Monday, March 7, 2016

MUSICAL NEWS for Monday, March 7, 2016

Jason Robert Brown will headline Broadway on Grand, Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2016 Gala Celebration on Saturday, March 19 (6pm) at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Artistic Director Grant Gershon conducts the Grammy-nominated chorus in a program featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter, with special guest composer/performer Jason Robert Brown, the Tony Award-winning composer of such acclaimed Broadway shows as Parade, The Last Five Years, and The Bridges of Madison County. Brown also serves as an Honorary Gala Co-Chair, along with his wife Georgia Stitt, an award winning composer, conductor and musical director. Photo credit: Alex Berliner.

The evening includes a glamorous cocktail reception in Disney Hall’s lobby and sumptuous post-performance dinner by Patina in BP Hall. Guests will also have the opportunity to bid on an array of irresistible auction items, take in the Chorale’s signature LAMC “Surround Sing,” during which Chorale singers encircle gala patrons and shower them in glorious song, and trip the light fantastic into the wee hours. Proceeds help support LAMC’s artistic and education programs throughout the year. Tickets: 213-972-3162 or www.lamc.org.

Beginning May 27, there will be one place in Southern California where you can go for year-round snow when Frozen – Live at the Hyperion opens at Disney California Adventure Park. The new stage musical is based on Disney’s hit animated film Frozen and replaces the recently-closed Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular which played the Hyperion Theater for 13 years. It features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and is adapted from the screenplay by 4-time Tony® nominee Chad Beguelin.

The show is directed by Liesl Tommy, with choreography by Christopher Windom and its musical supervisor/arranger/adaptor is Jason Michael Webb. Master puppet designer Michael Curry (who co-designed the puppets for The Lion King on Broadway with Julie Taymor) will bring Olaf and the Trolls to life. Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort.

The Pasadena Playhouse has announced its 2016-2017 season, which includes a brand new production of The Fantasticks (Sept 6 – Oct 2, 2016) by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones directed by associate artistic director Seema Sueko. Two additional musicals will be part of the upcoming season: Shout, Sister, Shout! (Jan 31 – Feb 26, 2017), about the life of legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, conceived and directed by Randy Johnson (A Night With Janis Joplin) with book by Cheryl West, and a special holiday production  from Lythgoe Family Productions, Cinderella Christmas (Dec 8 – Jan 8, 2016).
Also included on the season is David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning play M. Butterfly, a new production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and one additional “Artistic Director’s Choice” to be announced. Sheldon Epps, artistic director of The Playhouse, says, “My final season as Artistic Director is made up of passion projects for me and for the artists involved. These titles represent so many of the aspects of the art of the theatre that I truly love. It is a season that is boldly theatrical, diverse, and hopefully a celebration of the magic of the theatre and the joy that I have had in sharing that treasure with our audiences for two decades. I look forward to the party!” Tickets: 626-356-7529 or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment present Dreamgirls March 25 – April 17 at La Mirada Theatre, followed by performances on May 6 & 8 at Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. Musical direction is by Dennis Castellano and the show will be directed & choreographed by Robert Longbottom. Cast includes Moya Angela as Effie, Jasmin Richardson as Deena, Brittney Johnson as Lorrell, Danielle Truitt as Michelle, David LaMarr as Jimmy, Scott People as Curtis, John Devereaux as C.C., and Lorenzo Hughes as Marty , along with Brandon Burks, Andre Darnell Myers, Davon Williams, Dedrick Bonner, Chavis Humphrey, Eran Scoggins, Trance Thompson, Remmie Bourgeois, Miah Blake, Liisi LaFontaine, Loreigna Sinclair, Fatima El-Bashir, Jennifer Akabue and Fay James. Tickets: www.lamiradatheatre.com or www.ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org.

Hershey Felder will make his debut at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with his critically-acclaimed production of Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro directed by Joel Zwick, August 10 – 28. The performance combines first-person narratives with the compositions of Bernstein, Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner, Copeland, and more as the audience is drawn deeply into this maestro’s fascinating life, one filled with tragedy, triumph, and extraordinary music. Leonard Bernstein’s only son, Alexander, says of Felder: “His performance truly reveals the man, the story and the music of my father, Leonard Bernstein.”

“Every serious musician in America owes a great debt to Leonard Bernstein,” says Felder. “Besides being a maker of music and musicians, Leonard Bernstein also became the musical ambassador of the world with his affable musical manner, love of teaching and learning, photogenic countenance and the newly minted television broadcasting him into homes around the globe. Bringing this character to life based on personal time spent with many people who knew him well, including members of his family, and the study of his music and musical style has been an honor, a joy, and a truly incredible journey. Being able to bring him to life at the beautiful acoustically brilliant Wallis, in the city where I began these theatrical portrayals, is really a dream come true.”

Felder will also offer a special one-night-only performance of Hershey Felder’s The Great American Songbook Sing-Along on Monday, August 22 at 8pm. Audience members are encouraged to sing along with Felder as he takes them on a musical journey through 100 years of American music from the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and more. Tickets: www.TheWallis.org or 310-746-4000.

