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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    L-R: J.D. Driskill, Jackson Tobiska and Devon Hadsell
    Photos by Photo by Thamer Bajjali, True Image Studio

    Not much happens in Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Finn’s short-lived Broadway musical Lysistrata Jones. A group of Athens U. college girls decides to stop having sex with their basketball player boyfriends until they break their 30-year losing streak and win a game, which they do by the end of the musical. That’s it in a nutshell. Calling it a “sex jihad” is, I’m sure, supposed to make it seem smart and contemporary but the modern references in Beane’s book largely drift off into out of bounds territory with nary a chuckle.  

    The musical is a loose adaptation of Aristophanes’ Greek comedy, Lysistrata, about a group of women in Ancient Greece who went on a sex strike until their men ended the Peloponnesian War. Both perpetuate male/female sexual stereotypes yet Aristophanes’ work is a classic representation of early Greek theatre with a satirical edge. Lysistrata Jones, on the other hand, is just silly and superficial.

    Finn’s belt-heavy pop songs are the kind you’d sing along with on the radio but within the context of a musical they all sound the same. Rather than using them to move the action forward, they return again and again in multiple reprises that drive home what we already know. String the titles end to end and the first Act could have been musicalized in one song: “Right Now,” I said“Right Now,” “Just Once”I want to“Change The World” so“No More Givin’ It Up,”just“Lay Low”but“I Don’t Think So”so“You Go Your Way” cause I don’t know Where Am I Now.” The second act has even more repetition with another reprise of “Right Now,” another of You Go Your Way”and a new “Hold On” that gets a reprise later in the Act. I kept wondering why all the reprises. 

    What Chance Theater does have going for it, however, is a youthful cast that dances, cheers, and shoots hoops nonstop during Kelly Todd’s athletic choreography. Her moves take full advantage of Christopher Scott Murillo’s basketball court design with its gymnasium and pep rally-ready musicians perched on an upper platform above the main action.

    Vocals are mixed, with most handling the mid-ranges of the songs easier than high notes. Camryn Zelinger (as a very dry, very funny goddess, Hetaira) is the one to watch. She’s the sexy Greek vixen whose omniscient presence gives courage to Lyssie J (Devon Hadsell) and helps teach the boys a lesson during a crucial event at the local whore house.

    Hadsell is a likable fresh-faced ingénue, and J.D. Driskill (Mick Jackson), who possesses a lovely singing voice, plays the hunky team captain with confidence & swagger, but they have to work incredibly hard to give Beane’s stereotypical characters dimension. For the rest of director Kari Hayter’s ensemble, it’s mainly attitude and broad strokes, both in action and accents. As for audience appeal, with a young cast in place and given the subject matter, this ones sure to be most successful with a younger collegiate crowd.

    This is the first production for Chance Theater in its new home, the recently-named Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center located on the opposite end of the block from its old location. It’s a terrific venue that should provide the company with plenty of opportunities to expand its theatre options for audiences and continue to help them push the boundaries as they are wont to do. I look forward to seeing what they tackle next.

    Michael Dashefsky, Darian Archie and Ricky Wagner

    Ashley Arlene Nelson, Chelsea Baldree, Camryn Zelinger
    and Danielle Rosario


    L-R: Klarissa Mesee, Danielle Rosario and Devon Hadsell

    L-R: Klarissa Mesee, Devon Hadsell and Ashley Arlene Nelson 

    LYSISTRATA JONES
    Through March 9, 2014
    Chance Theater
    5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807
    Tickets: (714) 777-3033 or
    www.ChanceTheater.com

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    Sheila O'Connor, Caroline Reade, Tiffany Dissette, BJ Gruber, Alexis Field.
    Photos by Ed  Krieger.

    Girls’ night out just got a whole lot sassier now that 50 Shades! The Musical has arrived in LA for a month’s run at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, and women are coming out in droves to see what a group of comedy writers have done with their not-so-secret obsession. I’ll say this – it’s got balls alright.

    You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the erotic phenom Fifty Shades of Grey that serves as the basis for this unabashedly kinky musical parody. Nicknamed “mommy porn” for its frank portrayal of the budding BDSM relationship between a naïve college girl, and a hot, young billionaire, youd never call it a literary masterpiece. The dialogue is cheesy and its scenes are graphically raw, but the appeal for women of all ages is undeniable. Middle-aged housewives everywhere are living vicariously through the sexual exploits of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Even young professionals are fantasizing behind closed doors about what it would be like to be taken care of – in every way – by a man who is, by his own admission, “fifty shades of f*ucked-up.”

    All this attention has caused E. L. James’ trilogy to skyrocket to the top of bestseller lists worldwide since debuting in 2011 (Fifty Shades of Grey) and 2012 (Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed). The brand has also become a merchandiser’s dream. You can buy Fifty Shades wine bottles, jewelry, sex toys, ties, and T-shirts sporting Christian’s favorite phrase, “Laters, baby.” You can read a hard copy of the book, listen to an audiobook, download an ebook, and if you can wait until 2015, you’ll be able to see Fifty Shades of Grey on the big screen.

    Or, you can grab your girlfriends, get a driver, and head on down to Culver City for a spicy, musicalized version that never dreams of taking itself seriously. 50 Shades! The Musical is meant to be fun.

    Don’t expect it to be an out-and-out reproduction of what you’ve read in the book, however, because it’s not. It’s a parody; it’s not the book. It’s not at all serious but it sure is hilarious, as long as you go along for the right ride. Sex is a subject that is always ripe for skewering and 50 Shades! hits its subject hard. It not only spoofs its source material but also its own fans, and the book clubs it has inspired, in the process. (Musical theatre lovers – it also sends up a couple of the greats so watch for those moments as well.)

    For starters, there is plenty of bare-chested beefcake in the show, but none of it will come from Christian Grey. A shamelessJack Boicetweaks this male model of perfection with an incredibly rich, disgusting, eccentric, and inspired performance that will either make you shake your head or scream out loud depending on which song he’s singing. “I Don’t Make Love” is his sweaty showstopper that I’m sure two women in the front row will never forget while “Red Room” opens the second act in twinkling Gilbert & Sullivan style. (Music & lyrics are attributed to a team of writers: Albert Samuels, Amanda B. Davis, Dan Wessels, Jody Shelton and Ashley Ward and the book by these four plus Emily Dorezas).

    Eileen Patterson is utterly adorable as the virginal Ana and perfectly cast in the role. She sings beautifully and plays it straight from beginning to end, whether she’s singing the double entendre-laden “There’s a Hole Inside of Me,” doing a hysterical bed ballet with Boice, or getting spanked in a compromising position in front of 300 audience members.

    Glennis McCarthy returns to the role she originated, Ana’s roommate Katherine Kavanagh, for the Los Angeles run turning her into a cynical sex kitten complete with an over-the-top valley girl nasal twang. She, like the rest of the fearless ensemble, embraces the go big or go home element of sketch comedy that requires an actor to commit to his or her choices and take them as far as they possibly can. Nick Semar (Jose) certainly takes that note as Ana’s friend and hopeful Latin lover. Something as simple as developing the perfect character walk earns him plenty of comic mileage during his short stage time.

    It isn’t necessary to have read the book to follow the story, but if you have, you’ll be able to appreciate the finer points of the humor. A trio of book club ladies – Sheila O’Connor (Carol), Tiffany Dissette (Pam) and McCarthy (doubling as Bev), takes care of the narration as they become increasingly involved in their new-found voyeuristic addiction. They blend nicely as a girl group, with Dissette delivering a powerful lead vocal that would do Aretha Franklin proud on the title song, “50 Shades!” BJ Gruber, Datus Puryear, and Caroline Reade as Ana’s Inner Goddess, are the sexy dancers who provide some not too subtle subtext to the story within the story.

    The show is designed to travel in a trunk so there’s no set to speak of. An onstage 3-piece band sounds terrific on the songs, all of which go for the shock value of their lyrics rather than the inventiveness of their style. And that’s really what the show wants; a bold response from the audience for its brazen language and sexual innuendo. Love it or hate it, it does succeed in that mission.

    With the right mindset 50 Shades! The Musical is a hilarious time. You don’t need to have a few drinks to enjoy it, but let me tell you, it sure doesn’t hurt. We had the classic ladies night out experience, including drinks beforehand, perusing the table of lipstick vibrators and Red Room paraphernalia on display in the lobby, and laughing with the rest of the crowd in anticipation. No one said it was going to be high art, but judging from the women screaming with laughter around us, Id say it was a 50 Shades! good time mission accomplished.

