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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Chance Theater presents the Bock & Harnick musical She Loves Me directed by Sarah Figoten Wilson Nov. 28 – Dec. 28, with opening night set for Dec. 5. The production will star Chance Theater founding artist Erika C. Miller, as well as Stanton Kane Morales, Camryn Zelinger, Corky Loupe, William Gorin, Beach Vickers, Daniel Jared Hersh, Tina Nguyen, Elizabeth Adabale, Eric T. Anderson, Erica Shaeffer, Katelyn Spurgin, Matt Takahashi, Shafik Wahhab and resident artist Laura M. Hathaway. Musical direction is by Taylor Stephenson and choreography by Christopher M. Albrecht. Set against the sumptuous background of a 1930’s Hungarian parfumerie, this tale of unknowing lovers boasts a rich, sprightly score and 10 Tony Awards. This romantic comedy is also the musical adaptation of the play that inspired such popular films as The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got Mail. Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807. Tickets: (714) 777-3033 or visit www.ChanceTheater.com.

    Wallis Center for the Performing Arts brings Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s critically acclaimed production of Into the Woods to LA December 2 – 21, (gala opening Wed., Dec. 3). Into the Woods, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, is directed by Amanda Dehnert who also serves as the production’s musical director. Into the Woods is a modern twist on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales in which beloved storybook characters take on startling complexity as they discover wishes come with a price. The cast features Jeff Skowron (Baker), Rachael Warren ( Baker’s Wif), Miriam A. Laube as the Witch), Miles Fletcher (Jack), Robin Goodrin Nordli (Jack’s Mother), Jeremy Peter Johnson (Cinderella’s Prince/Voice of the Wolf), Howie Seago (the Wolf), Kjerstine Rose Anderson (Little Red Riding Hood), Jennie Greenberry (Cinderella), Robert Vincent Frank (Cinderella’s Father), Catherine E. Coulson (Cinderella’s Stepmother/Milky White), Royer Bockus (Rapunzel), John Tufts (Rapunzel’s Prince), Mauro Hantman (the Steward), Katie Bradley (Florina/Sleeping Beauty) and Christiana Clark (Lucinda/Snow White). Tickets: 310-746-4000 or www.thewallis.org.

    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts kicks off its 2014-15 Programs for Young Audiences series with Boxtales Theatre Company’s The Odyssey: Heroic Tales From Greek Mythology. This 60-minute exciting, story-filled adventure is recommended for audiences ages 4 and up. Two shows only - Sunday, Dec.7th at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Storyteller Michael Katz, actor Jeff Mills and musician Michael Andrews combine their diverse talents to create a professional, high energy, highly interactive theatrical experience for young audiences. The Odyssey features virtuosic storytelling, circus arts, enchanting masks, and exhilarating live music in an exciting theatrical telling of the classic tale. Greek hero Odysseus tells of his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War and his encounters with Poseidon, Athena, Zeus, the Cyclops, the Sirens and many others in this classic and fun show. Tickets: $10 - $15 online at www.LaMiradaTheatre.com or call (562) 944-9801.

    La Jolla Playhouse has announced five shows for its 2015-16 season, including the world-premiere musical Come from Away, featuring book, music & lyrics by Canadian husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, directed by Christopher Ashley; the world premiere of Indecent, co-created by director Rebecca Taichman and Paula Vogel, co-produced with Yale Repertory Theatre; and Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin, by Michael Benjamin Washington, directed by Phylicia Rashad, which had its first workshop during the Playhouse’s 2014 DNA New Work Series.
    The Playhouse also announces the centerpiece of its 2015 Without Walls (WoW) Festival: Healing Wars, conceived, directed and choreographed by internationally-renowned choreographer Liz Lerman. The show’s run will culminate at the 2015 WoW Festival taking place Oct. 9 – 11. Also part of the season is the previously-announced world-premiere musical Up Here, featuring book, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, directed by Alex Timbers. Tickets are available by subscription at (858) 550-1010 or online at www.lajollaplayhouse.org.

    Raditatical:A Journey in Rhythm, an original live stage spectacular filled with music, laughter, dance and raw energy opens in Hollywood at The Montalbán Theatre on December 12 for six performances only. Appropriate for all ages, this unique hybrid performance sensation explores the human potential and finds the music within all of us. It is the story of one man’s journey across the country, learning about musical expression and realizing possibilities beyond his wildest dreams. Audiences become a part of the quest, discovering their own rhythm in heartbeats, breath, movements of their hands and feet - how it’s all connected to the pulse of life. Heading the cast is Bronkar Lee directed by Ameenah Kaplan and choreographed by Simon Chalban with a six-member ensemble who beatbox, juggle, tap dance, and play on all sorts of percussion instruments. The cast also features Aaron Williams, Melinda Sullivan, Paul Newman, Scotty Lund, and Andrew Pulkrabek. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (323) 461-6999 or go to www.themontalban.com or www.raditatical.com. Photo by Star Foreman.

    HOLIDAY: Belting out the Hallelujah Chorus has become an exhilarating and joyous holiday tradition, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s (LAMC) famed Messiah Sing-Along, conducted by artistic director Grant Gershon, continues to reign supreme as the ultimate must-do for sing-along fans on Sunday, Dec. 7th, 7:00 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Sopranos, altos, tenors and basses of all abilities – even those with no singing experience – are welcome to the Chorale’s 34th Annual Sing-Along, in which the 2,100-member audience becomes the choir. The performance features a professional orchestra and quartet of professional soloists from the Chorale, including Holly Sedillos, soprano; Janelle DeStefano, mezzo soprano; Ben Cortez, tenor; and David Castillo, baritone. Messiah scores are available for $10 at the door. Tickets: (213) 972-7282 or www.lamc.org.

    Inland Pacific Ballet and artistic director Victoria Koenig present The Nutcracker at several Southern California locations, Nov. 29 – Dec. 27. Danced to Tchaikovsky’s stirring and celebrated score, the critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet’s 20th annual production of The Nutcracker has become a treasured holiday tradition for thousands of families with dazzling sets, beautiful costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage. The annual holiday favorite tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. For more information: www.IPBallet.org or (909) 482-1590. Photo by E.Y. Yanagi.
    Performance dates and locations include:
    Nov 29-30: Arcadia Performing Arts Center, Nov 29-30
    Dec 6-7: Lewis Family Playhouse, Rancho Cucamonga
    Dec 13-21: Bridges Auditorium, Claremont
    Dec 27: Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside

    CABARET: Monday, Nov. 10 at 8:00 pm - Simply Scott Alan, An intimate concert with composer Scott Alan and today’s brightest stars. Alan returns to Rockwell: Table & Stage in an evening of songs featured from his five successful albums including Dreaming Wide Awake, Keys, What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up, LIVE and Anything Worth Holding on To as well as songs from his musicals, Home & ifi. Tickets: (323) 669-1550 x 20 or www.rockwell-la.com.

    Monday, Nov. 17 at 8:00 pm – Bret Shuford: Charming, A Tale of an American Prince
    Why should the Princesses get all the glory? In Charming, Bret Shuford tells the tale of one Prince’s trek from the faraway Kingdom of Texas to a castle in The East Village. Shuford’s quest is highlighted by the music of Sondheim, Lutvak, Prince and more, with a little Disney magic thrown in for good measure. Friendship bracelets, giants and maybe even a furry woodland creature help guide this Prince along the way. Musical Direction is by Tracy Stark, Direction by Lennie Watts. Tickets: (323) 669-1550 x 20 or www.rockwell-la.com.

    Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 8:00pm – The Hollywood Jane Revue: We’re Just Drawn to That, A Burlesque Tribute to Animation. The show brings your favorite animated characters to life on the stage to tantalize and tease you. From Frozen to Venture Bros., From Archer, to Scooby Doo, we’re covering the world of animation with our discarded clothing. Burlesque by Blanche Bourgeois, Georgia O’Queef, Captain Androgyny, Brandy Snifter, Tiffy Twister, Lana Entendre, Gwen Ruby, Robin Switch, Veronica Voss, Amber Dextrous, and Captain Jack Heartless. Magic by: Scott Marshall. Hosted by Charles Eights. Tickets: (323) 669-1550 x 20 or www.rockwell-la.com.

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    L-R: Alec Medlock and Sean Smith. Photos by Sherry Linn

    Typically, Children’s Theatre Group of Southern California produces shows that feature its young company members who range in age from 8 to 18. Participants in CTGSC’s long-established and well-respected educational program learn the craft of theatre and then put their skills to use by auditioning for mainstage musicals like Godspell, Jr. and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I had the pleasure of seeing both of those shows previously and they were charming, upbeat, and engaging productions; the kind that put a smile on your face and make you glad you made the effort to go to the theater.  

    This time around they tackle something with a little more bite and a lot more social awareness – Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. It’s the second of the duo’s three major collaboration, sandwiched between Stop the World I Want To Get Off and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and the one least familiar. It isn’t often produced, which makes it an interesting choice for a company like this.

    Adult actors take on the leading roles but the chorus of Urchins (Lola Michelle Brown, Tess Cooley, Alexa Druyanoff, Langdon Janos, Vera Wheatley) and The Kid (Liam Daniels), are played by the youths. These street kids act as a singing and dancing Greek chorus, always watching the main action and jumping into play when a song calls them forth. They are considerably younger than the original teens who played the roles on Broadway, which gives the piece an interesting twist. Their hopeful smiles and bright-eyed optimism underscore the disparity between the haves and have nots in a way I found extremely intriguing. Kay Cole, who co-directs (with Bonnie Hellman) and does the delightful musical staging, was one of the original Urchins on Broadway. Cole and Hellman handle the story’s unpleasantries with finesse.

    [L-R] Front: Lola Michele Brown and Vera Wheatley. Rear: Tess Cooley, 
    Liam Daniels, Alec Medlock, Alexa Druyanoff, and Langdon James

    Roar of the Greasepaint is an allegorical tale in which two British blokes, Cocky (Alec Medlock) and Sir (Sean Smith), are stuck on an eternal merry-go-round, playing the game of life – literally. Sir always wins and Cocky always loses. That’s because in this game Sir calls all the shots, making the rules and changing them whenever he pleases. His art of manipulation is so well conceived that poor Cocky doesn’t even realize Sir never actually plays the game himself. All he does is set up the rules so that Cocky can never win a round, and thus, can never gain control of the game.

