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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    MUSICAL NEWS: REDCAT, Calarts’ Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, presents the newest Wooster Group work, Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation Jan. 21 – Feb. 1, 2015. Early Shaker Spirituals is a performance based on a 1976 LP of Shaker hymns, marches, anthems, and testimony recorded by Sister R. Mildred Barker and the sisters of the Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. It features live performances of all twenty tracks from side A of the album sung by Cynthia Hedstrom, Elizabeth LeCompte, Frances McDormand, and Suzzy Roche. The performers channel the voices of the Shaker singers to give a new live rendering of the songs. Complementing the songs are dances created by the Group, composed of simple patterns inspired by the surviving fragments of the ecstatic dance that characterized the Shakers’ worship services. For the dances, the singers are joined by Matthew Brown, Modesto Jimenez, Bobby McElver, Bebe Miller and Andrew Schneider. Jamie Poskin reads from the album liner notes. Tickets:  (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.

    The Broad Stage brings to life the magic of Old Hollywood with Jack Lemmon Returns, written and directed by Hershey Felder. Chris Lemmon channels his world-famous father in the heartfelt one-man show Jan. 7 - 25, 2015. The show is a loving tribute to a world-famous dad told with dignity, respect, and a musical storytelling style that features George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love is Here to Stay” and “’S Wonderful.” It is an immensely personal, and ultimately heartwarming story about Chris Lemmon’s Academy Award-winning father and their enduring relationship. Jack Lemmon Returns is performed in The Broad Stage’s black box theater, The Edye. 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401. Tickets: (310) 434-3200 or www.thebroadstage.com.

    Performances of A Celtic Holiday with Craic in the Stone continue through Dec. 23 at Chance Theater’s Bette Aitken theater arts Center. Struggling to find some much-needed cheer as she travels to California for Christmas, a young woman stumbles upon an ancient Celtic tale that brings spirit and a new outlook to her journey home. Rediscover rich Celtic musical traditions with this lively and unique hybrid of concert and musical theater in which the members of the band are your storytellers. With a wonderful blend of ethereal melodies, rousing pub songs, familiar spiritual tunes, and contemporary medleys, this new holiday tradition weaves story and song into an event like no other. Craic in the Stone band members include Jocelyn A. Brown, Aimee Gomez, David McCormick, Bill Strongin, Scott B. Well, Erika C. Miller and James McHale. Tickets: (714) 777-3033 www.ChanceTheater.com. For more about Craic in the Stone, visit www.craicinthestone.com.

    Laguna Playhouse will start the New Year right when Rita Rudner returns in Rita Rudner: Out with the Old, In with the Rita. Rudner’s sharp timing and soft-spoken voice have become her trademarks while delivering hilarious and witty observations on everyday life. Opening for Rita will be her singer-songwriter daughter Molly Bergman to make the evening this New Year’s celebration a family affair to remember. The show will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 7:00 pm at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. www.lagunaplayhouse.com
    CABARET: An Evening of Classic Broadway, December 29, Upstairs at Vitello’s. Doors open at 7:00. Performance at 8:00 pm. $15 cover + 2-item minimum. 4349 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604. Click Here for tickets. 
    Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced that native Angeleno and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez will welcome the new year by coming home to make her Los Angeles solo concert debut in Love, All Ways. Directed by Eric Michael Gillett with musical direction by Brian J. Nash, there will be two shows: Tuesday, Jan. 27, and Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 at 8:30 pm at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. Doors open at 7:00 pm for cocktail and dinner service (single entrée or drink minimums apply). Admission is $25, and VIP seating ($40) is available. Purchases made before January 10 receive a $5 discount, and online purchases will receive priority seating. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.TicketWeb.com.

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Cabrillo Music Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim & George Firth’s Company Jan. 23 – Feb. 8 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, directed by Nick DeGruccio, with musical direction by Cassie Nickols. Through unique and innovative storytelling, George Firth’s script brings both comic and painfully honest insights into relationships – as contemporary now as when Company first took the Broadway stage in 1970. Stephen Sondheim’s score is filled with his finest work. Songs include “Side By Side,” “Another Hundred People,” “Not Getting Married Today,” “Being Alive,” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Company also marks a new chapter in Cabrillo’s history by taking a book musical into the Scherr Forum, next door to the larger Kavli Theatre. Alexander Jon stars as Robert, with Tracy Lore (Joanne), Michael Andrew Baker (Harry), Nick Tubbs (Paul), Shelley Regner (Amy), Elissa Wagner (Sarah), Paul Babb (Larry), Heather Dudenbostel, Chelsea Emma Franko, Aly French, James Padilla, Jane Papageorge, Elizabeth Smith, and Kevin Story. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or http://cabrillomusictheatre.com/

    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment will present the Southern California regional premiere of Billy Elliot the Musical Jan. 16 – Feb. 8 (press opening on Saturday, Jan. 17), featuring music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, musical direction by John Glaudini, choreography by Dana Solimando and directed by Brian Kite. Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners' strike, the show is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy's journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and community, and changes his life forever.

    The cast will feature  Noah Parets as Billy (National Tour, Billy Elliot), Vicki Lewis as Mrs. Wilkinson, Jake Kitchin as Michael (Broadway & National Tour, Billy Elliot), Jamie Torcellini as George, Marsha Waterbury as Grandma, Kim Huber as Billy’s Mum, Brandon Forrest as Adult Billy, Neil Dale as Mr. Braithwaite, Sammy Gayer as Debbie, and in the ensemble: Andrew Blake Ames, Brooke Besikoff, Emma Bradley, Michael Dotson, Jeremy Duvall, Zachary Hess, Olivia Knox, Emilie Lafontaine, Tyler Ledon, Julia Nicole Massey, Jenna McConnell, Bruce Merkle, McKenna Perez, Gary Lee Reed, Benni Ruby, Brian Steven Shaw, Hannah Jean Simmons, Ashley Kiele Thomas, Brooklyn Vizcarra, and Justin Wilcox. Tickets:  (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or www.lamiradatheatre.com


    REDCAT presents the world premiere of Half Life, the newest work by Los Angeles multimedia ensemble Cloud Eye Control, Jan. 15 - 18, 2015. Cloud Eye Control was formed in 2006 by the Los Angeles based trio of animator and media artist Miwa Matreyek; composer, writer, and performer Anna Oxygen (Anna Huff); and theater director Chi-wang Yang, all known internationally for their stunning work individually and as a multimedia collective. A deeply expressive lamentation of fierce urgency, their latest multimedia production is an imagistic, visceral work inspired by the nervous fear felt in the wake the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It features Cloud Eye Control’s signature hybrid performance style that mixes projected animation, live performance, and a live soundtrack of original electronic music.

    The story centers around two women who literally and figuratively live on opposite sides of the world. When an unknown cataclysmic force disrupts both of their lives, each is compelled to embark on a journey to locate its source. Cloud Eye Control transforms the stage into an imaginative landscape with several customized, moveable screens full of lush animations where live actors interact in the layered space to create imaginative and odd encounters between the virtual and the physical. The original score, sung by the performers with a live band, brings a rock concert dynamism to the moody and atmospheric world. Click Here for more information or call (213) 237-2800.

    ComeTogether A BeatlesTribute - Trailer 2014
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    Devolver Digital Films is proud to announce the digital VOD release of The Beatles tribute documentary, Come Together Feb. 3, 2015. Directed by Steve Ison and John Scofield, Come Together features performances by ten of an estimated 8,000 international Beatles tribute bands keeping the legacy of The Fab Four alive around the world. Come Together was filmed primarily in and around Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles – including the world famous Cavern Club where they were discovered – during International Beatleweek, five decades after the band was formed in 1960. Julia Baird, the sister of John Lennon, narrated the film. In addition to entertaining viewers, Come Together demonstrates the impact of The Beatles on global culture. For more information, visit www.cometogethermovie.com

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    In Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, an angel in training named Clarence comes back to earth to earn his wings by helping one man recognize his value in the world. The beloved classic is a reminder to all adults that every man matters and every angel has his own special way of helping those in need.

    Author Don Grigwarehas written a new Christmas classic - this time for children - that follows the adventures of a sweet cocker spaniel-turned-angel named Donnelly as he overcomes his fears and learns what it really means to be a guardian angel.

    While alive, Donnelly had been Santa Claus’s mascot and most trusted assistant. All the animals loved him and everyone was sad to see their friend go. But now God has sent his newest angel back to the man who can best use Donnelly’s talents to help his old friends.

    In his first mission, Santa asks Donnelly to go to a strange land and find two new reindeer to step in for Comet and Cupid who have leg injuries and are unable to pull his sleigh. Excited to see the world, he sets out on his big adventure. But when he crosses paths with an unexpected villain named Vinnemous T. Wolf, the kindhearted Donnelly must look terror in the eye and find a way out while still coming through for Santa.

    Children have always had a special relationship with the animal kingdom and by identifying with Donnelly and his challenges they learn how to stand up for themselves and find the courage to do what’s right. They also learn that kindness counts and being brave isnt always easy but there are times we must be to protect others. Two Worlds Together contains charming dialogue that makes reading it aloud a great deal of fun. The uplifting tale ends as Donnelly reaches a turning point and is the first book in Grigware’s trilogy (Parts II and III to be released in 2015).

    Told with childlike wonder, this sweet story will touch your heart whether you’re 6 or 80 or any age in between. What fun to go on this journey with Donnelly!

    TWO WORLDS TOGETHER: Donnelly’s Greatest Christmas
    by Don Grigware
    Paperback: 36 pages
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1503030695
    ISBN-13: 978-1503030695
    CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 11/27/14
    Available on Amazon.com $13.09

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    HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Musicals in LA

    Wishing you aMerry Christmas 
    and the Happiest of Holidaysas we close out 2014.

    Thank you for an amazing year of Musical Theatre.

