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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    Maura Hanlon Smith and Michael Sterling
    at the Rosemary Clooney Table
    Michael Sterling celebrated the 8th anniversary of his popular Supper Club, Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal, on Monday, June 9th, continuing a tradition he began in 2006 to honor his dear friend and mentor, Rosemary Clooney

    Sterling promised her that he would always make sure future generations would be able to hear the music of Broadway and the Great American Songbook in LA. A man of his word, he has presented over 600 shows since closing his doors at his original venue at Vitello’s and opening at The Federal in 2012.

    Each year, on the club’s anniversary, he sets a table in her memory bearing a white rose, a glass of white wine, and a stunning black & white photograph of the 19-year old singer given to him by Clooney late in life. The inscription reads, “For Michael, The way I was. Close your eyes. I really love you very much.  –Rosemary Clooney 6-27-75

    It was fitting then that this anniversary concert featured another dear friend of Sterling’s in her return to the stage, vivacious Maura Hanlon Smith in Life, Love and All That Comes With It. Directed with impeccable taste and an eye to keeping it real by director Robert Marra, and featuring some stylish arrangements by musical director and pianist, John Dickson, Smith expressed her love of music – specifically jazz and musical theatre – and took the audience on a touching and humorous journey through her last four tumultuous years.

    Had she done the show earlier she says it would have been full of “victim ballads and poetry…original poetry,” and then she gave us a taste of what it would have sounded like. The comic mash-up of victim songs - “Stormy Weather,” “As Long As He Needs Me,” “The Man I Love,” and “Something Wonderful” - was reinvented ‘60s coffeehouse style with a beat poet edge and instantly connected with the crowd.

    Dressed in a vintage black dress and pearls she also talked about life’s curves, how she would be tasked to navigate difficult circumstances and still remain kind, and how dating was an eye-opening experience for a woman who was 40-something and single again after 19 years of marriage. Jazzy versions of “I Don’t Want To Know,” “Good Morning Heartache” and “Sister” (Miss Celie’s Blues from The Color Purple) were sung from a wide-open heart that let everyone in the audience feel the emotions along with her.

    In “Fix It Man” she once again showcased her comic abilities, and a lively discussion with the audience about what’s right and what’s wrong in relationships provided a great segue into “Early in the Morning” and the acknowledgement of her chosen remedy…merlot. Best quotable line of the evening came from Smiths mother. When challenges were becoming overwhelming, Smith went to her because she didn’t think she could do it all: be a single mom, work seven days a week, try to be an artist… “You are not rich enough for a nervous breakdown; go to work,” her mother said in a dose of wake-up-and-get-on-with-it practical advice. We could all relate.

    Baritone and bestie, Eduardo Enrikez, joined Smith for a luscious version of Sondheim’s “Move On” from Sunday in the Park with George and he and several fellow musical theatre workshop participants provided backup harmonies for her encore, “Someone Like You,” from Jekyll and Hyde. In addition to it being Sterlings anniversary, it was also Smiths birthday so the evening concluded with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday from the audience before the celebratory evening officially came to a close.

    Eduardo Enrikez, Maura Hanlon Smith and Michael Sterling

    Happy Anniversary Sterlings Upstairs at the Federal and impresario Michael Sterling

    I think Ms. Clooney would have been proud.  

    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  


    Up next at Sterling’s:
    Monday, June 22: Broadway’s Sandy Bainum in S’Wonderful...The Songs of Ira Gershwin
    Sunday, June 29 & Monday June 20: Broadways Bernard Dotson in Unexpected Songs
    Reservations (818) 754-8700; Information www.msapr.net

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    Alison England (top center) as evil alien aviatrix Zombina menaces (L-R) Alex Taber,
    Lara Fisher, Amelia Gotham, Daniel Jimenez, Frank Blocker and Eric Sand.
    Photo credit: John Santo

    The Visceral Company takes on musical theatre and rides it all the way to success in a chipper interplanetary musical even non-musical theatre folks will love!  Forget any idea of skipping it because it is a hilariously fun send-up of the 1950s and sci-fi B-movies directed by Dan Spurgeon and choreographed by Anna Safar with spot-on cheeseball precision, featuring a cast that knows how to play the comedy without ruining it.

    Plus, it’s the only place you’ll find Zombina, an “intergalactic strumpet on the prowl” and her chorus of dancing Zombettes, searching for earth men to repopulate their planet. Picture a shapely Wagnerian operatic powerhouse who looks like a cross between the 1940s glam version of Eve Arden (she could use that wig as a weapon), and a drag queen sporting hot pink eye shadow who knows how to work the stage, and you’ve got Alison England in a dynamic role that will surely be a fringe-favorite contender. At the very least, it will serve to get this show extended. 

    What else will you find? A Russian spy (Eric Sand) in disguise who packs a wallop of a baritone voice; a wise-cracking secretary (Lara Fisher) and a Clark Kent-ish leading man (Daniel Jimenez); a squeaky-clean delivery boy (Alex Taber) who just happens to have his jingle taps in his pocket at the most opportune times; and a comically stiff Major (Frank Blocker) and his fresh-faced daughter (Amelia Gotham) hiding more smarts than the rest of them combined.

    They’re a singing, dancing, talented bunch. Even a few rough edges in the vocals don’t detract from the big impact this cast makes, so go! This upbeat musical will have you laughing from beginning to end.

    ZOMBIES FROM THE BEYOND
    May 30 – July 20, 2014
    The Lex Theatre (mainstage)
    6760 Lexington Ave in Hollywood
    Tickets: $32
    Use code BEERTOWN and save $7 when purchasing tickets in advance via Brown Paper Tickets. Good for advance online purchases only. The producers reserve the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time.
    http://hff14.org/1512 
    www.thevisceralcompany.com

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    L-R: Jake Broder, French Stewart, Tegan Ashton Cohan
    and Rena Strober. Photos by Jim Cox.

    Vanessa Claire Stewart’s Stoneface, the Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton, first produced at Sacred Fools Theatre Company in 2012, finds fresh life in a newly remounted production simply titled Stoneface at Pasadena Playhouse. With a bigger budget, more space in which to play, and clearly enhanced with an eye to continuing its life beyond Los Angeles, it should be set for a rousing success. The behind-the-scenes story of a comic genius whose own human failings caused him much pain throughout his life is the kind of Hollywood drama the public can’t get enough of and beautifully captures the deep sadness that accompanied his great success.

    Two Buster Keatons exist in this tale which is told from the perspective of the older Keaton portrayed with astounding physical eloquence by French Stewart. Joe Fria plays Keaton’s younger self with inspired efficiency appearing like a ghost from the past to accuse, taunt and otherwise facilitate the catharsis of his mature self. This duality stands at the core of the play.

    As scenes jump back and forth in time, we see Keatons relationships with his wives: the annoying Mae Scriven (Daisy Eagan), self-centered Natalie Talmadge (Tegan Ashton Cohan) and lovely Eleanor Norris (Rena Strober), the woman who would eventually help Keaton find some quiet joy in his later years. We watch as famous clips are brought to life like the “one-room house” sequence in which he and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (Scott Leggett) pass objects back and forth across a table using a complicated system of pulleys, sandbags and exact movements. But mostly we feel for this man, who held a world in the stillness of his face.

    I fell in love with Stoneface at Sacred Fools and as much as I wanted to see it revealed bigger and better in all its glory at the Playhouse, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had gotten lost in translation. Jokes, sight gags, and stage business that had the audience roaring the first time around left theatregoers strangely silent at the Playhouse.

    Though well-executed, there is a draftiness that seems to have taken hold, most obvious in Act I where the actors have become louder, more stylized, and are either working so hard that the drama feels forced or are taking so much time that it kills the humor. In either case, it obstructs the flow and distances the audience. Seated close to the stage you might feel more connected to what they are doing because you can see their eyes but from elsewhere in the theater you’ll miss the subtleties that were so beautifully rendered in its initial outing.

    From a technical standpoint, the production has flourished with set design (Joel Daavid), lighting (Jeremy Pivnick) and video projections (Ben Rock and Anthony Backman) ramping up the vintage visual impact of the early cinematic period. Ryan Johnson plays his original score live as he would have done had this been a silent film set back in the day and Cricket S. Myers’ sound design brings it all together. Costumes by Jessica Olson are period specific and, for the most part functional, however the “spite marriage” sequence felt choreographed by the numbers and encumbered with tear-away clothing that didn’t always give at first tug.

    You can tell that this new work has been lovingly created by all involved and, with so much already going for it, one hopes that the company will continue to shape it for a long life ahead. What they learn from its expansion into a larger theater like the Playhouse will certainly help with that success going forward.

    Daisy Eagan and French Stewart

    L-R:  Jake Broder, Joe Fria (laying), French Stewart, Tegan Ashton Cohan
    (background), Scott Leggett and Pat Towne

    French Stewart as Buster Keaton
    L-R: French Stewart, Rena Strober, Jake Broder and Tegan Ashton Cohan

    STONEFACE
    June 3 - 29, 2014
    Pasadena Playhouse

    39 South El Molino Avenue
    Pasadena, CA 91101
    www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

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    The cast of Generation ME the Musical. Photos by Colleen O'Donnell

    You may think you’ve seen it before but Generation ME the Musical isn’t just another story about teen suicide. In all honesty, this new full-length musical from three first-time writers is the surprise of the festival. It has moments – a lot of them – that will knock the wind out of you, and for much of the performance I attended, the audience was so quiet and so engaged you could hear a pin drop.

    It’s a great example of how the right people telling the right story can move an audience with their honesty. This is a musical with something to say and it does it without being heavy-handed or melodramatic. Because of that, it can’t help but affect you. The revelations that come in Act II alone will make you reevaluate what you think you know to be true. There’s often so much more to a person’s story and until you stop focusing on yourself you’ll never really see what is right there in front of you.

    Seventeen teenagers make up the cast and because they are actually the same ages as their characters they feel like real people, not actors. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fresh young talent in the production but it doesn’t feel like they’re “acting” and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

    This is a realistic story of what happens when a high school kid whose life looks perfect commits suicide without explanation or warning. Following an unforgettable opening number, the story is told in flashbacks with lighting changes that help inform the audience whether the scene taking place is happening before or after the critical event. 

    Yes, there is still editing to be done (the show clocks in at about 2 hours and 45 minutes) but this is a polished, well-rehearsed, well-written musical full of potential that marks the beginning of a promising writing career for Julie Soto (book, lyrics & story), Will Finan (music & musical direction), and Ryan Warren (story and direction). Its candid, raw, funny, and touching. I’d love to see anything they do next.