    Medlock and Smith are a well matched pair of cultural emblems. Medlock embodies the optimism of the lower class with all its good humor and innocence while Smith’s haughtiness reflects the character of an entitled upper class. Bricusse & Newley’s score favors the common man with their best and most recognizable songs going to Cocky. Medlock’s joy is infectious on the uplifting “A Wonderful Day Like Today,” and there is a genuine camaraderie between him and the urchins, whose cherubic, soot-stained faces beam as they sing and dance alongside him. He is strongest in these upbeat moments, a song and dance man with a Vaudevillian flair for comedy and a self-deprecating charm.

    Two other songs will be particularly recognizable: the emotional “Who Can I Turn To?” which has been sung by everyone from Tony Bennett to Sammy Davis, Jr., and one of my favorites, “Feelin’ Good,” recorded by both Nina Simone and Michael Bublé.

    Medlock handles the songs nicely, though he has more control over his mid-range than high notes. The sing-song pattern of Smith’s speaking voice becomes appropriately irritating adding a pomposity to Sir that makes it even easier to sympathize with the likable Medlock. Each time he plays the game, it is with a different motivation. First it’s for food, then a job, love, and finally, once he sees an outside player win at the game, to get revenge on Sir.

    The dream girl Cocky fancies is Caitlin Gallogly, a waif who ends up being another of Sir’s pawns used to control Cocky. Gallogly keeps it simple, making her brief appearance in the show a moving addition to Cocky’s plight. Her singing is a sheer delight, and the delicacy of her soprano lines float hypnotically over the audience creating a beautiful effect. Scenes with two additional characters who arrive in the second act, The Stranger (Marc Antonio Pritchett) and The Bully (Phil Biedron) become turning points for Cocky as the game starts to spin out of control.

    It’s been said that it isnt important whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. In The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd it isn’t about how you play the game because winning is everything. It’s meant to get a rise out of you, and sadly, this story written nearly fifty years ago, is as relevant today as ever. Individuals, corporations, and even countries still overstep their bounds every day, and the truth is, doing the right thing is more of a struggle than ever.

    CTGSC steps up its game with this latest production. It offers its young actors and its audience an opportunity for growth by stimulating the kind of critical thinking that only a socially-conscious work of art can. I found myself smiling at their cheerful confidence with the material, inspired by the company’s pluck, and impressed with their desire to stretch beyond what they have tackled previously. This is a successful expression of CTGSC’s bigger commitment and an enjoyable experience from beginning to end.

    Alec Medlock and Caitlin Gallogly

    L-R: Sean Smith, Marc Antonio Pritchett, and Alec Medlock 

    THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT, THE SMELL OF THE CROWD

    November 1 - 23, 2014
    Children
    s Theatre Goup of Southern California at
    The Eclectic Company Theatre
    5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
    Valley Village, CA 91607
    Tickets: $15
    (818) 508-3003 or
    www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org

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    Kentwood Players presents Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods Nov. 14 – Dec. 20 at the Westchester Playhouse. Tickets: (310) 645-5156 or www.kentwoodplayers.orgDuring the run, the company will hold its second annual Kentwood Kares Coat Drive, collecting new and gently used coats, jackets and sweaters to be donated to the Union Rescue Mission located in downtown Los Angele. The mission provides emergency and long term services to men, women and children trying to escape living on Skid Row. Founded in 1891, the Union Rescue Mission is the oldest mission of its kind in the City of the Angels.

    L-R: Heather Barnett (Cinderella), Jon Sparks (Cinderella's Prince),
    Amy Coles (The Baker's Wife) and Terry Delegeane (The Baker).
    Photos by Gypsy Foster

    Alicia Reynolds (Rapunzel) and Elizabeth Bouton
    (The Witch)

    Heather Barnett

    Heather Barnett and Jon Sparks

    Carly Linehan (Little Red Ridinghood) and
    Terry Deleageane (The Wolf)

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    Chromolume Theatre Company opens its latest production, Putting It Together, a musical revue showcasing the award-winning songs of Stephen Sondheim. The show takes place at a Hollywood movie premiere party in the home of the producer/director and his trophy wife leading lady. A composer and his date, a wanna-be starlet, along with an up-and-coming screenwriter, spend the evening reflecting on the illusions and desires of relationships intertwined amidst life “in the biz” in Hollywood. Nov. 14 - Dec. 21. Tickets: (323) 205-1617 or www.crtheatre.com.

    L-R: Kurt Andrew Hansen, Kristin Towers-Rowles, Mike Irizarry,
    Rachel Hirshee, and Chris Kerrigan.

    Kristin Towers-Rowles and Rachel Hirshee

    Kurt Andrew Hansen, Rachel Hirshee and Chris Kerrigan

    Kristin Towers-Rowles and Kurt Andrew Hansen

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    Cabrillo Music Theatre kicks off its 2014-15 season with Memphis, opening tonight and running through November 23. From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis is the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love setting its story of tolerance and the pursuit of happiness to a classic rock beat. Robert W. Schneider directs. Get your tickets now! www.cabrillomusictheatre.com.

    Lakeisha Renee Houston, Todd Abramson and the ensemble of Memphis.
    Photos by Ed Krieger

    The Beale Street Ensemble

    Todd Abramson (top) and the Beale Street Ensemble

    Lakeisha Renee Houston and Todd Abramson

    Lakeisha Renee Houston and Todd Abramson

    Keith Jefferson, Lakeisha Renee Houston, and the Beale Street Ensemble

    Todd Abramson and Linda Kerns

    Lakeisha Renee Houston and Ensemble

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    HOLIDAY SHOWS: Ring in the Holiday Season with the new musical Striking 12 by Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin and Valerie Vigoda at Laguna Playhouse. Directed by Janet Roston, this holiday musical twist on a wonderful Hans Christian Andersen classic combines pop-rock, musical comedy and an old-fashioned uplift with a 21st century sensibility for a modern-day New Year’s Eve twist that is suitable for audiences of all ages. The cast includes Brent Schindele, Marisa Duchowny, Matt Wolpe and Amberly Rosen. Performances are Dec 3 – 28, with opening night set for Saturday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 pm. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. Tickets: (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

    Tis the season to get your fever on at Theatre Banshee Dec. 5 – 20 when they open their Holiday Fever Christmas Variety Show. This 10th Anniversary seasonal holiday favorite draws its inspiration from “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Donny and Marie,” with a generous helping of sequin-fueled “Solid Gold” thrown in to account for its outrageous spirit and never-ending stream of dazzling wigs. The 90-minute show has all that you would expect from the genre: singing, dancing, sketches, variety acts... What sets it apart is an intangible comedic sensibility that infuses every number with a touch of irony and irreverence. It’s not your Norman Rockwell version of the season, but it’s a whole lot more fun. Directed and choreographed by Dagney Kerr. Theatre Banshee, 3435 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Tickets: www.holidayfeverlive.com.

    A Little House Christmas, a play with songs, opens Nov. 28 and will run through Dec. 23 at Sierra Madre Playhouse. Adapted for the stage by James DeVita, the show is based on the Little House on the Prairie series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Sierra Madre Playhouse presentation of A Little House Christmas is directed by Emily Chase and will star Jolie Adamson, Pamela Daly, Jeff Doba, Jim Harnagel, Eric Charles Jorgensen, Fletcher Kamal, Valerie Rose Lohman, Andrew Stock, Hannah Victoria Stock and Amy Tolsky. UCLA musicologist Lyndsey Strand-Polyak is the production’s consultant on music of the ear, which will include vibrant fiddle and guitar playing as well as lively dance. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. Ample free parking behind theatre. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

    Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly presents their all-new fun and wildly turbo-charged version of the famous Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol celebrating holiday spirit and redemption. The show stars Sebastian Muñoz as Scrooge, and ZJU’s fabulous Steam Punk Chorus. Directed by Denise Devin and produced by Zombie Joe. For Ages 12 & up. Saturdays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 7:00 pm Nov. 29 – Dec. 28. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Tickets: $15. Reserve by calling (818) 202 – 4120 or go to www.ZombieJoes.Tix.com. For more information visit www.ZombieJoes.com.

    San Diego Musical Theatre announces the final production of their 2014 season, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dec. 11 - 21 at the North Park Theatre. Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaption features seventeen Irving Berlin songs, played by a live 22 piece orchestra. Todd Nielsen directs a cast that stars Todd Dubail (Bob Wallace), Allison Spratt Pearce (Betty Haynes), Jeffrey Scott Parsons, (Phil Davis), and Tro Shaw (Judy Haynes), with Joy Allen, Jeni Baker, Amy Beth Batchelor, Philip Cobb, William Cobb, Crystal Davidson, Janie D’Avignon, Karla Franko, John Gamboa, Max Gidaley, Siri Hafso, Danny Hansen, Kyle Hawk, April Henry, Ed Hollingsworth, Allison Knight, Andrew Koslow, Danielle Levas, Paul Morgavo, Joy Newbegin, Jeremy Shull, Claire Scheper, Doug Schmitt, Debra Wanger and John Westcott. Choreography is by Lisa Hopkins and Don LeMaster is musical director. Tickets: (858) 560-5740 or www.sdmt.org.

    At the Grove Theatre in Upland, get ready for The Snow Queen - A Frosty, Fractured Fable(A British-style Holiday Panto), written By Dale Sandlin with music & lyrics by Steve Apostolina, Nov. 28 & 29 at 7:29 pm and Nov. 30 at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Snow Queen is a musical excursion of the Snow Queen who meets the Widow Twanky, played by Christofer Sands. The battle begins when Twanky’s son is taken to fix a magic mirror for the evil Queen. This interactive Christmas Show is sure to please both parents and kids, from “boos” and snowballs to the fun lyrics and live music. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786. Tickets: (909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com.


    TELEVISION: Want to star in a music video alongside the cast of NBC’s Peter Pan Live!, singer/songwriter Alex G., and other surprise guests? Dance your heart out to a brand new rendition of the Peter Pan classic, “I Won’t Grow Up” created by DJ Tay James. Watch Alex G.’s message to fans about the opportunity above and submit your video at www.peterpanmashup.com. Submission ends on November 18, 2014 at 11:59 pm PST. Remember to tune in to the live broadcast of Peter Pan Live! on Thursday, December 4 at 8/7c.

