Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Deaf West and Michael Arden Discover a New SPRING AWAKENING

L-R: Ali Stroker, Sandra Mae Frank, Miles Barbee, Austin
McKenzie and Joshua Castille. Photos by Tate Tullier

Director Michael Arden gives the word discovery new meaning in a spectacular production of Steven Sater (book & lyrics) and Duncan Sheik’s (music) Spring Awakening based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 expressionist play. Arden, who has had a long partnership with Deaf West that goes back to Big River, which played in LA and on Broadway, stages the controversial musical in a triangular black box at the Inner City Arts complex in downtown Los Angeles. 

In it, deaf and hearing actors and musicians work together to tell the story of a group of teens whose transition from adolescence to adulthood, and the sexual awakening they go through, is made even more difficult by the very parents and teachers in whose care they are entrusted. Unwilling or unable to communicate with the youths, they deny them what they so desperately need – love, information, protection – and in the end, everyone suffers the consequences. It deals with topics that are as important today, and often as difficult to discuss, as they were in 1891, such as rape, incest, masturbation, teen suicide, and abortion. And with this casting, it also comments on the gap between hearing parents and deaf children, who face yet another level of difficulty in communicating.

Arden’s gift for knowing how to express the emotion in a scene or a song begins with his sensational casting. What is so terrific about these partnerships is how beautifully they come together to create rich characters that literally spring to multi-dimensional life. Wendla, a deaf actor played by Sandra Mae Frank, is partnered with a hearing actor, Katie Boeck, who speaks and sings her songs, and plays acoustic guitar. Daniel N. Durant, another deaf actor, plays Mortiz, with Rustin Cole Sailors voicing his role and also playing electric guitar. The partners often interact and consult with each other as scenes unfold and never is there a moment when the speaking actor’s eyes aren’t riveted on his or her deaf counterpart, which makes everything so much more sensual.

Together, Frank’s innocent earnestness and the sweetness and simplicity of Boeck's singing voice create a character that is instantly sympathetic. Their pain becomes the audience’s pain and we feel for them from their first hypnotic moments on opposite sides of a bottomless mirror. Likewise does Sailors bring an edgy raw vulnerability to Durant’s Moritz in a pairing that is poignant beyond words. One word – failed – flashes on the walls growing larger and larger until it finally takes over his life. It is a black and white world that surrounds these characters and to see it in the design metaphorically expressed is chilling. Arden’s staging of Moritz’s tragic scene is unlike any production of Spring Awakening I’ve ever seen and flips the situation into something beautiful and wholly unexpected, even if you know what turn the story takes. 

Check back for the complete review on Tuesday.

(what can I say... it's too darn hot! But I wanted you to know that you should get tickets to this production now!)

Sandra Mae Frank, Treshelle Edmond, Natacha Roi, Kathryn Gallagher,
Lauren Patten, Amelia Hensley, Katie Boeck, Ali Stroker

L-R: Daniel Marmion, Joshua Castille, Jimmy Bellinger,
Austin McKenzie, Joseph Haro, Daniel Durant

Treshelle Edmond, Lauren Patten and Ali Stroker

Jimmy Bellinger, Joseph Haro, Daniel David Stewart, Daniel Durant
(standing on bed), Joshua Castille, Miles Barbee

Sandra Mae Frank (front), with (L-R) Amelia Hensley,
Joseph Haro, Treshelle Edmond

L-R: Daniel David Stewart, Joseph Haro, Joshua Castille, Miles Barbee,
Sean Grandillo, Austin McKenzie, Jimmy Bellinger

September 7 - October 19, 2914
Rosenthal Theater at Inner City Arts
720 Kohler Street in downtown L.A.
(just south of the Arts District)
Reservations: (818) 762-2998 or

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Musical News for Saturday, September 13, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: Richard Israel directs a four-week run of Peter Quilter’s Glorious! at International City Theatre, opening Oct. 10. Born in 1868, Jenkins was a wealthy New York eccentric who indulged her passion for singing by sponsoring her own concerts with money she inherited from her parents - who had forbidden her from performing in public while they were alive. Known as “the first lady of the sliding scale,” Jenkins warbled and screeched her way through every performance, drawing capacity crowds of fans who would roar with laughter at her shrill, off-key singing and outrageous costumes. But this delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics, comfortably surrounded by a circle of devoted friends who were almost as eccentric as she was.

