Friday, February 27, 2015

Inteview: Emily Lopez Turns up the Heat for CARRIE THE MUSICAL

Emily Lopez in rehearsal for Carrie the Musical
Photo by Ann B. Taylor

One of the most highly anticipated productions in LA is the upcoming revival of Carrie the Musical opening March 18 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Word has it that the performance will take place all over the theater in what will be a truly immersive experience. Based on the unforgettable Stephen King horror novel, the revival reunites the original creative team: bookwriter Lawrence D. Cohen (screenwriter of the classic film) who has revised the book, lyricist Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose), and composer Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment). Carrie has always been the kind of story that prompts a strong reaction. People who love it, really love it. As for those of us in the musical theatre community - we can’t wait to see what happens at this high school prom.

Today we get a first look at the actress playing the title character, Emily Lopez, as she talks about high school, auditioning for Carrie, and that blue prom dress.

Everyone has horror stories from high school and in some way I think we can all identify with Carrie. What do you bring to the role from your high school experience?

The most terrifying thing about high school for me was that there was no way out. You really just had to grin and bear it. I consider myself very lucky because I had the opportunity to graduate early so I could focus on music and theater full time. Most teenagers only have two worlds to exist in - home and school. That’s horrific enough without any pig’s blood or telekinesis. My high school literally had barbed wire on the fences, so I’m not exaggerating when I say I felt like a prisoner.
 

I heard you broke into your high school to record your audition. Is that true and where did the idea come from?

I got a late night call from Tal Fox saying the casting team liked my first audition tape, and wanted to see a new video where I would perform The Destruction sequence. They asked that I wear something less baggy than what I had worn in my first video, and last but not least they need the video by 9:00 am the next morning! So I woke up early the next day, packed up a pretty blue prom dress that I hadn’t had the occasion to wear until that morning, and headed out trying to find a quiet place to record. Lucky for me, there is a beautiful old high school gym that sits completely empty and unused just a block or two away from where I was living. So I tried a few doors until I found one that was unlocked, sang through it twice, and taped it on the third go. Then I got out of there as quickly as possibly because I would not survive the American prison system.

Were you familiar with the musical or the film before these auditions came up? Why did you want to be part of the show?

I auditioned for the show at the open call two years ago, but I ran out of gas on the way and had $1.35 in my bank account. I called my mom sobbing, telling her I knew that this was a sign that I shouldn’t go and it was time for me to give up and try something else. She calmed me down, sent me some money for gas and food, then before she hung up she told me that if I believe in what I’m doing and never give up on it, it will eventually work out one way or another. I wanted to do Carrie because I feel that the cast, crew and creative team are all living proof that my mother was right. There is a tangible feeling in the air that we are all in the right place at the right time.

What do you love most about working on it?

This is the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. Musically, emotionally, every aspect is unrelenting in what it’s asking of the cast. I can’t get enough of it. I’ve always said that I love doing theater because I love playing pretend, but this is so much more than that. It’s completely immersive so it’s more like living the story than pretending it. I feel so lucky to get to be a part of this.

It sounds like youre prepared for this moment.

I grew up doing Community Theater and continued to perform, audition, and work in theater locally in the Inland Empire. I’ve been fortunate enough to always find myself surrounded by an incredibly supportive community of artists, friends, and out of the box thinkers. There are so many amazing directors, musicians, writers, and actors in the San Bernardino/Riverside area. I consider everything I learned and gained from working and collaborating with those artists I’ve known to be my true experience more than the roles I’ve played.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

CARRIE THE MUSICAL
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

Cast: Emily Lopez as Carrie White, Misty Cotton as Margaret White, with Kayla Parker (Sue Snell), Jon Robert Hall (Tommy Ross), Valerie Rose Curiel (Chris Hargensen), Jenelle Lynn Randall (Miss Gardner), Garrett Marshall (Billy Nolan), Bryan Dobson (Mr. Stephens and Reverend Bliss), Michael Starr (George Dawson), Adante Carter (Dale “Stokes” Ullman), Ian Littleworth (Freddy “The Beak” Holt), Kimberly Ann Steele (Helen Shyres), Rachel Farr (Norma Watson), Teya Patt (Frieda Jason) and Carly Bracco, Lyle Colby Mackston, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Chris Meissner and Amy Segal.

Performance Dates: March 12 – April 5, 2015 with opening night set for Wednesday, March 18 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available at www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student and Senior discounts are available. For more information on the production, visit www.experiencecarrie.com.

