Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, Just for Us, and Concerts at The Canyon Club

J. Alphonse Nicholson moves through time as Abel Green in Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green. (Photo credit: Jonathan Benavente)

By Shari Barrett

The Fountain Theatre is presenting the West Coast premiere of Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, a timely and timeless theatrical journey written by Howard L. Craft, directed by Joseph Megel, and starring Broadway’s Tony Award-winning J. Alphonse Nicholson who reprises his off-Broadway, tour-de-force star turn as five versions of an African American everyman who travels through time in different incarnations – a 19th Century minstrel, a faith healer, an FBI informant, a struggling actor, and an out-of-work mortgage broker living on the streets. In each life, Abel is guided, distracted, helped, or sometimes hindered by a handful of characters with whom his destiny is forever intertwined. 

We meet each new version of Abel Green as he travels on public transportation, which changes along with his appearance in accordance with each time period, with each new projected setting serving as a link between dimensions. But why does Abel’s soul keep returning through time? That’s the most powerful question I walked away with until I realized that when he reached 2010 and is living on the streets after giving up all of his material possessions that Abel is the most happy he’s ever been. And with all the troubles he has been through in his previous incarnations, perhaps the real theme of the play is that money is the root of all evil as it creates the most unhappiness for those constantly attempting to obtain it rather than living their lives to the fullest with those they love.  

Tall and handsome J. Alphonse Nicholson gives a tour-de-force performance as each of the five characters Abel inhabits, sharing the roadblocks faced by a black man trying to make a living by whatever means possible in successive time periods by going with the flow of the time, represented by the form of transportation he chooses to ride. From boxcar to streetcar, bus to push cart, I was mesmerized by how the technical expertise of the production team, including scenic designer Joel Daavid; lighting designer Alison Brummer, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett; video designer Eamonn Farrell; costume designer Danyele Thomas; and props designer Rebecca Carr, enhanced Nicholson’s magnificent storytelling and characterizations. 

Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green performances continue Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through December 16 (dark Friday, November 24). Tickets range from $25–$45; Pay–What–You–Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Patrons are invited to relax before and after the show at the Fountain’s upstairs indoor/outdoor café. For reservations and information, call (323) 663–1525 or go to

Alex Edelman’s Just For Us explores identity and empathy in the face of antisemitism. (Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Expertly crafted and performed by Alex Edelman, Just for Us is an exploration of identity and our collective capacity for empathy in the wake of a string of antisemitic rhetoric pointed in his direction online. To figure out who these invisible haters were, Alex decided to go straight to the source; specifically, Queens, where he was invited to and covertly attended a meeting of White Nationalists where he came face-to-face with the people behind the keyboards. What happened next forms the backbone of the shockingly relevant, utterly hilarious, and only moderately confrontational stories that comprise Just for Us, directed by Adam Brace who worked with Edelman to create the show after that fateful meeting in 2017.

Among the teachings of Alex’s strict Jewish upbringing was empathy for others. And even when sitting outnumbered in that racist, antisemitic gathering, he struggled to remain true to those values when those around him eventually judged him as unworthy to be in their presence once he admitted to being Jewish. That struggle provided Edelman with a mighty intellectual conundrum, resulting in a worthy and funny debate with himself about the nature of the human heart at the center of Just For Us, especially during situations which could have turned out very differently had his emotional reaction taken charge over his intellectual pondering. 

Alex’s energetic movements while arranging and talking to stools onstage that represented those attending the meeting, including a young woman he hopes is interested in him to a jigsaw-loving older woman, ignited the stage as he shared the time his family celebrated Christmas, much to his father’s dismay, in empathy for his mother’s friend who lost her husband and last sibling within months of each other. His father banning the Christmas tree to their cold garage in Boston proved to be an opportunity to learn about Santa Claus – one that got Alex in trouble at Hebrew school the next day! 

Throughout his 90-minute exploration of empathy in the face of opposition, Alex’s sense of humor and ability to create an everyman character with whom all of us could identify kept the audience laughing from start to finish about our universal human foibles. And perhaps after the laughter, audience members will look at their own penchant for judging others rather than walking a mile in their shoes and reacting with empathy, even at their perceived stupidity.

Tickets for Alex Edelman’s Just For Us are available through, Audience Services at (213) 972-4400 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Offices (at the Ahmanson Theatre) at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave. in Downtown L.A. 90012. Arriving directly from a highly successful Broadway engagement and following acclaimed runs in London, Edinburgh, Melbourne, Boston, and Washington, D.C., performances at the Mark Taper Forum continue Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. through November 26. 

Get ready to experience a 1960s Doors Tribute Concert and more at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills!

Are you ready to rock out 2023? Sterling Venue Ventures is bringing an exciting line-up of rock shows through the end of the year to the Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Dr. in Agoura Hills 91301. Doors open at 6 p.m. with headliners going on at 9 p.m. The line-up includes Wild Child: A Live Recreation of a 1960s Doors Concert on November 25; Fast Times: The Ultimate 80s Show on December 1; Bruce Springsteen Tribute by The Rising on December 2; The Musical Box: Selling England by the Pound on December 3; Berlin on December 9; Ambrosia on December 15; Queen Nation: The Ultimate Queen Tribute December 16; Always Tina: The Ultimate Tina Turner Tribute on December 22; The Boogie Knights on December 23; Led Zeppelin Tribute by Led Zepagain on December 29; Prince Tribute by Prince Again on December 30; and Journey Tribute by DSB on December 31 to rock in New Year’s Eve! 

I have attended several concerts presented by Sterling Venue Ventures and each one has been like stepping into a time machine, accompanied by others remembering the music of our younger days with great fondness. And though we may not be able to dance as sprightly as we once did, for a few hours it’s great to forget our current problems and step back into a time when all that really mattered was experiencing great music with our friends!

For reservations call (888) 645-5006 or send an email to For more information on show lineups, venues, and to purchase tickets for all Sterling Venue Ventures shows in Agoura Hills, Beverly Hills, Montclair, and Oxnard, visit the official website at Those under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult.