Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Alex Newell Sings "I Know Where I've Been"

Alex Newell’s powerful performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray is the message of hope we all need right now. Thank you AIDS Walk New York. In solidarity. To donate go to ny.aidswalk.net


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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Review: The Blank Theatre Takes NATHAN C. JONES: A LOVE STORY Online

Amir Levi in Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story

“May you live in interesting times,” has taken on new meaning in 2020 amid the current world health crisis. No one could have imagined a scenario like this where theater doors would be forced to close indefinitely. And yet, they have. But you can’t dampen the heart of an artist for they will always find a way to create. That resilience is what should inspire us all as we continue to look to the future.

The Blank Theatre has a long history of keeping its eye on the future. For the last 30 years, The Blank has nurtured countless artists with its Young Playwrights Festivals, developmental Living Room Series, and fully-produced mainstage productions, all led by the impeccable Daniel Henning. And while the Living Room Series is unable to continue in person for now it has found a new outlet online, just as compelling. Two thought-provoking solo works are currently being presented: Nixon on Nixon, a new play by Sean Waldron starring Rob Nagle, and Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?, a new musical by Vanessa Claire Stewart and Brendan Milburn starring Amir Levi.

On the surface, Nathan C. Jones appears to be an unassuming little show about a young man and his new romance. But, as the audience is drawn further and further into the story, it becomes clear that the writers are exploring much deeper questions about loneliness, the desire to be loved, and what happens when reality sits on shifting sands.

The 50-minute piece plays out episodically in Nathan’s living room beginning with a call from Chad that establishes their ongoing relationship. As Nathan realizes Chad could be the one, it brings out all of Nathan’s hopes, dreams, doubts, and insecurities in a series of stream of consciousness scenes and songs that provide a window into the thought process of a mentally fragile individual.


Milburn’s music is light and airy, with a decidedly upbeat musical theatre sensibility that functions as a running “soundtrack” for Nathan thinking through his days. The exception (and best of the lot) is a song in which Nathan builds up the courage to friend Chad on Facebook. It captures the wistfulness of wanting to be accepted and loved, giving depth to both the character and the overall production. Lyric duties are shared by Milburn and Stewart, whose deceptively simple book keeps its secrets until the big reveal but drops clues along the way.

Henning directs with a light touch. He knows exactly when to highlight a moment and when to pull back and let the writing do the work. This is a recorded and edited version of a theatre piece - with none of the artists working in the same space - and a unique example of modern-day guerrilla theatre reinvented for a new age. The world they’ve created is intentionally elusive and Levi never overplays his hand. He makes Nathan an odd, but likable sad sack of a human being; at times, a vulnerable underdog you really hope gets his happy ending and, at others, a train-wreck you can’t look away from. Chances are you know a Nathan or two without even realizing it. Don’t leave before the epilogue which brings everything into perspective.

Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story? is a quirky slice of life that hits home in today’s off-kilter reality. It may not be the musical you expect but it is most definitely the musical we need. Relevant? There’s no question about it.

Two additional performances will stream live on June 4 and 11 at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT at www.youtube.com/TheBlankTheatreCo. You can comment in the chat box while the show is streaming which creates a fun way to engage with the rest of the audience, or you can eliminate the chat if you want to watch the production full screen. The show will be available for three weeks and will then move to The Blank’s Third Stage on Patreon. There is no charge to watch the performances however you are encouraged to make a donation which will go to the artists who created the show HERE. For more about the Blank Theatre visit www.theblank.com.

Photos courtesy of The Blank Theatre


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Monday, February 17, 2020

First Look: ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE at the Dolby Theatre

The Company of Escape To Margaritaville
All photos © Matthew Murphy

Who’s ready for a Cheeseburger in Paradise? It’s time to kick back, relax, and Escape To Margaritaville! The score to this island musical comedy is packed with terrific Jimmy Buffet tunes like “Fins,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Volcano,” and “Margaritaville,” plus some new additions to keep the fun going. The book is by Emmy Award® winner Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl, Raising Hope) and Emmy Award® nominee Mike O’Malley (Survivors Remorse, Shameless). 