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

CABARET & CONCERT Upcoming Events Around Town

Valley Performing Arts Center will present Disney FANTASIA – Live in Concert on Sunday March 29 at 1:00 pm so families can easily attend. With this presentation, Disney shares one of its crown jewels of feature animation with the CSUN Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Roscigno, accompanying scenes from Walt Disney’s original FANTASIA (1940) and Disney FANTASIA 2000. The show highlights a selection of the magnificent repertoire from both films including TchaikovskyThe Nutcracker Suite and other iconic moments of Disney’s stunning footage, such as Mickey Mouse as he dabbles in magic to Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the mythical unicorns and winged horses that accompany Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, all performed live while the animation classics scroll in high definition on the big screen. Click Here for tickets and to view the complete repertoire on the program.

Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced the final two concerts of Molly Ringwald’s west coast tour on Sunday, March 8 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Long before for her starring roles in such films as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald was singing. She began performing with her father’s jazz band when she was only three years old and has never stopped. The shows at Catalina will return her to those early roots as she performs a mix of songs from her new CD Except Sometimes along with beloved hits from the Great American Songbook. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.TicketWeb.com. Purchases made before March 1st receive $5 off and online purchases will receive priority seating. www.ChrisIsaacsonPresents.com

A Little New Music returns to Rockwell Tuesday March 10 at 8:00 pm hosted by Jordan Kai Burnett with music director Bryan Blaskie. The evening will showcase songs by Jeff Marx, Doug Katsaros & Amanda Yesnowitz, Brett Ryback, Rosser & Sohne, Zoe Sarnak, Andrew Gerle, Sam Salmond, Erik Przytulski, Brett Macias, Daniel Maté, Tepper & Sunshine and Andy Cooper, with performances by Brett Ryback, Colette Hawley, Sandra Benton, Robin DeLano, LaVance Colley, Kirsten Benton Chandler, Christina Morrell, Darren Bluestone, Cassandra Nuss, Emily Clark, Christopher Venegas, Jordan Kai Burnett, and more, plus the casts of Serrano, Recorded in Hollywood and Home Street Home. Tickets: (323) 661-6263 or www.rockwell-la.com. For more information visit www.alittlenewmusic.org.

Fraser Entertainment Group is back with An Evening of Classic Broadway on March 16. Musical director Brad Ellis leads a cast that includes Eileen Barnett, Zachary Ford, Jennifer Foster, Julie Garnye, Todd Murray, Kyra Selman, Robyn Spangler and more, with host Billy Riback. Tickets: wwwrockwell-la.com.

Additional Rockwell Table & Stage upcoming events include:
March 2: Emily Skinner in Concert 
March 3: The Hollywood Jane Revue in Rack to the Future “A Burlesque Parody
March 5: Steve Kazee Live
Fri/Sat 3/6 - 28: Romeo + Juliet: Love is a Battlefield
March 9: Nicole Parker as Jillane Jenkins in Suitcase Full of Lies
March 15: Daisy and Jordan’s Brunch of Shame
March 17: John Buccino Live
March 31: Jake Broder in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley
For a complete list of all the events playing at Rockwell go to www.rockwell-la.com.

Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sunday, March 8 at 7:00 pm. Performers include Stan Chandler, Kevin Earley, Kimberly Hessler, Kelli Provart, and Adrienne Visnic with special guests Sue Raney (with Shelly Markham) and Bruce Vilanch. Lloyd Cooper is music director. Reservations: (800) 832 3006 or Click Here.

Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation continues its 2015 Season with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday, March 27 at 8:00 pm. Known for their big-band, swing revival sound, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s hits include “Go Daddy-O,” “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.” Tickets: www.Arcadiapaf.org. The theatre is at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007.

The cast has been announced for Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event’s 31st annual gala, To Broadway, From Hollywood….With Love which takes place on May 9th at the Saban Theatre. Scheduled to appear are Loni Anderson, Obba Babatunde, Adrienne Baron, Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, James Darren, Loretta Devine, Nancy Dussault, David Engel, Barbara Eden, Julie Garnye, Thea Gill, Jason Graae, Gregory Harrison, Sally Kellerman, Jon Maher, Melissa Manchester, Pat Marshall, James McMullan, Patricia Morison, Robert Morse, Donna Pescow, Jake Simpson, Sally Struthers, Donna Theodore, Lisa Vroman and Adam Wylie. David Galligan directs with Brad Ellis serving as musical director for his first time. The event raises critical funds for AIDS Project Los Angeles. www.stagela.com

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MUSICAL NEWS for Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Matt DeCaro (center) with the cast of the Goodman Theatre production
of The White Snake.Photo by Liz Lauren.

