Friday, December 21, 2018

Photo Flash: Lythgoe Family Panto's THE WONDERFUL WINTER OF OZ

Phil LaMarr (Tin Woodman), Mackenzie Ziegler(Doroth), Juan Pablo
Di Pace (Lion) and Jared Gertner (Scarecrow)

Catch the world premiere of Lythgoe Family Panto’s The Wonderful Winter of Oz now through December 30th at Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Bring the whole family and enjoy a fun-filled modern twist on the story of Dorothy Gale, who finds herself swept away by a freak Kansas blizzard (instead of a tornado) and winds up in the land of Oz where Kermit the Frog is the wizard with all the answers. Tickets: www.thepasadenacivic.com Photos by Philicia Endelman.

Kermit The Frog as The Wizard of Oz

Marissa Jaret Winokur (Glinda), Mackenzie Ziegler (Dorothy) and
The Youth Talents of Los Angeles as The Munchkins

Juan Pablo Di Pace (Lion), Jared Gertner (Scarecrow) and Phil LaMarr (Tin Woodman)

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer as The Wicked Witch of The West

Pickle C. Irwin as Toto and Mackenzie Ziegler as Dorothy

Marissa Jaret Winokur as Glinda and Kermit The Frog as The Wizard

Phil LaMarr (Tin Woodman), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Lion) and Jared Gertner (Scarecrow)

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: Troubies to the Rescue in THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTANA CLAUS

The cast of The Year Without a Santana Claus. All photos by Ed Krieger

What would Christmas in LA be without the Troubies? A lot less funny.

Happily, artistic director, writer, and head jokester Matt “Mashup” Walker and his coterie of clowns aren’t about to let anyone down. Not only are they back with their seventeenth annual holiday show, they’re proving just how smart they really are when it comes to delivering a performance that has its finger on the pulse of what’s happening now.

That being the case, it’s the women who save the day in this year’s holiday extravaganza, The Year Without a Santana Claus, specifically a spicy Mrs. Claus (Giana Bommarito) and a sexy Mother Nature (Cloie Wyatt Taylor). Typically content to remain in the background, these two partner up to save Christmas in a modern day twist on the 1974 Rankin & Bass stop-motion television special, adapted by Walker and fleshed out by the improv talents of the jovial ensemble. It’s a 2018 update that is so clever it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before.

The whole inclusive nature of the show also makes it a perfect Christmas story for the many flavors of our multicultural city. Throw in some circus-style enhancements, great choreography, and a few magic tricks, and it’s Christmas Troubie style, the most pun-derful time of the year.

Rick Batalla on guitar

The show stars a waggish bare-chested bilingual Santa Claus (Rick Batalla) playing Santana’s greatest hits on his electric guitar and bemoaning the world’s lack of Christmas spirit. In a Troubie show, individual talents always come into play and the reveal that Batalla is actually good on that red Stratocaster is this year’s jewel in the crown. That the house band sounds like they’re ready to go on the road is no surprise either. The musicians showcased in every Troubie production, and the (uncredited) arrangements they play, give these kooky parodies actual street cred. For this show it is Ryan Whyman on keyboards, Matt Hornbeck on guitar, Blake Estrada on bass, and Nick Stone on percussion who elevate the proceedings into classic Latin rock territory on nearly a dozen Santana favorites.

Retooled songs like “Oye Como Va” which opens the show and makes a splashy, colorful introduction; Mother Nature’s bluesy “Black Magic Woman”; and “No One to Depend On” sung by a disgruntled little girl named Judy (Chelle Denton) who feels Santa has abandoned her, are creatively worked into the characters’ storylines.

Dueling brothers Snow Miser (Beth Kennedy, when she’s not playing a googly-eyed elf named Jingles) and a petulant Heat Miser (one of many terrific offbeat characters Walker plays) each have their own full-on production number. Of course Snowy gets the Santana/Rob Thomas megahit “Smooth” as Kennedy brings back yet another winter figure to portray the role in a long-running annual gag regulars will love.

It takes a fair amount of artistic license to get the job done and that is exactly what the audience is looking for. “Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh!” like the song says. This latest holiday confection does that and more. It’s safe to say, if you don’t have a good time it’s yer own dang fault.