    Ellen Dostal, Musicals in LA

    Sheila O'Connor, Eileen Patterson, Tiffany Dissette and Alexis Field

    Eileen Patterson and Nick Semar

    The Cast of 50 Shades! The Musical

    50 SHADES! THE MUSICAL
    February 25 - March 30, 2014
    Kirk Douglas Theatre
    9820 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
    Free parking available at Culver City Hall
    (across Culver Blvd from the rear of the theatre) 
    Entrance on Duquesne
    Tickets: (213) 972-4488
    www.50shadesmusical.com

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    The company of American Idiot. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

    Individual tickets for Green Day’s American Idiot which runs May 13 – 18 at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre are now on sale to the general public. It features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong and book by Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Winner of two Tony Awards®, American Idiot is the story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9-11 world through incredible spectacle, thrilling performances and with the hope embodied by a new generation. The national tour stars Jared Nepute as Johnny, Dan Tracy (Tunny), Casey O’Farrell  (Will), Olivia Puckett (Whatsername), Taylor Jones (Extraordinary Girl), Mariah Macfarlane (Heather) and Carson Higgins (St. Jimmy), along with Alex Boniello, Liam Fennecken, Sean Garner,Francesca Granell, Antwaun Holley, Andrew Humann, Alison Morooney,Johnny Newcomb, Michael Pilato, Eric Presnall, Turner Rouse, Jr., Josephine Spada and Chelsea Turbin. Tickets: 1-800-982-2787 or www.HollywoodPantages.com

    Ross Golan and Jennifer Brasuell in The Wrong Man. Photos by Ed Krieger

    The world premiere of new musical The Wrong Man has extended its run through March 30th at Skylight Theatre. Written and performed by Ross Golan, and directed & choreographed by Lee MartinoThe Wrong Man is an acoustical tale of what happens when the wrong man meets the wrong girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. Framed for murder, his ill-fated circumstances spiral out of control, leaving him at the mercy of a flawed judicial system. Tickets: www.skylighttix.com, or call (213) 761-7061. The Skylight Theatre, 1816 ½ N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles, 90027.







    30 Minute Musicals takes on its 10th musical parody. It’s Michael Bay’s Transformers that gets the skewer this time with original musical and plenty of “laugh at” moments. Starring Grace Phipps as Mikaela, DJ Blickenstaff, Michael Shepperd, Donovan Patton, Brant Cox, Alain Pierre, Joey Acuna, Sarah Schreiber, Adam Silver, Tom DeTrinis, Leonard Robinson, Jim Hanna, Clayton Farris, Brooke Seguin, Michael Tauzin, KC Lindley, Lindsay Wray, Julianne Dowler, Samantha Scanlan, Tanya Reese, and Sean Persaud as Michael Bay. March 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre, 7:30 pm. Adapted & directed by Brooke Seguin, with music by Brooke Seguin and Dan Wessels. www.facebook.com/events/1468310476716527

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    OPENINGS:The Visceral Companyhas announced its 2014 season production schedule. Included in the lineup are a fresh from off-Broadway west coast premiere (Recall), an LA premiere and the company’s first musical production (Zombies from the Beyond), plus two world premiere productions developed by The Visceral Company (The Call of Cthulhu and a still-in-development holiday show). You can read all about the shows on their website but Zombies from the Beyond looks especially hilarious. This rarely performed musical comedy is a sendup of 1950s B-movies and takes a satirical look at American ideals and foibles in the Eisenhower era. Cold War and space race paranoia threaten the good folks at the fictional Milwaukee Space Center in 1955 when a flying saucer lands. The craft is piloted by Zombina, a buxom alien aviatrix bent on procuring he-specimens to repopulate her planet. The show brings the 1950s nostalgically and hilariously to life with a tuneful, toe-tapping score. Its long-delayed LA debut will be part of the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival, May 30 – July 20. Book, music, and lyrics are byJames Valcq(co-writer of the musical The Spitfire Grill) and the show will be directed by Dan Spurgeon, with musical direction by Garth Herberg and choreography by Anna Safar. The company performs at the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood, CA. www.thevisceralcompany.com

    Chromolume Theatre has announced its cast for Altar Boyz, directed by Kristin Towers-Rowles, featuring choreography by Samantha Whidby and musical direction by Richard Berent. The show runs April 4 – May 11. Purchase now and save 20% off by using the code AB20 (through March 15). Altar Boyz is a foot-stomping, rafter-raising, musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band on the last night of their national “Raise the Praise” tour. The Boyz are five all-singing, all-dancing heartthrobs from Ohio: Matthew (Craig McEldowney), Mark (Michael Marchak), Luke (Jason Chacon), Juan (Joey Acuna, Jr.) and Abraham (Tyler Vess). With their tight harmonies and spectacular choreography, the Altar Boyz will delight you as they perform their signature hits such as "Rhythm In Me,""The Calling," and "I Believe." The Boyz question their loyalty to each other and ask whether or not faith is really holding them together. Will they deliver a message of unity or go their separate ways as many of their boy-band brethren have? Attend their final concert and find out! Click Here for tickets.
        
    The Garage Theatre in collision with Alive Theatre are celebrating 10 years on 7th Street in Long Beach with a diverse 2014 lineup that includes Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Dates for the show are August 1 – 30 and the production will be directed by Eric Hamme, with musical direction by Ellen Warkantine. Often described as brutal, scandalous, perverted and humorous; The Threepenny Opera is one of the earliest and most successful attempts to introduce jazz into the theatre. Season Subscriptions are on sale at www.thegaragetheatre.org or by calling (562) 433-8337. Single tickets go on sale Monday, March 10th. The season will also include:

    Sans Merci by Johnna Adams, directed by Katie Chidester
    April 4 – 26, 2014

    Night And Her Stars by Richard Greenberg, directed by Matthew Anderson
    May 30 – June 28, 2014

    Pink Milk by Alex Paul Young, directed by Ashley Allen
    Oct. 3 – Nov. 1, 2014

    11th Annual Holiday Melodrama, written and directed by Jamie Sweet
    December 5 – 20, 2014

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Join Color & Light Theatre for an evening of music and a round of pints during A St. Patty’s Day Celebration, an Irish concert of tunes from the lucky isle, including songs from Hansard’s Once. Bringing a bit of Ireland to the blessedly-warm SoCal, this show offers a rollicking and heartwarming way to ring in the holiday the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. The jamboree is a toast to what riles us up, what knocks us down, and what makes us happy to be alive. Tickets: www.ColorandLightTheatre.org

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    Kentwood Players presents Fiddler on the Roof with book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Jerry Bock, and music by Sheldon Harnick March 14 - April 19 at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. The production is produced by Rocky and Victoria Miller, directed by Harold Dershimer, with musical direction by Catherine Rahm. Tickets: (310) 645-5156 or www.kentwoodplayers.org

    L-R: Fiona Okida, Carly Linehan, Bradley Miller, Kelsey Nisbett, Susie
    McCarthy, Jessica D. Stone and Gabrielle Olivas. Photos by Shari Barrett

    Bradley Miller as Tevye

    L-R: Kelsey Nisbett, Gabrielle Olivas, Carly Linehan, Jessica D. Stone,
    Fiona Okida and Susie McCarthy

    Fiona Okida, Carly Linehan, Bradley Miller, Kelsey Nisbett, Susie McCarthy,
    Jessica D. Stone and Gabrielle Olivas


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    OPENINGS: Get up close & personal with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts’ latest musical in its ONSTAGE series when Floyd Collins opens this month. They’ve created an intimate theatre experience by placing 199 audience seats on the actual stage of the theatre which will be filled with this incredible award-winning musical AND the audience. Floyd Collins features music & lyrics by Adam Guettel, book & additional lyrics by Tina Landau, musical direction by David O and is directed by Richard Israel. Previews begin March 27, the show opens Saturday, March 29, and runs through Sunday, April 13. The cast will include Mark Whitten as Floyd Collins, Kim Huber as Nellie Collins, Victoria Strong as Miss Jane and will also feature Gary Lee Reed, Jay Donnell, Matt Magnusson, Larry Lederman, Jonah Platt, Josey McCoy, Joe Hart, Michael Haller, Zach Spound and Michael Byrne. Tickets: (562) 944-9801 or www.lamiradatheatre.com

    Gabrielle Pina’s Letters from Zora will return to Pasadena Playhouse May 10-18 (opening May 11), directed by Anita Dashiell-Sparks, with original music by Ron McCurdy and starring Vanessa Bell Calloway. Playwright Gabrielle Pina says, “Letters From Zora is an authentic multi-sensory experience of an extraordinary woman who defied the social conventions of the day and lived a life of her own creation. The artistic fusion of music, history, and literary prose illuminates the resilience of the human spirit as well as Ms. Hurston’s philosophy of life and literature in her own words.” Tickets: (626) 356-7529 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org

    KICKSTARTER: Check out Sweet Nothings, an indie musical comedy by Phillip Hughes and Jennifer Daugherty that celebrates love, food, music and that moment you realize that you have to stop wasting time and follow your dreams. Jack is a chef who dreams of opening an all-desserts restaurant; Gwen is an actress afraid to put up her hilariously weird one-woman show. Flitting through life, these two try their very best to avoid failure. But a deflated souffle brings them together. And their lives will never be the same. Here's the link for their Kickstarter page where you can help them make it happen.  http://kck.st/MJTRFd 


    CABARET/CONCERTS: Cabrillo Music Theatre next fundraising event will be a performance of Doris and Me, a tribute to Doris Day in celebration her 90th birthday on Sunday, March 30th at 7pm. It will take place in the Founders Room of the Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks. Doris and Me is one man’s quirky, loveable obsession with music and movie icon Doris Day. As the ultimate obsessed fan, Scott Dreier (“Smudge” from Cabrillo’s recent Forever Plaid) makes the show more than just a typical tribute show to a timeless artist, taking the audience with him on a sentimental journey to nostalgic times gone by. As he lovingly shares through classic treasured songs, personal anecdotes, humor, heart, and many Doris Day stories and history, Scott never lets us forget how much he loves her, and why he has become Doris Day’s biggest fan. Scott entertains with 26 Doris Day songs, including, “Sentimental Journey,” “Que Sera, Sera,” and “Secret Love.” Tickets: (805) 497-8613 or www.cabrillomusictheatre.com

