Tuesday, May 24, 2016

MUSICAL NEWS for Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lena Hall in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photo credit: Jamie Loeb

MUSICAL NEWS
More big news from the Hollywood Pantages this week: Lena Hall will reprise her Tony Award-winning performance as Yitzhak in the highly anticipated national tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch coming this fall. She joins Darren Criss on the tour, November 1 – 27, 2016. In addition, Hall will also play the role of Hedwig for one performance a week in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is rare a Tony Award winner to go on national tour, and historic for the same person to play both Hedwig and Yitzhak.

Book writer John Cameron Mitchell says, “Oh my Goddess, Lena Hall is the only talent I know who could play a brilliant Yitzhak and Hedwig in the same production. Talk about finding your other half. It’s Hedwig history in the making.”

Hall will appear as Hedwig in the following performances: Sunday, Nov 6 at 6:30 pm, Sunday, Nov 13 at 6:30 pm, Sunday, Nov20 at 6:30 pm, and Friday, Nov 25 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are currently only available for purchase with a season package to the Hollywood Pantages 2016-2017 Season. Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public at a later date TBA. www.HollywoodPantages.com


Deaf West Theatre’s Tony-nominated production of Spring Awakening has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the cast to perform on the Tony Awards June 12. You can read more about their journey at www.GetSpringOnTheTonys.com and help support them. Contributions to Deaf West Theatre's Kickstarter are tax deductible.

“The past few weeks have been a thrill for Deaf West and everyone at Spring Awakening,” said D.J. Kurs, artistic director of Deaf West Theatre. “We are not in the business of theater-making for awards recognition, but being recognized and remembered by the Broadway community, particularly in this season of diversity, is something to treasure,”.

“Our journey to Broadway originally began with a Kickstarter, which funded rehearsals in a tiny church in North Hollywood and performances at the 99-seat Inner City Arts’ Rosenthal Theater in Los Angeles. Now, as a non-profit, Deaf West is looking to our fervent supporters, many of whom supported Spring Awakening’s acclaimed limited run on Broadway, to reunite our far-flung cast for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for the world on the Tony Awards broadcast. There’s just one night a year that theater gets this platform. Our performance will be an undeniable statement to the world that theater is for everyone.”

MORE NEWS FROM THE FRINGE:
Angel’s Flight, a film noir caburlesque comedy written by Matt Ritchey and Benjamin Schwartz, will premiere at Three Clubs cocktail bar, June 4 – 25. The hour-long detective story partners Ritchey and Schwartz with the Cherry Poppins Caburlesque Company, residents at Three Clubs and winners of Hollywood Fringe’s 2015 “Most Orgasmic Performance.”

It’s Los Angeles, 1944. A girl’s gone missing, but L.A. detective Duff McKagan is hot on this swell doll’s trail, barking up the wrong trees and other such noir-ish clichés. But things aren’t always as they seem in the City of Angels, and the chase becomes a downward spiral of betrayal, murder, and the deadliest drug of all: marijuana. Featured in the cast are Schoen Hodges, Sarah Haworth, Allison Miller, David Lee Garver, Michael Onofri, Ben Blonigan, Kelly Stevenson, Rebecca Reaney, Brin Hamlin, Heath Butler, Benjamin Schwartz, Bradley Benz, and Madeleine Heil. For audiences 21 and up. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3353.

Tap Overload is premiering a new original tap dance story show at the Fringe, June 4 – 24 at Sacred Fools Theater Main Stage. Office Beat is a light-hearted, toe tapping, family-friendly dance comedy with original music by Andrew Van Vlear and directed & choreography by Gabe and Mindy Copeland (additional choreography by Dianne Walker and Hiroshi Hamanishi) Tappy workers once happily shuffling through their days are in for a dramatic flap ball change when the arrival of a new Boss brings a strict no tap dance policy.  An office revolt breaks out as everyone unites to bring tap dance back to the office.

Cast includes Maddy Beadle, Clarissa Yoshiko Chun, Gabe Copeland, Mindy Copeland, Hilary Cunningham, Racquel Dirckze, Heidi Drinkward, Erin Esparza, Jimmy Fisher, Mark Marchillo, Aaron Pardini, Brooke Paulsen-Zelus, Gary Roberts, Valerie Rockey and Angela Todaro. Running time: 60 minutes. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3390. For more about the show, visit www.tapoverload.com.

