All good franchises must come to an end one day, and so the Los Angeles production of The Vagina Monologues plays its final performance Dec. 2. The West Coast mounting began on Oct. 13, 2000, at the Canon Theatre.
The Off-Broadway mounting which started it all continues at the Westside Theatre in Manhattan.
Ringing out the L.A. staging are Lisa Nicole Carson (of "Ally McBeal"), Elisa Donovan, and Bijou Phillips (daughter of rocker Papa John Phillips, occasional film actress, sometime model and full-time fodder for gossip columnists). The show features a different trio of females every few weeks; the first L.A. triumvirate was comprised of Rosie Perez, Julie Kavner and Julianna Margulies, all of whom have appeared in the Off Broadway version of the play.
The Vagina Monologues began its Gotham engagement with author actress Ensler handling all the acting duties. Vagina reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The piece was born when playwright Ensler realized that her work, mostly about women, was missing a physiological connection. Ensler told PBOL,"I couldn't be thinking about [liberating women] without thinking about vaginas. I wanted to know about what women were feeling about their vaginas. As I talked to women, I was so awed and amazed by what people were telling me that I began to think, 'there's a [theatre] piece here.'"
Ensler stayed with the show until early 2000, after which the actress tag teams took over. The initial trio — featuring Kavner, Kurtz and Audra McDonald — began on Feb. 8. After a while, the booking period grew from a two-week to a three-week to finally a six-week stay. The Canon Theater is on Canon just north of Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Call the box office at (310) 859-2830 for tickets. —By Robert Simonson