MUSICAL NEWS: Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman will make her long-awaited San Diego directing debut with an enchanting theatrical spectacle with live music and sumptuous visuals, The White Snake. The Southern California premiere of The White Snake, written and directed by Zimmerman, will run March 21 - April 26 (opening 3/26). 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. This nearly 2,000 year-old Chinese fable has been reimagined throughout the centuries and appears in the legends of many cultures. Featured in the cast are Amy Kim Waschke as the White Snake, with Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake), Jon Norman Schneider (Xu Xian), and Matt DeCaro (Fa Hai). The ensemble also includes Dan Lin (Boatman), Stephenie Soohyun Park (Guan Yin), Eliza Shin (Acolyte), Shannon Tyo (Crane), Kristin Villanueva (Sister), Gary Wingert (Canopus), and Wai Yim (Brother-in-Law); and musicians Tessa Brinckman (Flutes), Ronnie Malley(Strings/Percussion), and Michal Palzewicz (Cello). Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or www.TheOldGlobe.org.

The cast of Putting It Together

The musical revue Putting It Together will play ten performances at Sierra Madre Playhouse March 13 – 28. Directed and choreographed by Cate Caplin, with musical direction by Jake Anthony, the show is produced by Christian Lebano, Estelle Campbell and Alison Kalmus. Three men and two women at a Manhattan cocktail party provide the framework for a dazzling revue of nearly thirty Sondheim musical numbers performed by Kurt Andrew Hansen, Rachel Hirshee, Mike Irizarry, Chris Kerrigan and Kristin Towers-Rowles. At Saturday matinees, the cast will include David Callander, Michael D’Elia, Rachel Hirshee, Kayre Morrison and Jake Novak. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. Putting It Together runs in repertory with the musical Einstein Is A Dummy which opens March 6.

Einstein Is A Dummy is a fictional treatment of what the young genius Albert Einstein might have been like at age 12. Unsure of himself, competing with the classroom bully, coping with a self-centered jerk of a music teacher, hoping to impress his first crush: a pretty girl named Elsa. In other words, Albert is in many ways a typical 12-year-old; typical except for the fact that he comes to understand the fundamental principles of existence with far more clarity than you or me. The musical features book & lyrics by Karen Zacarias, music & musical direction by Deborah Wicks La Puma. It is directed by Derek Manson; choreographed by Zakiya Alta Lee and produced by Estelle Campbell, Christian Lebano and Amanda Weier. The show runs March 6 - April 12 and is double-cast. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.


OPERA: Jake Heggie & Terrence NcNally’s Dead Man Walking comes to The Broad Stage March 7 & 8. Relive the story of Sister Helen Prejean’s experience with death row inmates that became a best-selling book, award-winning film, and one of the most performed operas of our time. This re-orchestrated concert version by Opera Parallèle captures the timeless relevance of the story in a dramatic musical setting. From its shocking beginning to its emotionally searing final scene, this opera changes everyone who encounters it. Tickets and more information: www.thebroadstage.com.


Pacific Opera Project boldly goes where no opera company has gone before in a Star Trek-themed production of Abduction from the Seraglio at the El Portal Theatre March 6, 7 & 8. POP puts their zany spin on Mozart’s kidnapping caper by setting it in space...the final frontier. Klingons, slave girls, and all your favorite characters from the original Star Trek series sing and dance their way through Abduction with a 27-piece orchestra and a new English libretto by artistic director Josh Shaw. The cast includes Brian Cheney as Captain James T. Belmonte, Robert Norman as the Spock-like Mr. Pedrillo, Shawnette Sulker (Ltn. Constanza), Claire Averill (Blondie the Orion Slave Girl), Phil Meyer (the evil Klingon Osmin), Gregg Lawrence (Chancellor Selim), and a chorus of 30 dancing slave girls and singing Klingons. Tickets: (818) 508-4200 or www.pacificoperaproject.com.

Ludmilla Tchérina in The Tales of Hoffman (1951).
Photo courtesy of Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal

You can catch the new 4K digital restoration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1951 Technicolor extravaganza The Tales of Hoffman March 13-19 at Cinefamily on Fairfax. Long acknowledged as the most artistically brilliant creative partnership in British film history, Powell and Pressburger collaborated for over 30 years on some of the most beautifully-conceived color films of all time, including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and A Matter of Life and Death. Based on the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffman is an anthology of fantastic and romantic adventures, starring The Red Shoes’ Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tchérina. This restoration, supervised by Powell's wife and Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, is the most complete, crisp and beautiful version ever released in this country. Click Here for tickets and showtimes.

