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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    The Old Globe has announced its 2014-2015 Season, beginning September 13 with the world premiere of Bright Star, a new American musical by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin. Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie makes his Globe debut directing with this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties, and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star. Here’s a look at the Globe’s complete season. Subscriptions are available now at

    Sept. 13 – Nov. 2, 2014 
    BRIGHT STAR, a new American musical
    Music by Edie Brickell & Steve Martin
    Lyrics by Brickell, Book by Martin
    Based on an original story by Martin & Brickell
    Directed by Walter Bobbie

    Bright Star features 25 new songs and tells a beguiling tale that unfolds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina between 1923 and 1945. Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal. Together they discover a powerful secret that alters their lives in this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties, and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star.

    Oct. 4 – Nov. 2, 2014
    By Marco Ramirez 
    Loosely based on real events, Marco Ramirez’s wildly theatrical new play brings to explosive life the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, and the ultimate fight for a place in history. 

    Nov. 15 – Dec. 27, 2014
    Book and Lyrics by Timothy Mason, Music by Mel Marvin
    Original Production Conceived and Directed by Jack O’Brien
    Original Choreography by John DeLuca
    Directed by James Vásquez (right)

    Everyone’s favorite green meanie will return for his 17th consecutive year in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the heartwarming musical based on the classic book and animated film. James Vásquez returns to direct this beloved San Diego holiday tradition.

    Jan. 24 – Mar. 1, 2015
    Book & Music by Joe Kinosian, Book & Lyrics by Kellen Blair (pictured)
    Directed by Scott Schwartz

    Multi-millionaire Arthur Whitney has been murdered at his own birthday party, and his killer could be any one of the guests. But this is no ordinary murder mystery. The entire world of this hilarious musical is brought to life by two incredible performers: one plays the detective, the other plays all 10 suspects, and both play the piano! Murder for Two is an irrepressibly wacky tour-de-force musical.

    Feb. 14 – Mar. 15, 2015 
    By Nathan Englander, Directed by Barry Edelstein
    In a Soviet prison in 1952, Stalin’s secret police have rounded up 26 writers, the giants of Yiddish literature in Russia. As judgment looms, a 27th suddenly appears: a teenager, unpublished and unknown. Baffled by his arrest, he and his cellmates wonder at what has brought them together and wrestle with what it means to write in troubled times.

    March 21 – April 26, 2015 
    Written and Directed by Mary Zimmerman

    Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman creates an enchanting theatrical spectacle with live music and sumptuous visuals. In this visionary staging of a classic Chinese fable, a gentle serpent transforms into a beautiful woman. She falls in love with a dashing young man and decides to stay human forever, until a wicked monk discovers her true identity and vows to destroy her. 

    April 4 – May 3, 2015
    By Jonathan Tolins, Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
    Out-of-work actor Alex More can’t pass up the oddest of odd jobs—an offer to play shopkeeper for one tough customer who doesn’t let anyone rain on her parade. Soon it begins to take a toll on his patience, his love life, and his view of people (who need people) in this “totally fictional” Off Broadway hit.

    May 9 – June 14, 2015 
    By George Bernard Shaw
    Arms and the Man, one of the wittiest and most charming plays of the English stage, mixes smarts and silliness in a wonderfully entertaining tale of love and war.

    May 23 – June 21, 2015
    An exciting new American play TBA

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    OPENINGS:San Diego Musical Theatre presents Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gunstarring Beth Malone as Annie Oakley and Steve Blanchard as Frank Butler  May 9-25 (Opening Night is Sat. May 10). Annie Get Your Gun will be directed and choreographed by John Todd with musical direction by Don LeMaster. The cast also includes John Polhamus, Paul Morgavo, Sean Tamburrino, Debbie David, Jeni Baker, Steven Rada, Jim Marshall, Conor Tibbs, Amy Beth Batchelor, Eric Betts, Liz Daniels, Carlos Ferrusca, Siri Hafso, Danny Hansen, Aurore Joly, Tellina Lee, Tamara Rodriguez, Justin Segura, Taylor Simmons, Noah Baird, Ava Bunn, Taylor Coleman and Claire Scheper.

    Sierra Madre Playhouse will present Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers May 16 – June 21, directed and adapted by Alison Eliel Kalmus, with musical direction byLeonardo Sciolis and choreography by Angela Nicholas. The Gala opening night performance on Friday, May 16 will be followed by a Champagne reception and light buffet. This new adaptation of The Gondoliers re-sets the action to the U.K. in 1952 and follows a company of Savoyards who plan a production of The Gondoliers for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Missing props, sets and costumes just two days before opening inject enough randomness into the proceedings that would make Noises Off seem like a quiet stroll in the garden. The cast includes Maegan Alexandria, Jenna Augen, Beatrice Barrio-Buchman, Jeff Bratz, MarLee Candell, November Christine, Karim Coleman, Elyse Cook, Matt Damone, Mickey De Lara, Ariel Downs, Sarah Fazeli, Aaron Guest, James Jaegar, Brooke Johnson, Randy Wade Kelley, John King, Kara Masek, DW McCann, Christian McClure, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Olivia O’Neill, Kenn Schmidt, Steven Silvers, John Szura, Leslie Thompson, Sunil Vernekar, Joy Weiser and Jessie Withers. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or

    MOTHER’S DAY: This Mother’s Day, the 16th annualMomentum Placecreates a fantastical world of aerial and circus performers, dancers and musicians in Theatricum Botanicum’s rustic outdoor amphitheater. Bring your mother to honor the MOMentum in her life - always on the go for others. Now, she can sit back, relax and enjoy an uncommon afternoon of performance delights that are kid friendly and full of surprises. For an extra treat, enjoy a scrumptious brunch in Theatricum’s rustic gardens before the performance. The event is curated by Lexi Pearl and takes place on Sunday, May 11. Brunch: Noon -1:30 pm. Performance: 2 pm at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290. Tickets: (310) 455-2322 or

    CONCERT READING: The Academy for New Musical Theatre will presentGot Musical! 2014, featuring musical highlights from shows in development at ANMT on Tues., May 6 at the Colony Theatre. You can see excerpts from 15 brand new musicals written by up-and-coming musical theatre writers. The concert will feature highlights from City of Light by Gabrielle Wagner, Jan Roper, and Julie Weiner, Rails to Ruin by Peter Welkin, Ron Barnett, and Randi Wolfe, Roughing it with Mark Twainby Ken Stone and Jan Powell, OK in Wisconsin by Richard Castle and Matthew Levine, It Happened in Roswell by Terrence Atkins and Jeffery Lyle Segal,Smoldering by Mitch Glaser and Marc Macalintal, and The Max Factor Factorby Adrian Bewley, Joseph Blodgett, and Chana Wise.

    Also featured will be selections from the New Voices Project winners by writers under the age of 26. These include 6 by Zach Zadek, Canterbury Tales by Danny Bernstein, and Another Happy Endingby Santino DeAngelo. The cast will feature Academy Repertory Company members Sari Rose Barron, Elise Dewsberry, Scott Guy, Evelyn Halus, David Holmes, Andrea Press, Tedd Szeto, and Peter Welkin, with guest artists Jordan Kai Burnett, Randy Guiaya, Justin Jones, Ryan Ruge, Christina Valo, Gabrielle Wagner; and members of the 4x10 Showcase Company. Ron Barnett at the piano.

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    Check out the photos from CATS, a La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts/McCoy Rigby Entertainment production, directed and choreographed by Dana Solimando, now playing through May 11, 2 014. Tickets are available at All photos by Michael Lamont.

    The Company of CATS

    Daniel Dawson (leaping) and the company

    Kelly Provart as Grizabella

    Todrick Hall (center) as Rum Tum Tugger

    The Company of CATS

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    MUSICAL EVENTS: Falcon Theatre is proud to present Troubadour Theater Company’s ABBAMEMNON, directed by Matt Walker, June 6 – July 13 (opening night Friday, June 13). In this irreverent Dancing Queen-filled romp, the Troubies brings the noise, the funk, and the dysfunctional-family vibe to Agamemnon, the masterwork of the Greek canon. Why does Cassandra’s S.O.S. plea to Take a Chance on Me fall on the deaf ears of the Elder Chorus? Will Clytemnestra’s plan to kill Agamemnon come to fruition and will The Winner Take All? Will the Watchman ever get to sleep and say I Have a Dream? Will Aegisthus be able to pronounce his own name at Waterloo? Bloody and bold, fierce and funny, this production by the masters of mayhem is sure to entertain and enlighten. The Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91505. Tickets go on sale May 19: (818) 955-8101 or

    La Jolla Playhouse will hold a special event in conjunction with its Page To Stage workshop production of Chasing the Song, a new musical featuring book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music & lyrics by David Bryan, directed by artistic director Christopher Ashley. This free public event, entitled Chasing the Song: The Drive to Make Music, with composer David Bryan, takes place on Monday, May 12 at 7:00 pm in the Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. Christopher Ashley will moderate this exciting evening with legendary composer and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan, who will discuss his musical influences, the cross-over from rock ‘n’ roll to musical theatre, as well as his work on the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis and Chasing the Song, which explores the creative process behind great American rock music. Reservations are required; please visit to RSVP beginning on Friday, April 25.

