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    Ian Lowe and Joe Kinosian. Photos by Joan Marcus

    This two-man tour de force musical comedy mystery is killing it on stage at The Old Globe in San Diego - or, rather, it’s killing someone - and that someone is none other than Great American Novelist, Arthur Whitney. Unfortunately, this is one birthday party the much-hated author will never get to enjoy since he takes a bullet to the head in the first few minutes of the musical with all of his guests in attendance.

    It’s a nod to the classic whodunit mysteries of Agatha Christie and others who created a legion of armchair detectives eager to unravel the mystery of the week along with the story’s investigator. This time that story is set to music, and some cleverly-turned lyrics, by the show’s creators Kellen Blair (book & lyrics) and Joe Kinosian (book & music). The compact production, skillfully directed by Scott Scwartz, is a breathless 90-minute sprint to the finish line bursting with laughs all the way through the juicy revelation of who ultimately is responsible for Whitney’s demise and on into the curtain call.

    In addition to the title of co-creator, Kinosian also adds “actor” to his credits, performing all of the suspects (which number a dozen or more at last count). He’s joined by fellow partner in crime, Ian Lowe, who appeared in the Off-Broadway cast, as Officer Marcus, the enthusiastic young policeman hoping to earn a real detective badge (to replace the mock-up he carries in his pocket) in under an hour before the true detective arrives. Both are gifted pianists, and like their quirky cadre of characters, are extremely likable. Chemistry counts in this kind of Vaudevillian farce and these two have it in spades. Plus, their competitive piano shenanigans are as hilarious as the story itself.


    Baby-faced Kinosian creates immediately distinguishable characters and displays an enviable ability to switch back and forth between them with lightning precision. Especially impressive are his conversations while playing several of them simultaneously. Whitney’s stodgy psychiatrist, an eccentric ballerina, the bickering couple next door, three young choirboys, the quirky widow, and the victim’s niece, who has romantic aspirations of helping solve the case and get the detective all in one, are among the bunch.

    Murder For Two premiered in Chicago in 2011 where it received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Musical but I first saw the show in a developmental production in San Francisco at 42nd Street Moon prior to its Chicago opening. Kinosian played the suspects then and I remember thinking how smart and fresh the show felt, and what a terrific showcase it was for his unique set of talents. To see it now polished to a spit shine and running tighter than ever is a happy full circle for me.

    This is a production you could stage simply with only a piano and a few props or one you could gussy up with a lot of distracting production values. Since much of the theatre magic must be created on the spot before it vaporizes in the next moment, set designer Beowulf Boritt goes the simple route, providing a kind of blank backstage canvas for the actors to utilize. Its the perfect choice. Sound effects (Jill BC Du Boff) and Lighting (Jason Lyons) are also beautifully integrated to enhance the “out of thin air” effect.

    If laughter is good for what ails you, Murder For Two is just what the doctor ordered. Catch it now through March 1st and see if you can solve whodunit before the secret is revealed on stage. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.





    MURDER FOR TWO
    January 24 - March 1, 2015
    The Old Globe
    1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
    Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or www.TheOldGlobe.org 

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    MUSICAL NEWS:A Noise Within presents Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera Feb. 15 - May 9. An adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, Threepenny is a forerunner of modern musical theatre that follows the exploits of Macheath, Victorian London’s most notorious criminal, surrounded by a stage full of rogues. Threepenny was not just rebellious in form, but also in content highlighting the failure of capitalism and celebrating socialism. The cast includes Andrew Abelson (Macheath), Geoff Elliott (Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum), Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum), Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum), Jeremy Rabb (Jackie “Tiger” Brown), Abhimanyu Katyal (Reverend Kimball/Constable Smith), Stasha Surdyke (Jenny), Maegan McConnell (Lucy), and E.K. Dagenfield (Filch). A Noise Within is located at 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. Tickets: 626-356-3100 or www.anoisewithin.org.

    C-Squared Productions has announced the world premiere of Stop Me If I Told You This, written and performed by Cam Clarke and directed by Mark L. Taylor. Performances begin February 20 at the Odyssey Theatre, with opening set for Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8:00 pm. Stop Me If I Told You is the touching, funny, off-beat multimedia musical memoir of prolific voice-over actor Cam Clarke, the show business progeny of glamorous Alyce King of The King Sisters and B-movie icon Robert Clarke. Tickets: (310) 477-2055 x 2 or www.odysseytheatre.com.

    The Grove Theatre presents Dracula the Musical Feb. 27 – 15 directed by Julio Villegas. Pictured: Collin Mosley (Dracula) and Kim Eberhardt (Mina Murray). Tickets: 909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Roger Kumble’s relentless game of cat and mouse comes to life at Rockwell Table & Stage in Cruel Intentions: The Completely Unauthorized Musical on Feb. 11, 17 & 18. This cult classic tale of seduction and revenge follows despicable step-siblings Sebastian (Constantine Rousouli) and Kathryn (Katie Stevens) in their attempt to destroy their classmates (Molly McCook and Shelley Regner). Featuring music from Placebo, The Cardigans, The Verve, and more. Also starring Garrett Clayton and Tyler Scheef with music direction by Laura Baum and direction by Lindsey Rosin. Reservations/tickets: (323) 669-1550 x 20 or www.rockwell-la.com.

    Ophelia’s Jump announces das Kabarett der Liebe, a Valentine’s Day cabaret in the style of the Weimar Cabaret era. Enjoy songs and comedy featuring the work of such greats as Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, and more. February 14 at 8:00 pm at The Women’s Club of Claremont, 343 West 12th Street, Claremont, CA 91711. Tickets includes appetizer, dessert and glass of wine or beverage. (909)624-1464 or www.opheliasjump.org.

    (mostly) musicals returns to Fais Do-Do on Wednesday, Feb. 18 for ALMOST Like Being in Love 2. Their cabaret performances showcase a unique assortment of songs, from musicals to pop, jazz, and country. This show will continue that tradition with songs by Cole Porter, Kander & Ebb, Harold Arlen, George & Ira Gershwin, Leiber & Stoller, and Ahrens & Flaherty, as well as up-and-coming writers like Sam Carner & Derek Gregor, Drew Fornarola, Joshua H. Cohen, and Michael Finke. Singers include Shawn Ryan, Neil Taffe, Zach Villa, Wendy Rosoff, Ashley Ruth Jones, Alli Miller, Rory and Emily Dunn, Amanda Kruger. Music direction is by Gregory Nabours. An open mic after party will immediately follow the show. Tickets: $10 in advance at www.mostlymusicals.bpt.me, $15 at the door. Fais Do-Do is located at 5257 W Adams, Los Angeles, 90016, between La Brea and Fairfax. www.mostlymusicalsLA.com

    The Four Tops, one of soul’s most legendary groups, will appear in concert at Arcadia Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8:00 pm. The group has had over 15, top 20 singles in the U.S. including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “It’s The Same Old Song,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” and “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got).” Tickets: www.Arcadiapaf.org.

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    Katie Brown and Julia Cassandra Smith.
    Photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

    There was a moment in Chance Theater’s Loch Ness, a new musical, when I realized I had fallen completely in love with it; when everything suddenly came together in the most wonderful of ways - the glow of the lighting on a handful of heart wide open actors, the lyrical swell of their singing voices soaring with hope, a fog rising from a sea of imagination brought to life with unexpected delight - all of it morphed into what can only be described as pure magic.

    We used to call them Kodak moments, the kind you’d never want to end and Loch Ness gives them to you over and over again. It’s a huge success for the company who nurtured this original work through its On The Radar Reading Series from the very beginning and now presents a beautiful production that will appeal to every member of the family.

    It’s an adventure musical with wings, full of humor and bursting with creativity. The set alone is an ingenious creation anchored by the movable deck of a ship that glides back and forth manipulated by the cast to magically reveal the great expanse of the Loch Ness sea where all of the action takes place.

    Here, writers Marshall Pailet and A.D. Penedo bring together a mythical creature from the Scottish Highlands (Katie Brownas the charming Nessie) and a modern day teenager (Julia Cassandra Smith as high-spirited Haley Westerbrook) who learn that sometimes growing up means letting go, and having courage is a lot easier when you’ve got a friend who believes in you. Both have missing mums and, before long, each becomes the life line the other needs to complete her journey.

    The relationships are honestly written, well-developed, and easily identifiable. We see the love Dr. Westerbrook (Jackson Tobiska) has for his daughter and also the way he lashes out when Haley defies him. What he can’t seem to make her understand is that he’s as frustrated as she is to be out looking for a creature that doesn’t exist simply because he needs the money. Meanwhile, the crazy heiress (Angeline Mirenda as Leana Callaghan) who hired him is so self-centered she doesn’t care if her actions harm anyone else as long as she gets what she wants. Cruella de Ville’s got nothing on this woman.

    CJ (Alex Bueno), and the two Frenchies, Pierre (Keaton Williams) and Eclair (Gina Velez) are quirky to the core. Individually they each have their own wonderfully eccentric traits but when you put them together the comedy is maximized by the odd switches in their dialogue and Pailet’s imaginative staging. The devil is in the details and this show’s unexpected choices are a delight. Everything has a payoff, including The Oiler (Corky Loupe), another strange character whose shining moment you won’t see coming. But believe me, it’s a really good one. Laura M. Hathaway’s lilting Gaelic melody lines are hauntingly beautiful and Matt Takahashi completes the excellent cast.

    The show also shines in the other technical departments. Fred Kinney and Megan Hill, who created the marvelous set, are also responsible for the very human puppet design for Nessie. I’m always amazed how an actor and a puppet can meld together so seamlessly and Brown makes it look easy. Both of them add a level of emotional depth to the character and the point at which they cease to become individual elements is quite extraordinary.

