Friday, April 18, 2014

The Old Globe Announces its 2014-2015 Season

The Old Globe has announced its 2014-2015 Season, beginning September 13 with the world premiere of Bright Star, a new American musical by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin. Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie makes his Globe debut directing with this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties, and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star. Here’s a look at the Globe’s complete season. Subscriptions are available now at

Sept. 13 – Nov. 2, 2014 
BRIGHT STAR, a new American musical
Music by Edie Brickell & Steve Martin
Lyrics by Brickell, Book by Martin
Based on an original story by Martin & Brickell
Directed by Walter Bobbie

Bright Star features 25 new songs and tells a beguiling tale that unfolds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina between 1923 and 1945. Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal. Together they discover a powerful secret that alters their lives in this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties, and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star.

Oct. 4 – Nov. 2, 2014
By Marco Ramirez 
Loosely based on real events, Marco Ramirez’s wildly theatrical new play brings to explosive life the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, and the ultimate fight for a place in history. 

Nov. 15 – Dec. 27, 2014
Book and Lyrics by Timothy Mason, Music by Mel Marvin
Original Production Conceived and Directed by Jack O’Brien
Original Choreography by John DeLuca
Directed by James Vásquez (right)

Everyone’s favorite green meanie will return for his 17th consecutive year in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the heartwarming musical based on the classic book and animated film. James Vásquez returns to direct this beloved San Diego holiday tradition.

Jan. 24 – Mar. 1, 2015
Book & Music by Joe Kinosian, Book & Lyrics by Kellen Blair (pictured)
Directed by Scott Schwartz

Multi-millionaire Arthur Whitney has been murdered at his own birthday party, and his killer could be any one of the guests. But this is no ordinary murder mystery. The entire world of this hilarious musical is brought to life by two incredible performers: one plays the detective, the other plays all 10 suspects, and both play the piano! Murder for Two is an irrepressibly wacky tour-de-force musical.

Feb. 14 – Mar. 15, 2015 
By Nathan Englander, Directed by Barry Edelstein
In a Soviet prison in 1952, Stalin’s secret police have rounded up 26 writers, the giants of Yiddish literature in Russia. As judgment looms, a 27th suddenly appears: a teenager, unpublished and unknown. Baffled by his arrest, he and his cellmates wonder at what has brought them together and wrestle with what it means to write in troubled times.

March 21 – April 26, 2015 
Written and Directed by Mary Zimmerman

Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman creates an enchanting theatrical spectacle with live music and sumptuous visuals. In this visionary staging of a classic Chinese fable, a gentle serpent transforms into a beautiful woman. She falls in love with a dashing young man and decides to stay human forever, until a wicked monk discovers her true identity and vows to destroy her. 

April 4 – May 3, 2015
By Jonathan Tolins, Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
Out-of-work actor Alex More can’t pass up the oddest of odd jobs—an offer to play shopkeeper for one tough customer who doesn’t let anyone rain on her parade. Soon it begins to take a toll on his patience, his love life, and his view of people (who need people) in this “totally fictional” Off Broadway hit.

May 9 – June 14, 2015 
By George Bernard Shaw
Arms and the Man, one of the wittiest and most charming plays of the English stage, mixes smarts and silliness in a wonderfully entertaining tale of love and war.

May 23 – June 21, 2015
An exciting new American play TBA

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Musical News for Thursday, April 17, 2014

OPENINGS: James Barbour will star as Jean Valjean in the Los Angeles premiere of Les Misérables at La Mirada Theatre. Directed by Brian Kite, with musical direction by John Glaudini and choreography by Dana Solimando, it will feature a cast that includes Randall Dodge as Inspector Javert, Cassandra Murphy as Fantine, Valerie Rose Curiel as Eponine, Kimberly Hessler as Cosette, Nathaniel Irvin as Marius, Anthony Fedorov as Enjolras, Jeff Skowron as Thenardier, Meeghan Holaway as Madame Thenardier, Emilie LaFontaine as Young Cosette, Olivia Knox as Young Eponine and Jude Mason as Gavroche. The ensemble will feature Caleb Shaw, Tyler Ledon, Alex Mendoza, Jay Donnell, Dino Nicandrus, Christopher Higgins, Cameron Sczempka, Amanda Minano, Madison Mitchell, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Stella Kim, Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Anna Bowen, Louis Pardo, Marc Ginsberg, Michael Stone Forrest and Bruce Merkle.