CABARET/CONCERT
The popular concert series A Little New Music moves to Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood for its next concert performance on June 27. “We are excited to join the ranks of many Broadway and jazz greats who have created some exceptional musical moments at this Los Angeles institution.,” says ALNM co-founder, Christopher Maikish. “And in that spirit, we invite our audience to experience our innovative series anew at the Catalina, whose motto is, ‘only the best music has to offer.’” Tickets: 323-466-2210 or www.TicketWeb.com. For more info, visit www.alittlenewmusic.org.


An Evening of Classic Broadway returns June 13 to Rockwell Table and Stage with the music of Harold Arlen, Jule Styne, Rodgers & Hart, Lopez, Parker & Stone, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Menken & Ashman. Join Brad Ellis and Dianne Fraser along with Eydie Alyson, Jennifer Bennett, Will Collyer, Jean Louisa Kelly, Kelly Lester, Scotch Ellis Loring, Kevin McMahon, Jeffrey Scott Parsons, and Jennifer Shelton. Ticket link


The Foundation for New American Musicals presents its next Musi-Cal showcasing outstanding composers, writers, and performers on Monday, June 6, hosted by Richard Israel. The performance will take place at Rockwell Table & Stage and will feature material from:

Marilyn!
Music & additional Lyrics by Gregory Nabours
Book & Lyrics by Tegan Summer
Performed by: Kelley Dorney and Constance Jewell Lopez 

Snow White and the Magnificent Seven
Book, Music & Lyrics by Ronnie Sperling & Chris Halsted
Performed by: Nick St. Maria, Romy Sperling, John Dantona, Stephen Stewart, Judi Stewart, Annie Reznik, and Milli Miereanu.

The Escape Artist (From the short musical anthology A Feast of Snacks
Book, Music & Lyrics by Michael Gordon Shapiro
Performed by: Graydon Schlichter, Lindsay Anne Braverman, Lauren Holiday, Margaret Glaccum, and Carey Matthews.

Leap
Book, Music & Lyrics by Zach Spound
Performed by: Zach Spound, Aly French, Julia Black, and Alexander Pimentel
Welcoming back with new songs from

Alien vs. Musical
Book, Music & Lyrics by Erik Przytulski
Book by Steve Troop
For more info, go to www.lafestival.org.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

MUSICAL NEWS for Monday, May 23, 2016

Alison Woods as Ariel in The LIttle Mermaid.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

MUSICAL NEWS:

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts presents The Little Mermaid, featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, book by Doug Wright, June 3 – 26. Musical direction is by Colin R. Freeman, choreography by John MacInnis and the show is directed by Glenn Casale. The cast includes Alison Woods as Ariel, Melvin Abston (Sebastian), Adam Garst (Flounder), Fred Inkley (King Triton), Eric Kunze (Prince Eric), Tracy Lore (Ursula), Jeff Skowron (Chef Louis), Jamie Torcellini (Scuttle), Scott T. Leiendecker (Flotsam), Jeffrey Christopher Todd (Jetsam), and Time Winters (Grimsby) along with Ashley Anderson, Kim Arnett, Kristine Bennett, Marjorie Failoni, Melissa Glasgow, Devon Hadsell, Michael McGurk, Amanda Minano, Dennis O’Bannon, Marco Ramos, Aaron Ronelle, James Shackelford, Brian Steven Shaw and Tro Shaw. www.lamiradatheatre.com


New Musicals Inc. and 3-D Theatricals have announced the cast for their upcoming staged reading of the new musical Invisible, book by David Hollingsworth, lyrics & music by David Orris. The reading will be co-directed by 3-D Theatrical’s artistic director T.J. Dawson and NMI’s artistic director Elise Dewsberry; with music direction by Ron Barnett; sound design by Julie Ferrin; and puppet design by Patricio Wolovich. The show is a John-Hughes-esque musical theatre re-interpretation of the HG Wells classic The Invisible Man with a totally original pop/rock score that takes great joy in paying homage to popular music and popular cultural tropes of the era. Featured in the cast are Michael Thomas Grant, Daniel Amerman, Ashley Argota, Jordan Goodsell, Christie Brooke, Natalie MacDonald, Jay Cramer, Luke Klipp, Luke Matthew Simon, and Daniel Mills.The presentations will take place on Monday, June 6 (8pm) at the Colony Theatre in Burbank; and on Tuesday, June 7 (8pm) at the 3-D Theatricals Rehearsal Hall in Anaheim. Visit www.nmi.org to learn more.