    EXTENDED:The Road to Damascus has been extended through May 4 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.” Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or

    FRINGE BENEFIT:The Hollywood Fringe Festivalis hosting a fundraiser bash on May 29 at King Kong (6555 Hollywood Blvd.) to help support the production costs of the 2014 Festival. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The event, which will have a fantastical circus theme, will feature live entertainment and a silent auction. Doors will open at 7pm. The Fringe folks are also holding a design contest for their annual Festival T-shirt. The winner will be awarded $399 (minus the commission taken by 99Designs). To qualify, submit your design by Friday, April 25 at 11am PDT. Click Here for the guidelines and good luck!

    VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Love the performing arts in Los Angeles? Consider volunteering atLA STAGE Day, a gathering of the Los Angeles performing arts community, taking place at Cal Stage L.A. on Saturday, May 17. This event is a mass get-together of artistic directors, designers, actors, dancers, directors, arts managers. There will also be a large bazaar where many performing arts organizations will be ‘tabling,’ as well as many discussion sessions, workshops, panels, and networking opportunities. Early bird registration is $30 until May 1st (after which registration is $40), but volunteering for 2.5 or more hours gets you into the whole day for free! All you pay is $6 for parking. Details HERE.

    CABARET/CONCERTS:Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents At Long Last – Cole Porter Sunday, May 4 at 7:00 pm. The show will star Allen Everman,Jean Louisa Kelly,Lisa Livesay,Mark Whitten,Brennley Brown,Jenna Lea Rosenand Sami Staitman, with music director Shelly Markham. For reservations call (818) 754-8700. Doors open at 5:30. Show starts at 7:00pm. Reservations have already started coming in, and are highly recommended. Sterling’s at The Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

    The South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) in partnership with the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and SOPA Studios will present four musical groups as part of the Sixth Annual Eclectic Music Festivalon Saturday, May 3, from 2:00 – 10:00 pm at several venues around the city. The SPARC/SOPA Stage is located at the SOPA Studios, 1025 Hope Street, South Pasadena. Scheduled to appear are Lisa Finnie (5:00 pm), Shadowlands (6:15 pm), Anny Celsi Band (7:30 pm) and Jonah Smith (8:45 pm). Please note, all times are approximate.

    Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Westside Connections features actor John Rubinstein and pianists Jeffrey Kahane and Christopher O’Riley and the music of Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Brahms on Thurs., May 15, 7:30 pm. Rubinstein created the role of Bob Fosse’s Pippin on Broadway and received a Tony Award for Children of a Lesser God, and O’Riley is a versatile pianist as well as host of the popular NPR radio program From the Top. They join LACO Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and Principal Cello Andrew Shulman in a performance that pays homage to the remarkable legacy of both Rubinsteins and features Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor (Shulman and Kahane), Chopin’s Nocturne in D-flat major Op. 27, No. 2 (Kahane), and Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87 (Batjer, Shulman and O’Riley). Moss Theater, Santa Monica. Tickets:  (213) 622-7001 or

    AUDITIONS: Conejo Players is holding auditions for The Marvelous Wonderettesby Roger Bean Sunday May 11 – Tuesday, May 13 at Conejo Players theatre in Thousand Oaks.The production will be directed by Courtney Potter and choreographed by Wendy Babb. Musical direction is by Noreen Smith. Please prepare 1 minute of an appropriate musical theatre song, or a pop song from the 1950s or '60s, that best showcases you, as well as the character's personality. Bring a second selection as backup. If possible, avoid singing a song from the show; however, you are encouraged to familiarize yourself with the show's approach. Bring sheet music in your key; an accompanist will be provided. A CD with an accompaniment-only track is also acceptable, provided it is edited and cued correctly. No a cappella auditions.

    You may be required to learn a short dance/movement combination, so please come prepared to move; there may also be cold reading from the script. Bring a résumé, as well as a list of all potential conflicts. The production begins rehearsals May 19 and runs July 5 – August 3 (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; Sunday matinees at 2pm). Click Here for complete audition details and a breakdown of characters.

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    OPENINGS:DOMA Theatre Company and Requiem Media Productions, LLC present the world premiere of a new musical Dorian’s Descent, May 30 - July 20 at the MET Theatre in Hollywood. Based on Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, it features book by Chris Raymond, Marco Gomez and Michael Gray, lyrics by Marco Gomez and Chris Raymond, and music by Chris Raymond. Gomez will also direct, with Raymond providing musical direction and orchestrations. Choreography is by Cate Caplin. Michael D’Elia stars in the title role, with Jeremy Saje (Basil), Kelly Brighton (Henry), Cassandra Nuss (Sibyl), Lauren Hill (Madeleine), Toni Smith (the Demon), Tony Graham (James) and Michelle Holmes (Margaret). The ensemble includes Johanna Rose Burrell, Kevin Corsini, Robert Glen Decker, Andrew Diego, Tony Dooley, Jillian Eatson, Kia Dawn Fulton, Timothy Hearl, Lauren Hill, Susan Huckle, Mike Irizarry, Michael Liles, Garret Riley, Jenny Torgerson, Tiffany Williams and Lindsay Zana. The MET Theatre is located at 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles CA 90029. Tickets:  (323) 802-4990 or

    Chance Theater’s next presentation in its “On the Radar” Series will be a staged reading of Loch Ness, a new musical from resident artist, Marshall Pailet (Triassic Parq – The Musical) on Tues., May 13 at 8:00 pm at the Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center. What do you get when a 12 year old girl meets the world’s most famous 1,000 year old mystical sea serpent?  Soul mates, of course! Meet Haley Westerbrook, a young girl who has just met “Nessie”… and nothing’s ever going to be the same.  See the family musical about the power of imagination. The cast for this staged reading includes Chance founding artist Erika C. Miller, resident artist Jackson Tobiska, as well as Emma Nossal, Katie Brown, Davon Williams, Brandon Sanchez, Matt Takahashi and John Scoggins. The reading will be directed by Janet Roston, and musically directed by Ryan O’Connell. Tickets: (714) 777 3033 or

    Patti Issuesreturns to LA on Thurs., May 15 for two performances at 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm at Cavern Club Theater at Casita Del Campo. When Ben Rimalowerwas eight years old, his father came out of the closet and embarked on a drug-fueled tear that left his family in tatters. Amid the chaos of his young life, Ben found comfort - like so many gay boys before him and after - in musical theater, and specifically in the voice of Broadway star Patti LuPone. With a mix of comic irreverence, stark candor and show-biz bravado, Patti Issues poignantly explores the challenges facing LGBT parents and children while shining unique light on gay men’s time-old obsessions with divas. Starring Ben Rimalower, directed by Aaron Markat The Cavern Club Theater, 1920 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

    CABARET: Chromolume Cabaret Series presents Ariella Roughton: Loud and Overly-Confident featuring Mary Ekler on piano, Rachel Randall on guitar, along with Ceilidh Roughton, Brianna Stehle and Cheshire Chillaxian, April 27 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $12. Chromulume Theatre is located at 5429 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016.

    And next up for Chromolume’s Cabaret Series is College The Musical on May 4 at 7:00 pm. Amy, a naive freshman, experiences the hysterical highs and humbling lows of college life and relationships.

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    Cheyenne Jackson at Walt Disney Concert Hall. All photos by Mathew Imaging

    Cheyenne Jackson won the hearts of a sold-out crowd by completely opening his own in his debut performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday night. The self-professed goal of the tall, dark and handsome singer was simply “to blanket the audience with love,” which he did repeatedly in a program that paid tribute to the ‘50s and ‘60s with his Music of the Mad Men Era

    All I can say is it was the best two hours of my entire week. The next time you have an opportunity to hear Jackson sing live, do yourself a favor and GO! Blessed with an extraordinary set of pipes, and searing emotional depth, he is the “It” boy of the moment and master of a career that has taken him from Broadway (Xanadu, Finnian’s Rainbow) to television (30 Rock, Glee, Behind the Candelabra) and film (United 93, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks), to the concert stage (Carnegie Hall). 

    He’s got the hip-twitching swagger of a modern day Elvis Presley and the sadder-but-wiser eyes of a 2:00 AM Frank Sinatra. It doesn’t take much to fall in love with him.

    Opening with the high energy sexy Latin rhythms of “Americano,” he put those swiveling hips to good use, before transitioning to his first love song, a sultry version of the famous bolero “Bésame Mucho.” Jackson brought the sizzle all evening long in luscious standards like “Old Devil Moon,” “Luck Be a Lady” and the powerful Ben E. King classic “I (Who Have Nothing),” but it was in the intimate songs that his artistry exceeded even the highest expectations.

    He has conquered a lot of demons in the last few years; a path that led him to get sober, get divorced and even move across the country. The ache in “Mister Lonely Boy,” a ballad that Jackson wrote (and can be found on his new CD I’m Blue, Skies) is wrenched from that deeply personal place and ended up on the set list because a friend said it sounded like it belonged in a James Bond movie. It does, and you can hear the unspoken back story in his richly nuanced vocal lines and poignant phrasing. It’s all there in the voice, and his willingness to go to such a vulnerable place is what makes him a true artist.

    When he sings, it’s a musical suspension of time that cuts right to the heart. It happens in “Red Wine,” another original song that Jackson wrote about his grandmother and her alcoholism, and in his version of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” dedicated to his mom and dad. To hear these songs rise and fall within the perfect acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall was an experience I’ll never forget.

    He rocked the house with Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” and flirted his way through the crowd with Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” Special guests Rebecca Romijn and Jane Lyncheach joined Jackson in a duet. Romijn provided the glamour for the Frank and Nancy Sinatra duet “Something Stupid” while the two shared a dance, and Lynch added some fun to the classic buddy number “Me and My Shadow.”

    Jackson also performed a song written by his terrific musical director, Ben Toth, whom he jokingly called his “heterosexual musical life partner.” (Toth recently composed the music for the new musical Sleepless in Seattle at Pasadena Playhouse). Using a Sylvia Plath poem as the lyric, “Mad Girl’s Love Song” opened with a haunting a capella verse before swinging into a cool jazzy arrangement that begged to be heard again. “Angel Eyes” and “Walking My Baby Back Home” featured Jackson and Toth joined by two local artists, Jeffrey Scott Parsons and James Campbell, in delicious 4-part harmony heaven around the piano.

    All roads eventually led to his showstopping 11 o’clock number “Feeling Good,” a song that more than any other showed that Jackson is exactly where he wants to be. His soaring vocals filled the hall with all the joy of a man on top of the world. There is no doubt that it’s a new day and a new life for this magnificent artist who continues to spread the love with his music. Did we feel blanketed with love? That would be a resounding, yes.

    Cheyenne Jackson with Jane Lynch

    Cheyenne Jackson and Rebecca Romijn

    Cheyenne singing "You Know I'm No Good"

    Cheyenne singing Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come"

    Music of the Mad Men Era concludes the LA Phil’s 2013/14 Songbook Series.
    Musicians featured at this performance:
    Ben Toth, musical director/piano
    Dan Higgins, Jon Yoakum, Jay Mason, reeds
    Andy Martin, Charlie Morillas, trombones
    John Fumo, Pete DeSiena, trumpets
    Ray Brinker, drums
    Kevin Axt, bass
    Grant Geissman, guitar
    Brian Kilgore, percussion
    For information about the LA Phil's season, visit

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    L-R: K.J. Middlebrooks, Monica Greene, Raufel Muhammad, Christopher Loverro
    and Anne Montavon. Photos by Michael Lamont

    Everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves artistically. Theatre, music, dance, poetry – all forms of art stimulate growth and nurture our intuitive connection to the world around us. CRE Outreach (which stands for Create, Reflect, Empower) uses theatre as a means of artistic exploration for the visually impaired, military veterans, and at-risk youth. It also educates the public about the value of their contributions within the greater artistic community. Both are worthy endeavors.

    In their latest work, two blind actors join thirteen seeing actors, including a former U.S. Marine, an Iraq War veteran, and an Air Force military brat, to present the original musical Beyond Sight at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood.

    The program credits list a multi-tasking creative team: book by Nick Sivakumaran and Jeremy Aldridge, music by Mark P. Leonard and Colin Simson, and lyrics by Greg Shane, Colin Simson and Mark P. Leonard. Aldridge directs and Leonard provides the musical direction. Allison Bibicoff choreographs. With that many people attempting to shape the piece it isn’t surprising that the result lacks focus.

    The story is based on real world experiences and follows Jack (Raufel Muhammad), a young soldier who is blinded by an IED and loses ten years of his life as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. When he is rescued and brought home he is angry, isolated, and all but paralyzed by what he can’t see. Jack struggles to overcome his PTSD, and with the help of a supportive doctor (Shannon Nelson as Dr. Linda Ness) and the woman he loves (Ginger Lawrence as Lily McCord), learns how to live his life “beyond sight.” Blind actor Robert Smith plays the older version of Jack.

    It is a believable transition from the younger Muhammad to the older Smith, and while the story ultimately revolves around Smiths reintegration into the world, it is Muhammad who creates the most compelling and relatable character.

    Essentially this is a workshop production of a musical that is still in the early stages of development with minimal production values (a few props and some furniture) and a cast that feels uncomfortably shoe-horned onto the stage. Most are inexperienced but the writers don’t make it easy for them. Leonard’s songs, sung to pre-recorded tracks, lack finesse and end abruptly. Lyrics are full of clichés and while the bones of the story are there, gaps in the plot and prosaic dialogue make the musical feel rudimentary. Sound issues plagued the performance I attended throughout.

    And yet, there is something to be said for a work like this that asks us to view the challenges of soldiers who return from war with kinder eyes. This greater message, which reminds us that many have served our country and ensured our safety at great personal cost, is the real takeaway. Understanding is all. How we choose to see that is up to us.

    Geoffrey Dwyer and Robert Smith

    L-R: Sean P. Gorecki, Christopher Loverro, Craig Churchill and Tristan Bailey

    L-R: Robert Smith and Sean P. Gorecki

    L-R: Tristan Bailey, Ginger Lawrence, Raufel Muhammad and Monica Greene

    April 25 – May 25
    The Stella Adler Theatre
    6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Floor
    Hollywood, 90028
    Parking: $5 at the Jefferson Building w/ theatre validation
    (garage entrance on McCadden, 1 block East of Highland)

    Tickets: (310) 902-8220 or

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    Screen legend Leslie Caron stars in her first Southern California theatrical performance in over 25 years when Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opens this weekend. Written by Richard Alfieri, with choreography by Donna McKechnie and directed by Michael Arabian, Six Dance Lessons also features 6-time Ovation Award-winning actor David Engel. Currently in previews, the production opens Saturday, May 3 at 7:30pm and run through Sunday, June 8, 2014 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. [Photo credit: Ed Krieger]

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    OPENINGS: The Colony Theatre has announced its 2014-2015 season, which will include the Los Angeles premiere of Words by Ira Gershwin, April 15 – May 17, 2015 (opening night April 18). Featuring a book by Joseph Vass and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, with additional lyrics from Porgy and Bess by DuBose Hayward, music by Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, and George Gershwin. Meet the man behind the lyrics of songs like “Fascinating Rhythm,” “The Man That Got Away,” “I Got Rhythm,” and many more as the other half of the famous Gershwin duo guides us on a trip through some of the greatest American songs ever written. Insights and tales about his legendary collaborations all frame this fascinating and inspiring evening of music and theatre. For a complete look at the Colony’s upcoming season, visit or call (818) 558-7000.

    The Old Globe has announced the cast of Dog and Pony, a new musical with book by Rick Elice and music & lyrics by Michael Patrick Walker. From the award-winning talents behind Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Altar Boyz, Dog and Pony is a romantic musical comedy that follows Mags and Andy, a successful screenwriting team, as their professional relationship evolves into something more. Tony Award winner Roger Rees will direct a cast that includes Heidi Blickenstaff (Jane, Annie), Beth Leavel (Rhoda, Doris), Eric William Morris (The Host, Jeff, Joe), Nicole Parker (Mags), and Jon Patrick Walker (Andy). May 28 – June 29. Opening night is Thursday, June 5 at 8pm. Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or

    The Festival of New American Musicalshas announced its 7th season with 10 recommended May shows. Included are 4 world premieres: The Ghost of Gershwin, May 9-June 22 at the Lonny Chapman Theater in North Hollywood; Chasing a Song, May 13-June 15 at La Jolla Playhouse; The Witch of Blackbird Pond, May 18 at the Odyssey Theater; Dog and Pony, May 28-June 19 at The Old Globe in San Diego; and Nickel Mines, May 31-June 29 at UC Irvine. Also included among the Festival recommendations for May are: Jason Robert Brown’s The Trumpet of the Swan, May 3 & 4 at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills; Zack Zadek and Friends, May 4 at Rockwell Table and Stage in Hollywood; Citrus Singers Broadway, May 17& 18 at Citrus College in Glendora; For the Record: Quentin Tarantino, continuing at DBA in West Hollywood; and U-sical, the Improv Musicals, every Friday night at Comedysportz in Hollywood.