    I can't wait to see what you create in 2015. Let your imagination run wild!

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    Welcome back from all the celebrating and holiday festivities! I hope you got some rest because 2015 is going to be another great year in Southern California for musicals. Heres a look at a few of the productions coming up this month.

    MUSICAL NEWS: Rubicon Theatre Company of Ventura has announced the director and cast for its production of The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown’s emotionally powerful, intimate pop musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in love and try to hold on to each other when life leads them in opposite directions. Resident artist Stephanie A. Coltrin directs the production. The role of up-and-coming novelist Jamie Wellerstein will be played by Louis Pardo and Ashley Fox Linton stars opposite Pardo as Cathy Hiatt, an aspiring young actress. Jamie’s story is told chronologically while Cathy’s is told in reverse order. The couple’s stories intersect only on their wedding day. The show runs Jan. 2 – Feb. 15 (opening night is Jan. 24). Rubicon Theatre is located at 1006 E. Main in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. Tickets: (805) 667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org.

    The Old Globe has announced the cast of Murder for Two by Joe Kinosian(book & music) and Kellen Blair (book & lyrics). Great American novelist Arthur Whitney has been murdered at his own birthday party, and his killer could be any one of the guests. But this is no ordinary murder mystery. The entire world of this hilarious musical is brought to life by two incredible performers: one plays the detective, the other plays all 10 suspects, and both play the piano. Scott Schwartz returns to direct the Off Broadway hit which stars Kinosian as The Suspects, and Ian Lowe, who reprises the role of Marcus which he played Off Broadway. The irrepressibly wacky tour-de-force musical will run Jan. 24 – March 1. Opening night is Thursday, Jan. 29 at 8:00 pm. Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or www.TheOldGlobe.org.

    Spoon River: The Cemetery on the Hill will run Feb. 13 – March 22 at the Eclectic Company Theatre. The 90-minute play with songs is adapted, arranged and directed by Maureen Lucy O’Connell and is based on selected material from Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, with traditional songs and additional material by O’Connell. The cast includes David Aaron,Rachel Geis, Steven B. Green, Jim Harnagel, JC Henning,Madelyne Heyman, Ian Hopps, Amanda McManus,David Pinion,Marbry Steward, Kristin Towers-Rowlesand Scott Tuomey. The Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607. Tickets: (818) 508-3003 or www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org. For ages 12 to adult.

    BENEFIT:Four concert performances of Redhead, the musical by Dorothy Fields, Herbert Fields, David Shaw, Sidney Sheldon and Albert Hague will take place at Theatre West on Jan. 31, Feb.1, 7 & 8 as the company hosts its fifth annual Betty Garrett Memorial Musical Comedy Tribute. The musical originally debuted on Broadway in 1959 and starred Gwen Verdon and Richard Kiley. Mark Marchillo directs and Jake Anthony is musical director. Jill Jones produces. Proceeds support the continuing work of Theatre West and the Betty Garrett Musical Comedy Workshop, named in memory of the beloved MGM musical star who was a Theatre West co-founder and who moderated its musical comedy workshop for decades. The cast includes Caitlin Gallogly, Michael Heatherton, Elizabeth Higgs, David P. Johnson, Rebecca Lane, Barbara Mallory, Kerry Melachouris, Lee Meriwether, David Mingrino, Donald Moore, Linda L. Rand, Anibel Silveyra, Janie Steele, Marjorie Vander Hoff, and John David Wallis. Dancers include members of the Los Angeles Ballet Academy: Lauren Barette, Paris Bromber, Henry Carr, Lauren Galote, Lee Grubbs, Sarah Miller, Lexi Nitz and Simone Woodruff. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Tickets: (323) 851-7977 or www.theatrewest.org.

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Joanne Tatham celebrates the release of her third recording, Out of My Dreams on Jan. 13 at 8:00 pm at Vibrato Grill Jazz, 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel Air, CA 90077. Reservations: (310) 474-9400 or vibrato.herbalpertpresents.com.

    Kritzerland at Sterlings Upstairs at The Federal presents The Kids Are Alright! Jan. 12 at 7:00 pm starring Brennley Brown, Sydney DeMaria, Oliviana Marie, Hadley Belle Miller, Tommy Olas, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman and Sarah Staitman with special guests: Kay Cole and Richard Sherman. Musical direction is by Richard Allen. Doors open at 5:30 pm. To RSVP call (818) 754-8700.


    Master musicians Christopher O’Riley and Matt Haimovitz explore the lyrical and virtuosic properties of their instruments in a duet performance as SHUFFLE.PLAY.LISTEN. Bringing a fresh mix of classical and pop genres from Bach to Radiohead to Stravinsky, the duo performs respectively on piano and cello at Valley Performing Arts Center on Thursday Jan. 29 at 7:30 pm. This event will feature an intimate performance with limited on stage seating for only 200. Click Here for tickets and more information.

    The Grove Theatre in Upland announces two January events: Experience Bella Donna, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, live at The Grove Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 8:00 pm. The Los Angeles based tribute concert show has faithfully captured the essence and spirit of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks since 2002. Perfect for all age groups and a wide demographic.

    Then on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 8:00 pm, The Grove Theatre hosts tributes to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in Beatles vs. Stones - A Musical Shootout. Taking the side of the Fab Four is Abbey Road, one of the West Coast’s top Beatles tribute bands. They face off against Stones tribute band Jumping Jack Flash, who offer a faithful rendition of the music and style of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the bad boys of the British Invasion. The bands will play six alternating sets of hits before joining each other on the stage of The Grove Theatre to share an encore. Tickets for both events: (909) 920 – 4343 or www.grovetheatre.com.

    Rockwell January Events: Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 8:00 pm: The Hollywood Jane Revue in Now that’s What I Call Burlesque – Volume 2. www.hollywoodjanerevue.com

    Jan, 7, 14, 21 & 28 at 9:00 pm
    Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra

    Friday, Jan. 9 at 8:00 pm
    Eric Michael Krop – Greater Things

    Saturday, Jan. 10 at 8:00 pm & Sunday, January 11 at 7:00 pm
    Anne Steele On Tour

    Monday, Jan. 12 at 8:00 pm
    Natalie Weiss

    Thursday, Jan. 15 at 8:00 pm
    Shawn Ryan– Artist in Residence: Show and Screening of Charlie

    Friday, Jan. 16 & Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8:00 pm
    Ryan Raferty is the Most Powerful Woman in Fashion: The Anna Wintour Musical

    Monday, Jan. 19 at 8:00 pm
    Alexander Rodriguez

    Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 9:30 pm
    Davy Nathan– Album Release Adya

    Thursday, Jan.26 at 8:00 pm
    Margaret M. Spirito – The Sounds of Dirty Jersey

    Saturday, Jan. 24 at 8:00 pm
    Sasha Weiss inInto The Weiss

    Thursday, Jan. 29  at 8:00 pm
    Swing – An Improvised Musical starring Parvesh Cheena, Micahel Dalke, Theresa Gumprecht, Ronnie Karem, Kerri-Anne Lavin, Hanna LoPatin, Dana Weddle and Darrin Yalacki.Music by Eric Schackne.

    Rockwell Table and Stage is located at 1714 N. Vermont Blvd. in Los Feliz. For reservations or tickets to any of their events, call (323) 669-1550 x 20 or visit www.rockwell-la.com.

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rices Jesus Christ Superstar will open DOMA Theatre Company’s 2015 season. Helmed by director Marco Gomez and musical director Chris Raymond, the show will run Feb. 13 - March 22 and will feature a 23-member ensemble, including Nate Parker as Jesus Christ; Jeremy Saje as Judas; Renee Cohen as Mary Magdelene; Kelly Brighton as Pontius Pilate; Andrew Diego as Caiaphas; Michelle Holmes as Annas; Blair Grotbeck as Peter; Graham Kurtz as Simon the Zealot; and Venny Carranza as King Herod. Also in the cast are Alex Allen, Jackee Bianchi, Charlie Bostick, Tym Brown, Sandra Diana Cantu, Kevin Corsini, Kaitlyn Fajilan, Kendra M. Hill, Allison Jakubowski, Wesley Moran, Ashlie Paige, Dekontee Tucrkile, Lauren Tyni, and Anthony D. Willis.

    The design team includes John Iacovelli (set design), Jean-Yves Tessier (lighting design),  Julie Ferrin (sound design), Lauren Oppelt (costume design), Angela Todaro (choreography), Karen Sanchez (make-up), and Hallie Baran (props). The production manager/production stage manager is Gabrieal Griego, and Marco Gomez and Dolf Ramos produce for DOMA Theatre Company. The MET Theatre is located at 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles CA 90029. Tickets: (323) 802-4990 or www.domatheatre.com.

    Laguna Playhouse presents the Orange County premiere of Hershey Felder As Irving Berlin, written and performed by Hershey Felder and directed by Trevor Hay. Previews begin Tuesday, Jan. 6; the show will open on Saturday, Jan. 10, and run through Feb. 8. Called “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived” by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin is known for innumerable American classics such as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “Anything You Can Do,” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.” Jerome Kern said it all: “Irving Berlin… is American music.” Tickets: (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Lyricist Marcy Heisler and composer Zina Goldrich bring their wonderfully wacky and heartbreakingly sincere musical creations to Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd at 8:00 pm. The Marcy and Zina Show puts two shining stars of today's musical theater scene front and center, with bookwriter/lyricist Marcy Heisler and composer Zina Goldrich singing the songs they write with wit and intelligence and impressive musical comedy.