    Kayla Wood and Liam O'Donnell

    The cast of Generation Me the Musical

    John Novotny and Liam O'Donnell

    The cast of Generation ME the Musical

    GENERATION ME
    June 8 – 28, 2014
    Hudson Theatres
    6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
    Tickets: $10
    www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1466
    www.generationmethemusical.com

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    James Penca and Edred Utomi. Photo s by Rich Clark.

    This original one-act pop musical aims high and often hits its mark although it may not be the musical you think it’s going to be. While it contains a fair amount of wry humor, don’t expect the kind of silliness you found in The Pokemusical, the team’s entry into last year’s Fringe Festival. This twist on the Frankenstein story has a more sophisticated harmonic structure and a richer musical texture that gives it an edge while still delivering a lot of fun for the money.

    The ensemble handles the singing beautifully and there is plenty of funny choreography and quirky direction by Joanna Syiek. It’s an all-animal cast so they’ve also found creative ways to modify their appearance which makes for some great sight gags. Forearm crutches, high heels and grease paint are the main elements for the giraffes; boot walker casts and football shoulder pads complete Josh Hillinger’s transformation into a rhino; and rhinestones, black leather pants and fur turn Seth Salsbury into the kind of lion who would be completely at home in a revival of CATS. (Someone cast that boy in Rocky Horror Picture Show already. Hed make a great Frank N. Furter).

    Seth Salsbury

    Giraffenstein follows the callous Dr. Giraffenstein (James Penca) and his failed attempts to create a superior being, in this case the first giraffe who can eat from the top of the tree, and raises questions about how much responsibility we have to that which we create. When its jokes land it is hilarious but the humor is still hit or miss.

    The tone of the book is often quite dark and there are gaps in the story that could use more explanation. It’s unclear why the doctor’s fiancé (Katharine Kelly McDonough) agreed to marry him in the first place since all she does is complain about him, or why the Monster (Edred Utomi) tells Dr. Giraffenstein he’ll never see him again but then comes back to confront him near the end of the story. The show currently has a running time of about 75 minutes so there is plenty of room for it to expand. Odd though it is, Giraffenstein still has a lot going for it.

    There are lessons about acceptance and standing up for yourself, as well as how important it is to find a place we can call home. Technically, this is also a good example of how to create a movable set on a budget that gets the job done and still delights with its ingenuity. Two reversible set pieces are hand-painted to create the expansiveness of the Serengeti and they even manage to make the sun rise in a creative way.

    James Penca, Edred Utomi and Josh Hillinger

    L-R: Kelley Dorney, Ian Klingenberg, Kelsey Schulte
    and Katie DeShan

    Katharine Kelly McDonough and James Penca

    Kelley Dorney and Kelsey Schulte

    James Penca and Edred Utomi

    Book and music: Alex Syiek
    Direction and musical staging: Joanna Syiek

    Musical direction: Jennifer Lin
    Sound Design: Corwin Evans
    Set and Lighting Design: Eric Mitchell

    GIRAFFENSTEIN
    June 8 - 29, 2014
    Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way
    Los Angeles, CA 90038
    Tickets are $10 at http://hff14.org/1888
    www.colorandlighttheatre.org

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    Matt Walker, Katherine Donahoe, Monica Schneider
    and Rick Batalla. Photos by Chelsea Sutton.

    After a particularly long laundry list of names in which Helen of Troy jumps out as the only familiar one, Chorus Leader Rob Nagle says in a completely deadpan voice, “Don’t worry… that’s the last name you’ll recognize tonight,” and everyone bursts into laughter. More than one person in the audience had already been wondering if they’d be able to follow the story in this Aggamemnon meets ABBA invention and, with that one statement, he made sure loyal fans knew the Troubies had their backs.

    Turns out it doesn’t matter if you know your Greek classics or not because this latest Troubie original takes on the task of explaining and recapping the characters and story as it goes along. No audience member is left behind when it comes to these hilarious shows so you can relax and enjoy the view…unless you come late, like the woman who sat next to me found out. I can vouch for the fact that she wasn’t a plant because she was really sweet, completely embarrassed, and had no idea they were going to sing an entire song dedicated to putting her on the spot. Ah the joy of being a first-timer.

    A Troubie pre-show is always unique and this time around it starts off as a photo op with masked guards posing for pictures like they had been relocated from Hollywood Boulevard, “photo op” sign and all. They are initially placed strategically around the imposing set, which has been designed with quite a bit of flair by Morgan Rusler and beautifully lit by Jeremy Pivnick. The whole effect is quite dramatic, especially with the addition of Robert Arturo Ramirez’s rich atmospheric sound design. It all makes a striking welcome into the world of the play.

    Also part of the set-up is ABBA’s classic “Take a Chance on Me,” which becomes a pre-show pee song and a killer rock overture featuring musical director Eric Heinly on drums with a band that blows this show out of the water. His musicians include Kevin McCourt (keyboards), Linda Taylor (guitar), Dana Decker (bass) and Ginger Murphy& Jon Drovoza (cello).

    Familiar ABBA hits and lesser known songs get reworked lyrically, as is the norm, and Heinly turns each arrangement into a showpiece even before the singers, choreography and everything else is added in. The opening number is a rousing upbeat version of “Mamma Mia” which scans perfectly as “ABBA-memnon” and we’re off to the chariot races.

    If you do remember your Greeks from theatre history class, you’ll see that Abbamemnon actually follows the usual structure of a Greek tragedy which will help you organize the scenes somewhat in your head. If you dont, it basically means that you’re in for a prologue that sets everything up followed by a series of alternating story episodes and chorus commentaries before a final exit scene wraps up the play.

    Beth Kennedy takes on prologue duties as a Watchman whose floating head rises up from a Malibu lifeguard tower like the Great Pumpkin. (Yes, ancient Greece is now Malibu for the purpose of this story which provides the opportunity to add jokes and insert numerous local references). Sporting several blacked out teeth, and dressed in an ancient skull cap and peasant rags she is the funniest person on the stage every time she appears, even if she is just watching what is going on. She also has a natural gift for the classical and delivers the brief sections of text that have been retained magnificently.

    Throughout subsequent scenes we meet the rest of the beautiful, athletic, virile characters and hear of their adventures. “Dancing Queen” introduces Abbamemnon (Matt Walker) and his sexy wife Clytemnestra (Monica Schneider) during the decadence that preceded the 10-year Trojan War. In his absence she will take a lover – paging Rick Batalla to aisle 3 where the mustache glue is sold – and when Abbamemnon returns ten years later he will bring with him a slave named Cassandra (Katherine Donahoe). She has been given the gift of prophecy by the gods but no one believes her which makes the perfect lead-in to ABBA’s “Cassandra” accompanied by a chorus of dancers in white.

    There’s plenty of comedy at war’s expense, including a Herald(Joseph Keane) who tells of the battlefield and those who were slaughtered by the spear. Incidenatally, he brings his spear with him since it is still sticking out of the front and back of his body. Walker expertly sings and dances his way through orgies and battles in real time and slow motion. He is a vicious and imposing figure who wears some of the most realistic bloody makeup to hit a Troubie stage, yet he isn’t above calling a foul when Batalla found himself tongue-tied in a late play. These moments are what the audience lives for and always end up being great fun to watch.

    This is one of the strongest productions to date with terrific performances and the kind of delightful theatrical elements that make a Troubie show a real one-of-a-kind experience. Giant belly-laughing puppet heads that look like the theatre critics from The Muppet Show, shadow play, a working chariot, Molly Alvarez’s outstanding choreography, Darrin Revitz as the sacrificed innocent daughter, Jason Turner’s eye candy version of Menelaus, Rick Batalla’s punch lines, Rob Nagle’s touching dramatic work, Sharon McGunigle’s combination of 80s glam and ancient Greek garb…it all adds up to a winning production. 

    Wisdom may come from suffering but comedy comes from The Troubies and this latest hilarious reveal from the kings and queens of funny is just what you need to pump up the volume on your summer fun meter. Its a must-see, so go!

    Monica Schneider, Rick Batalla and Suzanne Jolie Narbonne

    Beth Kennedy as a Watchman

    Joseph Keane as Harold the Herald

    Darrin Revitz and Matt Walker

    Monica Schneider and the cast of Abbamemnon

    ABBAMEMNON
    June 6 - July 13, 2014
    Troubadour Theatre Company at
    The Falcon Theatre
    4252 Riverside Drive
    Burbank, CA 91505. 
    Tickets: (818) 955-8101
    www.FalconTheatre.com

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Theatres of Vision productions is proud to present Thanks for the Memories:A Musical Tribute to Bob Hope and the USO, featuring toe-tapping, nostalgic and patriotic favorites performed by an all-star cast in true USO tradition. The show will start with the first Bob Hope USO show at March Field (1941) and will progress through his continued shows during wartimes in our rich history: WWII (1941-1945); Korea (1950-1953); Vietnam (1964-1975) and Iraq (1990) engaging the audience with performances from celebrities of the times that historically donated their time and talents to support the troops, just as our cast and production team are today. Thanks for the Memories is directed by Lani Ridley Pedrini and runs for 3 performances on June 28 at 7:30 pm and June 29 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm at Sierra Madre Playhouse. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org


    Prayer: A Song Cycleopens June 27 at The Eclectic Company. This is an immersive multi-media performance piece about prayer as a conduit of transformation.  Built on a song cycle composed by Sackjo22, and directed by Angela Grillo, this unique cycle of prayers for guidance, relief and gratitude reimagines Evie’s dream of Dorothy Vogel through music, text, video and gesture. June 27 – July 13, 7:30 pm (Dark on July 4. Matinee on Sunday, July 6 at 3:00 pm) at The Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. (between Chandler and Magnolia), Valley Village, CA 91607. Tickets: $12, www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org


    The Attic Theater & InspireD Productions presents Annie Get Your Gunnow through July 6th (no performance on July 4) at the Attic Community Theater, 2834 S. Fairview, Santa Ana, CA 92704. The show is directed by Stephen Reifenstein, choreographed by Kristina Reifenstein and features musical direction by Kyle Short. www.ocact.com

    PASADENA STONEFACE DISCOUNT:The Pasadena Playhouse celebrates “Pasadena Day” with a performance of Vanessa Claire Stewart’s STONEFACE on Thursday, June 26. Pasadena residents and employees will have the opportunity to purchase $20 tickets for the 8pm performance and are available in person at the box office, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena CA 91101, with a valid Pasadena driver's license or employee ID card. www.pasadenaplayhouse.org


    TICKETS:Individual tickets to performances during the 2014-2015 season of the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) at California State University, Northridge are now on sale. The season will feature 46 different performances from 15 countries that present an eclectic range of Latin, country, jazz, theatre, dance, classical, and entertainment for the whole family. Featured performers include Yo-Yo Ma, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Angélique Kidjo with special guest Red Baraat, Jane Monheit, the Second City 55th Anniversary Tour, Lee Ann Womack, the London Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Vladmir Jurowski, and the PBS children’s show Dinosaur Train Live. For more information call (818) 677-3000 or visit www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.


