Thursday, December 18, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS for Thursday, December 18, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: Cabrillo Music Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim & George Firth’s Company Jan. 23 – Feb. 8 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, directed by Nick DeGruccio, with musical direction by Cassie Nickols. Through unique and innovative storytelling, George Firth’s script brings both comic and painfully honest insights into relationships – as contemporary now as when Company first took the Broadway stage in 1970. Stephen Sondheim’s score is filled with his finest work. Songs include “Side By Side,” “Another Hundred People,” “Not Getting Married Today,” “Being Alive,” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Company also marks a new chapter in Cabrillo’s history by taking a book musical into the Scherr Forum, next door to the larger Kavli Theatre. Alexander Jon stars as Robert, with Tracy Lore (Joanne), Michael Andrew Baker (Harry), Nick Tubbs (Paul), Shelley Regner (Amy), Elissa Wagner (Sarah), Paul Babb (Larry), Heather Dudenbostel, Chelsea Emma Franko, Aly French, James Padilla, Jane Papageorge, Elizabeth Smith, and Kevin Story. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment will present the Southern California regional premiere of Billy Elliot the Musical Jan. 16 – Feb. 8 (press opening on Saturday, Jan. 17), featuring music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, musical direction by John Glaudini, choreography by Dana Solimando and directed by Brian Kite. Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners' strike, the show is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy's journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and community, and changes his life forever.

The cast will feature  Noah Parets as Billy (National Tour, Billy Elliot), Vicki Lewis as Mrs. Wilkinson, Jake Kitchin as Michael (Broadway & National Tour, Billy Elliot), Jamie Torcellini as George, Marsha Waterbury as Grandma, Kim Huber as Billy’s Mum, Brandon Forrest as Adult Billy, Neil Dale as Mr. Braithwaite, Sammy Gayer as Debbie, and in the ensemble: Andrew Blake Ames, Brooke Besikoff, Emma Bradley, Michael Dotson, Jeremy Duvall, Zachary Hess, Olivia Knox, Emilie Lafontaine, Tyler Ledon, Julia Nicole Massey, Jenna McConnell, Bruce Merkle, McKenna Perez, Gary Lee Reed, Benni Ruby, Brian Steven Shaw, Hannah Jean Simmons, Ashley Kiele Thomas, Brooklyn Vizcarra, and Justin Wilcox. Tickets:  (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or

REDCAT presents the world premiere of Half Life, the newest work by Los Angeles multimedia ensemble Cloud Eye Control, Jan. 15 - 18, 2015. Cloud Eye Control was formed in 2006 by the Los Angeles based trio of animator and media artist Miwa Matreyek; composer, writer, and performer Anna Oxygen (Anna Huff); and theater director Chi-wang Yang, all known internationally for their stunning work individually and as a multimedia collective. A deeply expressive lamentation of fierce urgency, their latest multimedia production is an imagistic, visceral work inspired by the nervous fear felt in the wake the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It features Cloud Eye Control’s signature hybrid performance style that mixes projected animation, live performance, and a live soundtrack of original electronic music.

The story centers around two women who literally and figuratively live on opposite sides of the world. When an unknown cataclysmic force disrupts both of their lives, each is compelled to embark on a journey to locate its source. Cloud Eye Control transforms the stage into an imaginative landscape with several customized, moveable screens full of lush animations where live actors interact in the layered space to create imaginative and odd encounters between the virtual and the physical. The original score, sung by the performers with a live band, brings a rock concert dynamism to the moody and atmospheric world. Click Here for more information or call (213) 237-2800.

ComeTogether A BeatlesTribute - Trailer 2014
Devolver Digital Films is proud to announce the digital VOD release of The Beatles tribute documentary, Come Together Feb. 3, 2015. Directed by Steve Ison and John Scofield, Come Together features performances by ten of an estimated 8,000 international Beatles tribute bands keeping the legacy of The Fab Four alive around the world. Come Together was filmed primarily in and around Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles – including the world famous Cavern Club where they were discovered – during International Beatleweek, five decades after the band was formed in 1960. Julia Baird, the sister of John Lennon, narrated the film. In addition to entertaining viewers, Come Together demonstrates the impact of The Beatles on global culture. For more information, visit