    Heisler and Goldrich are the first women ever honored as recipients of the Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting. They were also nominated for 2009 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Lyrics and Music for Dear Edwina and earned Lucille Lortel Award nominations for their Junie B. Jones. The pair will make their Broadway debut as authors of the book, lyrics and music for the Broadway musical stage adaptation of Ever After, directed by Doug Hughes and choreographed by Rob Ashford, set to premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in May and June of this year. You might also recognize one of their other popular songs made famous by Kristin Chenoweth, “Taylor, the Latte Boy.” Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA. Tickets: (310) 506-4522 or http://arts.pepperdine.edu/. www.marcyandzina.com.


    The Los Angeles Master Chorale joins forces with the renowned period instrument ensemble Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and the acclaimed Los Angeles Children’s Chorus to present two historically informed performances of Bach’s towering masterwork St. Matthew Passion, conducted by LAMC artistic director Grant Gershon, on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 2:00 pm, and Sunday, Feb. 1 at 7:00 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Soloists include Pablo Corá, tenor; Janelle DeStefano, mezzo soprano; Arnold Livingston Geis, tenor; Callista Hoffman-Campbell, mezzo soprano; Elissa Johnston, soprano; Jon Lee Keenan, tenor (Evangelist); Chung Uk Lee, bass (Jesus); Steve Pence, bass/baritone; Vincent Robles, baritone; Zanaida Robles, soprano; Anna Schubert, soprano; Laura Smith, mezzo soprano; and Niké St. Clair, mezzo soprano. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue at First Street in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets: (213) 972-7282, or www.lamc.org.

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    “Music was his dream but acting was his passion.” That’s how Chris Lemmon describes his famous father Jack in Jack Lemmon Returns, the 90-minute play with songs that has settled into the intimate black box theater (The Edye) at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The show is a tribute to the man who meant the world to him, and offers not only a look into their personal relationship as father and son, but also takes the audience behind the scenes with the kind of Hollywood stories you read about but never get to hear firsthand.

    What is different about this one-man show however is that, unlike many productions that rely on someone telling stories about a celebrity, Chris actually steps into his father’s shoes and tells the stories as the celebrity. In essence, he becomes Jack Lemmon – talking about his career, his personal difficulties, and in a very meta twist, even his son. It took me a few minutes to adjust to the transformation, mainly because there is such a striking resemblance between the two. Chris assumes the mannerisms and vocal patterns of his father so perfectly that at times it felt like I was watching the father and not the son. It’s a biographical piece told in an autobiographical manner from the fascinating perspective of a boy who witnessed it all.

    Jack Lemmon Returns is based on Chris’s memoir, A Twist of Lemon, and contains priceless stories that have been lovingly shaped by writer-director Hershey Felder. Using only a piano and a chair, with photographs projected on the screens behind him, Chris (as Jack) talks about how he first learned he could make people laugh; his fascination with the work of French actor & mime, Jean-Louis Barrault; and the benefits of studying War Service Sciences at Harvard when it came to understanding producers. 

    Struggling actors who spend hours in class will find comfort in the knowledge that even the great Jack Lemmon had to learn how to act on camera. Already successful as a stage actor, it was George Cukor who taught Lemmon how to translate that success to another medium. Take after take Cukor would coach the actor to give “less” until eventually Lemmon responded by saying, “If I give any less I won’t be acting.” “Exactly,” said Cukor. And so go the realizations that help an actor become great.

    An accidental meeting with director John Ford, who Lemmon didn’t recognize at the time, led to a spit-in-a-handshake agreement to portray Ensign Pulver in Mr. Roberts, a role he desperately wanted to play and earned him an Academy Award. There are poignant stories about his enduring friendship with Walter Matthau, the brother he always wanted, and his struggle with alcohol that paralleled the journey of his character Joe Clay in Days of Wine and Roses. He also talks about the ladies; humorous stories about Marilyn Monroe and Shirley MacLaine, and his relationships with his two wives, Cynthia Stone (Chris’s mother) and Felicia Farr.

    Jack was a self-taught musician who instilled in Chris a love of music at an early age and it was at the piano that Chris, the actor, displayed a most delicately emotional connection to his father. The ache in his jazz improvisations combined with his classical dexterity expressed more clearly than in any other moment onstage the forever bond forged between father and son. That’s really the takeaway from this show - that after all is said and done it’s the love that remains.

    Jack Lemmon was a complex individual; a man who was driven, compassionate, and devastatingly human. How that translated to the screen, and his ability to make an audience laugh and cry at the same time, was what made him a star. Chris Lemmon pays his father the ultimate compliment in this affectionate homage. Touching and full of sweet surprises, it’s a lovely way to spend an evening in the magical presence of an old friend.  

    Jack Lemmon and Chris Lemmon at the piano

    Chris Lemmon

    JACK LEMMON RETURNS
    January 7 – February 1, 2015 
    The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
    1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401
    Tickets: (310) 434-3200
    www.thebroadstage.com

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    MUSICAL NEWS: The Colony Theatre presents a very special event on January 24 & 25 - Simply Complicated, The Elegant Escapades of a Danish-Israeli Opera Singing Tank Commander starring Charlotte Cohn from Handle With Care. Written by Charlotte Cohn & Jason Odell Williams, this unforgettable night of music and storytelling features musical direction by John Fischer and original direction by Kira Simring. What do you get when you cross a Danish Orthodox Jew and a simple Israeli girl from a kibbutz? You get Charlotte Cohn, who at nineteen was already a Commander in the Israeli Army, but had her sights set on a different path. Join her in this eclectic evening of music ranging from the Beatles to Broadway to Opera and hear the real stories that brought her from Ben Yehuda Street to the Great White Way. Ticket: (818) 558-7000 x 15 or www.ColonyTheatre.org.

    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts continues its 2014-15 Programs for Young Audiences series with Dallas Children’s Theater on Tour’s The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley. This 60-minute, fun-filled musical adventure is recommended for audiences ages 4 and up. Performances are Sunday, Feb. 15at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Now celebrating its 50th  anniversary, Jeff Brown’s beloved children’s book, “Flat Stanley,” was written in 1964 and has become a literary and pop cultural phenomenon. “What I love about the show are all the teachable moments that don’t feel like lessons,” says guest director Michael Serrecchia. “It’s a fun, Broadway-style musical comedy about the value of being different and the importance of family.” All seats are $10 for children and $15 for adults. Tickets: (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or www.LaMiradaTheatre.com.


    For the first time in many years, Biola University’s Music and Theatre Departments have joined together to produce an award-winning musical theatre classic, Camelot. The show will run Feb 6 – 15 at Crowell Hall in La Mirada. Camelot is the story of King Arthur and his marriage to Guenevere, played out amidst the pageantry of Camelot. It deals with love, honor, idealism, justice, jealousy, and the reality of human struggle. Camelot originally ran on Broadway for 873 performances, won four Tony Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and was nominated for many more awards. It was the immediate successor to My Fair Lady, containing many of the same collaborators. Crowell Hall is located at 13800 Biola Ave, La Mirada, CA 90639, Lansing Hall (Crowell Hall, The Music Building). Click Here for tickets and more information.

    San Diego Musical Theatre presents West Side Story Feb. 13 - March 1, 2015 (press opening on Saturday, Feb. 14) at the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City, as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time. Featuring music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents.

    The cast includes Jacob Caltrider (Tony), Jessica Soza (Maria), Kikau Alvaro (Bernardo), Natalie Nucci, and Jeffrey Scott Parsons, with Danielle Airey,  Kevin Aquino, Max Cadillac,  Hanz Enyeart, Manny Fernandes, Meagan Flint, Jay Gamboa, Devon Hadsell, Siri Hafso, Danny Hansen, Jenny Henkel, Krysty Hernandez, Andrew J. Koslow, Danielle Levas, Jacob Narcy, Joy Newbegin,  Leah Roth, RC Sands, Ernest Sauceda, Taylor Simmons, Joshua LaMonte Switzer, Diana Vaden, Eric von Metzke, Andrea Williams and Dan Windham. Tickets: (858) 560-5740 or www.sdmt.org.

    CABARET/CONCERTS: (mostly) musicals returns to Cafe Fais Do-Do on Jan. 21 with Let the Good Times ROLL! (a post-Twelfth Night, pre-Mardi Gras celebration). The show will feature songs by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Andrew Lippa, Hank Williams, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, Duke Ellington, Stephen Schwartz, and more performed by music director Gregory Nabours, Alli Miller, Eric B. Anthony, Joshua Finkel, Amanda Kruger, Cassandra Nuss, Christina Morrell, Neil Taffe, Chanel Edwards-Frederick, Kalen Edean, Michael D’Elia, Molly Gilman, Curt Bonnem, Derrian Tolden, Sherry Mandujano, Jillian Easton and more. There will also be an open mic afterparty following the show. Tickets: $10 advance/$15 at the door: www.mostlygoodtimes.bpt.me.

    The Passion of Anne Frank, a haunting, major, new oratorio based on the Diary of Anne Frank, with music and lyrics composed by 125 high school students from downtown Los Angeles’ Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, is being premiered by the students in conjunction with the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers, professional instrumentalists, and student soloists on Thursday, Jan. 22 at noon and Friday, Jan 23 at 7:00 pm.


    The unforgettable hour-long work with compelling arias and emotional choruses tells the poignant story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl whose now famous diary was written during the two years she spent in hiding with her family in German-occupied Holland during World War II. The performances are the culmination of the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s award-winning “Voices Within” artists-in-residence program, designed to foster collaboration among students as they create and perform their own original choral works. The concert is free, and seating is first come, first served but reservations are required. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts is located at 450 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Campus parking is free (enter on Cesar Chavez Avenue). Free on-site parking is available. Visit www.lamc.org for details.