    Kelly Todd’s choreography captures the lovely flavor of the Highlands. Even more impressive is the dance-like way the actors manipulate Nessie as a group while their visual focus remains actively engaged in the story. She swims and sails so smoothly you’d swear she was going to take off and fly. Watch for a 4-D touch for the audience just before intermission.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about theatre in terms of whether or not I would see a production again. At the end of the day, what we all want is a satisfying experience that moves us in some way. We want our money to be well-spent and even more importantly, we want our time to be well-spent. Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Into the Woods at The Wallis, Deaf Wests Spring Awakening, ZJU’s Rumination, The Actors Gang’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pippin at the Pantages, and The Rubicon’s Daddy Long Legs have been a few of my personal favorites. You can be sure I’ve now added Loch Ness, a new musical to that list.

    Jackson Tobiska and Julia Cassandra Smith

    Gina Velez, Alex Bueno and Keaton Williams

    Julia Cassandra Smith and Katie Brown 

    Corky Loupe, Julia Cassandra Smith, Alex Bueno and Laura M. Hathaway

    Julia Cassandra Smith and Angeline Mirenda

    LOCH NESS a new musical
    January 30 - March 1, 2015
    Chance Theater
    @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center
    5522 East La Palma Avenue
    Anaheim, CA 92807
    Tickets: $25.00 - $45.00
    Call (714) 777-3033 or visit www.chancetheater.com

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    Original Company, North American Tour of NEWSIES.
    Photo by Deen van Meer 

    MUSICAL NEWS:Disney Theatrical Productions and the Nederlander Organization have announced full casting for the L.A. Premiere of Broadway’s Tony® Award-winning musical, Disney’s Newsies. The production will play the Hollywood Pantages Theatre March 24 - April 19. Dan DeLuca will star as Jack Kelly, Steve Blanchard as Joseph Pulitzer, Stephanie Styles as Katherine, Angela Grovey as Medda Larkin, Jacob Kemp as Davey, Zachary Sayle as Crutchie, and Vincent Crocilla and Anthony Rosenthal alternating the role of Les, along with Mark Aldrich, Josh Assor, Evan Autio, Bill Bateman, Joshua Michael Burrage, Kevin Carolan, DeMarius Copes, Benjamin Cook, Julian DeGuzman, Nico De Jesus, Sky Flaherty, Michael Gorman, Jon Hacker, Jeff Heimbrock, Stephen Hernandez, Meredith Inglesby, Molly Jobe, James Judy, Eric John Mahlum, Michael Ryan, Jordan Samuels, Jack Sippel, Melissa Steadman Hart, Andrew Wilsonand Chaz Wolcott. Newsies is directed by Tony® nominee Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, who won a 2012 Tony Award® for his work. Tickets: 800-982-2787 or www.HollywoodPantages.com.


    Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents their all-new, high-octane “theatre-explosivo” production, Nightmares Trio, diving deep into our darkest dreams, desires, memories, fears, and other-worldly ambitions. Featuring Gloria Galvan, Brett Gustafson and Jessica Weiner and directed by Zombie Joe, with a riveting live musical score from Christopher Reiner. Saturdays at 11:00 pm, Feb. 28 - March 21. Tickets $15. Call (818) 202-4120 or go to ZombieJoes.Tix.com. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. ZombieJoes.com.

    A Conversation with Patricia Morison, a 100th Birthday Celebration, on Sunday March 15th has been relocated from Pasadena Playhouse to The University Club of Pasadena at 175 North Oakland Avenue, Pasadena, CA  91101. The special event honors Broadway legend Patricia Morison (the original star of Kiss Me, Kate). Tickets: (626) 737-2852 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

    Mary Goodchild as Maria Marten. Photo by Mike Ditz

    Independent Shakespeare Co. has announced a workshop production of Red Barn, a new musical play, March 13 – 29 at the Independent Studio in the Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex. The book is written by David Melville and Melissa Chalsma, original music and lyrics by David Melville and directed by Melissa Chalsma. The cast will feature Julia Aks, Joseph Culliton, Claudia de Vasco, Cristina Gerla, Mary Goodchild, Lexie Helgerson, Daniel Jimenez, David Melville, Alastair James Murden, and Ashley Nguyen. Musical Director is Dave Beukers. 3191 Casitas Ave., #168 in Atwater Village. Tickets: (818) 710-6306 or www.iscla.org. This production is not appropriate for young children.

    Bette and Wylie Aitken, Chance Theater dedication ceremony

    On Saturday, February 7, Chance Theater’s Board of Directors, staff and resident artists held a special event to honor their major capital campaign donors and give them a literal standing ovation. The guest of honor at the event was community leader, Bette Aitken, whose husband Wylie surprised her last year with a $250,000 gift to the Chance to name the theater’s new home after her, The Bette Aitken theatre arts Center. www.chancetheater.com

    L-R: Elizabeth Bouton, Anderson Piller, Patricia Butler and Catherine Rahm.
    Photo by Shawn K. Summerer

    Kentwood Players presents Mame directed by Ben Lupejkis with musical direction by Catherine Rahm and choreography by Lawrence Hatcher, March 13 - April 18. The cast includes Elizabeth Bouton, Erika Brauer, Mark Bruce-Casares, Patricia Butler (as Mame), David Callander, Sheridan Cole-Crawford, Harold Dershimer, Samuel Goldman, Thomas Guastavino, Lynn Gutstadt, Jessie Harrison, Lawrence Hatcher, George Kondreck, Ben Lupejkis, Roy T. Okida, Anderson Piller, Catherine Rahm, Janet Lee Rodriquez, and Brittany Sindicich. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Tickets: www.kentwoodplayers.org.

    CONCERTS: An encore performance of A Re-PETE Celebration: The Songs and Spirit of Pete Seeger will take place on march 28 at 1:00 pm at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Audiences are invited to sing along during this tribute to late singer/songwriter and activist Pete Seeger. Starring Geer family singers Peter Alsop, Ellen Geer, Melora Marshall, Willow Geer, Mat Polin, Earnestine Phillips and Gerald C. Rivers, with special guests Ross Altman, Brother Sun (Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor and Greg Greenway), Emma’s Revolution (Pat Humphries and Sandy O), Susie Glaze, James McVay and Stephen Michael Schwartz. 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga CA 90290 (midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway). Tickets; (310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com.


    Los Angeles Master Chorale showcases two compelling world premieres based on the theme of Ascension on Sunday, March 8, 7:00 pm at Walt Disney Concert Hall: Succession by Nackkum Paik and Songs of Ascent by composer in residence Shawn Kirchner. The program will also include Her Sacred Spirit Soars by Eric Whitacre and Fest und Gedenksprüche by Brahms. Artistic Director Grant Gershon will conduct. Tickets: (213) 972-7282, or www.lamc.org.   

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    Nellie (Alessa Neeck) and Emile (Christopher Carl).
    Photos by Caught in the Moment Photography

    Musical Theatre West’s production of South Pacific continues performances through March 1st at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The show features direction and choreography by Joe Langworth, who served as the associate choreographer of Lincoln Center Theater’s production, which earned a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival and a nomination for Best Choreography. The cast includes Alessa Neeck as Nellie Forbush and Christopher Carl as Emile DeBecque, Jodi Kimura (Bloody Mary), Patrick Cummings (Lt. Joseph Cable), Cailan Rose (Liat), Spencer Rowe (Luther Billis), Zach Appel, Brandon Balagot, Patrick Cummings, Cole Cuomo, Jay Donnell, Chaz Feuerstine, Marc Ginsberg, Peter Hargrave, Devin Hennessy, Chris Holly, Andrew Huber, Juliana Jurenas, Matthew  Kacergis, Kate McConaughy, Natalie MacDonald, Katharine Kelly McDonough, Ariel Neydavoud, Gemma Pederson, Melvin Ramsay, Spencer Rose, Tom Shelton, Amber Sky-Skipps, Adrian Smith,  Nikki Spies, and Sue Ellie Yaeger. Tickets: (562) 856-1999 x 4 or www.musical.org.


    The seabees explore exotic wonders

    Nellie (Alessa Neeck)

    Bloody Mary (Jodi Kimura)

    Liat (Cailan Rose) and Lt. Cable (Patrick Cummings) 

    Luther Billis (Spencer Rowe) and Nellie (Alessa Neeck) 

    Nellie (Alessa Neeck) and Emile (Christopher Carl) 

    Bloody Mary (Jodi Kimura) and Lt. Cable (Patrick Cummings)

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    On Thursday, February 19th, Valley Performing Arts Center brought the beauty and artistry of Les 7 doigts de la main to Southern California audiences in a one-night-only performance of Séquence 8. Breathtaking acrobatics, unexpected humor, and exciting innovation are the hallmarks of this mesmerizing piece of storytelling. This is the human connection revealed in all its glory by eight incredibly talented artists who use their unique abilities to reach into the hearts of the audience and fill them with pulsing emotion. It was nothing short of a magical night of wonder. The next time you have an opportunity to see them perform - go! You can check out the complete schedule of musical and theatrical performances at the gorgeous Valley Performing Arts Center at www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.  

    The artists of Séquence 8 included Tom Ammirati, Eric Bates, Guillaume Biron, Ugo Dario, Colin Davis, Devin Henderson, Maxim Laurin, Camille Legris, Tristan Nielsen, and Alexandria Royer.


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    Sara Stuckey, Gabriel Kalomas, Jessie Withers and David Zack.
    Photos by Rich Clark

    A tastefully elegant production of Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever brings the duo’s beautiful and thought-provoking songs to life in the intimate performance space at Hollywood Piano in Burbank. It’s a co-production between Good People Theater Company and Hollywood Piano; a partnership that means the audience gets the rare opportunity to hear the score played on a gorgeous 9½ foot Mason & Hamlin grand piano. That’s a luxury most 99-seat theatre productions can’t afford which makes it all the more satisfying to be able to experience it up close in a room with great acoustics and the incredibly talented Corey Hirsch making it sing.

    Closer Than Ever is a musical revue that plays like an ensemble cabaret show without the connecting patter, and although it first debuted Off-Broadway in 1989, it isn’t a tired walk down memory lane. Rather, it is a timeless treatment of the thoughts and emotions that people experience in the course of a lifetime - love, loss, regret, aging, and the friendships that endure - in a relatable context for today.