    HOLIDAY CABARET/CONCERTS: (mostly) Musicals presents (mostly) HOLIDAY!, an evening of surprisingly seasonal songs, Monday, Dec. 8. The show features (mostly) contemporary holiday songs from established writers including Jason Robert Brown, Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens, and Jerry Herman; as well as up and coming writers like LA’s own Joe Greene & Heidi Powers, Bryan Blaskie, and Gregory Nabours, and NYC writers Rachel Peters, Joel Waggoner and Dan Marshall, and more performed by Julie Tolivar, Walter Winston O’Neil, Shelley Regner, Michael A. Shepperd, Amanda Kruger, Derrian Tolden, David Crane, Molly Gilman and more, with music direction by Gregory Nabours. Plus, hear tthe west coast premiere of Sam Carner and Derek Gregor’s mini musical Flash-Priest directed by NMI’s Scott Guy. Then stick around for our open mic after party hosted by Nathan Ondracek with Gregory Nabours on piano. www.facebook.com/mostlymusicals

    Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents Happy Holidays! The Annual Kritzerland Holiday Show, Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm. Performers include Paige Befeler, Roger Befeler, Brennley Brown, Kim Huber, Madison Claire Parks, Sami Staitman, and Robert Yacko with special guest Jason Graae and music director James Lent. Reservations: 818 754-8700. Doors open at 5:30pm. Show starts at 7:00 pm. Sterling’s at The Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

    Fraser Entertainment presents A Classic Broadway Holiday Dec. 29 with Brad Ellis returning as musical director and host. Upstairs at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604. Click Here for reservations (encouraged).

    The Los Angeles Master Chorale adds a generous dash of yuletide cheer with a matinee performance of its popular Festival of Carols, on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2:00 pm at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The concert features new arrangements of cherished Christmas carols sung to savory perfection by 100 members of the Chorale under artistic director Grant Gershon’s baton. Pianist Lisa Edwards and organist John West, who performs on Disney Hall’s iconic pipe organ, add delightful sonic flourish to the concert.  The program also features the live performance premiere of Eric Whitacre’s Glow, part of the Grammy Award-winning composer’s innovative “Virtual Choir” series, a global phenomenon in which singers from around the world record themselves singing one of his choral works and upload their videos online, which are synchronized and combined into a single performance. Tickets: (213) 972-7282, or www.lamc.org.

    Los Angeles Children’s Chorus presents its popular annual Winter Concert celebrating American song on Dec. 7 (7:30 pm) & 14 (7:00 pm) at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. The program features works by a number of eminent American composers, including Let every breath, a round in the shape note tradition by William Billings, considered the country’s first choral composer; Aaron Copland’s popular Ching-a-ring Chaw; A Christmas Carol by Charles Ives, one of the nation’s first composers to gain international acclaim; and Knee Play 5 from legendary minimalist composer Philip Glass’s groundbreaking 1967 opera “Einstein on the Beach,” universally hailed as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century. LACC also spotlights works by several Los Angeles-based composers, Nick Strimple’s A Christmas Lullaby, Wayne Bisbee’s A Cuckoo Flew Out of the Wood, David Montoya’s I Heard a Bird Sing, and L’Dor vador by former cantor Meir Finkelstein, among them. Tickets: (626) 793-4231 or visit www.lachildrenschorus.org. Pasadena Presbyterian Church is located at 585 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101.

    BOOKS: Mitchell Maxwell’s novel Little Did I Know is available for purchase. Told with wit, compassion, and the kind of insider’s access to the theater that only an insider like Maxwell can provide, the novel is about coming of age in the spotlight and embracing one’s entire future in a single season. This is the story of an unforgettable summer set in Plymouth, MA in the late seventies, about a young man with an outsized dream – to refurbish a dilapidated but historic theater and produce a season's worth of vibrant musicals. A recent college graduate, he fills his cast and crew with people he has come to love and trust in his university life, and with others whose talents and personalities prove undeniable. Yet, while the productions drive his ambitions, a local woman drives his passions, and their romance is fateful, star-crossed, and ultimately more than either of them expected. Maxwell is a 35-year veteran of the entertainment industry. He has produced seven Broadway shows, more than thirty off-Broadway and regional productions, four national tours, three West End productions and six major motion pictures. He has directed in New York, London, and regionally. Click Here for more information.

    David Lewis’s new Hollywood memoir Hopelessly Hollywood, My Dreamland Diary, from Small Town Extra to Musical Theatre King For a Day is due out in December. On dozens of small stages in the shadows of Tinseltown, where eager young actors fresh off the bus may share the spotlights with forgotten idols and new stars rising, author-playwright David Lewis evokes an amusing memoir of his years in that dream-drenched world, set in the 1980s. He follows a friend and collaborator to Los Angeles, convinced they are the next Rodgers and Hammerstein, but the City of Angels soon sends them on separate paths, one down an ultimately tragic road. It’s the story of the town’s seductive spell over Lewis -- from Bette Davis making a movie in his home town, to the night in Hollywood when he learned that his musical about the Ringling brothers was Broadway bound. That’s what he was told. That’s what he read. And you can read all about it in this factually fascinating tale. From Big Dipper Press.

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    Nicole La Fond and her twin sister Natalie help The Grinch
    (Burke Moses) light the tree. Photos by Bob Ross.

    The ninth annual Old Globe Christmas Tree Lighting kicked off the holiday season in conjunction with San Diegos favorite holiday musical, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Designed by Grinch scenic designer John Lee Beatty, the unique tree will be located in the center of the Globe Plaza for the run of the show. This free, fun family event featured a special live performance by members of The Grinch cast and a delightful holiday snowfall on the Globe's Copley Plaza.  

    Five-year-old Nicole La Fond was the winner of the “Santa for a Day” contest, and she and her twin sister, Natalie, helped The Grinch light the tree in front of thousands. She was drawn as the winner after creating a drawing expressing what the holidays mean to her. She and her family received a VIP Family Four-Pack to attend the 4:30 p.m. performance of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and, directly after the show, took part in the Tree Lighting.





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    Michael Arden as Quasimodo

    No matter what anyone says, you’d be a fool if you believed that the La Jolla Playhouse production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame wasn’t headed for Broadway. Produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatricals in association with Paper Mill Playhouse, with a powerhouse creative team that includes Alan Menken (music), Stephen Schwartz (lyrics), Peter Parnell (book) and Scott Schwartz (director); an incredibly talented cast of veteran Broadway actors; and a spectacular production design that transports the audience to 15th century Paris in all its massive glory, the deck is heavily weighted in its favor.

    The lush music will give you chills (literally) with the sheer volume and resonance of its voices; a credit to the San Diego choral ensemble, Sacra/Profana who becomes part of the very walls of this Notre Dame. Their gorgeous waves of sound in “The Bells of Notre Dame” beckon you into the story and continue to lead you through to the tragic end. The power they add to the experience is thrilling.

    Without a doubt, expectations are high for this latest marriage of modern day Disney storytelling and medieval Gothic Romance. Elements of both Victor Hugo’s epic novel and Disney’s animated film of The Hunchback of Notre Dame are part of this story that has found new life as a stage musical. But while the animated version played to the kiddies, this production is wrought from the passions of its four leading characters and those are not always G-rated.

    Ciara Renée as Esmeralda (center) and the cast of
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Photos by Kevin Berne

    Archdeacon Frollo (Patrick Page) hides his lascivious desire for the gypsy Esmeralda (Ciara Renée) behind the pious robes of the church espousing sacred principles while pursuing her at every turn. The deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo (Michael Arden) loves her from afar for the kindness she has shown him in an otherwise cruel world, and Captain Phoebus (Andrew Samonsky) is ready to give up his gallivanting ways to save Esmeraldas life, even if the cost is his own. The villain, the innocent, the beauty, and the hero; in less studied hands these characters could easily remain two-dimensional like their cartoon counterparts but, in this rendering, a level of human frailty shows through that makes them much more complex.

    Patrick Page as Frollo

    Page’s commanding voice and towering presence are tailor-made for Frollo’s singular brand of oppression yet he also gives us a man torn by love of family, duty to the church, and the shame of his own lustful appetite. Renée is gloriously fiery as the object of everyone’s attention. She sings like an angel and dances with Romany brilliance but this Disney heroine remains an outcast in a world that will never give her a chance to rise above her station. 

    Arden’s arresting physical transformation into the hunchback Quasimodo is done in full view of the audience. The exposed moment is surprisingly emotional and his heartbreaking performance is richly nuanced to create both monster and man in one. Vocally, the role is a demanding one and Arden turns the soaring melodies into heartfelt longings that stir the soul. It is a performance of a lifetime.

    Alexander Dodge’s recreation of Notre Dame’s lofty bell tower dominates the stage while Howell Binkley’s lighting design spills moonlight and shadows to dramatically enhance the storytelling. Dodge uses whimsical accents for his scenic design that can be moved on and off easily to represent the city below. Where Quasimodo’s world is all shadows and secrets, the Festival of Fools in the streets of Paris, and the Court of Miracles, are full of color and life.

    There is a great deal about this Hunchback that feels right and audiences are responding by filling the house to capacity night after night. I like the darker tone of the story and the way the production design favors that vision. Still, I got the sense that not everything has landed in the right place yet. Exposition is delivered as third-person narration that shortcuts the back story and helps explain the major shifts in location but I grew tired of it after a while. I wanted to see the story rather than hear about it. And though the score is gorgeous, its movie musical songs sometimes feel out of character against the more dramatic sound of the choral passages. Maybe that contrast is meant to highlight the chasm between classes but there were times that its distinctive Disney sound still pulled me out of the action.

    But no matter, this Hunchback is quite wonderful and will surely resonate with those in search of a moving story. Go, if you can still get tickets, especially if you love beautiful music and passionate performances. 

    THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
    Oct. 26 - Dec. 14, 2014
    La Jolla Playhouse

    Located on the UCSD Campus via the Revelle Entrance
    2910 La Jolla Village Drive
    La Jolla, CA 92037
    Tickets: (858) 550-1010 or
    www.lajollaplayhouse.org

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    MUSICALS IN LA will be on Holiday Hiatus through December 4th.
    Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

    THIS WEEKEND: Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Staged Reading Series will offer a special one-night only performance of Steel Pier, Sunday, Nov. 23, 7:00 pm, at the University Theatre at California State University, Long Beach (off 7th Street between East and West Campus Drive, Parking Lot 7). An original musical written by Kander and Ebb from an original book by David Thompson, Steel Pier opened on Broadway in 1997 and went on to receive 11 Tony nominations and an additional nine Drama Desk Award nominations. It takes place in the honky-tonk world of marathon dancing in Atlantic City in 1933 as an eclectic collection of depression-era souls compete for fame and prizes on the Steel Pier.

    The reading is directed and choreographed by Daniel A. Smith, with musical direction by Bill Brown and is produced by Michael Betts and David Lamoureux. The cast includes Leslie Stevens (Rita Racine), Jeff Edgerton (Bill Kelly), Gabriel Kalomas (Mick Hamilton), Tracy Lore (Shelby Stevens), Jeffrey Landman, Madison Claire Parks, Jeffery Christopher Todd, Marc Montminy, Jennifer Strattan, Allison Sheppard, Peter Becket Kuhl, Kirklyn Robinson, Sarah Meals, Caitlyn Calfas, Zack Crocker, Mike Starr, Bren Thor Johnson, Marisa Field, Katy Tabb, Rachel Davis, Hannah Simmons, and Richard Bulda.For tickets or more information, call (562) 856-1999 x 4 or visit www.musical.org.