    Chance Theater presents a night with some of your favorite Chance artists performing Broadway hits with a twist Tuesday, March 11th at 8pm. Ten performers will take the stage… and sing the wrong songs! Sorry, Wrong Number has something for everyone with one surprise after another as they switch up gender roles, ethnicities, and any other crazy thing you can imagine. Performers include, Ben Alicea, Miguel Cardenas, Paul Hovannes Hovannes, Robert Parkison, Robert Wallace, Ashley Arlene Nelson, Chelsea Baldree, Melinda Porto, Sarah Pierce, Laura Hathaway and Camryn Zelinger, with musical direction by Robyn Wallace. Tickets: (714) 777-3033 or www.ChanceTheater.com

    The Broad Stage & Mark Cortale present Broadway @ The Broad: Adam Pascal featuring Sirius XM Radio’s Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. Pascal first achieved fame as the original Roger in the iconic musical Rent, a role that earned him a Drama League award and an Obie award, and a Tony nomination. He received his second Drama League award for his role as Radames in the original Broadway cast of Elton John and Tim Rice's musical Aida. From there he played the final Emcee in Studio 54's acclaimed revival of Cabaret, and has also starred on the silver screen in School of Rock and as Roger in the film version of Rent. His impressive Broadway resume also includes featured roles in the musicals Memphis and Chicago. Tickets: Call (310) 434-3200 or go to http://thebroadstage.com/pascal.

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    L-R: James Simenc, David Crane and Donzell Lewis
    Photos by Gina Long
    The shining moment in this 70-minute Civil War musical comes in the final scene when the entire cast executes Ameenah Kaplan’s dramatic drum choreography with exciting precision. It’s a thrilling conclusion to an otherwise plodding musical by Doug Cooney (book & lyrics) and Lee Ahlin (music).

    Battledrum is the story of three boys whose only option during wartime is to become a drummer in the Union Army. Lead drummer, Jackson (David Crane), has been sold into service by his poor family. Rufus (James Simenc), orphaned when the Northerners burn down his home in Kentucky, is enlisted as second-drummer-on-reserve by Captain Wilkes (Will Cespedes), much to the chagrin of Jackson, a smug, self-satisfied young man who is secretly scared to death.

    Neither boy has much respect for the other but time and circumstances eventually help the two find common ground, with a little input from third-drummer-on-reserve, George Washington (Donzell Lewis), a runaway slave lost from the Underground Railroad. Though Washington won’t “fight another man’s battle,” when the Captain learns he can read and write, he is promptly signed up. As they advance to the final skirmish, each young man must overcome his fears and summon the courage to survive.

    In theory, it is a terrific subject. The historical aspect of the Civil War drummer boys hasn’t been explored until now and they are a fascinating part of our history. Many were only children when they were recruited to serve as the communication system between officers and their troops on the battlefield. Unfortunately, because of their important role, they also became a moving target, with many young boys ending up dead far too soon.

    Such a story would seem to be a sure-fire winner, but opening night’s early curtain (7pm) seemed to catch everyone off guard, including the staff, causing a delay of more than twenty minutes before the cast finally took the stage. By that time, energy was flagging and resulted in missed entrances and sluggish pacing that only served to highlight the lack of urgency in Cooney’s book and Christian Lebano’s direction. Only in the final few minutes does the plot advance into more dangerous territory and tension start to build, but by then it’s almost too late to feel the fire this war musical attempts to capture.

    Not that it isn’t without charm. Crane has some nice comic moments during “Everybody Hates the Drummer Boy” and when Simenc finally stops brooding he reaches a deeper emotional layer the story so desperately needs. Cespedes’s Captain Wilkes is strong yet fatherly toward the boys and Alexandra Wright’s haunting portrayal of the mentally fragile Annabelle is one of the most wonderfully unpredictable scenes in Cooney’s otherwise prosaic book.

    Musically, the show needs a richer sound to carry it through the emotional changes. Solo piano accompaniment from backstage creates little atmospheric color and provides only minimal support to singers whose abilities are not always up to the task.

    Scenic designer John Vertrees’ makes an impact with side-by-side Stars & Stripes and Confederate distressed flags hovering over the stage and a rural set that makes good use of its small space. Elizabeth Nankin’s historical uniforms and bedraggled Southern Belle gown add a sobering level of authenticity to the period design.

    L-R: Will Cespedes, Donzell Lewis, James Simenc and David Crane

     
    Left: James Simenc and Tara Bopp
    Right: Alexandra Wright and David Crane 

    L-R: Will Cespedes and David Crane

    Battledrum is double-cast: At this performance (The “Gettysburg” cast): Joseph Ahern, David Crane, Will Cespedes, DJ Harner, Donzell Lewis, James Simenc and Alexandra Wright.

    The “Vicksburg” cast includes Tara Bopp, Will Cespedes, Chris Clower, Kaitlin Cournelle, Patrick Curry, Mark Ostrander and Damone Williams. 

    BATTLEDRUM

    March 7 - April 19,  2014
    Sierra Madre Playhouse
    87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024
    Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or
    www.sierramadreplayhouse.org

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    OPENINGS:Musical Theatre West will present the west coast premiere of S’Wonderful: The New Gershwin Musical, created and directed by Ray Roderick, with musical direction by Bret Simmons and choreography by Charlie Williams April 4 – 20 (opening night scheduled for April 5). Five mini-musicals take audiences on a ride through the songs that made the Gershwin brothers the most successful team in musical history. S’Wonderful features over 40 classic hits such as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Shall We Dance, “ “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” The cast will include Rebecca Ann Johnson, Damon Kirsche, Ashley Fox Linton, Jeff Skowron  and Rebecca Spencer. Tickets: (562) 856-1999 x 4 or www.musical.org. Performances takes place at The Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.

    Upstairs at Vitello’s is presenting FREE late night musical theatre beginning this Friday night. There's a full bar for purchase. Join the cast of Zombie Prom, a ghoul-loves-girl rock musical every Friday at 11:00 PM beginning March 14. Seats are currently available for March 14, 21, and 28. For reservations, e-mail zombiepromtickets@yahoo.com with your name and number in your party, and check out their video below.




    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment have announced the cast of their upcoming production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS. CATS will feature Kelly Provart as Grizabella and Todrick Hall (whose hilarious YouTube video parodies have been seen by millions of viewers) as Rum Tum Tugger. Director/choreographer is Dana Solimando and musical director is John Glaudini.The cast will also include Dane Wagner as Mr. Mistoffelees, Clent Bowers as Old Deuteronomy, Karl Warden as Munkustrap and will also feature Madison Mitchell, Chryssie Whitehead, Neil Dale, Nina Schreckengost, Colette Peters, Derek Lewis, Lauren Decierdo, Daniel Dawson, Brian Steven Shaw, Jamie Joseph, Steven Agdeppa, Melvin Ramsey, Hannah Simmons, Autumn Crockett, Jenna Wright, Jake Dupree and Tiffany Reid. Previews begin Friday, April 18 (opening night is April 19_) and the show will run through  May 11, 2014 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada. Tickets: (714) 994-6310 or www.lamiradatheatre.com 


    The Grove Theatre is getting ready for Peter Pan, which will run March 28 - April 13. Join Peter, Wendy, John, Michael, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys as they do battle with Captain Hook and his pirate crew. The show is directed by Kris Kyer (who recently portrayed Dick Van Dyke in Saving Mr. Banks), and who will play Captain Hook. Maeve Riley is Peter Pan. Choreography is by Julio Villegas. Tickets: (909) 920-4343 or www.grovetheatre.com. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.

    Chance Theater has announced 26 hours of live performances for its 24hr Chance-a-thon, which will take place on Saturday, March 22 from 10am-11pm, and Sunday, March 23 from 9am-10pm. Throughout the 2-day event, local artists and community members will come together to share their talent in support of Chance Theater’s artistic and educational programs. Events include everything from learning the choreography from Lysistrata Jones to cabaret performances to new plays to live podcasts. I’ve highlighted a few select musical events below but for a complete schedule go to www.ChanceTheater.com/24hr

    • Rachel Mount - a cabaret of musical theatre and pop songs
    • Dis-FUN-ction” - Joanne Juliet Lapointe cabaret about all things grown-up told through song
    • King of the World - Ana Bomgaars and friends’ unique tribute of songs by Jason Robert Brown
    • So Happy (Singing) Together - a concert with Robyn and Robert Wallace
    • Seventh Street Jazz - with Cristiana Franzetti featuring multi-layered melodies, tight harmonies and exciting improvisations to delight audiences of all ages.
    • The Wild Things Children’s Theatre Troupe – interactive FUN with music for all ages!
    • Speak the Speech - with OCSA student actors and singers performing monologues, scenes, songs, and even some famous impressions.
    • Take a Chance! - a musical revue by Ragtag Entertainment
    • We Will Rock You 2! - with OCSA Senior Commercial Voice students doing original and copy pop and rock tunes backed by a live band.
    • Inspired - with St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church Choir
    • Miscast: A Broadway Cabaret! - with Jared Kaitz and friends; a show about performing the roles you have always wanted to play, but have been unable to, due to race, gender, type, etc.