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MUSICAL News for Wednesday December 17, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: REDCAT, Calarts’ Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, presents the newest Wooster Group work, Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation Jan. 21 – Feb. 1, 2015. Early Shaker Spirituals is a performance based on a 1976 LP of Shaker hymns, marches, anthems, and testimony recorded by Sister R. Mildred Barker and the sisters of the Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. It features live performances of all twenty tracks from side A of the album sung by Cynthia Hedstrom, Elizabeth LeCompte, Frances McDormand, and Suzzy Roche. The performers channel the voices of the Shaker singers to give a new live rendering of the songs. Complementing the songs are dances created by the Group, composed of simple patterns inspired by the surviving fragments of the ecstatic dance that characterized the Shakers’ worship services. For the dances, the singers are joined by Matthew Brown, Modesto Jimenez, Bobby McElver, Bebe Miller and Andrew Schneider. Jamie Poskin reads from the album liner notes. Tickets:  (213) 237-2800 or

The Broad Stage brings to life the magic of Old Hollywood with Jack Lemmon Returns, written and directed by Hershey Felder. Chris Lemmon channels his world-famous father in the heartfelt one-man show Jan. 7 - 25, 2015. The show is a loving tribute to a world-famous dad told with dignity, respect, and a musical storytelling style that features George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love is Here to Stay” and “’S Wonderful.” It is an immensely personal, and ultimately heartwarming story about Chris Lemmon’s Academy Award-winning father and their enduring relationship. Jack Lemmon Returns is performed in The Broad Stage’s black box theater, The Edye. 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401. Tickets: (310) 434-3200 or

Performances of A Celtic Holiday with Craic in the Stone continue through Dec. 23 at Chance Theater’s Bette Aitken theater arts Center. Struggling to find some much-needed cheer as she travels to California for Christmas, a young woman stumbles upon an ancient Celtic tale that brings spirit and a new outlook to her journey home. Rediscover rich Celtic musical traditions with this lively and unique hybrid of concert and musical theater in which the members of the band are your storytellers. With a wonderful blend of ethereal melodies, rousing pub songs, familiar spiritual tunes, and contemporary medleys, this new holiday tradition weaves story and song into an event like no other. Craic in the Stone band members include Jocelyn A. Brown, Aimee Gomez, David McCormick, Bill Strongin, Scott B. Well, Erika C. Miller and James McHale. Tickets: (714) 777-3033 For more about Craic in the Stone, visit

Laguna Playhouse will start the New Year right when Rita Rudner returns in Rita Rudner: Out with the Old, In with the Rita. Rudner’s sharp timing and soft-spoken voice have become her trademarks while delivering hilarious and witty observations on everyday life. Opening for Rita will be her singer-songwriter daughter Molly Bergman to make the evening this New Year’s celebration a family affair to remember. The show will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 7:00 pm at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.
CABARET: An Evening of Classic Broadway, December 29, Upstairs at Vitello’s. Doors open at 7:00. Performance at 8:00 pm. $15 cover + 2-item minimum. 4349 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604. Click Here for tickets. 
Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced that native Angeleno and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez will welcome the new year by coming home to make her Los Angeles solo concert debut in Love, All Ways. Directed by Eric Michael Gillett with musical direction by Brian J. Nash, there will be two shows: Tuesday, Jan. 27, and Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 at 8:30 pm at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. Doors open at 7:00 pm for cocktail and dinner service (single entrée or drink minimums apply). Admission is $25, and VIP seating ($40) is available. Purchases made before January 10 receive a $5 discount, and online purchases will receive priority seating. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: The Troubies' The Snow QUEEN - 80 Minutes of Rocker Heaven

Misty Cotton and company. Photos by Jill Mamey.

While the kids are busy getting their pictures taken with Santa at the mall and begging for overpriced toys they’ll forget the day after Christmas, adults know that the place they’ll get the most bang for their jingle bell bucks is at the Falcon Theatre. That’s where the latest Troubie show is roasting its comedy chestnuts in its own unique style while providing one of the wackiest soundtracks to the holiday season.