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTANA CLAUS
December 8-30, 2018
Troubadour Theater Company at
The El Portal Theatre
11206 Weddington Street
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets: (818) 508-4200 or www.elportaltheatre.com

Jess Coffman and Luis "L.T." Martinez as Dancer and Prancer
with Rick Batalla and Giana Bommarito

Beth Kennedy and Matt Walker

Rick Batalla and goofiest bunch of elves you've ever seen

Beth Kennedy, Rick Batalla, Ginan Bommarito and Matt Walker

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Review: Love is Everywhere in LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE at The Wallis


The countdown to Christmas begins and ends with an all-out love blitz this year in For the Record’s latest world premiere, Love Actually Live a hybrid entertainment that blends scenes from Richard Curtis’ 2003 film Love Actually with live performances of the movie’s soundtrack. Co-produced by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, it is a celebration of love in all its messy, complicated, wonderful glory in a Las Vegas-style vision designed to impress.

Multiple screens are incorporated into an enormous breakaway set (scenic design by Matt Steinbrenner, lighting by Michael Berger, video design by Aaron Rhyne) that opens up in a number of exciting ways to create the many interiors and exteriors, intimate moments, large production numbers, and quirky configurations needed for the performance. An exceptional 15-piece orchestra frames the stage with most of its members positioned on a raised landing on either side of a twinkling Christmas tree. Strings, and conductor Jesse Vargas (who is also responsible for the musical supervision and terrific arrangements and orchestrations), are located downstage in their own box. The effect is overwhelmingly beautiful.


Add 17 singers whose American Idol-ized vocals drew catcalls and much applause on opening night and the result is a fusion of elements that embodies what For the Record does best - create uncommon theatrical entertainment that begins and ends with a film and its music.

This is a continuously moving performance, which doesn’t often stop for a breath, as film sequences cut to snippets of live singing, or overlap in a layered set of simultaneous scenes and songs. The downside is a tendency for ensemble singers to overdo their facial expressions and push their vocals in a desire to make the most out of their short stage time.

On the plus side, you get an Aurelia (Olivia Kuper Harris) whose smoky, indie sound is a luscious surprise as Jamie’s (Steve Kazee) Portuguese housekeeper, and a jazzy “White Christmas” sung by B. Slade (Peter) that will take your breath away. Rumer Willis disappears into her dual roles of Peter’s fiancée Juliet (played by Keira Knightly in the film) and office vixen Mia with chameleon-like skill (and an assist from two great wigs by Cassie Russek). Zak Resnick will break your heart as Daniel (Liam Neeson’s role), the stepdad navigating fatherhood on his own. Carrie Manolakos power belts her way to the end of Act I on Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble With Love Is” leaving the audience on a blistering high.

Rex Smith and backup girls

But the character who wraps the audience around his little finger every time he steps on stage is lovable Rex Smith as aging rock star, Billy Mack (played by Bill Nighy in the film). Smith pulls out all his star power and comic gusto for a show stopping opening number and final scene you’ll be talking about all the way out to the parking lot.All of the characters are represented - yes, even the porn couple - so if you’ve only watched the film on cable recently rest assured they don’t get edited out here.

Director Anderson Davis has an elegant solution for their scenes which makes the production appropriate for ages 13 and over but note that there is still brief nudity on screen. Davis also incorporates some of the film’s most charming surprises into his direction and the results live are equally as lovely on stage. Even if you know they’re coming, in the moment they will delight you.

As entertainment goes, For the Record’s Love Actually Live is a dazzling spectacle of celluloid and sound, music and magic, brightly packaged for the romantic in us all and best shared with someone you love.

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE
December 4 – 31, 2018
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tickets: www.thewallis.org


Photos above by Lawrence K. Ho
Photos below by Kevin Parry

Rumer Willis

B. Slade

Steve Kazee

Sean Yves Lessard and Carrie Manolakos

Love Actually Live

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Review: COME FROM AWAY and Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

The Company of Come From Away. All photos by Matthew Murphy

My one big recommendation this holiday season is an easy one – go see Come From Away at the Ahmanson. That’s it. The world’s a tough place right now and this musical will restore your faith in humanity in every way possible. Best of all, it doesn’t do it with glitz and tricks and over-the-top extravaganza. It does it by telling a story of simple people with good hearts whose kindness during a horrific disaster serves as an inspiration for us all.