    EXTENSIONS: Rick Elice & Michael Patrick Walker’s new musical Dog and Pony, directed by Roger Rees and starring Heidi Blickenstaff, Beth Leavel, Eric William Morris, Nicole Parker and Jon Patrick Walker, has been extended through July 6 at The Old Globe in San Diego. Tickets: www.theoldglobe.org

    The new comedy review Don’t Leave it all to your Children has been extended through June 29 at the Whitefire Theatre. Written, directed and produced by Saul Ilson, it stars Barbara Minkus,  John Shull, Kit Smythe, and Kenny Ellis. Sundays at 2:00 pm at The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Reservations: (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/526560


    FRINGE SHOWS: Lots to see at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year so dont miss it. For all the latest news, reviews and inside info on what to see, go to www.hollywoodfringe.orgThe festival runs through June 29!


    The Cave: A Folk Operaby Melanie Rose Thomas is a new story inspired by Beauty and the Beast and the Persephone myth told entirely through folk music. Set in an opium den at the turn of the 20th century, Willow sacrifices her life to pay off her father’s debt and goes to work and live in an underground society called The Cave, a decaying, bohemian, stone palace where people leave the grit of the everyday mundane to live a life of pleasure. There are three more performances, June 19, 21 & 23 at Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge, 1123 Vine Street in Hollywood. Tickets: $12 at http://hff14.org/1671.


    The world premiere ofFancy: Secrets from my Bootydoirhas two more performances on its Hollywood Fringe Festival schedule, June 20 and 26 at Three Clubs in Hollywood. Based on the song “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry and made famous by Reba McEntire, this Fancy is a sassy, warm, campy lady-drag character who made her debut at the 2013 Fringe and now returns in a new interactive cabaret show that weaves songs, stories, sass, and social media into a fun time for all. Fancy is written and performed by Chris Farah, directed by Kurt Koehler and features musical direction by Jake Anthony. Remaining performances are June 20 and 26. Tickets: $12 at http://hff14.org/1681.

    FILM: Pop culture phenomenon A Hard Day’s Night opens nationwide July 4th in a 50th Anniversary Re-Release, with a state of the art digital restoration from the 35mm original camera negative, and new sound mix approved by sound producer Giles Martin. The final result was approved by director Richard Lester, and is in its original theatrical aspect radio of 1.75:1. This exuberant classic will screen in Los Angeles at The Cinefamily, July 4 – 10.




    Just one month after they exploded onto the U.S. scene with their Ed Sullivan appearance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo began working on a project that would bring their revolutionary talent to the big screen. A Hard Day's Night, in which the bandmates play wily, exuberant versions of themselves, captured the astonishing moment when they officially became the singular, irreverent idols of their generation and changed music forever. Directed with raucous, anything-goes verve by Richard Lester, it features a slew of iconic pop anthems, including the title track, “Can't Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “If I Fell.” For more info go to http://janusfilms.com/harddaysnight

    DANCE: Bellydance Evolution presents Alice in Wonderland Friday, August 1st at 8:30 pm at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Founded in 2009 by world renowned choreographer Jillina Carlano, the company presents a revolutionary approach to the art of belly dance, presenting theatrical dance shows with a storyline, much like a ballet. The show features a cast of 20 international artists from diverse backgrounds in Middle Eastern dance and music, break dance, theatrical hip hop, contemporary, tribal and fusion dance, each bringing their own unique vision to the production. Alice in Wonderland takes you on a magical journey filled with spinning mushrooms, dancing caterpillars and a charismatically acrobatic rabbit all set to an original and theatrical soundtrack. Based on Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, the performance is appropriate for all ages. Tickets: www.fordtheatres.org or (323) 461-3673.

    CONCERTS/CABARET: Sing Me Home, an original musical by Amber Romina Cassell (book) and Kristy Hanson (music & lyrics) will offer a preview concert performance at Rockwell Table & Stage on July 13 prior to its appearance at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. The evening will feature performances by Hanson, Mandy Gonzalez, Telly Leung, Dominic Barnes, Julie Garnye, Curt Mega, Kate Pazakis, Kelli Provart, Haviland Stillwell and musical director Angela Parrish and her band. Click Here for the show’s Indiegogo campaign and more information. Tickets for the LA performances will be available shortly.


    Fraser Entertainment Group presents another Evening of Classic Broadway, featuring GLEE's Brad Ellis, Terron Brooks, Dan Callaway, Stephen Kramer Glickman, Ashley Fox Linton, Susan Edwards Martin, Louise Marie Cornillez and Ruth Williamson. June 23 at 8:00 pm (doors open at 7), Upstairs at Vitello’s. $15 cover + 2-item minimum. Click Here for tickets.
    Sandy Bainum Sings Gershwin in S’Wonderful on Sunday, June 22nd at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal. There is no cover charge; just a $10 minimum for food and drink. Sterling’s at The Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Reservations: 818 754-8700.

    Kritzerland Goes Off Broadwayon Sunday July 6th at 7:00 pm. The show stars Brennley Brown, Kim Huber, Madison Claire Parks, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Robert Yacko with special guest Jason Graae and music director John Boswell at the piano. Sterling’s at The Federal. 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Reservations: 818 754-8700.


    GIRL TALK: An Evening of Cabaret Insight and Songwill take place one night only on Thurs., June 26 at The Mermaid Tavern, 1345 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362. The show will feature Zoe Reed, Jade McGlynn, Kylie Vincent, Laney Panico and Allison Martinez, Joshua Finkel and musical director Ben Ginsberg. Reservations: (805) 777-7418. Doors/Dinner at 6pm and Show at 7:30 pm, out by 9pm. $10 food or drink minimum. Don’t miss this amazing evening of talented Broadway Bound Teens sharing their truth and original cabaret sets with great original specialty numbers they created.

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    Hi Everyone, I'm back from a little R&R and catching up on all the latest happenings around town. Check out these great upcoming shows.

    MUSICAL NEWS: 3-D Theatricals presents a rousing revival of the Broadway classic Damn Yankees at the historic Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton, July 11 – July 27 (opening night July 12) and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center August 2 – 10. A muscular musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, this 1955, 11-time Tony Award-winning tuner re-tells a centuries old Faustian legend which promises to have fans on the edge of their seats. Jordan Lamoureux stars as Applegate with Alexis Carra as Lola and Cameron Sczempka as Joe Hardy, along with Robert Hoyt, Joe Hart, Chelsea Emma Franko, Cynthia Ferrer, Remmie Bourgeois, Michael Coleman, Chris Duir, Karla Franko, Nick Gardner, David Kirk Grant, Jennifer Holcombe, Chris Holly, Bren Thor Johnson,  Gavin Leatherwood, Ashley Matthews, Sarah Meals, Madison Mitchell, Tiffany Reid, Thomas Roy, Estevan Valdes, Nick Waaland, and Tamara Zook. Tickets: www.3dtshows.com.

    Lythgoe Family Productions and The Pasadena Playhouse have announced the cast of its Princess and Pirates Sing-a-Long Concert production for kids and their families which will be performed July 18 – Aug. 10 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Lindsay Pearce (pictured left) will star as Snow White/Maid Marion, Molly McCook as Cinderella/Wendy/Aurora, Curt Hansen as Prince Charming/Prince Phillip, Cliffton Hall as Prince Harry, Clarice Ordaz as Princess Jasmine, Jonathan Meza as Muddles, David F.M. Vaughn as Captain Hook/Sheriff of Nottingham, and JP Dupé as Peter Pan. The concert production is directed and choreographed by Spencer Liff and musical supervisor Michael Orland. Tickets: (213) 972-4488 or www.princesspirateslive.com.

    PIPPIN will celebrate its Hollywood Pantages premiere Oct. 21 – Nov. 9. The national tour will feature Sasha Allen (NBC’s The Voice) as Leading Player, Kyle Selig (The Book of Mormon tour) as Pippin, John Rubinstein who (created the role of Pippin in the 1972 original Broadway production) as Charles, Sabrina Harper (Pippin, original Broadway Revival cast) as Fastrada and Kristine Reese (Wicked tour) as Catherine. The company also includes Skyler Adams, Sascha Bachman, Bradley Benjamin, Dmitrious Bistrevsky, Mark Burrell, Mathew deGuzman, Fernando Dudka, Mirela Golinska, Kelsey Jamieson, Preston Jamieson, Lisa Karlin, Alan Kelly, Melodie Lamoreux, Tory Trowbridge, Mackenzie Warren and Borris York. Tickets are currently available with the purchase of a season package. Tickets/info: www.HollywoodPantages.com or (866) 755-2929.

    The Pasadena Playhouse presents Summer at the Playhouse – Music, Mayhem and Madness, three exciting productions playing this July. A Judy Garland Concert with Joey Luft features Judy Garland’s son making a rare public appearance (July 10-13), followed by Playhouse Rocks! with Tony® Nominee Mary Bridget Davies (A Night With Janis Joplin) which was presented last season at The Playhouse and was the venue’s highest grossing show in its history (July 17-20). The month will end with Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up! – Uncensored created by the award-winning Brian Henson and improvisational guru Patrick Bristow with The Jim Henson Company’s renowned puppeteers (July 24-26). Tickets: www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or (626) 356-7529.

    The Falcon Theatre has announced its 2014-15 season which will include a new Troubie show to celebrate the holiday season, The Snow QUEEN, directed by Matt Walker. This fast-paced, laugh-filled and Commedia Del Arte flavored musical reimagines the classic fable with the music of the mercurial British rock band QUEEN. Dec. 3 – Jan. 18 (opening night Friday, Dec. 12). The season also includes Impro Theatre’s The Western Unscripted (Aug. 27 – Oct. 5), directed by Steven Kearan & Dan O’Connor; A or B? (Oct. 15 – Nov. 16), a world premiere by Ken Levine; A Carlin Home Companion (Jan. 28 – Mar. 1), written and performed by Kelly Carlin & directed by Paul Provenza; and the west coast premiere of Class (Mar. 18 – Apr. 19), by Charles Evered.