Musical Theatre Guild has announced its 2016-2017 season. For the last twenty years, MTG has presented a wide variety of rarely seen musicals including west coast and Los Angeles premieres from such composers as Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Maury Yeston, and Aherns and Flaherty. MTG also partners with the Los Angeles Music Center’s Education Division to expand their mission of preserving the genre of Musical Theatre by presenting in-school programming to teach a new generation about this original American art form. Season includes:

Sept 25, 2016: Promises, Promises
Nov 13, 2016: The Spitfire Grill
February 2, 2017: Hallelujah, Baby!
May 7, 2017: State Fair
Season tickets go on sale in late June and single tickets will be available in July. All performances take place at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. www.musicaltheatreguild.com

NEWS FROM THE FRINGE:
Acclaimed company Robot Teammate & The Accidental Party returns with the world premiere of their second scripted musical, an epic dystopian comedy titled Thug Tunnel. Somewhere in the not-so-distant-future, greed, pollution, and The Ancient Fire of Death and Despair has made Earth's surface uninhabitable, forcing the human race to survive underground in a criminal society known as Thug Tunnel. No one dares defy the violent rulers Breakin' Necks Becky (Nikki Muller) and Stabby Rick (Dave Reynolds) until a young Tunnelborn named Petunia (Kat Primeau) and her lovesick sidekick Panther (Chris Bramante) decide to make a break for the world above. Aided by (Miles Crosman) an old Tunnel sage, and the phosphorescent Yogurt Stew (Molly Dworsky), Petunia and Panther journey through the Double Darkness, into the Maze of Infinite Confusion, and past the Great Grate to see if life on Earth's surface is possible once again. June 9 – 20 at Sacred Fools Theater Main Stage. http://hff15.org/3671

Book, lyrics, and music were conceived through improvisations and refined during writing sessions with the Robot Teammate ensemble, led by director Molly Dworsky. Musical accompaniment is by Sam Johnides and Branson NeJame plus live band members Matt Campbell, Dan Macken, and Christopher Sousa. For more about Robot Teammate, go to www.robotteammate.com.

Sugimation Productions announces the world premiere of Broadway Noir, created by Dan Sugimoto, the musical director who brought you the CAC Studios shows ChicabaRENT, Project Mayhem and the 2015 Fringe Best in Cabaret & Variety, Thenadier’s Inn #NotLesMis, Broadway Noir is an original musical comedy that reveals the black heart of show biz. Start with your detective tale. Add a few dames. A dash of comedy. A few coppers. Some good, old-fashioned drama. A little song and dance. And finally toss back a few murders for your chaser. That’s the Broadway Noir cocktail, a combination you’re going to want to taste for yourself. Performances take place at Three Clubs, June 2 – 19 (with 2 previews in Santa Monica May 26 & 31). Come dressed in your ‘40s finest! http://hff16.org/3595

A new sci-fi musical comedy The Cure to Mortality by Katy Erin will debut at the Fringe June 11 – 25 at the Asylum @ The McCadden Theater. The futuristic musical farce explores what happens to society when science takes the possibility of eternal life seriously. Erin will also star in the show, along with Molly Gilman (who directs), Sandra Diana Cantu, Mary Ann Pianka, and Brookelyn Rose. Music by Katy Erin and Christoffer Schunk. The show opens with a pay-what-you-can preview on June 5 prior to its run. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3522

Also at the Asylum @ McCadden Theatre, internationally-recognized classical pianist David Wheatley will appear in a genre-defying concert experience, A Useful Life in C Major. Wheatley’s repertoire ranges from classical favorites and original compositions to jazz, country, R&B and everything in between. The performance showcases his versatility at the keyboard as well as the range of the instrument itself. Visits from friends, surprising storytelling, and stand-up comedy make the show elevated enough for adults but friendly for the whole family. June 5 – 26. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3849

Theatre Unleashed is bringing back its critically acclaimed crowd favorite A Feast of Snacks to the Fringe at the Lounge Theater, June 3 – 25. This anthology of four bite-sized comedic musicals written by Michael Gordon Shapiro and directed by Julia Plostnieks, include:

In The Charmed Life (Co-written with Mark Harvey Levine), Margie has experienced unnaturally good luck her entire life. One afternoon she discovers the source of her good luck: a secret admirer, who for years has been covertly making her life better.