When 38 planes were rerouted to Gander, Newfoundland following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, this small town cared for the thousands of frightened and confused “plane people” as if they were members of their own family. The world had never seen such selflessness but, in their minds, the citizens of Gander were just doing the right thing. It’s a lesson we desperately need to be reminded of this Christmas as we look around and find ourselves in the midst of a country burdened by divisive rhetoric and inhumane actions.

Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein capture the spirit of the pragmatic, cheerful townsfolk in both story and score, the former narrated by characters speaking directly to the audience and also recreating the various quick-cut scenes, the latter a jovial blend of folk, Celtic, and upbeat rock themes with straightforward lyrics. Thankfully, there isn’t a pretentious bone in this musical’s body.

The cast of Come From Away

It unfolds on a simple but beautiful set, designed by Beowulf Boritt and lit by Howell Binkley, that functions as a scrolling canvas against which scenes play out like a collage come to life. The driving forward motion of the show succeeds in adding urgency without turning melodramatic. And, at its center is a big, old beating heart that encompasses everyone within its reach.

Christopher Ashley won a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for his work on Come From Away and watching how he weaves together all of the elements so intelligently, and with such sensitivity, is worth the price of admission alone, but it doesn’t stop there. The acting company offers one of the finest examples of ensemble integration in a musical, with each of them an essential part of the show. Most play multiples roles, swapping characters and accents with detailed precision.

Each of their stories lands its own blow to that swelling heart, from Becky Gulsvig (Beverly), singing about the incredible feeling being “the first female American captain in history” to James Earl Jones II (Bob), who is sent to take barbeque grills from all of the locals’ backyards convinced he is going to get shot, to Nick Duckart, the Muslim chef humiliated beyond belief in the interest of security.

Becky Gulsvig and the cast of Come From Away

Two mothers (Julie Johnson-Beulah and Danielle K. Thomas-Hannah) find solace in their shared understanding of what it is to have a firefighter son, while two other passengers (Christine Toy Johnson-Diane and Chamblee Ferguson-Nick) unexpectedly find romance. Mayor Claude (Kevin Carolan) and Garth (Andrew Samonsky), head of the bus drivers’ union, clash over local differences but are quick to set them aside to assist their “come from aways” (what islanders call anyone not from their town) during the emergency. Even the animals find a champion in Bonnie (Megan McGinnis), a resolute young woman who isn’t about to let anyone stop her from caring for their needs as well.

The generosity of these kind and quirky characters, and all of the others brought to life in Come From Away, give hope that there are good people in the world who know what it is to be a decent human being. Kindness takes courage and, in a time of adversity, the islanders of Gander, Newfoundland showed the world a shining example of what is best in us all. As we continue to celebrate the holidays, with their messages of peace on earth and goodwill to all, may we not forget how much it is still needed now.

COME FROM AWAY
November 28, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Ahmanson Theatre
601 W Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org

Center: Christine Toy Johnson (Diane), James Earl Jones II (Bob)
and Harter Clingman (Oz) with the cast of Come From Away 

Nick Duckart and Andrew Samonsky as Kevn and Kevin (foreground),
Kevin Carolyn as Mayor Claude (center) and the cast of Come From Away

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Photo Flash: EMMA The Musical at Chance Theater

Mandy Foster stars as Emma. All photos by Benjamin Busch.

Jane Austen’s enduring love story comes to life in this enchanting musical comedy. Emma, a well-meaning, but disaster-prone matchmaker who ignores her own romantic feelings sets out to find a suitor for her friend Harriet. Her efforts lead to comic complications but, in the end, all adds up to happy romance. It’s just the thing to make you feel good this holiday season and perfect for the entire family, ages 4 and up. Now through December 23rd at Chance Theater. Tickets: www.chancetheater.com

Mandy Foster as Emma and Jeff Lowe as Mr. Knightley

Zoya Martin and Kristofer Buxton as Harriet Smith and Robert Martin

Megan McCarthy as Jane Fairfax, Gavin Cole as Frank Churchill,
and Kristofer Buxton as Robert Martin

Mandy Foster as Emma and Coleton Ray as Mr. Elton

Glenn Koppel as Mr. Woodhouse and Jeff Lowe as Mr. Knightley

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Interview: Julie Makerov and the Fine Art of Balancing Music and Life

Julie Makerov. Photo by Shawn Flint Blair

How does a busy soprano balance career, family, motherhood, and art? If that soprano is Julie Makerov, it’s all about scheduling and planning ahead of time. Makerov, who will be appearing as one of four soloists with LA’s Verdi Chorus this weekend at First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, says that’s the key to managing all of her commitments.