La Jolla Playhouse has announced the cast for its Page To Stage workshop production of Chasing the Song featuring book &lyrics by Joe DiPietro, and music & lyrics by David Bryan. Artistic Director Christopher Ashley will direct a cast that includes Stephen Lee Anderson, Nick Blaemire, Kim Yu Blanck, Hannah Corrigan, Julie Johnson, Jay Klaitz, Morgan Marcell, DeQuina Moore, Chloe Tucker, Jim Walton, Jeremy Sevelovitz, Ben Moss, Zach Fineblum, Patrick Dillon Curry, Sidney Franklin, Marco Ramos, Jake Weinstein and Jonny Wexler. Chasing the Song runs May 13 – June 15. The musical follows the evolving American music scene into the early 1960s in this rock ‘n’ roll-inspired new musical. Elegant Edie’s team of hit-makers is upended by the arrival of the newest aspiring songwriter - Edie’s daughter Ginny. As Ginny strives to earn her place in the male-dominated world of songwriting, American rock ‘n’ roll finds itself under siege from the incoming British.

AUDITION: So you want to be on Broadway? Submit your song or monologue to 6 casting directors in’s Broadway Online Showcase. From now through April 30, record a song or monologue on your webcam or phone and submit it HERE. Each casting director will nominate a video for the final round. Then the finalists’ videos will be posted on Stagelighter’s Facebook page and one performer will be chosen by their fans to win the ultimate Broadway experience. The prize package includes private meetings in New York City with all 6 casting directors, tickets to your favorite Broadway show plus a backstage tour, and if you’re not in NYC they’ll cover your airfare plus accommodation. Break a leg!

CONCERTS/CABARET: Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced that joining Jeremy Jordan when he makes his Los Angeles solo concert debut on Monday, May 5 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood will be a special guest - his wife, Broadway performer Ashley Spencer. There will be two shows only at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm; cocktail and dinner service begin at 6pm for the 7:30 show and at 9pm for the 10pm show.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

La Mirada Theatre Announces 2014-2015 Season

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment have announced a “practically perfect” 2014- 2015 season which will include the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Musical, Billy Elliot, and Mary Poppins. Bonus options include the LA premiere of Carrie the Musical, the third in their “Onstage Series,” and Ballroom with a Twist. Here’s a look at the complete schedule.

Sept. 19 - Oct. 12, 2014
By David Lindsay-Abaire, Directed by Jeff Maynard

Oct. 24 – Nov. 16, 2014
By Maripat Donovan, Directed by Marc Silvia

Jan. 16 – Feb. 8, 2015
Book & Lyrics by Lee Hall & Elton John, Music by Elton John
Directed by Brian Kite, Choreography by Dana Solimando

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, this is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. 

Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A Musical
April 17 – May 10, 2015
Book, Music and Lyrics by Lindsay Warren Baker & Amanda Jacobs
Directed by Igor Goldin. Choreography by Jeffrey Denman

In this musical, which was the runaway hit of the New York Musical Theatre festival, the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy comes to life when Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra revisit “First Impressions,” an earlier version of the beloved novel. As Austen makes changes, the Austen sisters must learn to see both the story and each other in a new light.

May 29 – June 21, 2015  
Original Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Book by Julian Fellowes
New Songs and Additional Music & Lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed by Glenn Casale. Choreography by Dan Mojica

Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Mary Poppins includes a score filled with timeless classics such as “Feed the Birds,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Step in Time” and the Academy Award®-winning “Chim-Chim Cher-ee.” Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family how to value each other again.

BONUS Event:
March 12 – April 5, 2015
Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the Classic Horror Novel by Stephen King
Directed by Brady Schwind

Twenty-five years after its spellbinding premiere shocked critics and audiences from London to New York, Carrie, the most legendary Broadway musical of all time, comes to Los Angeles. A misfit at school, terrorized by her holier-than-thou mother at home, 17 year-old Carrie White, nonetheless, has a secret.  And when a prank at the high school prom goes horribly wrong, they’ll all find out just how scary a secret can be...outrageous, controversial and completely thrilling, Carrie comes to L.A. in a blazing new ONSTAGE immersive production.