    The Hollywood Pantages announces a lottery for tickets to Green Day’s American Idiot, which returns to L.A. for a limited one week engagement; May 13 – 18, 2014.

    BENEFITS:Pasadena Playhouse has confirmed some of the guests who will be in attendance for its premiere gala –Take The Lead at the Playhouse on Sunday, May 4 at 5:30 pm. They include
    Nigel Lythgoe, Bonnie Lythgoe, Kris Lythgoe, Becky Baeling Lythgoe, Mandy Moore, French Stewart, Mario Lopez, Mary Murphy, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Lindsay Arnold,  Allison Holker, Ben Vereen, Adam Shankman,  Spencer Liff, Patricia Ward Kelly, Du-Shaunt “FIK-SHUN” Stegall. Tickets:

    Rubicon Theatre invites you toAn Evening with Megan McGinnis and Krysta Rodriguezon Monday, May 12 at 7pm. Tickets are $125 ($75 is tax-deductible). Limited to 70 attendees. Click Here for details and reservations.

    On May 15, Rogue Machine will host its annual Benefit Gala, which will celebrate theatre through song. One Night in Santa Monica will take place 6pm – 10pm at the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club, 1210 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 9040 featuring live music, cocktails, a silent auction, and MORE. Tickets:   

    CABARET/CONCERTS: Due to popular demand, Jeremy Jordan’s concert, with special guest Ashley Spencer, has added a third performance at Hollywood’s Catalina Bar & Grill on Tuesday, May 6 at 8pm in addition to the two shows scheduled for Mon. May 5 at 7:30 & 10pm. Tickets:

    Miscast’s next show will takes place on Monday, May 19 featuring Mandy Kaplan, Todd Sherry, Will Collyer, Patrick Gomez, Wendy Rosoff, Netta Most, Mona Chatterjee, Marc Hawes, Tom Metz III, and Kathryn Lounsbery. We've got 2 new singers in songs from shows like Chicago, Les Miserables and Frozen. Seating is first come, first served. Dinner and Drinks at 6:30pm, Show at 8pm. $19 Cash Only at the door. Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal, 5303 Lanksershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA. Reservations: (818) 754-8700. Proceeds go to Project Angel Food.

    Mary Wilson, indelibly known as one of The Supremes, joins the cast of STAGE Goes to the Movies, which takes place on Saturday, May 10, at the historic Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Tickets:

    The Oak Ridge Boys will appear at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts for two performances only, May 17 at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets: (562) 944-9801 or

    Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presents The Temptations, for the final performance in its inaugural season, on Saturday, June 7 at 8pm. Tickets: or call (626) 821-1781. The theatre is located at 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007.

    Venice, the band created by and consisting of members of the Lennon Sisters family will appear at the Grove Theatre one night only, May 18 at 6pm. Tickets: (909) 920-4343 or The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786.

    The men of Black Hi-Lighter(the Highland Park, glitter-garage psych rock band) are set to take the stage on Saturday, May 17 at the Viper Room in West Hollywood for the second installment of their buzzworthy residency series, The Black Hi-Lighter Affair. They will be joined by Toy Bombs and Washing Machines for this appearance.

    CLASS: Pat Whiteman will offer her Summer Musical Performance Workshop Sunday afternoons in June and July (June 15, 22, 29 and July 6 13). 1:30-4:30 pm at Madilyn Clark Studios, 10852 Burbank Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601. Ron Snyder at the piano. Cost: $395/six week class ($150 deposit will hold your space). Work on any type of material you’d like (pop, rock, musical theater, country, standards) for  anything you want: audition pieces, studio work, upcoming performances, cabarets, one/two person shows or acts, or just getting your voice out into the universe  in a safe, supportive environment, etc. The class will culminate with a performance at a local club.

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    The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

    Fraggled Productions has put together a respectable production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Cupcake Theater in Hollywood with a delightfully oddball cast and the requisite fun audience participation. The Tony Award-winning musical, featuring music & lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, additional lyrics by Jay Reiss, and based on a concept by Rebecca Feldman, is a 90-minute comical look at the drama of an annual spelling bee competition with adults playing the roles of its middle school participants  

    To get it right you’ve got to cast actors who make you laugh before they even open their mouths and director Ryan Foy has done a good job matching quirks to character in his ensemble. The girls include Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Kristen Gull), a lisping grammar school activist who spells by writing words out on her arm; Marcy Park (Jeserey Sanchez), an over-achiever who speaks six languages and always does everything right; and painfully shy Olive Ostrovsky (Jennifer Saltiel), who whispers words into her hand before giving her answer. 

    This year’s favorite – and last year’s winner – is Chip Tolentino (Brody Hessin), a joyful fresh-faced Boy Scout whose body betrays him with an unfortunate erection at an inopportune time. The remaining boys are Leaf Coneybear (Chris Rivard), who has attention deficit disorder, wears a superhero cape and goes into a trance when he spells; and William Barfée (Steven Aaron Cohen), possessor of a “magic foot” that traces words on the floor before he answers. Barfée also has a severe peanut allergy and a highly inflated sense of self-importance.    

    The rest of the cast includes perky moderator Rona Lisa Peretti (Chelsea Costa), high-strung vice-principal Douglas Panch (Andrew Shannon), and Najee Temple as Mitch Mahoney, the dangerous looking comfort counselor who has been assigned to the task to fulfill his court-ordered community service. 

    Foy manages the spatial limitation of the small stage very nicely, even including some unexpectedly funny choreography by Daniel Foy that pulls from the original production. Vocally the group is stronger when they sing as an ensemble rather than individually (solos often have pitch problems) but they achieve a nice blend on their harmonies, which are well-rehearsed by musical director Wayne Moore. The final a capella phrase of “The I Love You Song” is a beautiful example.

    Costa’s soprano voice is suitably sweet and easy to listen to and Sanchez has a nice pop quality in “I Speak Six Languages.” Temple’s “Prayer of the Comfort Counselor” with its vocal gymnastics is an energetic highlight. It’s also a treat to see a baby grand piano on stage in a 99 Seat Theater. Good diction by all enhances the humor but in order to reach the back of the house actors still need to project.

    The improvisational nature of this charming musical makes it a crowd pleaser from the get-go, especially when it comes to the humorous word definitions and to dealing with the audience members who are chosen to be part of the story. Not everyone gets to be a winner but as Barfée sings in the opening number, “we are the slightest bit bizarre,” and that may be the biggest reason for Spelling Bee’s overwhelming success. We’ve all experienced what it’s like to go through adolescence and the pre-pubescent quirks and heartfelt challenges of these underdogs make it easy to root for them.

    Chelsea Costa (center) and cast

    Chris Rivard

    Jennifer Saltiel

    Brody Hessin

    Brody Hessin (L) and Najee Temple (R) with Jennifer Saltiel, Chris
    Rivard and Steven Aaron Cohen (center)

    May 2 - 24, 2014

    Fraggled Productions @ The Cupcake Theater
    6520 Hollywood Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    Parking directly behind theater on Wilcox, South of Hollywood Blvd.

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    SEASON NEWS: Laguna Playhouse has announced its 2014-2015 season which will be full of music, memories, midnight, mystery & murder. Here’s a look at the schedule:

    July 7 - August 19, 2014 (Press Opening July 12)
    Buddy Holly’s short yet spectacular career is told through classic songs we all love including “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” and many more.

    Oct. 8 – Nov. 2, 2014 (Press Opening October 11)
    Written by Joan Didion
    Directed by Jenny Sullivan
    Starring Linda Purl
    This is a remarkable story of loss, journey, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit, based on Joan Didion’s National Book Award winning memoir. The play is a tribute to an extraordinary marriage and a love letter to Didion’s daughter. 

    Dec. 3 – 28, 2014 (Press Opening December 6)
    Book, Music and Lyrics by GrooveLily
    A 21st century sensibility combines pop-rock, musical comedy with an old-fashioned uplift. Striking 12 weaves Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fable The Little Match Girl with a modern-day New Year’s Eve twist and is a holiday treat suitable for audiences of all ages.

    Jan. 7 – Feb. 8, 2015 (Press Opening January 10) 
    Called “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived,” by George Gershwin, Berlin is known for innumerable American classics such as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “Anything You Can Do,” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.”