    Serial Killersreturns to Sacred Fools on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 8:00 pm. Five Plays Enter...Three Plays Leave in this episodic night of theatre which includes Chick Tract – The Musical, Episode 7 curated by Vanessa Stewart; directed by Paul Plunkett; music & lyrics by Richard Levinson. “Chick Tracts” is an actual thing that exists. They are comic books that are passed out by Christian Evangelicals in order to teach about the wages of sin. This episode, “You Can Go to Hell” features Vanessa Stewart, Dana DeRuyck, Heather Schmidt, Erika Rose, Lauren Van Kurin, Erin Matthews, Esteban Cruz, Adriana Roze, Rebecca Larsen, Marz Richards, Julia Griswold, Perry Daniel, Cynthia Beckert, and French Stewart. Also on the schedule are The Unlucky Stiff (episode 1) by Bill Robens; Crimes By Women (episode 1) written & directed by Erik Engman; The Boring Astronaut (episode 2) written & directed by French Stewart; and Love, Money, Sex, Prom (episode 2) by Jackson Truax with Dana DeRuyck. Reservations: (310) 281-8337.

    HOLIDAY SHOWS: Charles Dicken’s classic novel A Christmas Carolis celebrating its 170th Year Anniversary, and will be presented in a fully staged production by Broadway Theatricals at Fremont Centre Theatre Dec. 4 - 21. The classic story, set in a poor section of London, England, during the Industrial Revolution (1800s), tells of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy miser who is given a second chance at becoming a loving, generous person. Original music beautifully accompanies this uplifting retelling, which truly captures the true spirit and magic of the holiday season. Fremont Centre Theatre 1000 Fremont Ave, South Pasadena CA 91030. Tickets: (323) 960-7612 or www.plays411.com/christmascarol.

    A Los Angeles holiday tradition La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin, presented by GOYA Foods, will make its 11th annual appearance at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 4 & 5, at 7:30 pm. This is LA’s largest theatrical holiday production and stars renowned opera singer Suzanna Guzman as the Virgin on December 4, and Esperanza America in the role on Dec. 5. Sal Lopez plays Juan Diego. There is a cast of over 100 actors, singers and dancers that also includes children and seniors from the community including Cástulo Guerra, Lucy Rodriguez, Geoffrey Rivas, Olivia Delgado, Gabriel Gonzalez, Martin Gallardo and Pepe Serna.

    For over a decade, the Latino Theater Company has annually presented this holiday gift to the City of Los Angeles, in association with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. This dazzling spectacle was adapted for the stage by founding company member and resident playwright Evelina Fernandez from the mid-16th Century text The Nican Mopohua. The production is directed by Latino Theater Company’s artistic director Jose Luis Valenzuela. Original music is composed and performed by Alfredo Lopez Mondragon, with original indigenous music composed and performed by Martin Espino. General admission is FREE to the public (all are welcome to attend) and reserved seating is available for $35. Tickets are available online at www.thelatc.org or by calling (866) 811-4111. The performances will take place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Goodwill donations are encouraged. The show is presented in Spanish with English supertitles.

    HOLIDAY CONCERTS: Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Rejoice: A Cappella Christmas will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium on Sunday, Dec. 14, 7:00 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Written for and premiered by the Chorale in December 1994, it has since become one of the most frequently performed choral works in modern history. This is the third of four holiday programs presented by the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall in December. The choir’s other seasonal offerings include the 34th Annual Messiah Sing-Along, Dec. 7, 7:00 pm; Festival of Carols, Dec. 13, 2:00 pm; and two concert performances of Handel’s Messiah, Dec. 17, 7:30 pm, and Dec. 21, 7 pm. Tickets: (213) 972-7282 www.lamc.org. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue at First Street in downtown Los Angeles. Photo credit: David Johnston

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    MUSICAL NEWS:The producers have announced that a limited number of $25 orchestra seats will be available for a day-of-performance lottery for the Los Angeles return ofWickedwhich begins performances on Wednesday, Dec.10 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each; cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability. For more information about the Wicked Day of Show Lottery, please visitwww.HollywoodPantages.com/Lotteryor call (323) 468-3030 for recorded information.

    The Grove Theatre in Upland presents Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids Dec. 6 - 14. Performances are on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm and Saturday, December 6 at 7:29 pm. Based on the classic animated film, the show is a fur-raising adventure about Cruella De Vil, Disney's most outrageous villain, and 101 of the most adorable heroes to set their paws onstage. Tickets: (909) 920-4343. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786. www.grovetheatre.com

    HOLIDAY SHOWS: Cabrillo Music Theatre brings its yearly Holiday Show for the troops to the Civic Arts Plaza for the first time, with Cabrillo’s 2014 Holiday Family Celebration. For years, Cabrillo has been putting on a specially-prepared variety show exclusively for the troops and their families, at the Naval Base Ventura County. This year, Cabrillo will transfer this memorable performance to the Scherr Forum on December 13, the evening following the show for the troops. Now Cabrillo audiences will get to enjoy the show, featuring Cabrillo Music Theatre show stars, the Kabrillo Kids, The Cabrillo Teen Project, plus familiar holiday characters, audience sing-a-longs, a pre-show reception with audience and cast, and an appearance by Santa Claus himself. Perfect and affordable for the entire family.

    Cabrillo stars past and present have lined up for this year’s show, including Lakeisha Houston (the star of Cabrillo’s recent hit, Memphis), Frank Authello Andrus II (In the Heights), Harley Jay (Grease), Zachary Ford (Bye Bye Birdie), Jennifer Foster (Glee), Harrison Meloeny (Birdie), J.D. Driskill (Legally Blonde), Francesca Barletta (Grease and Birdie), Kurt Kemper and Barbara Cooper. Tickets are $29 and are on sale only through www.cabrillomusictheatre.com for what promises to be a warm, wonderful and special evening of entertainment.

    Parson’s Nose Theater presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Saturday, Dec. 20 at 7:00 pm and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 3:00 pm. Adapted by artistic director, Lance Davis, this 75-minute performance is presented as a part of the theater’s Pay What You Will Readers’ Theater Series. Readers’ Theater Series productions are rehearsed staged readings, omitting props and set pieces, to carry the audience through story by means of language and acting. Reservations may be made online at www.parsonsnose.com or by calling (626) 403-7667. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, but advanced phone reservations are necessary. Limit 4 persons per reservation, ages 12+. Parson’s Nose Theater performs at Lineage Performing Arts Center located at 89 South Fair Oaks, Pasadena, CA 91105.


    Musical Theatre Nerds - this video will just make you happy!

    HOLIDAY CABARET/CONCERTS:Broadway veterans Dale Kristien and Bill Hutton present their 19th annual Home for the Holidays concert at The Grove Theatre on Dec. 21 at 3:00 pm. Dale played Christine for the entire first Los Angeles run of The Phantom of the Opera at the Ahmanson Theatre, while Bill played the original Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway. They’ll sing seasonal favorites with some of The Grove’s favorite performers including Sherry Kinison. Santa will even pay a visit and invite the kids in the audience to join him on stage! This show has been a favorite holiday tradition since it began in 1995. Tickets are $25 and $30 at (909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.

    [Updated] (mostly) Musicals presents (mostly) HOLIDAY!, an evening of surprisingly seasonal songs, Monday, Dec. 8 at its new venue, Café Fais Do-Do. The show features (mostly) contemporary holiday songs from established writers including Jason Robert Brown, Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens, and Jerry Herman; as well as up and coming writers like LA’s own Joe Greene & Heidi Powers, Bryan Blaskie, and Gregory Nabours, and NYC writers Rachel Peters, Joel Waggoner and Dan Marshall, and more performed by Julie Tolivar, Walter Winston O’Neil, Shelley Regner, Michael A. Shepperd, Amanda Kruger, Derrian Tolden, David Crane, Molly Gilman and more, with music direction by Gregory Nabours. Plus, hear the west coast premiere of Sam Carner and Derek Gregor’s mini musical Flash-Priest directed by NMI’s Scott Guy. Then stick around for our open mic after party hosted by Nathan Ondracek with Gregory Nabours on piano. Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/985830.

    Barbara Morrison will be the star performer in a full evening of entertainment running the gamut from jazz, blues, rhythm-and-blues and Motown in the Big Band Bang for Your Buck New Year’s Eve Musical Festivalat the Encore Dinner Theatre. The legendary jazz and blues vocalist will sing with her John Stephens-led 18-piece Big Band and Charles Small and the Bu Crew Quartet. The music, which will be played continuously from the opening of the doors at 7:30 pm until 2015 begins at midnight, will also feature the Ricky Taylor Trio and Disc Jockey Quick. Videos of renowned singers and band leaders from yesterday and today will also be played. Tickets are on sale at www.Barbaramorrison.com. For more information, call (310) 462-1439.

    Rockwell Holiday Events (Tickets for all of Rockwell's events can be purchased at http://rockwell-la.inticketing.com)
    Sunday, December 7 at 8:00 pm
    IAMA & Friends: An Ugly Sweater Holiday Spectacular will help kickoff the holiday season with a night of song and camaraderie featuring old standards and new arrangements of your favorite classics. Musical direction by Rachel Lawrence. Hosted by TV Host and personality, Matthew Hoffman. All Proceeds are to benefit IAMA Theatre Company. Tickets: $35.00.

    Thursday, December 11 at 7:30pm
    Sparkle: An All-Star Holiday Concert (A Benefit for the Actor’s Fund)
    Scott Nevins (one of the breakout stars of Bravo’s new hit show The People’s Couch) brings his star-studded Holiday benefit concert back to Los Angeles to benefit the programs and services of The Actors Fund, featuring another all-star cast of performers from the worlds of Broadway, Television, Film and the music industry. $20.00 - $100.00.

    Friday, December 12 at 8:00 pm
    FELLOWSHIP! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring  – 10th Anniversary Celebration Concert! This December marks 10 years since the award-winning musical parody first hit the stage. To celebrate, members of the original cast (along with audience favorites) will perform the songs of Fellowship! Whether you are a longtime fan or are just hearing about it for the first time, don’t miss this one-night-only concert performance. $10.00.