In a nutshell, “It’s about not saying yes to too much. I recently started my first year teaching two classes at Orange County School of the Arts. I also have seven private voice students and I’m on the board of directors at OperaWorks. It is a juggle but it’s worth it.”

With an impressive international career to her credit, Makerov admits she loves to travel but says the current phase of her personal and professional evolution means she is entering a period of less time on the road and more time spent closer to home. “I slowly decided that’s what I wanted. I have my hands in a lot of things but I wanted to make sure that my family life was taking priority. That’s hard for me to do when I’m traveling a lot. Plus, I felt really strongly that this was the next phase of my artistry; to take what I’ve learned and help other people.”

Which brings it back to her students. Makerov is often asked how she takes care of her voice and her advice is the same as that which she observes herself. At the top of the list are the big three: “I make sure that I’m hydrated systemically, so lots of water, good nutrition, and lots of sleep. You have to get a lot of sleep and that’s very difficult to do when you’re trying to balance being a busy mom, a busy teacher, and having a busy life with taking care of the instrument enough to perform well. I remind my students to use their air when they speak and cultivate those really good habits throughout the day so that when they go to sing the voice is there for them already.”

As for who helps her get dinner on the table, a forthright Makerov laughs and says, “It’s called a crockpot! Ask me who does the laundry too – I do.”

Julie Makerov as Rusalka with the Canadian Opera Company.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Over the course of her lengthy career, Makerov has played a wide range of characters. On the upcoming program with Verdi Chorus, she will be portraying a queen, a courtesan, a simple girl who poisons her mother and drowns her child, and a woman who leaves home rather than marry a man she doesn’t love and eventually throws herself off a cliff. Dramatic? Yes. It’s the stuff opera is made of. And, although she has not lived the same experiences as these particular characters, Makerov says creating them is all about making an emotional connection. It’s a thoughtful approach, one she says is required of every singer.


“None of the characters I’ve played have much to do with my day to day life. I can, however, draw upon their emotion. For example, I’ve sung Butterfly [from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly] several times and, at the time, I was in my late twenties/early thirties, Caucasian, and 5’9” – not necessarily what one would think of as Butterfly, right?

Two things: first of all, the music does an incredible amount of the work for you. So, if you sit back and let the composer do what he intended to do, that takes a lot of the weight off of you. The second thing is that if a singer goes through and ingests the words, if you really digest what you’re singing and find a way to relate to it personally, it is very possible to connect with the emotions rather than the specific story.

Take the scene in which Butterfly is waiting for Pinkerton to come back. She’s holding a picture with two hands and she says, ‘He with heart swollen/to hide from me the suffering/smiling he answered/tiny little wife/I’ll return with the roses in the season serene/I’ll make the nest says the robin/he’ll return/he’ll return/say it with me/he’ll return.’

Now, does that have anything to do with my life? No. Can one relate with a girl standing there waiting for somebody to return to her who she has basically given everything for and is convincing herself, and everybody around her, that he’s going to come back and love her? Yes. That’s very easily relatable, but the singer has to delve into the music and the words. When they do, it doesn’t take long before a person begins to feel for these characters.

Our job is to take the audience on an emotional journey, and if we are not specific about guiding the audience through that journey they won’t be guided. If we’re not thinking about what we’re saying, if we’re not familiar with it, we can’t actually move our audience at all. Any career takes discipline. We all have deadlines. We all have things we have to do. We have to discipline ourselves for that. But, beyond that, very specifically, in our business our job is to move an audience.”