    Spirited Hands Productions presents the world premiere of Visionary Man, a new American musical based on the fascinating true story of visionary artist J.B. Murray beginning July 26 at the Hudson Mainstage in Hollywood. Murray, an illiterate African American farm worker living in a shack in rural Georgia without water or electricity, had the first of what he called his “visions from the Holy Spirit” at age 70. Over a period of 10 years, Murray’s vision-inspired paintings and non-semantic script, initially on scraps of writing paper, envelopes, adding machine tape, poster board, wood paneling, old stove tops and televisions picture tubes, and eventually on archival art paper, would capture the imagination -  and the wrath - of his family, friends and neighbors. Today, his work is recognized and sought after by an international community of museums, galleries and collectors. Noted jazz singer Jimmer Bolden takes on the title role.

    The cast also includes Yorke G. Fryer, Chante Carmel, Jacquelin Schofield, Will North, Ernest Williams, Caitlin Gallogly, Joshua Leduc, Sequoia Houston, Stephanie Martin and Courtney Turner. Music and lyrics are by Padgelek, who also co-wrote the musical’s book with director Tom Coleman. Musical arrangements are by Teresa Ruiz and Bryan Shaw, musical director is Jeff Bonhiver, and choreography is by Ali North. July 26 – Aug. 31. Tickets: (323) 960-7787 or www.plays411.com/visionary.

    Laguna Playhouse presents Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story July 9 – Aug. 3 (opening July 12). It features over twenty of Buddy Holly’s and rock & roll’s greatest hits and is directed by Steve Steiner who directed last season’s Ring of Fire. Featured in the cast are Todd Meredith, Jenny Stodd, Bill Morey, James S. Patton, David Reed, Logan Farine, Emilio Ramos, Nathan Yates Douglass, Alejandro Gutierrez, Zach Sicherman, Bob Bohan, MaryAnn DiPietro, Kelly Vernon and Mike Brennan. Tickets: www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

    The Old Globe has announced the cast and creative team for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, which made its world premiere at The Old Globe in 1986. This inventive reimagining by Fiasco Theater is directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, and originated at McCarter Theatre Center. The acting company includes Jessie Austrian (Baker’s Wife), Noah Brody (Lucinda, Wolf, Cinderella’s Prince), Matt Castle (Pianist), Alison Cimmet (Witch), Paul L. Coffey (Mysterious Man), Andy Grotelueschen (Milky White, Florinda, Rapunzel’s Prince), Liz Hayes (Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jack’s Mother), Claire Karpen (Cinderella, Granny), Patrick Mulryan (Jack, Steward), Ben Steinfeld (Baker), and Emily Young (Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel). The creative team includes Lisa Shriver (choreographer), Derek McLane (scenic design), Whitney Locher (costume design), Tim Cryan (lighting design), Darron L West (sound design), Matt Castle (music director, orchestrations), Michael Perlman (associate director), and Marcy Victoria Reed (stage manager). The show runs July 12 – Aug. 10, with opening night on Thursday, July 17. Tickets: www.theoldglobe.org.


    The Ojai Playwrights Conference announces its 17th Summer New Works Festival which will take place over two weekends from August 2 through 10. Opening night, August 2, will feature Two Dynamic Duos – One Musical Night during which composers, lyricists, book writers and singers will offer a rare opportunity to peer behind the scenes into the creative process of making musical theatre. Walt Disney Imagineering, Creative Entertainment curates this evening of uplifting entertainment and lively discourse from two dynamic duos. Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, collaborators on musical film, theatre, television and animated projects, have created projects for divisions of the Walt Disney Company around the globe. Their original romantic comedy musical, First Date, opened last year on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre. Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda have teamed up on Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Story Short, Midsummer Night and Wheelhouse. They come to Ojai after the acclaimed world premiere of their newest musical, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, at the Seattle Rep. For a complete schedule of events call (805) 640-0400 or go to www.ojaiplays.org.

    Actors Conservatory Theatre San Diego presents Annie Jr., July 18 - 27 at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego. The show is directed by Bernard Baldan, with musical direction by Tim McKnight, choreography by Athena Espinoza and stage management by Mandy Wirt. Two casts will perform (white and red) featuring several of San Diego’s most talented up-and-coming young performers. Tickets: www.actsandiego.com or 619-544-1000.

    CONCERTS/CABARET: Rockwell Table & Stage presents Christina Bianco in her Los Angeles debut of Diva Moments! Tuesday June 24th and Sunday June 29th at 8pm. Drama Desk Award nominated singer, actress and impressionist Christina Bianco has become a worldwide YouTube sensation with her diva impression videos going viral. Her hit show Diva Moments is made up of songs that made divas out of the women who sang them. From Barbra Streisand to Celine Dion to Britney Spears, no celebrity is safe! Christina will perform these iconic songs in her own voice, as well as impersonating the great divas themselves. Musical direction by Michael Orland. Tickets and info: http://rockwell-la.com/.


    Chris Isaacson Presents has announced a one-night-only concert event Broadway Under the Stars at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 8pm. The show will star Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday and will also feature Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, stage and film), Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (In the Heights), Danny Gurwin (Little Women) and Tony Award-nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis) David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach. Broadway Under the Stars will feature songs from some of the most beloved musicals of our time, including Cabaret, Jersey Boys, Pippin, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Les Misérables, and Wicked, along with new favorites from the 2013-14 Broadway season including Aladdin, Rocky, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Purchase tickets by August 2 and save $5! Discount tickets are available by calling (323) 461-3673 or at www.FordTheatres.org.

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    L-R: David Haverty, Kyle Nudo, Leigh Wulff and Michael Shaw Fisher. 
    Photos by Terra Espinosa

    I have to say…I really loved this crazy new rock musical. In my book, it’s the kind of show that embodies all that is best about the Fringe, with its unconventional characters, sly direction (by Aaron Lyons), pert choreography (by Michelle LaVon), and wicked twist on a relevant message. The musical balances broad comedy with a subtler kind of humor that sometimes takes an extra beat to sink in before you can fully appreciate it, so listen closely to the dialogue and the lyrics and you won’t be left behind.

    The Werewolves of Hollywood Blvd is a collaboration between Michael Shaw Fisher (book & lyrics) and Michael Teoli (music & additional lyrics) with the Orgasmico Theatre Company, the same folks who brought Fringe favorites Exorcistic and Doomsday Cabaret to the festival in previous years. If you know their style, you know that this is a company that does everything full out and can deliver a punch line like nobody’s business. This show is no exception. 

    What I loved most about Fisher’s treatment of the story is that it has an underlying impish quality that bubbles throughout. The subject matter may be dark but the execution is playful and a helluva lot of fun. Plus, Teoli’s score is complex, electrically-charged, and filled with recurring character motifs and well-placed reprises that make the songs familiar quickly. He also has a way of hiding subtle melodic phrases that linger within a particular song, just for a moment, and if you can catch them before the music moves on, they’ll make you smile in recognition – dissonant Mary Poppins anyone?


    Like the song says, “We’re all a little damnable…” especially those who scheme to get ahead in Tinseltown, and Werewolves takes a satiric look at the tipping point of one Hollywood agent (Kyle Nudo well-cast as Lawson Grace) who veers over the edge when his world spins out of control after losing his job. Now on the skids, he revisits a film script he had previously discarded and becomes swept up in the lives of three historical “werewolves” who come to life as he reads the story. 

    In flashbacks we see Peter Stump (David Haverty), Jacques Roulet (Michael Shaw Fisher), and Joana of Tarcouca (Leigh Wulff) tell of their pain, their sacrifices, and their difficult choices, and we see their increasingly mesmerizing effect on Grace as they urge him to release his own inner wolf. Haverty blazes through Stump’s inner struggle and Teoli’s music with a calculated charismatic intensity that never disappoints while Wulff’s warm alto voice adds a plaintive richness to her sad Slavic tale. Fisher’s fearlessly comedic Frenchman, with his horrible teeth, bawdy behavior, and hair-trigger responses, is absolutely riveting.

    Jesse Merlin once again proves that funny is his middle name, this time bringing Lawson’s oddball boss, JP Governs, a devotee of Vlad the Impaler, to quirky life. Jim Hanna goes mental, Laura L. Thomas oozes Succubus sex appeal and Sarah Chaney returns as the reigning queen of the deadpan delivery. Alex Lewis and Hannah Johnson add a dose of hipster energy and Marc Jablon makes his own eccentric contributions to the comedy.

    Those who like a solid rock musical with plenty of big sound will also find much to get excited about in Werewolves. Even from behind the set, Teoli’s 4-piece band owns plenty of stage time and makes a big impact on the production.

    Not merely the raging rocker you might expect, this original musical contains more than meets the eye, but youve got to let it carry you away. Go with it and youll have a great time. Check it out and see for yourself. 

    L-R: Michael Shaw Fisher, David and Leigh Wulff

    Kyle Nudo and Leigh Wulff

    THE WEREWOLVES OF HOLLYWOOD BLVD
    Remaining performances: June 28 at 4:45 pm and 11:55 pm
    Orgasmico Theatre Company
    Theatre Asylum (Lillian Theatre)

    6320 Santa Monica Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA  90028

    http://hff14.org/1507

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    Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik.
    Photos by Joan Marcus

    While there is no formula for success, the creative team of every new musical holds its breath to see if they have put together a theatrical experience that audiences will respond to and ultimately love. The cast, the crew, the writers and everyone involved pray that the outcome will be worthy of their long hours and hard work, and that the result will, at least in part, do justice to the story. I’m sure that was the intention with Ghost the Musical but an unfortunate combination of elements prevents this musical from soaring and more than once left me wondering, “What were they thinking?”

    Helmed by Tony Award-winning director Matthew Warchus(Matilda, God of Carnage, Boeing-Boeing) and adapted for the stage by Bruce Joel Rubin (book & lyrics), who wrote the screenplay for Ghost, along with original music & lyrics by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Glen Ballard (Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill), it’s hard to believe that so many poor choices could be made in one musical.