    Saturday, December 13 at 8:00pm
    The Gospel of Dolly: A Hard Candy Christmas
    Celebrated by Ms. Parton herself and accompanied by The Train-To-Kill Gospel Choir, Our Lady J and special guests shed new meaning and light on Dolly’s Christmas music, as well as her greatest hits in this holiday celebration of the Queen of Country. $20

    Sunday, December 14 at 8:00 pm
    Nicole Parker is Jillane Jenkins* in Suitcase Full of Lies
    *a fictitious character portrayed by Nicole Parker in a leotard.
    Best known for her work as lovable secretary Callie Carter from the hit 1970's sitcom, She's Got a Job!, Ms. Jenkins brings you her life story in song and style! Called a tour de force by her fourth husband, and ....a... [really]...@#$ing.....show!, by the fourth hour of the Today Show, Suitcase takes you from the heights of Jillane's fame, to the lows of her painful struggle with her father's eczema. $15 - $35

    Monday, December 15 at 8:00 pm
    10 Days Before Christmas and the Night Before Hannukah 
    West Coast sensations Lee Lessack and Susannah Mars meet East Coast sensation Richard Weidlich for a wild and poignant holiday cabaret for everyone. An up-front celebration of the excessiveness of the season – from garish sweaters to the obsessive-compulsive way some people embrace holiday shopping – its the conflicted emotions that Christmas stirs up that gives “10 Days Before Christmas and the Night Before Hanukkah” real depth. $22.50

    Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00 pm
    Sharon McNight – Twisted Christmas
    Tony-nominee Sharon McNight’s show is an irreverent look at the traditions of the season. If you’re looking for a warm and cozy show filled with the traditional carols, look elsewhere. This is definitely not a Donny & Marie Christmas Program. Over the past decades, during the holidays, while Rosemary Clooney touted a White Christmas and Bruce Vilanch roasted his chestnuts over an open fire, McNight offered an alternative choice from the expected songs. She has stockpiled myriad and outrageous, wacky musical commentaries on the 12 days of everything from Santa, elves, gift wrapping, toys, cold, weather, snow and let’s not forget “the family.” $15 - $35

    Thursday, December 18 at 8:00 pm
    Into the Weiss starring Sasha Weiss
    Come along as Weiss recounts her travels from Broadway to Hollywood and all the metaphorical giants, witches, and so many magic beans she encountered along the way. With music from traditional Broadway to fantastically reimagined pop tunes, this musical night with be one to remember. Music direction by Korrie Paliotto. $15 - $35

    December 19, 20, 23, 24, 26 & 27 at 8 pm
    A Rockin’ Rockwell Family Christmas
    Join stars from Broadway, Film & Television as they rock out your favorite holiday tunes for our annual Rockwell Holiday show – Perfect for the whole family. $15.00 - $35

    Tuesday, December 30 at 8:00pm
    Donny Most: Sings and Swings
    Donny Most, best known as Ralph Malph from the long running hit television show Happy Days, and his 7 piece band, bring the songs of Sinatra, Darin, Martin, and more to life through his interpretations and creative arrangements. The wing era and 50's cool are fused together inane very unique show as Donny shares stories from Happy Days and beyond. $20

    Wednesday, December 31 at 7:00 pm & 10:00 pm
    A Rocky Horror New Year’s Eve
    Celebrate with us as we follow Brad, Janet, Rocky and your favorites through a night of madness and delight with your favorite Rocky tunes to ring in the New Year. $80 - $175

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    The cast of Into the Woods. Photos by Kevin Parry

    Prepare to be thoroughly enchanted by Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s transfer of Into the Woods, newly arrived at the Wallis Center in Beverly Hills. It is, without a doubt, the most inventive and inspiring production of this Sondheim musical I have ever seen. Amanda Dehnert’s direction delights at every turn such that watching this Into the Woods left my heart bursting with unadulterated joy, devastated by its unflinching honesty, and breathless with anticipation of each moment to come. 

    I have a special affection for this particular musical with its messages about the choices we make and the moments that define our character. I’ve seen good productions, not so good ones, lavish treatments, and stripped down versions, and while each in its own way has offered insight into what it means to be human, none of them have presented such a clear picture of the characters’ motivations as this one. As Dehnert weaves together the fairy tale stories, both musically and dramatically (that’s the added benefit of both directing and musical directing a production), the entanglements become surprisingly vivid.

    It’s a vision that is entirely fresh, from character choices to design decisions to the treatment of plot points, and it is one of the best gifts you could possibly give yourself this holiday season.

    It begins with actors in street clothes milling around the stage. Some are at music stands while others are casually conversing and settling in for what looks like a rehearsal. Little by little, with perfect diction and speedy efficiency, the cast introduces the audience to its uniquely fashioned style of storytelling and enters the tale with an opening number that makes connections, both humorous and poignant, between its characters.

    A pan with the word “cow” painted on it becomes a woman wrapped like a mummy carrying a cow’s head to play Milky White (Catherine E. Coulson) while a tiny child’s sweater in a closet returns on a lanky Jack (Miles Fletcher) - yes, the Beanstalk one - who has almost outgrown it. Two innocuous looking actresses (Katie Bradley and Christine Clark) gradually transform into flamboyantly clothed stepsisters whose bug-like look sports everything from giant Gucci logos across their busts to ridiculous fluorescent green wigs atop their entitled heads. How fortunate that they don’t know they’ll go blind later and be unable to appreciate their designer couture in a darker world. Cinderella’s (Jennie Greenberry) gown magically zip lines over the audience to land near a post and the Witch (Miriam A. Laube) arrives in a wheelchair pushed by her nursemaid in modern dress who will eventually become Rapunzel (Royer Bockus) in the tower. The significance of this reversal of dependency will not be lost on anyone who has seen the show before.

    Watch for the connections and you’ll be amazed at how detailed Dehnert’s work is with the show from beginning to end. The massive swirl of sound and movement escalates until everything coalesces in perfect harmony and the house lights dim. We are finally, and magically, into the woods.

    This is a production that brings everyone into the thick of it, including the audience. Some of them will stand in for minor characters like birds and a fake white “cow” covered in flour to replace Milky White who keels over before she can be delivered to the witch. Dehnert takes her actors out into the house again and again, further bridging the theatrical distance you often find in the theatre.

    She dresses the stage with an 18-piece orchestra in full view, dividing them into three sections; one on the platform above and two framing the main playing area bridged by the pianist center stage (a smiling Matt Goodrich who is enjoying the story as much as anyone). Martin Majkut conducts from the house right front seats, sidestepping characters who race by him as Jane Cox’s purposeful lighting directs attention to the current moment in play. This weaving together of stagecraft elements with so much delightful ingenuity makes her production more fun than you can even imagine, and only asks that the audience be willing to take a leap of faith along with the characters.

    Most of the original cast from OSF’s summer production has made the transfer, with the addition of Broadway veteran John Vickery taking over the roles of the Narrator & Mysterious Man and local actor Jeff Skowron as the Baker. Skowron is no stranger to the role having recently played the Baker in 3-D Theatricals’ production of Into the Woods earlier this year.

    Anyone who has worked on the show will tell you that it requires an uncanny sense of timing to make all the pieces fit. This cast has mastered the challenges of Sondheim’s score and James Lapine’s book so beautifully that you will hear things in a lyric you’ve never heard before, even though they’ve been there all along. Their timing is flawless and their cue pick-up is a study in how to connect the dots of a show so it lifts and breathes like a living being. By the time they get to the last verse of the Finale, surprisingly sung as an a cappella choral arrangement which fades slowly to the lone voice of the Baker singing to the son he so longingly wished for, you’ll be a puddle. The effect is enough to melt even the most cynical in attendance and Skowron holds it like a tear drop suspended in time.

    As his wife, Rachael Warren is two parts practical problem solver and one part imaginative dreamer which makes her not only likable but relatable and without the bitter edge that sometimes finds its way into this character. Watching her watch the two Princes (John Tufts and Jeremy Peter Johnson) like a wide-eyed school girl caught up in the drama of a romance movie is priceless. Tufts, with his continually raised eyebrow and Gerber baby curl, and Johnson, flaunting a white shock of hair and swaggering hips, will have you laughing out loud with their endless prancing and posing on steeds made of hobby horse heads and three-wheeled bicycles.

    In another beautiful casting decision, the Wolf is played by deaf actor Howie Seago who interacts with Little Red Riding Hood, played by a comical Kjerstine Rose Anderson, via American Sign Language. Johnson nicely doubles as his speaking and singing voice to complete the picture. Dressed in camouflage fatigues, this duo looks like they’re fresh off a gig as extras on Duck Dynasty and their stage time is well worth the effort.
    Miriam A. Laube’s portrayal of the Witch is a marvelous combination of trickery and pain. Of all of the characters, her journey is the most heartbreaking in this production. The way Dehnert stages both Rapunzel’s death and the witch’s disappearance are revelatory and quite powerful in the direct hits they make to the heart. Laube’s “Lament” scene is simply staged to connect the audience with the real suffering of a mother’s grief in an uncensored and emotionally raw way, and the latter scene comes directly from an often overlooked lyric in “Last Midnight” – “All right, mother, when? Lost the beans again! Punish me the way you did then.” When you see it you’ll understand. Like my guest said, “I can barely breathe.”

    Greenberry is wonderful as Cinderella, with an essence and vocal maturity that can’t help but remind one of the lovely Audra McDonald. She contributes a depth of character and inherent goodness to the story that makes this unconventional fairy tale more than just a silly frolic in the woods.

    This is the kind of musical theatre experience I live for. It is a very special production; one that is full of genuine creativity, enough to restore your faith in the magic of theatre. Without reservation I recommend you add Into the Woods to your holiday to-do list.

    And a final note about The Wallis - if you haven
    t been there yet, the historic 1933 Beverly Hills Post Office building is an architectural landmark that has been redesigned as a cultural arts center. It’s been open for a year and parking is easy (where can you say that in LA?) since the structure includes attached underground parking as well as an additional lot across the street. It certainly makes it easy to go to the theater.

    Back L-R: Robin Goodrin Nordli, Miles Fletcher, Kjerstine Rose Anderson.
    Foreground L-R: Rachael Warren, Jennie Greenbery, Jeff Skowron


    L-R: Miles Fletcher, Rachael Warren, Catherine E Coulson, Jeff Skowron

     


    Upper left: Robin Goodrin Nordli (Jack's Mother) and Miles Fletcher (Jack) Upper right: Kjerstine Rose Anderson (Little Red Riding Hood) Lower left: Royer Bockus (Rapunzel) and Miriam A. Laube (Witch) Lower right: Jennie Greenberry (Cinderella) and Kjerstine Rose Anderson (Little Red Riding Hood).