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    OPENINGS: Pasadena Playhouse has announced its 2014-15 season, which includes the critically acclaimed Stop Kiss(Nov. 4-30), by Diana Son, directed by Seema Sueko; Sleeping Beauty, Panto at the Playhouse(Dec. 10 – Jan 4), by Kris Lythgoe, directed by Bonnie Lythgoe. This is an updated version of the classic story in the style of the traditional British family Panto which features family-friendly magic, a comedic twist and contemporary music.; Two for the Seesaw(Jan. 27 – Feb. 22), by William Gibson, directed by Sheldon Epps; Pygmalion(Mar. 17 – Apr. 12), by George Bernard Shaw. In addition, the Playhouse hopes to present Where We Belongby BeBe Winans & Charles Randolph-Wright, directed by Sheldon Epps, dates TBD. This world premiere musical tells the story of BeBe Winans and his sister CeCe Winans’ early involvement with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s religious television show ‘The PTL Club,’ which launched their careers. This pulsating production also explores what took place after they moved on from Tammy Faye before the downfall of the evangelical husband-wife duo’s Christian empire.” www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

    Pasadena Playhouse also brings back by popular demand Gene Kelly: The Legacy, An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly for three performances – Friday, April 18 at 8pm and Saturday, April 19 at 2pm and 8pm. During a unique evening, Patricia Ward Kelly - his widow, biographer and the person who knew him best - presents an intimate portrait of this dynamic and innovative artist who created some of the most memorable and iconic scenes in film history. Her compelling presentation combines rare and familiar film clips, previously unreleased audio recordings, personal memorabilia, and insights culled from her hours of interviews and conversations with her husband. Tickets ($15 - $70 plus premium) 626-356-7529 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.


    Out of the Box Theatre Company will present an intimate black box production of Bonnie & Clyde the Musicalat Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara April 3 – 13, bringing it to Southern California for the first time since its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse prior to its Broadway run. The musical features a Tony Award-nominated score by Frank Wildhorn and Don Block, and a book by Ivan Menchell. The cast features recent PCPA alum Lafras le Roux as Clyde Barrow and Santa Barbara actress Katherine Bottomsas Bonnie Parker, with William Schneiderman (Buck Barrow), Samantha Eve (Blanche Barrow), Deborah Bertling, Don Margolin, Marc Nicolas, Olivia O’Brien, Shannon Saleh, Craig Scott, Christopher Lee Short, Dillon Stave, Leslie Story, and Dillon Yuhasz. The creative team includes music direction by John Douglas, scenic and lighting design by Theodore Dolas, and technical direction by Brad Spaulding. Tickets: (805) 963-0408 orwww.outoftheboxtheatre.org. [Photo of Lafras le Roux and Katherine Bottoms by Sophia Winnikof]

    Phillip Hayes Dean’s Paul Robeson will resume performances at Ebony Repertory Theatre on Friday, March 21. Two-time Emmy Award-winner Keith David stars in this one-man play with music, returning to the stage after recovering from a knee injury. Accompaniment is by pianist/musical director Byron J. Smith and choreography is by Keith Young. The production will continue through Sunday, March 30, which was part of the previously announced schedule. Three additional performances are set for Friday and Saturday, April 18 & 19 at 8:00 pm; and Sunday, April 20 at 7:00 pm. Paul Robeson plays at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 West Washington Boulevard) in Los Angeles.A powerful chronicle of the life of Paul Robeson, Phillip Hayes Dean’s play takes us from his childhood in New Jersey to his adult life around the world. An All-American athlete and a lawyer with Columbia Law School credentials, Robeson faces the racism prevalent in society in the early part of the twentieth century. He strives to rise above, and it is his triumph in that struggle that turns Robeson into a modern day hero. Tickets: (323-964-9766) or www.ebonyrep.org.


    The Grove Theatre announces The Kingdom, A Rock Musical, for 6 performances only running on weekends April 25 – May 4. Starring Richard Bermudez as Jesus, The Kingdom is a high energy, Rock, Hip-Hop, Gospel & Pop version of the Passion of Jesus Christ (think Jesus Christ Superstar), that focuses on the life, trial, execution & resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Through dramatic storytelling, dynamic modern music, authentic costumes and realistic sets, this gritty retelling of the greatest story ever told brings to musical life the last week of Jesus of Nazareth. Although The Kingdom chronicles the story of Christ’s trial and crucifixion, it’s an ultimately uplifting tale that focuses on love, hope and human compassion. Tickets: (909) 920-4343  or www.grovetheatre.com. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.


    CABARET/CONCERTS: glory|struck Productions is launchingThe Album Project, a new concert-theatre series inspired by the music of today’s popular singer songwriters beginning Sunday, March 30 at 7:00 pm. Performances will take place at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal. The Album Project is a love letter to the artistic impact of records in a changing music landscape. Each volume produced will showcase a contemporary album, featuring live performances by some of LA’s brightest stars of stage and screen, as we re-imagine the music of the piece and journey through the tracks, front to back, illuminating the inherent stories and themes in a unique theatrical experience. 



    Volume One of the series will launch on March 30th as The Album Project:+, showcasing songs from Ed Sheeran’s debut studio album, which was certified quintuple platinum in the United Kingdom and was the highest-grossing US debut of a British artist since 2009. The concert will feature performances of Sheeran’s hits such as “The A Team,” “Lego House,” “Give Me Love,” “Drunk,” “Small Bump,” “You Need Me, I Don’t Nee­­­d You,” and “Grade 8” by Lindsay Pearce, Anthony Starble, Nicci Claspell, Ben Caron, Topher Rhys and Jamie Lee Barnard. The Album Project: + is developed and helmed by director Kate Sullivan Gibbens (Spring Awakening in Concert) with musical direction by Elmo Zapp (bare) and feature  new orchestrations and vocal arrangements by Elmo Zapp, Alex Seller, Patrick Burns, and Anthony Starble. Reservations: 818-754-8700 or www.inticketing.com/events/403715. Additional performances, venues, and volumes will be announced at a later date.http://facebook.com/TheAlbumProject

    Kritzerland presents These April Foolish Things Sunday April 6 at 7:00 pm at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal in North Hollywood. Performers include Sandy Bainum, Zachary Ford, Madison Claire Parks, Jenna Lee Rosen, Sami Staitman, Shannon Warne and Robert Yacko, with special guests Andrea Marcovicci and Richard Sherman. Music direction is by Lloyd Cooper. For reservations call (818) 754-8700.
    Fraser Entertainment Group presents An Evening of Classic Broadway on Monday, March 24, 8:00 pm.


    The show is aglow with dynamic renditions of your favorite Broadway musical numbers featuring Julie Garnyé, Damon Kirsche, Dennis Kyle, Kelly Lester, Matt Musgrove, Kate Pazakis, andPatty Reid,with musical director John Boswell. Songs across Broadway history, by such iconic composers as Berlin, Kander & Ebb, Lloyd Webber, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Schwartz and Styne, make this an unforgettable evening of entertainment. Upstairs at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City $15 cover + 2-item minimum. Valet and street parking available. Click Here for tickets and information or call (818) 769-0905.  

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    OPENINGS: Congrats to Chromolume Theatre who celebrated their 12th Anniversary on Saturday with a reception following their performance of The Musical of Musicals, The Musical! stylishly directed by Kristin Towers-Rowles. Prior to the show, artistic director James Esposito introduced the cast of Altar Boyz, Chromolume’s next production and the boys did a musical tease from the show. The 5-part harmonies sounded great and these boys definitely have personality. Get your tickets now at www.chromolume-theatre.com.


    CONCERTS/CABARET: Mack & Poppy return to Los Angeles with their new show The Patriot Act on April 25 & 26 at 9:00 pm at Cavern Club Celebrity Theatre. In this star-spangled romp, Mack and Poppy present a musical tribute to the greatest country in the world as a send-off to their beloved cabana boy Fernando, just prior to his imminent deportation. This dynamic duo of comedy and song will take their audiences on a road trip from sea to shining sea, across the purple mountains’ majesty, across the fruity plains, accompanied by music director Jack Cheddar at the piano. Tod Macofsky stars as Mack and Christopher Michael Graham as Poppy. Cavern Club Celebrity Theatre is located inside Casita Del Campo Restaurant. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/561022 or by phone at (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit www.mackandpoppy.com.

    TWITTER:Musical shout outs to a few of our Twitter followers we think are just great.

    @itkwydlds A new parody SLASHER Musical, a mash-up of the horror movies you loved from the 90’s with hits from the Disco Queen that you loved from the 70’s!

    @stevejuliankpcc KPCC Morning Host, playwright, actor, director and pickle eater

    @nmtsongs Once upon a time, MT fans braved the wilds of the internet to find sheet music by new musical theater writers. Once upon a time is no more.

    @StageRaw Steven Leigh Morris

    @LACulturalArts Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Advocate & Gochis Galleries at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Exhibit and show updates, news, discounted tix.

    @actors_project Committed to providing students around L.A. an unforgettable experience that only live theatre can offer

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    OPENINGS: Since 2007, CRE Outreach has worked to empower military veterans and the visually impaired through the performing arts. Now they are bringing an original musical to the Promenade Playhouse stage in Santa Monica, Beyond Sight, starring blind actor Robert Smith and former U.S. Marine Ginger Lawrence. The story follows a soldier who returns to the U.S. after losing his sight during combat in Afghanistan, featuring a book by Nick Sivakumaran and Jeremy Aldridge, music by Emmy-nominated Mark P. Leonard and Colin Simson, and lyrics by Greg Shane, Colin Simson and Mark P. Musical direction is by the composer, Mark P. Leonard, and choreography is by Allison Bibicoff. Also included in the cast are Tristan Bailey, Graig Churchill, Geoffrey Dwyer, Eboni Gentry, Sean P. Gorecki, Christopher Loverro, Cj Merriman, K.J. Middlebrooks, Raufel Muhammad, Shannon Nelson, and Dan Woren.

