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Your Musical Theatre Resource for Southern California!

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    Sierra Madre Playhouse presents Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers through June 21, directed and adapted by Alison Eliel Kalmus, with musical direction by Leonardo Sciolis and choreography by Angela Nicholas. Tickets: (626) 355-4318 or www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

    L-R: Jeff Bratz, Jenny Augen, November Christine and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper

    Clockwise from bottom left: Brooke Johnson, Olivia O'Neill,
    MarLee Candell, Jenny Augen, Karim Coleman.


    L-R: Jeff Bratz, Jenny Augen, November Christine and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper

    L-R: DW McCann, Jenna Augen, November Christine and Nicholas Mongiardo Cooper

    November Christine and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper

    L-R: DW McCann, Jenna Augen, November Christine and Nicholas Mongiardo Cooper.

    Photo credit
    Top 3 photos: Gina Long
    Botton 3 photos: Ward Calaway

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    Super-Gay-Asian comedian Kevin Yee and Filipina diva J.Elaine Marcos combine their unique style of comedy/music/sketch/standup, and promise audiences plenty of sparkle, dim sum, and unicorn magic at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

    Yee is a recovering Broadway chorus boy (Mary Poppins, Wicked, Mamma Mia) and a former member of Quincy Jones’ boy band Youth Asylum. Marcos starred in Broadway musicals like Annie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Wedding SingerTogether they make up the Super Gay Asian Cabaret. Here’s a fun look at what that means.

    Kevin, what exactly is the Super Gay Asian Cabaret?

    Two Asians doing what they love: making people laugh! I sing my original comedy songs, and J. Elaine tells ridiculous stories. We do some silly sketches, sing some inappropriate songs, and basically laugh at each other the whole time!

    Can you tell us a little more about what you’ll be doing? 

    We do a lot of ‘reflective’ comedy: parodying the experiences we face on a daily basis in the entertainment industry, and in life. We’re both Asian, and I’m gay so we touch on racism, sexism, and homophobia. That’s why it’s called the Super Gay Asian Cabaret. We are basically saying, ‘Come watch us make fun of our stereotypes! But now that you’re here, sit back and enjoy because there’s a lot more to us!’

    For instance, we have a whole number about all of the stereotypical generic Asian roles we’ve played in our musical theater careers. J.Elaine (who was in the Broadway cast of Miss Saigon and the revival of Flower Drum Song) said to me one day, ‘You know that scene in Asian musicals where all the Asian people have to pack their bags sadly as they flee their war torn village?’ And I said, ‘You know that song that’s only written with the black keys on the piano?’ Then the ideas just flowed: ‘You know that Asian dance number with fans?’ ‘You know that meek Asian girl who’s always so helpless?’ ‘You know that director who tells you to speak with a thicker unauthentic Asian accent so it sounds more authentic to the western audience?’ So we took those ideas and put a medley together of all the terrible stereotypes we’ve had to endure, to laugh at and, in a way, celebrate them.

    Will it be relatable for non-theatre insiders?

    Absolutely. We talk about other things too. We both like to poke fun at our mothers, which I’m sure many can relate to. I sing about not understanding Vegans, being disowned by my father, and hating driving in Los Angeles. J.Elaine tells stories about marriage and divorce, unique audition techniques, and cooking a family dinner and giving everyone food poisoning. We are universally relatable, in a uniquely stereotypical package.”

    And why bring the show to the Fringe?

    The Fringe is a perfect place for us to take risks and tell our stories in that live theatre setting we thrive on. We love the ‘do-it-yourself” environment, and meeting other artists in the city. We both come from similar backgrounds. We’re both Asian, both originally from Canada, and both recently moved to Los Angeles to explore our comedy work after spending a long time doing musical theater in New York. We knew each other in New York, but didn’t start collaborating until we moved to Los Angeles and started doing the Open Mic/Improv circuit.”

    Now that you’re locals does that mean we’ll see more of you and J.Elaine after the Fringe?