Special BONUS Event: 
BALLROOM WITH A TWIST: March 1, 2015 – 2pm & 8pm
So you can’t get your fill of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance? Take your obsession with live talent-based reality TV shows to the next level. The show will feature a frenzy of sizzling dance spanning the hot moves of samba, waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, jive, hip-hop and contemporary mixed with several of your favorite American Idol finalists and their powerhouse hit songs.

Special Two Performances Only:
AMY GRANT, with optional special VIP reception with Amy
May 23, 2015 – 2pm & 8pm

Amy Grant became the first artist in Christian music to have a platinum record and went on to become a crossover sensation, her musical gifts transcending genre boundaries to make her a household name.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Musical News for Monday, April 14, 2014

OPENINGS: Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate will open Pasadena Playhouse’s 2014–2015 Season, running Sept. 16 - Oct. 12, 2014. Featuring some of Porter’s best music, this classic includes songs like “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” “So in Love,” “Another Op’nin’ Another Show,” and “Too Darn Hot,” and celebrates Shakespeare and the joys, madness, and the rewards of working in the theatre - both onstage and off. The Playhouse production will view the work through a new lens, using the wonderful material of this celebrated production to showcase the trailblazing African-American touring troupes of the early 20th century. Those groups of traveling players brought Shakespeare not just to New York, but to theatres all over the country. Many of the most famous actors of our time owe much to those pioneers, who included Hattie McDaniel, Paul Robeson, Earle Hyman, Jane White, and Dorothy Van Engle. Those brave actors brought literal “color” to great classical roles, opened doors for others, and represent the high style and theatricality that have always been embodied in Porter’s masterpiece.

Rock & Roll’s Greatest Lovers, a rock movie musical about John Lennon and Yoko Ono, will be part of this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival June 7 – 29. Though fraught with challenges and tribulations, John and Yoko’s message of peace and love is more relevant today than it was the day they shocked the world by appearing naked on the cover of Rolling Stones Magazine. The one-hour world premiere features original music by Anzu Lawson and Joerg Stoeffel to tell the unprecedented and still untold story of a love that changed the world and defined an era. Performance will take place at the Lillian Theater, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90038.

HOLIDAY: Chance Theater has announced that it will present an original musical celebration for the holidays, A Celtic Holiday with Chance’s own Celtic band, Craic in the Stone. A Celtic Holiday runs Dec. 9 - 23 (opening night is Dec. 10) and is written by resident artists Jocelyn A. Brown, David McCormick, James McHale, Jennifer Ruckman and Bill Strongin, along with Aimee Gomez, Karen O’Hanlon and Scott B. Well. The holiday concert of rousing pub songs, ethereal melodies, and familiar spiritual tunes is woven together with traditional folktales and perfect for the whole family. Karen O’Hanlon directs. For more about Craic in the Stone, visit
CABARET/CONCERTS: Kelly Lester takes the Star Spot at Ryan O’Connor’s Musical Mondays at Eleven Nightclub in West Hollywood on April 27 performing highlights from her new tribute to Doris Day, It’s Magic! - The Life & Music of Doris Day. Come early and sing along with your favorite musical videos and mix and mingle with West Hollywood’s musical theater fans before Kelly takes the stage. There is no cover or a drink minimum. For reservations, go to

BENEFIT: The Old Globe will host the 2014 Globe Gala on Saturday, July 26 in support of the theatre’s education and artistic programs. The black-tie event will feature a one-night-only performance by Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, based on her smash hit New York cabaret (and new CD) In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention. A reception will take place prior to the performance, with dinner and dancing to the music of the 13-piece dance band Midnight Special following the performance. Dinner is catered by the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. Tickets are $750 (regular seating) and $1,000 (VIP seating) each and include the reception, performance, dinner, and dancing. Tables are also available starting at $7,500. Underwriting levels, which include tickets for the Gala, begin at $4,500 per couple. To purchase tickets or a table or to become an underwriter, contact Eileen Prisby, Events Manager, at (619) 231-1941 x 2303 or

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Musical News for Thursday, April 10, 2014