    Inside Out, Sing Out, an afternoon of great songs and fabulous singers will help raise money for Adryan Russ and Doug Haverty’s 20th anniversary production of Inside Out on Sunday, Jan. 18 at 3:30 pm. The performance will take place at Hollywood Piano, 323 S. Front St, Burbank, CA 91502. Performers include Sandy Bainum, Eileen Barnett, Karen Benjamin, Michele Brourman, Christopher Carothers, Alan Chapman, Will Collyer, Zachary Ford, Dianne Fraser, Amy Gillette, Guy Haines, Shelly Markham, Amanda McBroom, Sharon McNight, Madison Claire Parks, Adryan Russ, Kevin Symons, B. J. Ward, Peter Welkin, Patricia Whiteman and Robert Yacko with musical director, Shelly Markham. Reservations suggested: 818-848-6868 or dorathyh@aol.com.


    Miscast: Right Singer, Wrong Song returns on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 7:00 pm featuring songs from Dreamgirls, Gypsy, Book of Mormon, Into The Woods and more. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance online at http://sterlingsupstairs012515.brownpapertickets.com/.

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    Like many of us, I love words…and I love to lose myself in a good book. But these days it seems like life moves at such a fast pace that there is little time to relax in the embrace of a good story, lost in a world of new ideas and adventures. The truth is – we’re all busy. We all have to-do lists we can’t possibly burn through in the time we’ve allotted, and as soon as one task is marked off we add another to our list until it becomes a revolving, unending, and often unmanageable mountain we race to scale at the expense of the view. The result is that we end up exhausted. Can you relate?

    I knew that if I wanted that to change in 2015 I’d need to make a conscious effort to create a new routine. That’s why I decided to start slowly, with author and photographer Maggie Lynch’s recently released For You, a 72-page easy-to-manage paperback that combines the keen eye of a spiritual photographer and the expansive thoughts of a conscious poet.

    Even better, I decided to experiment and use Maggie’s book as an inspiration a day. I would focus on one photograph and its accompanying page of poetry each morning, and then try to review it at least once during the day and again before I went to sleep, just to see what impact that might have on my day. At the very least, I hoped it would slow the typical breakneck speed with which my days often fly by. At best, well…who knew what that might be...

    Expectancy and Receiving

    “Don’t expect what you can’t receive
    Make room if you expect
    Celebrate its coming
    Receiving”

    What I found was that focusing on one thought and one image became a kind of simple meditation that I quickly looked forward to. It was incredibly satisfying to take those few minutes to really see the picture and feel the words...and then go about my day. The poems are short and the photographs beautiful which make it a joy on a purely physical level. And on a spiritual level, it is perfectly designed to satisfy a mind that craves the freedom to fly without requiring a commitment to 500-pages and a lot more time.

    My Camera Says

    “...Grab the light 
    Pull the light in
    Capture it...”

    I experienced wide open spaces in the pages of For You and a nourishment of the soul that has helped to restore a little of the peace that so easily slips away when stressful situations arise. Out of that space of peacefulness comes unlimited ability to access creativity so for those of you who are busy actors, writers, directors and creators of all kinds, I highly recommend this lovely book as a restorative companion. Lynch’s poetry will awaken different thoughts for each of you, but what they’ll have in common is the power to stimulate your imagination with vivid intensity. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s time well spent.

    One last interesting note is that Lynch also lists the locations for all of her photographs in the book on her website. From Hawaii and California to Ireland and points in between, they are a gorgeous collection of stills.


    FOR YOU
    By Maggie Lynch
    Paperback: 76 pages
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0990362809
    ISBN-13: 978-0990362807
    Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches
    Publisher: Maggie Lynch; 2nd edition (2012)
    Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1v4vjeD
    Also available at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
    For more about the author: www.maggielynchbooks.com 

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Broadway Tony Award nominee and former Olympic Gold medal gymnast Cathy Rigby stars as “Cat in the Hat” in Seussical the Musical which officially opens 3D Theatricals’ 2015 season. This delightful, whimsical show will play Fullerton’s historic Plummer Auditorium Feb. 7 – 22 and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Feb. 28 – March 8. Based on selections from the enormously popular works of Dr. Seuss, Seussical is directed and choreographed by David Engel with musical direction by Allen Everman. The cast will also include Kat Borrelli, Gary Brintz, Brandon Burks, James Campbell, Michael Cavinder, Daniel Dawson, Richie Ferris, Justin Goei, Brittany Rose Hammond, April Jo Henry, Natalie Iscovich, Bren Thor Johnson, Kirk Schuyler Lawson, Donna Louden, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Bear Manescalchi, Victoria Matlock, Melanie Mockobey, Julie Morgentaler, Tracy Rowe Mutz, Gregory North, Jonathan Sangster, Amber J. Snead, Momoko Sugai, and Grant Westcott. Tickets: www.3dtshows.com.

    International City Theatre kicks off its 30th Anniversary Season with End of the Rainbow, a tour de force musical drama about the final days of Judy Garland Feb. 18 – March 15 (opening night 2/20). The show is directed by John Henry Davis and stars Gigi Bermingham as the legendary singer. In Peter Quilter’s savagely funny play, it’s Christmas 1968, and Judy is shacked up in London’s Ritz Hotel with fiancé number five, Mickey Deans (Michael Rubenstone), and her loyal friend and pianist, Anthony (Brent Schindele, who also musical directs). Also in the cast, playing multiple roles, is Wallace Angus Bruce. Featuring some of Garland’s most memorable songs including “The Man That Got Away,” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “The Trolley Song” and, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” End of the Rainbow paints a warts-and-all picture of the beloved but tortured musical icon, her strained relationships with men, her struggle to stay in the spotlight and the pill habit that would claim her life. Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets: (562) 436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

    Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents Ghosts of the Underground, an exciting, new hauntingly-romantic theatrical cliff-hanger, revolving around a mysterious murder. Featuring live music and riveting dance in an all-encompassing “in the round” spectacular directed by Sebastian Muñoz and produced by Zombie Joe. Friday and Saturdays at 8:30 pm Jan 30 – Feb. 21 at  ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 9160. Reservations: (818) 202 - 4120. Tickets: $15 at ZombieJoes.com.

    Byway Entertainment presents Richard Byford’s world premiere solo show The Heart of a Gypsy Troubadour, Feb. 13 - April 9 at 8:00 pm. Some shows take months to write, others years -- The Heart of a GypsyTroubadour is the product of an entire lifetime. Singer/songwriter Richard Byford has distilled his many adventures across Europe and America, his battle with cancer, and the motley crew of characters he has experienced over the years into a solo performance like no other. Performances of his many original songs are a highlight of this heartfelt and very personal look at a life well-lived. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks, 91423. Tickets: $20 (818) 687-8559 or www.brownpapertickets.com.

    The Festival of New American Musicals presents its next Musi-Cal which offers audience a first look at new musical works in progress. The Mon. Feb. 2nd performance will be hosted by Jonah Platt, with a special guest appearance by Alexa Russo and will feature Platt and Andrew Resnick’s The Giver, John Davisi& Molly Durand’s Datebook: The Musical, Daniel Zaitchik’s Grenadine, and Gerald Sternbach& Jordan Beck’s Biting Broadway! The First Successful Vampire Musical. Click Here for discount tickets or visit http://rockwell-la.com/.


    The Pasadena Playhouse embarks on a new initiative titled Mi Historia, Mi Manera, which aims to build a model of artistic co-creation between its institution and Latina/o adults, artists, and communities in the San Gabriel Valley. The cornerstone of the initiative involves partnerships with organizations and individuals that will increase adult Latina/o participation in theatre, expand The Playhouse’s reach into non-traditional venues in the region, and increase the impact of the arts by building community-focused performing arts programming that creates long-term relationships with the Latina/o community.

    The first four partners include Pasadena City College, La Puente Artwalk, ImaginAction and the Grammy winning band Ozomatli. Ozomatli will explore a creative collaboration that involves new work development and community engagement. The outcome will be an original, full-length English-language dramatico-musical stage play about the formation of a seven-man band in 1995 after the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. The play will feature Latin, hip hop and rock music written by Ozomatli, which will be performed by them during the production as the orchestra. For more information about Mi Historia, Mi Manera, contact Victor Vazquez, Community Organizer, Artistic Department, The Pasadena Playhouse, Vvazquez@pasadenaplayhouse.org, (323) 577-2188. www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

    Barbara Morrison will reprise her role as Dinah Washington in I Wanna Be Loved with singer-actor Jay Jackson co-starring as Brook Benton and the John Stephens-led 18-piece Barbara Morrison All-Star Jazz Band on Sunday Jan. 18 at 4:00 pm at her performing arts center in Leimert Park. The musical play chronicles the life and loves of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer who died at age 39 in 1963. Tickets: (310) 462-1439 or www.barbaramorrison.com.

    CABARET/CONCERTS:Kristin Towers-Rowles: A Lovely Lineage will play the Sierra Madre Playhouse for one night only on Feb. 15. Towers-Rowles will present songs and stories about growing up in Hollywood, surrounded by her showbiz family including her father Robert Towers, mother Patricia Towers, grandfather Johnny Johnston, and her grandmother, legendary MGM musical star Kathryn Grayson. She will be joined by vocalist Craig McEldowney and accompanist Jake Anthony. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts has announced a new upcoming series of performances - SENSE-SATIONS 2015. Tickets for all performances are available at www.lamiradatheatre.com. The schedule includes:

    Feb. 13, 8:00 pm - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

    Feb. 14, 2:00 & 8:00 pm - Wynona & Friends: Stories and Songs

    Feb. 21, 8:00 pm - British Rock Royalty Laser Spectacular featuring the music of Pink Floyd, Led Zepelin, Queen and The Who

    May 16, 8:00 pm - Blue Öyster Cult


    The Rotterdam Philharmonic comes to Valley Performing Arts Center Feb. 10 at 7:30 pm to present a sizzling evening of Prokofiev’s and Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphonies. The electrifying young conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the renowned Dutch Orchestra are known for the intense energy of their performances. The Rotterdam Philharmonic is a modern orchestra with roots deep in the classical music tradition. Experts say that it distinguishes itself by the intensity of its concerts, the rich variety of its sound and the bold way in which it communicates with its audiences. Critics agree that it is among the best in the world. Click Here for tickets or visit www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.