From the writer and director of The Pliant Girls comes The Discord Altar, a new contemporary opera with libretto by Meghan Brown, directed by Amanda McRaven with musical direction by Ann Baltz, and music improvised by the company. Produced by OperaWorks in association with The Fugitive Kind Theatre, the production will have its world premiere at Secret Rose Theatre April 10 - May 3. This is the first in a series of proposed productions from OperaWorks’ ASAP, the Arts for Social Awareness Project, an ambitious undertaking seeking to raise consciousness regarding social issues. The Discord Altar examines homelessness through its small cast of characters.


David has died, succumbing to the ravages that his addictions had wreaked upon his health.  A brilliant voice teacher, during his life on the skids, his students were a small group of homeless young people. Now they have gathered to memorialize him. They’re joined by one of their number who escaped poverty and went on to achieve a successful career in the mainstream; and also by David’s embittered daughter, who considers that he abandoned his family. The cast includes Babatunde Akinboboye, Julia Aks, James Hayden, Anjelica McRae, Vincent Robles, Alina Roitstein and Annie Sherman. Musicians: Ann Baltz and Ray Salas. Tickets: (818) 898-9597 or www.operaworks.org/asap. 

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: It's Delicious Thievery in A Noise Within's THE THREEPENNY OPERA

Pre-show: A Noise Within's The Threepenny Opera. Scenic Design by Frederica
Nascimento. Lighting Design by Ken Booth, Scenic Painter: Orlando de la Paz.
Photo by Musicals in LA

The first thing you notice when you step into the theater for A Noise Within’s The Threepenny Opera is Frederica Nascimento’s stunningly vivid set design. It’s a deconstruction in which none of the elements are hidden: lighting instruments are in plain sight; pieces of scenery hang suggestively from the rails but without trying to make a complete picture; furniture litters the upstage areas and props are scattered about; the band is in plain view tuning up on one side and actors in rags are already roaming the audience.

It’s an immediate in-your-face blow to the forehead to sit up and pay attention for the kind of theatre you are about to see is not meant to whisk you away to a fantasy land where you get lost in a fictional story but instead insists that you as an audience member will never forget you are watching a play.

Andrew Ableson (Macheath) and Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum).
Photos by Craig Schwartz ©2015

Brechtian theatre, or epic theatre as it is also called, is named after Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and many of its revolutionary elements are still employed by theatre companies today. A lifelong Marxist, Brecht intentionally experimented with theatre as a political medium. He wanted to use it to educate audiences by making them think rather than merely entertaining them. Together with composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950), he would write perhaps his most popular work, The Threepenny Opera, which was a turning point in musical theatre in the early part of the twentieth century.

The Threepenny Opera is based on John Gay’s 18th Century The Beggar’s Opera, which also satirized politics, as well as the favorite musical art form of the day, Italian opera. The scenes are episodic, with songs often announced by an actor carrying a large handwritten placard in directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliot and Geoff Elliott’s staging. These musical interludes are meant to interrupt the action and are conveniently titled so there is no doubt as to what they are (e.g. - Love Song, Wedding Song, Pimp’s Ballad, Song of Futility, Jealousy Duet) and how you’re meant to observe them. A Noise Within’s revival nails the stylistic characteristics of the piece, not the least of which is its overriding sense of detachment. There is a moral here but it is delivered in a very unique manner. 

It’s Berlin in the Weimar era and Peachum (Geoff Elliott) is in the pity business, preying upon the rich by hiring phony beggars to steal all they can in order to pad his pockets. When his daughter Polly (Marisa Duchowny) runs away and marries the charismatic criminal Macheath (Andrew Ableson), Peachum loses all control over her and vows to have Macheath jailed and out of his way for good. But Mackie’s friend Tiger Brown (Jeremy Rabb) is the police chief and Brown succeeds in keeping his old friend out of jail. Well, until he can’t, and although things may look dicey for Mackie mid-way through, by the time the final brilliantly-written scene plays out and the unlikely ending falls into place, Brecht makes his point and it’s up to the audience to ponder the takeaway.