OPENINGS: Actors Co-op will close its 22nd Season with 110 in the Shade (book by N. Richard Nash, music by Harvey Schmidt, & lyrics by Tom Jones). Richard Israel directs, with Bryan Blaskie as musical director and Julie Hall as choreographer. The ensemble includes Skylar Adams, Emily Armstrong, David Crane, Alex Denney, Michael Downing, Julie Hall, Rachel Hirshee, Tim Hodgin, Jason Peter Kennedy, Rory Patterson, Courtney Potter and Treva Tegtmeier. In the middle of a heat wave in 1930’s Texas, Lizzie Curry is on the verge of becoming an old maid when a charismatic rainmaker turns her life upside down. 110 in the Shade opens Friday, May 9 and runs through June 15 at Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower Street, located on the ground of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tickets: (323) 462-8460 x 300 or

Fraggled Productions will open The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at The Cupcake Theater in Hollywood on May 2, continuing through May 24, on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm. Spelling Bee is directed by Ryan Foy and follows an eclectic group of six young contestants vying for the spelling championship title of a lifetime. It is a quirky and interactive tale of adolescence, expectations, achievements, and the realization that being true to yourself is more important than winning. Since its creation in 2012, Fraggled Productions has produced a number of projects, including cabaret performances featuring talented Broadway alums, original staged readings, and musicals such as The Last Five Years, Anne Frank: The Musical and Urinetown. Tickets:

Teatro Máscara Mágica (TMM), in residence at La Jolla Playhouse, will present its second project, Misa Azteca: A Prophetic Poem Fulfilled June 11 – 22. This world premiere features a story by Monique and Joseph Julian Gonzalez, music by Joseph Julian Gonzalez, and is directed by TMM artistic director William Virchis. Played internationally as an orchestral, choral piece, Misa Azteca has delighted audiences throughout the world, however, the prophetic poems and mysteries it is built upon have never been brought to light. Now, for the first time, the piece will receive an eerie dramatization as it foretells the fall of the Aztec Empire, the rise of an unknown God, and a miracle that will transform a nation. Dance, multi-media and song are combined to tell a story that will inspire and uplift the human spirit. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or For more information, go to

Tony Monaco’s one-man musical, The Road to Damascus, comes to Los Angeles just in time for Easter and Passover, opening April 11 at the Little Victory Theatre in Burbank. Inspired by the dramatic conversion of Rabbi Saul of Tarsus – the man who turned from murderer to saint (the Apostle Paul) – and the persecution of Jesus’ followers after his crucifixion, Monaco’s historical portrayal incorporates music, song and dance with Biblical themes, bringing to life this world-changing story in a characterization that shows why biographers refer to the Apostle Paul as “The man who shook the world.” The original production was backed by Monaco’s friend and fellow actor, Buddy Ebsen. Now LA director/choreographer Joshua Finkel has worked with Monaco to update the original direction, staging, and choreography. Performances are April 11 – 27 at The Little Victory Theatre, 3326 W. Victory Blvd. in Burbank, 91505. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or

The California Lutheran University Music and Theatre Arts departments will present Duncan Sheik’s Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza April 25 – May 4, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm. “It is perhaps the boldest play we’ve done at CLU in terms of material,” said director Ken Gardner. “The essential problem in it is that children are treated more like possessions than family and parents simply don't communicate or connect with them, much like the infamous ‘generation gap.’” Based on a controversial 1891 German play, the musical portrays teen sexual awakening and deals with suicide, abortion and abuse, both sexual and physical. It is for adult audiences only due to explicit sexual situations and language. Leading the 18-member cast are Brenden MacDonald, a psychology major from Simi Valley as the fearless, dreamy Melchior; Nolan Monsibay, a music major from Burbank as his troubled friend, Moritz; and Samantha Winters, a history major from Ventura as the beautiful Wendla. Heidi Vas is vocal director and Jeff Wallach is choreographer. Tickets are $25: (805) 449-2787.