This year’s recipe for success includes, but is not limited to, the following:

1. A story that’s ripe for poking, typically one that everyone knows. This year it’s Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. (Buckle up your boots Gerda and Kai, you’ve never met an ice queen like this before.)

2. A dozen or so songs by a well-known musical artist or group, preferably rock or bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, done up with original lyrics to inflate the humor. In 2014, it’s the year of Freddie Mercury and QUEEN. ‘Nuff said. Well, except that the band members are also part of the story and make their acting debuts front and center. They’ve even got lines. And Eric Heinly’s band has the kind of Saturday Night Live sound with only four musicians - musical director Heinly on drums and percussion, Kevin McCourt on keyboards, Mike Abraham on guitar, and Dana Decker on bass - that shows this company means business.

3. A leader (Matt Walker) who boldly goes wherever he wants to and a fearless band of thespians who follow him out into the great comedy beyond and back again. In addition to the usual suspects (Beth Kennedy, Rick Batalla, Joseph Keane, and Lisa Valenzuela) who are on their game every minute, you’ll find first timers like a popular west coast musical theatre diva (Misty Cotton) and a celebrated commedia queen from America’s Got Talent (John Quale), both of whom make the house rock to the rafters. Disclaimer: no cast members were harmed in the making of this theatrical masterpiece...or audience members...although one unsuspecting woman did get her head stuck in a raven’s bill while trying to decide whether to help said raven with his wedgie.

4. Puppets! And who doesn’t love puppets. It’s like kittens, only better. (I know...random, right?) These are created by Matt Scott.

5. you’ve never seen it before. In Troubie hands, even the snow is a bit, and only one of the imaginative ideas that set designer Jeffrey McLaughlin, prop designer Corey Womack and lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick have created by mixing humor with practicality in their design elements. Without a doubt, the production team is as wacked as their onstage counterparts.

6. Clothes that make the man - or a little Danish girl and her lederhosen-clad brother; or a narrator on stilts in very long pants; or a crazy old woman with locks to rival any hair band member; or a two-headed pinhead chorus member a la American Horror Story: Freak Show; or a glittering drag queen in a three foot tall ice sculpture wig; or an adlibbing male raven in a skin tight black unitard...(think about that for a minute); or a robber girl whose buck teeth can’t detract from her youthfulness and good heart. All of them come from the happily silly and slightly warped mind of Sharon McGunigle who fits right in with the rest of the gang.

Put all the pieces through the creative wringer and you have a rock operetta-style comedy that will give you the best night of laughs you’ll have all year. I wouldn’t miss one their shows for anything and you shouldn’t either. The Snow QUEEN is outlandish fun and the one show that just might get you through the holidays with your sense of humor intact. GO!

Matt Walker as the Narrator

Beth Kennedy as Old Woman

L-R: Joseph Keane, Misty Cotton, Breanna Kelly, Jen DeMinco,
and Darrin Revitz

John Quale as the Snow Queen

L-R: Rick Batalla, Darrin Revitz, Jen DeMinco, and Breanna Kelly

Beth Kennedy and Lisa Valenzuela

Joseph Keane, Lisa Valenzuela and Misty Cotton

December 3, 2014 - January 18, 2015

Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505
Performances: Wed. – Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 4pm & 7pm
No shows Dec. 24 & 25, or Dec. 31 & Jan. 1
No 7pm show on Jan. 11 or Jan. 18
Added shows Dec. 27 at 4pm, Jan. 3 at 4pm 
Tickets: (818) 955-8101 or

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight - The Ultimate Holiday Treat

L-R: David Engel, Ben Giroux, Garrett Clayton, Olivia Holt, Lucy Lawless
and Patrick Cassidy. Photos by Philicia Endelman.

The faces couldn’t get any fresher and the energy couldn’t be any brighter in Lythgoe Family Productions and the Pasadena Playhouse’s latest Panto at the Playhouse, Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight. The show is Adorable with a capital A!, and packed with top-notch talent that includes a Disney pop princess (Olivia Holt), a teenage heartthrob (Garrett Clayton), a beautiful Amazonian villainess (Lucy Lawless), an American Idol belter (Tamyra Gray), a silver fox of a king (Patrick Cassidy), a pint-size television comic (Ben Giroux) and a multi-talented Broadway veteran (David Engel).