The cast is excellent, from Elliott and Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum) as the greedy emblems of a dog eat dog world to Ableson, who cuts a pointedly angular figure as the anti-hero, Macheath. In a show where voices don’t necessarily need to be beautiful to be effective, the fact that he sings well is an added plus. As Polly, the lovely Duchowny is a bedraggled child bride who drags an actual baby doll around the stage wherever she goes. Her twist on the character is the freshest interpretation I’ve seen of the role and a reinvention that is as comic as it is pathetic. She goes from petulant young waif to spitfire den mother of Macheath’s band of thieves in the blink of an eye and is the best of many reasons for you to see this production. Stasha Surdyke balances smoky sensuality with sad inevitability for prostitute Jenny Diver, the role Lotte Lenya originated in Germany and won a Tony Award for on Broadway, and Maegan McConnell adds a viciously comic edge to the conniving Lucy Brown. 

Weill’s score was originally presented by 7 musicians covering 23 instrumental parts and music director DeReau K. Farrar conducts his 7-piece orchestra for A Noise Within presumably to those original specifications. What I can tell you is that they sound great on the difficult music which is a direct departure from the traditions of grand opera and includes the freer elements of jazz, British music hall tunes, and Weill’s characteristic sound-scapes. Gieselle Blair’s stylized make-up design, accentuated by heavy black eyebrows, deep red lips, and white face powder, captures the decadence and eroticism of the 1920’s Berlin cabaret scene with a humorous flair. 

he Threepenny Opera popularity with audiences and the fact that it is rarely done has proved advantageous for A Noise Within, who announced an extension even before it opened. Intended for the masses and written to elicit a thoughtful response regarding the inequities of society, this is a revival that is worthy of your time and strong enough to leave a lasting impression. See it!

From the Merriam Webster Dictionary:  Threepenny -- adjective
1. costing or worth three British pennies (threepence)  2. poor

Andrew Ableson (Macheath), Jeremy Rabb (Tiger Brown), and
Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum)

Stasha Surdyke (Jenny Diver) and Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum)

The Ensemble of The Threepenny Opera

Andrew Ableson (Macheath) and Ensemble

The ensemble with Andrew Ableson (Macheath) 

Marisa Duchowny as Polly Peachum

Stasha Surdyke as Jenny Diver

Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum), Andrew Ableson (Macheath), and
Abubakr Ali (Crook-Fingered Jack) 

THE THREEPENNY OPERA

February 15 - May 17, 2015
A Noise Within
East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
Tickets: (626) 356-3100 or www.anoisewithin.org

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Good People Theatre Company's Elegant CLOSER THAN EVER

Sara Stuckey, Gabriel Kalomas, Jessie Withers and David Zack.
Photos by Rich Clark

A tastefully elegant production of Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever brings the duo’s beautiful and thought-provoking songs to life in the intimate performance space at Hollywood Piano in Burbank. It’s a co-production between Good People Theater Company and Hollywood Piano; a partnership that means the audience gets the rare opportunity to hear the score played on a gorgeous 9½ foot Mason & Hamlin grand piano. That’s a luxury most 99-seat theatre productions can’t afford which makes it all the more satisfying to be able to experience it up close in a room with great acoustics and the incredibly talented Corey Hirsch making it sing.

Closer Than Ever is a musical revue that plays like an ensemble cabaret show without the connecting patter, and although it first debuted Off-Broadway in 1989, it isn’t a tired walk down memory lane. Rather, it is a timeless treatment of the thoughts and emotions that people experience in the course of a lifetime - love, loss, regret, aging, and the friendships that endure - in a relatable context for today.

In true Maltby/Shire fashion, the songs are the star. Each one is a self-contained story that is fully satisfying on its own. Put them all together and they have even more impact. Often both humor and pain exist side by side, as in the urban love story “She Loves Me Not,” in which a trio (Jessie Withers, David Zack and Gabriel Kalomas) sings of unrequited love. The fragile lyric artfully wraps itself around the three singers in a most poignant fashion and the effect is stunning.

Director Janet Miller keeps the storytelling simple and direct while layering in subtext with a delicate hand. In this type of intimate venue its all about what you can see in the actors eyes while allowing the abrupt shifts in tone to lift the comedy and let it surprise the audience. Under Miller and musical director Hirschs guidance, the company easily succeeds, blending four unique voices into a lovely ensemble with each actor still retaining his or her own personality.