    In true Maltby/Shire fashion, the songs are the star. Each one is a self-contained story that is fully satisfying on its own. Put them all together and they have even more impact. Often both humor and pain exist side by side, as in the urban love story “She Loves Me Not,” in which a trio (Jessie Withers, David Zack and Gabriel Kalomas) sings of unrequited love. The fragile lyric artfully wraps itself around the three singers in a most poignant fashion and the effect is stunning.

    Director Janet Miller keeps the storytelling simple and direct while layering in subtext with a delicate hand. In this type of intimate venue its all about what you can see in the actors eyes while allowing the abrupt shifts in tone to lift the comedy and let it surprise the audience. Under Miller and musical director Hirschs guidance, the company easily succeeds, blending four unique voices into a lovely ensemble with each actor still retaining his or her own personality.

    Zack is the pop tenor whose best number is One of the Good Guys. He allows the storys narrative to reveal its quiet drama without overplaying his hand, while Kalomas has a more classical presence but also does some great comic sparring with Sara Stuckey in the hilarious break-up song You Wanna Be My Friend and the poignantly funny There about a couples disintegrating relationship. Stuckeys natural sweetness is perfect for Miss Byrd, which she delivers with a knowing wink. Stuckey also shines in the conversational songs that deal with more serious topics like Life Story where she considers the choices shes made and Its Never That Easy/Ive Been Here Before, a girl talk medley with Withers about relationships.

    The clear standout performance however is Withers in what has always been my favorite song in the show, Patterns. Her interpretation is full of nuance and you can see the thoughts and images flicker across her face and vanish almost as quickly as they appear. From a whisper to a roar, hers is a rich vocal instrument that cuts through with clarity and a unique resonance that picks up overtones from the piano that ring in the air. Listen for it in the song and youll hear it almost like an echo vibrating between the musical phrases. It really is quite a wonderful surprise.

    She too has a way with comedy, as you’ll hear in “The Bear, the Tiger, the Hamster and the Mole,” a song that had been cut from Maltby & Shire’s musical, Baby, that would be the impetus for the writers to create Closer Than Ever. In “Back on Base” she turns up the heat with Jordan Lamoureux (at this performance) on upright bass in a jazzy arrangement that sizzles with intensity and provides plenty of opportunity to do some sensual scatting.

    All in all, this is an elegant two hour evening of storytelling through song that is as musically satisfying a production as youll find anywhere in LA. Catch it now through March 15th.








    CLOSER THAN EVER
    February 21 - March 15, 2015

    Good People Theater Company
    Hollywood Piano
    323 North Front Street, Burbank, CA 91502
    Tickets: http://goodpeopletheaterco.org
    Free parking in the Burbank Metro Lot

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    Pre-show: A Noise Within's The Threepenny Opera. Scenic Design by Frederica
    Nascimento. Lighting Design by Ken Booth, Scenic Painter: Orlando de la Paz.
    Photo by Musicals in LA

    The first thing you notice when you step into the theater for A Noise Within’s The Threepenny Opera is Frederica Nascimento’s stunningly vivid set design. It’s a deconstruction in which none of the elements are hidden: lighting instruments are in plain sight; pieces of scenery hang suggestively from the rails but without trying to make a complete picture; furniture litters the upstage areas and props are scattered about; the band is in plain view tuning up on one side and actors in rags are already roaming the audience.

    It’s an immediate in-your-face blow to the forehead to sit up and pay attention for the kind of theatre you are about to see is not meant to whisk you away to a fantasy land where you get lost in a fictional story but instead insists that you as an audience member will never forget you are watching a play.

    Andrew Ableson (Macheath) and Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum).
    Photos by Craig Schwartz ©2015

    Brechtian theatre, or epic theatre as it is also called, is named after Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and many of its revolutionary elements are still employed by theatre companies today. A lifelong Marxist, Brecht intentionally experimented with theatre as a political medium. He wanted to use it to educate audiences by making them think rather than merely entertaining them. Together with composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950), he would write perhaps his most popular work, The Threepenny Opera, which was a turning point in musical theatre in the early part of the twentieth century.

    The Threepenny Opera is based on John Gay’s 18th Century The Beggar’s Opera, which also satirized politics, as well as the favorite musical art form of the day, Italian opera. The scenes are episodic, with songs often announced by an actor carrying a large handwritten placard in directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliot and Geoff Elliott’s staging. These musical interludes are meant to interrupt the action and are conveniently titled so there is no doubt as to what they are (e.g. - Love Song, Wedding Song, Pimp’s Ballad, Song of Futility, Jealousy Duet) and how you’re meant to observe them. A Noise Within’s revival nails the stylistic characteristics of the piece, not the least of which is its overriding sense of detachment. There is a moral here but it is delivered in a very unique manner. 

    It’s Berlin in the Weimar era and Peachum (Geoff Elliott) is in the pity business, preying upon the rich by hiring phony beggars to steal all they can in order to pad his pockets. When his daughter Polly (Marisa Duchowny) runs away and marries the charismatic criminal Macheath (Andrew Ableson), Peachum loses all control over her and vows to have Macheath jailed and out of his way for good. But Mackie’s friend Tiger Brown (Jeremy Rabb) is the police chief and Brown succeeds in keeping his old friend out of jail. Well, until he can’t, and although things may look dicey for Mackie mid-way through, by the time the final brilliantly-written scene plays out and the unlikely ending falls into place, Brecht makes his point and it’s up to the audience to ponder the takeaway.

    The cast is excellent, from Elliott and Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum) as the greedy emblems of a dog eat dog world to Ableson, who cuts a pointedly angular figure as the anti-hero, Macheath. In a show where voices don’t necessarily need to be beautiful to be effective, the fact that he sings well is an added plus. As Polly, the lovely Duchowny is a bedraggled child bride who drags an actual baby doll around the stage wherever she goes. Her twist on the character is the freshest interpretation I’ve seen of the role and a reinvention that is as comic as it is pathetic. She goes from petulant young waif to spitfire den mother of Macheath’s band of thieves in the blink of an eye and is the best of many reasons for you to see this production. Stasha Surdyke balances smoky sensuality with sad inevitability for prostitute Jenny Diver, the role Lotte Lenya originated in Germany and won a Tony Award for on Broadway, and Maegan McConnell adds a viciously comic edge to the conniving Lucy Brown. 

    Weill’s score was originally presented by 7 musicians covering 23 instrumental parts and music director DeReau K. Farrar conducts his 7-piece orchestra for A Noise Within presumably to those original specifications. What I can tell you is that they sound great on the difficult music which is a direct departure from the traditions of grand opera and includes the freer elements of jazz, British music hall tunes, and Weill’s characteristic sound-scapes. Gieselle Blair’s stylized make-up design, accentuated by heavy black eyebrows, deep red lips, and white face powder, captures the decadence and eroticism of the 1920’s Berlin cabaret scene with a humorous flair. 

    he Threepenny Opera popularity with audiences and the fact that it is rarely done has proved advantageous for A Noise Within, who announced an extension even before it opened. Intended for the masses and written to elicit a thoughtful response regarding the inequities of society, this is a revival that is worthy of your time and strong enough to leave a lasting impression. See it!

    From the Merriam Webster Dictionary:  Threepenny -- adjective
    1. costing or worth three British pennies (threepence)  2. poor

    Andrew Ableson (Macheath), Jeremy Rabb (Tiger Brown), and
    Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum)

    Stasha Surdyke (Jenny Diver) and Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum)

    The Ensemble of The Threepenny Opera

    Andrew Ableson (Macheath) and Ensemble

    The ensemble with Andrew Ableson (Macheath) 

    Marisa Duchowny as Polly Peachum

    Stasha Surdyke as Jenny Diver

    Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum), Andrew Ableson (Macheath), and
    Abubakr Ali (Crook-Fingered Jack) 

    THE THREEPENNY OPERA

    February 15 - May 17, 2015
    A Noise Within
    East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
    Tickets: (626) 356-3100 or www.anoisewithin.org

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    Matt DeCaro (center) with the cast of the Goodman Theatre production
    of The White Snake.Photo by Liz Lauren.

    MUSICAL NEWS: Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman will make her long-awaited San Diego directing debut with an enchanting theatrical spectacle with live music and sumptuous visuals, The White Snake. The Southern California premiere of The White Snake, written and directed by Zimmerman, will run March 21 - April 26 (opening 3/26). In this visionary staging of a classic Chinese fable, a gentle serpent transforms into a beautiful woman. She falls in love with a dashing young man and decides to stay human forever, until a wicked monk discovers her true identity and vows to destroy her. This nearly 2,000 year-old Chinese fable has been reimagined throughout the centuries and appears in the legends of many cultures. Featured in the cast are Amy Kim Waschke as the White Snake, with Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake), Jon Norman Schneider (Xu Xian), and Matt DeCaro (Fa Hai). The ensemble also includes Dan Lin (Boatman), Stephenie Soohyun Park (Guan Yin), Eliza Shin (Acolyte), Shannon Tyo (Crane), Kristin Villanueva (Sister), Gary Wingert (Canopus), and Wai Yim (Brother-in-Law); and musicians Tessa Brinckman (Flutes), Ronnie Malley(Strings/Percussion), and Michal Palzewicz (Cello). Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or www.TheOldGlobe.org.

    The cast of Putting It Together

    The musical revue Putting It Together will play ten performances at Sierra Madre Playhouse March 13 – 28. Directed and choreographed by Cate Caplin, with musical direction by Jake Anthony, the show is produced by Christian Lebano, Estelle Campbell and Alison Kalmus. Three men and two women at a Manhattan cocktail party provide the framework for a dazzling revue of nearly thirty Sondheim musical numbers performed by Kurt Andrew Hansen, Rachel Hirshee, Mike Irizarry, Chris Kerrigan and Kristin Towers-Rowles. At Saturday matinees, the cast will include David Callander, Michael D’Elia, Rachel Hirshee, Kayre Morrison and Jake Novak. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. Putting It Together runs in repertory with the musical Einstein Is A Dummy which opens March 6.