Julie Makerov as Tosca with Brandon Jovanovich (Cavaradossi) in the
Canadian Opera Company production of Tosca. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

So, can she tell in performance when that happens? “A hundred per cent. Because the energy of the collective audience shifts. You know when they get it, when they are invested in what you’re saying, and, when they’re not, a hundred per cent of the time it’s because the singer is not thinking about where they are, what they’re doing, who the character is, what the show is. They’re not in it. They’re thinking about their voice and themselves.”

All of the pieces she will be singing this weekend on the program for Verdi Chorus’ Passione! Opera! Concert are ones she loves but she has a special affection for two of the arias. “L’altra note in fondo al mare [from Mefistofele] was one of the pieces I sang that got me to the top ten in the Met competition in 2003, so it’s dear to me and I love it. And I sang Ebben? Ne andrò lontana [from La Wally] in a production in Frankfurt and it is just beautiful.”

Rest assured, there will be no shortage of gorgeous music on November 10 & 11th as Makerov and her fellow artists join Anne Marie Ketchum and the Verdi Chorus for an evening of red hot passion, the kind only opera can do best.

For a look at the rest of the program, tickets, and more information, visit www.verdichorus.org. Parking is free and a reception follows each concert where you can meet the artists.


THE VERDI CHORUS: Passione! Opera!
November 10 (7:30 pm) and November 11 (2:00 pm)
First United Methodist Church
1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Tickets: $10 - $40 (800) 838-3006 or www.verdichorus.org
Founding Artistic Director: Anne Marie Ketchum
Guest soloists: Julie Makerov, Janelle DeStefano, Todd Wilander, and Gabriel Manro
Accompanist: Laraine Ann Madden

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review: The Woman Who Went To Space as a Man, a Baffling Space Odyssey

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, James Ferrero, Emma Zakes Green, Betsy Moore,
Megan Rippey  and Ashley Steed. All photos by Mauricio Gomez.

Maureen Huskey’s new one act play with music The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man takes place wholly in the moment before death. Conceived as a 90 minute suspension of time in which Alice B. Sheldon (Betsy Moore) watches her life pass before her eyes, it blends music, movement, sound, and text to create as enigmatic a piece as the life of its central character. Thats not necessarily a good thing.

Sheldon was a woman who never felt comfortable in her own skin. Under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr., she would become known as a pioneering science fiction writer whose stories delved into the dark reaches of the human soul. Gender discrimination, violence against women, and issues like genocide and racism would inform her works, fueled by her own experiences in the suffocating social constructs of a male-dominated world.

Born in 1915, she was 6 when her parents first took her on safari to Africa, a troubling expedition that confirmed she had no power to express herself or make sense of the questions she had about the world. During her teen years she began to explore her previously repressed attraction to women but, at 19, Sheldon eloped and spent the next several years in an abusive marriage that would eventually end in divorce.

In 1942, she joined the Army as a WAAC and later the CIA, where she met and married a man ten years her senior, Huntingdon Sheldon (Alex Wells). “Ting” as she called him, was aware of her sexual orientation and although the two did not share a romantic relationship, they were comfortable and relatively happy together. He encouraged her to write and, at the age of 50, with the protective barrier of a male pseudonym, she found the personal and creative outlet she’d always longed for.

L-R: Ashley Steed, Paula Rebelo and Betsy Moore

Huskey’s examination of the woman whose inner demons eventually got the better of her is a worthy one and imagining it as a departure from one of Tiptree’s sci-fi stories is an interesting way of presenting it. But the play meanders through Sheldon’s life as memories enacted by younger versions of herself (Isabella Ramacciotti at 6, Paula Rebello at 19) while a bewildered Moore looks on. It isn’t possible to discern if the purpose is for clarity, understanding, or simply to review a life that never let her forget she didn’t fit in. And with an ambitious array of performance disciplines employed to tell the story, which unfortunately often stretch beyond the wheelhouse of its ensemble, it loses its impact amid all the confusion.

The musical background is by world music artist Yuval Ron and is more of a soundscape than a song score. There are songs but all are forgettable within the larger context of the play, instead folding into the kind of generalized cosmic sound you’d expect to hear in a sci-fi film. The overall effect is artsy but ultimately does little to emotionally engage the audience.

