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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, the most critically acclaimed, award-winning supper club of its kind in the greater Los Angeles area, has set Sunday, December 15 as auditions for the 8th consecutive year of LA’s Next Great Stage Star®, announces executive producer Michael Sterling of Michael Sterling & Associates.

    “Our annual auditions in search of 10 men and 10 women between the ages of 18 and 28 is highly anticipated by the hierarchy of those in the business of presenting Los Angeles Broadway musical theatre,” says Sterling. “We couldn’t be more grateful to our professional colleagues and select corporate entities for their consistent support of Stage Star since its inception eight years ago.”

    For her third year - actress, concert headliner, businesswoman and arts philanthropist Barbara Van Orden joins Sterling as producer by gifting LA’s Next Great Stage Star® with the Barbara Van Orden Grant which provides invaluable financial assistance for production of the annual competition. www.barbaravanorden.com

    Los Angeles musical theatre and television performer/writer/director/producerPeter Welkin (www.peterwelkin.com) returns for the second year as associate producer, with the incomparable James Lent set as musical director for his fifth consecutive season.

    Interested talent may call Michael Sterling & Associates at (818) 623-7300 x 2 to request an audition appointment. Auditions are by appointment only and will be scheduled between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm at the Performing Arts Center (www.performingartscenter.net) located at 7735 North Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406. A musical accompanist will be provided.

    LA’s Next Great Stage Star® 2014 will be presented as a series of six Sunday matinees beginning January 5 and continuing on January 12, 19, 26 and February 9, with its much anticipated finale to be presented February 16. The reality competition will be presented to a live audience of 100 each Sunday.

    Patterned after “an audition process”, the competition is geared to discovering new talent for the musical theatre stage. As has become the standard, 20 contestants will be selected from auditions to compete for the 2014 title, a $1000 cash award, a headlining engagement at Sterlings Upstairs during the New Year, and other valuable prizes. Contestants selected from auditions to compete in the competition are subject to a one time entry fee of $400.

    This year’s competition will once again be judged by a live audience and an overall panel of LA musical theatre’s most creative forces. Judges will give a live critique to each contestant at every competition. Audience members and Judges will also vote on vocal and acting ability, stage presence and personality.

    Judges last season for LA’s Next Great Stage Star® 2013 included Mark Simon, Michael Donovan, David Elzer, Michael Matthews, David Galligan, Cate Caplin, Matthew Neves, Robert Marra, Dan Mojica, Roger Bean, T.J. Dawson, Richard Israel, Calvin Remsberg, Bruce Kimmel, Carol Weiss, and agents Jodie Bowman, Sasha Passero, Dave Secor, Steven Dry, and Mark William Smith.

    Contestants will compete at each competition with no eliminations until the Finale on February 16, 2014. Following the final sing by all 20 contestants on February 16, the Finale will determine the selection of one winner and four top finalists. Additionally, the winner of LA’s Next Great Stage Star® 2014 and its four runners-up will also be awarded audition opportunities by LA based producers, directors and casting directors. To date, Lewis Wilkenfeld/artistic producer/director Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks, CA; Julia Flores/Casting (McCoy/Rigby, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA, and the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA); Glenn Casale/artistic director Sacramento Music Circus in Sacramento, CA, and Steven Glaudini/artistic director Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista, CA) have participated with the competition since 2010.

    As a direct result of the competition, more than 50 of the annual competition’s overall 140 contestants have been cast in top regional theatre shows, Broadway national tours, Las Vegas productions, and network television shows; while 8 have already made their Broadway and Off-Broadway debuts. An average of 50 percent of “all” contestants in each year’s edition of Stage Star are signed by the competition’s musical theatre agent/judges.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * *

    Sterling’s Upstairs, housed at The Federal located at 5303 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601, is produced by Michael Sterling of Michael Sterling & Associates (MSA), the Studio City-based entertainment public relations company. Known for its creative menus of California chic, gastro pub cuisine, The Federal’s creative California chic, gastro pub cuisine, coupled with its vintage 1926 interior fused with contemporary design sensibilities, is one of the most successful dining and entertainment destinations in Los Angeles. www.thefederalbar.com

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    OPENINGS: Cabrillo Music Theatre celebrates its 20th Anniversary Season by blending one of the original Plaids with four of musical theatre’s top talents to create the definitive Forever Plaid especially for the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The fresh and funny musical opens on January 31, 2014, playing until Sunday, February 9th, at the 1,800-seat Kavli Theatre. Once upon a time, there were four guys (Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie) who loved to sing. They rehearsed in the basement of Smudge’s family’s plumbing supply company. It was here they became “Forever Plaid.”  Although rock ‘n’ roll was racing down the fast lane like a candy apple “vette”, they believed in their music. They devoted themselves to singing at nights and on weekends. Then, finally, they landed their first big gig at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar - The Fusel Lounge. On February 9th, 1964, en route to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedos, they were slammed broadside by a school bus filled with eager Catholic teens and were killed instantly. Now, through the Power of Harmony and the Expanding Holes in the Ozone Layer, they are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in life.

    Cabrillo’s terrific cast will include Roger Befeler, Scott Dreier, Jeffrey Scott Parsons, andKurtis Simmons. All are experienced in the world of Plaid, and their combined talents make Cabrillo’s production one for the ages. In addition, original “Plaid,” Larry Raben, returns to Cabrillo to direct and Alby Pottsreturns as musical director. Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com. For more info go to www.cabrillomusictheatre.com

    TELEVISION: Six By Sondheim, the final film in HBO’s Fall Documentary Series will debut on Monday, December 9th (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT). Directed by Tony Award-winner and frequent Steven Sondheim collaboratorJames Lapine, Six By Sondheim is a highly personal profile of a great American artist as revealed through the creation and performance of six of his iconic songs. Told primarily in Sondheim’s own words, this feature documentary weaves together dozens of interviews with the composer, rarely seen archival material spanning more than half a century (including newly discovered footage of Ethel Merman performing Gypsy) and re-stagings of three songs produced especially for the film.


    Showcase performances by Broadway and Hollywood stars such as Audra McDonald(Porgy and Bess),Darren Criss(Glee),Jeremy Jordan(Newsies) and America Ferrera(Ugly Betty) are interspersed with archival performances of Sondheim standards by stars likeBernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Dean Jones,Yvonne de Carlo and Larry Kert. Additional HBO playdates: Dec. 9 (5:25 am), 12 (9:30 am & 6:30 pm), 15 (11:45 am), 17 (12:30 am), 20 (10:45 am) and 28 (2:00 pm). 

    FRINGE NEWS: Registration for the 5th annualHollywood Fringe Festival begins February 1, 2014. Other important dates include:
    April 1: Registration deadline for guide inclusion
    June 5 – 10: Fringe Previews
    June 11: Fringe Opening Night Gala
    June 12 – 29: 5th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival 
    June 29: Fringe Award Ceremony & Closing Night Party
    The organization needs volunteers and interns throughout the year and you can learn more HERE. A venue meeting will also be held on Saturday, December 7 at 5pm in the Asylum Lab (at Theatre Asylum), 1078 Lillian Way.

    BENEFIT: Patty OnaganandRonn Goswickhave announcedA Relief Benefit Concert for the Philippinesat The Pasadena Playhouse on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30 pm. Proceeds will support the American Red Cross’ Typhoon Appeal and its efforts to assist overseas as the people of the Philippines begin to recover and rebuild. A sparkling who’s who of Los Angeles and Broadway talent will come together for the event.

    Performers include Joan Almedilla, Michael Arden, Sharon Catherine Blanks and Billy Blanks, Jr., Yvette Cason, LaVance Colley, Loretta Devine, Danny Gurwin, Cliffton Hall and Deedee Magno Hall, Sam Harris,  Dawnn Lewis, Andy Mientus, Nicole Parker, Jennifer Paz and Anthony Federov, Valerie Perri, Kelli Provart, Joan Ryan, Gwen Stewart, Lea Thompson, and Nita Whitaker. The benefit will be directed by Jeffrey Polk with Abdul HamidRoyal, Todd Schroeder, Gerald Sternbach, and John Gentry Tennyson serving as musical directors. Tickets: www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or (626) 356-7529.