    “Our source material was taken directly from the work CRE Outreach does with vets and the blind in the community and authentically portrays their experience,” says CRE artistic director Greg Shane. “With Beyond Sight we hope to launch a larger discussion about how we treat our veterans – and drive home the point that disabilities do not define who people are.”


    “You can’t extinguish the human spirit,” says Aldridge. “That is the core of this show. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the macropolitics of our current wars, the individual stories of what many of our soldiers experience and overcome are inspiring.” 
    Beyond Sight runs April 25 – May 25 at The Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Floor, Hollywood, 90028. Parking at the Jefferson Building (garage entrance on McCadden, 1 block East of Highland) is $5 with theater validation. Tickets: (310) 902-8220 or www.creoutreach.org


    GYPSY is coming to Inland Valley Repertory Theatre (IVRT) Tuesdays and Wednesdays April 9 – 23 at Candlelight Pavilion starring Shaelynn Parker as Mama Rose. Loosely based on the Memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, it features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents. The classic Broadway musical is filled with memorable favorites like “Let Me Entertain You” and “Everything's Coming Up Roses.” www.ivrt.org


    BENEFIT:Celebration Theatre’s annual Vibrant Voice Awards benefit event is full of gold this year.  Original Golden Girl Betty White and her Hot in Cleveland co-stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick will read a classic episode of The Golden Girls as part of the evening’s entertainment and Sean Hayes will be on hand as the 2014 Vibrant Voice Awards are presented to rcipients Wendie Malick and Robert Forster. Directing duties will be shared by Celebration co-artistic director Michael Matthews and Ryan Bergmann. The evening will also feature a raffle for a walk-on role in a future Hot in Cleveland episode. Tickets are available at three price levels and can be purchased now at www.celebrationtheatre.com or by calling (323) 957-1884. The benefit takes place Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 pm at Sound Stage 19, CBS Studio Center in Studio City.


    CABARET/CONCERTS:Barbara Morrison will reprise her role as Dinah Washington in the one-year anniversary performance ofI Wanna Be Lovedon Sunday, March 30 (4pm) at the famed jazz-and-blues singer’s Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park. Co-written by Morrison and Michael Cormier, the musical play tells the story of Washington’s life and loves during a legendary career that ended in her accidental death at age 39 in 1963.

    “I wanted to tell a story about her entire life and named it I Wanna Be Loved because it best explained her life,” Morrison said. “She had seven husbands (including Detroit Lions star Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane at the time of her death) and her mother never supported her secular career and never came to see her. Her mother wanted her to stay in gospel, where she began.” The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center is located at 4305 Degnan Blvd, Suite 101, in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park. Tickets are $40. Call 310-462-1439 or go to www.barbaramorrisonpac.com for reservations.

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    OPENINGS: The full cast has been announced for Pasadena Playhouse production of Vanessa Claire Stewart’s STONFACE. The production, which enjoyed a run in 2012 at Sacred Fools Theatre Company, will play at The Playhouse June 3 - 29, with a press opening on Sunday, June 8. The almost original cast includes French Stewart (Third Rock From The Sun) as Buster Keaton, Jake Broder (Joseph Schenck), Tegan Ashton Cohan (Natalie Talmadge), Conor Duffy (Edward Sedgewick/George Jessel), Joe Fria (Young Buster), Scott Leggett (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle), Guy Picot (Charlie Chaplin), Rena Strober (Eleanor Norris/Norma Talmadge) and Pat Towne (Louis B. Mayer). Joining them will be Tony Award-winning actress, Daisy Eagan as Mae. STONEFACE is directed by Jaime Robledo, with music by Ryan Johnson, choreography by Natasha Norman, stunt choreography by Andrew Amani, and projection design by Ben Rock& Anthony Backman.

    Chronicled through the lens of his own silent films, STONEFACE recreates some of Buster Keaton’s most memorable gags live on stage, capturing the legend of a bygone era and telling the tale of the redemption of one of Hollywood’s greatest performers. You can read my review of the Sacred Fools production Here. It was a theatre highlight of the year and I highly recommend that you get your tickets now for what is certain to be a terrific version at The Playhouse. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. Tickets (626) 356-7529 or www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.

    Congrats to One More Productions at The GEM Theatre, who has officially reopened after a two-year hiatus caused by a devastating fire. Their next production is VIOLET, the story of a young woman on a quest to find beauty and love after a childhood accident left her scarred. In hopes that a televangelist can heal her, she hops on a Greyhound bus and embarks on the journey of a lifetime. Violet features a hit gospel, rock, country, and rhythm & blues score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Brian Crawley. The show runs April 12 – May 4, Thurs. – Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 2pm. The new season also includes Evita (June 26 – July 20), Gypsy (Aug. 21 – Sept. 14), Assassins (Oct. 9 – Nov. 2), and The Holiday GEM (Nov. 28 – Dec.21). For tickets and information call (714) 741-9550 x. 225 or visit www.onemoreproductions.com.

    EXTENDED:Wild Songs and Naked Souls has extended through May 18 at T.U Studios in North Hollywood. This world premiere engagement of a new musical revue, conceived and directed by Gloria Gifford, features writings of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Sand, Isadora Duncan, Lord Byron, Omar Khayyam, Sei Shonagon and Wanda Gag with music by John Scott and Gloria Gifford. Saturdays at 8:00, Sundays at 7:30. Tickets: (310) 366-5505 or www.tix.com.

    CHILDREN’S SHOWS: Creating Arts brings back its one hour mini-musical versions of Snow White and Wizard of Oz in April. The productions incorporate their trademark “flexible fourth-wall” which allows some scenes to be viewed like a “regular” theatrical musical or play with audience members watching the performers on stage, and other scenes experienced interactively, encouraging the audience to participate with the performers in the scene. They are perfect for very young children, the first time patron, or anyone who loves to sing along.

    Snow White, a Pint Size Playfor Ages 3 and up, runs April 12 – May 11 (Saturdays 12:00 – 1:00 pm & Sundays 1:00 – 2:00 pm). It combines film and projection with live action and music for a play that pulls you right in, plus blackouts, strobe-lights and fog for special effects. Wizard of Oz, a Mini Musical for Ages 3 and up, runs April 12 – May 11 (Saturdays 2:00 – 3:00 pm & Sundays 3:00 – 4:00 pm). This fun show is a cinematic-theatrical-interactive-musical experience that blends film and screen technology with live action for a unique show that parents and kids will all enjoy. Come boo for the witch, cheer for Dorothy and her friends, sing, dance and interact while introducing your children to a classic. All performances take place at Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd St. Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tickets ($12.00 for children and  $20.00 for adults) are available  by calling (310) 804-0223 or visiting www.creatingarts.org.

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    OPENINGS: The Group Rep presents the world premiere of The Ghost of Gershwin May 9 – June 22, featuring music by Wayland Pickard, book by Doug Haverty, lyrics by Laura Manning and Wayland Pickard, directed by Jules Aaron. Set in today’s Brooklyn, a struggling young composer is haunted by the music of George Gershwin until he meets the Ghost of Gershwin and his life is never the same. This romantic musical harkens back to the 1930s when artsy tenants of an apartment building were known to burst into song and dance at the drop of the hat. The musical features all original songs, and is a delightful homage to the legacy of American music icons George and Ira Gershwin. Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm at Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood 91601. Talk-backs on May 18 and June 22. Tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990.

    BENEFTS: Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA) will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with their 5th annual benefit TWENTYWONDER, A Carnival of the Mind on Saturday, June 28. This is the 4th year that the L.A. Derby Dolls will host the critically-acclaimed, 21 and older fundraising event, at the Doll Factory (1910 West Temple Street) in Los Angeles. The evening will feature an all-star roller derby bout, music, comedy, art, sciences and plenty of last minute guest surprises. Proceeds will benefit DSALA’s efforts to support those born with Trisomy 21/Down syndrome living in greater Los Angeles. Tickets go on sale on May 1st at www.TwentyWonder.org.

    Movie, television and recording star James Darren is joining the All-Star company performing in the 30th Anniversary Spectacular, S.T.A.G.E. Goes to the Movies on Saturday, May 10 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Darren became an instant cinematic heartthrob in the legendary beach and surfer Gidget movies. He made 20 films before turning to television as an actor and director. SiriusXM personality Frank DeCaro is also joining the event as Celebrity Auctioneer. DeCaro appeared as the flamboyant film critic for six years on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Among the several priceless packages Frank will be presenting during the event’s live auction are a Tony Award Week trip to New York City that includes airfare, theatre tickets and accommodations; a one week Palm Springs get away in a private villa; and signed “Musical Quotes” from legendary Broadway composers. Tickets: www.stagela.com

    CABARET: Lynda Carter returns to the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood with her new show, The Time of My Life! Joining her will be her All-Star Band including Blue Lou Marini, Paul Leim and Luis Conte. Two shows only, April 11 & 12. Tickets: www.lyndacarter.com/home.html

    PUPPETS AND MUSIC:LA Puppet Fest 2014 is back for its second year. The city-wide celebration is dedicated to sharing and promoting the art of puppetry through performances and workshops. Now through April 13 the festival offers over 25 events, many appropriate for children and families and there are adult only programs as well. Venues are located around the city, from Santa Monica, West Los Angeles to West Hollywood and Hollywood. Participating in this year’s LA Puppet Fest are Puppet School; Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams; LA Guild of Puppetry; Little Stage Puppet Theater; Bob Baker Marionette Theater; Rogue Artists; Sock Puppet Theater; Beth Peterson; Leslie K. Gray; Gina Pavlova; Skirball Cultural Center; and more. For the complete schedule and details, including Tales of Longing and Belonging: The Losing, Finding and Making of Place, an Evening of Puppetry and Song on April 11, go to www.lapuppetfest.com.