    Einstein Is A Dummy is a fictional treatment of what the young genius Albert Einstein might have been like at age 12. Unsure of himself, competing with the classroom bully, coping with a self-centered jerk of a music teacher, hoping to impress his first crush: a pretty girl named Elsa. In other words, Albert is in many ways a typical 12-year-old; typical except for the fact that he comes to understand the fundamental principles of existence with far more clarity than you or me. The musical features book & lyrics by Karen Zacarias, music & musical direction by Deborah Wicks La Puma. It is directed by Derek Manson; choreographed by Zakiya Alta Lee and produced by Estelle Campbell, Christian Lebano and Amanda Weier. The show runs March 6 - April 12 and is double-cast. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.


    OPERA: Jake Heggie & Terrence NcNally’s Dead Man Walking comes to The Broad Stage March 7 & 8. Relive the story of Sister Helen Prejean’s experience with death row inmates that became a best-selling book, award-winning film, and one of the most performed operas of our time. This re-orchestrated concert version by Opera Parallèle captures the timeless relevance of the story in a dramatic musical setting. From its shocking beginning to its emotionally searing final scene, this opera changes everyone who encounters it. Tickets and more information: www.thebroadstage.com.


    Pacific Opera Project boldly goes where no opera company has gone before in a Star Trek-themed production of Abduction from the Seraglio at the El Portal Theatre March 6, 7 & 8. POP puts their zany spin on Mozart’s kidnapping caper by setting it in space...the final frontier. Klingons, slave girls, and all your favorite characters from the original Star Trek series sing and dance their way through Abduction with a 27-piece orchestra and a new English libretto by artistic director Josh Shaw. The cast includes Brian Cheney as Captain James T. Belmonte, Robert Norman as the Spock-like Mr. Pedrillo, Shawnette Sulker (Ltn. Constanza), Claire Averill (Blondie the Orion Slave Girl), Phil Meyer (the evil Klingon Osmin), Gregg Lawrence (Chancellor Selim), and a chorus of 30 dancing slave girls and singing Klingons. Tickets: (818) 508-4200 or www.pacificoperaproject.com.

    Ludmilla Tchérina in The Tales of Hoffman (1951).
    Photo courtesy of Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal

    You can catch the new 4K digital restoration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1951 Technicolor extravaganza The Tales of Hoffman March 13-19 at Cinefamily on Fairfax. Long acknowledged as the most artistically brilliant creative partnership in British film history, Powell and Pressburger collaborated for over 30 years on some of the most beautifully-conceived color films of all time, including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and A Matter of Life and Death. Based on the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffman is an anthology of fantastic and romantic adventures, starring The Red Shoes’Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tchérina. This restoration, supervised by Powell's wife and Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, is the most complete, crisp and beautiful version ever released in this country. Click Here for tickets and showtimes.

    From the writer and director of The Pliant Girls comes The Discord Altar, a new contemporary opera with libretto by Meghan Brown, directed by Amanda McRaven with musical direction by Ann Baltz, and music improvised by the company. Produced by OperaWorks in association with The Fugitive Kind Theatre, the production will have its world premiere at Secret Rose Theatre April 10 - May 3. This is the first in a series of proposed productions from OperaWorks’ ASAP, the Arts for Social Awareness Project, an ambitious undertaking seeking to raise consciousness regarding social issues. The Discord Altar examines homelessness through its small cast of characters.


    David has died, succumbing to the ravages that his addictions had wreaked upon his health.  A brilliant voice teacher, during his life on the skids, his students were a small group of homeless young people. Now they have gathered to memorialize him. They’re joined by one of their number who escaped poverty and went on to achieve a successful career in the mainstream; and also by David’s embittered daughter, who considers that he abandoned his family. The cast includes Babatunde Akinboboye, Julia Aks, James Hayden, Anjelica McRae, Vincent Robles, Alina Roitstein and Annie Sherman. Musicians: Ann Baltz and Ray Salas. Tickets: (818) 898-9597 or www.operaworks.org/asap. 

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    Valley Performing Arts Center will present Disney FANTASIA – Live in Concert on Sunday March 29 at 1:00 pm so families can easily attend. With this presentation, Disney shares one of its crown jewels of feature animation with the CSUN Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Roscigno, accompanying scenes from Walt Disney’s original FANTASIA (1940) and Disney FANTASIA 2000. The show highlights a selection of the magnificent repertoire from both films including TchaikovskyThe Nutcracker Suite and other iconic moments of Disney’s stunning footage, such as Mickey Mouse as he dabbles in magic to Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the mythical unicorns and winged horses that accompany Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, all performed live while the animation classics scroll in high definition on the big screen. Click Here for tickets and to view the complete repertoire on the program.

    Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced the final two concerts of Molly Ringwald’s west coast tour on Sunday, March 8 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Long before for her starring roles in such films as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald was singing. She began performing with her father’s jazz band when she was only three years old and has never stopped. The shows at Catalina will return her to those early roots as she performs a mix of songs from her new CD Except Sometimes along with beloved hits from the Great American Songbook. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.TicketWeb.com. Purchases made before March 1st receive $5 off and online purchases will receive priority seating. www.ChrisIsaacsonPresents.com

    A Little New Music returns to Rockwell Tuesday March 10 at 8:00 pm hosted by Jordan Kai Burnett with music director Bryan Blaskie. The evening will showcase songs by Jeff Marx, Doug Katsaros & Amanda Yesnowitz, Brett Ryback, Rosser & Sohne, Zoe Sarnak, Andrew Gerle, Sam Salmond, Erik Przytulski, Brett Macias, Daniel Maté, Tepper & Sunshine and Andy Cooper, with performances by Brett Ryback, Colette Hawley, Sandra Benton, Robin DeLano, LaVance Colley, Kirsten Benton Chandler, Christina Morrell, Darren Bluestone, Cassandra Nuss, Emily Clark, Christopher Venegas, Jordan Kai Burnett, and more, plus the casts of Serrano, Recorded in Hollywood and Home Street Home. Tickets: (323) 661-6263 or www.rockwell-la.com. For more information visit www.alittlenewmusic.org.

    Fraser Entertainment Group is back with An Evening of Classic Broadway on March 16. Musical director Brad Ellis leads a cast that includes Eileen Barnett, Zachary Ford, Jennifer Foster, Julie Garnye, Todd Murray, Kyra Selman, Robyn Spangler and more, with host Billy Riback. Tickets: wwwrockwell-la.com.

    Additional Rockwell Table & Stageupcoming events include:
    March 2: Emily Skinner in Concert 
    March 3: The Hollywood Jane Revue in Rack to the Future “A Burlesque Parody
    March 5: Steve Kazee Live
    Fri/Sat 3/6 - 28: Romeo + Juliet: Love is a Battlefield
    March 9: Nicole Parker as Jillane Jenkins in Suitcase Full of Lies
    March 15: Daisy and Jordan’s Brunch of Shame
    March 17: John Buccino Live
    March 31: Jake Broder in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley
    For a complete list of all the events playing at Rockwell go to www.rockwell-la.com.

    Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sunday, March 8 at 7:00 pm. Performers include Stan Chandler, Kevin Earley, Kimberly Hessler, Kelli Provart, and Adrienne Visnic with special guests Sue Raney (with Shelly Markham) and Bruce Vilanch. Lloyd Cooper is music director. Reservations: (800) 832 3006 or Click Here.

    Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation continues its 2015 Season with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday, March 27 at 8:00 pm. Known for their big-band, swing revival sound, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s hits include “Go Daddy-O,” “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.” Tickets: www.Arcadiapaf.org. The theatre is at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007.

    The cast has been announced for Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event’s 31st annual gala, To Broadway, From Hollywood….With Love which takes place on May 9th at the Saban Theatre. Scheduled to appear are Loni Anderson, Obba Babatunde, Adrienne Baron, Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, James Darren, Loretta Devine, Nancy Dussault, David Engel, Barbara Eden, Julie Garnye, Thea Gill, Jason Graae, Gregory Harrison, Sally Kellerman, Jon Maher, Melissa Manchester, Pat Marshall, James McMullan, Patricia Morison, Robert Morse, Donna Pescow, Jake Simpson, Sally Struthers, Donna Theodore, Lisa Vroman and Adam Wylie. David Galligan directs with Brad Ellis serving as musical director for his first time. The event raises critical funds for AIDS Project Los Angeles. www.stagela.com

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    Emily Lopez in rehearsal for Carrie the Musical
    Photo by Ann B. Taylor

    One of the most highly anticipated productions in LA is the upcoming revival of Carrie the Musical opening March 18 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Word has it that the performance will take place all over the theater in what will be a truly immersive experience. Based on the unforgettable Stephen King horror novel, the revival reunites the original creative team: bookwriter Lawrence D. Cohen (screenwriter of the classic film) who has revised the book, lyricist Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose), and composer Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment). Carrie has always been the kind of story that prompts a strong reaction. People who love it, really love it. As for those of us in the musical theatre community - we can’t wait to see what happens at this high school prom.

    Today we get a first look at the actress playing the title character, Emily Lopez, as she talks about high school, auditioning for Carrie, and that blue prom dress.

    Everyone has horror stories from high school and in some way I think we can all identify with Carrie. What do you bring to the role from your high school experience?

    The most terrifying thing about high school for me was that there was no way out. You really just had to grin and bear it. I consider myself very lucky because I had the opportunity to graduate early so I could focus on music and theater full time. Most teenagers only have two worlds to exist in - home and school. That’s horrific enough without any pig’s blood or telekinesis. My high school literally had barbed wire on the fences, so I’m not exaggerating when I say I felt like a prisoner.
     

    I heard you broke into your high school to record your audition. Is that true and where did the idea come from?