Eileen Barnett stars as “the caterwauling countess,” with Matthew Wrather as her longtime accompanist Cosmé McMoon and Leland Crooke as her boyfriend and manager, St. Clair. Janellen Steininger is loyal friend Dorothy, and Carol Abney doubles as the singer’s obstreperous maid, Maria, and as Jenkins’ detractor, Mrs. Verrender-Gedge. Glorious! runs Oct 8 - Nov. 2 (Opening night Oct. 10). International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets: 562-436-4610 or

Palos Verdes Performing Arts (formerly known as Norris Center for the Performing Arts) presents The Full Monty, Sept.19 – Oct. 5 at the Norris Theatre on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With book by Terrance McNally and music by David Yazbek, it follows the story of six unemployed Buffalo steel workers who come up with a bold scheme to get themselves out of debt. Inspired by a male dance revue that is a hit with the local women, the men figure they can cash in big time if they go “the full monty” and strip all the way. The production is directed by James Gruessing with choreography by Paul David Bryant and musical direction by Daniel Thomas

The cast includes Harley Jay, Sheldon Robert Morley, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Jonathan Brett, Bryan Dobson, and Paul David Bryant along with Heidi Godt, Eric Ronquillo, Kevin Paul, Jason Sluyter, Jade Anna Rosenberg, Natalie Haro, Cori Cable Kidder, Rebecca Morris, Bradley Nolan, Sarah Meals and Eloise Coopersmith. The Full Monty contains partial nudity, adult language and situations and is recommended for mature audiences. The Norris Theatre is located at 27570 Norris Center Dr., Rolling Hills Estates 90274. Tickets: (310) 544-0403 or

Third Street Theatre and Oddbird Theatricals present the world premiere, fully-realized production of Bronies: The Musical, with music by Joe Greene, book and lyrics by Heidi Powers and Tom Moore, choreography by John Todd, musical direction by Jennifer Lin and direction by Richard Israel. Bronies tells the story of three outsiders who find purpose, meaning, love – and each other – all thanks to those fantastical cartoon ponies so many may love as the ultimate super-fans! It explores the phenomenon of fandom through the lens of pony fans – including all the passion, the awkwardness, the creativity, and the community it can inspire. The cast includes Joey Acuna, Brielle Batino, Anna Grace Barlow, Mark Gelsomini, Molly Gilman, Joe Greene, Stephanie Hayslip, Taylor Helmboldt, Rachel Hirshee, Hannah James, Josey Montana McCoy, Tom G. McMahon, Blaine Miller, Shelley Regner, Gabby Sanalitro, Richy Storrs and Charlotte Mary Wen. Bronies will run Sept. 25 – Nov. 1 (opening night on Friday, September 28) at the Third Street Theatre, 8115 W. Third Street in West Hollywood.

Boss: The Untold Tony Danza Story extends for four shows at the Theatre Asylum Lab in Hollywood. With new producing partners Monica Martin of Complex Theaters and Matthew Quinn of Combined Artform/Theatre Asylum, the team behind Boss introduces The ExtravaDANZA, a live 80s themed interactive variety show featuring musical acts, stand up, dance, trivia and prizes. The ExtravaDANZA premieres during the September 27th and October 25th performances of Boss at the Theatre Asylum Lab in Hollywood. Written and performed by actors Damien Luvara and Jennifer Monce, and directed by Michelle Thorn, the cast (which also includes Meghan Parks, Christopher Schram, Jordan Rennick, Matt Wool, Hannah Kanengieter, and Gabriel Rissa) explores the nature of the entertainment industry and how far some people will go to achieve success in it. 