Amy Anders Corcoran (Freaky Friday) recreates the original direction by Tony Award-Winner Christopher Ashley (Come From Away); Choreography is by Tony Award-Nominee Kelly Devine (Come From Away), with associate choreography by Andrew Turteltaub (Escape to Margaritaville), and the production features music direction by one of Los Angeles’ favorite musical directors, Matthew Smedal (Clueless: The Musical). February 18 – March 8 at the Dolby Theatre. Remember, it’s 5:00 somewhere. Tickets and more information is available at www.broadwayinhollywood.com.




Sarah Hinrichsen as Rachel and Chris Clark as Tully

Rachel Lyn Fobbs as Marley, Matthew James Sherrod as Jamal and the Company 

The Company of Escape To Margaritaville

Shelly Lynn Walsh as Tammy and Peter Michael Jordan as Brick

L-R: Shelly Lynn Walsh (Tammy), Peter Michael Jordan (Brick), Chris Clark (Tully),
and Sarah Hinrichsen (Rachel)

The National Tour Company of  Escape To Margaritaville

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Photo Flash: HAMLET The Rock Musical at the El Portal Theatre

Front L-R: Kevin Bailey, Fatima El-Bashir, and Carly Thomas Smith.
Above: Payson Lewis. All photos by Barry Weiss

David Carver Music presents
HAMLET The Rock Musical, featuring music and lyrics by Cliff Jones and additional music, lyrics and orchestrations by Craig Fair. Bill Castellino directs a cast of 16 led by Payson Lewis as Hamlet, Kevin Bailey as Claudius, Carly Thomas Smith as Gertrude, and Fatima El–Bashir as Ophelia. Joining them are Thomas Hobson (Horatio), Ian Littleworth (Laertes), Larry Cedar (Polonius), Michael Deni (Marcellus), Justin Michael Wilcox (Rosencrantz), Alli Miller (Guildenstern), and Steve B Green (Ghost/Priest), along with Deanna Anthony, Marie Gutierrez, Tim McGarrigal, Bruce Merkle, and Julia Springer. The creative team also includes musical director and conductor Doug Oberhamer and choreographer Janet Roston. 


Performances will take place now through February 23rd at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood before the production begins to tour. Catch this inventive rock and roll staging now. Tickets and more information are available at Hamlettherockmusical.com. Running time: 90 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. And in the interest of giving back, the production will donate one dollar from every ticket sold to Actors For Autism. “To thine own self be true!”



Fatima El-Bashir as Ophelia and Payson Lewis as Hamlet

Center: Carly Thomas Smith (Gertrude) and Kevin Bailey (Claudius) with
Payson Lewis (Hamlet/above) along with the Company of Hamlet

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

First Look: REVENGE SONG: A Vampire Cowboys Creation at Geffen Playhouse


L-R Margaret Odette, Amy Kim Waschke, Noshir Dalal, Eugene Young, and
Tom Myers. All photos by Jeff Lorch.

This swashbuckling adventure follows the escapades of the real life queer 17th century swordswoman and opera singer, Julie D’Auginy, played by Margarette Odette. Robert Ross Parker directs the world premiere production of Revenge Song: A Vampire Cowboys Creation, written by Qui Nguyen and featuring original songs by Shane Rettig (music) and Qui Nguyen (lyrics). True to the superhero style of the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company, the story gives history an outrageous comic book aesthetic and creates a wholly original genre – one that is hilariously fun, and full of hip hop, rock and epic fight scenes. It’s a heroine’s journey you’ve never seen before so get your tickets now at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Feb 4 – March 8 (Opening night, Feb 13). 

Tom Myers and Margaret Odette

Amy Kim Waschke, Margaret Odette, and Beth Hawkes

Margaret Odette

Beth Hawkes and Margaret Odette

Margaret Odette and Amy Kim Waschke

Tom Myers and Beth Hawkes

Tom Myers and Margaret Odette

Eugene Young and Margaret Odette

Noshir Dalal and Eugene Young

Tom Myers, Margaret Odette, and Noshir Dalal

Amy Kim Waschke, Noshir Dalal, and Beth Hawkes

Eugene Young, Margaret Odette, Beth Hawkes


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Saturday, February 8, 2020

First Look: FUN HOME at Chance Theater

Christopher Patow, Holly Reichert, Reese Hewitt, Ron Hastings,
Jennifer Richardson, and Ashlee Espinosa.