In Climb the Smallest Mountain, miniature golf legend Darius “Duke” McGovern seems poised to win his seventh world championship until a competitor finds a loophole in the rules that allows him to disrupt Duke's game.

In HMS Headwind, the merry crewmembers of an 18th century British frigate have one problem: their failure to capture a single enemy vessel.

And in a brand new piece, The Escape Artist, making its world premiere, the overly confident Scotty shows us the ropes of getting out of jury duty…until he meets a stubborn judge and a potential rival. http://hff16.org/3796

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: The Many Charms of I Only Have Eyes For You

L-R: Constantine Rousouli, Nikki Bohne, Jared Gertner,
Kayla Parker and Justin Michael Wilcox. All photos by Michael Lamont

Lovers of the era of Busby Berkeley movie musicals are getting a double whammy of Golden Age goodness this month with a pair of musicals playing only two blocks from each other in Hollywood. I Only Have Eyes For You is already running at the mid-sized Ricardo Montalban Theatre on Vine and, very shortly, 42nd Street will open at the much larger Hollywood Pantages. Both are inescapably linked by their subject matter.  

The latter is a Tony Award-winning musical based on the 1933 Warner Bros. film that made Ruby Keeler a star, featuring songs by lyricist Al Dubin and composer Harry Warren. The former tells the story of Dubin’s troubled personal and professional life, and includes the back story to 42nd Street among its significant events. The two musicals even share five songs written by Dubin and Warren: “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway” and both title songs – “42nd Street” and “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

But while 42nd Street has already established itself a winner, the newer I Only Have Eyes For You is still looking to make its mark. Originally produced in the late ‘90s at the since-demolished Tiffany Theatre on Sunset under the name Lullaby of Broadway, it boasts a number of charms in its newly-retooled version. Among them are a first-rate cast, beautiful period costumes, bright witty choreography, and of course, those wonderful tunes. And with director/choreographer Kay Cole helming the production, every dance number is a gem.

Jared Gertner and Constantine Rousouli

When Al (Jared Gertner) meets Harry Warren (Constantine Rousouli) over oysters in Grand Central Station, they seal the deal on their new partnership with a terrific song-and-dance number, “With Plenty of Money and You,” reminiscent of the old vaudeville buddy acts. A lingerie-clad sweetheart (Valerie Perri) and her three muscle men in turn-of-the-century bathing costumes (Julian DeGuzman, Karl Warden, and Justin Michael Wilcox) brilliantly play the comedy card (one of many in Cole’s dance specialties) during “Mechanical Man,” while Ruby (Kayla Parker) and Syd (DeGuzman) show off their skills in a classic tap “rehearsal” number You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me.

The most beautiful of the bunch is the opening of Act II which pairs Dubin’s long-suffering wife Helen (Nikki Bohne) singing “Painting the Clouds with Sunshine” with two dancers (Kim Taylor and Warden) performing an exquisite pas de deux behind her. Even the scene changes offer up snippets of personality with dancing waiters and porters rolling on set pieces and tapping off into the wings. It’s a given that the big numbers like “42nd Street” and “Lullaby of Broadway” will provide even larger doses of pizzazz.

Karl Warden and Kim Taylor

What is still not yet fully fleshed out is the connective tissue; the story between those classic songs and remarkable dance numbers. The framing device for this bio-musical is unclear, beginning initially with Helen telling the story but that idea is quickly abandoned. Subsequent vignettes offer the bullet points of Dubin’s life and the obsessions that tortured him, but bookwriters Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner don’t always achieve a natural flow between the elements. 

Sometimes it is a case of inserting the wrong song, as when Dubin returns after a 4-day bender only to find he’s been replaced as Warren’s writing partner by Johnny Mercer. They argue and, after Dubin leaves, Warren sings “Don’t Give Up the Ship” a song about not giving up on a friend…after it looks like he’s given up on his friend. At other times, the lead-in to, or transition out of, a song doesn’t serve the story, or a scene simply stops for the next number, as in the cut to the finale. Either way, crafting a book to go with a set of pre-existing songs is like putting together a puzzle. When the pieces fit, the picture is divine but you can always tell when the edges don’t line up.