    I got a late night call from Tal Fox saying the casting team liked my first audition tape, and wanted to see a new video where I would perform The Destruction sequence. They asked that I wear something less baggy than what I had worn in my first video, and last but not least they need the video by 9:00 am the next morning! So I woke up early the next day, packed up a pretty blue prom dress that I hadn’t had the occasion to wear until that morning, and headed out trying to find a quiet place to record. Lucky for me, there is a beautiful old high school gym that sits completely empty and unused just a block or two away from where I was living. So I tried a few doors until I found one that was unlocked, sang through it twice, and taped it on the third go. Then I got out of there as quickly as possibly because I would not survive the American prison system.

    Were you familiar with the musical or the film before these auditions came up? Why did you want to be part of the show?

    I auditioned for the show at the open call two years ago, but I ran out of gas on the way and had $1.35 in my bank account. I called my mom sobbing, telling her I knew that this was a sign that I shouldn’t go and it was time for me to give up and try something else. She calmed me down, sent me some money for gas and food, then before she hung up she told me that if I believe in what I’m doing and never give up on it, it will eventually work out one way or another. I wanted to do Carrie because I feel that the cast, crew and creative team are all living proof that my mother was right. There is a tangible feeling in the air that we are all in the right place at the right time.

    What do you love most about working on it?

    This is the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. Musically, emotionally, every aspect is unrelenting in what it’s asking of the cast. I can’t get enough of it. I’ve always said that I love doing theater because I love playing pretend, but this is so much more than that. It’s completely immersive so it’s more like living the story than pretending it. I feel so lucky to get to be a part of this.

    It sounds like youre prepared for this moment.

    I grew up doing Community Theater and continued to perform, audition, and work in theater locally in the Inland Empire. I’ve been fortunate enough to always find myself surrounded by an incredibly supportive community of artists, friends, and out of the box thinkers. There are so many amazing directors, musicians, writers, and actors in the San Bernardino/Riverside area. I consider everything I learned and gained from working and collaborating with those artists I’ve known to be my true experience more than the roles I’ve played.

    *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

    CARRIE THE MUSICAL
    Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
    Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
    Based on the Classic Horror Novel by Stephen King
    Directed by Brady Schwind

    Cast: Emily Lopez as Carrie White, Misty Cotton as Margaret White, with Kayla Parker (Sue Snell), Jon Robert Hall (Tommy Ross), Valerie Rose Curiel (Chris Hargensen), Jenelle Lynn Randall (Miss Gardner), Garrett Marshall (Billy Nolan), Bryan Dobson (Mr. Stephens and Reverend Bliss), Michael Starr (George Dawson), Adante Carter (Dale “Stokes” Ullman), Ian Littleworth (Freddy “The Beak” Holt), Kimberly Ann Steele (Helen Shyres), Rachel Farr (Norma Watson), Teya Patt (Frieda Jason) and Carly Bracco, Lyle Colby Mackston, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Chris Meissner and Amy Segal.

    Performance Dates: March 12 – April 5, 2015 with opening night set for Wednesday, March 18 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available at www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student and Senior discounts are available. For more information on the production, visit www.experiencecarrie.com.

    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.

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    MUSICAL NEWS: Sixth Avenue has announced I♥99 The Musical!, a one-night-only cabaret event to save Los Angeles intimate theatre on Tuesday, March 10 at 8:00 pm at Akbar in Silver Lake. Produced by Adam Silver and directed by Daniel Henning, the cast will feature Tisha Terrasini Banker, Burglars of Hamm, Parvesh Cheena, Deborah S. Craig, Drew Droege, Daisy Eagan, Tom Lenk, Constance Jewell Lopez, Amy Pietz, French Stewart, Jeffrey Todd, Kirsten Vangsness, and more to be announced. Pro99 is a collection of thousands of individual theatrical artists that have become a community choosing to work in intimate theatres (under 99 seats) in Los Angeles. The community includes professional actors, directors, writers, designers, stage managers, and producers who believe they have the right to perform their crafts in an intimate and non-commercial setting and volunteer their talents in search of creative fulfillment. To learn more go to www.ILove99.org. Admission is free, but reservations are strongly advised at www.6avenue.org. Akbar is located at 4356 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

    Zombie Joes Underground Theatre Group proudly presents Bedlam Explosivo Variety Hour, their all-new high-octane caburleque spectacular, busting-at-the-seams with magic, music and mayhem. Directed by Sebastian Munoz and produced by Zombie Joe, the show runs Saturdays at 8:30 pm March 7 – 28 at ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets: $15. For reservations call (818) 202-4120 or go to ZombieJoes.Tix.com. For more information visit their website at ZombieJoes.com.

    The world premiere of Recorded in Hollywood will play the Lillian Theatre April 11 – May 17. In 1948, a decade before Motown, black businessman and entrepreneur John Dolphin opened his soon-to-be world famous Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store in South Los Angeles, just off legendary Central Avenue. Recorded in Hollywood brings this little-known slice of L.A. history to life in a new musical featuring a live on-stage band and a 19-member ensemble, Recorded in Hollywood, based on the biography “Recorded in Hollywood: The John Dolphin Story” by Jamelle Dolphin, features a book by Matt Donnelly and Jamelle Dolphin. The score includes 16 original songs by Andy Cooper plus covers of hit songs launched by Dolphin in his store, including Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” The Penguins’ “Earth Angel” and “Wheel Of Fortune” by The Hollywood Flames. Four-time NAACP Best Director recipient Denise Dowse directs; musical direction is by Stephan Terry and choreography is by Cassie Crump.

    The cast includes Stu James (“Lovin’” John Dolphin), Jade Johnson (Ruth), Eric B. Anthony (Percy Ivy), Godfrey Moye (Sam Cooke), Nic Olsen (Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg), Rahsaan Patterson (Leon Washington), and Nic Hodges (Jesse Belvin), with Brooke Brewer, Justin Cowden, John Devereaux, Richie Ferris, Jenna Gillespie, Franklin Grace, Philip Dean Lightstone, Jake Novak, James Simenc, Matthew Sims, Jr., Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield and Katherine Washington. Tickets: (323) 960-4443 or www.RecordedInHollywood.com.

    Tax Review Productions presents the world premiere musical parody Loopholes, A Pain In The I.R.S, by Stan Rich, directed by Kiff Scholl, April 15 – May 17 at The Hudson MainStage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, 90038. (Previews on 4/10, 11 & 12). Based on a true story, Loopholes is the ultimate David and Goliath tale of a man who, despite having his entire net worth threatened, actually uncovered loopholes -- allowing him to have the last laugh at the United States’ most hated government agency, the Internal Revenue Service. Featuring Caryn Richman [pictured right] and Perry Lambert with additional cast members TBA. Running time is 90 minutes. Tickets: (323) 960-7735 or www.plays411.com/loopholes. For more about the show, go to www.loopholesthemusical.com.

    New theatre company Little Tree Theatre teams up with ClownMa dell'Arte for the world premiere of The Moon, The Sun & The Empty Space March 6, 7 & 8. Join them on a powerful theatrical journey featuring music, movement, mask, shadow play and puppetry where the audience members are the storytellers. Performance will takes place at The Long Beach Playhouse upstairs in the Studio Theater, 5021 E. Anaheim Street, Long Beach CA, 90804. Click Here for tickets.
    BENEFITS:McCoy Rigby Entertainment has announced today a special benefit evening for their McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts, Step In Time, a memorable night of great performances, gourmet food and drink, silent auction and many wonderful surprises on Friday, March 20, 2015 (with cocktails and silent auction beginning at 6pm; dinner and performances beginning at 7pm) at the Richard Nixon Library, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. in Yorba Linda. The evening will feature performances from Jonathan Platero from “So You think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With The Stars” and his wife and dance partner Oksana Dymetrenko. There will also be performances from Cathy Rigby and the cast of Seussical The Musical [pictured right] and Vicki Lewis and the Ballet Girls performing Shine from Billy Elliot The Musical, with additional surprises to be announced. Click Here for tickets or call (714) 779-3545 x 18.

    The ALS Association Golden West Chapter presents One Starry Night, from Broadway to Hollywood, a special performance dedicated to conquering ALS produced by Juliana Hansen, Melissa Verdugo, Jonathan White and Patrick McMinn at the Pasadena Playhouse on Monday, April 20. The show is written and directed by Bruce Kimmel with music direction and orchestrations by Richard Allen and the evening will also include a silent auction and VIP post-show meet-and-greet. Proceeds will provide critical funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS. Click Here for more information.

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    Last week we introduced you to Emily Lopez, soon to be playing Carrie in the revival of Carrie the Musical at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Today we meet Misty Cotton, the other powerhouse actor who will be leading the cast as the mother of all mothers, Margaret White. Misty appeared on Broadway as Ellen in Miss Saigon and also originated the role of Missy in Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes, playing it Off-Broadway and in numerous regional theaters around the country. The petite actress with the big voice has also toured in Les Misérables and starred opposite Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She most recently appeared in The Troubadour Theatre Company’s production of The Snow QUEEN in Los Angeles.

    A day off from rehearsals gave Misty a chance to catch her breath and tell us a little about her road to Carrie and what it’s like stepping into this iconic role.

    Was there anything unusual about how you were cast or was it a straight ahead audition situation?

    It was a pretty normal audition situation however my first time auditioning for this creative team was about a year and a half ago when they were first going to produce it. Then I got called in for it when this co-production with La Mirada was seeing people. Interestingly though, I had auditioned for the Off-Broadway production after having worked with the director Stafford Arima on Miss Saigon at Sacramento Music Circus. He thought I was right for it and had me come to N.Y. and audition. So I have been aware of this new version and the material for a while.

    Carrie is based on Stephen King’s well-known horror novel and even if people don’t know the musical they definitely know the Brian de Palma film with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (who was downright scary!) Does that present any specific challenges for you in creating your version of the character?

    Piper is not only scary but genius in the role! It earned her an academy award nomination. I actually had the pleasure of working with her last winter on a production of A Little Night Music at The Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara. She’s an amazing lady and is really looking forward to seeing this production. The biggest challenge is coming to terms with the fact that this can’t be like the movie. The role is written differently for the musical and many of what would be dialogue scenes for me are now songs. There’s actually one scene where it’s a bit of a hybrid of two scenes in the film. The roles in the movie have become so iconic that the challenge is to make the role my own with what is written for the musical. People shouldn’t expect to see the movie on stage. That being said, the hashtag for the show is #experiencecarrieso they are sure to experience things that they only can in this live version. 

