilled director Brian Shnipper adds that “the dysfunctional family play has been around for, well, forever…we have had arguments due to people feeling unheard or misunderstood… struggled to understand why someone was upset…screamed and hugged…in the end, like all good families, we have come to understand each other and fight for what we believe in.”

And so we are introduced to the Kleins and the Golds. The Kleins are having a very special dinner tonight, one prepared with creativity and love by their daughter Rose (Alli Brown), a talented, budding chef, and her boyfriend Julio (Eric Stanton Betts). Rose’s mother Harmony (Julie Pearl), a spiritual psychologist, and her father Seth (Bruce Nozick), a forever flower child of the sixties, are hosting Julio’s parents, Max Gold (Lindsay Merrithew), the feared, tyrannical, and bombastic head of Gold Studios, and Elena (Michelle Jasso), Max’s beautiful and very clever wife. This is an opportunity for the parents – who might someday turn into in-laws – to meet and greet while wining and dining. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, quite a bit – all finely tuned by craftsman Chait.

Director Shnipper helms the show with care, compassion, and an eye to the humor inherent in good drama. He is ably assisted by an excellent cast, with special kudos for the two dads, Seth/Nozick and Max/Merrithew, who just can’t seem to get on the same wavelength. Stephen Gifford’s set design is cozy and looks appropriately lived-in, with Dianne Graebner’s costumes, Matt Richter’s lighting, Ross Chait’s sound, and Michelle Hanzelova’s graphic design adding a certain something to the goings-on. It was a pleasure to have a feel-good ending – although it might also be rather unrealistic, given the conflicted people involved. Of course, a “Part II” might alter that impression.

A FAMILY BUSINESS will definitely appeal to those of us with family dysfunction built into our genes (and isn’t that everyone?). It is also a fascinating study of what happens when two worlds that couldn’t be more different are forced to collide – and inevitably clash. This is a humorous and entertaining play – and it also has its thought-provoking moments.

A FAMILY BUSINESS runs through December 31, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (dark on 12/22, 12/23, and 12/24/23). The Hudson Mainstage Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, go online to

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