Add some surprisingly athletic young dancers and a storybook production design that conjures up a candy-colored fairytale kingdom in all its pop-up glory and you’ve got the kind of holiday production that will put tickets to Panto at the Playhouse on everyone’s Christmas wish list for years to come.

The Lythgoes have spared no expense in bringing their holiday version of the British panto to life for American audiences. Beautifully written by Kris Lythgoe, and directed by Bonnie Lythgoe to highlight the show’s delightful tongue-in-cheek humor, it sparkles with life while moving steadily to what can only be a happily-ever-after ending.

Like previous pantos A Snow White Christmas and Aladdin and His Winter Wish, there is a villain, in this case Lawless as the evil fairy Carabosse who placed a curse on Princess Aurora (Holt) at her birth that one day she would prick her finger on a spindle and die. Though she couldn’t undo the curse, the Good Fairy (Gray) was able to change the prophecy so instead of dying, the princess would fall into a sleep that would last for a hundred years. The only thing that would be able to break the curse would be a true love’s kiss.

Tamyra Gray and Lucy Lawless

Now, sixteen years later, the kingdom is about to celebrate Aurora’s birthday and her father, the King of Pasadena (Cassidy) is ready to announce her arranged marriage to the Prince of Alhambra (Clayton). Nanny Tickle (Engel) and Silly Billy, her personal bodyguard, have kept their young charge safe for many years but a misunderstanding causes Nanny to be dismissed from her duties and together they leave the kingdom.

While the final party preparations are taking place, Aurora slips away to sing to the animals in the forest, falls in love with a young stranger she doesn’t realize is really her Prince on his way to meet her, and Carabosse tricks the young man into delivering a spinning wheel to the palace for the party. When Aurora opens the gift, she does prick her finger and falls into a sleep; Carabosse steals the Prince so he cannot undo the curse; and the Good Fairy searches for Nanny Tickle and Billy to help them rescue the Prince and save the Princess. All will be made right by the end of the story and much good fun takes place along the way.

Happily, the show contains something for everyone. The adults get plenty of innuendo-filled humor that goes over the heads of the little ones while the kids are thoroughly engaged by magical effects, pop music, and audience interaction that includes them in the fun.

Spencer Liff’s smart choreography is performed by some pretty exceptional kid and adult dancers, and includes everything from hip hop to ballet to modern sequences. Their very first number had the audience screaming and everyone around me commenting how talented they were.

Engel and Giroux make a hilarious comedy duo as Nanny Tickle and pun-happy Silly Billy. The voice Engel uses for the buxom matriarch is a character all its own and hearing him sing Gretchen Wilson’s “Here For The Party” with three cowboy dancers in tow lets you know from the very beginning that this show is meant to be a comedy. Giroux is responsible for the bulk of the audience participation and is a pro at adlibbing when the opportunity for an in-the-moment joke appears. Plus, you just have to see him as superhero Turkey Boy.

And who knew Xena Warrior Princess could sing! Lawless wails on Debbie Harry’s “One Way or Another” like a true ‘80s punk rocker. Holt is a breath of fresh air as Aurora and Clayton’s Prince is as funny as he is charming. Musical director Michael Orland gets it absolutely right with each of his character-inspired song choices and has also created some especially dynamic arrangements. Holt’s “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors is a joy; his party version of PharrellHappy” turns to poignant underscoring as Nanny Tickle and Billy leave the castle; and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” makes the best dance party ever, which gives Cassidy a chance to show off Kevin Bacon’s movie footwork. By the time Clayton and Holt get to “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, they have completely enchanted the audience and more than earned their happy ending. Gray caps off the performance with a final Christmas showstopper, O Holy Night.

Like everyone else around us, we were laughing and shouting at the characters, fully involved in the interactive style of the panto in which the audience is encouraged to cheer the good guys and boo the villains. The fast-paced show is a lovely combination of humor and spectacle, sweet story and stunning choreography, all set to a musical playlist that makes it entirely fresh and modern. Its the kind of wholesome entertainment that has quickly made the Pasadena Playhouse the go-to destination for families during the holidays.