“With ExtravaDANZA, we wanted to create something unique, fun and different that surpassed the average theatre experience,” says Luvara. “The ExtravaDANZA is a multi-disciplined exploration of everything 80s that will transport the audience to an entire hit era through one hit TV show.” Theatre Asylum Lab, 1078 Lillian Way in Hollywood, 90038.

Theatre Unleashed is back with a new musical by Justin Moran, POPE! An Epic Musical, which will play The Belfry in North Hollywood Oct. 11-Nov. 17. An idealistic young Pope (also named Pope) is framed for a heinous crime and banished from the Vatican. The people, blinded by the media frenzy, allow a tyrannical archbishop to seize power. As this new Pope tightens his iron fist the people are disheartened and in despair and the world is crying out for a hero. POPE! is an adventure that echoes the timeless mythological hero’s journey; when good and evil engage in an epic power struggle lines must be drawn, sides must be taken, and confrontations must be musical. POPE! runs Saturdays and Mondays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 7 pm. TU also presents original One Acts from the company’s Writer’s Group on Fridays at 8 pm and Saturdays immediately following POPE!

FESTIVALS: The  Encuentro  2014 National  Theatre Festival begins in October and will be held at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. Highlights featuring music include Enrique’s Journey (10/17 – 11/7) adapted and directed by Anthony J. Garcia. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning work of Sonia Nazario with music composed and directed by Daniel Valdez. Enrique’s Journey depicts the contemporary odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reunite with his mother in the United States.

Also part of the festival is Dancing in My Cockroach Killers (10/ 31- 11/ 8) written by Magdalena Gómez, directed by Rosalba Rolón with musical director Desmar Guevara. Dancing In My Cockroach Killers is an explosive mix of texts, visuals, and music based on the writings of award-winning poet/playwright Magdalena Gomez. Pregones Theater’s stellar ensemble delivers the full range of Gomez’s rhythmic realism, boundless hope, and laugh out loud humor. Her characters face real life challenges with courage and flair, and are openly inspired by friends, family, and Latino icons as varied as Lolita Lebrón, Joe Cuba, and Iris Chacón.

For a full schedule of all events and more information, go to Most tickets are only $20 when ordered with the promotional code ENC14. To purchase tickets, go the website or  call (866) 811-4111. LATC is located in the heart of the revived downtown historic core at 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

FILM: We Are Kings, written and directed by Toby Hubner, will play the Arena Cinema Hollywood Sept. 19 – 25.  2014. The 90-minute musical is the story of a down-and-out bluesman I.B. King (played by Sammy Blue, Hottrax recording artist, Atlanta’s Crown Prince of the Blues) trying to save his blues bar and his deathly ill wife Lilly (Rita Graham of the legendary Raelettes). I.B. hits the road for Chicago in his Blues Bucket, a sun-blasted 1973 Winnebago, pursuing a record deal. 

True to the blues, the would-be record deal falls through, he’s got no gigs, he’s penniless and hopeless with Lilly in the hospital dying, and he soon finds himself lying in the middle of a frozen road one night, about to die, when he is visited by life-changing forces. Lilly’s spirit leaves her body and descends upon I.B. to convince him that life is worth living,  then magically guides two young homeless hard-rock musicians, Layla Knuckles (America’s Got Talent winner Bianca Ryan) and Dustin Ladue (Boogie Long, Guitar Center King of the Blues winner) who rescue I.B. and restore him to the Blues Bucket. They also pick up a young runaway, Sam The Rapper (RCA/Sony recording artist Pryce) and together, the foursome will create music history and triumph. Certified by the Dove Foundation for family-appropriate viewing 12 years to adult.

Performances are Sept. 19 - 25, 2014. Fri. at 8:30, Sat. & Sun. at 6:00, Mon. & Tues. at 6:30, Wed. & Thurs. at 8:15 p.m. Red Carpet for Friday world premiere will begin 30 minutes before screening. Tickets: ($12) are available in advance at Info: (323) 306-0676. Arena Cinema Hollywood, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028. Discounted parking is available with validation at lots adjacent to the venue and across the street.