    L-R: Katie Bradley (Florina), Catherine E Coulson (Cinderella's Stepmother),
    Christiana Clark (Lucinda) and Jennie Greenberry (Cinderella)


    L-R: John Tufts as Rapunzel's Prince and Jeremy Peter Johnson as Cinderella's Prince

    John Vickery as theNarrator

    MIles Fletcher and Jeff Skowron

    Catherine E Coulson and Rachael Warren

    INTO THE WOODS
    December 2 – 21, 2014
    Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts 
    9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Evenings at 8 pm 
    Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; Sundays at 2 pm and 7pm
    Tickets: $29 - $110
    (310) 746-4000 or www.thewallis.org

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    Chance Theater presents the Tony Award-Winning golden age delight, She Loves Me. featuring music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joe Masteroff, with direction by Sarah Figoten Wilson November 28 - December 28, 2014. She Loves Me finds Amalia and Georg loathing each other almost as much as they love their anonymous pen pals. Little do they know that they flee the unpleasantries of work (and co-workers) only to write their passionate letters... to each other! Set against the sumptuous background of a 1930’s Hungarian parfumerie, this tale of unknowing lovers boasts a rich, sprightly score and 2 Tony Awards. It is also the musical adaptation of the play that inspired such popular films as The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got MailTickets: (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com. 

    Erika C. Miller (Amalia) and Stanton Kane Morales (Georg)
    Photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

    Taylor Stephenson (Kodaly) and Camryn Zelinger (Ilona)

    Matt Takahashi as The Waiter with Elizabeth Adabale, Tina Nguyen,
    Eric T. Anderson, Daniel Jared Hersh and Erica Shaeffer

    Corky Loupe (Sipos) and Stanton Kane Morales (Georg)

    Taylor Stephenson (Kodaly) and Camryn Zelinger (Ilona)

    Beach Vickers (Maraczek) and Daniel Jared Hersh (Arpad)

    Erika C. Miller as Amalia

    Beach Vickers (Maraczek) and Stanton Kane Morales (Georg)

    SHE LOVES ME
    Nov. 28 - Dec. 28, 2014

    Bette Aitken theater arts Center at Chance Theater
    5522 E. La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92807
    Tickets: (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com
    The Opening Gala on Saturday, December 6 at 8pm includes a post-show reception

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    AUDITIONS: Michael Sterling has announced that auditions for LA’s Next Great Stage Star® competition at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal will take place on Sunday, Dec. 14. Twenty contestants, 10 men and 10 women between the ages of 18 and 32, will compete for the title over a 6-week period. Peter Welkin returns for his third year as associate producer and James Lent will return as musical director for his sixth consecutive season. Co-executive producer of the event is Barbara Van Orden. Says Sterling, “LA’s Next Great Stage Star is geared to discovering new talent for the musical theatre stage. As has become the standard, 20 contestants will be selected from auditions to compete for the 2015 title, a $1,000 cash award, a headlining engagement at Sterling’s Upstairs during the New Year, and other valuable prizes. Contestants selected from auditions to compete in the competition are subject to a one time entry fee of $425.”

    This year’s competition will once again be judged by a live audience and an overall panel of LA musical theatre’s most creative forces. Judges will give a live critique to each contestant every week. Audience members and Judges will also vote on vocal and acting ability, stage presence and personality. Interested talent may call Michael Sterling Publicity and Production at (818) 623-7300 x 2 to request an audition appointment on Sun. Dec. 14 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Van Nuys’ Performing Arts Center, 7735 North Sepulveda Blvd. Auditions are by appointment only. A musical accompanist will be provided.

    HOLIDAY SHOWS: Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents their all-new holiday production, Morrison Christmas! inspired by The Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State, or Bardo Tordrol, The Lizard King and The Psychedelic Blue Light Distraction of Christmas. The show is directed by Josh T. Ryan who brings a collaborative late night ensemble together in honor of The Living Theatre and Zombie Joes Underground. Fridays and Saturdays at 11:00 pm through Dec. 20. Featuring Vanessa Cate, Cheryl Doyle, Marc Erickson, Amir Khalighi, Grace Lai, Chelsea Rose Cynthia Salazar, Olivia Spirz, Alison Stolpa, Brenda Nicole Walsh and Alex Walters, Tickets ($15) are available by calling (818) 202-4120 or at ZombieJoes.Tix.com. Zombie Joes Underground Theatre Group at ZJU Theater, 4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood CA 91601.

    SparkleBlob presents their 7th annual Holiday Puppet Show Jingle-Belling on the Outskirts of Greatness Dec. 11 – 21 in Chinatown at Automata, 504 Chung King Court, Los Angeles, CA 90012. An annual holiday tradition for hundreds of Angelenos and their families for seven years, this year’s show introduces audiences to exciting new and returning handmade puppet characters, beautiful sets, and a laugh-out-loud script by Julianna Parr and Shannon Gallagher along with musical numbers by a live band, The DingleBell Hollies. Experience simultaneous triumph and terror with Silver Lake’s Most Well-Adjusted Family as they attempt to celebrate the holidays in the recreational haven known as PigBear National Forest. While everyone is doing their best to be of good cheer, there lurks a strange and foreboding presence just beyond the pine trees that is putting a damper on everyone’s chestnuts roasting on an open fire. It’s nothing a bit of interpersonal skills and cookies can't handle...we hope.

    Directed by SparkleBlob founder Julianna Parr, the show is proof that puppets aren’t just for kids but for everyone. Children and adults of all ages delight in the show’s witty humor, satire, and sparkly action. The show includes before and after Chinatown sightseeing rides on the famed ‘trike’ plus delicious pre and after show treats and libations. Many of Los Angeles’s best known puppeteers and performers will be on stage - including Shannon Dedman, Rosalind Helfand, Monica Howe, Julianna Parr, Linda Santiman, Andrew Oropeza and Scott Russell Cheek. The DingleBell Hollies rock out this year with musicians Jason Myers, Coral Lobera, Joshua Fielstra, and Eric Potter. Tickets: www.sparkleblob.org.

    Los Angeles' award-winning art collective Rogue Artists Ensemble brings together two of its most popular family-friendly educational puppet shows based on award-winning children’s books. In The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone, a very special Boy living in a world of cement and trash finds a treasure box containing specks that could change the world forever. Zen Shorts follows the adventures of Michael and Addy, whose lives change forever when a giant Zen Master panda named Stillwater moves into their neighborhood. Performances take place at Atwater Village Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 20 and Sunday, Dec. 21: The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone begins at 2:00 pm on both days, and Zen Shorts begins at 4:00 .m. Tickets are $10 per show, or $15 for both. Families are encouraged to stay between shows for holiday cookie decorating and other kids’ activities with Sparkleblob Collective http://sparkleblob.org/. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (213) 596-9468 or go to www.rogueartists.org.

    On December 20 and 21, T.U. Studios will be filled with music, as the venue plays host to the musical revue, Liquid Love, just in time for the holiday. The show features love songs performed by established vocal stars including Lucy Walsh (daughter of The Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh); Chad Doreck (of the upcoming musical Serrano); and Gloria Gifford (WB recording contract singer plus national TV shows). Musical director is Stuart Elster who will also appear on keyboards along with Armando Compean on bass and Robert May on drums. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St. North Hollywood, CA 91602. Saturday, Dec. 20 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 pm. Admission: $20. For reservations, call (310) 366-5505 or go to www.tix.com.

    INTERVIEW: Episode 144 of Dizney Coast to Coast’s Disney Podcast includes a terrific interview with Patrick Page who is currently starring as Frollo in Disney Theatricals Hunchback of Notre Dame at La Jolla Playhouse. The interview begins at approximately 9:00. Enjoy!



    INDIEGOGO: Doug Haverty (book/lyrics), Adryan Russ (music/lyrics), and Bruce Kimmel (director) have started a fundraising campaign to mount an anniversary production of their musical Inside Out (a musical about giving and getting support in an all-girl “group”) to commemorate the 20th anniversary and re-release/re-mastering of the Original Off Broadway Cast Recording. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (for a Future Without Breast Cancer). The show will be a celebration of women supporting women with an all-female cast and all-female band. You can check out their campaign HERE and help them make it happen.


    Q&A:Antonia Carlotta, great great-niece of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle and host of the web series Universally Me YouTube.com/AntoniaCarlotta, a program dedicated to Universal’s unique and exciting history, will participate in Q&As following performances of Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera at the Los Angeles Theatre Center on Dec. 12 & 13. The show features music & lyrics by Kevin Saunders Hayesset against Universal’s 1925 silent film starring Lon Chaney. Singers, dancers and musicians give voice to the silent film projected behind them, playing off each other, the audience and the onscreen story in an explosive mash-up of music, dance and technology. Performances of Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera begin at 8:00 pm. The Q&A sessions with Antonia Carlotta will immediately follow each performance and are included in the ticket price. The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. Tickets: (844) VOX-ROCK orwww.voxlumiere.com.

    CABARET: Join Gigi Bermingham and Matthew Goldsby for Cabaret Noel Tuesday, Dec. 9 at Upstairs at Vitello’s Jazz & Supper Club. Enjoy original holiday songs and seasonal classics (some en francais) from 7:30 - 9:00pm. Get there early for dinner or come enjoy the music over cocktails. 4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604. Reservations: (818) 769-0905 or http://vitellos.inticketing.com/events/446716/cabaret-noel/

    John Acosta’s Bee Gees Gold Tribute will be presented one night only on Dec. 28 at the Grove Theatre in Upland. The show is the ultimate salute and experience of seeing the Bee Gees in their prime featuring the detailed vocal stylings of John Acosta (Barry), Daryl Borges (Robin), and Jeff Celentano (Maurice) as the brothers Gibb and a live band. Performing such early hits as Massachusetts and I Started a Joke to such later Disco classics as Stayin’ Alive, and You Should Be Dancing’ you will find yourself transported back to the 60s and 70s. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Show begins at 7:00. Tickets: (909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.

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    Marisa Duchowny and Brent Schindele. Photos by Ed Krieger

    Generally people fall into one of two categories when it comes to the holidays; those who love every moment of the glittering merriment and those who would rather it all end as quickly as possible. In Striking 12, the holiday concert-musical from GrooveLily’s Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn, and musical theatre writer, Rachel Sheinkin, both are represented in a hybrid production that mixes GrooveLily’s category-defying music with a non-traditional New Year’s Eve story to create an experience that lands somewhere in between genres.