    After the Fringe, the Asian gayness continues! Every Wednesday night in August we’ll be presenting the Super Gay Asian Cabaret at the Noho Arts Center as part of the Academy of New Musical Theater’s summer cabaret series. It’ll just be the two of us at the fringe, but at the Noho Arts Center we’ll be taking on more of a hosting position and showcasing other funny people, as well as writers and performers in the Los Angeles musical theater scene. But J.Elaine and I will still be there, and the show will still be super gay and even SUPER Asian-er!


    Let the sparkle, dim sum and unicorn magic games begin!

    SUPER GAY ASIAN CABARET

    June 16, 22, 25, 2014
    Underground Theatre (Underground Annex)
    1312-1314 N. Wilton Place
    Tickets: $10 Use discount code MUSICALSINLAfor 10% off any of the 3 Fringe dates. Good for online sales only.
    45 minute show
    http://hff14.org/1506
    www.kevinyee.com

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    L-R: Joseph Patrick O'Malley, Cody Klop and Katelyn Gault

    Director Joseph V. Calarco creates a magical world of wonder in Coeurage Theatre Company’s production of The Yellow Boat. It is courageous, inventive, joyful storytelling that captures the frailty and potency of life in the journey of one special young boy. Its many charms include an original score for piano and cello by Gregory Nabours that lays bare the heart, fanciful choreography by Janet Roston, and a production design by Tito Fleetwood Ladd that will fill you with delight. 

    Imagination lives and breathes in Calarco’s vision. That precious commodity, and its ability to change us, is why we go to the theatre, and why I cannot recommend this production highly enough. You have one more weekend before this beautiful piece of storytelling is only a memory. Go!

    Cast: (in alphabetical order) Katelyn Gault, Ivy Khan, Cody Klop, TJ Marchbank, Joseph O’Malley, Kurt Quinn, Joey Nicole Thomas, and Malika Williams. Costume design is by Marcy Hiartzka, and sound design is by Joseph V. Calarco.

    THE YELLOW BOAT
    By David Saar, based on the true story of his son Benjamin
    Coeurage Theatre Company At GTC Burbank
    1100 W. Clark Avenue in Burbank
    Through May 25, 2014
    Friday & Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 4 pm
    Tickets: Pay What You Want
    (323) 944-2165 www.coeurage.org

    Photo credit: John Klopping


    L-R: Joey Nicole Thomas and Malika Williams

    Cody Klop

    TJ Marchbank

    L-R: Kurt Quinn, TJ Marchbank, Ivy Khan, Malika
    Williams, Joey Nicole Thomas. Sitting: Cody Klop

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    Jaeger Christian examines the effect a decade of overseas wars has had on today’s twenty somethings in his new musical We Can Be One: A Musical About Coming Home which will premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June. It is the story of two couples, each with its own set of unique challenges, who must confront the promise and heavy burden of coming home. 

    In this Fringe Spotlight, the composer talks about his project and gives us a preview of what the show is all about.

    Jaeger, tell us a little bit about the musical.

    I’m a songwriter first and I’ve always worked hard to write lyrics and music that can stand on their own, but I found myself with a set of songs that begged to be staged. The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a great venue for an artist of any sort to try out something new and face the risk that a live audience brings.

    We Can Be One follows the journey of two women through a single evening. One woman (Malynda Hale, pictured left) is optimistic as she prepares to leave for the airport to pick up a soldier (Michael Thomas-Visgar) returning from Iraq while her friend (Nora Rothman) struggles with a boyfriend (Geordie Kieffer) who returned six months earlier and is starting to dissociate from his loved ones. The cast will also include Stephanie Hoston and Mykell, as two friends there to help celebrate. Our cast is primarily in their early to mid-twenties, and I think our production accurately reflects difficulties faced by many young Americans in the last decade. 

    Is there a particular reason this topic interested you?

    Before I came to Los Angeles, I worked as a civilian at a military facility in Florida, and personally knew men and women who returned from years of deployment abroad. But our culture reflected on this massive mobilization only through books and action movies. I wanted to write a set of songs to see if music could also become part of this conversation.