DANCE: Ballroom with a Twist, a new fusion of Broadway, classical and international-style song and dance, directed by international choreographer and competitive dance champion Louis Van Amstel, will light up the stage at the Valley Performing Arts Center at 8:00 pm on Saturday, May 17. The spectacle is highlighted by Dancing with the Star’s Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus. American Idol finalists Gina Glocksen-Ruzicka and Von Smith will also join along with So You Think You Can Dance finalists Legacy, Jonathan Platero and Randi Lynn Strong. Tickets: (818) 677-3000 or

CONCERTS/CABARET: Jeremy Jordan will make his solo concert debut in Los Angeles on Monday, May 5 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. There will be two shows only at 7:30pm and 10:00 pm presented by Chris Isaacson and Upright Cabaret. Recounting decisive moments from his budding career, Jordan will perform songs that have defined his swift rise to stardom, including music from Broadway’s Newsies, NBC’s Smash, the upcoming feature film The Last 5 Years, and many of Jordan’s own personal favorites. Doors open at 6:00 pm for cocktail and dinner service (minimums apply). Admission is $30, and VIP seating ($40) is available. You can get $5 off before April 28, and online purchases will receive priority seating. Tickets:, or (866) 468-3399. Catalina Bar & Grill is located at 6725 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, 90028.

Ryan Black’s 88’s presents The Songs of Boublil & Schonberg, Les Mis and Saigon at Don’t Tell Mama Los Angeles, 8279 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90046. Free, but there is a $10 suggested donation at door for Unicef & Philippines disaster relief fund. Come early to have dinner and drinks or have dinner and drinks during the show (2 item minimum for seats). Showtime is 8:00 pm. Click Here for reservations or call (323) 380-7209. The show stars Joan Almedilla, Melissa Bailey, Evan D’Angeles, Zachary Ford, Cliffton Hall, Deedee Magno Hall, Cassie Simone Harlow, April Malina, Cassandra Murphy, Kevin Odekirk, William Martinez, Sheldon Morley and Kevin Story, and is directed by Ryan Black, with musical direction by Gregory Nabours. Also featuring Scott Firestone on drums and Jean Sudbury on violin. Open mic after the show from 10pm-2am so bring your music. For parking instructions and more info, visit the show’s Facebook page Here.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Musical News for Monday, April 7, 2014

OPENINGS: 3D Theatricals has announced the cast for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, which will run May 2 – 18 at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton (opening night May 3). Audiences of all ages will enjoy this irreverent and deliciously witty reimagining of some of our most treasured fairytales. Fairytale characters embark on a quest and everyone’s wish is granted at the end of Act One, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins as a lively, cheeky fantasy in the style of The Princess Bride ultimately becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.

The cast is led by David Allen Jones as the Narrator/Mysterious Man and Bets Malone as the Witch with Jeff Skowron as the Baker; Viva Carr as the Baker’s Wife, Jeanette Dawson as Cinderella, Jordan Lamoureux as Jack, Julie Morgantaler as Little Red Riding Hood, Tracy Rowe Mutz as Jack’s Mother, Tim Martin Gleason as Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, and Cameron Sczempka as Rapunzel’s Prince. The company also includes Leslie Stevens (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Melanie Mockobey (Lucinda),  Melina Kalomas (Florinda), Lisa Dyson (Cinderella’s Mother/Granny), Cliff Senior (Cinderella’s Father), Mueen Jahan (Steward), Renna Nightingale (Sleeping Beauty), Christanna Rowader (Rupunzel), and Allison Sheppard (Snow White). T.J. Dawson has been set as director/choreographer, with Rufus Bond Jr. as assistant director and Leslie Stevens as assistant choreographer and dance captain. Julie Lamoureux serves as musical director/conductor with David Lamoureux as musical contractor. Tickets:

The Pasadena Playhouse is bringing two unusual one-person shows performed in repertory to the newly refurbished Carrie Hamilton Theatre May 15 – 31 (press opening Fri. May 16: Amy G in Entershamement and Joe Orrach in In My Corner. The Carrie Hamilton Theatre has gone from a proscenium theatre to a black box, and can now be configured to accommodate many different kinds of productions. Amy G is a masterful entertainer (singer/comedian/rollerskater) who recently starred in the Off-Broadway show, La Soirée. Her unique style of physical, musical, stand-up and improvisational comedy is inspired by and reminiscent of Carol Burnett, Liza Minnelli, Buster Keaton, Julie Andrews and the Muppet Show; but she is very much one of a kind. Orrach, an internationally renowned tap dancer, actor, singer, storyteller and U.S. Air Force welterweight boxing champ, came to fame as one of the stars of San Francisco’s long running Teatro ZinZanni from 2000 to 2006. Tickets: 626-356-7529 or

