Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Musical Focus on the Fringe - Part One

Are you ready? Here comes the third annual
Hollywood Fringe Festival, Hollywood’s fearless celebration of the emerging arts. You’ll find every kind of show you can think of at the Fringe, produced by local, national, and international arts companies and independent producers in venues that might be very traditional or completely unorthodox. Sexy, hilarious, avant garde, interactive, edgy, irreverent, heartfelt, intimate, and experimental are just a few of the words used by audiences to describe what they’ve seen at the Fringe.

Show previews are June 7 - 12 and the official Opening Night Party will be held on June 13. The Festival runs June 14 - 24, with the Closing Night Party and Award Ceremony also held on June 24. Here’s Part One of our Focus on the Fringe Series highlighting musical productions to consider adding to your Fringe dance card.

Virginia City
June 10 - 24, 2012

Virginia City is a world premiere family friendly 90-minute musical by brothers Daniel (music) and David Wisehart (book & lyrics, director & producer) about a young drifter named Sam Clemens who lands a job as a reporter in an old west mining town. Inspired by a visit from a scandalous showgirl, Sam finds his voice and becomes Mark Twain.

The Wisehart brothers lived in Virginia City, NV for a short while as kids, a town known as the literary birthplace of Mark Twain. According to David, “It was hard for us to avoid hearing tales of Mark Twain’s days in the old west since that’s where Sam Clemens worked as a newspaperman. He arrived in Virginia City as a failed prospector named Sam Clemens and left twenty months later as a successful writer named Mark Twain. What happened to him in Virginia City? How did Sam reinvent himself? How did a poor young drifter from Missouri become America’s greatest writer? In telling the story of how Sam Clemens found his own voice, my brother and I also wanted to tell a universal story about people discovering who they are, reinventing themselves, and learning to live authentic lives.”

The idea for the musical came years later when the brothers attended a production of Puccini's "La fanciulla del West" ("The Girl of the West"), an opera set in a California mining camp. David says it reminded him a lot of Virginia City, “I thought Daniel and I could make a fun musical out of Mark Twain's escapades. What I didn't realize at the time, and only recently came to find out, was that Puccini's opera was actually inspired by Virginia City. It was based on a stage play of the same name by Broadway impresario David Belasco, who got his start writing plays in Virginia City at Piper's Opera House. He worked for John Piper, who also happens to be one of the central characters in our musical. Though set in the California gold rush, "The Girl of the Golden West" is actually based on Belasco's experiences in the mining town of Virginia City, NV, during the silver rush. I thought that was an interesting connection.”

Virginia City is set in John Piper's saloon where we meet many of the characters, each of whom in one way or another finds his or her voice, with the exception of famous showgirl Adah Isaacs Menken, who already knows exactly who she is, and who acts as a catalyst for the other characters. In addition to being a scandal on the stage (think Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Lady Gaga), Adah was also an accomplished poet who hung out with many of the best writers of her day, including Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, George Sand, and of course Mark Twain.”

In describing the style of the music David adds, “While Virginia City alludes to mid-19th century music, it is much more in the style of the Golden Age of Broadway (think Richard Rodgers), but more challenging and innovative in its rhythms and harmonies.”

Starring: Jake Kropac as Samuel Clemens, Jennifer Bronstein as Adah Isaacs Menken, Tyler Olshansky as Rose, Till Wolter as Will, Owen Arthur Reynolds as John Piper, Richie Ferris as Joe Goodman, Jonathan Brett as Dan De Quille, and Xue Lian Lei as Betty.

Tickets are $20. Hudson Theatres, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038. Click Here for tickets, showtimes and more information.

Doomsday Cabaret!
A Rock Musical of Apocalyptic Proportions
June 9 - 23, 2012

WARNING: This show is certified rock! With book, music and lyrics by Michael Shaw Fisher (Barking Pig), direction by Chris Raymond (Beginnings) and musical direction from Michael Teoli (Carnevil), Doomsday Cabaret is a timely musical that uses humor and a pantheon of rock-styles to explore a sub-culture of outcasts desperate for an Armageddon, and it’s backed by a full band. In it, an eclectic group of doomsday-obsessed freaks, geeks and capitalists assemble in San Bernardino’s Community Center to argue their theories, hawk their books, and maybe even get laid on 12/21/12, the date predicted by many to be the end of the world. As the doomsday clock counts down, each character takes the microphone to deliver a unique rock n’ roll dissertation to the crowd.

Fisher says the idea for Doomsday Cabaret began “at my friend's house in Venice while sitting around their fire pit. It was kind of a New Age crowd and everyone started taking about doomsday 12/21/2012. I mentioned the little I knew about it being a ‘Mayan thing’ but I found out that quite a few other cultures point to that date as well (from the Hopi Indians and Nostradamus to the modern day Web Bot predictions).”

“My plans to do an Exorcist Rock Musical were pushed back until next year (William Peter Blatty contacted the Fringe himself to warn us not to put on our parody while the Geffen was doing their serious version - lest we insight the legal hounds) so I thought Doomsday would be equally dark and outrageous. Musically, there was a great opportunity to use a variety of popular music styles like alt rock, Sinatra, Motown, Little Richard, psychedelic rock, etc.”

Fisher first became hooked on the Fringe in 2011 when his company put up The Barking Pig, a dark comedy and, "the world's first theatrical drinking game,” he laughs. “I really loved the freedom I felt doing it. The enthusiasm on behalf of the audience to watch something that goes all the way to the edge, and then over, was so encouraging.  I decided never would a June go by where I don't have something to share and promote at the beer tent. My biggest hope is that Doomsday Cabaret will make the crowd laugh cry and maybe even go home singing, ‘If You Love Me Light My Car On Fire.’”

Click Here for tickets, showtimes and more info. A limited number of preview tickets are available for $10. Regular tickets are $15. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA.

An Epik Opera About teh Internets
June 10, 17, and 24, 2012

The Epic Futurists present LOLPERA, an epik opera about teh internets, written and composed by Ellen Warkentine and Andrew Pedroza, and directed by Angela LopezThe absurd opera’s score references everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to 80’s power ballads and its libretto is assembled entirely from the internet’s “biggest inside joke”: the multi-user-generated captions and images of the LOLCAT meme.

Set in dystopian Catcotopia, LOLPERA is the story of our epik quest for meaning in our modern world…told entirely through stupid cat pictures. It is an epik clash between low-brow humor and high art; a “gesamtkunstwerk” that asks the important questions about this our modern world: Can we find meaning in the meaningless? Will what we create ultimately destroy us? Can we really haz Cheezburger?

The year is 2084. Welcome to our Brave Mew World.

LOLPERA premiered to sold-out crowds at The Garage Theatre in Long Beach in October of 2011. Click here for more information about the show. Tickets: $10.00. The Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard.

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