    Why do you think it’s a good fit for the Fringe?

    The show is right for the Fringe because it comes from outside the everyday musical landscape, and Three Clubs is a great stand-in for any bar anywhere in the U.S. We’re a small production trying to tackle a real, contemporary subject with original songs. We’re blessed to have amazing vocalists presenting these songs, and we can’t wait to see how the audience responds to our little show!

    WE CAN BE ONE: A Musical About Coming Home
    Music & lyrics by Jaeger Christian
    Book by Jaeger Christian and William J. O’Donnell
    June 6, 12, 15, 19, 24, 2014 
    Three Clubs, 1123 N. Vine Street
    Hollywood, CA, 90038
    Tickets: $12 www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1722 
    For more about We Can Be One: www.wecanbeone.la
    For more about Malynda Hale: www.malyndahale.com

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    The Visceral Company is about to prove you can’t keep a good zombie down when they bring Zombies From The Beyond, a family-friendly musical comedy celebration of American ideals and foibles set in the Eisenhower era, to this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The musical debuted Off-Broadway in 1995 to unanimous acclaim and has had several regional productions but hasn’t been produced in LA…until now. 

    It’s also marks the first time Visceral, well-known for their horror, thriller, and sci-fi genre projects, is venturing into full-length musical territory. Director Dan Spurgeon talks about why the company chose this show as its first musical and what we can expect to see.

    “We’ve wanted to do a musical for a while,” says Dan, “but finding one that fits with our mission is somewhat difficult. We were looking for ANY horror/sci-fi musical that was good, not overdone, and had rights available, and we read this script simply because of the title. Then we listened to the score and fell in love with it. I have a soft spot and great affection for the 1950s sci-fi B-movies this parodies, and thought this one was done VERY well done, with great appeal for a wide variety of fans of theatre, opera, musicals, and cult movies of the mid-20th century.”

    What makes it perfect for the Fringe? “It’s a fun, funny, fast-paced show with a very campy, off-kilter sensibility - as well as a quality musical with a fantastic score, performed by a cast with talent to spare. And there are huge wigs!

    Our cast is mainly made up of actors who have appeared with us before, notably Amelia Gotham who won an LA Weekly award for her performance in our production of Turn of the Screw. We’re absolutely thrilled with our new addition, Alison England, who has performed around the world in musicals, opera, film and TV, and is going to knock your socks off as Queen Zombina from Planet X! The cast also includes Frank Blocker, Lara Fisher, Daniel Jimenez, Eric Sand, and Alex Taber, with Robert Finucane and Karmann Hillmanon keyboards, and Karoly Kiss on percussion.”

    Taking its cue from pulp movies popular at the time, Zombies From The Beyond brings the 1950s nostalgically and hilariously to life with a tuneful, toe-tapping score.

    Set in a fictional Milwaukee Space Center in 1955, it follows the budding romance of rocket scientist Trenton Corbett and Mary Malone, daughter of Space Center commander Major Malone. Their relationship is jeopardized when a flying saucer lands in town piloted by Zombina, a buxom alien aviatrix bent on procuring he-specimens to re-populate her planet. As she attempts to “zombify” all of Earth’s men, it’s up to a mild-mannered scientist, an all-American girl-next-door, a man-hungry secretary and one plucky, tap-dancing delivery boy to save the world from this planetary menace from outer space.

    Musical Direction is by Garth Herberg and Robert Finucane, choreography by Anna Safar, set design by Angel Madrid and Jason Thomas, lighting design by Joshua Silva, costumes by Pam Noles, wigs and makeup by Dawn V. Dudley, stage manager is Rosie Santilena, and the musical is produced by Drew Blakeman and Frank Blocker.