    The show deals with all kinds of high school issues: bullying, peer pressure, religion, suppression… How does this revival handle them, and are they all secondary to the fact that it is a “horror” story? 

    From what I understand, in the 2012 Off-Broadway production they really shone a light on the bullying aspect of the story. I have been able to watch some of the scenes with Carrie being bullied and it is just heartbreaking. It gives the story a conscience and heart. I’ve always felt Carrie was so much more than a horror story. To me it’s more a psychological thriller dealing with many issues. 

    Would you talk a little about the style of music in this revival? Does it lean more toward rock or does it vary based on who is singing?

    I wouldn’t call the music rock but more pop. At least some of it. Magaret’s music is very different stylistically compared to what the high school kids sing. She is in a different world so it makes sense that her music would reflect that. I really love listening to this score. I mean look at the pedigree of the award winning creators [Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford]. They know how to write a song!

    Other than the obvious, why did you want to be part of the show?

    It just isn’t every day you get to play a character like this. It isn’t every day you get to have the lyricist, Dean Pitchford, come to rehearsal and give you firsthand gems of why something was written and how you can use it. It’s a show that has musical theatre cult status and is making its Los Angeles Premiere so that doesn’t happen every day either. This show hadn’t been licensed for over 25 years since it closed on Broadway so this amazing character of Margaret has not only been a coveted role, but one not played by many. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do so. 

    What has been the biggest surprise for you as you’ve gotten further into rehearsals?

    Margaret’s got to be in shape! The first number out of the gate really is a heart rate raiser. I guess the creative team told the director Brady Schwind to make sure he cast a Margaret who could handle physicality. I’m answering this while I’m at the gym on a treadmill. 

    By the way, do you like scary stories?

    I do like scary stories. I tend to like more psychological horror than blood and guts. But that can be fun too. 

    * * * * * * * * *
    CARRIE THE MUSICAL
    Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
    Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
    Based on the Classic Horror Novel by Stephen King
    Directed by Brady Schwind

    Cast: Emily Lopez as Carrie White, Misty Cotton as Margaret White, with Kayla Parker (Sue Snell), Jon Robert Hall (Tommy Ross), Valerie Rose Curiel (Chris Hargensen), Jenelle Lynn Randall (Miss Gardner), Garrett Marshall (Billy Nolan), Bryan Dobson (Mr. Stephens and Reverend Bliss), Michael Starr (George Dawson), Adante Carter (Dale Stokes Ullman), Ian Littleworth (Freddy “The Beak” Holt), Kimberly Ann Steele (Helen Shyres), Rachel Farr (Norma Watson), Teya Patt (Frieda Jason) and Carly Bracco, Lyle Colby Mackston, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Chris Meissner and Amy Segal.


    The creative team includes Stephen Gifford (set), Adriana Lambarri (costumes), Brian Gale (lights), Cricket S. Myers (sound), Jim Steinmeyer (illusion design), Brian Kennedy (music director/conductor), Adam Wachter (music supervisor), Michael Donovan (casting), and Buck Mason (general manager). The Production Stage Manager is Heidi Westrom.


    Carrie the Musical is produced by La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (Brian Kite, Producing Artistic Director), Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, and The Transfer Group; Associate Producers: Joe Everett Michaels, Robb Nanus, Lisa Reich, Jane Lynch.


    Performance Dates: March 12 - April 5, 2015 with opening night set for Wednesday, March 18 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available at www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student and Senior discounts are available. For more information on the production, visit www.experiencecarrie.com.


    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.


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    CABARET/CONCERT NEWS: Conundrum Theatre Company announces a monthly showcase beginning Tuesday, March 10 at 8:00 pm at The Stage, 546 S. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, CA 91501. The first performance is a concert reading featuring selections from Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice’s Chess. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7:00. Tickets: www.conundrumtheatreco.com.

    NEW VOICES PROJECT:If you’re under the age of 26, and you’re writing for musical theatre, here’s a search for you. New Musicals Inc. in Los Angeles is sponsoring its third annual New Voices Project, in which young playwrights, composers and lyricists receive workshops and concerts of their work, with feedback sessions from executives from Walt Disney Imagineering and New Musicals Inc. Selected finalists will have their work presented as part of the prestigious Stages Musical Theatre Festival in Los Angeles in Summer 2015. You may submit up to three selections, either from a single work, or separate works, for a total of 20 minutes of material at http://nmi.org/develop/new-voices-project/.


    The staff of New Musicals Inc. selects up to a dozen writers’ works to present to executives at Walt Disney Imagineering. The finalists’ work will be presented in concert at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, as part of a showcase, got musical, which features highlights of musicals in development at NMI. Following the showcase, writers will receive feedback on their work, with an opportunity to rewrite and resubmit in time for inclusion in Stages Musical Theatre Festival. Three writers were selected in 2014: Danny Bernstein, Santino DeAngelo, and Zack Zadek. Bernstein’s musical, Far From Canterbury, earned him Cornell University’s Undergraduate Artist of the Year. Zadek’s musical, 6, was featured as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. DeAngelo’s musical has recently been selected as a 2015 Next Link production in the New York Musical Theater Festival.


    SHOW SEARCH:The Festival of New American Musicals and the University of California, Irvine have announced the launch of a nationwide search for new, short musicals created by writers between the ages of 14 – 23. The entry deadline is June 15. Six musicals will be chosen as finalists: three from high school writing teams (age 14 – 17) and three from college writing teams (age 18 – 23). Each team of finalists will be paired with a professional mentor to help develop their musical. 2015 mentors will include Adam Gwon, David Zippel, David Shire, and Jeff Marx. In August, finalists will be flown to Southern California where they will participate in rehearsals and receive further career mentoring in the form of master classes and industry meetings. The finalists will also receive financial scholarships to continue their development as writers. For submission guidelines, visit www.lafestival.org/showsearch.html.



    DOING GOOD: The I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles is hosting its Annual Dreamer Dinner, honoring champions of education in the Los Angeles area.  The event will take place on Sunday, March 8 at 5:00 pm at the Skirball Cultural Center. Honorees include Chris Selak, Bradley Bredeweg & Peter Paige, Jerry Fink & David Kim, and Jason Collins.  Presenters for the evening include Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs and Rosie O’Donnell. IHADLA helps at-risk youth and their families become empowered members of society by providing a long-term program of academic enhancement, mentoring, tutoring and cultural enrichment with an assured opportunity for a scholarship for higher education. Tickets: www.ihadla.org.



    The folks at Polish Your Passion (www.pypnyc.com) have a free offer for you. They are launching the first national campaign of #TonyShine, an online effort to benefit the Tony Awards® and Carnegie Mellon University’s #NominateMyTeacher search for the inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Students can submit a draft of the “Tell Us the Story” portion of their teacher nomination in video or essay format before March 25, and Polish Your Passion will send their #TonyShine video feedback for free. Give them a listen.

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    A luscious new 4K digital restoration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1951 Technicolor film Tales of Hoffman (in English) will be screened at The Cinefamily, March 13 - 19. This new restoration is supervised by Martin Scorsese and Oscar winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, wife of director Powell and Scorsese’s longtime film editor, and contains eight minutes of never before seen footage along with newly restored footage not seen since the 1951 release.

    Based on the fanciful 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach, it stars The Red Shoes’Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tchérina. Each shot is inspired by the music, as stunning visual effects make the highly theatrical story pulse with life. Scorsese was obsessed with Powell and Pressburger’s film, saying it was a major influence on his editing of Raging Bull.

    Hoffman, a poet, tells the tale of three lost loves to his friends in a bar one night. In the first he is tricked into falling in love with a mechanical doll named Olympia (Shearer) by a greedy puppet-maker only to see her be destroyed. Next he loses his soul to Giulietta (Tchérina), an exotic Venetian courtesan who betrays him, and finally, he falls for an opera singer named Antonia (Ann Ayars) until she dies in his arms of consumption.

    Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988) collaborated for over 30 years on some of the most beautifully-conceived color films of all time, including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and A Matter of Life and Death. Theirs has long been acknowledged as the most artistically brilliant creative partnership in British film history,

    Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Tales of Hoffman at one of the coolest movie houses in town. If youve never been to the Cinefamily for one of their silent movies or regular screenings, you definitely want to put it on your list of things to do in LA.


    Robert Helpmann and Ludmilla Tchérina
    All photos courtesy of Riato Pictures/Studiocanal


    Moira Shearer as Olympia

    Ludmilla Tchérina as Guilietta

    Moira Shearer as Stella in the Dragonfly Ballet (prologue)

    TALES OF HOFFMAN
    March 13 - 19 at The Cinefamily 
    133 minutes / DCP / Color / 1951
    Distributor: Rialto Pictures 
    Click Here for tickets. ($12/free for Cinefamily members)

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    MUSICAL NEWS: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment have announced their first-ever world premiere musical, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Musical, April 17 - May 10 (opening 4/18) at La Mirada Theatre. The new musical features music, lyrics and book by Lindsay Warren Baker & Amanda Jacobs, based on the novel by Jane Austen, with music direction by Timothy Splain, choreography by Jeffry Denman, and directed by Igor Goldin. Bets Malone will star as Jane Austen, Jill Van Velzer as Cassandra Austen with Andrew Arrow (Mr. Gardiner), Brandon Andrus (Fitzwilliam Darcy), Mathew D’Amico (Dream Soldier), Eddie Egan (Mr. Bingley), Samantha Eggers (Jane Bennet), Arielle Fishman (Lydia Bennet), Kimberly Hessler (Mary Bennet), Matthew Kacergis (Mr. Wickham), Jamison Lingle (Caroline Bingley), Katharine Kelly McDonough (Kitty Bennet), Patricia Noonan (Elizabeth Bennet), Gregory North (Mr. Bennet), Amanda Naughton (Mrs. Bennet), Jeff Skowron (Mr. Collins), Brian Steven Shaw (Dream Soldier) and Leigh Brian Wakeford (Dream Soldier). Tickets: www.lamiradatheatre.com.

    Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents Richie Werner’s all-new psychedelic punk-rock puppet horror opera Karaokeapocalypse: The Monster Plays 1-4 for four performances only. The show is an alluringly-abnormal spectacle immersed knee-deep in an onslaught of ghoulish monsters, musical mayhem, and glow-in-the-dark tomfoolery. Fridays at 11:00pm, March 20 – April 10 at ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For tickets ($15) call (818) 202-4120 or go to ZombieJoes.Tix.com.

    The Broad Stage, in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute presents Musical Explorers, Saturday, March 14. In this interactive and musical journey direct from New York’s legendary music venue, audiences will celebrate the diversity of our international city. This high-energy west coast debut will invite audiences to discover a great big world of music right in their own backyards. Playful and informative, it will get children listening, singing, and thinking about musical traditions both familiar and yet to be explored. For ages 5+. www.thebroadstage.com

    Chris Lemmon in Jack Lemmon Returns opens at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District on March 11 and run through March 29. The enchanting play-with-music is both a revealing portrait of legendary actor Jack Lemmon and an in-depth, personal look at his relationship with his only son, actor and musician Chris Lemmon. Tickets: (805) 667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org.

    Panic! Productions continues its third season with the musical 13, April 10 - 19 at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks. The high-energy show, with a cast of 19 teens, features music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, with a book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. Barry Pearl directs, with choreography by Keenon Hooks and musical direction by Diann Alexander. Appearing in the show are Sam Herbert, Carly Shukiar, Samuel Thacker, Antonia Vivino, Delaney Joy, Elaine Panico, Gabriel Nunag, Mackinnley Balleweg, Mateo Gonzalez, Liam Krainman. Mason Purece, Madeline Gambon, Batya Conn, Zoë Reed, Tate Downing, Ally Kaplan, Jade McGlynn, Allison Martinez, and Joey Maya. Tickets: www.hillcrestarts.com.

    On March 15, Theatre Unleashed will present Live By Request, a special show by the Dead Beat Poets Society. If you’ve never seen a Dead Beats show, the cast performs lyrics to some of the most popular songs of all time, beat poetry style, and the result is hysterical and ridiculous. The theme for this show is “thank you.” For more information visit www.theatreunleashed.org.

    I Wanna Be Loved, starring Barbara Morrison as Dinah Washington, enters its third season on March 15 at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park. Jay Jackson co-stars as Brook Benton. The story follows Washington’s life and loves during a legendary career that ended in her accidental death at age 39 in 1963. Tickets: 310-462-1469. www.barbaramorrison.com.

    EXTENSIONS:DOMA Theatre Company’s Jesus Christ Superstar extends through April 19 at the MET Theatre. The ground-breaking rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice is the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth told through the eyes of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot.  For tickets, call (323) 802-9181 or go to www.domatheatre.com.

    Spoon River: The Cemetery on the Hill, a play with songs adapted, arranged and directed by Maureen Lucy O’Connell, extends through April 12 at the Eclectic Company Theatre. Tickets: (818) 508-3003 or www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.

    Ophelia’s Jump’s production of Ruthless! The Musical will play one encore production on Saturday, March 14 to support the Diamond Bar High School Theatre Department. For tickets call (909) 624-1464.

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    MUSICAL NEWS:Cabrillo Music Theatre presents Mary Poppins, directed byLewis Wilkenfeld, with choreography by Cheryl Baxter and musical direction by Ilana Eden Apr. 17 – 26 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The cast will includeJuliana Hansen in the title role, Wesley Alfvin as Bert, with Michael Scott Harris (George Banks), Michelle Lane (Winifred Banks), Tania Pasano Storrs (Bird Woman), Karen Sonnenchein (Miss Andrews) and Terry Fishman (Admiral Boom). The roles of Jane and Michael will be played by Maguire “Maggie” Balleweg (of Simi Valley), Abigail May Thompson (Westlake Village), Sheffield Hocker (Agoura Hills) and Brekkan Spens. Ticket: (805) 497-8613 x 6 or www.cabrillomusictheatre.com. Photo by Ed Krieger


    Disney Theatrical Productions and the Nederlander Organization have announced that a day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $20 orchestra seats for Newsieswill take place daily, except for opening night, Thursday, March 26. The show runs March 24 – April 19. For more information, call (323) 817-6178 for recorded information or go to www.HollywoodPantages.com/Lottery. Photo by Deen van Meer.


    The Pizzicato Effect, a live, unholy mash-up of equal parts TED Talk, stand-up and rock n’ roll, from humorist Brendan Hughes and singer-songwriterJeffrey Dinsmore, makes its west coast premiere as a guest production at Son of Semele Theater May 21 – June 14. The show features their screwball attempt to answer three questions of profound ontological significance, famously posed by French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin: Where do we come from? Why are we here? and What happens when we die? Using diagrams, theories and preposterous arcana, Hughes delivers comic, ontological mini-lectures drawn from the darkest corners of Wikipedia, all in a valiant attempt to double-click on the Universe. Woven throughout the lectures are original comedy songs performed and sung live by Dinsmore and his backing band, The Representatives of the Organization. Tickets: ($15) at www.sonofsemele.org. For more info, visit www.thepizzicatoeffect.com. Photo by Laura Smolowe.


    Celebrating the vibrant art of dance, Dance Camera Westpresents the 14th Annual Dance Media Festival, a public event incorporating dance explored through film and live performance. Taking place at various venues in Beverly Hills (UTA Screening Room), Downtown Los Angeles (MOCA, historic Palace Theatre, REDCAT), Hollywood (historic Egyptian Theatre), Santa Monica (Aero Theatre), and Westwood (Crest Theater, UCLA) from April 30 – May 5, 2015, this multi-disciplinary festival promises to offer something for everyone and will showcase many forms of dance including modern, post modern, world, tap, dance theater, ballet, hip-hop and practically all dance that has been captured on film in a way that is of quality and essential value. Over 30 films will be screened over the course of the Festival connecting diverse cultures and environments through the exploration of dance. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.DanceCameraWest.orgPhoto credit: Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity

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    Emily Lopez as Carrie.
    All photos (c) 2015 Jason Niedle

    Twice before, producers have attempted to bring Stephen King’s horror novel, Carrie, to the stage but were met with less than positive results. The musical’s first U.S. production played an embarrassing16 previews and 5 performances on Broadway before it was shuttered and a 2012 revival Off-Broadway closed early after only a month of performances and disappointing sales.

    But, as they say, third time’s a charm, and director Brady Schwind’s immersive vision of Lawrence D. Cohen (book), Dean Pitchford (lyrics), and Michael Gore’s (music) musical has resurrected this phoenix from the dead in a way that will thrill audiences and finally give it the life the creators always hoped it would have. Yes, in La Mirada Theatre’s production, blood drops, Jesus flies, and an electric cast brings the fires of hell to life in an unforgettable intimately experiential setting.You’ll be sorry if you miss it so get your tickets now.

    That setting (creatively envisioned by Stephen Gifford) is one in which the audience is placed on stage right up against the action. There are stationary bleacher units as well as movable pods that continually revolve to create a changeable playing area. We were seated in one of the four moving sections that put us very close to the actors and I highly suggest choosing those if you can. (They are the red A Level sections when you go to buy tickets). They give you a unique perspective on the story, especially when the space closes in around the students in an almost stifling way.

    You’re there in the shower with Carrie huddled naked on the floor, and you’re there in the gym when Chris refuses to apologize for her actions. You can feel the slap before Margaret throws her daughter in the closet, and when Carrie begins to experiment with her telekinetic abilities, you can feel the power surge in the shadowy room. Gifford’s a problem-solver from the word go and this show certainly presented logistical challenges. His big reveal at the prom is so effective the audience around me gasped.

    Emily Lopez and Misty Cotton

    It’s also a brave production, thanks to the glorious debut performance of Emily Lopez as Carrie and that of music theatre veteran Misty Cotton as her mother, Margaret. Neither one shies away from the vulnerability required of them, nor do they tiptoe around their dysfunctional relationship. Lopez has a lovely lyrical singing voice and a naïve subtlety that works beautifully for her socially disadvantaged character while Cotton poignantly reveals the obsessions of a bible-thumping mother deathly afraid of being alone. Few can do a song like “When There’s No One” true justice and Cotton’s tour de force performance turns it into a visceral showstopper.

    Kayla Parker, excellent as good girl Sue Snell, narrates the events leading up to the fatal prom and realizes too late that “Once You See” you can never un-see what your actions have done. A brash Valerie Rose Curiel leads the charge for revenge as the vicious Chris whose taunts show how damaging bullying can be (and how damaged many teens really are). Her motto is to strike first before you’re struck and with her jerk of a boyfriend Billy in tow (played by a physically intimidating Garrett Marshall) she plots her payback. Jenelle Lynn Randall nails the humor and attitude of PE teacher Miss Gardner.

    Vibrant choreography by Lee Martino captures the angst of youth with its percussive moves and sharp energy. Musically the production has real impact due to the way music director Brian P. Kennedy matches the specificity of a character’s personality to his or her musical style. Miniature speakers mounted in front of the movable audience pods are a great solution to making the sound work and designer Cricket Myers also pulls a few surprises out of her bag of tricks to accompany the special effects designed by illusionist Jim Steinmeyer and Paul Rubin (responsible for the flying sequences).

    From the cast to the creative team to the cult status previously established, this is a show with so much going for it yet its success really begins and ends with the director. Were it not for Brady Schwind and his vision, this wouldn’t be nearly the exciting event that it is and colleagues from around the country wouldn’t be calling and emailing me to see what it was like. I kid you not – this IS an event…and the rest of the country wants it. If you’re in LA, get in on it now.