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    Mark Whitten as Floyd Collins. Photos by Michael Lamont

    It took nine years for Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins, which debuted Off-Broadway in 1996, to finally premiere in LA and it’s hard to believe that the first company with enough vision to produce the complex musical here did so in a tiny theater with extremely limited resources. Somehow, using incredibly inventive direction and stagecraft, West Coast Ensemble and director Richard Israel created an unforgettable experience; one that I was fortunate enough to see and can only describe as theatre magic at its very best.

    Now, another nine years later, Israel is directing an equally compelling and creative production of Floyd Collins as part of La Mirada Theatre’s ONSTAGE series. For the special series, artistic director Brian Kite brings the audience right up to the action by closing off the house and placing the audience seats on stage. Last season’s Spring Awakening was the first of the series in the altered space and the experience struck a chord with audiences who couldnt get enough of it. For Floyd Collins, winding your way through the reconfigured backstage area to your seat is the perfect prologue for a musical that takes place in the underground caves of Kentucky. The element of the unknown is present before it even begins.

    The true story of the events that took place in early 1925 would make Floyd Collins famous but not for the tourist attraction he hoped to discover. While searching for the perfect cave, Floyd was trapped by a rock that pinned him in a tight crawlspace far beneath the surface. The media frenzy surrounding his rescue attempt was unlike anything the public had seen since the Lindbergh kidnapping, and though efforts over a two-week period of time were ultimately unsuccessful, the name Floyd Collins would live on for generations.

    Guettel incorporates the mournful sound of the mountains and lilt of the Kentucky dialect into his stunning Bluegrass/operatic score making it an expressively rich vehicle for the storytelling. A simple lyric like “Deep in the land of the hollows an’ creeks, If’n you git lost you git lost fer weeks…” quietly eases the audience into the story; it’s haunting melody first sung delicately by Jewell Estes (Matt Magnusson) accompanying himself on guitar before strings and other voices melt together to layer in the sophisticated textures that characterize Guettel’s compositions.

    His music is revelatory, complex and difficult to learn but absolutely magnificent in the way it connects the emotional journey of its characters to the audience, prompting a powerfully empathetic response. Musical director David O employs great sensitivity in bringing its many colors to life, serving a directorial vision that focuses on the bonds of family, and the critical relationships that come into play in the middle of a crisis.  

    This is weighty material for a musical and the cast handles it beautifully with an astounding amount of vitality and tenderness. When Floyd (Mark Whitten) plays with the cavern, joyfully singing echoes through the space like the cave itself is a playmate, it is impossible not to smile at the kick he gets out of his own adventure. And conversely, when fears overtake him while he’s trapped, it reaches us at the level of our own humanity as we witness his complete vulnerability. Whitten captures both Floyd’s childlike innocence and adventurous spirit with nimble dexterity in a breakout performance that is as charismatic as it is natural.

    Kim Huber as Nellie Collins with Mark Whitten

    Kentucky-born Kim Huber is superb as Floyd’s sister Nellie, a role she toured with nationally, directed by bookwriter Tina Landau. Her uncanny connection to Floyd is fascinating and Israel stages it much like she is his guardian angel holding vigil; in this case, an angel with a gorgeous soprano voice and the ability to bend it to Guettel’s vocal lines with surprising nuance. 

    Also terrific is Jonah Platt as Floyd’s younger brother, Homer. With each role on an L.A. stage he shows increasing depth and this one takes him through a dizzying range of emotions. The love between the boys is evident as they laughingly roughhouse at the river, and when it comes time to soothe Floyd’s hysteria, Platt does it by playing a game in “The Riddle Song.” Anger, defiance, desperation and strength are all bound together in his memorable performance that builds upon what little the text gives him to work with. 

    As Floyd’s father, Lee Collins, Larry Lederman returns to the role he took on for Israel in the WCE production, balancing his character’s harsh pragmatism with a sad sense of hopelessness. 

    Josey Montana McCoy plays Skeets Miller, the reporter who brings the news of the cave-in to the outside world. Though his vivid descriptions of Floyd’s plight would turn the event into a circus of gawkers and opportunists, he was also the only man small enough to make his way down to where Floyd was trapped, and he had a sincere desire to help rescue him. One of the most poignant and beautiful scenes happens when Floyd asks for a favor before Miller leaves the cave for the last time.

    Levity opens the second act with a bright specialty number featuring a trio of reporters (Michael Haller, Zach Spound and Michael Byrne) in a ridiculous reporting sequence spouting headlines that become increasingly more outrageous. The well-positioned change in tone – and great choreography – leads into a full-blown media carnival with everyone trying to capitalize on Floyd’s bad luck.

    Israel also creates a significant amount of tension in his staging of the rescue efforts, the first of which takes place when all of the miners try to dislodge Floyd from the rock and pull him up. Using multiple sections of rope, and by placing the men at strategic positions around the entire stage, you see it happening literally right next to you. The coordination of everyone straining and pulling together to free Floyd creates a moment of complete immersion in the story that was so horrifically powerful, I’ll never forget it.

    To simulate the intricate underground pathways and caverns, lighting designer Lisa D. Katz, who did the original design for the WCE production of Floyd Collins, uses very specific lighting to define the space and create contrast between reality and the more dreamlike sequences. The openness of Rich Rose’s scenic design allows plenty of room for the imagination to take over while still providing some surprising touches.

    Without reservation, I recommend that you experience this artistically-rich, exquisitely-rendered production of Floyd Collins. The ensemble work (which also includes Victoria Strong (Miss Jane), Joe Hart (H.T. Carmichael), Jay Donnell (Ed Bishop), and Gary Lee Reed (Bee Doyle), is extraordinary and the vision thoughtfully realized for an intimate audience experience youll never forget. It has now taken the top spot on my must-see musical list for 2014. Go see why.

    Jonah Platt and Mark Whitten as Homer and Floyd Collins

    Josey McCoy Montana (above) with Mark Whitten

    FLOYD COLLINS
    March 27 – April 13, 2014
    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
    14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada
    Tickets: (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or
    www.lamiradatheatre.com

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    Musical Theatre West presents the west coast premiere of S’Wonderful: The New Gershwin Musical, created and directed by Ray Roderick, now through April 20. S’Wonderful features over 40 classic hits such as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Shall We Dance,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” Get your tickets now: (562) 856-1999 x 4 or www.musical.org.

    L-R: Rebecca Ann Johnson, Damon Kirsche, Ashley Fox Linton and
    Rebecca Spencer. Photos by Caught in the Moment Photography

    L-R: Rebecca Spencer, Rebecca Ann Johnson,
    Damon Kirsche and Jeff Skowron

    L-R: Rebecca Spencer, Ashley Fox Linton, Jeff Skowron
    and Rebecca Ann Johnson

    Rebecca Ann Johnson and Damon Kirsche

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    OPENINGS: 3D Theatricals has announced the cast for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, which will run May 2 – 18 at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton (opening night May 3). Audiences of all ages will enjoy this irreverent and deliciously witty reimagining of some of our most treasured fairytales. Fairytale characters embark on a quest and everyone’s wish is granted at the end of Act One, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins as a lively, cheeky fantasy in the style of The Princess Bride ultimately becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.

    The cast is led by David Allen Jonesas the Narrator/Mysterious Man and Bets Malone as the Witch with Jeff Skowronas the Baker; Viva Carr as the Baker’s Wife, Jeanette Dawson as Cinderella,Jordan Lamoureux as Jack, Julie Morgantaleras Little Red Riding Hood, Tracy Rowe Mutz as Jack’s Mother, Tim Martin Gleason as Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, and Cameron Sczempkaas Rapunzel’s Prince. The company also includes Leslie Stevens (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Melanie Mockobey (Lucinda),  Melina Kalomas (Florinda), Lisa Dyson (Cinderella’s Mother/Granny), Cliff Senior (Cinderella’s Father), Mueen Jahan (Steward), Renna Nightingale (Sleeping Beauty), Christanna Rowader (Rupunzel), and Allison Sheppard (Snow White). T.J. Dawson has been set as director/choreographer, with Rufus Bond Jr. as assistant director and Leslie Stevens as assistant choreographer and dance captain. Julie Lamoureux serves as musical director/conductor with David Lamoureux as musical contractor. Tickets: www.3dtshows.com

    The Pasadena Playhouse is bringing two unusual one-person shows performed in repertory to the newly refurbished Carrie Hamilton Theatre May 15 – 31 (press opening Fri. May 16: Amy G in EntershamementandJoe Orrach in In My Corner. The Carrie Hamilton Theatre has gone from a proscenium theatre to a black box, and can now be configured to accommodate many different kinds of productions. Amy G is a masterful entertainer (singer/comedian/rollerskater) who recently starred in the Off-Broadway show, La Soirée. Her unique style of physical, musical, stand-up and improvisational comedy is inspired by and reminiscent of Carol Burnett, Liza Minnelli, Buster Keaton, Julie Andrews and the Muppet Show; but she is very much one of a kind. Orrach, an internationally renowned tap dancer, actor, singer, storyteller and U.S. Air Force welterweight boxing champ, came to fame as one of the stars of San Francisco’s long running Teatro ZinZanni from 2000 to 2006. Tickets: 626-356-7529 or www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

    EXTENDED: The Untold Story of Indie Rock, a one-of-a-kind live, rock musical comedy at Second City has been extended and will now play through August 9. The show, which features 5 performers who portray 14 different bands and a slew of other comic characters, takes the audience on a hilarious journey through a mock history of Indie Rock. Written and directed by Brett Duggan with consulting director, Josh Funk and musical accompaniment by Ben Bromflied. Cast includes Brett Duggan, Jason McNichols,Casey Schuckett,Todd Risenmay, Kevin Stafford and Christopher Roque. Click Here for more info.