    Directed with sweet simplicity by Janet Roston, it features a quartet of actor/singer/musicians: musical director Brent Schindele on keyboards, Marisa Duchowny on guitar, Matt Wolpe on drums, and Amberly Rosen on a Viper electric violin. The 90-minute self-professed “non-spectacular non-extravaganza” contains more than thirty songs in a variety of styles, from folk to pop to rockabilly to jazz. Schindele and Duchowny carry the bulk of the narrative while Wolpe adds comic relief with a series of hilariously eccentric characters and fresh-faced Rosen dazzles on the violin.

    It’s inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl and follows Schindele as an unlucky in love modern-day urbanite who shuns the end of the year festivities, opting instead to spend the night sulking at home. But when a quirky young woman selling LED light bulbs knocks on his door the evening quickly takes an unexpected turn. The result is a heartwarming tale that highlights the power of hope and the beauty of transformation.  

    Striking 12 was Vigoda and Milburn’s first crossover into musical theatre writing and an experiment that has since led to shows such as Disney’s Toy Story the Musical and Sleeping Beauty Wakes (presented in LA by Deaf West Theatre at the Kirk Douglas Theatre). The format – more a staged storytelling concert than traditional musical – alternates between contemporary New York and 19th century Denmark as a story within a story emerges. There are times the airy structure feels somewhat disjointed, but it still communicates the deeper undertones of the show’s message and its charming score easily compensates for any idiosynchracies.

    Roston’s direction of Duchowny as the fairy tale version of the little match girl is especially touching. Duchownys gentle innocence makes Snow Song (Its Coming Down) and Wonderful quite wonderful, and Schindele shines on “Green & Red (& Im Feeling Blue)” and “It’s Not Alright,” songs that reveal his inner angst. Wolpe is a natural comedian in every sense of the word. From his showstopping comedy number, “Screwed Up People Make Great Art,” to his insistence that the group should be doing The Little Drummer Boy, (and what a payoff that has), every character is terrific.

    Striking 12 is a holiday love letter that will bring you back to yourself. It’s the kind of musical experience that will warm your heart and remind you what is truly important in life. What better time than the turn of the calendar to remember.


    Marisa Duchowny and Brent Schindele

    Matt Wolpe, Marisa Duchowny, Amberly Rosen, and Brent Schindele

    Marisa Duchowny and Amberly Rosen

    STRIKING 12
    December 3 – 28, 2014
    Laguna Playhouse
    606 Laguna Canyon Road
    Laguna Beach, CA 
    Tickets: (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or
    www.lagunaplayhouse.com

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    L-R: Mallory Jansen, Karen David, Joshua Sasse, Vinnie Jones, 
    Timothy Omundson, and Luke Youngblood. Photo credit: ABC/Rick Rowell

    ABC premiered the pilot episode of its new medieval musical comedy television show, GALAVANT, at a star-studded event at the Sayers Club last night in Hollywood. The series, from executive producer & screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Tangled, Cars, and Crazy, Stupid, Love), features music by Disney heavy hitters Alan Menken (music) & Glenn Slater (lyrics) and will debut on January 4, 2015 at 8/7c.

    Fogelman hosted the evening - along with Menken and Slater - which included a screening of the pilot and live musical performances by the cast. The idea for the "crazy, bonkers show" came while he was writing Tangled, said Fogelman, and that started the search for how a mainstream musical on television might sound.

    Menken talked about how his inspiration for a musical begins. "Every show I've written has had a stylistic hook," he said. "For The Little Mermaid it was calypso, and for Little Shop of Horrors it was '60s rock and roll, but GALAVANT," he laughed, is "the kitchen sink. We've taken traditional musical theatre and adventure tropes and turned them on their heads."

    That means a beautiful love song between a typical pair of lovers becomes a hilarious love duet between two warring couples who don't like each other (with some completely unexpected and cheeky lyrics) in this irreverent world. Another love song, reenvisioned as a "diva cabaret number," is sung by the disagreeable Princess Madalena to herself, harmonizing with multiples of her own image reflected in ten mirrors.

    Even the guest stars sing, like Ricky Gervais (Xanax, the Wizard) whose song turns into a kind of mini-rock opera acid dream in the style of The Beatles and The Who, and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville, who appears as a singing pirate, Peter the Pillager. Again, these are not your typical pirates. Instead of a sea chanty, Bonneville and his men sing a "land chanty" and dance a Broadway jig for these pirates never set foot on a ship but plunder on solid ground.

    Weird Al Yankovic, who plays a monk on the show, made a surprise appearance at the premiere singing live with his five monk-sters lending back-up vocals. Their mashup of Gregorian chant and modern day funk was another twist on the expected and a terrific way to represent the show's desire to reach out to a contemporary audience.

    Other guest stars throughout the season will include Broadway's Faith Prince, John Stamos (Full House) as a rival knight, Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) as King Richard's older brother, Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy and the Vampire Slayer, Merlin), and Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy on Downton Abbey. Each will be featured as a unique character with his or her own musical style.

    The writers wanted to create a big, epic sound for the opening number that would get everyone excited about the show and their inspiration came when Ben Presley from Falkirk, Scotland, walked in to audition for the role of the court jester. The charming, 6'5" actor's accent was so thick they couldn't understand a word he said but they loved him so much that they asked him to do it with a big posh English accent. He nailed it and that's how the opening number to GALAVANT was born.

    The cast also stars handsome Joshua Sasse as the dashing hero Galavant; Mallory Jansen as his fickle love Madalena; Timothy Omundson as the wacky evil King Richard who steals her away; Karen David as Isabella, the Princess with a secret; Luke Youngblood as Galavant's squire, Sid; and my personal favorite, Vinnie Jones as Gareth, who Fogelman says is the "comic relief and carries the guts and soul of the show."

    GALAVANT was directed by Chris Koch with musical direction by Michael Kosarin. The comedy extravaganza will premiere on ABC January 4, 2015 at 8/7c as the mid-season fill-in for ABC's Once Upon a Time.

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    JOB OPENING: San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film has a terrific opportunity for the right person to join their Music Theatre Faculty as Assistant Professor, Directing, MFA Musical Theatre Program.
    Position Description: The Master of Fine Arts Musical Theatre Program in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film is seeking a dynamic faculty member to teach performance as well as special topics in musical theatre. Primary duties will include:

    -- team-teaching the graduate performance studio
    -- teaching graduate seminars in a range of special topics
    -- directing musical productions in the School’s theatre season
    -- teaching or supervising courses in dance and/or acting
    -- teaching a graduate seminar in musical theatre stage direction
    -- teaching undergraduate performance classes

    The candidate will mentor a small group of graduate students within a two-year terminal degree program. The successful candidate will demonstrate significant teaching and directing experience and be willing and able to provide service to the university and professional community. A record of administrative leadership is preferred and advanced knowledge in relevant digital technologies is a plus. Appointment begins Fall 2015.

    Qualifications: Terminal degree (PhD or MFA) preferred; MA with substantial professional and teaching experience considered. All candidates must have significant professional experience as a musical theatre director as well as a record of university-level teaching. The candidate should be a musical theatre practitioner with areas of specialization in direction, choreography/ movement, or acting. Applicants must demonstrate administrative abilities and experience in development of a robust MFA program. Applicants should be able to demonstrate experience in and/or commitment to working in a multicultural environment with students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles.

    Rank and Salary: Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track; salary commensurate with credentials and experience.

    Application Procedure: Applicants should apply via Interfolio at http://apply.interfolio.com/27855. To ensure full consideration, apply by January 16, 2015. Review of applications will begin January 20, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. SDSU is a Title IX, equal opportunity employer.

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Coeurage Theatre Company has announced the addition of three benefit performances of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical on Dec. 18, 19 & 20 at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre in Silver Lake. These special performances will benefit Coeurage, its various programs and its community outreach. The show opened on Halloween night and has received rave reviews for its inspired zaniness and abundance of laughter. Tickets are on sale at www.coeurage.org/tickets or (323) 944-2165. The show is crazy fun and I highly recommend it. Tickets will sell out so get them now. All tickets are $25.

    HOLIDAY CONCERTS: Upright Cabaret’s 9th annual A Broadway Christmas will take place Dec. 17 & 18 at 8:30 pm at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood, hosted by Bruce Vilanch, with musical direction by Gregory Nabors. Performers include Jill Marie Burke, Candice Clasby, Will Collyer, Laura Dickinson, Sheila Karls, Jacob Lusk, Matthew Ryan Pest, Jonah Platt, Amber Snead and Brandon Wardell. Tickets: www.ChrisIsaacsonPresents.com or call (866) 468-3399.

    Adding a final flourish to the holiday season, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by Artistic Director Grant Gershon, presents two concerts of Handel’s Messiah on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 pm, at Disney Hall. Featuring 40 members of the acclaimed chorus, orchestra and four gifted soloists from the Chorale’s ranks, the concert provides the opportunity to hear this riveting oratorio – rich with soaring high notes, powerful bass, majestic brass and lush orchestrations – performed by what many critics consider to be the best chorus in the country. Soloists include Christina Bristow, soprano; Niké St. Clair, mezzo soprano; Arnold Livingston Geis, tenor; and Chung Uk Lee, baritone. Tickets: (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org.

    COMING IN 2015: Cyrano meets The Sopranos in the world premiere of Serrano The Musical, which comes to the Matrix Theatre in West Hollywood next month. Serrano features book & lyrics by Madeline Sunshine, music by Robert Tepper, musical direction by Jeff Rizzo, and choreography by Peggy Hickey. The show is directed by Joel Zwick. Previews begin Jan. 8, the show opens on Jan. 16, and will run through Sunday, March 29. Serrano D’Angelo (Timothy Martin Gleason) is a renaissance man - poet, connoisseur of arts…and the enforcer for the Reyo crime family. Don Reyo seeks Serrano’s help in educating his nephew Vinnie, a handsome but foul-mouthed young mobster. The goal: to take the “crude” out of Vinnie so he can seduce the beautiful and refined daughter of a judge who sits on a case involving “The Family.” If Vinnie succeeds, the judge would be compromised and have to recuse himself from the case; and the next judge in line is owned by the mob. Serrano accepts Don Reyo’s challenge only to discover that the judge’s daughter is the beautiful Rosanna, the woman with whom Serrano is secretly in love. The cast also includes Suzanne Petrela (Rosanna), Chad Doreck (Vinnie), Allen Hidalgo, Jay Winnick, Chad Borden, Tom McMahon, Craig McEldowney, Valerie Perri, Peter Van Norden, Matthew Henerson, and Kristina Miller. Tickets: www.serranothemusical.com or (323) 960-7774.