Set designer Eli Smith conjures foggy images of the galaxy and Sheldon’s time machine/space ship with a minimal number of elements. A complicated series of cords is used for characters to step in and out of time periods and create visual interest in the small space. The optics work well within this abstract theatrical world Huskey has created, along with Rose Malones amorphous lighting. As the story starts to short circuit around Sheldon, Martin Carrillo’s evocative sound design takes on an urgency that underscores the play’s impending conclusion.

Though the sum of its parts does not yet add up dramatically, The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man does fit somewhat more effectively in the landscape of a theatrical tone poem. There the freer style of its content allows more room for the playwright to explore Sheldons fascinating life journey and tragic end without limits. 

THE WOMAN WHO WENT TO SPACE AS A MAN
October 27 – November 18, 2018
Son of Semele
3301 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Tickets: www.sonofsemele.org

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, Betsy Moore, Isabella Ramacciotti, Anneliese Euler,
Robert Paterno, Megan Rippey and Ashley Steed

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, Betsy Moore and Paula Rebelo

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

LA Phil's THE TEMPEST Brings Sibelius and Shakespeare Together on Stage


A storm is brewing in Walt Disney Concert Hall and on November 8, 9 & 10th it will ring to the rafters with gale-force intensity. That’s when director Barry Edelstein and The Old Globe’s major new production of THE TEMPEST lands on stage.

Susanna Mälkki conducts Sibelius’ evocative music for Shakespeare’s masterpiece about a shipwreck on a magical island, featuring a cast of 27 actors, singers, and dancers, plus the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The fully-staged performance stars Lior Ashkenazi as Prospero with Tony Award nominees Beth Malone (Ariel) and Tom McGowan (Caliban), and award-wining stage and screen actor Peter MacNicol (Sebastian) among its cast.

Drinks in The  Garden special discount:
For the Friday, November 9th performance, use promo code SOUNDINGPOINT for 20% off terrace-section seats. Then come early Friday night (beginning at 6:30 pm) and enjoy complimentary drinks and a unique view of the DTLA skyline from the Garden. It’s a great way to end your week on a high note.


SIBELIUS AND SHAKESPEARE: THE TEMPEST
LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
CLICK HERE for tickets and more information.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Theatre West and Artist Levi Ponce Celebrate Judy Garland in New Mural

Dorothy

On Sunday, October 27th,
Theatre West presented a beautiful new addition to the urban art landscape in Los Angeles with the unveiling of local artist Levi Ponce’s latest mural featuring Judy Garland. Painted in full color and pictured with the Emerald City behind her, the portrait immortalizes one of the most beloved singers of all time in her signature role – Dorothy Gale from the classic 1939 MGM musical, The Wizard of Oz.

Drivers going south on the 101 freeway through the Cahuenga Pass will get a gorgeous view of the mural off to the right as they pass by the theater. Those familiar with the artist’s body of work will recognize his vivid images and unique style, one that has come to signify the very culture of Los Angeles.

As part of the event, Ponce received an honorary lifetime membership to Theatre West, which is the longest running theatre company in Los Angeles. Founded in 1962, it has been home to such artists as Betty Garrett, Lee Meriwether, Jack Nicholson, Ray Bradbury, Richard Dreyfuss, Sherwood Schwartz, Sally Field, and Beau Bridges.

During the presentation, an emotional Ponce talked about his early work, saying he didn’t start out trying to become famous as a muralist. He was “just trying to clean up my street and help my community.”

Levi Ponce

His first mural to attract public attention was an image of actor
Danny Trejo painted on the side of a building in Pacoima where Ponce grew up. Over the next seven years, his murals began to appear all over Los Angeles, from Pacoima to Reseda to Venice. And when Hollywood came knocking, his art gained an even larger following.


Along the way, he also found that he liked helping other people discover what they’re good at doing too. He has inspired neighbors to work together on community art projects and believes the future is bright when communities work together for common goals. “All the good things that came to me happened because I was participating in my community,” he says. “The best is yet to come.”

Following the unveiling, the theatre hosted a reception, costume contest, and sing along screening of The Wizard of Oz.

The artist signs his work

Lee Meriwether and Levi Ponce

Levi Ponce and the "Mayor" officially cut the ribbon

Levi Ponce and David Johnson

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