    CABARET/CONCERTS:Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced that Laura Benantiwill make her Los Angeles solo concert debut on January 9, 2014 at the Catalina Bar & Grill. The show celebrates the west coast release of her first album In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention. Musical direction and arrangements by Todd Almond. Showtime: 8:30pm. Cocktail and dinner service begin at 7pm. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.UprightCabaret.com.

    A Little New Musicpresents its final event of 2013 at Rockwell: Table & Stageon Tuesday, December 10. The fast-paced one hour program will showcase some of the best new or unheard musical theater songs by Doug Katsaros& Amanda Yesnowitz(Somewhere in Time)Joe Iconis (Smash, The Black Suits), Adam Gwon, Zoe Sarnak, Thomson & Mann, Gregory Nabours, Blaskie & Weston, Sam Wilmott, Milburn & Vigoda, Mark Allen, Rachel J. Peters, B.T. Ryback & Brian Pugach, Drew Fornarola, and Michael Finke.

    Performers include Walter O’Neil, Nicci Claspell, Michael A. Shepperd, Coby Getzug, William Martinez, Anne Schroeder, James Lynch, Charissa Hogeland, Ryan McCartan, Jessica Reiner-Harris, Adam Silver, Kelsey Hainlen, Matt Merchant, Kelly Lester, Jason Peter Kennedy, and Segun Oluwadele. Jordan Kai Burnett hosts, with musical director Bryan Blaskie on keys. Doors open at 6:30pm and showtime is at 8:00pm. Tickets and info:www.alittlenewmusic.org

    Ryan Black’s 88’s extends Hollywood Holidaysat Don’t Tell Mama L.A. on December 11. Seats may be reserved with a dinner reservation by calling (323) 380-7209, or you can reserve online HERE. Open mic after the show. For more information go to www.facebook.com/RyanBlacks88s.

    The Grove Theatrepresents Great Joy – A Christmas Celebration on Sunday, December 22 at 6 pm. The staged concert will feature heart-warming traditional and unique Christmas Songs complemented by inspiring readings and dramatic moments that will brighten your holiday. Under the leadership of Brian and Jeni Stivale, the cast will transport you on a musical journey in a family-friendly celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the great joy that this season brings to all. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for children and students. For more information call (909) 920-4343.


    AUDITIONS: Kentwood Playerswill hold open auditions for Fiddler on the Roof featuring book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Jerry Bock, and music by Sheldon Harnick on Saturday, January 11, 2014 from 11am-5pm (please arrive no later than 3pm) and on Sunday, January 12, 2014 from 6-10pm (please arrive no later than 8pm). Callbacks will be held on Monday, January 13 from 7-10pm. Auditions and performances take place at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. For complete details and a breakdown of characters go to www.kentwoodplayers.org.

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    Jennifer Carroll (in green), Julia Davis (in white), Amir Levi (in blue) and Dave Honigman
     as Tom the Clown Visitor (front), Photos by Andrew Eiden.

    Four Clowns Jr.’s foursome packs a lot of punch into its 45-minute original family show about one clown’s journey to a planet “somewhere like earth.” This is pure interactive fun - the kind you can have while sitting in your seat without worrying you’ll be dragged up onstage to suffer some horrifying humiliation at the hands of clowns. The kids in the audience were thoroughly engaged and even I found myself wanting to yell out answers to questions the characters would ponder as part of their theatrical journey. Throw in a little music and plenty of pratfalls, and you’ve got a perfectly delightful entertainment for both children and adults alike.

    After Tom crashes his space ship and meets the Guardians of Air, Water and Land, he learns that there is no excuse for planet abuse, even if you do it unintentionally. The elemental caretakers teach him that we all have a responsibility to take care of the environment and that we need to be conscious of the impact we have on each other. It’s a lesson kids resonate with immediately and a good reminder for the adults that an important principle simply stated can be more effective than all the pie charts and graphs and speeches put together. If only all of life’s lessons were taught in such an upbeat, appealing way.

    Though it’s a very collaborative effort, much of the show’s success rests with Dave Honigman who plays Tom. Bright-eyed and boldly energetic, he brings a childlike innocence to the role that makes him likeable and extremely fun to watch. Amir Levi (Guardian of Water) is one part drama queen and two parts Norma Desmond in shimmering blue spandex and a rain cloud enhanced turban. Better pay attention or you’ll be the object of his hilarious stink eye if you don’t participate in making the sound of the rain to his liking.

    Earthy Jennifer Carroll (terrific as Bertha, Guardian of Land) shows Tom how to till the soil to make a plant grow and sets up a series of puns that are good for more than a few groans while Julia Davis (Guardian of Air) thinks that everything Tom does is wonderful because he’s pretty (her favorite word). A little slip of a ballerina, she is as cool and airy as Davis is grounded, and together with Levi, they make a trio of planetary protectors who offer up some wonderfully wacky moments. Each Guardian is certain that his or her element is the best but by the end of the show, they, as well as Tom, will find that working together is the only way to truly accomplish your goals and be happy.

    Mike Funt’s writing is full of clever turns of phrases and cute names that create a fresh sense of wonder in the very sound of the play. From trees renamed tallees to half eaten apples called apple-y core-ys, the new friends go on a “safari sagoodi” to introduce Tom to the planet, walkabout style. Director Turner Munch keeps the pacing quick and clean with a nice balance of audience participation and onstage interaction. The only muddled moment came at the very end of the play when the lights dimmed to silhouette the final pose but the audience wasn’t sure the play was over. Thats easy enough to fix however and may simply have been a result of it being the opening performance.

    Once it closes, Somewhere Like Earth is set to tour, but you can see it this weekend during one of its two final performances at the Attic Theatre/Imaginese Festival. And you should. Its fun with a capital F and worth taking a break from the holiday hustle and bustle to have a few laughs. The cast meets the audience in the lobby for picture-taking after each show so bring your camera.



    Four Clowns Jr.s Somewhere Like Earth
    Now through December 15, 2013 
    Written by Mike Funt
    Directed by Turner Munch
    Imaginese Festival at the Attic Theatre
    5429 W. Washington Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90019
    Tickets: $10 for adults; $5 for children
    www.fourclowns.org or http://bit.ly/1e8qAzW 

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    The Secret Garden - The Musical, now playing at the Chance Theater. 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807. November 29 - December 29, 2013. For tickets, call (714) 777-3033 or visit www.ChanceTheater.com.

    Brandon Sanchez and Jillian Batt. Photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

    Laura M. Hathaway and Holden Egdorf

    Stanton Kane Morales and Laura M. Hathaway

    Lindsey Campbell and James McHale

    Eloise Coopersmith, James McHale and Lindsey Campbell

    Brandon Sanchez and Lindsey Campbell


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    Ciarán McCarthy, William Spangler, and Marsha Waterbury.
    Photos by Ed Krieger.

    It’s fruitcake weather in Laguna Beach and you can breathe it in the air as the heartwarming holiday musical A Christmas Memory fills the stage at Laguna Playhouse. Set in rural Alabama in 1955 and, for much of the show, flashbacks to 1933, it is a nostalgic story of the best sort; short on sequins and spectacle but filled with tenderness and love. And couldn’t we all use a little more of that this time of year?

    Truman Capote lived it, and in his short story on which the musical is based, captured what it was like to grow up poor but happy in the south, collecting moments in his memory that would later be found in the pages of the stories he would write. Duane Poole adapts the source material with care, retaining the gentle poetic nature of the original while highlighting the ordinary relationships and events that shape the foundation of a young boy’s character.

    Buddy (William Spangler) is just like any other kid, inquisitive, fun-loving, and ready for adventure. In essence abandoned by his parents after their divorce, he lives with his much older cousins – Jennie, a spinster (Tracy Lore), Seabon, a confirmed bachelor (Tom Shelton), and Sook, his best friend (Marsha Waterbury). Together he and the childlike elderly woman pal around and make the most of their meager existence, finding fun in the simple things around them. Theirs is a special relationship, and what she lacks in education and worldliness, she more than makes up for in kindness and caring. They are the heart of the story and a beautiful expression of what it best in us all.