EXTENDED: The Untold Story of Indie Rock, a one-of-a-kind live, rock musical comedy at Second City has been extended and will now play through August 9. The show, which features 5 performers who portray 14 different bands and a slew of other comic characters, takes the audience on a hilarious journey through a mock history of Indie Rock. Written and directed by Brett Duggan with consulting director, Josh Funk and musical accompaniment by Ben Bromflied. Cast includes Brett Duggan, Jason McNichols, Casey Schuckett, Todd Risenmay, Kevin Stafford and Christopher Roque. Click Here for more info.

KICKSTARTER: Musical Theatre Orange County is doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for its upcoming production of Disneys Tarzan, the Musical. Contributions will help with flying, royalties, music, venue rental, costumes, props, sets, director staff, rehearsal space, storage, insurance, printing, technical support and much more. Performances take place at the El Dorado Performing Arts Center July 18, 19, 25, 26 at 7:30 pm and July 20 & 27 at 2:00 pm. For more info and to check out their campaign, go to

CONCERTS/CABARET: Angel City Chorale reunites with composer Christopher Tin for its upcoming spring concerts, Elements, on June 7 & June 8 at the Wilshire United Methodist Church. Conducted by ACC founder and artistic director Sue Fink, the concerts will feature selections that explore the four elements in a variety of musical styles including pop (Earth, Wind & Fire), classical (Brahms), as well as spirituals (“Ain’a That Good News”), as well as the west coast premiere of Tin’s new song cycle, The Drop that Contained the Sea, the much-anticipated follow-up to Tin’s Grammy Award-winning album, Calling All Dawns. Tin’s new classical/world music fusion work features stunning juxtapositions of rhythms and cultures. Songs depict global visions of water from the snows of Mongolia to the rains of Africa. Each of the 10 pieces is sung in a different language, including Proto-Indo-European, Turkish, and Xhosa. Tickets:

On Mon, June 9th at 8:00 pm come celebrate one of the biggest nights in theatre at the 3rd annual Night After the Tonys starring Broadway star Linda Eder, presented by Chris Isaacson at the Ford Amphitheatre. This songstress’ diverse repertoire spans all genres including Broadway, Pop, Country, Jazz and the Great American Songbook. Eder will be accompanied by a live band and the program will feature music from her fourteen solo albums, as well as signature songs from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll & Hyde and more. Click Here for tickets. 

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Look: Musical Theatre West's S'WONDERFUL: The New Gershwin Musical

Musical Theatre West presents the west coast premiere of S’Wonderful: The New Gershwin Musical, created and directed by Ray Roderick, now through April 20. S’Wonderful features over 40 classic hits such as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Shall We Dance,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” Get your tickets now: (562) 856-1999 x 4 or

L-R: Rebecca Ann Johnson, Damon Kirsche, Ashley Fox Linton and
Rebecca Spencer. Photos by Caught in the Moment Photography

L-R: Rebecca Spencer, Rebecca Ann Johnson,
Damon Kirsche and Jeff Skowron

L-R: Rebecca Spencer, Ashley Fox Linton, Jeff Skowron
and Rebecca Ann Johnson

Rebecca Ann Johnson and Damon Kirsche

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: La Mirada Theatre's FLOYD COLLINS Shines Like a Beacon

Mark Whitten as Floyd Collins. Photos by Michael Lamont

It took nine years for Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins, which debuted Off-Broadway in 1996, to finally premiere in LA and it’s hard to believe that the first company with enough vision to produce the complex musical here did so in a tiny theater with extremely limited resources. Somehow, using incredibly inventive direction and stagecraft, West Coast Ensemble and director Richard Israel created an unforgettable experience; one that I was fortunate enough to see and can only describe as theatre magic at its very best.