Olivia Holt and Garrett Clayton

Lucy Lawless

Tamyra Gray, Patrick Cassidy, Olivia Holt, Garrett Clayton, Ben Giroux,
David Engel and Lucy Lawless

Olivia Holt, Patrick Cassidy and Company

Garrett Clayton, Lucy Lawless and Company

December 10, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Tickets: (626) 356-7529 or
Performance schedule: Mon at 7:30 pm (Dec. 29 only); Tues – Fri at 7:30 pm; Sat at 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sun at 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm; Special matinees -- Wed, Dec 24 at 4:00 pm; Fri, Dec 26 at 4:00 pm; Tues, Dec 30 at 4:00 pm. (No performances Dec 31, Jan 1 & 2.)

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Deadline Announced for 2015 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop

Musical Theatre writers: The 2015 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop directed by Stephen Schwartz will be held in Los Angeles at DreamWorks Studios February 10, 11, and 13. All sessions begin at 7:00 pm sharp. Submissions must be received by Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Please submit the following (submissions will not be returned).

-- CD of four (4) songs with lyric sheets
-- A brief description of each song as to its plot placement
-- A brief synopsis of the musical...1 page or less
-- Biographical information for each composer, lyricist, & book writer. (Contact Information for each collaborator: address/phone-number/email)

Send your package to:
Michael A. Kerker 
c/o ASCAP 
7920 Sunset Blvd. Suite 300 
Los Angeles, CA 90046 
Attn: DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop

Please note: Submit 4 songs only. If you send us a full recording, we will only listen to the first 4 songs. Submissions do not need to be produced in a studio. We are looking for talent and potential, not production values. If your musical is selected, you will need to present 50 consecutive minutes from the musical at the workshop. The 50-minute selection must include book and songs. Those who have been accepted into the workshop will be contacted by Jan. 16, 2015.

THOSE WHO WILL BE INVITED TO AUDIT THE WORKSHOP WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL INVITATION. Please do not call to ask if you have been selected. Questions: call 323-883-1000.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Musical & Holiday Updates, Auditions, and What's Coming in 2015

MUSICAL NEWS: Coeurage Theatre Company has announced the addition of three benefit performances of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical on Dec. 18, 19 & 20 at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre in Silver Lake. These special performances will benefit Coeurage, its various programs and its community outreach. The show opened on Halloween night and has received rave reviews for its inspired zaniness and abundance of laughter. Tickets are on sale at or (323) 944-2165. The show is crazy fun and I highly recommend it. Tickets will sell out so get them now. All tickets are $25.

HOLIDAY CONCERTS: Upright Cabaret’s 9th annual A Broadway Christmas will take place Dec. 17 & 18 at 8:30 pm at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood, hosted by Bruce Vilanch, with musical direction by Gregory Nabors. Performers include Jill Marie Burke, Candice Clasby, Will Collyer, Laura Dickinson, Sheila Karls, Jacob Lusk, Matthew Ryan Pest, Jonah Platt, Amber Snead and Brandon Wardell. Tickets: or call (866) 468-3399.

Adding a final flourish to the holiday season, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by Artistic Director Grant Gershon, presents two concerts of Handel’s Messiah on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 pm, at Disney Hall. Featuring 40 members of the acclaimed chorus, orchestra and four gifted soloists from the Chorale’s ranks, the concert provides the opportunity to hear this riveting oratorio – rich with soaring high notes, powerful bass, majestic brass and lush orchestrations – performed by what many critics consider to be the best chorus in the country. Soloists include Christina Bristow, soprano; Niké St. Clair, mezzo soprano; Arnold Livingston Geis, tenor; and Chung Uk Lee, baritone. Tickets: (213) 972-7282, or visit