    Adult Buddy (Ciarán McCarthy) narrates A Christmas Memory, returning to the house they all lived in after the three have passed away. Twenty years later he is now a successful writer, though struggling to find meaning in his life while living in a city where something always has to be next. He watches his younger self as scenes from his youth come to life, emerging from the worn pictures in his mind. One by one the bittersweet memories reveal an answer – a path to the next story he will tell – of what he knows best and the people he loved most.

    Director Nick DeGruccio finds the sweetness and pain in each of the characters without over-sentimentalizing their unrealized dreams and longings. His light touch allows Poole’s words, Carol Hall’s lyrics, and Larry Grossman’s beautiful music to do its work, and facilitates the actors’ ability to create characters the audience can understand and champion, rather than feel sorry for.

    Seabon’s unopened box of pins to mark places on the map he would one day travel to reveals a life he never lived, and when we learn that Jennie chose to set aside the dreams of a young woman to take care of her weaker siblings who would surely have suffered without her, it explains her stern inflexibility. Shelton and Lore do lovely nuanced work with their respective roles and watching the realizations hit home in McCarthy’s eyes is quite moving.

    Waterbury is the shining jewel of the production as Sook. Her warmth is contagious, her demeanor sincere, and the relationship she creates with Spangler as young Buddy is wonderfully layered. When it comes time for her to let go of Buddy at Jennie’s insistence, it becomes her turn to sacrifice part of her life, for she knows that one day he’ll need more to make him happy than what their simple life can provide. Amber Mercomes (Anna Stabler) shows off her rich lower register in her dynamic version of “Detour ” and even Siena Yusi as Buddy’s tomboy neighbor, Nelle, gets to do some fast-patter singing when she’s not punching Buddy in the arm. 

    D. Martyn Bookwalter’s scenic design allows for a feeling of great space that enhances the sense of moving forward and backward in time but Joshua McKendry’s sound design is problematic throughout. The hollow, hooty sound is very distracting and alters the characters’ voices artificially. Lore fares best because the timbre of her voice cuts through the hollowness but the rest of the cast has to fight to keep from being swallowed up, a task they shouldn’t have to be concerned with. 

    The sound also creates a disjointed relationship between the offstage trio of musicians (music director Darryl Archibald and Tyler Emerson on keyboards, Drew Hemwall on percussion, with Emerson also covering violin) and the cast. Ive never noticed this kind of a sound problem at Laguna Playhouse before so I hope it was an isolated occurance and not a intentional choice. 

    Bruce Goodrich’s terrific costumes are full of the drab colors and well-worn textiles that characterize the Depression era but contain enough detail to be pleasing to the eye and functional for the actors, and any production that Steven Young designs, including this one, is elevated by the way he captures the light.

    A Christmas Memory is a beautiful addition to the traditional catalogue of holiday shows youll find at this time of year. We may not always be able to make sense of life while were living it, but when we examine it in hindsight, what we find is the challenges, the joys, and the disappointments are all part of growing up. They make us who we are. And sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.

    Siena Yusi, William Spangler, and Pickle

    William Spangler and Marsha Waterbury

    William Spangler, Marsha Waterbury, and Ciarán McCarthy

    A CHRISTMAS MEMORY
    December 2 – 29, 2013
    Laguna Playhouse
    606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach

    Tickets: (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or
    www.lagunaplayhouse.com

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    An updated version of the classic Arabian Nights tale starring Ben Vereen as the Genie, Aladdin and His Winter Wish is a singing, swinging and soaring adventure that features family-friendly magic with a comedic twist, dancing, a live pony and contemporary music from “Jai Ho” (Slumdog Millionaire) to “Treasure” (Bruno Mars). Before every performance of the traditional British Panto, guests and their families are invited to enjoy a Winter Wonderland event in The Playhouse’s courtyard, complete with holiday carolers, crafts, activities, games, and photo opportunities. It’s the annual favorite family event of the season! Tickets and information: www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

    (L-R) Jordan Fisher, Ben Giroux, Bruce Vilanch and Ben Vereen.
    Photos by Clarence Alford

    Ben Vereen, Jordan Fisher, and ensemble

    Jordan Fisher (Aladdin) and ensemble

    Ben Vereen as The Genie

    Jordan Fisher as Aladdin and Ashley Argota as The Princess

    Richard Karn as the Sultan and Josh Adamson as Evil Abanazar

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    “A Holiday Card Comes to Life” in San Diego Musical Theatres production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, now through December 22nd at The Birch North Park Theatre in San Diego. Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaptation features seventeen Irving Berlin songs, played by a live 22 piece orchestra. Directed by Todd Nielsen, with choreography by Lisa Hopkins and musical direction by Don LeMaster. Tickets: www.sdmt.org



    The cast of San Diego Musical Theatres White Christmas

    David Engel and Jeffrey Scott Parsons

    Jill Townsend & Laura Dickinson

    David Engel and the cast of White Christmas

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    Beth Kennedy as the Winter Warlock and the cast. Photos by Chelsea Sutton

    The Troubies’ traditional holiday mashups are some of the company’s most anticipated shows of the year. Past hits like A Christmas Westside Story (A Christmas Story with the music of West Side Story), Rudolph the Red Nosed ReinDOORS (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Doors), and The First Jo-el (the Nativity story via Billy Joel songs) have been unforgettable treasure troves of comedy fun.

    This year the troupe resurrects best moments from its last ten years of holiday shows, and stars the Winter Warlock (Beth Kennedy), a minor character who has made cameo appearance in Troubie shows ever since he was first introduced. In Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit-Wonderland, Winter finally gets the chance to prove he can carry a show, with a cabaret style walk down memory lane featuring video clips and live reenactments of his journey to the stage. It’s also a celebration of ten years of Troubie shows in partnership with Garry Marshall and the Falcon Theatre, according to director and Troubie founder, Matt Walker, who says the night is all about breaking the rules and not sticking to the script.

    The show is self-described as “somewhat like a fruitcake,” which means it contains a little bit of everything, and the taste of liquor – in this case poured in a giant brandy snifter – lingers on lounge lizard Rick Batalla’s lips like the eternal aftertaste of its liquor-soaked namesake. The “unexpected” improv with “real” liquor leads the audience into a world of spin-doctored scenes by Troubie regulars Batalla, Kennedy, Walker, Katherine Donahoe, Andy Lopez, Suzanne Jolie Narbonne, Katie Nunez, and Lisa Valenzuela.

    Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the planned comedy that provided most of the laughs on opening night but rather the bits that didn’t work that got the biggest response from the audience. Maybe that’s because the best improv happens in the moment and can’t always be duplicated, or maybe it was because there were so many Troubie newbies in the audience that the previous show references lacked the context needed to help land the jokes. In either case, it was costumes with a mind of their own, physical bits where timing was askew, and unique audience participation that stole the show.

    Among the musical one-hit-wonders featured are A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” Devo’s “Whip It,” Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” and Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.” All are tweaked Troubie-style with new lyrics or staging that fits the through line of the show, though there isn’t much of a plot for this holiday stocking stuffer. During his trip down memory lane, Winter feels that no one is paying much attention to him and decides to quite show biz. That’s when the action detours into the land of A Christmas Carol and takes a look at Winter’s past, present and possible future.

    Since the show follows a club act format accompanied by flashbacks, the scenes are quieter and more intimate, rather than the typically fast-paced, heavily choreographed, acrobatic sequences found in many of the Troubies previous productions. If the speed of a usual Troubie show is set on overdrive, this one is programmed several clicks lower on the dial.

    A classical ballet sequence by Suzanne Jolie Narbonne as Winters Sugar Plum Fairy is quite beautiful, until it becomes comic, and hula hoops are incorporated into the finale. By the final blackout, Winter Warlock returns to the stage, Tiny Timmy doesn’t leave an empty chair, and the snow stops falling on pianist Kevin McCourt. Best of all, we’ve had a few laughs and all is right with the world.