    April 22 – May 27, 2015  (Press Opening April 25)
    Book & Music by Joe Kinosian
    Book & Lyrics by Kellen Blair
    One actor investigates the crime... one actor plays all the suspects... and they both play the piano! This 90-minute musical is a zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery.

    2013/2014 BONUS OPTIONS
    Aug. 13 – 24, 2014
    Featuring fabulous male harmonies, stunning female vocals and a supremely- talented 7-piece back-up band, this fast-moving production honors the Motown legends that brought the world to its dancing feet.

    ED ASNER stars as FDR
    Nov. 19 - 23, 2014
    Asner explores the life of one of America’s best-loved presidents in a powerful one-man play that follows the iconic president as he reflects on his years in office, from the Inauguration to the trials of World War II.

    Subscriptions: 949-497-2787(ARTS) or at Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

    MOTHER’S DAY EVENT: Laguna Playhouse presents an Intimate Conversation with Leslie Caron, followed by a screening of Lili on Mother’s Day, May 11, 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Ms. Caron’s longtime friend and producer Vincent Curcio will host the conversation which will be a question-and-answer format similar to “Inside the Actors’ Studio.” The conversation will be followed by an opportunity to meet Ms. Caron and purchase her memoir, Thank Heaven. Ms. Caron will be signing books in the lobby. As a special bonus in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 26th Academy Awards (March 25, 1954) in which Ms. Caron was honored as a Best Actress nominee for her performance in Lili (1953), The Playhouse will be showing a free screening of the film at 7 pm. Concessions will be available. It’s the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, and a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear from this living legend. General admission seating is $25 for the Stage and Screen event and book signing. Admission to the film is free. Tickets: (949) 497-2787 or

    MOTHERS DAY SPECIAL:San Diego Musical Theatre is offering a $10 discount for tickets to Annie Get Your Gun for Mothers Day weekend. To get this discount for the special mom in your life, call (858) 560-5740 and mention Mother's Day Special or visit and enter promotional code “mom”. Offer valid through opening weekend only in sections A and B (Friday, May 9 at 8pm, Saturday, May 10 at 8pm, and Sunday, May 11 at 2pm). 

    OPENINGS: Jim J. Bullock stars in Cabrillo Music Theatre’s rock-and-roll hit Bye Bye Birdie July 18 – 27 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, which features musical direction by Lloyd Cooper, choreography by John Charron, and direction by Lewis Wilkenfeld. America’s rock ‘n’ roll heart-throb drives the teen girls bonkers in this nostalgic, Tony-winning family-friendly Broadway musical. Bye Bye Birdie takes us on a trip to the small town of Sweet Apple, Ohio, where the nation’s most popular rock-and-roll singer, Conrad Birdie, arrives to give his biggest fan one last kiss before going into the army, and he’ll do it on the Ed Sullivan show.

    The show includes a cast of over sixty and a full orchestra. Joining Bullock as Mr. MacAfee are Zachary Ford as Albert Peterson, Michelle Marmolejo as Rose Alvarez, and Noelle Marion as Kim MacAfee. The cast also includes Austin MacPhee as Conrad Birdie, Harrison Meloeny as Hugo Peabody, and Francesca Barletta as Ursula Merkle. There will be a signed performance for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on Friday, July 23rd, at 8:00 pm. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or

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    The cast of Into the Woods. Photos by Isaac James Creative

    Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and James Lapine’s book are so brilliantly profound in Into the Woods that, when in doubt, the best thing an actor can do is simply make sure the audience can hear the words. 3-D Theatricals struggles with this basic tenet in its gorgeously appointed though unmanageably large production. It’s a case of Plummer Auditorium’s cavernous stage and a 15-piece orchestra (sounding terrific under the baton of musical director Julie Lamoureux) completely upstaging the action, which is also troubled by a complicated set that doesn’t always cooperate with its handlers.

    Not that it isn’t gorgeous. The scenic design by Tom Buderwitz is a revolving storybook wonder full of gnarly trees and fantasy accents but it moves - or doesn’t - with a mind of its own. A large section of the set crashed into the wings more than once as it moved offstage; trees had to be repositioned manually after scenes were already underway; and most unfortunate of all, the loud mechanical sound of a lift resetting so the witch could exit after disappearing center stage could be heard during one of the quietest scenes.

    Jean-Yves Tessier’s always creative lighting design supplied some beautiful color changes throughout the night but the downstage lighting, combined with wigs and hats and many of the actors’ tendency to act in profile, often left their faces in shadow. When you add questionable diction to the mix and an imbalance in the sound design that was impossible to ignore, audience members unfamiliar with this heartbreaking musical are sure to miss the subtleties. They will still have the benefit of Sondheim’s soaring melodies but the deeper meanings will fly by.

    As if to compensate, performances were broad but not necessarily grounded. Bigger doesn’t mean funnier and if you let the words do the work, stand still when you’re delivering the punchline, and don’t act like you’ve just said something funny, 9 times out of 10 the audience will laugh. Or they’ll experience the dramatic turn in the action at the same moment as the character if that moment is allowed to register honestly.

    When director T.J. Dawson and the cast get it right they have the ability to disarm all skeptics and completely win our hearts. It is these moments within the production that resonate with clarity and succeed in overcoming its technical challenges.

    In Jeff Skowron’s (The Baker) gut-wrenching version of “No More” we see how he, more than any other character, is changed by the entanglements in the woods. When he makes his final decision near the end of the musical, the cost of the journey is etched on his face and a deeper understanding of the lessons he has learned remains. With tears streaming down his face, Skowron makes the powerful transition connect with the audience by letting us see the Baker’s unfailing humanity. Once again it is beautiful work by an actor you should take every opportunity to see whenever you can.

    Viva Carr as the Baker’s Wife, gives us a determined woman, constantly self-aware, who still has dreams that comically slip out before being curtailed by her more practical nature. Jeannette Dawson, in the plum role of Cinderella, contrasts humor with innocence to create a lovely portrait of an unhappily-ever-after princess in search of a better story. Her transition to maturity adds a rich texture that steadies the ensemble and, much like Skowron, helps the audience see the kind of impact we have on every other person we meet.

    Bets Malone has been taking on more character roles as of late and she is almost unrecognizable in this production as the Witch. Her transformation is especially effective in Act I where she is not only decked out in full witch rags - wig, warts and all - but her singing voice takes on a guttural quality that makes her unrecognizable vocally as well. Though her overall performance feels a bit scattered, she also brings an emotional intensity to the legato lines in “Stay With Me” and “Last Midnight” that is quite moving.

    3-D Theatricals ambitious production, though challenged, is still well-worth the drive to Fullerton. Many of the technical aspects will surely have been rectified for the coming weekends schedule and performances should also settle in as the actors begin to feel more secure. It is an extravagant world they have created...but I still want to be able to simply hear the words.

    Jeff Skowron and Viva Carr

    Cameron Sczempka and Tim Martin Gleason

    Jeannette Dawson and Viva Carr

    Tim Martin Gleason and Julie Morgentaler

    Leslie Stevens, Cliff Senior, Melanie Mockobey, Mueen Jahan
    and Melina Kalomas
    Bets Malone and Christanna Rowader

    3-D Theatricals

    May 2 - 18, 2014
    Plummer Auditorium

    201 E Chapman Ave
    Fullerton, CA 92832

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    L to R: Treva Tegtmeier, Tim Hodgin and Skylar Adams.
    Photos by Lindsay Schnebly

    Though the term is rarely used today, there was an era when ending up an old maid was the worst possible scenario for a woman. Hard times and modest dreams made finding a husband a requirement for happiness, especially during the Depression when people lived off the land, family meant all, and survival depended on the support of one’s neighbors in times of need.

    In 110 in the Shade, based on N. Richard Nash’s play The Rainmaker, and later adapted by Nash, Harvey Schmidt (music) and Tom Jones (lyrics) for the musical stage, Lizzie Curry (Treva Tegtmeier) finds herself approaching the far side of marrying age with no prospects and little hope. Though she is a plain woman, it is her blunt personality and refusal to be vulnerable that keeps any man she meets at arm’s length, rather than her actual looks. Lizzie’s love life is in a drought and if something doesn’t change soon she’ll live out her days alone while suffering the humiliation of being a dreaded old maid.

    It’s a drought also reflected in the parched land. 110 degree weather is causing the cattle to die and stifling the town, and that means everyone is worried. So worried that when a charismatic drifter named Starbuck (Skylar Adams) appears promising he can bring rain within 24 hours, Lizzie’s father H.C. (Tim Hodgin) is ready to shell out 100 of his hard-earned dollars to make it happen. She and her brother Noah (Jason Peter Kennedy) are skeptical; youngest brother Jimmy (David Crane) believes in the dreamer; and File (Michael Downing), the sheriff, is on the chase to run him out of town as soon as he can catch him.