CONCERTS/CABARET:The Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora presents Sandra Bernhard in Sandyland with The Flawless Zircons on Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 pm (Doors open at 7:30pm) at the Haugh Performing Arts Center, 1000 W. Foothill Blvd. in Glendora, CA 91741. Bernhard’s new live show Sandyland, spotlights her own unique, sharp blend of hysterical insight and outspoken views, with rock-n-roll, cabaret, stand-up and a little burlesque. Tickets: (626) 963-9411 or

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Friday, September 5, 2014

BEAUTIFUL - The Carole King Musical Coming to the Pantages September 2015

Jessie Mueller as Carole King and the Original Broadway cast of
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical. Photos by Joan Marcus

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical will make its L.A. Premiere at the Hollywood Pantages as part of the 2015-2016 Season. With a book by Tony and Academy® Award-nominee Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni and choreography by Josh PrinceBeautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. But long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. Yet it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. For more information, visit

The Shirelles (Ashley Blanchet, Rashidra Scott, Alysha Deslorieux,
and Carly Hughes) 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Musical News for Thursday, September 4, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: La Jolla Playhouse has announced the cast for its upcoming U.S. premiere musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, featuring a score by Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, book by Peter Parnell, and direction by Scott Schwartz. Produced in association with Paper Mill Playhouse, by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, The Hunchback of Notre Dame will run Oct. 26 – Dec.7, 2014 in the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre. Michael Arden will star as Quasimodo, with Patrick Page as Frollo, Ciara Renée as Esmeralda, Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus and Erik Liberman as Clopin. The cast will also include Lucas Coleman, Mary Joe Duggan, Anise Ritchie, Brian Smolin, William Thomas Hodgson, Julian Decker, Ian Patrick Gibb, Beth Kirkpatrick, Samantha Massell, Neal Mayer, Nora Menken, William Michals, Vincent Rodriguez and Richard Ruiz. The acclaimed local choir SACRA/PROFANA will serve as the show’s on-stage chorus. Tickets: (858) 550-1010 or

Broadway is step closer to LA when Matthew James Thomas, who originated the role of Pippin in the current 2013 Tony Award winning revival, performs the title role during the Hollywood Pantages run of PIPPIN Oct. 21 – Nov. 9, 2014. This all-new production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s PIPPIN is directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus and features choreography by Tony Award nominee Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse and circus creation by Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (also known as 7 Fingers). Tickets for PIPPIN are now on sale at or by calling (800) 982-2787.

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s exciting production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites comes to Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu on Saturday, October 18, at 11:00 am. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 3-8 and their families. Three beloved stories are retold on stage through the magic of black light, evocative music, stunning visual effects, and fanciful, innovative puppets. The Very Hungry Caterpillar follows the adventures of a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through an amazing variety of foods on his path to becoming a beautiful butterfly. In Little Cloud, high up in the sky, a cloud playfully transforms himself into various creatures, including a sheep, and an airplane, a shark and more. In The Mixed-Up Chameleon, a chameleon is bored with his life, sitting about predictably changing color all day. Following an adventurous trip to the zoo, he attempts to emulate the beautiful animals he sees before coming to the conclusion that there is value in his own unique self. Adapted, designed and directed by Jim Morrow, with music by Steven Naylor and narration by Gordon Pinsent. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Ticket: (310) 506-4522 or

The Pepperdine event will also include a free, open to the public Family Art Day from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm before and after the performance, featuring hands-on art projects and Weisman Museum tours. For this Family Art Day, the Center for the Arts is teaming up with The Big Draw LA, during which children and their families will participate in a large collaborative drawing based on Eric Carle's stories and characters. For more information on The Big Draw LA visit