Regardless of those challenges, the cast really delivers the goods. The role of Al Dubin appears tailor-made for Gertner who is sweet, charming, infuriating, and absolutely wonderful in the role. His eleven o’clock number “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is a film noir-inspired showstopper and Gertner delivers the dramatic turn beautifully. Bohne possesses a lovely soprano voice that adds depth to her winsome appeal and Rousouli is extremely likable as Dubin’s most significant professional relationship.
Julian DeGuzman and Kayla Parker

The famous personalities that populate Dubin’s world are also brought to life by a group of dynamic entertainers. Kayla Parker is a breath of fresh air as Ruby Keeler, the tap dancing starlet who married Al Jolson, played by Justin Michael Wilcox. Jolson’s sound was unmistakable and Wilcox has his vocals down to a T. In fact, musical director Gerald Sternbach has achieved something rare with this production. The individual voices, and resulting overall character of the show’s sound, completely recreates the classic movie musical sound of the ’30s and ‘40s. It’s stylistically consistent with the genre throughout – from orchestra to vocals to sound design (Cricket Myers at her finest once again) – and that alone is a delight

Elijah Rock and dancers

There are also strong performances by Elijah Rock as charismatic jazz singer and bandleader Cab Calloway, Dominic Pierson as the great showman Busby Berkeley, and Valerie Perri, who has perfected the art of a Jewish mother’s guilt, as Dubin’s mother.

One other element of the production design bears special mention. Much like Sternbach has captured the sound of movies, so, too, has lighting designer Brandon Baruch captured the style of visual richness you can only find in film. At times, the stage would take on a glow that was absolutely sublime. One beautiful example is the way he lit Helen during the reprise of “September in the Rain.” The combination of her vintage red gown, a simple gold tablecloth and chairs, and a floor to ceiling blue curtain somehow all melted together under the lights to create a breathtaking effect. The gorgeous costumes are by Debra McGuire and stylish set pieces are by John Iacovelli.

In many ways the show feels like a vintage love letter to the Golden Age of film. It bridges the period before and after the stock market crash, from Broadway to Hollywood, vaudeville song and dance to Tinseltown talkies, and that makes for a wonderfully happy night at the theatre. There’s work to be done but still much to love.|

Jared Gertner

Nikki Bohne and Jared Gertner

Nikki Bohne, Valerie Perri and Jared Gertner

Act I Finale - 42nd Street

Nikki Bohne

The finale of  I Only Have Eyes For You

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
May 10 – June 12, 2016
Montalban Theatre
1615 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 
Tickets: 323-461-6999 or www.flavorus.com
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; Sundays at 3pm

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Announces 2016/17 Season

This will be the first season with the arts center’s new leadership team in place – Artistic Director Paul Crewes, Managing Director Rachel Fine, and Board Chairman David C. Bohnett – and The Wallis is planning to kick it off in a big way. On Sept 10 and 11, they invite everyone to the center for WelcomeFest, a weekend celebration of free theater, dance and music events. The festival will utilize all areas of The Wallis from the 500-seat Bram Goldsmith Theater and intimate 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, to the outdoor Promenade Terrace and elegant Jamie Tisch Sculpture Garden. Event details will be announced at a later date.

Perhaps the most exciting news for L.A. theatre lovers is the announcement that Michael Arden (who just received Tony, Drama Desk and New York Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Direction of Spring Awakening) will be The Wallis’s first ever Artist-in-Residence. He will develop new work, conduct a Master Class and direct two new productions: including Steven Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along (Nov 22 – Dec 18, 2016) and Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride.

The Wallis and ASCAP will present An Evening with Stephen Schwartz: Music & Broadway Memories with Special Broadway Guest Stars on Feb 3, 2017. Spend an evening of music and Broadway memories from Stephen Schwartz, the Tony, Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer/lyricist whose credits include the classic musicals Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, as well as the Walt Disney films Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted, and the DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt. The Wallis also welcomes back the ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop in Partnership with DreamWorks Animation and The Wallis on Feb 1 & 2, 2017.

For The Record returns to L.A. for Martin Scorsese: American Crime Requiem (Sept 21 – Oct 16, 2016). The show stars an eclectic mix of artists from the worlds of music, stage and screen performing an epic set list from GoodFellas, Casino, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street and more. Part rock concert, part drama, part nightclub, and always entertaining. Pictured: Justin Mortelliti and Ensemble.