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    Mitchell Tobin as Billy Elliot

    The ensemble effort of La Mirada Theatre/McCoy Rigby’s cast of Billy Elliot is an extraordinary accomplishment and especially resonant in a musical that is all about solidarity and overcoming the odds. It also has the kind of opening night story that wins hearts and shows how a company will rally like a family to manage an unexpected, even disastrous, event.

    Billy Elliot is already a challenging musical to cast. It requires a level of technical skill and emotional depth from its young star that you don’t find every day. So I can only imagine what must have gone through producer Tom McCoy, director Brian Kite, and choreographer Dana Solimando’sminds when the unthinkable happened.

    The weekend before opening, the originally cast Noah Parets executed an acrobatic sequence during rehearsal, landed his moves, and said, "I think I broke my arm." He was quickly taken to the hospital and, yes, it was true. He had broken his arm and would be unable to perform. After the initial rush to make sure the young actor was alright, I'm sure the mad scramble began to figure out a plan B. These are the moments that give a producer a few more gray hairs and lot more sleepless nights, but it is also the kind of moment that shows how a can-do attitude will overcome even the biggest hurdle. I'm sure casting director Julia Flores was a great asset in this particular situation.

    Luckily, another Billy from the National Tour, who had also performed the role in London, was able to get on a plane and head for LA. It had been five months since Mitchell Tobin had performed the role, and with only four days of rehearsal and new staging and choreography, he stepped into the production and gave a triumphant performance on opening night that went far beyond inspirational. It was full of passion, and grace, and the poise of a true professional. During curtain call, as the audience jumped to its feet in thunderous applause, the beaming smile on his face said it all.

    The most significant stylistic element in the production is Kite and Solimando’s integration of staging and choreography to achieve powerful images that give visceral punch to the storytelling. Three distinctly different groups of characters - the mineworkers, the young ballet students, and the police, continually move in and around each other to reflect the real world issues of the 1984 British Miners’ Strike which was to become a defining moment in the country’s history. It is impossible not to feel the tension and desperation of thousands of union workers as they rallied together in solidarity to protect their jobs against a government that was systematically working to break them, in Lee Hall’s book & lyrics and Elton John’s music.

    Within this uncompromising world, Billy dares to dream of a different life by choosing ballet over boxing, and a chance to be an artist on stage rather than a miner underground like his father and brother before him.

    These are flawed characters we can all recognize with weaknesses and issues, integrity and strength. Vicki Lewis is wonderful as ballet instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson, without whom Billy might never have had an opportuity to change his story. Her dry wit and natural ability to find the humor in a moment without having to sell it artificially creates an instant bond with the audience. David Atkinson gives a sobering performance as Billy’s father, a man whose pride is as infuriating as it is heartbreaking while Stephen Weston (as Billy’s brother Tony) embodies the fierce intensity of an uncompromising idealist.

    You must be willing to take a risk in order to serve your dream. That’s ultimately what Billy learns on his journey. From the loving presence of his dead Mum (Kim Huber) to the unconditional support of his best friend Michael (Jake Kitchin in a free-spirited comical performance) to the initially unsympathetic men who represent his inevitable future, all of them contribute to the humanity of his story.

    Working class England comes to life in a worn color palette that captures the look of shadows and hard times against which the cheerful colors of the artistic world are particularly noticeable (scenic design by Stephen Gifford, lighting design by Steven Young and costumes by Ann Closs-Farley).

    Billy Elliot is a musical that will make your heart sing about a boy who would inspire us all. In that light, it isn’t so surprising that La Mirada Theatre’s production would also come with a story about overcoming the odds. It'’s another emotionally satisfying, artistically rich night at the theatre by a company who gives its all in every moment. Nothing is better than that.

    Vicki Lewis, Mitchell Tobin, Emily Frazier and Brooke Besikof

    Mitchell Tobin and Jake Kitchin 

    David Atkinson and Mitchell Tobin

    Vicki Lewis and the Ballet Girls

    The Company of Billy Elliot the Musical

    BILLY ELLIOT
    January 16 - February 8, 2015
    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

    14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638
    Tickets: (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310

    or www.lamiradatheatre.com

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    Murder For Two with book & music by Joe Kinosian, book & lyrics by Kellen Blair, and directed by Scott Schwartz will run Jan. 24 – Mar. 1, 2015 in the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe in San Diego. Great American novelist Arthur Whitney has been murdered at his own birthday party, and his killer could be any one of the guests. But this is no ordinary murder mystery. The entire world of this hilarious musical is brought to life by two incredible performers: one plays Marcus, the detective (Ian Lowe), the other plays all 10 suspects (Joe Kinosian), and both play the piano! Tickets start at $29 and are on sale now at www.theoldglobe.org.


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    Recently, choreographer Dana Solimando took on the monumental task of choreographing Billy Elliot The Musical for La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. The production opened to sold out crowds over the weekend and will run through February 8th. Here Dana talks about making the steps her own and how you’ve got to be flexible in the theatre because you never know what’s going to happen. Enjoy this behind the scenes look at bringing Billy Elliot to life.

    Dana, congratulations on your terrific opening of Billy Elliot last weekend! Is it true that you rechoreographed almost the entire show?

    Yes it’s true. I’m a huge fan of Peter Darling’s work (which made it kind of scary to tackle), but I knew there were other ways to tell this incredible story. The trick was how to do it without straying too far from what the writers had envisioned.

    One major decision was to not use the chairs, as that was very obviously a concept that was Peter’s and not needed to tell the story. However, a few days into rehearsal we hit a little bump in the road. Our Billy was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of trying new concepts in such a short period of time so I was asked to try and leave as much of his solo work as is (per the original). Also, there are a lot of times the word “chair” would pop up in the script and lyrics to insinuate it was time for “barre work” etc., so all of that had to be taken into consideration.

    Long story short, I was still able to incorporate new ideas but some of the concepts needed to remain, like the through-line for Billy. I had to find a way to allow him to still use the chair for a ballet barre but continue on the path I had already started with the rest of the show. It all worked out beautifully in the end, but it was definitely a challenge.

    I can imagine how challenging it must have been for your Billy who came from the touring production and already had that choreography in his body.

    Yes, it was a huge challenge! I’m sure you heard the story; we had two Billys for this production. The first Billy, Noah Parets, broke his arm during the designer run-through. The second Billy, Mitchell Tobin, learned the show in four days before a paid audience. Both were tremendously gifted and up for the challenge of learning new choreography! Once we came to a place where the boys knew we could keep some of the original material and that we wouldn’t mess with their chair through-line (both boys tell me this is essential in showing their character’s evolution) we were able to start giving them new choreography without them feeling overwhelmed.

    From that point on, they were more relaxed knowing they had that security. As hard as that was for me, I knew it was the right thing for the boys and at the end of the day that is what is most important. Both boys are incredibly smart, gifted and professional and it started to become a fun challenge for them. 

    Can you give us an example of a number you had fun making completely your own? 

    “Expressing Yourself” was fun because there were so many avenues you can go with it. I decided I wanted to go into Michael’s imagination and make the dance number something that could be his fantasy. We ended up doing a whole Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Hollywood/Follies musical type montage. Michael winds up being the star of the number with a rhinestone dress and backup dancers, and Billy eventually becomes his Fred Astaire. It was a lot of fun to stage and has been getting a great response.

    Jake Kitchen and Mitchell Tobin in "Expressing Yourself"

    Do you work differently with a cast when your dancers are children?

    Yes and no. I worked differently with the children in this show in that I had to be more patient and put my teacher cap on but I still approached the material from a place of storytelling rather than just dance steps. All of the ballet girls had homework assignments on character development. They were very dedicated and passionate. It was rewarding to see them grow every day and to see how honestly they approached their character work. We had a great time!

    There are a lot of moving parts in this show. How do you use your choreography to help serve the director’s vision when youre only one member of the creative team?

    I think it is important for the creative team to think in terms of the show as a whole rather than thinking only about your individual department. I was hired to choreograph Ragtime this past year and really had to not only think in terms of what I needed for the dance segments, but what was best for the overall show. That can be challenging sometimes, but when you work with a director and creative team you trust will approach it in the same way, it’s more rewarding in the end.

    *   *   *   *   *   *   *
    Having seen the show I can also say that Billy Elliot is also incredibly satisfying for the audience as well. You can see Danas choreography and the companys outstanding work through February 8, 2015 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638. For tickets, call (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or visitwww.lamiradatheatre.com.

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    Chad Doreck, Suzanne Petrela, and Tim Martin Gleason

    Holy moly that’s a lotta dick jokes in one show. The comedy is crass, sexist, and just about everyone gets dealt a stereotypical blow in one way or another in Serrano the Musical. That’s not to say it isn’t funny; it is, but lowbrow humor runs rampant in this world premiere musical so if that’s your kind of thing, you’re gonna love it. Suffice it to say I’m probably not the prime demographic.

    The story is a twist on Cyrano de Bergerac, set in Little Italy, and follows the machinations of two mob families led by Don Reyo (Peter Van Norden) and Don Malafonte (Matthew Henerson). Rostand’s eloquent Cyrano, complete with his unmistakably prominent nose, becomes Serrano the gangster (Tim Martin Gleason), right hand thug to Don Reyo, and secretly in love with Rosanna (Suzanne Petrela), daughter of the judge who could put Don Reyo away for good. To prevent that from happening, Don Reyo enlists Serrano to help his idiot nephew Vinnie (Chad Doreck) deflower her, thus compromising the girl and providing a way for the judge to be blackmailed. So Serrano finds himself between a rock and a hard place. In order to keep his job, and his life, he must turn Vinnie into a smooth-talking Romeo to seduce the one girl he longs to have for himself.