    KICKSTARTER:Musical Theatre Orange County is doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for its upcoming production of Disneys Tarzan, the Musical. Contributions will help with flying, royalties, music, venue rental, costumes, props, sets, director staff, rehearsal space, storage, insurance, printing, technical support and much more. Performances take place at the El Dorado Performing Arts Center July 18, 19, 25, 26 at 7:30 pm and July 20 & 27 at 2:00 pm. For more info and to check out their campaign, go to www.mtoc.org.

    CONCERTS/CABARET:Angel City Chorale reunites with composer Christopher Tin for its upcoming spring concerts, Elements, on June 7 & June 8 at the Wilshire United Methodist Church. Conducted by ACC founder and artistic director Sue Fink, the concerts will feature selections that explore the four elements in a variety of musical styles including pop (Earth, Wind & Fire), classical (Brahms), as well as spirituals (“Ain’a That Good News”), as well as the west coast premiere of Tin’s new song cycle, The Drop that Contained the Sea, the much-anticipated follow-up to Tin’s Grammy Award-winning album, Calling All Dawns. Tin’s new classical/world music fusion work features stunning juxtapositions of rhythms and cultures. Songs depict global visions of water from the snows of Mongolia to the rains of Africa. Each of the 10 pieces is sung in a different language, including Proto-Indo-European, Turkish, and Xhosa. Tickets: www.angelcitychorale.org

    On Mon, June 9th at 8:00 pm come celebrate one of the biggest nights in theatre at the 3rd annual Night After the Tonys starring Broadway star Linda Eder, presented by Chris Isaacson at the Ford Amphitheatre. This songstress’ diverse repertoire spans all genres including Broadway, Pop, Country, Jazz and the Great American Songbook. Eder will be accompanied by a live band and the program will feature music from her fourteen solo albums, as well as signature songs from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll & Hyde and more. Click Here for tickets. 


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    OPENINGS:Actors Co-op will close its 22nd Season with 110 in the Shade (book by N. Richard Nash, music by Harvey Schmidt, & lyrics by Tom Jones). Richard Israel directs, with Bryan Blaskie as musical director and Julie Hallas choreographer. The ensemble includes Skylar Adams, Emily Armstrong, David Crane, Alex Denney, Michael Downing, Julie Hall, Rachel Hirshee, Tim Hodgin, Jason Peter Kennedy, Rory Patterson, Courtney Potter and Treva Tegtmeier. In the middle of a heat wave in 1930’s Texas, Lizzie Curry is on the verge of becoming an old maid when a charismatic rainmaker turns her life upside down. 110 in the Shade opens Friday, May 9 and runs through June 15 at Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower Street, located on the ground of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tickets: (323) 462-8460 x 300 or www.ActorsCo-op.org

    Fraggled Productions will open The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at The Cupcake Theater in Hollywood on May 2, continuing through May 24, on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm. Spelling Bee is directed by Ryan Foy and follows an eclectic group of six young contestants vying for the spelling championship title of a lifetime. It is a quirky and interactive tale of adolescence, expectations, achievements, and the realization that being true to yourself is more important than winning. Since its creation in 2012, Fraggled Productions has produced a number of projects, including cabaret performances featuring talented Broadway alums, original staged readings, and musicals such as The Last Five Years, Anne Frank: The Musical and Urinetown. Tickets: www.cupcaketheater.com.

    Teatro Máscara Mágica (TMM), in residence at La Jolla Playhouse, will present its second project, Misa Azteca: A Prophetic Poem Fulfilled June 11 – 22. This world premiere features a story by Monique and Joseph Julian Gonzalez, music by Joseph Julian Gonzalez, and is directed by TMM artistic director William Virchis. Played internationally as an orchestral, choral piece, Misa Azteca has delighted audiences throughout the world, however, the prophetic poems and mysteries it is built upon have never been brought to light. Now, for the first time, the piece will receive an eerie dramatization as it foretells the fall of the Aztec Empire, the rise of an unknown God, and a miracle that will transform a nation. Dance, multi-media and song are combined to tell a story that will inspire and uplift the human spirit. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or BrownPaperTickets.com. For more information, go to http://teatromascaramagica.org/.

    Tony Monaco’s one-man musical, The Road to Damascus, comes to Los Angeles just in time for Easter and Passover, opening April 11 at the Little Victory Theatre in Burbank. Inspired by the dramatic conversion of Rabbi Saul of Tarsus – the man who turned from murderer to saint (the Apostle Paul) – and the persecution of Jesus’ followers after his crucifixion, Monaco’s historical portrayal incorporates music, song and dance with Biblical themes, bringing to life this world-changing story in a characterization that shows why biographers refer to the Apostle Paul as “The man who shook the world.” The original production was backed by Monaco’s friend and fellow actor, Buddy Ebsen. Now LA director/choreographer Joshua Finkel has worked with Monaco to update the original direction, staging, and choreography. Performances are April 11 – 27 at The Little Victory Theatre, 3326 W. Victory Blvd. in Burbank, 91505. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or www.TheRoadtoDamascus.net.

    The California Lutheran University Music and Theatre Arts departments will present Duncan Sheik’s Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza April 25 – May 4, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm. “It is perhaps the boldest play we’ve done at CLU in terms of material,” said director Ken Gardner. “The essential problem in it is that children are treated more like possessions than family and parents simply don't communicate or connect with them, much like the infamous ‘generation gap.’” Based on a controversial 1891 German play, the musical portrays teen sexual awakening and deals with suicide, abortion and abuse, both sexual and physical. It is for adult audiences only due to explicit sexual situations and language. Leading the 18-member cast are Brenden MacDonald, a psychology major from Simi Valley as the fearless, dreamy Melchior; Nolan Monsibay, a music major from Burbank as his troubled friend, Moritz; and Samantha Winters, a history major from Ventura as the beautiful Wendla. Heidi Vas is vocal director and Jeff Wallach is choreographer. Tickets are $25: (805) 449-2787.

    DANCE: Ballroom with a Twist, a new fusion of Broadway, classical and international-style song and dance, directed by international choreographer and competitive dance champion Louis Van Amstel, will light up the stage at the Valley Performing Arts Center at 8:00 pm on Saturday, May 17. The spectacle is highlighted by Dancing with the Star’s Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus. American Idol finalists Gina Glocksen-Ruzicka and Von Smith will also join along with So You Think You Can Dance finalists Legacy, Jonathan Platero and Randi Lynn Strong. Tickets: (818) 677-3000 or www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.

    CONCERTS/CABARET:Jeremy Jordan will make his solo concert debut in Los Angeles on Monday, May 5 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. There will be two shows only at 7:30pm and 10:00 pm presented by Chris Isaacson and Upright Cabaret. Recounting decisive moments from his budding career, Jordan will perform songs that have defined his swift rise to stardom, including music from Broadway’s Newsies, NBC’s Smash, the upcoming feature film The Last 5 Years, and many of Jordan’s own personal favorites. Doors open at 6:00 pm for cocktail and dinner service (minimums apply). Admission is $30, and VIP seating ($40) is available. You can get $5 off before April 28, and online purchases will receive priority seating. Tickets: www.ChrisIsaacsonPresents.com, or (866) 468-3399. Catalina Bar & Grill is located at 6725 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, 90028.

    Ryan Black’s 88’s presents The Songs of Boublil & Schonberg, Les Mis and Saigon at Don’t Tell Mama Los Angeles, 8279 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90046. Free, but there is a $10 suggested donation at door for Unicef & Philippines disaster relief fund. www.thereforthephilippines.org Come early to have dinner and drinks or have dinner and drinks during the show (2 item minimum for seats). Showtime is 8:00 pm. Click Here for reservations or call (323) 380-7209. The show stars Joan Almedilla, Melissa Bailey, Evan D’Angeles, Zachary Ford, Cliffton Hall, Deedee Magno Hall, Cassie Simone Harlow, April Malina, Cassandra Murphy, Kevin Odekirk, William Martinez, Sheldon Morley and Kevin Story, and is directed by Ryan Black, with musical direction by Gregory Nabours. Also featuring Scott Firestone on drums and Jean Sudbury on violin. Open mic after the show from 10pm-2am so bring your music. For parking instructions and more info, visit the show’s Facebook page Here.