FESTIVALS: Pasadena Arts Council, in partnership with numerous Pasadena arts and science institutions, will present AxS Festival 2014, a citywide festival Sept. 19 – Oct. 5, 2014 that explores the nexus of artistic and scientific inquiry. Programming will include innovative visual art, theatre, dance, music, photography, history, science, literature, film, and architecture. The theme, Curiosity, was inspired by the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)-built Mars Rover, “Curiosity,” which is currently exploring the Martian surface. The goal for the festival is to create audience experiences that bridge the boundary between art and science. A complete schedule of events (many of which are FREE) is available at of the musical performances featured:

Taking Flight: Music Inspired by Flight, a free choral program performed by the Pasadena Master Chorale, inspired by actual flight and soaring beyond one’s confines featuring Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine by Eric Whitacre and Curiosity composed by Reena Esmail at Altadena Community Church (9/20 at 7:30 pm and 9/21 at 4:00 pm)

An Evening of Pasadena-Inspired Astronomy and Music at Carnegie Observatories is a free talk by Juna Kollmeir and Andrew Benson on curiosity and science in Pasadena and discovery in astronomy held outside on the grass, concluding with a Pasadena Conservatory of Music chamber ensemble performance of Hand in Hand at the Edge of the Sky. The work was commissioned from composer Matthew Brown and inspired by a recent visit to Mt. Wilson. It is composed for a chamber ensemble of 8-10 musicians. The new piece is a vibrant example of the unique artistic and scientific creativity/synergy that is a hallmark of Pasadena. (9/29 at 7:00 pm).

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: PSYCHE: A Modern Rock Opera, Art Brought to Life

Ashley Ruth Jones (Psyche) and Michael Starr (Eros). Photos by Barry Weiss.

The world premiere of PSYCHE: A Modern Rock Opera is undeniably impressive, especially when you consider the scope of the author’s vision and the level of detail that has gone into its execution. The 2½ hour sung-through opera by composer/lyricist/ bookwriter Cindy Shapiro borrows stylistic elements from French grand opera and contemporary musical theatre, and combines them with a deconstructed rock landscape to tell the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros, and though it may not succeed in accomplishing everything it sets out to do, what it does achieve is an intriguing fusion of sound and picture, the effect of which is much like a master painting brought to life.

In fact, the way scenic designer Stephen Gifford has transformed the Greenway Court Theatre is one of the production’s most jaw-dropping accomplishments. Gifford’s mythic cloud world of the gods is an elaborate panorama that stretches in all directions, reaching up into the rafters and disappearing through the back wall to create an optical illusion of infinite depth in this airy Greek temple in the sky. Massive marble columns entwined with thick vines and other Greek architectural features are blended with sturdy iron scaffolding adding a subtle Mad Max nod to the design.

Overlaying Tim Swiss’ lighting gives the structure an earthy timelessness as shadow and light morph to make the three-dimensional painting animate and the characters move like an extension of a work of art. E.B. Brooks’ costumes further develop the ethereal and futuristic textures in the clothing so that when the light catches the movement of the material it adds another layer of sensuality to what the eye experiences. 

Ashley Ruth Jones and the company of PSYCHE

Breathtaking pictures emerge as the integration of choreography, movement, dance and staging by director Michael Matthews and choreographer Janet Roston seamlessly pull all the visual elements together: Psyche poised on top of the cliff ready to dive into the unknown; a storm with just enough strobe effect to create drama but not chaos; black aerial silks dropped from above for two men to sky dance in Hades; Psyche and Eros draped atop a revolving static trapeze….over and over Matthews builds the stage pictures to create a thing of beauty. There is no careless movement here.

Where the production falters is in its underlying structure. The book lacks urgency and focus, packing in so much of the Psyche and Eros myth that it becomes harder, rather than easier, to follow. At the same time, characters sing lyric after lyric that are so obvious, repetitious, and wandering that they begin to feel silly early on… e.g. “I’m amazed. I’m just amazed that I am here to tell this tale. I did not die. I’m still alive. I live.” [repeat twice]. Not only is it redundant but it doesn’t allow the vocal to go anywhere, so the next rock ballad sounds like the rock ballad before it and nothing jumps out as particularly memorable. Even with opera, where the music itself is where much of the emotion lives, the story needs to reach a modern audience that may not be used to the art form.