    The creative team comes from the world of television and film with Serrano being their first theatre production. I found it interesting that the book & lyrics were written by a woman, Madeline Sunshine (Webster, The People Next Door, and The Julie Andrews Show) because the musical’s overall voice and style of humor is so distinctly masculine. She packs an awful lot into the book (show runs close to three hours with an excellent cast of 12 playing 28 different characters) but it can be confusing at times when the story digresses.


    Music is by Robert Tepper, who has written songs for such singers as Pat Benatar and Paul Anka, as well as films like Rocky IV and Say Anything. Stylistically there is one of everything: a ‘50s “Greased Lightning” number, a ‘60s pop number, a lounge act number, a ‘70s Carole Bayer Sager number, a ‘70s disco number, a big Broadway belt number (one of the best), a  Les Miz number, a Tango number, and a couple of arias and drag numbers…you get the picture. Musical director Jeff Rizzo elicits a bright and ballsy sound from the ensemble in the various musical styles.

    Luckily the cast is game and director Joel Zwick is a master at setting up a joke and delivering the punchline. Its a technique he certainly perfected from directing over 600 episodes of television and successful films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Fat Albert but I much preferred the laughs that came from the situational comedy and character idiosyncrasies rather than the endless stream of cheesy joke after joke after joke.

    Chad Doreck and Tim Martin Gleason

    Gleason’s Serrano has a tough exterior but he is utterly charming and wonderfully sympathetic when you least expect it. Some of his finest moments happen with Doreck who lights up the stage as the uneducated Vinnie, a young man with more depth than anyone gives him credit for except Serrano. Petrela is suitably sweet as the virginal Rosanna and Chad Borden’s drag queen numbers are pure over-the-top fun.

    Peggy Hickey, who most recently choreographed A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, pulls out all the stops with her delicious choreography which often steals the show. Ensemble members have multiple opportunities to strut their stuff. Three hoods and a nun (James Tabeek, Tom G. McMahon, Craig McEldowny, and Valerie Perri) are a welcome running gag throughout. Tabeek and McEldowney also shine in one-off scenes, the former in a nightclub dance feature with Kristina Miller and the latter as Serrano’s aging father... although it’s pretty far-fetched for Serrano to have to check with his operatically-gifted dad for permission to have plastic surgery.

    Stephen Gifford’s festival-attired stage is authentically Little Italy, from its kitschy backdrop of red, white, and green streamers to its checkered tablecloths and neon-inspired signs, giving lighting designer Leigh Allen plenty of room to apply color in bold strokes. Byron Batista is especially creative with Serrano’s “Nose” design which I’m sure presented unique challenges for Gleason as a singer. It isn’t easy to design a prosthetic that won’t restrict the singer’s breathing or get in the way of the tone and Gleason was clear and in control at all times. Michael Mullen adds a number of visual surprises to his costumes that also rake in the laughs.

    Peter Van Norden and Tim Martin Gleason

    (Back Row) Craig McEldowney, Valerie Perri, Chad Borden and Barry Pearl;
    (At Table) Chad Doreck, Suzanne Petrela and Tim Martin Gleason

    Suzanne Petrela and Tim Martin Gleason

    Tim Martin Gleason, Suzanne Petrela, and Chad Doreck

    The Company of Serrano the Musical

    SERRANO THE MUSICAL
    January 8 - March 29, 2015
    The Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood.
    Performances are Thurs, Fri and Sat at 8:00 pm; Sun at 3:00 pm.
    Tickets: (323) 960-7774 or www.serranothemusical.com

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    Alxander Jon and the company of Company

    A noticeably long, drawn-out silence opens Cabrillo Music Theatre’s production of Company as 35-year old Robert comes home to his empty New York bachelor pad. It is the final moment of solitude before the coordinated cacophony of voices begins in Nick DeGruccio’s sleekly directed revival of Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics) and George Furth’s (book) 1970 classic. Loaded with unspoken thoughts and full of anticipation, the silence acts like a laser to focus the audience’s attention making it a dynamic way to open the show.

    In a nutshell, Company is a series of unrelated scenes and songs about marriage that express the good and the bad of relationships written in a variety of musical styles that complement their disparate ideas. The glue that connects them is Robert but scenes still jump around in no particular order. Sondheim himself has said that the musical isn’t linear but that the entire three hours takes place in a flash in Robert’s mind, much like a momentary reflection on the question of remaining single.

    There is irony in the very bones of the piece with few characters saying out loud what they really mean. Dysfunction is a common theme in all of the relationships. Sarah (Elissa Wagner) and Harry’s (Michael Andrew Baker) constant bickering dissolves into a hilariously uncomfortable game of one-upmanship that covers their not-so-secret coping mechanisms (he drinks, she eats). But when Robert asks Harry later if hes happy being married he says youre always sorry, always grateful. It’s a poignant moment that demonstrates our need for love and connection, no matter how difficult it might be to make a relationship work.

    Susan (Elizabeth Eden) and Peter (James Padilla), the perfect couple, tell Robert that although they are continuing to live together, they’ve recently gotten divorced and couldn’t be happier...together. Amy (Shelley Regner) and Paul (Nick Tubbs), on the other hand, are about to be married, if she can get past a seriously funny case of cold feet. A disillusioned Joanne (Tracy Lore) throws sarcastic barbs at her husband, Larry (Paul Babb), who still says he’ll never leave her, and a straight-laced Jenny (Heather Dudenbostel) pretends to like smoking pot just to please her husband David (Kevin F. Story).

    Shelly Regner and Alxander Jon

    Although Robert is the central character in Company, Cabrillo’s production belongs to the ladies. Regner makes “Getting Married Today” a bona fide showstopper as the crazy, hyperventilating bride who spits out more words than you can believe possible. Sondheim’s lyrics are masterpieces of internal dialogue, each one more distinctive and revealing than the next. Lore bites into Elaine Stritch’s signature song “Ladies Who Lunch” with unbridled ferocity and Chelsea Emma Franko makes “Another Hundred People” the showpiece you hope it will be. Franko, Jane Papageorge (April) and Aly French (Kathy) are also featured in the girlfriend trio “You Could Drive A Person Crazy,” a great little comedy song and dance number about the song and dance that Robert is giving them as he avoids commitment. They have a terrific blend and choreographer Cate Caplin adds some smooth dance moves to go with it.

    Much of Caplin’s choreography highlights the subtext of DeGruccio’s staging by creating a pack vs. lone wolf series of visuals. The ensemble sings, dances, and moves toward Robert as he holds fast to his side of the line. The Act II opening song “Side By Side” builds until it becomes an exciting full-on circus production number that swells to a thrilling climax.

    Jon has a lovely voice but not enough presence to match the energy of the women around him. Consequently, his songs become stand and sing moments that don’t really connect with the audience nor do they have the impact they should. Musical director Cassie Nickols’ orchestra, placed upstage center but in view just beyond the set, does a beautiful job with Sondheim’s complicated and quirky score.

    DeGruccio stages the musical on a stunning multi-level skeletal set design by Tom Buderwitz. Its steel gray walkways, platforms, and staircases form the framework of Robert’s Manhattan apartment building and suggest the rest of the indoor and outdoor locations with only a change of minimalist furniture: a shag rug and bean bag chairs for a living room, a bench for Central Park, a cocktail table for an uptown happy hour. Above are a series of modernist cutouts that represent an abstract New York skyline. Jean-Yves Tessier’s lighting defines the changing space and captures the light of specific times of day quite beautifully. More than anything, though, it is Thomas Marquez’s costumes and Cassie Russek’s hair & makeup that give Company its mod throwback feel.

    Company is being presented in the Scherr Forum, the smaller of the two theaters at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and it’s a good fit for the intimate production. Music lovers, and especially lovers of Sondheims exquisitely detailed songs, will find a myriad of emotions hidden in the spaces between the words. Heres to the ladies whose company makes this theatrical birthday party a musical feast.

    Jane Papageorge and Alxander Jon

    Alxander Jon and Tracy Lore

    Chelsea Emma Franko and Alxander Jon

    Michael Andrew Baker, Alxander Jon, and Elissa Wagner

    Alxander Jon and Aly French

    Kevin F. Story, Heather Dudenbostel, and Alxander Jon

    Alxander Jon and the company of Company

    COMPANY
    January 23 - February 8, 2015
    Cabrillo Music Theatre
    Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
    Scherr Forum Theatre
    2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks
    Tickets: (800) 745-3000
    www.cabrillomusictheatre.com 

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Heres whats happening around town! 


    The Pantages Theatre has announced that its 2015-2016 Season will include the Los Angles premieres of four direct from Broadway hits. They are: If/Then, an original musical written by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal; Bullets Over Broadway, featuring a book by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath based on the 1994 film of the same name. The Illusionists - Witness the Impossible™, the world’s best-selling touring magic show; and  Beautiful - The Carole King Musical. The season will also include returning favorites Annie, Dirty Dancing, the classic dance-heavy musical with lots of heart, 42nd Street, and Cabaret. Season Tickets go on sale to the general public on Feb. 23 at 10:00 am at www.HollywoodPantages.com or by phone at 866-755-BWAY (2929).