    Andy Lopez and Winter Warlock (Beth Kennedy)

    Katherine Donahoe, Lisa Valenzuela, Katie Nuñez, Rick Batalla and Suzanne Jolie Narbonne 

    Lisa Valenzuela, Matt Walker, Katie Nuñez and Katherine Donahoe

    Rick Batalla and Winter Warlock (Beth Kennedy)

    Matt Walker and Winter Warlock (Beth Kennedy)

    WALKIN' IN A WINTER ONE-HIT-WONDERLAND
    December 4, 2013 - January 19, 2014
    The Troubies at the Falcon Theatre
    4252 Riverside Drive
    Burbank, CA 91505
    Tickets: (818) 955-8101 or www.FalconTheatre.com

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    OPENINGS: International City Theatre opens its 29th season with the California premiere of Let’s Misbehave: The Music and Lyrics of Cole Porter, conceived by Karin Bowersock (book) and Patrick Young (musical arrangements) and directed and choreographed by Todd Nielsen. Darryl Archibald will provide musical direction and the show stars Lindsey Alley, Marc Ginsburg and Jennifer Shelton, Let’s Misbehave runs Jan. 22 – Feb. 16, with opening night set for Jan. 24. Let’s Misbehave weaves together over 30 classic songs by Cole Porter to tell the story of three single friends in 1930s New York who make a pact to find true love. Their quest is all in good fun - until the two women, Alice and Dorothy, find they both have eyes for Walter. It’s clever, funny, and irresistibly romantic, featuring songs like “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine” and “Anything Goes” from one of America's most beloved and prolific musical theater composers. For reservations and information, call (562) 436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

    WRITERS: NAMT applications are due January 14, 2014 (or January 28 for a small late fee). Visit www.namt.org/festival for more information.  


    CONCERTS: The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge will present two musical theatre events on its January 2014 schedule beginning with Chita: A Legendary Celebration, featuring Broadway legend Chita Rivera Saturday, Jan. 24, at 8:00 pm. An accomplished and versatile actress/singer/dancer, Rivera has won two Tony Awards as best leading actress in a musical and received several Tony nominations. In addition, seven local high schools will join forces for the San Fernando Valley’s first-ever high school music theater showcase,It’s Showtime, Folks: Celebrating 60 years of Bob Fosse, on Friday, Jan. 24 at 8:00 pm. The evening will feature performances from The Pajama Game, Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, Sweet Charity and other Fosse shows. For more information, visit www.valleyperformingartscenter.orgor call (818) 677-3000. 

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced the addition of a second show as Laura Benanti makes her Los Angeles solo concert debut in January. The show celebrates the west coast release of her first album “In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention,” featuring musical direction and arrangements by Todd Almond. There will now be two shows, on Wednesday, January 8 and Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 8:30pm at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. Cocktail and dinner service begin at 7pm. Tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.UprightCabaret.com.

    Come celebrate Ryan Black’s 88’s last show ever, Hollywood Holidays on Wednesday, December 18. There is no cover charge and seats may be reserved with a dinner reservation by calling (323) 380-7209. Open mic after the show so bring your music. For more information visit www.facebook.com/RyanBlacks88s.

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    [Top, L-R] Gloria Galvan, Corey Zicari. [Bottom, L-R] Vanessa Cate, Redetha Deason,
    Annalee Scott, Sandra Saad, David Wyn Harris. Photos by Adam Neubauer

    A Steam-Punk chorus of cadaverous ghouls, zombified and singing Christmas carols in twitching harmony is about as far from traditional as you can get, and quite possibly the most satisfying prologue for A Christmas Carol I’ve ever seen. Accompanied by Annalee Scott on guitar and containing a comic rivalry among two of its members, the lusty chorus fills the tiny theatre with versions of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” Gounod’s “Ave Maria,” and traditional carols like The First Noel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The delicious irony of the undead singing these particular songs made me laugh out loud. A lot.

    They return throughout the one-hour adaptation of Scrooge’s familiar story playing multiple characters, narrating transitions, providing sound effects, and maintaining an unforgettable mood in this spookier than normal Christmas narrative. It was a welcome departure for someone like me who has literally seen more versions of A Christmas Carol than I’d ever want to count. 

    Sebastian Muñoz, as Scrooge, has good reason to be scared. If Zombie Joe burst into my room in the middle of the night as the Ghost of Jacob Marley I’d be doing some screaming too. Carrying giant chains (and wearing a terrific make-up design), the undead soul warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts to whom he must listen or suffer a horrible fate. Zombie is in his element here, larger than life and terrifyingly wild-eyed.

    The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are all played by director Denise Devin who spirits Muñoz around the black box sky with deliberate intensity. Clothed in a Victorian gown, her Christmas Past resembles a faded bride whose youth and promise of life have been left standing at the altar in some long forgotten place. The haunted quality is in stark contrast to her boisterous portrayal of Christmas Present, the redheaded dynamo who uses Scrooge’s own words against him.

    The change is so unexpected that it draws laughter from all sides, but that’s what this production does best; elicit a gut response over and over as it moves quickly from scene to brief scene, character to fragmented character. I think the shortest was the cameo of the two Zombie children – “the girl is want; the boy is ignorance” – but in its few short seconds it communicated the sad horror needed to leave a lasting impression.

    Jason Britt is a natural as Bob Cratchit, full of warmth and quiet dignity. Vanessa Cate, as Belle, also stands out as she creates another poignant picture of Scrooge’s selfish path.

    This is A Christmas Carol that carries with it elements unique to the ZJU aesthetic that work beautifully for Scrooge’s tale of redemption. Devin’s staging is creative, briskly paced, and ripe with moments that feel fresh. The actors walk the line between reality and oddity in their character work and that always makes it interesting. Best of all, youre never quite sure what will happen next. And that means that the company has done its job. For a ghostly holiday cup of cheer from one of the most inventive theatre companies in town, dont miss the final performances of Zombie Joes Underground Theatres A Christmas Carol

    Zombie Joe as the Ghost of Jacob Marley and Sebastian Muñoz as Scrooge

    Denise Devin and Sebastian Muñoz

    (Top) Denise Devin, (Bottom): Sebastian Muñoz

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL
    Now through December 22, 2013
    ZJU Theatre Group
    4850 Lankershim Blvd.
    North Hollywood, CA 91601
    Tickets: (818) 202-4120
    www.zombiejoes.com


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    LIVE EVENTS: Cabrillo Music Theatre celebrates its upcoming production of In the Heights with Carnaval De Cabrillo on January 12. Modeled after the “Carnaval del Barrio” that plays a pivotal role in the show, Carnaval De Cabrillo unites enthusiastic young people, dancers of all ages, city officials, community leaders and local businesses for a free afternoon of dance, music, food and fun. Carnaval will take place from Noon to 5:00 pm in Carpenter Park, directly outside Cabrillo Music Theatre’s home venue, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

    The event will feature a live participatory demonstration by the entire community of a dance from In the Heights using the original Tony Award-Winning Broadway Choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler, and taught by Cabrillo’s director-choreographer, Morgan Marcell. Participants may sign up in advance at http://carnavaldecabrillo.rsvpify.com/ or in person on the day of the event. The choreography will be taught at all skill levels, allowing for full participation from anyone who wants to learn.  Participants can show up at any time from Noon to 1:30 pm and learn the moves. The presentation and performance, as well as a sneak peek of In the Heights, will take place at 1:45 pm. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Additional prizes will be given out hourly. For more information visit www.Facebook.com/CabrilloMusicTheatre or call 805-497-8613 x 1.


    NEW MUSICAL: A new rhythm & blues musical is being brought to the stage this spring by a trio of veteran Los Angeles actors - Larry Poindexter, David Carey Foster and Michael Nicklin. The Devil You Know is the ultimate modern anti-hero story of redemption woven among a sonic backdrop of soul and rhythm & blues. Co-author and composer Larry Poindexter has been seen in hundreds of hours of television, nearly 50 movies and countless stage plays including S.W.A.T, 17 Again and Reefer Madness. He has composed over 200 songs, many of which have been heard in television episodes and films. Co-creator David Carey Foster has appeared in numerous stage, TV and film productions including The Mentalist, Dexter, Orson’s Shadow at Artists Repertory Theatre, Inventing Van Gogh at PCPA Theatrefest, and The Woman in Black at the Old Lyric Repertory. He has produced plays for the Colony Theatre, Central Coast Repertory, and Nottingham Players, and is soon to be seen in the upcoming film, Get A Job, starring Bryan Cranston. Nicklin has produced or consulted for numerous film, television and electronic media projects, plus more than a hundred live events. He is a fervent supporter of independent projects from initial idea to executable plan by providing professional consultation, end-to-end project management, fundraising leadership, and stakeholder relations to monetize and create the most marketable products. Stay tuned for more about this new musical. www.devilyouknowmusical.com.