Now, another nine years later, Israel is directing an equally compelling and creative production of Floyd Collins as part of La Mirada Theatre’s ONSTAGE series. For the special series, artistic director Brian Kite brings the audience right up to the action by closing off the house and placing the audience seats on stage. Last season’s Spring Awakening was the first of the series in the altered space and the experience struck a chord with audiences who couldnt get enough of it. For Floyd Collins, winding your way through the reconfigured backstage area to your seat is the perfect prologue for a musical that takes place in the underground caves of Kentucky. The element of the unknown is present before it even begins.

The true story of the events that took place in early 1925 would make Floyd Collins famous but not for the tourist attraction he hoped to discover. While searching for the perfect cave, Floyd was trapped by a rock that pinned him in a tight crawlspace far beneath the surface. The media frenzy surrounding his rescue attempt was unlike anything the public had seen since the Lindbergh kidnapping, and though efforts over a two-week period of time were ultimately unsuccessful, the name Floyd Collins would live on for generations.

Guettel incorporates the mournful sound of the mountains and lilt of the Kentucky dialect into his stunning Bluegrass/operatic score making it an expressively rich vehicle for the storytelling. A simple lyric like “Deep in the land of the hollows an’ creeks, If’n you git lost you git lost fer weeks…” quietly eases the audience into the story; it’s haunting melody first sung delicately by Jewell Estes (Matt Magnusson) accompanying himself on guitar before strings and other voices melt together to layer in the sophisticated textures that characterize Guettel’s compositions.

His music is revelatory, complex and difficult to learn but absolutely magnificent in the way it connects the emotional journey of its characters to the audience, prompting a powerfully empathetic response. Musical director David O employs great sensitivity in bringing its many colors to life, serving a directorial vision that focuses on the bonds of family, and the critical relationships that come into play in the middle of a crisis.  

This is weighty material for a musical and the cast handles it beautifully with an astounding amount of vitality and tenderness. When Floyd (Mark Whitten) plays with the cavern, joyfully singing echoes through the space like the cave itself is a playmate, it is impossible not to smile at the kick he gets out of his own adventure. And conversely, when fears overtake him while he’s trapped, it reaches us at the level of our own humanity as we witness his complete vulnerability. Whitten captures both Floyd’s childlike innocence and adventurous spirit with nimble dexterity in a breakout performance that is as charismatic as it is natural.

Kim Huber as Nellie Collins with Mark Whitten

Kentucky-born Kim Huber is superb as Floyd’s sister Nellie, a role she toured with nationally, directed by bookwriter Tina Landau. Her uncanny connection to Floyd is fascinating and Israel stages it much like she is his guardian angel holding vigil; in this case, an angel with a gorgeous soprano voice and the ability to bend it to Guettel’s vocal lines with surprising nuance. 

Also terrific is Jonah Platt as Floyd’s younger brother, Homer. With each role on an L.A. stage he shows increasing depth and this one takes him through a dizzying range of emotions. The love between the boys is evident as they laughingly roughhouse at the river, and when it comes time to soothe Floyd’s hysteria, Platt does it by playing a game in “The Riddle Song.” Anger, defiance, desperation and strength are all bound together in his memorable performance that builds upon what little the text gives him to work with. 

As Floyd’s father, Lee Collins, Larry Lederman returns to the role he took on for Israel in the WCE production, balancing his character’s harsh pragmatism with a sad sense of hopelessness. 

Josey Montana McCoy plays Skeets Miller, the reporter who brings the news of the cave-in to the outside world. Though his vivid descriptions of Floyd’s plight would turn the event into a circus of gawkers and opportunists, he was also the only man small enough to make his way down to where Floyd was trapped, and he had a sincere desire to help rescue him. One of the most poignant and beautiful scenes happens when Floyd asks for a favor before Miller leaves the cave for the last time.

Levity opens the second act with a bright specialty number featuring a trio of reporters (Michael Haller, Zach Spound and Michael Byrne) in a ridiculous reporting sequence spouting headlines that become increasingly more outrageous. The well-positioned change in tone – and great choreography – leads into a full-blown media carnival with everyone trying to capitalize on Floyd’s bad luck.

Israel also creates a significant amount of tension in his staging of the rescue efforts, the first of which takes place when all of the miners try to dislodge Floyd from the rock and pull him up. Using multiple sections of rope, and by placing the men at strategic positions around the entire stage, you see it happening literally right next to you. The coordination of everyone straining and pulling together to free Floyd creates a moment of complete immersion in the story that was so horrifically powerful, I’ll never forget it.