    To begin with, I question whether this film should ever have ever been adapted for the stage because, in all honesty, I don’t believe the character of Molly Jensen would sing. Even at the height of her pain, she’s a quietly strong kind of internal character that Demi Moore brought to life with incredible pathos in the film. She said more with her stillness and with one look than this disastrous version of Molly Jensen (played by Katie Postotnik) does in the entire show. Postotnik storms around the stage like a football player trying so hard to be earnest that all she does is look and sound uncomfortable.

    It doesn’t help that the producers have cast Steven Grant Douglas as Sam Wheat, the other half of one of the most romantic film couples to come out of the ‘90s and played by Patrick Swayze with such heartbreaking honesty that a generation of women fell in love with him. But no one is falling in love with Douglas, who is completely unlikable to the point that one wonders what Postotnik sees in him. The mechanics of the relationship are there but they have no chemistry. At all. And their songs are the kind you’d hear on American Idol, full of power belting and riddled with angst but minus any real feeling. 

    Granted, the writers don’t make it easy for them. For example, how can you create the steamy sensuality of the scene at the pottery wheel when, in this stage version, Sam is already dead? And when Molly asks Sam over dinner why he never says “I love you,” their resulting song “Three Little Words” is a frustrating, whiny clash of opinions that doesn’t allow the audience to see that these two people really do love each other. Rather, it feels like that uncomfortable couple you see in a restaurant that you know is fighting and you wonder why they went out at all.

    Other puzzling choices:

    -- Choreographer Ashley Wallen’s embarrassing Fame-gone-wrong choreography, often in business suits, that sticks out like a sore thumb and makes the dancers look as awkward as they must feel

    -- An angry over-the-top Subway Ghost (Brandon Curry) who screams through all of his scenes such that you can’t understand him. When he finally sings about how to move an object, it is with the regrettable lyric “You’ve got to take all the hatred, take all the fear / Shove them in your gut, shove them down here / Your love and desire, it’s like you’re on fire / And let them implode like you’re ready to explode…”

    -- A hospital scene in which a trio of inane and unbelievable ghosts informs Sam he’s dead

    -- Continually flashing lights in the audience’s face to cover ghostly appearances and disappearances
      Among the casting choices that made sense were Fernando Contreras as an imposing Willie Lopez, who successfully captured the danger of his character, andCarla R. Stewart(Oda Mae) and her sisters Evette Marie White (Clara) and Lydia Warr (Louise), who bring such hilarious commitment to their roles that you can’t help but laugh every time they enter the scene. I loved these two church ladies in their pink suits and white heels watching over Oda Mae and turning their supporting roles into something truly memorable.

      Stewart, the best thing about this production, makes Oda Mae a fun, ballsy big-voiced character who steals the show with her comic timing and a dynamite fantasy number “I’m Outta Here” featuring a terrific orchestra made up of local and touring musicians led by musical director Matthew Smedal.

      There are also more magical effects in this show than I’ve ever seen before, many of which are spectacular and worthy of a musical about ghosts. [Effects are designed by illusionist Paul Kieve with the help of Jon Driscoll (video & projection design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design) and Bobby Aitken (sound design).] 

      Not all of them work (the choice to show a spirit leaving the body by walking horizontally up toward the sky is silly, and the musical could have ended 30 seconds earlier without the final dissolve, which is also a bit silly) but when they do, they are breathtaking to the point of overshadowing the story. It’s like seeing a combination film and stage show transposed on top of each other with so many moving parts that the result feels like an over-stimulated, at times discordant mix of mediums. What’s missing is the simple romantic story about the enduring power of love that transcends all. That is the real magic.

      L-R: Nicole Turner, Carla R. Stewart, Evette Maria White and Hana Freeman

      Robby Hal Tiwanger and the cast

      Katie Postotnik and Steve Grant Douglas

      The cast of Ghost the Musical

      Katie Postotnik and the cast of Ghost the Musical

      Carla R. Stewart and Steven Grant Douglas

      Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik

      GHOST THE MUSICAL
      June 27 - July 12, 2014

      Hollywood Pantages
      6233 Hollywood Blvd.
      Los Angeles, CA 90028
      www.
      hollywoodpantages.com

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      MUSICAL NEWS: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts welcomes back the always hilarious Troubadour Theatre Company with their newest show, Abbamemnon, directed by Matt Walker, playing for one weekend only, Friday, August 1 - Sunday, August 3. This hysterical musical reimagining of the classic Greek tragedy Agamemnon, the sordid story of seduction and scheming, with the sweet Swedish sounds of the Seventies was a bona fide hit earlier this summer at the Falcon Theatre. Read my reviewHERE. Tickets range from $10 - $50 and can be purchased atwww.lamiradatheatre.comor by calling (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310.  Recommended for ages 13 and up. La Mirada Theatre is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.

      Tonya Harding The Musical is returns to Upright Citizens Brigade Theater for two more performances on July 3, and July 22. The musical comedy is a new take on the infamous Tonya Harding, told from her point of view, that chronicles her journey from living in Portland with her mother, to rising to stardom after winning the ‘91 nationals, right into the crazy media storm of the 1994 Winter Olympics. The cast includes Stevie Nelson, Mano Agapion, Mark Rennie, Ben Parks, Ariana Lenarsky, Erika Heidewald, Dan Amerman, and Dina Zugec, directed by Steve Szlaga, and features music by Manny Hagopian and script & story by Jesse Esparza. Click Here for tickets.

      FRINGE AWARDS/EXTENSIONS: The Encore! Producers’ Awards return for the fifth year with extended runs of the best of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, running July 5-31, 2014 at eight Hollywood venues. Musicals extended include Bronies: The Musical (which also won a Best Musical Award), Zombies from the Beyond, Giraffenstein, Belli Gemelli: An Opera Sitcom, RSVP: RIP, Snow White the Musical, The Last Five Years, Rapture, Fancy: Secrets From My Bootydoir (Best Cabaret/Variety Award), Lydia Trueblood: The Black Widow of the Atlantic Coast, and The Cave: A Folk Opera. For a complete list of awards and extended shows, go to www.hollywoodfringe.org/learn/article/1578.


      MUSICAL BIZ CONFERENCE: New Musicals Inc. has announced the panelists for its fifth biennial Biz of the Musical Theatre Biz Conference, set for July 18-20 in North Hollywood. Those who will be speaking on a variety of topics include: John Caird (director, Les Misérables; writer, Jane Eyre, Daddy Long Legs), Randy Johnson (writer/director, A Night with Janis Joplin; original producer, Always, Patsy Cline), Michael Alden (Broadway producer, Grey Gardens), David Bryant (Broadway producer, A Tale of Two Cities), Karyl Lynn Burns (producing artistic director, The Rubicon Theatre), Sheldon Epps (artistic director, Pasadena Playhouse), Paul Gordon (lyricist/composer, Daddy Long Legs, Jane Eyre), Dana Harrel (creative executive director, Walt Disney Imagineering), Daniel Henning (founding artistic director/producer, The Blank Theatre Company), Michael Jackowitz (Broadway producer, How to Succeed..., Tuck Everlasting), Michael A. Kerker (ASCAP director of musical theatre), Terence McFarland (executive director, LA Stage Alliance), Brendan Milburn & Valerie Vigoda (Striking 12, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison), Heather Provost (Broadway/film/ TV producer), Cheri Steinkellner (Tony nominated bookwriter, Sister Act), Michael Weiner & Alan Zachary (First Date, Second Hand Lions), Michael R. Blaha (entertainment lawyer, producer), and Cate Caplin (award winning LA director/choreographer). For a complete schedule of conference events, visit www.nmi.org/develop/conference.

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      MUSICAL NEWS: Overtone Industries will share the stage at REDCAT with two other LA-based arts organizations during the kick-off weekend of the New Original Works Festival 2014 (NOW Festival), July 24 - 26. Overtone Industries will present the first glimpse ofICELAND, a new multidisciplinary music theatre work written, composed, and directed by Overtone Industries’ artistic director O-Lan Jones, in collaboration with Emmett Tinley, best known as front man for the folk-indie band The Prayer Boat. The contemporary story is set against a mythic backdrop, inhabited by elemental forces and ancient creatures that influence and guide the protagonists, Vala (Cesili Williams) and Mundur (David O). The piece explores the archetypal passage through the “dark night of the soul,” as the heroine and hero travel through a hidden world in order to find themselves and each other. This story is told through a visually fluid world, vertically and horizontally, using a chorus of multidisciplinary performers to create landscapes, weather, pathways, and flashbacks. Click Here for tickets or call (213) 237-2800.

      REP East Playhouse in Santa Clarita is opening Return to the Forbidden Planet this week. The show runs July 11 - August 16. Written by Bob Carlton, the musical is very loosely based on the 1956 film Forbidden Planet which was a sci-fi version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and features a score of rock n’ roll classics like “Great Balls of Fire,” “Good Vibrations,” “Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Born To Be Wild.”  While working late one stormy night, mad scientist Doctor Prospero develops an elusive formula that will change the world. Duped by his wife Gloria, he is sent light years into the future through hyper-space in an old spacecraft along with his daughter, Miranda. Fifteen years later, a routine survey flight under the command of the chisel-jawed Captain Tempest leaves earth’s orbit with a new Science Officer aboard. As a shower of meteorites hits the ship, the Science Officer flees, and the craft is pulled inexorably towards the plant D’Illyria - the Forbidden Plant where the adventure begins. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 Students/Seniors at www.repeastplayhouse.org.

      Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group will present 4 performances of Creepshow Cabaret, Mia Morte’s dark, sexy and sinister burlesque side-show-spectacular, Fridays at 11:00 pm July 18 – August 8. The show features Mia Morte, Rynie Das Wreckless, Vincent Wolf, Darin Malfi, Joey Dynomite, Zachariah and MaliciouSid...The Greatest Show Unearthed! ZJU Theatre Group is located at 4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601. For reservations, call (818) 202 - 4120. Tickets are $15. www.ZombieJoes.com

      New Musicals Inc., in association with Celebration Theatre, will produce the world premiere of The Max Factor Factor, August 1 - 31 at the NoHo Arts Center. Written by Adrian Bewley (book), Joe Blodgett (music), and Chana Wise (lyrics), it will be directed by Michael Shepperd and features a cast that includes Jeff Scot Carey, Jeffrey Christopher Todd, Jessica Howell, Jessica Snow Wilson, Heather Olt, Jordan Kai Burnett, Kevin Michael Moran, Kevin McIntyre, Stefan Rich, Everjohn Feliciano, Trevor Shor, and Alex Boling. The golden age of Hollywood, and two rival movie studios are in a heated battle for survival when their opposing leading men fall in love. Reminiscent of screwball comedies of the past, this new musical takes place in a world of artifice, backstabbing, lavender weddings, double-crossing starlets, and a moral crusader from the Legion of Rectitude, making it increasingly more difficult for the leading men to hold on to the one real thing each has ever found. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA. Tickets: www.nmi.org or (818) 506-8500.