Hershey Felder also returns to The Wallis with the premiere of his new production, Tchaikovsky: A Play with Music, written and performed by Felder and directed by Trevor Hay (July 19 – Aug 6, 2017). Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of Russia’s most famous composers, is known for his beautiful melodies from the ballets Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker. At the age of 53, Tchaikovsky conducted the premiere of his enigmatic Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique,” of which he said, “Let them guess what it means…” Nine days later he was dead. To this day, how and why he died are still a mystery. Now Felder’s newest work unveils the life of one of the most beloved and tormented composers of all time.

Families will enjoy The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences production of Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in A Play! (April 22 – 23, 2017). The entertaining musical experience is ripped from the pages of Mo Willems’s beloved, award-winning, best-selling children’s books and will leave audiences doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory” dance all night long. In this vaudevillian romp, Elephant and Piggie sing and dance their way through plenty of pachydermal peril and swiney suspense. Recommended for ages 4+.
Also for the whole family is a Family Concert on Jan 29, 2017 featuring
Dan Zanes & Friends. This is the third time the Grammy Award-winner will perform at The Wallis and this time he brings his friend Sonia de los Santos for a bilingual English and Spanish concert for kids and kids-at-heart.

For a complete schedule of all the theatre, dance, jazz and classical events coming to The Wallis, visit www.TheWallis.org.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Darren Criss to Star in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Hollywood Pantages

Darren Criss as Hedwig. All photos by Joan Marcus

Big news from the Hollywood Pantages Theatre today: Darren Criss will star as Hedwig when the highly anticipated national tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch makes its Los Angeles premiere at Hollywood Pantages Theatre in November. Criss previously played Hedwig on Broadway to critical acclaim for 12 weeks last year. Joining him from the original Broadway cast will be the members of Hedwig’s band The Angry Inch -- aka Tits of Clay –music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards), Matt Duncan (bass), Tim Mislock (guitar), and Peter Yanowitz (drums). The Tony Award-winning musical will run Nov 1 -27.

The landmark musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask is a genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage. “Internationally ignored song stylist” Hedwig Robinson (Darren Criss) is out to set the record straight about her life, her loves, and the botched operation that left her with that “angry inch.”

Tickets are currently available for purchase with a season package to the Hollywood Pantages 2016-2017 Season. Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public at a later date to be announced. For more information visit www.HollywoodPantages.com.

Please note: Darren Criss will NOT appear as Hedwig in the following performances: Sunday, Nov 6 at 6:30pm; Sunday, Nov 13 at 6:30pm; Sunday, Nov 20 at 6:30pm & Friday, Nov 25 at 8:00pm.




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Friday, May 6, 2016

MUSICAL NEWS for Friday, May 6, 2016


La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment’s 2016-2017 season will kick off with the Los Angeles Premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Tom Hewitt as Frollo and Lesli Margherita as Esmeralda on Sept 16. Directed by Glenn Casale with choreography by Dana Solimando, it features a gorgeous score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, plus book by Peter Parnell. The season also includes Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor directed by Art Manke (Oct 21 – Nov 13), Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years directed by Nick DeGruccio (Jan 20 – Feb 12, 2017), West Side Story directed by Richard Israel (April 21 – May 17, 2017), and Man of La Mancha directed by Glenn Casale (June 2– June 25, 2017). www.lamiradatheatre.com

Valley Performing Arts Center’s 2016-2017 season will include Emmy and Tony Award-winning Tyne Daly starring in a one-night only concert performance of Jerry Herman’s Dear World, which opens the season on September 30, followed by Tony Winner Kelli O’Hara in concert on October 14. Also on the season are full productions of West Side Story (March 10-12) and Man of La Mancha (May 5-7) both co-presented with McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the premiere of  the VPAC-produced children’s musical Hansel & Gretel featuring original music by Justin Roberts, directed by Michael Matthews (January 22), and Taj Express’s The Bollywood Musical Review (April 19). For a complete listing of events, go to Valleyperformingartscenter.org.

Actors Co-op has announced its 2016-2017 35th silver anniversary season, which will include the musical Lucky Stiff, May 12 - June 18, 2017. The Tony Award-winning writing team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on this Island) has created a hilarious musical murder mystery farce mixing diamonds, mistaken identities and a body in a wheelchair (oh, and puppies), in this all singing, all dancing, killer musical comedy. Also on the season is The Turn of the Screw by Jeffrey Hatcher, Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations, and Cats Paw by William Mastrosimone. Actorsco-op.org.