    TELEVISION: The American Masters Season 27 finale Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love will premiere nationally on Friday, December 27, 2013, 9-10:30 pm on PBS (check local listings). I’ve seen the documentary and this beautiful portrait of one of musical theatre’s greatest composers is not to be missed. It features candid interviews with his collaborators from music, stage and screen, and takes a deeply personal look at one of the greatest artists of our time. “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does It Better,” A Chorus Line -- Marvin Hamlisch’s hit streak was staggering. By age 31 he had won four Grammys, an Emmy, three Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize -- making him one of only 2 PEGOT winners ever. New interviews include wife Terre Blair Hamlisch, Barbra Streisand, Steven Soderbergh, Carly Simon, Quincy Jones, Christopher Walken, Sir Tim Rice, Joe Torre Allen, John Lithgow, Lucie Arnaz, Ann-Margret, Sir Howard Stringer, Kelli O'Hara, Brian DArcy James, Idina Menzel, Melissa Manchester, songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, and many others. For my previous Special BWW Coverage of the show, Click Here.

    The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer will air on ABC 7 at 7:00 pm, Sunday, Dec. 22. You can also watch The Polar Express on ABC Family at 8:00 pm, Monday, Dec. 23.

    FILMS: The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood will host a special engagement of the Sing-A-Long version of Disney’s classic Mary Poppins, January 10 – 20. Audiences are encouraged to dress as their favorite characters from the film, and sing along to the classic soundtrack as the words to the songs are projected up on the screen. There will also be a costume contest on opening night and other special opening night surprises. El Capitan guests may also go “Behind the scenes” of the making of Mary Poppins with rarely seen unit photography from the Walt Disney Archives and a special “Walking On Cherry Tree Lane” photo opportunity on display throughout the run. In addition, January 14 is Tiny Tot Tuesday. During the 10:00 am performance parents and small children can enjoy the movie in a Tiny Tot-friendly way, with lights dimmed rather than out and reduced sound levels. Daily showtimes are 10:00 am, 1:15 pm, 4:30 pm, and 7:45pm. Special General Admission ticket price of $10 includes popcorn. VIP price of $20 includes a reserved seat, popcorn and drink (for all ages). Tickets are available at the box office, at www.elcapitantickets.com, or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. I also highly recommend the current film Frozen, starring Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Santino Fontana. The pre-show is terrific!


    CONCERTS/CABARET:Color and Light Theatre Ensemble will bring a one-night presentation of Joe Iconis’Things to Ruin to Southern California on January 11 at 9:00 pm. The theatrical rock concert is an incendiary collection of songs by Kleban and Larson Award Winner Joe Iconis (SMASH, The Black Suits and Bloodsong of Love) about human beings who are messy, emotional, drugged up, knocked down, inspired, electric and who don’t have nearly enough time to cause the kind of commotion they so desperately need to cause. Featuring direction and musical staging by Joanna Syiek, with musical direction by Jennifer Lin, the cast includes Emily Arkuss, Jeff Buco, Ben Burch, Samantha Eve, Ari Gwasdoff, Josh Hillinger, Tyler Ledon, Katharine McDonough, Jamie Mills, Kelsey Schulte, and Kristofer Sundquist. The concert will take place at Surf Dog’s Sports Grill located at 5932 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. For tickets and more information, go to www.colorandlighttheatre.org.


    Pasadena Playhouse is offering 30% off tickets for its star-studded concert One Starry Night to benefit The ALS Association - Golden West Chapter, on Mon. Jan. 13, 2014 at 8pm. Use the code BLOG30 when you order tickets HERE. Joining the cast is Richard M. Sherman (two-time Academy Award-winner for Best Song and Best Score of Mary Poppins, who is being portrayed by Jason Schwartzman in the just-released Disney film Saving Mr. Banks), Kerry O’Malley, Amy Paffrath, Barry Pearl, Drew Seeley, Daniel Tatar, and Bruce Vilanch. Directed by Grammy Award-nominee Bruce Kimmel, with musical direction and orchestrations by Richard Allen, the evening will also feature performances by Obba Babatunde, James Barbour, Kay Cole, Daisy Eagan, Crow Garrett, Ilene Graff, Juliana Hansen, Melora Hardin, Jean Louisa Kelly, Jason and Nolan Livesay, Gary Morgan and The Flying Morgans, James Mulligan, Reagan Pasternak, Jonathan Pendragon, Joan Ryan, Rex Smith, and Terri White. The evening will also feature special appearances by Terri Ivens, Kate Linder, and Charlene Tilton.

    Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents New Kids in Town on Sunday, January 5, at 7:00 pm. The show will star Paige Befeler, Brennley Brown, Quintan Craig, Oliviana Marie, Hadley Belle Miller, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Sarah Staitman, and Carter Thomas, with Music Director: Tom Griep. Reservations: (818) 754-8700. Doors open for dinner at 5:30 pm. Show starts at 7:00pm. For more about Sterlings, visit www.msapr.net.


    The Grove Theatre in Upland invites you to spend a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with The King and Company at The Grove Theatre. Chris Luna and the TCB Flashband are returning to The Grove Theatre on New Years’ Eve at 9:00 pm. Luna is one of Southern California’s premier Elvis Tribute artists and has been performing his Elvis Tribute Show (Chris Luna - A Tribute to ELVIS!) since 1998. Joining Chris is award winning Jacob Roman, the 17 year old Elvis Tribute Artist who has been wowing audiences all over Southern California and Nevada. The show also features Beach Boys’ tribute band, The Nocturnes, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello tribute artists AK Kist and Megan Walker, Wendy Lynn Adams, who performs tributes to Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, and Blues Brothers tribute artists Gary Anderson and Chris Luna. Chris pays tribute to Tom Jones and Gary brings Johnny Cash back to the stage. For tickets call (909) 920-4343 or go to www.grovetheatre.com.

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    Congratulations to the cast of ANNIE on all your hard work! www.burbankcommunitytheater.org

    Oliviana Marie as Annie

    Oliviana Marie (Annie), Richard Seymour (Daddy Warbucks)

    Brian Jackson as Rooster and Conchita Belisle as Lily St. Regis

    Rachel Diana as Miss Hannigan

    The cast of Burbank Community Theatre's Annie

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    HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Musicals in LA

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas 
    and the Happiest of Holidays to you and yours this holiday season!

    May 2014 bring you Music and Laughter and more Joy than your hearts can hold.

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    2013 is almost out the door and with the New Year comes the search for new talent as Executive Producer Michael Sterling and co-producers Barbara Van Orden and Peter Welkin launch the 8th Season of LA’s Next Great Stage Star® on Sunday, January 5th. The competition will run Sundays through February 16 (excluding Super Bowl Sunday on Feb 2), in front of a live audience with 20 contestants competing for the 2014 title, a $1000 cash award, a headlining engagement at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal, and other valuable prizes.

    The competition has launched the careers of more than fifty rising musical theatre artists, many of whom have been cast in top regional theatre shows, Broadway national tours, Las Vegas productions, and network television shows. Eight of the contestants have also made their Broadway and Off-Broadway debuts.

    All contestants will sing each week and will receive feedback from a panel of industry professionals. In addition to the panel of judges (which includes LA based producers, directors and casting directors), audience members will cast their votes in the categories of vocal and acting ability, stage presence, and personality. The musical focus changes weekly with a number of musical theatre styles featured so if you’d like to be in the audience, book your reservations now.  