COMING IN 2015: Cyrano meets The Sopranos in the world premiere of Serrano The Musical, which comes to the Matrix Theatre in West Hollywood next month. Serrano features book & lyrics by Madeline Sunshine, music by Robert Tepper, musical direction by Jeff Rizzo, and choreography by Peggy Hickey. The show is directed by Joel Zwick. Previews begin Jan. 8, the show opens on Jan. 16, and will run through Sunday, March 29. Serrano D’Angelo (Timothy Martin Gleason) is a renaissance man - poet, connoisseur of arts…and the enforcer for the Reyo crime family. Don Reyo seeks Serrano’s help in educating his nephew Vinnie, a handsome but foul-mouthed young mobster. The goal: to take the “crude” out of Vinnie so he can seduce the beautiful and refined daughter of a judge who sits on a case involving “The Family.” If Vinnie succeeds, the judge would be compromised and have to recuse himself from the case; and the next judge in line is owned by the mob. Serrano accepts Don Reyo’s challenge only to discover that the judge’s daughter is the beautiful Rosanna, the woman with whom Serrano is secretly in love. The cast also includes Suzanne Petrela (Rosanna), Chad Doreck (Vinnie), Allen Hidalgo, Jay Winnick, Chad Borden, Tom McMahon, Craig McEldowney, Valerie Perri, Peter Van Norden, Matthew Henerson, and Kristina Miller. Tickets: or (323) 960-7774.

A staged reading of Sing Me Home by Amber Romina Cassell (book) and Kristy Hanson (music & lyrics) will take place on Jan. 26 at 8:00 pm (cocktails at 7 pm) at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Sometimes healing a broken heart means finding your voice in this contemporary new musical which features fourteen original songs in the pop-rock genre, with influences ranging from rhythm and blues to country. The cast includes Mandy Gonzalez Bud WeberKathryn Gallagher and Curt Mega. Music director and singer-songwriter Angela Parrish leads a five-piece band from the piano. The reading is complimentary, but please contact to request an invitation. 

Good People Theater Company will produce Maltby and Shire’s musical revue Closer Than Ever Feb. 21 – March 15, 2015 at Hollywood Piano’s gorgeous recital hall. Musical Director, Corey Hirsch, on a concert grand. Tickets will go on sale in January.

Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presents its second season at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center – Three Dog Night on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 8 pm; The Four Tops on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 pm; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday, March 27 at 8 pm; The Muppet Movie Sing-a-Long on Saturday, May 16 at 2 pm and Dick Fox Doo Wop Extravaganza on Saturday, June 6 at 7 pm. This four concert season, and the additional attraction The Muppet Movie Sing-A-Long, will raise funds to support arts in the schools and maintain this new, state-of-the-art facility. Tickets: The theatre is located at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007. For more information please call (626) 821-1781.

S.T.A.G.E.’s 31st Anniversary Spectacular To Broadway, From Hollywood…With Love to benefit Aids Project Los Angeles has been set for Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. S.T.A.G.E. is the longest-running annual benefit for AIDS worldwide. In its decades-long history, more than 300 stars of Broadway, film, and television have performed music from the Great White Way while raising millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS organizations in the Los Angeles area.  This year’s 31st Anniversary Spectacular will present music from Broadway shows that originated as Hollywood feature films, performed by an All Star Cast, directed by David Galligan with music director Brad Ellis.

AUDITIONS: Native Voices at the Autry is holding open call and equity auditions for its upcoming production of Off the Rails, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure by Randy Reinholz. Similar in structure but with re-imagined plot twists and a new setting in the American West, the play is Shakespeare meets Blazing Saddles. All characters will sing. Mariana and Caitlin must be legit singers. Prepare 16 bars a cappella and bring 2 copies of your headshot and resume. Mariana (Caucasian): 30-40 year-old, she is the jilted fiancée of Angelo, who she met in the Dakota territories where family died in the Indian wars. Five years later, now a dance hall girl, she still hopes the love of a good woman can save a bad man. She is part of the “bed trick so she will need to be somewhat similar to Isabel. You can find a complete breakdown of roles and information at Shakespeare in LA

Panic! Productions will hold auditions via video for the musical 13 by Jason Robert Brown. Male and female actors who can sing and dance and who can play age 13 are invited to audition. All roles are open. Performers are asked to submit their audition video no later than January 5and should contact to receive a copy of the audition requirements. Rehearsals begin February 10 and performances will take place April 10 - 19 at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks.