One quite beautiful effect in Shapiro’s post-modern score, however, is the distinctive choral sound she and musical director Jack Wall achieve with the ensemble voices. The complex harmonies and shifting tonalities are sung using straight tones that allow the voices to resonate simultaneously creating a haunting sound with overtones that soar effortlessly over the 16-piece orchestra. The best way I can describe it is as if an artist was painting on a canvas but with sound instead of oils. Stunning.

The vocal ranges for some of the solo voices are more difficult for the singers to master, especially for the women. Often they range from too low to be heard over the orchestra, even when there are two of them singing – to requiring a belt in such a high tessitura that the singer can’t help but sound screechy.

Ashley Ruth Jones and Michael Starr are believable as the lovers who must transcend convention to reach their happily ever after and Laura L. Thomas, as the goddess Aphrodite, is lovely but has the blackest heart imaginable. Benai Boyd and Cindy Sciacca personify evil and offer a few moments of levity as Psyche’s sisters and Aphrodite’s handmaidens. Each embodies the symbolic quality of his or her role but, with the exception of Jones who makes the journey, and late in the game Starr, most are limited by the writing in what they can do.

Uncredited ensemble actors shine vocally in various roles, specifically those playing Psyche’s mother, her father, and Zeus, all of whom have gorgeous voices. The quirky actor playing Hermes also adds a welcome comic element.

In the end, it may not be a perfect new work and it may not be for everyone, but PSYCHE certainly leaves an impression. I suggest you think of it not as a musical theatre piece or as a typical opera but as a living work of art. And that's always open to a personal interpretation.

Michael Starr and Laura L. Thomas

Ashley Ruth Jones on chaise with (L-R) Katie Kitani, Benai
Alicia Boyd, Cindy Sciacca and Michael Starr

Ashley Ruth Jones and Michael Starr

August 22 – September 28, 2014
Greenway Court Theatre
544 N. Fairfax Avenue
Hollywood, CA 
Tickets: (323) 655.7679 x100 or

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Musical News for Thursday, August 28, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons will celebrate its return to Los Angeles and its Hollywood Pantages Premiere with a limited three-week engagement; Sept.30 – Oct. 19 (opening night Sunday, Oct. 5th at 6:30 pm). The cast will be led by Nicolas Dromard (Tommy DeVito), Jason Kappus (Bob Gaudio), Hayden Milanes (Frankie Valli) and Adam Zelasko (Nick Massi) as The Four Seasons, with Barry Anderson and Thomas Fiscella. The ensemble includes Tommaso Antico, Jaycie Dotin, Marlana Dunn, De’Lon Grant, Wes Hart, Bryan Hindle, Austin Owen, John Rochette, Leslie Rochette, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Kara Tremel, Jonny Wexler and Keith White. Tickets: (800) 982-2787 or Pictured L-R: Quinn VanAntwerp, Nicolas Dromard, Hayden Milanes and Adam Zelasko. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Lewis Family Playhouse presents the west coast premiere of The Three Little Pigs, featuring music by George Stiles, book & lyrics by Anthony Drewe, directed by Jessica Kubzansky Oct. 4 – 19. This “very curly musical tail” from the musical team behind Honk! and Mary Poppins is full of witty word play, great music, and a Big Bad Wolf! When Mother Pig decides it’s time to send her piglets out to make their own way in the world, Cha (the gym-rat) Siu (the environmentalist) and Bao (the bookworm) think they’re too different to live together. Cha builds his house out of sticks, Siu builds hers out of straw, and Bao builds his out of bricks. When the Big Bad Wolf comes to eat them, they realize that if they work together, they can defeat him. Play is suitable for ages 4 and up. Lewis Family Playhouse in the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, in Rancho Cucamonga 91739. Parking is free. Tickets: (909) 477-2752 or

DANCE: Winding up the Zev Yaroslavsky Signature Series and bringing the Ford Theatres 2014 summer season to a close, Ezralow Dance takes the stage at the Ford Amphitheatre on Sept. 13 at 8:00 pm. The commissioned, site-specific world premiere from world-renowned director/choreographer Daniel Ezralow will be accompanied by live music from contemporary classical ensemble wild Up, marking the debut of Ezralow’s new, Los Angeles-based company.