Varla Jean Merman returns to the Renberg Theatre at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center April 1, 2 & 3. Long a favorite with Renberg audiences, Varla (the drag persona of New Orleans native Jeffery Roberson) will take the stage again after a 10-year absence during which the acclaimed performer did extensive research in outer space. Her new solo show, the science fiction-themed Varla Jean Merman’s Big Black Hole, is the culmination of this long and grueling research. It combines story, song, and video in “an inventive night of theatre, full of high-class production, vaudevillesque low-brow humor, and the vocal prowess of a grand dame of the stage.” (ibid.) Directed by Michael Schiralli, it also features the piano stylings of accompanist and Varla-foil, Gerald Goode. Tickets: 323-860-7300 or www.lalgbtcenter.org/theatre.

The world premiere of La Olla, a comedy with songs, opens March 26 at Los Angeles Theatre Center. Adapted from Plautus’ Pot of Gold by resident playwright Evelina Fernandez, it will be performed in English (with a few Spanish words). Previews begin March 24 and the show will run through April 24. Fernandez’s update of the ancient Roman comedy sets the action in Los Angeles in the 1950s at a Mexican night club. The night club’s guardian spirit intends for a four-pound pot of gold to benefit young Phaedria, a conscientious and good-hearted woman but it accidentally falls into the hands of her father Euclio, a clown and bit player in the club’s floor show. La Olla is directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela with choreography by Urbanie Lucero. Cast includes Esperanza America, Evelina Fernandez, Sam Golzari, Fidel Gomez, Castulo Guerra, Sal Lopez, Xavi Moreno and Geoffrey Rivas. It is produced by The Latino Theater Company. Tickets: (866) 811-4111 or www.thelatc.org.

The new jukebox musical Down on Your Knees & Up to the Moon set during the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, both of which took place in New York, will have its world premiere March 12 – April 30 at T. U Studios. The musical spans 25 years from the golden age of the great American songbook, to the era of rock and pop, and the early days of the British invasion. It is written by Gloria Gifford (who also directs), Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco, Chad Doreck, Billy Budinich and Danny Siegel.

The cast includes Hayley Ambriz, George Benedict, Raven Bowens, Davon Brown, Billy Budinich, Marlin Chan,  Leana Chavez, Heather Compton, Yvette DeVito, Sonia Diaz, Chad Doreck, Joshua Farmer, Kevin Ferris, Lindy Fujimoto, Dylan George, Irini Gerakas, Keturah Hamilton, Chris Jones, Abigail Kochunas, Christian Maltez, Sam Mansour, Alex Miller, Maya Moore, Kelly Musselwhite, Nakta Pahlevan, Kasia Pilewicz, Lauren Plaxco, Antonio Roccucci, Cynthia San Luis, Deidra Shanell, Danny Siegel, Tejah Signori, Pamela Renae Smith, Samiyah Swann, Nancy Vivar, Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Teagan Wilson, Sabrina Won and Diva Yazdian. Tickets: (310) 366-5505 or www.tix.com.

Santa Monica Playhouse presents the musical exposé Audition! The Musical, based on the all-too-true-life Hollywood experiences of the award-winning creative team of Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, with even more harrowing, haunting and hilarious Hollywood horror stories than when it debuted in 2006. For anyone who’s ever wanted to be the best. At Anything. The show runs now through April 24. Cast includes Evelyn Rudie, Serena Dolinsky, and Cynthia Zitter. Click Here for tickets.

La Mirada’s Programs for Young Audiences presents Artspower’s Chicken Dance, Sunday March 13 at 1:00 & 3:00 pm. In this new musical, Marge and Lola are two chickens on a mission to win the barnyard talent contest. First prize: two tickets to see the great Elvis Poultry in concert! But first, the two chicken hopefuls must find a way to score higher than a flock of very talented ducks that appear to have the contest all locked up. Will Marge and Lola have the courage to face their challengers against all odds and summon up a winning performance? Get your tickets today and find out! www.lamiradatheatre.com

Storybook Theatre at Theatre West will begin performances of its family musical Sleeping Beauty on March 19. Featuring book and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz, directed by David P. Johnson, and produced by Barbara Mallory, it stars Lukas Bailey, Kira Brannlund, James Cronin, David P. Johnson, Bonnie Kalisher, Julie McKay, Emily Rose McLeod, Charlie Mount and Laura Wolfe. This classic tale includes original songs and plenty of audience participation. Tickets: (818) 761-2203 or www.theatrewest.org.

The delightful new family show EGG by the acclaimed Cahoots NI from Belfast, Northern Ireland will play The Broad Stage in Santa Monica on March 12 & 13.  Directed by Cahoots NI co-founder and artistic director Paul Mc Eneaney, with music by Garth McConaghie, EGG is an ovular extravaganza – a musical non-verbal and theatrical flight of the imagination that unfolds on a tiny magical, rustic set. The sad, funny and delightful tale explores the theme of “flying the nest” and is told through the medium of physical theatre, illusion, and music. Resonating as strongly with adults as it does with children, EGG is a magical experience, an enchanting tale of three birds....and an egg! Pre-show activities for children begin one hour prior to performance. Tickets: 310-434-3200 or www.thebroadstage.com. Photo credit: Richard Watson Photography.

At the Grove Theatre in Upland, the family Broadway musical It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman, the Musical will play April 22 – May 8. Directed by Kristopher Kyer, it is the tale of Superman’s efforts to defeat a vengeful scientist, Dr. Abner Sedgwick, who seeks to destroy the world’s symbol of good. Tickets: 909-920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com.

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