    As the deception plays out, hearts open and each of the characters comes to a new realization about his or her place in the world. It is a sweet story about the chances we take and the paths we don’t that add up to make a life. Director Richard Israel brings it all into focus with simple elegance and an attention to detail that maximizes the strengths of his company.

    Dated viewpoints on the necessity of marriage aside, I adore this musical. The score is sweepingly epic, with rich, beautiful ballads that capture the yearning of isolated individuals whose hearts are aching but can’t cross the bridge. Tegtmeier does lovely work with the bulk of Lizzie’s songs including “Love Don’t Turn Away,” “Simple Little Things” and “Is It Really Me?” although the Act I finale “Old Maid” wobbles a bit out of her control. She has the pinched look of a woman who knows her life will always be lived in sensible shoes and a likable quality that makes us root for her happy ending, whether or not she will actually get it.

    Adams fresh-faced Starbuck plays up the carnival barker side of the rainmaker, choosing to boisterously strong-arm the townspeople into hiring him rather than reeling them in with a more seductive array of charms. He’s working harder than he needs to but when he relaxes into the softer moments – mostly in his later scenes with Lizzie – there is an innocence he brings to the role that is unexpectedly sweet.

    Kennedy and Downing both give fine performances; Kennedy, as Lizzie’s forthright brother Noah, who loves his sister but always says the wrong thing at the wrong time, and Downing as a man whose jaded view of love keeps him distanced from an entire town. He also pulls a mean punch, with Crane on the receiving end, in a well-played serious moment that contrasts with Crane’s normally broad comedy scenes.

    Hodgin is terrific in the role of Lizzie’s father, corralling his sons with the sure hand of a rancher in control of an unruly herd. He and the boys bring a delightful sense of fun to Lizzie’s coming home song and later, when they try to nonchalantly entice File into coming to their picnic as a date for Lizzie in “Poker Polka,” they go from charming to downright hilarious. The song - and many others - also benefits from Julie Hall’s amusing character-driven choreography. Hodgin and Tegtmeier’s tender rapport shows the very real bond between father and daughter, though as a single parent he doesn’t always know what to do to make her happy.

    Musically the show succeeds in the always challenging task of balancing the sound between the singers and the band (credited to Cameron Combe). In addition to being able to hear and understand every word, musical director Bryan Blaskie uses subtle dynamics and musical phrasing to achieve a beautifully polished choral sound. (And I do love a good choral sound). What that does is give the scenes movement and helps maintain a natural flow in the transitions from one to the next. 

    Stephen Gifford’s scenic design creates a warm and natural small town atmosphere as panels surround the audience with rolling hills and fences, bringing the great outdoors inside. Always one to give the space a unique twist, Gifford’s most creative touch for this production is placing the band onstage in a corner under a wooden water tower reminiscent of the TV series Petticoat Junction. When I realized what it was, it made me laugh. Brilliant. Costume designer Vicki Conrad’s vintage print dresses, sturdy shoes, and everyday men’s work clothes bring to life the 1930s sensible world of hard-working good people.

    110 in the Shade was originally produced on Broadway in 1963 and although it never reached the level of acclaim Schmidt & Jones won for The Fantasticks, it did receive four Tony Award nominations, including Best Composer and Best Lyricist. That productions cast included Will Geer, head of the Geer family and founder of Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, in the role of H.C. Curry. A 2007 Broadway revival received five Tony nominations and two Drama Desk nominations with Audra McDonald receiving a Drama Desk Award for her role as Lizzie.

    Now Actors Co-op offers a charming production of this beautiful musical that will wrap you up in its magical spell as the final moments resolve. The smile you take home is a bonus.

    Skylar Adams (center) and the ensemble

    Skylar Adams and Treva Tegtmeier

    L-R: Michael Downing, Tim Hodgin and Treva Tegtmeier 

    The Ensemble of of 110 In the Shade

    110 IN THE SHADE
    May 9 - June 15, 2014
    Actors Co-op
    1760 N. Gower Street, Hollywood, CA 90028
    Tickets: (323) 462-8460 or

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    Following a very successful inaugural production of A Man of No Importanceat last year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, Good People Theater Company returns with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s beloved musical, The Fantasticks, directed by Janet Miller and featuring musical direction by Corey Hirsch.

    Why choose The Fantasticks for the Fringe? Miller says, “People think they know this show. But it’s a piece that’s staged so many times, it’s possible to lose our sense of the original -- its clarity, its simplicity, and the off-beat innovative style that had a lot of people in the 1960s scratching their heads, trying to figure out if The Fantasticks was great, or just odd.”

    When it was written in 1958, big musicals like My Fair Lady, The Music Man and West Side Story were in vogue. Everything was big, bold, and over-the-top during a period that would come to be known as the Golden Age of the American Musical. 

    Within that climate, two young writers – Schmidt and Jones – were trying to figure out how to compete. What they decided to do was go back to the way theatre used to be. Using stock characters, simple sets, charming storytelling and vagabond rapier wit, they turned the slim comedic charm of the 18th century Romantics into The Fantasticks of 1959. By doing so they accidentally upended the American musical, reinventing something so old, it was shockingly new, making history in the process. 

    Miller’s goal with the production is to “give Fringe audiences a pristine revival,” which means incorporating important original details like a harpist in the ensemble. 

    “There are good reasons people don’t use a harp in The Fantasticks,” she says. “It’s a gorgeous instrument but not exactly the easiest thing to lug around! Especially with the 15 minute load-in, load-out requirements of the Fringe Festival.” 

    But she insisted that the company bring the original show’s sensibility back as much as possible, and the original orchestration of the score calls for a harp.  

    “For people who are used to seeing the show with just the keyboard and maybe a little percussion, adding the harp is a revelation. It adds to the magical quality of the score and the storytelling. By presenting this revival at the Fringe Festival, we’re on a mission to remind people how truly odd and innovative The Fantasticks was back in the day. And that means you gotta have a harp!”  

    In the greater scheme of things, Miller is hoping to inspire a larger conversation about fringe works -- then and now. “The Fantasticks truly is the original fringe musical, including fulfilling every fringe producer’s dream of running, literally, forever. With so many new works being shown, we think the Fringe Festival is a great context for reprising this piece. And besides, it’s a fun show!”

    Audrey Curd
    Matt Franta

    The cast will feature Audrey Curd as Luisa, Matt Franta as Matt, Christopher Karbo as El Gallo, Corky Loupe as Mortimer, Alix Ogawa as Mute, Matt Stevens as Hucklebee, Robert Towers as Henry, and Michael Wallot as Bellomy.

    The creative team includes Janet Miller (producer, director & musical staging), Corey Hirsch (musical director), Katherine Barrett (lighting designer & stage manager), Rebecca Schroeder (assistant stage manager), Robert Schroeder (scenic designer), Kathy Gillespie (costume designer), Kimberly Fox (marketing), Ashley Hanson (media & patron relations) and Oliver Lan (graphic design).

    As a part of their commitment to “good people doing good work,” GPTC will also offer a special Charity of Choice performance on Saturday, June 28 at 2pm. As the fathers in The Fantasticks would agree, healthy gardens and happy children go together so 100% of the ticket proceeds from this performance will be donated to Little Green Fingers LA, a local non-profit that creates community gardens and encourages kids 5 and up to “get dirty and eat healthy.”

    Now that's Good People doing Good Work. Check out the details of their Fringe run below:

    June 5 – 29, 2014
    (Opening night, Friday, June 5 at 8pm)
    Lillian Theatre
    1076 Lillian Way at Santa Monica Blvd
    Tickets: $10 (preview) $20 (general run) $10 (students and seniors).

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    From the award-winning team who brought you last year’s hit The Pokémusical, comes a new musicalGIRAFFENSTEINbased on the tale of Shelley’s Frankenstein, as you’ve never seen it before. Song, dance, and danger. And they’re all giraffes. 

    With book & music by Alex Syiek, direction & musical staging byJoanna Syiek, and musical direction by Jennifer Lin, the story follows Dr. Richard Giraffenstein on his journey across the African savannah where he creates a Monster, who, confused and angry, attempts to find a true home for himself.

    I asked Alex about the inspiration for the musical and he said, “I chose this topic because I’ve always loved giraffes and thought they were funny. I think the piece is: fantastic, because it’s extremely hilarious; timely, because we need to stop the reanimation of giraffe corpses in Africa; and fringey, because it’s fast, fun, and full of people jamming their hearts out. If you’ve ever wondered where a giraffe monster would be able to find a home, then I guess I wrote a show for you...weirdo.”