“I try to break traditions, to look at something we may have all viewed many times before and see it completely differently,” says Ezralow. “With this new company of 9 dancers, I want to build a creative home for the huge amount of repertory I’ve developed around the world. Being an eclectic artist means that I’ve been lucky enough to jump from film to TV to stage, but there’s been no way until now to collect everything into a single body of work.” Tickets: (323) 461-3673 or A $5 discount is available with advance purchase by Sept. 6.

CONCERTS/CABARET: Rockwell Table and Stage announces the world premiere of ROAR, choreographed by Ambrose Respicio III, musical direction by Brian Kennedy and conceived/directed by VP Boyle. Previews September 5 & 6, show opens Friday, September 12 at 8:00 pm. The cast includes Sebastian La Cause, Matt Magnusson, Briana Cuoco, Nicci Claspell, Emily Morris, Joe Donohoe, Kyra Selman, Bianca Giselle and Lexie Galante. ROAR is an immersive theatrical event with a sexy, edgy and kinetic cast that delivers gut-wrenching vocals from songs by Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Pink, Shakira, Rihanna, Lorde, Sia, Lady Gaga, Sara Bareilles and many more. Three young women discover what it means to be truly human when they must battle for survival in their messy, private world as it crumbles. Lover. Husband. Partner. Friend. No one is left untouched as they face the strangers they thought they knew. Rockwell Table and Stage is located at 1714 N. Vermont in Los Feliz. Tickets: (323) 669-1550 x 20 or

BOOKS: On September 2nd St Martin’s Press will release Barbara Isenberg’s new book Tradition! The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical. Published in celebration of Fiddler’s 50th anniversary, Tradition! is a book for anyone who loves musical theatre. Barbara Isenberg interviewed the men and women behind the original production, the film and significant revivals - Harold Prince, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein, Austin Pendleton, Joanna Merlin, Norman Jewison, Topol, Harvey Fierstein and more - to produce what Kirkus Reviews calls ‘a loving tribute to a cultural phenomenon.’ Click Here for more information about the book.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Musical News for Monday, August 25, 2014

MUSICAL NEWS: Hudson Theatricals presents Suburban Showgirl, an inspirational one-woman tour de force written by and starring Palmer Davis, Sundays at 7:00 pm, Aug 31 – Sept 28. In the show, Davis creates the character Wendy Walker - wife, mother of two, and professional dancer - whose life is not turning out quite the way she had hoped. While working as a magician’s assistant in Las Vegas, a backstage mishap forces Walker to evaluate her life like never before…in the five minutes before curtain! During an emotional journey through her past, Walker relives some of her most pivotal moments… and comes to a decision that will change her life perspective forever. Coping with the unpredictable demands of career and family, Wendy Walker’s journey takes her down a path to self-acceptance, and the strength and courage to…”just be.” Click Here for tickets or call (323) 960-7784.