Chance Theater presents Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home, based on the true life experiences of writer Alison Bechdel and her father Bruce, which Bechdel wrote about in her graphic novel of the same name. This production at the Chance will highlight the intimate nature of the story by re-configuring the stage into an alley design. The action will take place in the middle and the audience will be seated on opposite sides with no one further than three rows away from the stage. This up close and personal experience is a perfect way to experience Alison’s personal story about sexual awakening and quest for closure with her overbearing and one-of-a-kind father. Through March 1st. For tickets, call (714) 900-3284 or go to www.chancetheater.com. All photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio.

Ketino Christopher as Joan and Madelyn Velazquez-Heywood as Medium Alison

Ashlee Espinosa as Alison Bechdel and Holly Reichert as Small Alison

Holly Reichert as Small Alison, Reese Hewitt as Christian Bechdel, and
Christopher Patow as John Bechdel

Jennifer Richardson as Helen, Ashlee Espinosa as Alison Bechdel, Holly Reichert
as Small Alison, and Ron Hastings as Bruce

Holly Reichert as Small Alison and Ron Hastings as Bruce Bechdel

Ashlee Espinosa as Alison Bechdel

Ketino Christopher as Joan and Ron Hastings as Bruce Bechdel 

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Photo Flash: ROCK OF AGES at The Bourbon Room

The Cast of Rock of Ages

Rocker alert! Rock of Ages, the ‘80s rock musical that took Broadway by storm has officially opened and is now playing an open-ended in Hollywood. “The five-time Tony Award-nominated hit classic is back with an immersive theatrical and dining experience at a specially built performance venue and nightlife destination named after the venue at the center of the show, The Bourbon Room.” Sure to be a don’t-miss destination for both visitors and locals alike, you can get tickets now at www.rockofageshollywood.com.

Sean Yves Lessard as Stacee Jaxx

Nick Cordero as Dennis

Ian Ward as Drew

Nick Cordero (Dennis), Frankie Grande (Franz)

Matt Wolpe as Lonny

Callandra Olivia (Sherrie) and Ian Ward (Drew)

The Cast of Rock of Ages

Pat Towne (Hertz) and Frankie Grande (Franz) 

Ian Ward (Drew), Nick Cordero (Dennis) and Matt Wolpe (Lonny)

The Cast of Rock of Ages

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Photo Flash: Anne of Green Gables at Chance Theater

Emily Abeles as Anne Shirley.
All photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

Chance Theater brings the heartwarming musical Anne of Green Gables back to its stage for the fifth time, directed by artistic director Casey Long and starring Emily Abeles as Anne Shirley. Based on the best-selling novel, it is a perfect holiday story the whole family can enjoy. The Cuthberts expect to adopt a boy, but receive, instead, a red-haired, wide-eyed orphan girl named Anne. Though clever, this precocious young girl has a penchant for getting into trouble but still manages to work her way into the hearts of her adoptive parents as well as the residents of rural Prince Edward Island. The show runs through December 29th at Chance Theater in Anaheim so get your tickets today! www.chancetheater.com

Maya Valenciano (Diana Barry) and Emily Abeles

David Šášik, Caleb Smith, Grace Bates, Maya Valenciano, and Darla Jacobs

William Crisp (Matthew Cuthbert) and Emily Abeles

Marina Coffee (Marilla Cuthbert)and Emily Abeles

David Šášik (Gilbert Blythe) and Emily Abeles 

Maya Valenciano, Samantha Bussard, Carolina J. Flores, Emily Abeles,
and Marina Coffee

Caleb Smith, Emily Abeles, David Šášik, Samantha Bussard, Owen Di Sciullo,
and Lily Bryson

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