    Week 1: January 5
    Contestants Choice. James Lent, Musical Director

    Week 2: January 12
    Breaking New Ground - A Little New Music. Bryan Blaskie, Musical Director

    Week 3: January 19
    The music of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. James Lent, Musical Director

    Week 4: January 26
    The music of Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter. James Lent, Musical Director

    Week 5: February 9
    The music of Stephen Schwartz, Marc Shaiman, Stephen Sondheim, and the Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert Sherman). James Lent, Musical Director

    Week 6: February 16
    Producer’s Choice. Contestants will have two solo songs to choose from, either up-tempo or ballad. James Lent, Musical Director

    LA’S NEXT GREAT STAGE STAR®
    Michael Sterling, Executive Producer/Director
    Barbara Van Orden, Co-Executive Producer
    Peter Welkin, Associate Producer
    Jackie Evans, Choreographer
    Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26, Feb. 9 & 16
    Reservations: 818 754-8700
    Brunch seating: 11:15 am - Noon
    Competition: Noon – 2:30 pm (Finale ends at 3pm)
    General admission: $15 Cover + $10 food or drink minimum
    Weekly complimentary raffle tickets for all guests
    Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601. www.msapr.net

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    OPENINGS: Laguna Playhouse kicks off the New Year with Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash, with choreography by Paula Hammons Sloanand musical direction and direction by Steve Steiner. Ring of Fire begins previews on Tuesday, January 7 and will open on Saturday, January 11 at 7:30 pm and run through Sunday, February 2. The show stars Stephen Brunson, Nathan Yates Douglass, Justin Droegemueller, Logan Farine, Allison Fund, Dale W. Given, Romain Rachline, Courtney Rada, Amberly Rosen and Zach Sicherman. Tickets: www.lagunaplayhouse.com or (949) 497-ARTS (2787). 

    Local authorRobert Hilburn(Johnny Cash: The Life), will also appear in conjunction with the playhouse’s production on Saturday, January 18, at 1:00 pm and 6:30 pm. Hilburn will speak about his book, answer questions, and sign books. There is no charge for this event, which is free with the purchase of a ticket to the 2:00 pm matinee or 7:30 pm evening performance of Ring of Fire. The event is co-sponsored by Laguna Beach Books. As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life. Hilburn was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed Cash extensively before Cash’s death in 2003. Drawing upon his personal experience with Cash and a trove of never-before seen material from the singer’s inner circle, Hilburn gives us a compelling, human portrait of one of the most iconic figures in modern popular culture -- not only a towering figure in country music, but also a seminal influence in rock.

    From the creators of the critically acclaimed Natalie Portman The Musical! (Nailed It Productions) comes the world premiere of Christian Bale The Musical! at The Chromolume Theatre at The Attic, January 3 - 19. It features book and lyrics by Brittany Garms, music by Tara Pitt, and a cast that includes Malik Aziz, Gwendolyn Bueker, Brittany Garms, Brandon Kasper, Hunter McClamrock, Tara Pitt and Garrett Stivers. The sketch comedy musical provides a hilarious look at movies, theater, and celebrity as Morgan Freeman leads us through the life of Christian Bale, and what may or may not have happened, highlighting his life and career. Directed by Brittany Garms with musical direction & choreography by Tara Pitt. For reservation, email naileditprod@gmail.com. The Chromolume Theatre at The Attic is located at 5429 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016. The show is recommended for ages 13 and up.

    BENEFIT: Actors from Disney’s The Lion King North American tour, playing The Pantages Theatre until January 12, will come together with local artists to perform a benefit cabaret on Monday, January 6 at 8pm at Supperclub the Restaurant (6675 Hollywood Blvd/Los Angeles 90028). Produced by the outreach organization the Helping Hands Campaign (HHC), Cabaret for a Cure will raise funds for Kristie Betz, a Los Angeles dance instructor afflicted with stage 3 breast cancer. A portion of the funds will also be contributed to the organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). The evening will feature stunning dance and song from Lion King cast members, plus special guests Erica Ash(BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood), Christian Spicer (Upright Citizen’s Brigade, The Laugh Factory), and recording artist Tah Mac. VIP tickets are available for $60 (with a pre-show cocktail reception, open bar, and hors d’oeuvres, 7pm-8pm) and general admission for $30 (doors at 7:30) at www.supperclub.la.

    AUDITIONS: San Diego Musical Theatre is holding auditions for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS on January 15 and 16. The show will be directed by James Vasquez with choreography by Janet Renslow and musical direction by Don LeMaster. They are looking for both Equity and Non-equity actors. For complete details and a breakdown of roles go to www.sdmt.org/audition

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    Make way everybody, we’ve got some new kids in town and they’re out to take over musical theatre one song at a time. Of course, I’m referring to Kritzerland’s latest cabaret show at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal. On Sunday, January 5th, Bruce Kimmel’s New Kids in Town! featured nine terrific up-and-coming young people ranging in age from 9 to 18, all of whom we’re sure to see on L.A. stages for years to come. What was especially memorable about this show was that the program included not just songs you’d expect to hear from the 18 and under set, but many that showed unexpected emotional depth from singers so young.

    The cast and production team of New Kids in Town! Photos by Karen Staitman

    Following a brief introduction by producer and host, Bruce Kimmel, the show kicked off with the sparkling trio of Sami Staitman, Sarah Staitman and Jenna Lea Rosen singing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof. The adapted lyrics to Rosen’s verses as Tzeitel imitating Yente, the matchmaker, provided some innocent laughs at Kimmel’s expense and set the lively tone of the evening. Kimmel writes all of the song transitions, filling them with little-known musical theatre trivia and stories that make the Kritzerland shows more than just a series of songs. The behind-the-scenes dish is funny, surprising, and always entertaining.

    Rosen returned later in the program with two additional songs. The first was a delicately expressive take on Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashmans “Disneyland” from the musical Smile that slowly built to some pretty great high notes. The second was a compelling version of Sutton Foster’s signature song “Gimme, Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie that closed the show. If there’s anything I know, it’s that Rosen is destined to do Funny Girl one day. You can already hear it in her voice.

    Sarah Staitman was featured on the beautiful ballad “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods. Its lyric is especially poignant and reveals new colors when sung by a young woman rather than an old witch and I applaud her for digging into the complexities of Sondheim at such a young age. Song and dance man Quintan Craig was ready to strut his stuff on “All I Need is the Girl” the Jule Styne classic with a Sondheim lyric from Gypsy, and “Santa Fe” from Disney’s Newsies. Craig is charming and charismatic, with a lovely singing voice and the kind of self-assurance that will land him in any number of Golden Age musicals, especially since he’s a terrific tap dancer. He has a smart understated way with comedy too, smoothly one-upping Carter Thomas in Sondheim’s princely duet “Agony”, also from Into the Woods. Thomas toured in Mary Poppins and is an energetic performer who put his own spin on Kander & Ebb’s “Wilkommen” from Cabaret and an unforgettably bold “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress.

    Sami Staitman is currently appearing in Pure Imagination: The Musical World of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, directed by Bruce Kimmel at Pacific Resident Theatre, and sang a lovely arrangement of the pair’s “Once Upon a Bedtime” and “The Dream” from the show. She returned later with a specialty number that Kimmel wrote for a musical revue called What If entitled “Annie” about a young girl who auditions for ANNIE but doesn’t get cast as the lead. Every young girl wants to be Annie and, as Straitman excitedly reveals, she eventually gets to do the role anyway because the original girl winds up with strep throat. It’s a delightful story song with a comic ending that the audience loved.

    It would be impossible to do a show like this without including at least one or two numbers from the real ANNIE. Oliviana Marie, Paige Befeler, Brennley Brown and Hadley Belle Miller are four young actresses who have all appeared in Charles Strouse’s orphan musical and gave us their high energy, absolutely adorable take on “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” featuring choreography by Kay Cole.

    Each of them also sang a solo number that highlighted their unique style. Oliviana Marie easily won the title of Miss Personality with a comedy song that showed off her acting chops, tap dancing, and ability to sell a pun. “At the Codfish Ball” may have been a hit for Shirley Temple in 1936 but Oliviana’s version was a delightful bubble of fun and a perfect choice for the girl with the Pepsodent smile who recently appeared in the title role in ANNIE at Burbank Community Theatre.