    Joanna agreed adding, “I have always found the Frankenstein story to be a fascinating one, particularly with its themes of taking responsibility for what one creates. That’s something all artists must contend with every time they begin a new project. The monster in this version is a creature who is 1/2 giraffe, 1/4 rhino, and 1/4 lion. And while the premise is lighthearted at the start, the character serves as an example of the possibility inherent in creation, illustrating that without proper guidance a ‘work of genius’ can take control of its creator. It reminds us of the responsibility we have to that which we create – be it children, art, relationships – and offers stark warnings of the result of neglect.”

    Did they have any challenges adapting the material? “The source text adapts frighteningly well to its new savannah setting,” according to Joanna. “The doctor’s (Giraffenstein’s) experiments with life take on a new context in our age of technological and biomedical advancements. With today’s instances of cloning and stem cell research, this tale subtly highlights the discussions surrounding how we can manifest life through scientific achievement, and asks us again to be accountable for our choices. The difference between re-imagining and meddling with life is in the hands of those creating. To be flippant with these achievements may spell out a precarious future.”

    Sounds like a hilarious and thought-provoking addition to the Fringe.

    The cast for Giraffenstein will include James Penca as the Doctor and Edred Utomi as the Monster, with Josh Hillinger(Ivan), Katie McDonough (Elizabeth),Seth Salsbury(Moopaseh), Caleb Mills Stewart(Walton), Katie De Shan(Adhra), Kelley Dorney (Bimbaya), Ian Klingenberg(Chiumbo), and Kelsey Schulte(Nthabi). The Female Swing is Rachel Hirshee and Male Cover is Tyler Ledon.

    June 8 - 29, 2014
    Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way
    Los Angeles, CA 90038
    Tickets are $10 at

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    Leslie Caron and David Engel. Photos by Ed Krieger

    International film star Leslie Caron dances off the screen and onto the stage of Laguna Playhouse in Richard Alfieri’s play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. She is as graceful as ever, and still moves with the intrinsic poise of a dancer, even after 80+ years in the business.

    Stars from the Golden Age possess an unmistakable allure; that mysterious quality that renders an audience helpless under their spell. Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared to be as enchanted by her as I was but this production gave me an unexpected thrill from beginning to end.

    She is one of the few to have danced with iconic partners such as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, and has appeared in some of the great classic movie musicals like An American in Paris, Lili, Daddy Long Legs, and Gigi. This is a rare opportunity to see a living legend in action. You don’t want to miss it.

    The premise is simple. Caron plays Lily, a crotchety widow who hires an instructor half her age for a series of dance lessons in the hope that she can experience a freedom she never enjoyed during her marriage to a strict Southern Baptist minister. Michael, played by the deliciously irreverent David Engel, is a self-professed passive aggressive queen with a bad attitude who takes the job out of necessity. Suffice it to say these two are in for a rocky ride.

    Sparks fly and words wound during their first meeting but, for reasons they can’t yet understand, they know they need each other. Before long, this mismatched pair learns that the dance of life is about more than just perfecting the steps.

    Director Michael Arabian delicately balances the play’s gentle humor and wistful commentary on aging and prejudice by making the most of his actors’ natural rapport. Caron is luminous in this deceptively simple vehicle that appears tailor-made for her abilities. She acts and dances with the kind of emotional grace you’d expect from a bona fide star, while Engel matches her scene for scene with plenty of star power of his own.

    In Donna McKechnie’s beautifully choreographed dance sequences their connection rivals any of the greats. Through the Swing, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha and a Contemporary medley of ‘60s fad dances to the music of the Beach Boys, she lectures him on love and he talks to her about forgiving herself for the sins of the past. It is a touchingly human portrait of an unlikely friendship full of the missteps and triumphs that take place when we open up to another. 

    Technically, the production is fashionably decked out withJohn Iacovelli’s wall-to-wall gulf coast condo serving as the spacious setting for all of the lessons. D. Martyn Bookwalter creates luscious sunsets, shimmering moonlight, and flickering stars over the oceanfront balcony and Philip G. Allen’s uplifting sound design and incidental music is a joy. Kate Bergh’s costumes bring forth a subtle nostalgia with each anticipated costume change.

    For all of its many charms, it is still the relationship between its two characters that creates the real magic. Leslie Caron is captivating; David Engel, divine in this dance for two we call life. A more gorgeous duo I cannot imagine.

    Through June 8, 2014
    Laguna Playhouse
    606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach

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    Katie Molinaro brings a dose of dark humor to the Fringe Festival this year with her latest one-woman musical RSVP: RIP (Really Into Partying). Written and performed by Molinaro with music by Dana Wells and additional book & lyrics by Shawn Northrip, it is the story of a girl named Janey who, though she's done nothing to deserve it, has everything but still feels under-appreciated.

    One day, she takes an online quiz that predicts the date of her death. When she finds out she has only five days to live, Janey decides she needs to get famous fast so people will come to her funeral…and she’ll do whatever it takes. 

    RSVP is an acoustic journey through Janey’s life and her strange fixation on celebrity status and death. One woman. One guitarist. One face melting rock musical.

    Why did she decide to do a rock musical about a girl planning her funeral and trying to get famous? Katie gives us the rundown:

    “Besides loving dark humor and musicals, I was super depressed when I wrote this. I was in a creative rut. I got into a car accident that wasn’t my fault in February and, when that happened, I felt powerless. I actually thought, ‘If I died today, would anyone even care?’

    That got me thinking about celebrities who died this past year like Cory Monteith, Paul Walker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. There were so many people posting about their deaths on Facebook and how tragic and sad it was, but if they were alive, no one would be pouring their hearts out saying how great these people were! They wouldn’t. When people get more recognition for their work after they die, it’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s this weird fixation people have on celebrity status and death. That’s what Janey wants. She wants to get famous so people will come to her funeral. I wanted to write a character that everyone hates, but is still likable.

    I think Fringe shows should be messy, fun and barely hang together! Fringe is totally punk rock! Fringe is about people trying new things and not being afraid to fail. Don’t we all want to try and live our lives that way? I know I do. What annoys me, and I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, is when people produce shows during the Fringe that aren’t original. 

    What’s the point of doing a fringe show if it has already been produced off Broadway, or anywhere else, for that matter? I’ve been involved in Fringe shows since 2007 and it’s far more interesting to see someone try something new and fail than to play it safe... and probably still fail.

    You like how optimistic I am? In 2011, I produced my first one woman rock musical, On the Rag to Riches at The Capital Fringe Festival in DC and after four successful shows with packed audiences and taking home the award for Best Solo Performance, I brought my show to the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We had a horrible turnout as far as audiences go but we were still nominated for Best Musical. This year we’re using what we learned and coming back to melt some Fringe faces.”

    Fringe-goers will love seeing this show because, not only is it hilarious and dark, but you’ll also learn something about yourself. Think Hedwig meets The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and Tenacious D. 

    I’m very excited for people to hear the kick-ass punk rock music composed by Dana Wells (Texts From My Exes). I think people will honestly be surprised because they really don’t know what we’re capable of. We’ve done Fringe Cabaret for the past two years and people have seen us improvise text messages, but a rock musical? Man, you guys are in for a treat!”

    June 8, 13, 20, 23, 28, 2014
    Cupcake Theater
    6520 Hollywood Blvd.
    Tickets: $10

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    MUSICAL NEWS:The Pasadena Playhouse has updated the performance schedule for two unusual one-person shows – Amy G in Entershamement and Joe Orrach in In My Corner – to reopen the newly re-designed Carrie Hamilton Theatre. Entershamement has a limited run of five performances, while In My Corner runs for one night only. With these shows, that perform May 22 to May 31, The Playhouse is relighting the refurbished Carrie Hamilton Theatre, which has been changed from a proscenium theatre to a black box, and can be configured to accommodate many different kinds of productions. Tickets: (626) 356-7529 or

    Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group proudly presents the premiere of Haunted Walls and Apparitions, featuring an original musical score by Kevin Van Cott and directed by Zombie Joe. Their all-new late-night horror-fantasy spectacular, diving-deep into the haunted abyss of spirits, demons and phantasms, raking the delicate human-flesh of love and hate over hot coals, rising as an Ashed-Phoenix through the darkest of underworlds will run Saturdays at 11:00 pm May 24 – June 28. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For reservations call (818) 202-4120. Tickets:  $15.

    La Jolla Playhouse announces that the San Diego choral group SACRA / PROFANA will be featured in the upcoming U.S. premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, written by Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, featuring a book by Peter Parnell and directed by Scott Schwartz. A co-production with Paper Mill Playhouse, the musical will run Oct. 28 – Dec. 7 in La Jolla. Tickets are available only through a subscription purchase by calling (858) 550-1010 or online at

    “In this production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the score will be the central focus and the essential means of the storytelling. A community of voices comes together to re-enact the story of Quasimodo, and as they sing, they summon the world of medieval Paris and Victor Hugo's rich characters,” said director Scott Schwartz.