Kentwood Players will hold open auditions for Mame directed by Ben Lupejkis on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 from 11am-3pm and on Sunday, Jan. 11 from 6-10pm. Callbacks are Monday, Jan. 12 from 7-10pm. First cast read through will be on Wednesday, January 14 at 7pm. Auditions and performances take place at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. Performance dates are March 13 - April 18, 2015. Please visit for more information and a breakdown of roles.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SDSU Music Theatre Faculty Position Available

JOB OPENING: San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film has a terrific opportunity for the right person to join their Music Theatre Faculty as Assistant Professor, Directing, MFA Musical Theatre Program.
Position Description: The Master of Fine Arts Musical Theatre Program in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film is seeking a dynamic faculty member to teach performance as well as special topics in musical theatre. Primary duties will include:

-- team-teaching the graduate performance studio
-- teaching graduate seminars in a range of special topics
-- directing musical productions in the School’s theatre season
-- teaching or supervising courses in dance and/or acting
-- teaching a graduate seminar in musical theatre stage direction
-- teaching undergraduate performance classes

The candidate will mentor a small group of graduate students within a two-year terminal degree program. The successful candidate will demonstrate significant teaching and directing experience and be willing and able to provide service to the university and professional community. A record of administrative leadership is preferred and advanced knowledge in relevant digital technologies is a plus. Appointment begins Fall 2015.

Qualifications: Terminal degree (PhD or MFA) preferred; MA with substantial professional and teaching experience considered. All candidates must have significant professional experience as a musical theatre director as well as a record of university-level teaching. The candidate should be a musical theatre practitioner with areas of specialization in direction, choreography/ movement, or acting. Applicants must demonstrate administrative abilities and experience in development of a robust MFA program. Applicants should be able to demonstrate experience in and/or commitment to working in a multicultural environment with students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles.

Rank and Salary: Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track; salary commensurate with credentials and experience.

Application Procedure: Applicants should apply via Interfolio at To ensure full consideration, apply by January 16, 2015. Review of applications will begin January 20, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. SDSU is a Title IX, equal opportunity employer.

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An Inside Look at ABC's Irreverent New Musical Comedy Series GALAVANT

L-R: Mallory Jansen, Karen David, Joshua Sasse, Vinnie Jones, 
Timothy Omundson, and Luke Youngblood. Photo credit: ABC/Rick Rowell

ABC premiered the pilot episode of its new medieval musical comedy television show, GALAVANT, at a star-studded event at the Sayers Club last night in Hollywood. The series, from executive producer & screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Tangled, Cars, and Crazy, Stupid, Love), features music by Disney heavy hitters Alan Menken (music) & Glenn Slater (lyrics) and will debut on January 4, 2015 at 8/7c.

Fogelman hosted the evening - along with Menken and Slater - which included a screening of the pilot and live musical performances by the cast. The idea for the "crazy, bonkers show" came while he was writing Tangled, said Fogelman, and that started the search for how a mainstream musical on television might sound.

Menken talked about how his inspiration for a musical begins. "Every show I've written has had a stylistic hook," he said. "For The Little Mermaid it was calypso, and for Little Shop of Horrors it was '60s rock and roll, but GALAVANT," he laughed, is "the kitchen sink. We've taken traditional musical theatre and adventure tropes and turned them on their heads."

That means a beautiful love song between a typical pair of lovers becomes a hilarious love duet between two warring couples who don't like each other (with some completely unexpected and cheeky lyrics) in this irreverent world. Another love song, reenvisioned as a "diva cabaret number," is sung by the disagreeable Princess Madalena to herself, harmonizing with multiples of her own image reflected in ten mirrors.

Even the guest stars sing, like Ricky Gervais (Xanax, the Wizard) whose song turns into a kind of mini-rock opera acid dream in the style of The Beatles and The Who, and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville, who appears as a singing pirate, Peter the Pillager. Again, these are not your typical pirates. Instead of a sea chanty, Bonneville and his men sing a "land chanty" and dance a Broadway jig for these pirates never set foot on a ship but plunder on solid ground.

Weird Al Yankovic, who plays a monk on the show, made a surprise appearance at the premiere singing live with his five monk-sters lending back-up vocals. Their mashup of Gregorian chant and modern day funk was another twist on the expected and a terrific way to represent the show's desire to reach out to a contemporary audience.