The Old Globe’s 2016-2017 season will open with the west coast premiere of October Sky, a musical tale of boys, rockets, and big dreams. Inspired by the beloved 1999 Universal Pictures film and Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam, Jr., it features a book by Marsha Norman and Aaron Thielen, and music & lyrics by Michael Mahler. The show is directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell and runs Sept 10 – Oct 23 (opening night is 9/22). In the sleepy town of Coalwood, West Virginia, school is just something you do until you’re old enough to work in the coal mines. After the Soviets launch the Sputnik rocket, a local high schooler named Homer decides to enter a rocketry competition against the wishes of his domineering, practical-minded dad. With the help of his friends and the local community, he just might light up the night. October Sky is a musical slice of small-town Americana packed with youthful exuberance that will send your heart soaring and inspire you to reach for the stars. www.theoldglobe.org

Panic! Productions opens Disney’s Camp Rock: The Musical, a stage adaptation of the popular Disney Channel movie, tonight at NoHo Arts Center. Performances run through May 22. Directed by Barry Pearl, with choreography by Keenon Hooks and musical direction by Sean Alexander Bart, the high-energy show is a classic story of rivalry and power. Of friends arriving for another summer at Camp Rock, ready to have the time of their lives, only to discover the flashy, new Camp Star competing across the lake. The 28-member cast includes Trae Adair, Mackinnley Balleweg, Hannah Cohen, Batya Conn, Tate Downing, Madison Foreman, Maya Galipeau, Sam Herbert, Justin P. James, Tatum Krainman, Haley Ligsay, Kailee McFerran, Jade McGlynn, Jamie McRae, Allison Martinez, Gabriel Nunag, Jaden O'Neal, Adelle Panico, Elaine Panico, Paul Panico, Zoë Reed, Jenna Shechter, Bailey Stillwell, Scott Strauss, Ashley Kiele Thomas, Noah Varav, Kylie Vincent, and Allison Zatlin. Ticket Link

The Hollywood Fringe Festival kicks off in June and that means a slew of new plays and musicals will be vying for attention. Good People Theater Company returns to the festival with a Fringe First – the off-Broadway hit The Toxic Avenger Musical, June 4 – 26. Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult film, this rock-n-roll adaptation (books & lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music & lyrics by David Bryan) shamelessly amps up the camp with power ballads, dirty politics, love-is-blind romance, yards of sequins, scattered body parts and mysterious green goo. The show is directed and choreographed by artistic and producing director, Janet Miller, with musical direction by Corey Hirsch.

“Who could turn down a feel-good musical about nuclear waste?” says Miller. “No one has done it yet. It’s rock-n-roll. It’s mutant. It’s generally just pretty ridiculous. Perfect for us—and for Fringe!” Cast includes Sarah Dalton, Danny Fetter, Shirley Anne Hatton, Jared Reed, and Wesley Tunison. Produced by Good People Theater Company and Alejandro Patiño. Performances takes place at Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood, 1076 Lillian Way. Tickets: GoodPeopleTheaterCo.org. Run time: 2 hours with intermission. PG-13 for slightly risqué, subject matter. http://hff16.org/3539

Also at the Fringe, Miss Beryl Swiver presents Thanks A Lot – My Gratitusical!, one woman’s musical journey to herself and back, June 5 – 26 at Sacred Fools Theater directed by Kiff Scholl. The show features book by Richard Levinson and Rebecca Larsen, music & lyrics by Richard Levinson, and additional material by Jenelle Riley. Produced by Brian Wallis. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3814

Musical Theatre Guild closes its 20th Anniversary Season with a one-night-only concert version of The Pajama Game on Sunday, May 15. The story deals with a labor dispute at the Sleep-Tite pajama factory where workers’ demands for a 7-1/2 cent raise are going unheeded. Lewis Wilkenfeld directs a cast that includes Shannon Warne (Babe), Damon Kirsche (Sid), Jason Graae (Hines), Leslie Stevens (Gladys), Tracy Lore (Mabel), Doug Carfrae (Hasler), John Massey (Prez) and Chuck Bergman (Pop), along with Barbara Carlton Heart, Glenn Rosenblum, Jennifer Shelton, Jenni Baker, Cedric Dodd, Ryan J. Driscoll, Melissa Glasgow, Tanner Richins and Kyra Selman. Musical direction is by Corey Hirsch and choreography by Daniel Smith. 7pm at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. www.musicaltheatreguild.com