To simulate the intricate underground pathways and caverns, lighting designer Lisa D. Katz, who did the original design for the WCE production of Floyd Collins, uses very specific lighting to define the space and create contrast between reality and the more dreamlike sequences. The openness of Rich Rose’s scenic design allows plenty of room for the imagination to take over while still providing some surprising touches.

Without reservation, I recommend that you experience this artistically-rich, exquisitely-rendered production of Floyd Collins. The ensemble work (which also includes Victoria Strong (Miss Jane), Joe Hart (H.T. Carmichael), Jay Donnell (Ed Bishop), and Gary Lee Reed (Bee Doyle), is extraordinary and the vision thoughtfully realized for an intimate audience experience youll never forget. It has now taken the top spot on my must-see musical list for 2014. Go see why.

Jonah Platt and Mark Whitten as Homer and Floyd Collins

Josey McCoy Montana (above) with Mark Whitten

March 27 – April 13, 2014
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada
Tickets: (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or

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Musical News for Thursday, April 3, 2014

OPENINGS: The Group Rep presents the world premiere of The Ghost of Gershwin May 9 – June 22, featuring music by Wayland Pickard, book by Doug Haverty, lyrics by Laura Manning and Wayland Pickard, directed by Jules Aaron. Set in today’s Brooklyn, a struggling young composer is haunted by the music of George Gershwin until he meets the Ghost of Gershwin and his life is never the same. This romantic musical harkens back to the 1930s when artsy tenants of an apartment building were known to burst into song and dance at the drop of the hat. The musical features all original songs, and is a delightful homage to the legacy of American music icons George and Ira Gershwin. Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm at Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood 91601. Talk-backs on May 18 and June 22. Tickets: or (818) 763-5990.

BENEFTS: Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA) will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with their 5th annual benefit TWENTYWONDER, A Carnival of the Mind on Saturday, June 28. This is the 4th year that the L.A. Derby Dolls will host the critically-acclaimed, 21 and older fundraising event, at the Doll Factory (1910 West Temple Street) in Los Angeles. The evening will feature an all-star roller derby bout, music, comedy, art, sciences and plenty of last minute guest surprises. Proceeds will benefit DSALA’s efforts to support those born with Trisomy 21/Down syndrome living in greater Los Angeles. Tickets go on sale on May 1st at

Movie, television and recording star James Darren is joining the All-Star company performing in the 30th Anniversary Spectacular, S.T.A.G.E. Goes to the Movies on Saturday, May 10 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Darren became an instant cinematic heartthrob in the legendary beach and surfer Gidget movies. He made 20 films before turning to television as an actor and director. SiriusXM personality Frank DeCaro is also joining the event as Celebrity Auctioneer. DeCaro appeared as the flamboyant film critic for six years on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Among the several priceless packages Frank will be presenting during the event’s live auction are a Tony Award Week trip to New York City that includes airfare, theatre tickets and accommodations; a one week Palm Springs get away in a private villa; and signed “Musical Quotes” from legendary Broadway composers. Tickets:

CABARET: Lynda Carter returns to the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood with her new show, The Time of My Life! Joining her will be her All-Star Band including Blue Lou Marini, Paul Leim and Luis Conte. Two shows only, April 11 & 12. Tickets:

PUPPETS AND MUSIC: LA Puppet Fest 2014 is back for its second year. The city-wide celebration is dedicated to sharing and promoting the art of puppetry through performances and workshops. Now through April 13 the festival offers over 25 events, many appropriate for children and families and there are adult only programs as well. Venues are located around the city, from Santa Monica, West Los Angeles to West Hollywood and Hollywood. Participating in this year’s LA Puppet Fest are Puppet School; Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams; LA Guild of Puppetry; Little Stage Puppet Theater; Bob Baker Marionette Theater; Rogue Artists; Sock Puppet Theater; Beth Peterson; Leslie K. Gray; Gina Pavlova; Skirball Cultural Center; and more. For the complete schedule and details, including Tales of Longing and Belonging: The Losing, Finding and Making of Place, an Evening of Puppetry and Song on April 11, go to

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