Other guest stars throughout the season will include Broadway's Faith Prince, John Stamos (Full House) as a rival knight, Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) as King Richard's older brother, Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy and the Vampire Slayer, Merlin), and Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy on Downton Abbey. Each will be featured as a unique character with his or her own musical style.

The writers wanted to create a big, epic sound for the opening number that would get everyone excited about the show and their inspiration came when Ben Presley from Falkirk, Scotland, walked in to audition for the role of the court jester. The charming, 6'5" actor's accent was so thick they couldn't understand a word he said but they loved him so much that they asked him to do it with a big posh English accent. He nailed it and that's how the opening number to GALAVANT was born.

The cast also stars handsome Joshua Sasse as the dashing hero Galavant; Mallory Jansen as his fickle love Madalena; Timothy Omundson as the wacky evil King Richard who steals her away; Karen David as Isabella, the Princess with a secret; Luke Youngblood as Galavant's squire, Sid; and my personal favorite, Vinnie Jones as Gareth, who Fogelman says is the "comic relief and carries the guts and soul of the show."

GALAVANT was directed by Chris Koch with musical direction by Michael Kosarin. The comedy extravaganza will premiere on ABC January 4, 2015 at 8/7c as the mid-season fill-in for ABC's Once Upon a Time.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Striking 12 Strikes a Chord at Laguna Playhouse

Marisa Duchowny and Brent Schindele. Photos by Ed Krieger

Generally people fall into one of two categories when it comes to the holidays; those who love every moment of the glittering merriment and those who would rather it all end as quickly as possible. In Striking 12, the holiday concert-musical from GrooveLily’s Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn, and musical theatre writer, Rachel Sheinkin, both are represented in a hybrid production that mixes GrooveLily’s category-defying music with a non-traditional New Year’s Eve story to create an experience that lands somewhere in between genres.

Directed with sweet simplicity by Janet Roston, it features a quartet of actor/singer/musicians: musical director Brent Schindele on keyboards, Marisa Duchowny on guitar, Matt Wolpe on drums, and Amberly Rosen on a Viper electric violin. The 90-minute self-professed “non-spectacular non-extravaganza” contains more than thirty songs in a variety of styles, from folk to pop to rockabilly to jazz. Schindele and Duchowny carry the bulk of the narrative while Wolpe adds comic relief with a series of hilariously eccentric characters and fresh-faced Rosen dazzles on the violin.

It’s inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl and follows Schindele as an unlucky in love modern-day urbanite who shuns the end of the year festivities, opting instead to spend the night sulking at home. But when a quirky young woman selling LED light bulbs knocks on his door the evening quickly takes an unexpected turn. The result is a heartwarming tale that highlights the power of hope and the beauty of transformation.  

Striking 12 was Vigoda and Milburn’s first crossover into musical theatre writing and an experiment that has since led to shows such as Disney’s Toy Story the Musical and Sleeping Beauty Wakes (presented in LA by Deaf West Theatre at the Kirk Douglas Theatre). The format – more a staged storytelling concert than traditional musical – alternates between contemporary New York and 19th century Denmark as a story within a story emerges. There are times the airy structure feels somewhat disjointed, but it still communicates the deeper undertones of the show’s message and its charming score easily compensates for any idiosynchracies.

Roston’s direction of Duchowny as the fairy tale version of the little match girl is especially touching. Duchownys gentle innocence makes Snow Song (Its Coming Down) and Wonderful quite wonderful, and Schindele shines on “Green & Red (& Im Feeling Blue)” and “It’s Not Alright,” songs that reveal his inner angst. Wolpe is a natural comedian in every sense of the word. From his showstopping comedy number, “Screwed Up People Make Great Art,” to his insistence that the group should be doing The Little Drummer Boy, (and what a payoff that has), every character is terrific.

Striking 12 is a holiday love letter that will bring you back to yourself. It’s the kind of musical experience that will warm your heart and remind you what is truly important in life. What better time than the turn of the calendar to remember.

Marisa Duchowny and Brent Schindele

Matt Wolpe, Marisa Duchowny, Amberly Rosen, and Brent Schindele

Marisa Duchowny and Amberly Rosen

December 3 – 28, 2014
Laguna Playhouse
606 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 
Tickets: (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or

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