Zack is the pop tenor whose best number is One of the Good Guys. He allows the storys narrative to reveal its quiet drama without overplaying his hand, while Kalomas has a more classical presence but also does some great comic sparring with Sara Stuckey in the hilarious break-up song You Wanna Be My Friend and the poignantly funny There about a couples disintegrating relationship. Stuckeys natural sweetness is perfect for Miss Byrd, which she delivers with a knowing wink. Stuckey also shines in the conversational songs that deal with more serious topics like Life Story where she considers the choices shes made and Its Never That Easy/Ive Been Here Before, a girl talk medley with Withers about relationships.

The clear standout performance however is Withers in what has always been my favorite song in the show, Patterns. Her interpretation is full of nuance and you can see the thoughts and images flicker across her face and vanish almost as quickly as they appear. From a whisper to a roar, hers is a rich vocal instrument that cuts through with clarity and a unique resonance that picks up overtones from the piano that ring in the air. Listen for it in the song and youll hear it almost like an echo vibrating between the musical phrases. It really is quite a wonderful surprise.

She too has a way with comedy, as you’ll hear in “The Bear, the Tiger, the Hamster and the Mole,” a song that had been cut from Maltby & Shire’s musical, Baby, that would be the impetus for the writers to create Closer Than Ever. In “Back on Base” she turns up the heat with Jordan Lamoureux (at this performance) on upright bass in a jazzy arrangement that sizzles with intensity and provides plenty of opportunity to do some sensual scatting.

All in all, this is an elegant two hour evening of storytelling through song that is as musically satisfying a production as youll find anywhere in LA. Catch it now through March 15th.








CLOSER THAN EVER
February 21 - March 15, 2015

Good People Theater Company
Hollywood Piano
323 North Front Street, Burbank, CA 91502
Tickets: http://goodpeopletheaterco.org
Free parking in the Burbank Metro Lot

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Mini-Review: Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers) in Séquence 8


On Thursday, February 19th, Valley Performing Arts Center brought the beauty and artistry of Les 7 doigts de la main to Southern California audiences in a one-night-only performance of Séquence 8. Breathtaking acrobatics, unexpected humor, and exciting innovation are the hallmarks of this mesmerizing piece of storytelling. This is the human connection revealed in all its glory by eight incredibly talented artists who use their unique abilities to reach into the hearts of the audience and fill them with pulsing emotion. It was nothing short of a magical night of wonder. The next time you have an opportunity to see them perform - go! You can check out the complete schedule of musical and theatrical performances at the gorgeous Valley Performing Arts Center at www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.  

The artists of Séquence 8 included Tom Ammirati, Eric Bates, Guillaume Biron, Ugo Dario, Colin Davis, Devin Henderson, Maxim Laurin, Camille Legris, Tristan Nielsen, and Alexandria Royer.


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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Photo Flash: South Pacific at Musical Theatre West

Nellie (Alessa Neeck) and Emile (Christopher Carl).
Photos by Caught in the Moment Photography

Musical Theatre West’s production of South Pacific continues performances through March 1st at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The show features direction and choreography by Joe Langworth, who served as the associate choreographer of Lincoln Center Theater’s production, which earned a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival and a nomination for Best Choreography. The cast includes Alessa Neeck as Nellie Forbush and Christopher Carl as Emile DeBecque, Jodi Kimura (Bloody Mary), Patrick Cummings (Lt. Joseph Cable), Cailan Rose (Liat), Spencer Rowe (Luther Billis), Zach Appel, Brandon Balagot, Patrick Cummings, Cole Cuomo, Jay Donnell, Chaz Feuerstine, Marc Ginsberg, Peter Hargrave, Devin Hennessy, Chris Holly, Andrew Huber, Juliana Jurenas, Matthew  Kacergis, Kate McConaughy, Natalie MacDonald, Katharine Kelly McDonough, Ariel Neydavoud, Gemma Pederson, Melvin Ramsay, Spencer Rose, Tom Shelton, Amber Sky-Skipps, Adrian Smith,  Nikki Spies, and Sue Ellie Yaeger. Tickets: (562) 856-1999 x 4 or www.musical.org.


The seabees explore exotic wonders

Nellie (Alessa Neeck)

Bloody Mary (Jodi Kimura)

Liat (Cailan Rose) and Lt. Cable (Patrick Cummings) 

Luther Billis (Spencer Rowe) and Nellie (Alessa Neeck) 

Nellie (Alessa Neeck) and Emile (Christopher Carl) 

Bloody Mary (Jodi Kimura) and Lt. Cable (Patrick Cummings)

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Comedy Faceposted by Ellen Dostal, MusicalsInLA @
8:45 PM
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