    Miller played Michael in Cathy Rigby’s latest national tour of Peter Pan and sang “I Gotta Crow” as her specialty number, handling the fast patter like a pro and delivering the lyric with perfect diction. She also has a natural likability onstage that is thoroughly engaging. Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle” takes on new meaning when sung by a young girl and Befeler’s version had a wistful quality that made her final notes even more heartbreaking than when sung by an adult.

    Brown is poised beyond her years and possesses an extraordinary understanding of what a song is trying to say. “Reflection” from Mulan and “The Girl I Mean to Be” from The Secret Garden were absolutely beautiful, and when her voice opened up and began to soar on “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, it was incredibly satisfying. She’s well on her way and I’ve no doubt we’ll see this young lady in a recording studio before long.

    Veteran cabaret entertainer Sharon McNight added a little salty to the sweet by bringing the ANNIE numbers full-circle with her growling red hot mama version of Miss Hannigan’s “Little Girls.” Even Kimmel was good for a song, charming the audience with a tongue-twisting Danny Kaye comedy number he learned when he was a boy, called “The Maladjusted Jester.” Then it was one last audience sing along to “Tomorrow” and that’s a wrap for Kritzerland’s New Kids in Town! 

    Kritzerland at Sterlings Upstairs at the Federal is produced and hosted by Bruce Kimmel, with associate producer, Adryan Russ. Music director for this performance: Tom Griep

    Sarah Staitman, Quintan Craig, and Jenna Lea Rosen

    Paige Befeler, Hadley Belle Miller, Oliviana Marie, and Brennley Brown

    Brennley Brown and choreographer Kay Cole

    Tom Griep, Bruce Kimmel and Sharon McNight

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    OPENINGS: Chance Theater presents the first show of its 16th anniversary season, and the first in its new theater, Lysistrata Jones, beginning Feb. 7. Opening night is set for Feb. 15 and the show will continue through March 9. Lysistrata Jones is directed by Kari Hayter and features choreography by Kelly Todd, music direction by Rod Bagheri. It stars Devon Hadsell, J.D. Driskill, Camryn Zelinger, Ashley Arlene Nelson, Robert Wallace, Klarissa Mesee, Chelsea Baldree, Danielle Rosario, Jackson Tobiska, Darian Archie, Michael Dashefsky and Ricky Wagner.

    Athens University is in the midst of a thirty-year losing streak, so Lyssie J. and her girl-power posse won’t “give it up” to their basketball-playing boyfriends until they win a game. The hilarious dialogue and upbeat score from five-time Tony nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn is an electric combination of Mean Girls, Glee and Pitch Perfect. The Opening Gala on Saturday, Feb. 15 includes a post-show reception at Chance Theater’s new location, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807. For tickets, call (714) 777-3033 or visit www.ChanceTheater.com.

    Getting to Know….Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the authorized version of the classic musical Cinderella for young people, will take place in North Hollywood Feb. 28 – March 23. The show features book & lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers, and is adapted by Tom Briggs. Presented by the Children’s Theatre Group of Southern California and The Eclectic Company Theatre, it is directed and choreographed by Kay Cole, and features vocal direction by Ben Enright. The cast includes Ava Benavente, Lola Michelle Brown, Zoe Busenberg, Sabrina Grace Carr, Tess Cooley, Ella Grane, Griffin Gunn-Myers, Langdon Janos, Justin Knott, Savannah Miller, Cleo Riley, Vera Wheatley and Jenna Zuckerman. Costume design is by Tricia Berry. Set and lighting design is by John Dickey. Produced by Sherry Lynn and Robert Briscoe Evans. For tickets, call (818) 508-3003 or go to www.ctgsc.org.

    The Fourth Annual Betty Garrett Memorial Musical Comedy Tribute at Theatre West will present four concert performances of By Jupiter with book by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, music by Rodgers and lyrics by Hart, Feb. 8, 9, 15, and 16th. Miriam Nelson directs and choreographs the Theatre West staging, as she did with previous concert readings of Panama Hattie and Let’s Face It. Brian O’Halloran returns as musical director. Proceeds from the performances support the continuing work of Theatre West and the Betty Garrett Musical Comedy Workshop, named in memory of the beloved MGM musical star who was a Theatre West co-founder and who moderated its musical comedy workshop for decades.

    Hippolyta rules as Queen of the Amazons, where women are warriors and men keep house, raise the kids, and buy new hats. The source of the queen’s power is the girdle of the goddess Diana, in the possession of and worn by Hippolyta. The gods have decreed that Hercules, as one of his assigned Twelve Labors, must relieve Hippolyta of the girdle and spirit it away so Hercules heads for Amazonia in the company of the Greek army. The fun has just begun. By Jupiter’s cast includes Saratoga Ballantine, Troy Guthrie, Patricia Jaramillo, Devra Korwin, Gerald Lancaster, Evan McNamara, Kerry Melachouris, Barbara Minkus, Anne Montavon, Donald Moore, Michael Pammit, Linda L. Rand, Nick Santa Maria, Sandra Tucker, and Sarah Ann Vail. For tickets, visit www.theatrewest.org.

    Theatre West also announces that its Storybook Theatre production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears has been extended by popular demand and will continue performances through June 14. The family musical features lyrics by Rob Meurer & Scott Martin, book by Scott Martin, and music by Richard Berent, with direction by Barbara Mallory Schwartz and Lloyd J. Schwartz. www.theatrewest.org

    MainStreet Theatre Company’s first production of 2014 is The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, a fun-filled musical adaptation of the beloved book by Jeff Brown. Kevin Cochran is the director, with choreography byLisa Hopkins and musical direction by Janice Rodgers Wainwright. The production will play two school performances on January 31st, and open to the public on Saturday, February 1st at 4pm, running through Sunday, February 16. The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley follows the adventures of Stanley Lambchop, a normal boy in all respects who is longing to do something amazing. He gets his wish when a bulletin board falls on him and he wakes up… FLAT! Realizing that he can fit in an envelope, he mails himself all over the world and has wonderful adventures, until he finally finds his way back home. The cast will feature Doug Harvey as Stanley, real-life husband and wife Michael Faulkner and Amanda Pajer as Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop, Ann Marie Lee as mail carrier Mrs. Cartero, and Josey Montana McCoy as Stanley’s brother Arthur. They will also play the many characters that Stanley meets along the way. Click Here for tickets and more information. 

    William Finn & Rachel Sheinkin’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will run Feb. 14 – Mar. 1 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, directed by Kristin Towers-Rowles, with musical direction by Jake Anthony. The cast includes Nicole Barredo, Tavis Dixson, Leigh Golden, Kimberly Hessler, John Devereaux, Craig McEldowney, Chuck McCollum, Erik Romney and Emily King Brown. www.elportaltheatre.com

    A new professional company, Riverside Repertory Theater plans to produce daring, innovative and high-quality musicals starting this March at The Box in downtown Riverside. Riverside Rep is a group of theater professionals, business people, and award-winning directors, designers and technicians committed to creating professional musical theater in the Inland Empire. First up for the new company is Fiddler on the Roof, in a production their website says will be “unlike any other you’ve seen!” Tickets can be purchased by calling (951) 808-5566 or by visiting www.riversiderep.org.

    MUSICAL THEATRE CLASSES:Dan Callaway’s Musical Theatre Workshop& Dinner is back, beginning Tuesdays, January 21st. Bring any song you’re working on, need to prep for an audition, or are adding to your book and work it. An accompanist is provided and Dans new structure is even easier than before. Class is $45 (It used to be $75/class, $300/month and there is a week-by-week sign up with no monthly commitment. Dinner at 6:00 pm. Class is 7:30 – 9:00 pm. Eight participants max. Location: Dan’s home in Eagle Rock. Click Here for more info and how to sign up.

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    OPENINGS:Open Fist Theatre Company presents a remount of their critically acclaimed production, James Joyce’s THE DEAD, book by Richard Nelson; music by Shaun Davey; lyrics conceived and adapted by Nelson and Davey; based on the short story by James Joyce. With choreography by Christine Sang, musical direction by Dean Mora and original direction by Charles Otte. The show runs Jan. 17 – Feb. 22, with opening night set for Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8pm at Greenway Court Theatre, 544 North Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood.