      The Fringe-extended musical The Last Five Years will continue performances July 18 – 27 at Chromolume Theatre, Fri. and Sat. at 8:00 pm and Sun. at 2:00 pm. It is produced by Carly J Worden and Jason Klamm and directed by Brian Robert Harris. The story explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein (Michael Worden), a rising novelist, and Cathy Hyatt (Laura Zimmerman), a struggling actress. The show uses a form of storytelling in which Cathy’s story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and Jamie’s is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters do not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect. Click Here for tickets ($20). Chromolume Theatre is located at The Attic Theater 5429 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016.

      AUDITIONS: Performance Riverside will hold auditions for Legally Blonde the Musical directed by Roger Castellano on August 3 and 4 at Landis PAC in Riverside. 3:30 pm - 6pm (Equity) and 7pm Non-union. Equity Guest Artist Tier 2 agreement pending; professional pay for non-Equity actors. Rehearsals begin August 25 (Mon.-Thurs., Sat. & Sun. TBA) and the show performs Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 2014 at Landis Performing Arts Center, 4800 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA. For complete details and a breakdown of roles visit www.performanceriverside.org.

      FILM CONCERT: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts will offer a high definition screening of the rock & roll concert of the decade, Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day, to be broadcast on Friday, August 8 at 8:00 pm. (Recorded live in high-definition). On December 10, 2007, Led Zeppelin took the stage at London's O2 Arena to headline a tribute concert for dear friend and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. What followed was a two-hour-plus tour de force of the band's signature blues-infused rock’n’roll that instantly became part of the legend of Led Zeppelin. Founding members John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were joined by Jason Bonham, the son of their late drummer John Bonham, to perform 16 songs from their celebrated catalogue. Tickets ($20): 562-944-9801 or www.lamiradatheatre.com

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      MUSICAL NEWS: If you missed Bronies: The Musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival you can catch it during one of its two additional performances July 11 & 12 at the Lounge Theater. The Encore! Producers' Award winner for Best Musical is the story of three outsiders who find purpose, meaning, love – and each other – all thanks to cartoon ponies, featuring music by Joe Greene, book & lyrics by Heidi Powers & Tom Moore, direction & music direction by Ryan Bergmann, and choreography by Joseph Corella-Sandler. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. www.broniesthemusical.com

      Sierra Madre Playhouse has announced a new slate of shows to carry its programming into early 2015. Musicals will include A Little House Christmas adapted by James DeVita from the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, directed by Emily Chase. (Nov. 28 - Dec. 28, 2014), Always…Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley, directed by Robert Marra (May 8- June 28, 2015) and Einstein is a Dummy, book & lyrics by Karen Zacarias, music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, directed by Mary Jo Duprey (Jan.16 – Feb. 28, 2015). As an adult, Albert Einstein changed our view of the universe. But as a boy, he struggled with the same issues any 12-year-old might—keeping up with violin lessons, impressing the girl next door and, oh yeah, comprehending the fundamental relationship of space and time to the speed of light, of course. As with last season’s Battledrum, the Playhouse is offering a musical entertainment that will appeal to an underserved youth audience as well as to its adult patrons. For a list of all the shows on their season, go to www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

      The Troubies bring A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream to Shakespeare/Summerfest Orange County’s July 24 - August 1. This play-off of Shakespeare’s classic comedy, directed by Matt Walker, tells this story of magic potions and foolish lovers through some of disco’s greatest hits. The production includes a cast made up of acrobats, musicians, improvisers, and clowns, as well as a four piece band and an almost entirely improvised second act. Featured are Rick Batalla, Joe Keane, Beth Kennedy Will, Tyler King, Katherine Malak, Rob Nagle, Suzanne Narbonne, Morgan Rusler, Monica Schneider, Mike Sulprizio, Lisa Valenzuela, and Matt Walker. Tickets: (714) 590-1575 or www.shakespeareoc.org.

      DANCE: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts will show a high definition screening of Matthew Bourne’s legendary reimagining of Swan Lake, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne on Sunday, August 10 at 2:00 pm. An iconic production, perhaps best–known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble, it was filmed at Sadler’s Wells, London in 2011. The stellar cast includes the magnificent Richard Winsor as the lead Swan/Stranger, Dominic North as The Prince and Nina Goldman as The Queen. Tickets are $20. www.lamiradatheatre.com

      CONCERTS/CABARET: MISCAST: Right Singer, Wrong Song returns to Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal, Monday, July 21st. Reservations: (818) 754-8700.


      Acclaimed blues singer Mary Bridget Davies, nominated for a Tony® this year for her Broadway lead in A Night With Janis Joplin, will return to The Pasadena Playhouse for four nights July 17-20. She first wowed Pasadena crowds in 2013 with her Janis Joplin role. The new show, dubbed Playhouse Rocks! will incorporate Janis Joplin and Big Brother & The Holding Company hits, blues, rock and soul songs as well as music from some of Ms. Davies’ other favorite artists like Etta James, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, The Band and Amy Winehouse. Tickets: www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.


      Next to Normal will kick off Cabaret at The Merc’s 2014 Summer Series for one weekend only, July 11, 12 & 13 at The Merc in Temecula. This emotional tour de force features music by Tom Kitt, and book & lyrics by Brian Yorkey. The cast includes longtime San Diego actress Susan Jordan Deleon in the role of Diana with Victor Hernandez as Dan, Susan’s real-life daughter, Jordan Deleon as Natalie, Zack Zumbek as Gabe. David Baca as Henry, and Matthew Malecki as Dr. Madden. Cabaret at the Merc is produced by Jordan Beck and J. Scott Lapp. Tickets: (866) 653-8696 or www.CabaretAtTheMerc.com. The Merc in Temecula, 42051 Main St. Temecula, 92590.


      Following Next To Normal at Cabaret at the Merc is Spring Awakening on August 8 – 11, book & lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik,musical direction by Cris O’Bryon, choreography by Evan D’Angeles and directed by J. Scott Lapp. The company includes Nick Eiter, Emily Chelsea, Austyn Myers, Lindsay Joan, Hayley Marian, Jonathan Sangster, Tyler Lenhart, A.J.Foggiano, Claire Keefer, Bailey Sonner, Zackary Scot Wolfe, Joseph Arreola and Katie Larsen. Tickets: (866) 653-8696 or www.CabaretAtTheMerc.com. The Merc in Temecula, 42051 Main St. Temecula, 92590.

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      Performances of In the Heights begin tonight at Chance Theater. The musical is a potent reminder of the importance of chasing one’s dreams and finding where you belong featuring a Grammy Award-winning score of hip-hop, rap, jazz, pop, salsa, and merengue. July 11 – August 3, 2014 at Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807. Tickets/info: (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com.

      Izzy Perez, Charles McCoy, Joshua Lopez, Fabio Antonio,
      Rubel Carbajal, Stephanie Inglese and Monika Pena


      Joshua Lopez as Usnavi with ensemble members Sarah Pierce,
      Fabio Antonio and Ruben Carbajal as Sonny


      Tony Sanchez as Kevin and Rachel Oliveros Catalano as Camila

      Chelsea Baldree (Vanessa), Sonja Taylor (Daniela) and Angeline Mirenda (Carla)

      Charles McCoy as Benny and Julia Cassandra Smith as Nina

      Joshua Lopez (Usnavi) with Monika Pena, Bryan A. Martinez,
      Izzy Perez and Fabio Antonio

      Chelsea Baldree as Vanessa and Joshua Lopez as Usnavi

      Izzy Perez as Graffiti Pete

      Photo credit: Doug Catiller, True Image Studio www.TrueImageStudio.com

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      Cameron Bond and Alexis Carra. Photos by Isaac James Creative

      Baseball, minus the hot dogs and apple pie, is served up hot and fast in 3-D Theatricals’ scintillating revival of this 1950s musical comedy with a Faustian twist by Richard Adler & Jerry Ross. The devil may be up to his old tricks but it’s all in good fun in director Alan Souza’s joyful send-up of our greatest national pastime and the pursuit of the all-American dream.

      Dana Solimando takes a page from Bob Fosse for her sizzling choreography executed by a bevy of brawny ball players and one sex kitten named Lola. The boys are terrific in their locker room number “(You Gotta Have) Heart,” which is one of the few songs to earn a reason for its two reprises, and Alexis Carra is a knockout channeling Gwen Verdon in her signature number “Whatever Lola Wants.”

      Cameron Bond stars as Joe Hardy, a dead ringer playing the younger version of his middle-aged self, Joe Boyd (Robert Hoyt at the top of the show). Both are extremely likable and sing beautifully, although Hoyt left himself nowhere to go singing full voice from the get-go.

      Cynthia Ferrer takes on the role of Meg Boyd, Joe’s long-suffering and ever loyal wife. She is the real heart and soul of the musical and very much Joe’s North Star who eventually leads him home. Ferrer creates wonderful relationships with both versions of her husband and turns in a beautiful performance once again.

      For me however the best surprise of the night was Jordan Lamoureux as Applegate, which is a far cry from his last performance as the innocent simpleton Jack in 3DTs recent production of Into the Woods. This time around he is the slippery, slithering, eccentric devil who holds a contract with Joe’s name on it and boy does he make the most of it. Late in the second Act he finally gets to strut his stuff in a Vaudevillian production number straight from the mouth of hell that shows off every bit of his sleazy, oozing charm. Now thats a reprise waiting to happen.

      The final score? 3DT knows how to deliver the fun and this one’s a crowd-pleaser from beginning to end. Every bit as delightful today as it was nearly sixty years ago when it first opened on Broadway and cleaned up at the Tony Awards, Damn Yankees is just the ticket you want this summer for a grand good time. Theres not a weak link in the show. Go!

