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).

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

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.

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.

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: Run time: 2 hours with intermission. PG-13 for slightly risqué, subject matter.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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