    Producer Jason Goldberg has announced the world premiere of new musical Karma, The Awakening will play the El Portal Theatre Feb. 5 – March 1. Book and lyrics are by Billie E. Hazelbaker, Bryan N. Barnes, and Jeffrey Rollins, and music is by Ronn Price, Dan Green, and Barnes. A generation ago the ‘Dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ proclaimed a season of “harmony and understanding, sympathy, and trust abounding.” We are now living in that age and Karma, The Awakening revives the dormant energy of that season. The cast includes Roslyn Cohn, Adam Fox, Katelyn Gault, Alena Henke,Aidan Johnson, Stephen Juhl, Jackson Kendall, Peter McGlynn, Braddon Mendelson, Bob Moran, Madison Smith, Beth Ann Sweezer, and Jenny Torgerson directed by Jason Goldberg, with musical direction by Jerry Danielsen and choreography by Lennon HobsonThe historic El Portal Theatre is located at 5269, Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, 91601.Tickets: $30 general admission, $25 ticket for students with valid ID. (818) 508-4200 or web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/941084.  

    The critically acclaimed Off-Broadway musical Inside Out will celebrate its 20-year anniversary at the Grove Theatre Center in Burbank, Feb. 12 – March 22 (opening night Feb. 14). Bruce Kimmel will direct the musical written by Doug Haverty (book & lyrics) and Adryan Russ (lyrics & music). A women’s therapy group, headed by group leader, Grace (Cynthia Ferrer), is transformed forever when former singing star Dena (Leslie Stevens) joins the group and winds up being a catalyst for change in the lives of Sage (Adrienne Visnic), a flower child; Liz (Sandy Bainum), a powerful businesswoman who has problems balancing work and home; Chlo (Stephanie Fredricks), a gay bank employee and single mom; and Molly (Dana Mellor), a mother of two young children who is dealing with weight and work issues. A portion of proceeds from the production will go to the 1983-founded Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation; an “army of women” dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer and how to stop it before it starts. www.dslrf.org. Tickets: (323) 960-1055 or www.plays411.com/insideout.

    Storybook Theatre presents Cinderella, a version of the classic tale specifically created to appeal to young children and the whole family. Complete with a loopy Fairy Godmother and puppets as the stepsisters, kids get the chance to dance with the Prince, try on the glass slipper, and join in the fun. Book &lyrics are by Lloyd J. Schwartz and music is by Michael Paul. The show runs Saturdays at 1:00 pm from March 28 – July 11 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles, CA 90068. There is free parking across the street. Tickets: $12 for adults $12, $10 for children. (818) 761-2203 or www.theatrewest.org.


    Montreal’s renowned circus troupe Circus Les 7 Doigts de la Main springs into action on Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm at Valley Performing Arts Center with Séquence 8, an explosive acrobatic dance and theater piece with high-volume electro music that contemplates the role of the “other” and how we define ourselves through and against it. Les 7 doigts de la main translates literally as “the 7 fingers of the hand”. It is a twist on a French idiom (“the five fingers of the hand”) used to describe distinct parts united tightly, moving in coordination towards one common goal. Founded in Montreal in 2002, by seven veterans of Cirque de Soleil, the 7 Fingers initial goal was to bring circus to a human scale. They began as artists on stage, creating collectively, and soon branched out, expanding their creative talents as directors, choreographers, writers and coaches, passing on their collaborative and unique 7 Fingers process to a new generation of circus artists. Set not in a specific time or place but rather on a vertical canvas of sorts, in this acrobatic dance and theatre piece we find emotions so heightened they spring into action, and relationships that transform and evolve until they create actual velocity. Click Here for tickets, which range from $35 - $65.


    Award-winning puppet theatre company Marionetas de la Esquina brings their unique and modern adaptation Sleeping Beauty Dreams to Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University on Saturday, March 7 at 11:00 am. There will be a free, open to the public Family Art Day from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm before and after the performance featuring hands-on art projects and Weisman Museum tours. In this contemporary take on the classic fairytale, the princess is depicted as an overprotected daughter looking for a way to break free of her castle walls in order to search for true love -- and her true self. Written by award-winning playwright Amaranta Leyva, this co-commission of the Kennedy Center uses Marionetas de la Esquina’s humorous storytelling and whimsical puppetry to awaken this sleeping princess as never before, in a modern interpretation for today’s young audiences. The performance will take place in the Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Tickets: (310) 506-4522 or http://arts.pepperdine.edu/. $10 for youth 17 and under; $12-$15 for adults; $10 for Pepperdine students. For more information about the troupe visit http://marionetas.com.mx/.


    And for a bit of fun on a Monday, here’s SLICE the Musical, a sweet 4-minute  movie musical about a girl who falls helplessly in love with her pizza delivery guy. Enjoy!

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    Cabrillo Music Theatre announces its 2015-16 season, “A Season for All Seasons” which will include three shows in the larger Kavli Theatre Damn Yankees (Oct 16 - 25, 2015), Children of Eden (April 8 - 17, 2016), and The Little Mermaid (July 15 -24, 2016) and one in the more intimate Scherr Forum, the perfectly-named A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Jan 29 - Feb 14, 2016). Priority Order Subscriptions for new subscribers are being taken now by calling (805) 497-8613 X6, or by writing to subscriber@cabrillomusictheatre.com. Beginning April 7, new subscriptions will be sold through the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Box Office, or by calling Subscriber Services at (805) 449.2775. www.cabrillomusictheatre.com

    In honor of Black History Month, All the Way West Productions presents A Woman Called Truth, a celebration of the life of Sojourner Truth, Jan. 24 – March 1 at the Complex Ruby Theater in Hollywood. “The Spirit calls me, and I must go,” said Sojourner Truth as she took leave of her family and set out to speak on behalf of women and advocated for abolishing slavery and promoted civil rights. Incorporating spirituals, slave songs and hymns, the play features three women and three men as well as a chorus for a cast of nine. Written with minimalist staging, the focus is on the words and lyricism of the time, with considerable attention to Sojourner Truth’s own words by the playwright who approximated much of the title character’s dialogue from published works and biographies by Olive Gilbert, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Francis Gage. It is directed by D’Shaun A. Booker. Tickets: (310) 604-8158 or go to www.plays411.com/calledtruth.

    Brad Ellisjoins producer Dianne Fraser and Fraser Entertainment Group as musical director for An Evening of Classic Broadway at Rockwell Table & Stage, on Monday, March 16. Tickets: www.rockwell-la.com.


    Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheitbrings her popular show Hello Bluebird: Celebrating the Music of Judy Garland to Valley Performing Arts Center on Feb. 21 at 8:00 pm. In her performance Monheit pays tribute to the legendary Judy Garland with a classic repertoire of the Hollywood icon’s most celebrated ballads and closing with Garland’s signature song “Over The Rainbow/Hello Bluebird.” Accompanying her is Michael Kanan on piano, Neal Miner on bass and Monheit’s husband Rick Montalbano on drums.Click Herefor tickets $45 - $80.

    Rogelio Douglas, Jr. joins Mandy Gonzalez in her solo concert debut Love, All Ways at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood on Jan. 27 & 28. The concert will feature a special appearance by some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s top high school singers. Doors open at 7pm for cocktail and dinner service (single entrée or drink minimums apply). Admission is $25, with VIP seating ($40) available. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.TicketWeb.com.


    The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center presents Eli Lieb in Concert, a special one-night-only benefit event at the center’s Renberg Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8:00 pm. The show will be a rare “unplugged appearance” featuring just Lieb and his acoustic guitar. Tickets: $25 (323) 860-7300 or www.lalgbtcenter.org/theatre. VIP tickets are available for $100 and include priority reserved seating and a post-performance reception with the artist. The Renberg Theatre is located at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood. Free onsite parking is available.


    Run Rabbit Run Media and VFRPR have announced that indie film Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine will open on Feb. 13 for a one week run at the Laemmle Noho 7, 5240 LankershimBlvd in North Hollywood (www.laemmle.com/films/37468). On October 7, 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left to die because he was gay. Years later, Michele Josue, a close friend of Matts, revisits the shocking case with never-before-seen photos, rare video footage, as Matt’s all-too-brief life is remembered through the vivid testimonies of those whose lives he touched, from the friends and family who knew him best to the bartender who saw him on the night of the attack.

    Kritzerland presents All The Things You Are – The Songs of Jerome Kern on Mon. Feb. 2 at 8:00 pm at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal. The show stars Kimberly Hessler, Jean Louisa Kelly, Damon Kirsche, Madison Claire Parks and Jeffrey Christopher Todd, and special guest Andrea Marcovicci(with Shelly Markham). Musical direction is by John Boswell. Reservations: (818) 754-8700.


    Frank Gehry and the world premiere of Frank’s House by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s composer-in-residence Andrew Norman will be spotlighted at LACO’s Westside Connections concert on Thursday, Feb. 5. Gehry is joined by LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, The Juilliard School’s Ara Guzelimian, LACO music director Jeffrey Kahane and LACO concertmaster Margaret Batjer for an unprecedented evening exploring compelling connections between music and architecture. 7:30 pm at the Moss Theater in Santa Monica. Tickets: (213) 622-7001 x 1 or www.laco.org.

    The Grove Theatre in Upland will host Elvis -The Main Event – “Lets Get Ready to Rumble” - a two day contest event on Feb. 13-14. Ten Tribute Artists will take the stage in an effort to become the one and only “Southern California Greatest Elvis.” Artists on the bill include Brad Carrow, Ceaser Garcia, Rayan Collingwood, Seve Botello, Gary Anderson, Raul Conde, John Fisher, Steve Murphy, Brad Carrow, Todd Torres, and Fernie Ramirez. All performers will be backed by the Award winning TCB Flash Band, one of California’s top Tribute Bands. Tickets: (909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com.

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    MUSICAL NEWS:Good People Theater Company has announced its latest production: Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire’s charming, sly musical revue about the broken hearts, secret trysts, and saying no (and yes, and maybe) that bring old lovers, new romantics and good friends Closer Than Ever. Produced in partnership with Hollywood Piano and running Feb. 21 - March 15, it is the story of grown-ups (four singers, pianist and bass player) trying to Figure It Out.