      Joe Hart and the cast of Damn Yankees

      Jordan Lamoureux

      Cynthia Ferrer and the cast of Damn Yankees

      Alexis Carra and Jordan Lamoureux

       
      Left: Robert Hoyt.  Right: Chelsea Emma Franko and Joe Hart

        
      Left: Joe Hart and Jordan Lamoureux.  Right: David Kirk Grant

      Cameron Bond and Alexis Carra

      Nick Waaland and the cast of Damn Yankees

      Tamara Zook, Cameron Bond and Karla Franco

      DAMN YANKEES
      3-D Theatricals

      July 11 - 27, 2014 at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton
      August 2 - 10, 2014 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
      Tickets: http://3dtshows.com/productions/damn-yankees/

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      ONCE, winner of eight Tony Awards® including Best Musical and winner of the 2013 GRAMMY® Award for Best Musical Theater Album, continues its run at the Hollywood Pantages through August 10. ONCE tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, ONCE is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty... and unforgettable in every way. www.HollywoodPantages.com

      Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal. Photos by Joan Marcus 

      ONCE Tour Company

      ONCE Tour Company

      ONCE Tour Company

      Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal

      ONCE Tour Company

      ONCE Tour Company

      Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal

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      MUSICAL NEWS: The Garage Theatre and Alive Theatre present Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera August 1-30 at The Garage Theatre. Often described as brutal, scandalous, perverted; yet humorous, hummable and with a happy ending, it is one of the earliest and most successful attempts to introduce jazz into the theatre. With musical direction by Ellen Warkentine (the mastermind behind LOLpera) and longtime director and managing director, Eric Hamme, this evening is going to get weird...that good kind of weird. The cast and band includes Robert Edward, Mark Piatelli, Ellen Warkentine, Ashley Elizabeth Allen, Thomas Amerman, Sarah Chaffin, Dana Benedict, Lysander Ruesehk, Jason Bowe, Stephani Keith, Lizzie Stride, Ethan Zahn, Sally Nguyen, Jeanine Van Dyke, Travis Guerrero, Matthew Proffitt, Daysmel Muniz, John Robertson, Alanah Ntzouras, Matt Kollar and Sumner LeVeque. Choreography is by Angela Lopez. The Garage Theatre, 251 E. 7th Street, Long Beach, CA 90813. www.thegaragetheatre.org

      A workshop production of It Happened in Roswell: an intergalactic musical will be presented as part of New Musicals Inc.’s summer series at NoHo Arts Center August 3 – 25. The story follows hard-nosed reporter Scoop who thinks he’s just chasing a story to save his sagging career. But when the alien turns out to be a wide-eyed sexy girl whom the Army wants to capture and dissect in the laboratory, well, Scoop discovers he’s in a big pickle: get the story, or get the girl? The cast includes Rory Dunn as the hard-nosed reporter, with Broadway’s Julie Tolivar as the alien. Nathan Ondracek plays a sweet 4F lad who has been too preoccupied trying to communicate with aliens to notice the love of his life, Bessie, right in front of him in the local diner. Deranged former military man Major Nails is played by John McCool Bowers. The cast also includes Amy Bloom, Emma Sperka, Emerson Boatwright, and Carrie Madsen. Music direction is by Ron Barnett. Co-directed by Terrence Atkins and Scott Guy. It Happened in Roswell is written by Terrence Atkins and Jeffery Lyle Segal. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd, in North Hollywood. Tickets are $20 at www.nmi.org.

      The Festival of New American Musicals presents an ASCAP staged reading of The Front, based on the 1976 Hollywood movie starring Woody Allen and Zero Mostel, August 19 and 20 at 7:30 pm. Barnsdall Gallery Theater, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90027. Music & Lyrics are by Paul Gordon & Jay Gruska; Book by Seth Friedman; Based on the screenplay by Walter Bernstein. Richard Israel directs the reading, with musical director Keith Harrison. Produced by Marcia Seligson and Michael Kerker. Associate Producer Linda Shusett. For free tickets RSVP to info@lafestival.org

      EXTENDED: Chance Theater has extended its run of In The Heights through August 10 with six additional performances. The show was originally scheduled to close on August 3 but will now also play Thursday, August 7 at 8pm, Friday, August 8 at 8pm, Saturday, August 9 at 3pm and 8pm, and Sunday, August 10 at 2pm and 7pm at Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center. Tickets: (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com.

      SEASON NEWS: San Diego Musical Theatre has announced its 2015 season at its new home, the historic Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego. Shows will include:
      West Side Story(Feb. 13 – March 1, 2015) directed by James Vasquez 
      Singin’ in the Rain (May 22 – June 7, 2015) directed by Todd Nielson 
      La Cage aux Folles (Sept. 25 – Oct. 11, 2015) directed by Larry Raben 
      White Christmas (Nov. 27 – Dec. 6, 2015) directed by Todd Nielsen
      www.sdmt.org

      FILM: In memory of an incredible talent, Arena Cinema Hollywood will screen the documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me for four showings only. In this bold, hilarious and poignant portrait, the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner is revealed both on and off stage. Candid reflections about her life are punctuated with words from friends (including James Gandolfini, Tina Fey, John Turturro, Tracy Morgan, Hal Prince, George C. Wolfe, Nathan Lane and Cherry Jones) and archival footage that showcases some of the great moments from her career. The 81-minute Sundance Selects film is directed by Chiemi Karasawa. Screenings takes place Sat. July 26 and Sun. July 27  at 3:00 pm; Tues. July 29 and Thurs. July 31 at 6:15 pm. Admission is $12.00. Arena Cinema Hollywood, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028. (Entrance at rear gate.) Discounted parking is available with validation at lots adjacent to the venue and across the street. For more information, call (323) 306-0676 or go to http://arenascreen.com.

      CONCERTS/CABARET: Kritzerland Tributes Female Songwriters Sunday, August 3rd at 7:00 pm at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal starring Dan Callaway, Jennifer Kranz, Heather Lee, Lisa Livesay and Shannon Warne, with special guest Kay Cole and musical direction by Tom Griep. The show salutes musical theatre lyricists Carolyn Leigh, Lynn Ahrens, Marsha Norman, Gretchen Cryer, Fran Landesman, Amanda McBroom, and Carole Bayer Sager. Reservations: 818-754-8700.

      UPDATE: Tony Award-nominee Obba Babatundé has been set to host Broadway Under the Stars at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre Aug. 16 at 8:00 pm. The Chris Isaacson Presents production stars Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday with Erich Bergen, Rogelio Douglas, Jr., Danny Gurwin and Chad Kimball. David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach. Purchase tickets by August 2 and save $5. Discount tickets are available by calling (323) 461-3673 or at www.FordTheatres.org.

      The Grove Theatre in Upland announces a weekend of entertaining tributes to Elton John, Billy Joel and ABBA. On Friday, August 8th, at 8:00 pm, Terry Davies, “The Piano Man,” will present his personal tribute to greats Billy Joel and Elton John featuring a video as the backdrop that will take the audience through the story he sings. On Saturday, August 9th at 8:00 pm, ABBA FAB, featuring Anne Davies, Chelsea Faulds, Scotty Pearson and Nick Davies, performs its tribute to the music of ABBA. Comprised of vocalists and musicians who have toured the world as solo artists and band members, ABBA FAB has come together to create an extremely entertaining ABBA tribute. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786. Tickets: (909) 920-4343, or http://grovetheatre.com/.

      The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony has announced a celebratory concert to commemorate the orchestra’s 20th Anniversary on Sunday, September 7 at 7:30 pm at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. LAJS will be joined by award-winning and critically acclaimed pianist, actor, playwright, producer, and composer Hershey Felder, who has written an overture specifically for this occasion. With the anniversary concert, LAJS will be making its 11th consecutive appearance in the Ford Summer Partnership Concert Series. Tickets: (323) 461-3673 or www.FordTheatres.org.

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      One of the greatest musicals of all time returns in triumph to its birthplace, nearly three decades after its world premiere at The Old Globe, in an inventive new production from the critically acclaimed Fiasco Theater that originated at McCarter Theatre Center. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning masterpiece weaves together beloved fairy tales, then ventures into the unknown territory of life after “happily ever after.” Fiasco conjures a mythical world of theatrical invention where an ordinary rope becomes Jack’s famous beanstalk, a ladder becomes Rapunzel’s enchanted tower, and the power of transformation creates a beguiling theater of the imagination. Tickets: www.theoldglobe.org

      The cast of  Into the Woods. Photos by Jim Cox

      Emily Young and Noah Brody

      Ben Steinfeld and Alison Cimmet with (background)
      Andy Grotelueschen and Matt Castle


      L-R: Liz Hayes, Noah Brody, Andy Grotelueschen and Claire Karpen

      Claire Karpen with (background, from left) Jessie Austrian,
      Paul L. Coffey, and Matt Castle


      L-R: Emily Young and Alison Cimmet

      L-R: Emily Young, Jessie Austrian, Patrick Mulryan, Ben Steinfeld and
      Alison Cimmetwith Matt Castle at the piano


      L-R: Patrick Mulryan, Ben Steinfeld, Claire Karpen and Emily Young 

      L-R: Andy Grotelueschen and Patrick Mulryan

      Ben Steinfeld and Paul L. Coffey 

      L-R: Patrick Mulryan, Jessie Austrian, Emily Young,
      Ben Steinfeld, and Claire Karpen 


      INTO THE WOODS
      July 12 - August 10, 2014
      Fiasco Theater at The Old Globe
      1363 Old Globe Way
      San Diego, CA 92101
      www.theoldglobe.org

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      Cesili Williams and the cast of ICELAND. Photos by Steven Gunther

      REDCAT opened its eleventh annual New Original Works Festival this weekend with a trio of intriguing pieces incorporating movement, dance, music, and a variety of theatrical elements that push the boundaries of thought and creativity. Together they make up the first of three programs that will be offered now through August 9. Each weekend will introduce a new selection of works.


      Choreographer Wilfried Souly’s Saana/The Foreigner explores the journey of an immigrant presented by one dancer (Souly) and two live musicians,Julio Montero and Tom Moose. Beginning in the lobby before moving into the theater, it is a dramatic expression of the challenging physical and psychological journey one makes when coming to this country. Souly winds and unwinds his body with shuddering intensity throughout the half hour piece, which is full of wild tribal outbursts, fragile lyrical moments, and harsh dissonances that melt into musical order as the journey progresses. A satiric video compilation integrated with the movement reveals the complexity of a couple’s interrogation as authorities determine the validity of their marriage. Raw, and unflinchingly honest, it is a powerful work of intensely personal nature.