    A staged reading of Sing Me Home by Amber Romina Cassell (book) and Kristy Hanson (music & lyrics) will take place on Jan. 26 at 8:00 pm (cocktails at 7 pm) at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Sometimes healing a broken heart means finding your voice in this contemporary new musical which features fourteen original songs in the pop-rock genre, with influences ranging from rhythm and blues to country. The cast includes Mandy Gonzalez Bud WeberKathryn Gallagher and Curt Mega. Music director and singer-songwriter Angela Parrish leads a five-piece band from the piano. The reading is complimentary, but please contact singmehome.musical@gmail.com to request an invitation. 

    Good People Theater Company will produce Maltby and Shire’s musical revue Closer Than Ever Feb. 21 – March 15, 2015 at Hollywood Piano’s gorgeous recital hall. Musical Director, Corey Hirsch, on a concert grand. Tickets will go on sale in January. http://goodpeopletheaterco.org/

    Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presents its second season at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center – Three Dog Night on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 8 pm; The Four Tops on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 pm; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday, March 27 at 8 pm; The Muppet Movie Sing-a-Longon Saturday, May 16 at 2 pm and Dick Fox Doo Wop Extravaganza on Saturday, June 6 at 7 pm. This four concert season, and the additional attraction The Muppet Movie Sing-A-Long, will raise funds to support arts in the schools and maintain this new, state-of-the-art facility. Tickets: www.Arcadiapaf.org. The theatre is located at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007. For more information please call (626) 821-1781.

    S.T.A.G.E.’s 31st Anniversary Spectacular To Broadway, From Hollywood…With Love to benefit Aids Project Los Angeles has been set for Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. S.T.A.G.E. is the longest-running annual benefit for AIDS worldwide. In its decades-long history, more than 300 stars of Broadway, film, and television have performed music from the Great White Way while raising millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS organizations in the Los Angeles area.  This year’s 31st Anniversary Spectacular will present music from Broadway shows that originated as Hollywood feature films, performed by an All Star Cast, directed by David Galligan with music director Brad Ellis. www.stagela.com

    AUDITIONS:Native Voices at the Autry is holding open call and equity auditions for its upcoming production of Off the Rails, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure by Randy Reinholz. Similar in structure but with re-imagined plot twists and a new setting in the American West, the play is Shakespeare meets Blazing Saddles. All characters will sing. Mariana and Caitlin must be legit singers. Prepare 16 bars a cappella and bring 2 copies of your headshot and resume. Mariana (Caucasian): 30-40 year-old, she is the jilted fiancée of Angelo, who she met in the Dakota territories where family died in the Indian wars. Five years later, now a dance hall girl, she still hopes the love of a good woman can save a bad man. She is part of the “bed trickso she will need to be somewhat similar to Isabel. You can find a complete breakdown of roles and information at Shakespeare in LA

    Panic! Productions will hold auditions via video for the musical 13 by Jason Robert Brown. Male and female actors who can sing and dance and who can play age 13 are invited to audition. All roles are open. Performers are asked to submit their audition video no later than January 5and should contact 13themusicalauditions@gmail.com to receive a copy of the audition requirements. Rehearsals begin February 10 and performances will take place April 10 - 19 at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks.

    Kentwood Players will hold open auditions for Mame directed by Ben Lupejkis on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 from 11am-3pm and on Sunday, Jan. 11 from 6-10pm. Callbacks are Monday, Jan. 12 from 7-10pm. First cast read through will be on Wednesday, January 14 at 7pm. Auditions and performances take place at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. Performance dates are March 13 - April 18, 2015. Please visit www.kentwoodplayers.org for more information and a breakdown of roles.

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    Musical Theatre writers: The 2015 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop directed by Stephen Schwartz will be held in Los Angeles at DreamWorks Studios February 10, 11, and 13. All sessions begin at 7:00 pm sharp. Submissions must be received by Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Please submit the following (submissions will not be returned).

    -- CD of four (4) songs with lyric sheets
    -- A brief description of each song as to its plot placement
    -- A brief synopsis of the musical...1 page or less
    -- Biographical information for each composer, lyricist, & book writer. (Contact Information for each collaborator: address/phone-number/email)


    Send your package to:
    Michael A. Kerker 
    c/o ASCAP 
    7920 Sunset Blvd. Suite 300 
    Los Angeles, CA 90046 
    Attn: DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop

    Please note: Submit 4 songs only. If you send us a full recording, we will only listen to the first 4 songs. Submissions do not need to be produced in a studio. We are looking for talent and potential, not production values. If your musical is selected, you will need to present 50 consecutive minutes from the musical at the workshop. The 50-minute selection must include book and songs. Those who have been accepted into the workshop will be contacted by Jan. 16, 2015.

    THOSE WHO WILL BE INVITED TO AUDIT THE WORKSHOP WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL INVITATION. Please do not call to ask if you have been selected. Questions: call 323-883-1000. www.ascap.com

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    L-R: David Engel, Ben Giroux, Garrett Clayton, Olivia Holt, Lucy Lawless
    and Patrick Cassidy. Photos by Philicia Endelman.

    The faces couldn’t get any fresher and the energy couldn’t be any brighter in Lythgoe Family Productions and the Pasadena Playhouse’s latest Panto at the Playhouse, Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight. The show is Adorable with a capital A!, and packed with top-notch talent that includes a Disney pop princess (Olivia Holt), a teenage heartthrob (Garrett Clayton), a beautiful Amazonian villainess (Lucy Lawless), an American Idol belter (Tamyra Gray), a silver fox of a king (Patrick Cassidy), a pint-size television comic (Ben Giroux) and a multi-talented Broadway veteran (David Engel).

    Add some surprisingly athletic young dancers and a storybook production design that conjures up a candy-colored fairytale kingdom in all its pop-up glory and you’ve got the kind of holiday production that will put tickets to Panto at the Playhouse on everyone’s Christmas wish list for years to come.

    Full review up shortly!

    Olivia Holt and Garrett Clayton

    Lucy Lawless

    Tamyra Gray, Patrick Cassidy, Olivia Holt, Garrett Clayton, Ben Giroux,
    David Engel and Lucy Lawless


    Olivia Holt, Patrick Cassidy and Company

    Tamyra Gray and Lucy Lawless

    Garrett Clayton, Lucy Lawless and Company

    SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT
    December 10, 2014 - January 4, 2015

    Pasadena Playhouse
    39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
    Tickets: (626) 356-7529 or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org
    Performance schedule: Mon at 7:30 pm (Dec. 29 only); Tues – Fri at 7:30 pm; Sat at 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sun at 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm; Special matinees -- Wed, Dec 24 at 4:00 pm; Fri, Dec 26 at 4:00 pm; Tues, Dec 30 at 4:00 pm. (No performances Dec 31, Jan 1 & 2.)

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    Misty Cotton and company. Photos by Jill Mamey.

    While the kids are busy getting their pictures taken with Santa at the mall and begging for overpriced toys they’ll forget the day after Christmas, adults know that the place they’ll get the most bang for their jingle bell bucks is at the Falcon Theatre. That’s where the latest Troubie show is roasting its comedy chestnuts in its own unique style while providing one of the wackiest soundtracks to the holiday season.

    This year’s recipe for success includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    1. A story that’s ripe for poking, typically one that everyone knows. This year it’s Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. (Buckle up your boots Gerda and Kai, you’ve never met an ice queen like this before.)

    2. A dozen or so songs by a well-known musical artist or group, preferably rock or bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, done up with original lyrics to inflate the humor. In 2014, it’s the year of Freddie Mercury and QUEEN. ‘Nuff said. Well, except that the band members are also part of the story and make their acting debuts front and center. They’ve even got lines. And Eric Heinly’s band has the kind of Saturday Night Live sound with only four musicians - musical director Heinly on drums and percussion, Kevin McCourt on keyboards, Mike Abraham on guitar, and Dana Decker on bass - that shows this company means business.

    3. A leader (Matt Walker) who boldly goes wherever he wants to and a fearless band of thespians who follow him out into the great comedy beyond and back again. In addition to the usual suspects (Beth Kennedy, Rick Batalla, Joseph Keane, and Lisa Valenzuela) who are on their game every minute, you’ll find first timers like a popular west coast musical theatre diva (Misty Cotton) and a celebrated commedia queen from America’s Got Talent (John Quale), both of whom make the house rock to the rafters. Disclaimer: no cast members were harmed in the making of this theatrical masterpiece...or audience members...although one unsuspecting woman did get her head stuck in a raven’s bill while trying to decide whether to help said raven with his wedgie.

    4. Puppets! And who doesn’t love puppets. It’s like kittens, only better. (I know...random, right?) These are created by Matt Scott.

    5. Snow...like you’ve never seen it before. In Troubie hands, even the snow is a bit, and only one of the imaginative ideas that set designer Jeffrey McLaughlin, prop designer Corey Womack and lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick have created by mixing humor with practicality in their design elements. Without a doubt, the production team is as wacked as their onstage counterparts.

    6. Clothes that make the man - or a little Danish girl and her lederhosen-clad brother; or a narrator on stilts in very long pants; or a crazy old woman with locks to rival any hair band member; or a two-headed pinhead chorus member a la American Horror Story: Freak Show; or a glittering drag queen in a three foot tall ice sculpture wig; or an adlibbing male raven in a skin tight black unitard...(think about that for a minute); or a robber girl whose buck teeth can’t detract from her youthfulness and good heart. All of them come from the happily silly and slightly warped mind of Sharon McGunigle who fits right in with the rest of the gang.

    Put all the pieces through the creative wringer and you have a rock operetta-style comedy that will give you the best night of laughs you’ll have all year. I wouldn’t miss one their shows for anything and you shouldn’t either. The Snow QUEEN is outlandish fun and the one show that just might get you through the holidays with your sense of humor intact. GO!

    Matt Walker as the Narrator

    Beth Kennedy as Old Woman

    L-R: Joseph Keane, Misty Cotton, Breanna Kelly, Jen DeMinco,
    and Darrin Revitz

    John Quale as the Snow Queen

    L-R: Rick Batalla, Darrin Revitz, Jen DeMinco, and Breanna Kelly

    Beth Kennedy and Lisa Valenzuela

    Joseph Keane, Lisa Valenzuela and Misty Cotton

    THE SNOW QUEEN
    December 3, 2014 - January 18, 2015

    Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505
    Performances: Wed. – Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 4pm & 7pm
    No shows Dec. 24 & 25, or Dec. 31 & Jan. 1
    No 7pm show on Jan. 11 or Jan. 18
    Added shows Dec. 27 at 4pm, Jan. 3 at 4pm 
    Tickets: (818) 955-8101 or www.FalconTheatre.com

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