    Producer/Director Janet Miller says that this production of Closer Than Ever is ideally timed as a prelude to the May opening of Maltby and Shire’s newest musical, Waterfall, which gears up for Broadway by having out-of-town try-out runs first at Pasadena Playhouse and then in Seattle. “Closer Than Ever isn’t done very often here in LA, so this is a special chance for musical theater fans to remind themselves of Maltby and Shire’s classic before Waterfall debuts this Spring. What’s special in our production is the chance to see some great performers in a very intimate setting--in what is probably one of the nicest rooms with the finest grand piano in the 99-seat theater scene. Our audience has a chance to really cozy up to Maltby and Shire’s material: a funny, poignant and slightly risqué portrait of how complicated things get as we all start to grow up.” The cast will include musical director Corey Hirsch (Guy at the Piano), Elizabeth Brackenbury (Elizabeth), Jessie Withers (Jessie), and Jordan Lamoureux (Guy Playing Bass).

    As a part of their commitment to “good people doing good work,” the Company has also announced a special “Charity of Choice” performance of Closer Than Ever on Saturday, March 14 at 3:00 pm. 100% of the ticket proceeds from this performance will be donated to Los Angeles Habilitation House. www.lahabilitationhouse.org. Hollywood Piano is located at 323 North Front Street, Burbank, CA, 91502. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $12.50 for students and seniors. Tickets and more information: www.goodpeopletheaterco.org.


    Christopher Gattellil
    The Old Globe has announced that it will open its 2015-2016 Season with In Your Arms, a world premiere dance-theatre musical featuring direction and choreography by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, Godspell) and original music by Tony Award winner Stephen Flaherty(Ragtime, Once on This Island). Co-conceived by Gattelli and Jennifer Manocherian, In Your Arms features 10 dance vignettes written by an incredible and diverse lineup of theatre powerhouses, including Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, and Alfred Uhry. In Your Arms will run Sept. 8 – Oct. 25, 2015 (opening night 9/24). Tickets will become available by subscription only this spring, with single tickets available to the general public later in the year.

    Stephen Flaherty
    In Your Arms is a sweeping and romantic evening of theatre created by an unprecedented constellation of America’s preeminent writers for the stage. Ten dance vignettes tell wordless stories of love, yearning, and romance, and constitute a magical evening of movement and music performed by a cast of 20 talented dancers. Each vignette takes place in a different place and time, and the 10 dances range from duets to large ensemble numbers. Thrilling styles of dance from classical ballet to swing, tap to tango, rock ’n’ roll to Charleston, modern to jazz are celebrated with verve and nuance. The emotional canvas of the stories is vast: some are funny, some are sad, and some are enchanting, but all delve deep into that most essential of human emotions: love.

    “In Your Arms is one of the most romantic shows I’ve ever come across, and I am happy and proud to bring it to San Diego audiences,” said artistic director Barry Edelstein. “Its creators are a staggeringly brilliant group of top-rank theatrical talent, and the Globe is honored to host them. Stephen Flaherty’s lush and beguiling music comes together with wildly imaginative scenarios by an unprecedented gathering of significant writers to express the many moods and varieties of love. And wizardly director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli weaves this diverse material together with a special magic: the potent and exuberant language of dance. I’m thrilled to open our new season with such a fresh, original, and moving show.”

    The cast and full creative team for the world premiere at The Old Globe will be announced at a later date. www.theoldglobe.org

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Pasadena Playhouse presents A Conversation with Patricia Morison, a 100th Birthday Celebration, on Sunday, March 15, 2015. This special event, honoring Broadway legend Patricia Morison (the original star of Kiss Me, Kate) four days before her 100th birthday, takes place from 1:00 to 3:00 pm on The Playhouse’s Engemann Family Courtyard. Ms. Morison will be joined by director/producer John Bowab for a unique conversation about her distinguished career in theatre and film, and her experiences working on Broadway with such luminaries as Cole Porter, Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes. Guests will also have the opportunity to ask Ms. Morison questions. Following the conversation, Ms. Morison will perform two musical numbers, accompanied by Tom Griep. The event will conclude with a special meet-and-greet with Ms. Morison. Tickets are $100 in honor of Ms. Morison’s 100th Birthday. (626) 737-2852 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org. Each ticket purchased will support theatrical artistry at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo credit: Lana Huckabee.

    The National Touring Company of Wicked will host The Wicked Rocky Horror Show, a staged concert performance of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, at The Fonda Theatre on Monday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 pm. Net proceeds will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 10am PST. Call (888) 929-7849 or visit www.fondatheatre.com.

    The Colony Theatre has announced its 2015-2016 season which will include five productions; two especially for musical lovers and a world premiere one-woman show starring Patty Duke as Mary Todd Lincoln. www.colonytheatre.org Here’s a complete look at the productions:

    July 25 – August 23, 2015
    THE FABULOUS LIPITONES (west coast premiere)
    By John Markus and Mark St. Germain - Directed by John Markus
    A barbershop quartet who’s been belting out close harmonies for twenty years suddenly loses its lead singer, who dropped dead at the Regionals on a heart-stopping high C.  The three surviving members must cease their bickering and race to find a replacement in time for the Nationals. They hear a tenor with a gorgeous voice, but when he shows up he’s a dark-skinned Indian immigrant in a turban. And one of the quartet is Archie Bunker. It’s a wonderful comedy about the difficult journey they take to find their voice together.

    September 19 – October 18, 2015
    MARY LINCOLN (world premiere)
    Written by John Philip Dayton
    Starring Patty Duke - Directed by Cameron Watson
    Toward the end of her life, Mary Todd Lincoln shares her stories and memories with (unseen) reporters in an evening that is funny, heartbreaking, captivating, and sets the record straight about who this fascinating woman really was. 

    November 7 – December 13, 2015
    HUMBLE BOY (California premiere)
    Written by Charlotte Jones - Directed by David Rose
    Felix Humble is a brilliant but bumbling astro-physicist whose mission in life is to unlock the secrets of the universe, but cannot stumble across a garden hose without using it to illustrate the finer points of string theory before twisting it into a noose. He returns home to his bee keeping father’s funeral, only to discover his difficult and domineering mother in the arms of another man. As he struggles to unlock the secrets of the human heart, what emerges is a touching, funny, and entertaining family portrait.

    THE BEST OF ENEMIES (west coast premiere)
    Written by Mark St. Germain - Directed by David Rose
    Meet Ann, an African-American civil rights activist, and C.P., the Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan. They are forced by the federal government to work together to achieve integration in their small North Carolina town fifteen years after Brown v. Board of Education. Clearly, they will never be friends, but over the course of the play they discover all the things they have in common, and ultimately forge an alliance based on respect and trust. Impossible to believe – except it’s a true story, based on the book of the same name by Osha Gray Davidson. 

    April 16 – May 15, 2016
    ANOTHER ROLL OF THE DICE (world premiere)
    Book by Mark Saltzman  - Based on Stories by Damon Runyon
    Lyrics by Frank Loesser - Music by Frank Loesser and others
    Directed by Michael Matthews
    Few writers made the streets of New York sing like Damon Runyon. His beat was
    Broadway, the Great White Way – a dazzling and decadent mile of bright lights and nightlife. As a reporter in the Thirties, he moved among bootleggers, gamblers, hustlers, actors, showgirls, and gangsters. In this new musical Damon Runyon’s mugs and dames, scams and swindles, are once again matched with songs by the great Frank Loesser, the original Guys and Dolls composer.

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    Les 7 doigts de la main returns to Southern California for a one-night-only performance of Séquence 8, a uniquely theatrical production full of the company’s signature acrobatics, at Valley Performing Arts Center on February 19.

    You’ve seen them perform at three Olympic Games, in Sochi (2014), Vancouver (2010), and Turin (2006) and watched as they transformed the Broadway revival of Pippin into a Tony Award-winning production with their amazing circus effects. When the national tour played the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood last year, audiences were quite literally blown away by their creation.

    I first crossed paths with the company in 2011 when it brought Traces to the Ricardo Montalban Theater. The lyricism of their high-powered acrobatics, inventive dance choreography, and beautiful music created a deeply emotional production set in an apocalyptic scenario that spilled over from stage to audience. In my review of the show I said “Their street take on the traditional circus experience stretches the boundaries of the genre and creates a breathtakingly brash, decidedly urban show.” I was hooked from the very first image.



    In this current show, the company explores the role of the “other” and how we define ourselves through and against it. Every aspect is heightened, with the visual landscape working vertically as the artists carry their emotional and physical dynamics to a point of explosion and propulsion. Séquence 8 was created in 2012, coproduced by Les Nuits de Fourvière (Lyon, France) and the TOHU (Montréal). Direction and Choreography is by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila with Eric Bates, Ugo Dario, Colin Davis, Devin Henderson, Alexandra Royer , Maxim Laurin, Camille Legris, and Tristan Nielsen on stage.

    Les 7 doigts de la main translates as “the 7 fingers of the hand” (from the French idiom “the five fingers of the hand”), which represents its 7 members moving as one toward a artistic common goal. The company was founded in Montreal in 2002 by seven veterans of Cirque de Soleil with the goal to bring circus to a human scale. These 7 founding directors (Isabelle Chassé, Shana Carroll, Patrick Léonard, Faon Shane, Gypsy Snider, Sébastien Soldevila and Samuel Tétreault) combined their distinct talents and experiences, to work toward their common artistic goals with the beautifully awkward dexterity of a 7-fingered hand. Since then they have expanded their artistic reach and passed on their collaborative and unique 7 Fingers process to a new generation of circus artists.






    Séquence 8 - Les 7 Doigts de la Main
    February 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm
    Great Hall at Valley Performing Arts Center
    California State University, Northridge
    18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8448
    Directions and Parking 
    Click Here for tickets ($35 - $65)

    Top 2 photos: 
    ©Studio Pastis
    Bottom 5 photos: ©Sylvie Ann Paré


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