Cabrillo Music Theatre brings The Little Mermaid to the stage beginning July 15, directed by Larry Raben and choreographed by Heather Castillo. A discontented mermaid, Ariel, dreams of the world above the sea, and sacrifices her beautiful, captivating voice in search of true love and a sense of belonging in this family musical written by Doug Wright, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater. The cast of 39 will include Alison Bagli (Ariel),  Conor Guzman (Prince Eric), Lawrence Cummings (Sebastian), Debbie Prutsman (Ursula), David Engel (King Triton), Michael Kennedy (Flounder), Lyrissa Leininger (Adella), and Missy Marion (Andrina) as well as a full orchestra. A post-show discussion with cast, staff, and audience will follow the Saturday, July 16th, 2pm performance, and a signed performance for the deaf and hard-of-hearing will take place on Friday, July 22 at 8pm. www.cabrillomusictheatre.com

By popular demand, Disney’s Newsies will return to Los Angeles for a 2-week return engagement at Hollywood Pantages Theatre, August 30 – September 10. The show is inspired by the real-life ‘Newsboy Strike of 1899,’ when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers. Directed by Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, it has a Tony® Award-winning score with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Tickets are currently on sale to current season ticket holders. Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public on Sunday, May 22nd at 10am PT. www.HollywoodPantages.com

The Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy and Kritzerland Entertainment present L.A. Now and Then, a new musical revue about Los Angeles, May 13 – 21 at the Caminito Theater on the campus of L.A. City College. The show is conceived and directed by Bruce Kimmel and features music & lyrics by Michele Brourman, Grant Geissman, Paul Gordon, Karen Gottlieb, Bruce Kimmel, Shelly Markham, Wayne Moore, Adryan Russ, and Two-Time Academy Award winner Richard M. Sherman. Sketch and monologue collaborators include Doug Haverty, Bruce Kimmel, Bruce Vilanch, David Wechter.

This unique new work also features a 6-piece band under the musical direction of Richard Allen with choreography by Cheryl Baxter-Ratliff and orchestrations by Lanny Meyers. The cast includes guest artists April Audia, Dennis Kyle and Robert Yacko performing with LACC Academy students Sarah Barnett, Paola Fregoso, Alexis Jackson, Bedjou Jean, Prisca Kim, Michael MacRae, Kole Martin, Shawna Merkley, Lamont Oakley, Kasper Svendsen, and Elle Willgues. Jenny Bacon - Understudy. 

Billie Holiday: Front and Center begins its world premiere engagement at Fremont Centre Theatre on May 27. Written, performed and produced by Sybil Harris and directed by B’Anca, it will run through June 19. Harris portrays multiple characters and sings some of Holiday’s greatest hits, among them God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, All of Me, Don’t Explain, My Man, Good Morning Heartache, many more, accompanied by a live jazz ensemble. Ticket Link


Chris Isaacson Presents and Ronn Goswick have announced a Broadway Under the Stars special one-night-only concert starring the original Dreamgirls –Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, and Jennifer Holliday in conversation and song, 8pm on Sunday, July 10 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. www.FordTheatres.org

Liz Callaway brings her cabaret act to Rubicon Theatre Company’s Broadway Musical Concert Series on May 7 & 8. The show will include her favorite Broadway show tunes, songs from movie musicals and pop hits from the 1960s. www.rubicontheatre.org

Untitled & Unauthorized: Almost Famous in Concert has announced its cast. The one-night-only special performance plays the Troubadour on June 12 and stars Garrett Clayton, Kelley Jakle, Corbin Bleu, Chrissie Fit, Ashley Argota, Emma Hunton, Lindsay Pearce, Shelley Regner, and Abraham Lim. More info on Facebook @AlmostFamousinConcert.

June Squibb will be part of the 32nd annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE), Sondheim No. 5 at The Wallis in Beverly Hills on June 18. Two performances at 2pm and 8pm will benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. Also joining the previously announced all-star cast will be Julie Garnye, Radmar Jao, Deborah Nishimura, Tedd Szeto and Peter Varvel. Begun in 1984, STAGE is the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world. www.stagela.com

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