    DANCE: Celebrating the vibrant art of dance, Dance Camera West presents the 13th Annual Dance Media Film Festival, a public event incorporating dance explored through film, live performance, and architectural art. Several free live dance performances, an outdoor movie screening, a family-fun Dance-Along, Lester Horton Dance Awards ceremony, and over 20 shorts and long-form films and documentaries to be screened during the festival taking place in downtown Los Angeles on June 6, 7, 8, and 13, 2014. Venues include The Music Center, Grand Park, REDCAT, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and Union Station. All outdoor events are free to the public. For a complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets please visit

    CLASS: From the studio of Dan Callaway: June Workshop and Showcase Featuring the Music of Jason Robert Brown. Each workshop member will perform a solo and a duet woven into a cohesive showcase that will be performed at the Lyric Theatre on La Brea in Hollywood. We’ll invite all our friends and industry colleagues to come see the work you’ve done.
    Class dates: Mondays 7-10pm
    June 2 at my house in Highland Park
    June 9, 16, and 23 at Screenland Studios in NoHo
    June 30 at the Lyric in Hollywood
    $375 cash/check/credit card. Email Dan to reserve a space at

    CABARET/CONCERTS: See Terri White in the west coast premiere of her All New Concert Act Two Score Sunday, May 18, featuring musical direction by Bryan Miller. 5:30 – 6:00 pm: Dinner and/or drinks; 7:00: Performance. Click Here for ticket information and call (818) 754-8700 for reservations. Limited seating available. Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91606.

    Miscast: Right Singer Wrong Song’s next performance will take place on Monday, May 19 featuring Mandy Kaplan, Todd Sherry, Will Collyer, Patrick Gomez, Wendy Rosoff, Netta Most, Mona Chatterjee, Marc Hawes, Tom Metz III, and Kathryn Lounsbery. Two new singers in songs from shows like Chicago, Les Miserables and Frozen. Dinner and Drinks at 6:30pm, Show at 8pm. $19 Cash Only at the door. Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal, 5303 Lanksershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA. Reservations: (818) 754-8700. Proceeds go to Project Angel Food.

    The Zev Yaroslavsky Signature Series, presented by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission returns to the Ford for a second season of extraordinary performances. All proceeds benefit the Ford Theatre Foundation. Signature Series events take place on Saturday, July 5 (Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Dustbowl Revival), Saturday, Aug. 23 (John Adams’ I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, performed by Long Beach Opera) and Saturday, Sept. 13 (Ezralow Dance) with all performances beginning at 8 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets go  to or call (323) 461-3673.

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    Fringe has something for everyone and even the teens are getting into the act this year when the new musical Generation ME opens on June 8. Written for teens and performed by teens, this full-length musical is from the writing team of Julie Soto (book & lyrics) and Will Finan (music) and is directed by Ryan Warren.

    The story follows 15-year old Milo Reynolds who has it all: a seat at the popular table, the perfect girlfriend, the “coolest” parents, and friends who worship him. So when Milo kills himself Monday morning, his friends and family are left questioning everything they thought they knew about him. Told in flashbacks, it explores the heartbreak, confusion, and guilt suicide has on those left behind. Generation ME identifies a generation more privileged, self-interested, oblivious… and more miserable than ever.

    Book writer and lyricist Julie Soto took a few minutes to give us some insight into this fascinating musical. Tickets are available now.

    Julie, what made you decide to write a musical about suicide?

    In 2003, my best friend Ryan Warren and I co-founded Flying Monkey Productions, a youth theatre company in Sacramento, CA. After working with ridiculously talented teenage singers, actors and dancers for the last 10 years, it became clear that the material for teenagers was not challenging anymore. I tried to think of a story worth telling and the repercussions of teen suicide stuck with me.

    Ryan and I came up with this story idea based on life experiences from when we were in high school and the observations we made while working with our teens. I started writing the book, Will and I collaborated on the music and lyrics, and Ryan helped me shape the story. We produced Generation ME the Musical as a one weekend workshop in April 2013 in Sacramento and we received very positive feedback. After some rewrites and new music added, we presented the world premiere this April in Folsom, CA.

    Why do you think it will appeal to a Fringe audience?

    It tackles very real and contemporary topics like suicide, date rape, cutting, physical abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, substance abuse, and bullying in a way that gets the audience invested in the lives of these characters. Generation ME is a very real portrayal of this generation of teenagers and if you have ever been a teenager, you will find a piece of yourself in this musical. 

    What will surprise them?

    I think what will surprise them most is how often they will laugh out loud despite the depressing subject matter. The majority of the musical is told through flashbacks, allowing an audience to follow Milo's story and try to understand, along with his friends and family, why Milo killed himself. And also, the scene at the end of Act 1 will keep you smiling all throughout intermission!   

    It sounds like a good fit for the Hollywood Fringe.

    Presenting GenME at the Fringe Festivals was our goal and we are thrilled to be participating in the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2014. We truly believe that the fringe theater audiences are ready to embrace this musical and its talented cast. We never set out to be public service announcement about teen suicide, but if we can open up the conversation between parents and their teens about these topics, then I believe we have succeeded.

    The cast includes several teens who originated their roles at the 2013 Sacramento Workshop. They are:

    Liam O’Donnell (16) as Milo Reynolds
    John Novotny (16) as Cody Bennett
    Madison Judd (15) as Harper Ellis
    Kayla Wood (17) as Kaylee Summers
    Marcus Wells (15) as Marvin Ellis
    Caroline Coyle (16) as Ginny George
    Breanna White (16) as Lex Harris
    Nathan Duke (15) as Elliot McQueen

    Addition cast members for this production include Kennedy Slocum, Michael Wells, Jenna Bergman, Christine Tucker, Cameron Reck, Jake Young, Abbott Edwards, Kassidy Henson, and Elle Berti

    June 8 – 28, 2014 (150 minutes)
    Hudson Theatres
    6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
    Tickets: $10

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    Broadway and West End veteran Jon Peterson brings his new one man show He Wrote Good Songs to the Hollywood Fringe Festival beginning June 8. It is the story of British actor/singer/songwriter & director Anthony Newley, who created a catalogue of unforgettable songs such as “Goldfinger,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” “Gonna Build a Mountain” and “The Candy Man.” 

    Throughout the show, Peterson explores Newley’s highs and lows, his many loves, and the desperation of a man innately wise to the charade that is show business - a man possessed with too many talents. Written and performed by Peterson, it includes twenty of Newley’s incredible songs, driving home this tale of a show business legend. 

    Here Jon tells us why he loves this story and why it’s perfect for the Fringe. Enjoy!

    “I had been performing a show entitled Song Man Dance Man, which was a 90 minute one-man show about seven of the greats who did it all…Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, George M. Cohan, Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin, Donald OConnor and Anthony Newley. The show told their stories, dealt with how their lives all connected and interwove, and there were 24 songs and dance numbers associated with them.

    The response when I introduced Newley into the story was always so full of love that a show all about him seemed a natural progression. He was such an interesting man; a cockney, who gave scant regard to towing the line or sycophantic, show business behavior, yet his ebullience and charm drew everybody in, whether they were ‘in’ or ‘out’ of any elite circle. His huge talents for acting, singing and composing such standards as “Who Can I Turn To?,” “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” “and “Pure Imagination” made him an irresistible attraction to the powerful, the wannabes, and the many women who became part of his life.
    He was famously married to Joan Collins in the sixties and seventies. They had children, as he had with other wives - and unknown partners - siring some undocumented children along the way. He’d been a fatherless child so he was perpetually creating or recreating family around him.

    His impatience with ‘celebrity’ caused him to withdraw from those circles after short periods of time, and his need for expression made some of his work seem very off-the-wall and often down right pretentious. Within that body of work however you still see great songs emerge that have become standards to this day. Eventually his behavior pushed him into the periphery and into downward spirals of deep depression, and later cancer.

    So, with his interesting story, character, and the amazing songs that easily help to further his plot, I think the Hollywood Fringe is a perfect beginning for this show that lets us revisit this man and his enigmatic world.

    This is an 85-minute condensed (still working on that!) version to give a sense of what the show could become. It will be bare-bones. Any scenery or props will be up to the audience to create in their minds. The play is all about the story, the world I paint, and that amazing music to move us, especially as we see it in relation to Newley’s story. It’s as if he had been writing the score to his own life all along.”

    June 8 (preview ) 13, 16, 21, 28, 2014
    Theatre Asylum (Asylum Lab)
    6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90038
    Tickets: $10 ($1 for preview night)

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