    Valerie Rose Curiel (center) with the cast of Carrie

    The cast of Carrie the Musical surrounded by the audience

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    Dreamscape, a hip hop theatre production, returns to Los Angeles Theatre Center April 16 – May 17 (opening 4/18). Written and directed by Rickerby Hinds and choreographed by Carrie Mikuls, it stars Rhaechyl Walker and John “Faahz” Merchant. Dreamscape depicts the death and inner life of a young woman, Myeisha Mills. The performance is a meditation and reimagining of the night of December 28, 1998, when nineteen-year-old Tyisha Miller was shot by four Riverside Police Department officers and left  unconscious, bleeding in the car. The play takes a clear-eyed look at the relationships between race, the body, and violence and is structured around an autopsy report recited by a dispassionate coroner. As each of the twelve bullet wounds is described in clinical detail, Myeisha reminisces about her life using each body part as a jumping off point, walking us through the impact of the twelve bullets that killed her, through spoken word, dance and beatboxing. Los Angeles Theatre Center, in The Gallery, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. Tickets: (866) 811-4111 or www.thelatc.org.

    Sixth Avenue has announced an encore of its ILove99 The Musical! cabaret event to save Los Angeles intimate theatre on Tuesday, March 24 at 8:00 pm at The Dragonfly in Hollywood. Produced by Adam Silver and directed by Daniel Henning, the cast will include Tisha Terrasini Banker, Burglars of Hamm, Parvesh Cheena, Deborah S. Craig, Frances Fisher, Sandra Mae Frank, Tom Lenk, Kelly Lester, Constance Jewell Lopez, Austin McKenzie, Rebecca Metz, Nicole Parker, Jeff Perry, Amy Pietz, French Stewart, Kirsten Vangsness, and more. All performers are subject to availability. Admission is free but reservations are strongly suggested at www.6avenue.org. The Dragonfly is located at 6510 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood, 90038.

    The Tales of Hoffmanextends its run at The Cinefamily after selling out originally scheduled dates.  Afternoon matinees have been added daily through March 26, and select matinee and evening shows will take place March 27 – April 4. Based on the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach, Tales of Hoffman is an anthology of fantastic and romantic adventures, starring The Red Shoes Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, and Ludmilla Tchérina. Tickets: www.cinefamily.org.

    The Festival of American Musicals’ next MUSI-CAL will take place Monday April 13 at 8:00 pm at Rockwell Table & Stage. The show will feature selections from new musicals including: The Gingerbread Pimp, by Molly Reynolds & Will Collyer, Bastard Jones, by Marc Acito & Amy Engelhardt, Mary Marie, by Chana Wise & Carl Johnson, and The Devil You Know, by Larry Poindexter & David Carey Foster. Tickets: http://rockwell-la.com/.

    Kritzerland Presents The April Fools with Brittney Bertier, Dana Meller, Hadley Miller, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Robert Yacko, and special guest JoAnne Worley. Music direction by Alby Potts. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or http://sterlingsupstairs040515.brownpapertickets.com/.



    Thuy Nga Productions presents global phenomenon Paris By Night 114: 1975-2015 - Toi La Nguoi Viet Nam (I Am Vietnamese)live on stage at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, with three performances on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5. The variety show commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon with Vietnamese language music and dance by popular performers from the culture. The 100+ member cast will feature popular singers including Bang Kieu, Mai Thien Van, Minh Tuyet, Nhu Quynh,Ngoc Anh, and Quang Le. Longtime hosts Nguyen Ngoc Ngan and Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen will return to emcee the four-hour live concerts. Show times are 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 4, and 1:00pm & 7:00pm on Sunday, April 5. Tickets: (714) 894-5811. For more information, visit www.thuyngashop.com.



    Northwest Dance Project takes the Smothers stage at Pepperdine University on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00 pm. The company will perform four pieces, including State of Matter choreographed by Ihsan Rustem, Memory House choreographed by artistic director Sarah Slipper, and Drifting Thoughts choreographed by Patrick Delcroix. Program is subject to change. Tickets are available by calling (310) 506-4522 or online at http://arts.pepperdine.edu/.


    Inland Pacific Ballet presents Beauty and the Beast, a breathtaking full-length ballet based on the time honored fairy tale with 10 performances taking place April 25 - May 16 in theaters within the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire. A creative interpretation of this universal story of inner beauty, IPB’s encore presentation promises a visual feast full of romance and drama. Stunning sets, brilliant dancing, gorgeous costumes and a stirring musical score that will transport audiences to an enchanted fairy tale world filled with fanciful characters, a charming village, an enchanted forest and the Beasts magnificent castle, all vividly illustrating the drama and romance of this beloved story and the transformative power of love. For more information www.ipballet.org

    Theatres include: Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 N. College Way, Claremont, 91711. Saturday, April 25 at 1:00 pm & 7:00 pm; Sunday, April 26 at 1:00 pm. Tickets: (909) 607-1139.

    Lewis Family Playhouse, Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, 91730. Saturday, May 2 at 1:00 & 7:00 pm; Sunday, May 3 at 1:00 pm.
    Tickets: (909) 477-2752.

    Arcadia Performing Arts Center, 188 Campus Drive, Arcadia, 91007, Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 pm & Sunday, May 10 at 2:00 pm. Tickets: (626) 821-1781.

    Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501, Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm. Tickets: (951) 779-9800.

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    glory|struck productions will present the L.A. regional premiere of American Idiot in an immersive, environmental staging in an undisclosed warehouse venue in the downtown LA Arts District. The limited engagement begins May 15 and is directed by Topher Rhys and Jen Oundjian, with musical direction Elmo Zapp, produced for glory|struck by Topher Rhys, Jamie Lee Barnard, and Juliana Scott who most recently brought the revival of bare to life at the Hayworth Theatre. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/americanidiotLA.

    The Colony Theatre presents the Los Angeles premiere of Words By Ira Gershwin, A Musical Play by Joseph Vass April 15 – May 17 (opening 4/18). Creative team also includes David Ellenstein (director), Kevin Toney (music director and pianist), and Joseph Vass (as music arranger). Meet the man behind the lyrics you love. With “Fascinating Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Long Ago And Far Away,” “A Foggy Day,” “I Got Rhythm,” and many more, the other half of the famous Gershwin duo guides us on a trip through some of the greatest American songs ever written. Insights and tales about his legendary collaborations all frame this fascinating and inspiring evening of music and theatre. The cast stars Jake Broder as Ira Gershwin, Elijah Rock (Crooner), and Angela Teek (Chanteuse). Tickets: (818) 558-7000 x 15 or www.ColonyTheatre.org.

    Musical Theatre West has announced the cast for its upcoming production of Les Misérables, which will run April 10 - 26 at the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts in Long Beach. Directed and choreographed by DJ Salisbury, with musical direction by Andrew Bryan, it stars Michael Hunsaker (Jean Valjean), Davis Gaines (Javert), Cassandra Murphy (Fantine), Madison Claire Parks (Cosette), Emily Martin (Eponine), Devin Archer (Marius), Norman Large (Thénardier), Ruth Williamson (Madame Thénardier), Tessa Barkley & Emily Lafontaine (Young Cosette/Young Eponine), Garret McQuaid (Gavroche) and Steve Czarnecki (Enjolras), with Anthony Carillo, Samantha Cashmore, Elizabeth Eden, Natalie Stewart Elder, Chaz Feuerstine, Joshua Taylor Hamilton, Olivia Hernandez, Matt Kriger, Ashley Ruth Jones, Brandi Lacy, Travis Leland, Katie McConaughy, Sergio Pasquariello, William Peltzer, Lance Smith, Shannon Stoeke, Jeffrey Christopher Todd, Chandler Truelove-Pearis, and Nick Tubbs. Tickets:www.musical.org.

    Richard M. Sherman will host A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Evening with Richard M. Sherman & Friends as a fundraising event to support Cabrillo Music Theatre’s outreach programs on April 19 at 7:00 pm featuring stories behind his most famous music and movies while his friends perform the songs. Singers include Juliana Hansen and Wesley Alfvin, who will star as Mary and Bert in Cabrillo’s upcoming production of Mary Poppins, along with Shannon Warne, Zachary Ford and others to be announced. The evening is preceded by a cocktail hour, featuring hors d’ouevres, and will be followed by a reception with Mr. Sherman and the performers, featuring desserts from Valley Bakery. The Founders Room is located in the Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd in Thousand Oaks. Tickets: (805) 497-8613 or www.cabrillomusictheatre.com.

    Los Angeles Children’s Chorus will honor Frozen songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and LACC President/Vice Chair Edward J. Nowak, Deputy General Counsel of The Walt Disney Company, at its upcomingGala Bel Canto. The event will take place Tuesday, April 14 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s Grand Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The distinguished honorees are being recognized for their vast contributions to the arts and entertainment worlds. The gala includes heartfelt tributes and compelling performances by esteemed special guests and LACC choristers, led by Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson, as well as a sumptuous three-course sit-down dinner by Patina, exquisite wines and a dazzling live auction. Proceeds benefit Los Angeles Children's Chorus’s artistic, educational and scholarship programs. Tickets: (626) 793-4231 or www.lachildrenschorus.org.


    MenAlive, the Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus, present a diva-licious tribute to the fabulous females that have rocked our world for the last half-century in She Got The Beat. The show features the music of Aretha, Beyonce, Cher, Katy, Lady Gaga, Pink and many more iconic ladies. Get ready to rock, groove, laugh, cry, and (of course) cheer the gorgeous sounds of MenAlive’s 100+ member chorus under the direction of artistic director Bob Gunn. Performances are Friday March 27 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, March 28 at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm at Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive in Irvine. Tickets: http://menalivechorus.org/

    An Evening of Classic Broadwayreturns to Rockwell Table and Stage April 22 at 8:00 pm.Click Herefor tickets.


    Join Karen Benjamin and Thomas O’Leary for their new Musical Theatre Intensive, Putting It Together, an ongoing class which takes place on Wednesday nights in the Miracle Mile area starting Wednesday night, April 8. For more information contacttjonycla@gmail.com.


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