      In Rosanna Gamson/World Wide’s Still, four men and two women create an intricately beautiful dance of the psyche as light shifts, shadows move, and bodies intertwine with exquisite sophistication. REDCAT’s website describes Gamson’s work as a “kinetic investigation of the neuroscience of dreams…an evocative new work, rich with tender and violent movement, explosive athleticism, shape-shifting theatricality, and stunning moments of stillness. Still is set in, and against, an eclectic sonic landscape which sources viol, cello, and violin music ranging from French 17th century court composer Marin Marais, to new world post-rock band instrumentals.” Though a bit esoteric and cerebral, it is an accurate description. To see it in motion, however, is a very sensual and quite unforgettable experience.  

      Technically the dancers are a muscular marvel, whirling and connecting at a feverish pitch within a kind of androgynous visual collage. Staccato whisperings, the sounds of a train and an ethereal circus-like presence waft in and among the shadows while billowing fabrics drape and move to contain space. Even the female dancers’ long hair become characters of their own, moving through space with a kind of liquid presence that is astonishing, especially in combination with Tony Shayne’s masterful lighting design. Still is a beautiful example of movement and light partnering in a breathtakingly emotional way, highlighting the lines of the body like a canvas upon which to create a fluid design. And then in a moment, the frenetic movement stops and all is still.


      The third selection on this program is one that will be of most interest for musical theatre lovers. It is a presentation of the first part of Overtone Industries’ Iceland, written and composed by O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley, which is scheduled for a full production in 2016. (Jones also directs.) The experimental work crosses genres and incorporates elements of musical theatre, opera, and storytelling with orchestral accompaniment and the bridging of two worlds – ancient and contemporary – to tell a haunting love story. If this short half hour is any indication of what’s to come, the final mounting of this piece will be an exciting event.

      Cesili Williams (Vala) and David O (Mudar) bring to life the two characters who meet, experience a disaster, and emerge in a transcendent place. Williams has a rich, buttery voice that suits the music well and David O, normally seen in his capacity as composer and music director in LA, reveals a quiet intensity as Mundar that gives this pairing a very conscious and mindful appeal.

      A twelve-member Hiddenfolk Ensemble of singers in Icelandic costumes, envisioned by Christina Wright and Christopher Tulysewski, moves around the lovers to create the world and provide suggestions of what the production design will include: airplane propeller props, a parachute with angel descending from the sky, and lengths of gray cloth to represent the path of a person seeking the right way in a life’s journey. There is an otherworldly quality to it that forecasts a richness of textural depth in the vision. Jones takes the abstract and unites these elements to create a story built from the imagination that is absolutely mesmerizing and leaves you wanting more. At an early stage in development like this, that is exactly what you want. I highly recommend you see this portion of the project now so you can experience the full impact the final production will have.

      You can see one more presentation of these three works tonight at 8:30 pm at REDCAT downtown. Here is a full schedule of upcoming festival events.

      REDCAT NOW FESTIVAL
      Program 1:  July 24, 25 & 26
      Saana/The Foreigner -  Wilfried Souly
      StillRosanna Gamson/World Wide
      Iceland - Overtone Industries

      Program 2:  July 31, August 1 & 2
      The Singing Head - Carole Kim
      Object of Her Affection - Marsian De Lellis
      Electrogynous - D. Sabela Grimes

      Program 3:  August 7, 8 & 9
      Blacktop Highway - John Fleck
      For Now - Ate9 DanceCompany

      REDCAT is located at 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in the heart of downtown Los Angeles on the northeast corner of the intersection of W. 2nd and Hope Streets. Housed in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, REDCAT has its own street entrance on 2nd Street. Tickets and information: (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org. Performances begin at 8:30 pm.

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      MUSICAL NEWS:Lexikat Artists, MB Artists and the NoHo Arts Center Ensemble will present the world premiere of Scary Musical The Musical, book by Richard Hochberg, music & lyrics by Richard Hochberg and Michael Paternostro, musical direction by Brent Crayon, orchestrations by Kenny Seymour and directed and choreographed by James J. Mellon. Scary Musical begins previews on Friday, Sept. 12 at 8pm; will open on Friday, Sept. 19 at 8pm and run through Sunday, November 9, 2014 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. The cast includes Jennifer Bennett as Teena Louise, Candi Milo as Leeza Courtney Fox, August Emerson as Norman Hates, Frank Authello Andrus, Jr. as Freddy Loussier, Leigh Golden as Carrie Beige, Matthew Tyler as Mr. MacGuffin, Jane Papageorge as Jamie Lee Leigh and Keir Kirkegaard as Jason Cravin.

      Someone is killing off the Drama Club of Vera Miles High School, everyone is a suspect and you decide who the killer is. Combining a slasher movie plot with a rock ‘n roll score, pop-culture humor and an homage to classic horror film clichés, Scary Musical has all the elements of your favorite “Scary Movies” with an added twist – the teenagers sing and dance – before, during and sometimes after getting killed! The setting is the quiet coastal village of Hidden Secrets, USA. On the night before the opening of the Vera Miles High School Drama Dept’s production of Scary Musical The Musical a brutal double murder takes place. We soon learn that a Crazy Mental patient has escaped from the Hidden Secrets Psychiatric Hospital and all “musical” HELL is about to break loose. Ticket: (818) 508-7101 x 6 or www.nohoace.com.

      Wayne Brady will star as Fred/Petruchio in the Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate which opens the Pasadena Playhouse’s 2014-15 Season Sept. 16 - Oct. 12 (press opening Sept 21). The production, directed by Sheldon Eps, also stars Merle Dandridge (Broadway’s Spamalot and Tarzan) as Lily/Kate. The cast will also include Joanna A. Jones as Lois/Bianca, Terrance Spencer as Bill/Lucentio, Jenelle Lynn Randall as Hattie, Rogelio Douglas, Jr. as Paul, David Kirk Grant as Thug #1, Danny Stiles as Thug #2, Pat Towne as General Howell, and Jay Donnell as Baptista, with ensemble members Eric B. Anthony, Shamicka Benn-Moser, Theresa Murray, Saudia Rashed, Carlton Wilborn, and Armando Yearwood. Jeffrey Polk is the choreographer and Rahn Coleman is musical director. Talkback Tuesdays will take place on Sept. 23 and 30 following the 8:00 pm performance and there will be a Post-Show Discussion on Sunday, Oct. 5 following the 2:00 pm performance. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena CA. Tickets: 626-356-7529 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

      Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood will present Quick & Funny Musicals, three brand new short musicals, on August 2nd at 10:00 pm in an evening of. They are: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Nightmare. We all know that the GOOP is a super woman BUT what is Gwyneth Paltrow afraid of? This musical will explore the depths of Gwynnie’s soul, while not at all making fun of her penchant for lording her superiority. Catfish: The Musical. Can Nev & Max sing? Is the man on the internet who refuses to meet up a total creeper troll?  Find out in the newest edition of Catfish (the musical!). Understudies: The Musical. The intrigue, the sabotage, ever wonder what goes on back stage? And what the heck even happens in Wicked? Does anyone know?

      The Company includes Rachel Bloom, Kathryn Burns, Nate Clark, Kimmy Gatewood, Jackie Johnson, Henry Kaiser, Jessica Reiner-Harris, Zach ReinoTony Rodriguez and Ben Siemon. Writers: The Company, Fiona Landers, Richie Root, Steve Szlaga. Quick & Funny Musicals are directed and produced by Lindsay Lefler. Tickets are $10. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 5919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Reservations: http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/shows/view/2159


      Hair, by Gerome Ragni & James Rado (book & lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music) comes to the Hollywood Bowl August 1 – 3, directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman. The cast includes Kristen Bell (Sheila), Sarah Hyland (Chrissy), Mario (Hud), Hunter Parrish, (Claude), Jonah Platt, (Woof), Amber Riley, (Dionne), Jenna Ushkowitz, (Jeanie), Benjamin Walker, (Berger), Beverly D'Angelo, (Mom), and Kevin Chamberlin, (Dad). From its stunning Broadway premiere in 1968, Hair defined the “rock musical,” exuberantly celebrating hippie counterculture, the anti-war movement and, of course, the sexual revolution of the 1960s with a rainbow score of hits – including “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine,” and “Easy to be Hard.” Let down your long, beautiful hair, pull out the tie-dye and come celebrate. Tickets: www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/hair/2014-08-01

      Chromolume Theatre has announced Bird Lives! as its next production, opening on Friday, August 15 at 8:00 pm. Written by Willard Manus and directed by Tommy Hicks, Bird Lives! will star Montae Russell as jazz icon Charlie Parker in this solo play with music. Parker, a legendary saxophone virtuoso, ushered in a new era of jazz by pioneering bebop and influencing subsequent generations of musicians. Bird Lives! will run through September 21.  The regular performance schedule is Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm through September 21. Chromolume Theatre at the Attic is located at 5429 W. Washington Boulevard (between the 10 freeway and Hauser Boulevard), in Los Angeles, 90016. Ample street parking is available. Tickets: 323-205-1617 or www.crtheatre.com.

      The new national tour of Menopause The Musical® opens on Wednesday, September 17 at the Laguna Playhouse. (There will be one preview on Tuesday, September 16 and the show runs through September 28.) Now celebrating 13 years of female empowerment through hilarious musical comedy, Menopause The Musical® has evolved as a “grassroots” movement of women who deal with life adjustments after 40 by embracing each other and the road ahead.  Set in a department store, four women meet by chance while shopping for a black lace bra at a lingerie sale. After noticing unmistakable similarities among one another, the all-female cast jokes about their woeful hot flashes, mood swings, wrinkles, weight gain and much more. These women form a sisterhood and unique bond with the entire audience as they rejoice in celebrating that menopause is no longer “The Silent Passage.” Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. www.lagunaplayhouse.com

      EXTENDED: The Old Globe has additional performances of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning musical Into the Woods, which made its world premiere at The Old Globe in 1986. The production is an inventive reimagining by Fiasco Theater, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, in a production that originated at McCarter Theatre Center. By popular demand, it will now play through Sunday, August 17. www.theoldglobe.org

      AUDITIONS: Kentwood Players will hold open auditions for Into the Woods on Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 11am-3pm and on Sunday, September 14 from 6-10pm. Callbacks will be held on Monday, September 15 from 7:30-10pm. Auditions and performances take place at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. For complete audition details go to www.kentwoodplayers.org.

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