    Set in James Joyce’s Dublin, on the night of the Feast of Epiphany (January 6) 1904, Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s musical adaptation of THE DEAD is a hauntingly tender and emotionally complex story of an annual gathering of old friends and family. On the 30th anniversary of the Morkan’s annual holiday festivities, two aging sisters -- Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia -- and their niece Mary Jane host an evening filled with food, stories, memories and music.  Principal among the guests is Gabriel, the Aunt’s nephew. Amidst the portrait of revelry and hospitality, with the snow falling all over Ireland, Gabriel is confronted by an unexpected revelation from his wife which leads him to a quiet yet shattering epiphany of his own.

    The cast features Devon Armstrong, Charlotte Chanler, Kendra Chell, Martha Demson, Bruce Dickinson, Kiley Eberhardt, John LeMay, Nicola Hersh, Jacque Lynn Colton, Bruce Dickinson, Richard Knolla, Rob Nagle, Mary Linda Phillips, Beth Robbins, Judith Scarpone, and Melissa Sullivan, and Musicians Dean Mora (piano), Eden Livingood (violin), Kelly De Sarla (flute), Jennifer Richardson (cello). For tickets, please call (323) 882-6912 or visit www.openfist.org or www.greenwayarts.org.


    CABARET/CONCERTS: MISCAST: Right Singer, Wrong Song is back on January 27th at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal featuring three new singers and all new songs, including selections from West Side Story, Mamma Mia, A Chorus Line and at long last…Grease 2! MISCAT stars Mandy Kaplan, Will Collyer, Lori Alan, Erin Torpey, Tom Metz III, JP Karliak, Jennifer Hall, Justin Michael Wilcox, Ewan Chung, Chris Carlisle, and Kathryn Lounsbery. Dinner and drinks at 6:30 pm (no minimum); Showtime 8:00 pm. For reservations call (818) 754-8700. Click Here for more information.


    The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge will present an eclectic mix of classical, legendary Broadway and emerging talent as it starts its spring 2014 season with hallmark performances such as Its Showtime, Folks! Celebrating Sixty Years of Bob Fosse, Chita Rivera: A Legendary Celebration and the first-ever high school San Fernando Valley musical theater showcase. For more information go to www.valleyperformingartscenter.org

      
    BENEFIT: Theatre of NOTE is proud to announce the 19th Annual Hollywood Performance Marathon, on Saturday, January 18 beginning at 3pm and continuing until dawn, at Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd. (just North of Sunset) in Hollywood. NOTE’s Hollywood Performance Marathon celebrates its nineteenth year with over 50 performers who will donate their time and talent to benefit Theatre of NOTE. This highly anticipated local tradition is an all-day-all-night extravaganza of eclectic performances, including comedy, pancake juggling, poetry, puppets, performance art, dance, music, monologues and much more!

    Included on the roster of incredibly diverse and exciting performances will be NOTE’s own Kirsten Vangsness, Tom Lenk, Bill Brochtrup, Taylor Negron, John Fleck, Two Headed Dog, Ten West, Scot Nery, and many more. (All acts are subject to change) Tickets are $20 and no reservations are necessary. First come first serve seating. For more information, visit www.theatreofnote.com.

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    OPENINGS: 3-D Theatricals kicks off its 2014 musical theatre season withThe ProducersJan. 31 – Feb. 16 at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton (press opening Sat. Feb. 1st), and then move the production to Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center for its first season of “extended” performances Feb. 21 – March 2. Based on the hit 1968 film of the same name, this Mel Brooks masterpiece chronicles the hilarious adventures of washed-up Broadway producer Max Bialystock and his mild-mannered accountant Leo Bloom, as they scheme to get rich quick by producing the most notorious flop in the history of showbiz. David Lamoureux returns to 3-D Theatricals as director & musical director and choreography is by Linda Love-Simmons.

    Featured in the cast are Jay Brian Winnickas Max Bialystock, Jeff Skowronas Leo Bloom, and Hilary Michael Thompson as Ulla, with David Engel as Roger DeBris, Norman Large as Franz Liebkind, andLeigh Wakefordas Carmen Ghia. The ensemble includes Kim Arnett, Danny Blaylock, Katelyn Blockinger, Chris Duir, Jessica Ernest, Casey Garritano, Annie Hinskton, Bonnie Kovar, Tracy Lore, Adam Mantell, Leslie Miller, Eric Michael Parker, Justin Matthew Segura, Caleb Shaw, Laura Thatcher, and Stephanie Wolfe. For tickets to either location go to www.3dtshows.com

    Note:  The Producers is recommended for theatergoers 16 years and over. It is not recommended for audience members who are easily offended by bawdy comedy based on race, religion and sexuality. Contains strong language and adult humor.

    CONCERTS: Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presents its first season at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center – Air Supply on Saturday, January 25 at 8 pm; America on Saturday, February 22 at 8 pm; Broadway star Susan Egan, the original Belle of Beauty and the Beast, on Saturday, March 1 at 8 pm; and The Temptationson Saturday, June 7 at 8 pm. This  four concert season is intended to raise funds to support arts in the schools and maintain this beautiful state-of-the-art facility. The theatre is at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007. For information please call (626) 821-1781. Tickets are available at www.Arcadiapaf.org.

    LOTTERY:The Book of Mormon, is pleased to announce a lottery ticket policy for its National Tour, which begins January 21st at Hollywood Pantages. The production will conduct a pre-show lottery at the box office, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece; cash only. This lottery will be held prior to every performance. The producers are also excited to announce that during the first week of performances (Tue Jan 21, Wed Jan 22, Thurs Jan 23 & Fri Jan 24) one lottery drawing winner will be given their ticket(s) free of charge in celebration of the show’s return to Los Angeles. Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each; cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability. www.HollywoodPantages.com

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    The original Broadway cast of Kinky Boots. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

    HOLLYWOOD PANTAGES announces its terrific 2014-2015 season of shows. Current season ticket holders can renew their tickets beginning today. Season ticket packages go on sale to the general public on Monday, February 3rd at 10:00 AM at www.HollywoodPantages.com or by phone at 866-755-BWAY(2929). The season includes:

    JERSEY BOYS: October 1 – 19, 2014

    PIPPIN: October 21 – November 9, 2014

    KINKY BOOTS: November 11 – 30, 2014

    WICKED: December 10, 2014 – February 1, 2015

    NEWSIES: March 24 – April 19, 2015

    MOTOWN the Musical: April 28 – June 7, 2015

    THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: June 10 – July 26, 2015

    NINE O’CLOCK PLAYERS are delighted to announce the second show of their 2013-2014 season, a world premiere musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, featuring book, music & lyrics by Carol Weiss, musical direction by Gerald Sternbach, and directed by Todd Nielsen. The cast includes  Judy Claverie as The Emperor, Pam McGeary as Fester and also features Tara Burnett-Doering, Lenore Schlachtman, Lisa Sherman, Kitty Ogilvy, Mary Ferrara, Christina Doren, Andrea Saccone, Pam Schroer, Judy Rozzen, Susan St. Charles, Mary Lyon, Janice White, Judy Peters, Kim Harrison & Arlen O'Hara. The Emperor’s New Clothes will preview on Sunday, February 23 and will open on Sunday, March 2 at 2pm and run through Sunday, March 23 at the Assistance League Theatre, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place in Hollywood. For tickets, please call (323) 469-1970 or visit www.nineoclockplayers.com

    SAN DIEGO MUSICAL THEATRE presents CATS March 21 - April 6, 2014 (with a press opening on Saturday, March 22) at The North Park Theatre. Based on the universally popular poetry of T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the story, in song and dance, of the annual gathering of Jellicle cats at which time one special cat is selected to ascend to the Heaviside layer. A true musical theatre phenomenon, CATS opened at London's New London Theatre on May 11, 1981 and ran for a record-setting 21 years. The show’s London success was nearly matched on Broadway where it ran at the Wintergarden Theatre for just over 18 years. James Vasquez will direct the SDMT production. Choreography is by Janet Renslow and music direction by Don LeMaster. Tickets and information: www.sdmt.org 

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