Lost the Musical: We Have To Go Back, written by Steven Christopher Parker & Steven Brandon has announced its cast. The unauthorized parody of LOST will feature Brielle Batino, Ben Burch, Will Choi, Frank Crim, Tyler Courtad, Sarah Jayne Daquioag, Eric Fagundes, Ryan Grassmeyer, Josh Hillinger, Katie Hotchkiss, Randy Wade Kelley, Cat LaCohie, Alex Lewis, Kahlie Metz, Ken Maurice Purnell, Kacey Spivey, Rajan Velu and Bruno Xavier, directed by Steven Brandon, with musical direction by DeReau K. Farrar and choreography by Heather Ashleigh Rivers. Lost the Musical will run Sept. 18 – Oct. 26, with opening night set for Monday, Sept. 22, (the ten-year anniversary of the LOST series premiere) at the Lillian Theatre, 1076 N. Lillian Way in Hollywood. Tickets: (323) 960-1055 or

Panic! Productions begins its third season with the classic musical fable, The Fantasticks, Sept. 5 - 21, at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks. The longest running musical in the history of the American theatre, The Fantasticks features music by Harvey Schmidt and book and lyrics by Tom Jones. This newly imagined, intimate production is directed and choreographed by Broadway veteran Joshua Finkel, with vocal direction by Diann Alexander and orchestra direction by Ben Ginsberg. Appearing in The Fantasticks are Katie Hume, Christian Thomas, John Gaston, Paul Panico, Robert Weibezahl, Jim Seerden, Andrew Metzger, and Michelle Miller. The Hillcrest Center for the Arts is located at 403 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. Tickets: (805) 381-1246 or

NMI presents Frogs in the Living Room, a wild two-person musical about the tempestuous feud between architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Scott Guy) and arts patron Aline Barnsdall (Elise Dewsberry) and the bitter battle for the artistic soul of Hollyhock House on August 26 & 28. Rich patroness Aline Barnsdall dreams of building a spectacular house and theatre complex on top Olive Hill. She thinks with her money and artistic vision, she can control Frank Lloyd Wright to get him to build the house HER way. She’s wrong. The musical is based on the letters of the tempestuous relationship between two of the most powerful figures in the art world in 1919. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA  91601. Tickets:

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Photo Tour Through Downtown LA's Incredible Historic Theatre District

This is a day you'll never forget. Take a walking tour of the Downtown Los Angeles Theatre District to see the the original entertainment center of LA. Click on the names of the theatres in blue below the photos for the story of each theatre from the days of Vaudeville. The historical and architectural details are amazing.

LA's Historical Broadway Theater District Downtown. 
All Photos ©Ellen Dostal, Musicals in LA

Los Angeles Theatre Lobby
The most lavish of Broadway’s great movie palaces, the 1931 
Los Angeles was designed by legendary theatre architect 
S. Charles Lee.

Los Angeles Theatre stage view from the mezzanine

The Los Angeles Theatre lobby's grand staircase leads 
to a stunning crystal fountain.

Los Angeles Theatre marquee, in memory of Robin Williams

Orpheum Theatre
The fourth and final home of the famed Orpheum 
vaudeville circuit in LA opened in 1926

Palace Theatre
The Palace is one of the oldest theatres 
in LA and hosted such stars 

as Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Fred Astaire, and a young Rita Hayworth.

Loews State Theatre
Done in the Beaux Art style with a brick façade 

Ceiling inside the State Theatre

United Artists Theatre
Built by the founders of United Artists Pictures - Mary Pickford, 
Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks 
to show their films.

Original Pantages Theatre, later renamed 
the Arcade Theatre opened in 1910.
The opening bill included: 
Barnold’s Dog and Monkey Actors in “A Hot Time in Dogville” 
Sophie Tucker, singer and comedienne 
Maurice Burkhart, character-singing comedian 
MacLean and Bryant “17-20 on the Black” gambling sketch
Lelliott Brothers, comedy musical sketch 
Yalto Duo, novelty whirlwind dancers*

(*info courtesy of Historic Los Angeles Theatres - Downtown)

Globe Theatre
The only legit theatre downtown at the time, it opened in 1913
for producer Oliver Morosco 

Roxie Theatre
The last theatre built on Broadway and the only
one built in the Art Deco architectural style

Tower Theatre
Renaissance Revival style, its interior was modeled after the
Paris Opera House. It was the first film house in LA to be wired
for talkies. Al Joson’s The Jazz Singer premiered here.

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