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    OPENINGS: Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate will open Pasadena Playhouse’s 2014–2015 Season, running Sept. 16 - Oct. 12, 2014. Featuring some of Porter’s best music, this classic includes songs like “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” “So in Love,” “Another Op’nin’ Another Show,” and “Too Darn Hot,” and celebrates Shakespeare and the joys, madness, and the rewards of working in the theatre - both onstage and off. The Playhouse production will view the work through a new lens, using the wonderful material of this celebrated production to showcase the trailblazing African-American touring troupes of the early 20th century. Those groups of traveling players brought Shakespeare not just to New York, but to theatres all over the country. Many of the most famous actors of our time owe much to those pioneers, who included Hattie McDaniel, Paul Robeson, Earle Hyman, Jane White, and Dorothy Van Engle. Those brave actors brought literal “color” to great classical roles, opened doors for others, and represent the high style and theatricality that have always been embodied in Porter’s masterpiece. www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

    Rock & Roll’s Greatest Lovers, a rock movie musical about John Lennon and Yoko Ono, will be part of this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival June 7 – 29. Though fraught with challenges and tribulations, John and Yoko’s message of peace and love is more relevant today than it was the day they shocked the world by appearing naked on the cover of Rolling Stones Magazine. The one-hour world premiere features original music by Anzu Lawson and Joerg Stoeffel to tell the unprecedented and still untold story of a love that changed the world and defined an era. Performance will take place at the Lillian Theater, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90038. www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1800

    HOLIDAY: Chance Theater has announced that it will present an original musical celebration for the holidays, A Celtic Holiday with Chance’s own Celtic band, Craic in the Stone. A Celtic Holiday runs Dec. 9 - 23 (opening night is Dec. 10) and is written by resident artists Jocelyn A. Brown, David McCormick, James McHale, Jennifer Ruckman and Bill Strongin, along with Aimee Gomez, Karen O’Hanlon and Scott B. Well. The holiday concert of rousing pub songs, ethereal melodies, and familiar spiritual tunes is woven together with traditional folktales and perfect for the whole family. Karen O’Hanlon directs. For more about Craic in the Stone, visit www.CraicInTheStone.com. www.chancetheater.com
    CABARET/CONCERTS: Kelly Lester takes the Star Spot at Ryan O’Connor’s Musical Mondays at Eleven Nightclub in West Hollywood on April 27 performing highlights from her new tribute to Doris Day, It’s Magic! - The Life & Music of Doris Day. Come early and sing along with your favorite musical videos and mix and mingle with West Hollywood’s musical theater fans before Kelly takes the stage. There is no cover or a drink minimum. For reservations, go to www.eleven.la.

    BENEFIT: The Old Globe will host the 2014 Globe Gala on Saturday, July 26 in support of the theatre’s education and artistic programs. The black-tie event will feature a one-night-only performance by Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, based on her smash hit New York cabaret (and new CD) In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention. A reception will take place prior to the performance, with dinner and dancing to the music of the 13-piece dance band Midnight Special following the performance. Dinner is catered by the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. Tickets are $750 (regular seating) and $1,000 (VIP seating) each and include the reception, performance, dinner, and dancing. Tables are also available starting at $7,500. Underwriting levels, which include tickets for the Gala, begin at $4,500 per couple. To purchase tickets or a table or to become an underwriter, contact Eileen Prisby, Events Manager, at (619) 231-1941 x 2303 or eprisby@TheOldGlobe.org.

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    La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment have announced a “practically perfect” 2014- 2015 season which will include the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Musical, Billy Elliot, and Mary Poppins. Bonus options include the LA premiere of Carrie the Musical, the third in their “Onstage Series,” and Ballroom with a Twist. Here’s a look at the complete schedule. www.lamiradatheatre.com

    GOOD PEOPLE
    Sept. 19 - Oct. 12, 2014
    By David Lindsay-Abaire, Directed by Jeff Maynard

    LATE NITE CATECHISM: Las Vegas SISTER ROLLS THE DICE
    Oct. 24 – Nov. 16, 2014
    By Maripat Donovan, Directed by Marc Silvia

    BILLY ELLIOT
    Jan. 16 – Feb. 8, 2015
    Book & Lyrics by Lee Hall & Elton John, Music by Elton John
    Directed by Brian Kite, Choreography by Dana Solimando

    Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, this is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. 

    Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A Musical
    April 17 – May 10, 2015
    Book, Music and Lyrics by Lindsay Warren Baker & Amanda Jacobs
    Directed by Igor Goldin. Choreography by Jeffrey Denman

    In this musical, which was the runaway hit of the New York Musical Theatre festival, the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy comes to life when Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra revisit “First Impressions,” an earlier version of the beloved novel. As Austen makes changes, the Austen sisters must learn to see both the story and each other in a new light.

    MARY POPPINS
    May 29 – June 21, 2015  
    Original Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
    Book by Julian Fellowes
    New Songs and Additional Music & Lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
    Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
    Directed by Glenn Casale. Choreography by Dan Mojica

    Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Mary Poppins includes a score filled with timeless classics such as “Feed the Birds,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Step in Time” and the Academy Award®-winning “Chim-Chim Cher-ee.” Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family how to value each other again.

    BONUS Event:
    CARRIE THE MUSICAL
    March 12 – April 5, 2015
    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

    Twenty-five years after its spellbinding premiere shocked critics and audiences from London to New York, Carrie, the most legendary Broadway musical of all time, comes to Los Angeles. A misfit at school, terrorized by her holier-than-thou mother at home, 17 year-old Carrie White, nonetheless, has a secret.  And when a prank at the high school prom goes horribly wrong, they’ll all find out just how scary a secret can be...outrageous, controversial and completely thrilling, Carrie comes to L.A. in a blazing new ONSTAGE immersive production.

    Special BONUS Event: 
    BALLROOM WITH A TWIST: March 1, 2015 – 2pm & 8pm
    So you can’t get your fill of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance? Take your obsession with live talent-based reality TV shows to the next level. The show will feature a frenzy of sizzling dance spanning the hot moves of samba, waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, jive, hip-hop and contemporary mixed with several of your favorite American Idol finalists and their powerhouse hit songs.

    Special Two Performances Only:
    AMY GRANT, with optional special VIP reception with Amy
    May 23, 2015 – 2pm & 8pm

    Amy Grant became the first artist in Christian music to have a platinum record and went on to become a crossover sensation, her musical gifts transcending genre boundaries to make her a household name.

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    OPENINGS: James Barbour will star as Jean Valjean in the Los Angeles premiere of Les Misérables at La Mirada Theatre. Directed by Brian Kite, with musical direction by John Glaudini and choreography by Dana Solimando, it will feature a cast that includes Randall Dodge as Inspector Javert, Cassandra Murphy as Fantine, Valerie Rose Curiel as Eponine, Kimberly Hessler as Cosette, Nathaniel Irvin as Marius, Anthony Fedorov as Enjolras, Jeff Skowron as Thenardier, Meeghan Holaway as Madame Thenardier, Emilie LaFontaine as Young Cosette, Olivia Knox as Young Eponine and Jude Mason as Gavroche. The ensemble will feature Caleb Shaw, Tyler Ledon, Alex Mendoza, Jay Donnell, Dino Nicandrus, Christopher Higgins, Cameron Sczempka, Amanda Minano, Madison Mitchell, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Stella Kim, Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Anna Bowen, Louis Pardo, Marc Ginsberg, Michael Stone Forrest and Bruce Merkle. www.lamiradatheatre.com

    La Jolla Playhouse has announced the cast for its Page To Stage workshop production of Chasing the Song featuring book &lyrics by Joe DiPietro, and music & lyrics by David Bryan. Artistic Director Christopher Ashley will direct a cast that includes Stephen Lee Anderson, Nick Blaemire, Kim Yu Blanck, Hannah Corrigan, Julie Johnson, Jay Klaitz, Morgan Marcell, DeQuina Moore, Chloe Tucker, Jim Walton, Jeremy Sevelovitz, Ben Moss, Zach Fineblum, Patrick Dillon Curry, Sidney Franklin, Marco Ramos, Jake Weinstein and Jonny Wexler. Chasing the Song runs May 13 – June 15. The musical follows the evolving American music scene into the early 1960s in this rock ‘n’ roll-inspired new musical. Elegant Edie’s team of hit-makers is upended by the arrival of the newest aspiring songwriter - Edie’s daughter Ginny. As Ginny strives to earn her place in the male-dominated world of songwriting, American rock ‘n’ roll finds itself under siege from the incoming British. www.lajollaplayhouse.org

    AUDITION: So you want to be on Broadway? Submit your song or monologue to 6 casting directors in Stagelighter.com’s Broadway Online Showcase. From now through April 30, record a song or monologue on your webcam or phone and submit it HERE. Each casting director will nominate a video for the final round. Then the finalists’ videos will be posted on Stagelighter’s Facebook page and one performer will be chosen by their fans to win the ultimate Broadway experience. The prize package includes private meetings in New York City with all 6 casting directors, tickets to your favorite Broadway show plus a backstage tour, and if you’re not in NYC they’ll cover your airfare plus accommodation. Break a leg!

    CONCERTS/CABARET: Chris Isaacson Presents and Upright Cabaret have announced that joining Jeremy Jordan when he makes his Los Angeles solo concert debut on Monday, May 5 at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood will be a special guest - his wife, Broadway performerAshley Spencer. There will be two shows only at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm; cocktail and dinner service begin at 6pm for the 7:30 show and at 9pm for the 10pm show. www.ChrisIsaacsonPresents.com

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