    ZOMBIES FROM THE BEYOND
    May 30 – July 20, 2014
    The Lex Theatre (mainstage)
    6760 Lexington Ave in Hollywood
    Tickets: $25 (previews, May 30-June 10)
    $32 (regular performances)
    Use code BEERTOWN and save $5 on preview tickets and $7 on other dates when purchasing tickets in advance via Brown Paper Tickets. Good for advance online purchases only. The producers reserve the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time.
    http://hff14.org/1512 
    www.thevisceralcompany.com

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    Inspired by John Lennon’s controversial love for Yoko Ono, Rock & Rolls Greatest Lovers tells the Romeo and Juliet story of two rebels from opposite ends of the world who stood together in the name of love only to face every kind of hate possible. Though fraught with challenges and tribulations, their 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 Stone Magazine.

    It is the story of a love that changed the world and defined an era, featuring original music by Anzu Lawson and Joerg Stoeffel, book & lyrics by Anzu Lawson, and directed by Nell Teare.

    Cast member Erin Muir (who plays Cynthia Lennon) says, “The musical originated in our acting studio, the Jocelyn Jones Studio, during which Anzu Lawson, the composer, did a photo exercise as Yoko Ono. We developed it over the course of two years and this is our first full production, outside of pieces and scenes presented in the studio. We love the high energy experience of the Fringe Festival and wanted our show to be part of this theater fever frenzy. 

    No one has ever done a project from Yoko’s point of view…that we know of. There was so much anger and hatred toward her, but all she (and she and John together as a couple) wanted for the world, was peace. When all the musicians in India got together to protest the violence against women, it was ‘Imagine’ they played on their guitars.

    Some of the most important parts of John Lennon’s legacy have gotten lost in the frustration and anger of our times, and this project looks to remind the audience that LOVE was what John and Yoko stood for as a couple. And then again, Yoko Ono was, well…a little weird! Look for plenty of fascinatingly mad ideas in the show as well.

    The music is all original, composed by Anzu Lawson, who was once a J-pop star and will be playing Yoko, plus we have an amazing cast and crew, including Tom Mesmer as John Lennon, John Griffin as Paul McCartney, Garon Joseph as George Harrison, William McKinney as Ringo Starr, Casey Hayden as Tony Cox, Carey Dunn, Jewel Greenberg, Lauren Poole, Rebecca Ocampo, Tia Robinson and Joseph Verdi. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.” 

    ROCK & ROLL’S GREATEST LOVERS
    June 7, 13, 21, 29, 2014
    Theatre Asylum (Lillian Theatre)
    6320 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood
    Tickets: $8
    http://hff14.org/1800

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    A Cuppa Tea Theatre Company will make its debut at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with the beautiful Songs For A New World directed by Christopher Maikish and starring Scott Weston, Keith Montanez, Sherry Mandujano and Emily Morris, with percussionist Indigo Smith.

    The show is a collection of songs that tell a series of stories through an arc, rather than a continual developing plot. Each song transports us through our American identity, our community, and our desires. They sweep us away into the moments we stand our ground, break our silence, make a bargain, or find our way home. It’s about those life-defining moments we reach and those important decisions we must make.

    I asked Christopher what made him want to direct Songs For A New World and why this new company decided to bring its show to the Fringe community. 

    “I wouldn’t say our show is fringey in the ‘I’ve got a new one-woman show’ kind of way, of course. But the genesis of this project is that a small group of performers were interested in creating a new theater company in order to collaborate and mount work of their choosing, rather than wait for it to arrive. They saw the Hollywood Fringe as a fantastic community within which to make their debut -- a place of great energy where they could meet loads of new people and make a splash, as well as make artistic alliances.

    Songs For A New World is a musical that a few of the company members (and now cast members) have loved for a while. It’s a show with incredibly nuanced material that doesn’t rely on expensive sets to tell compelling, gripping stories. And though Jason Robert Brown’s score debuted in 1995, the conflicts and celebrations he explores have not aged one minute.

    It’s a really interesting musical because it’s not a book musical; there are no scenes between songs, but there is such a unity between the songs and they take the audience on a journey that feels like a really complete experience. Each song has a story to tell that is compelling and specific. I get emotional in rehearsals while directing, the songs are so darn good! And I’ve got actors with powerful voices who care about these stories -- it shows.”

    A Cuppa Tea Theatre Company describes itself as a place where artists from all walks of life can bring their work to connect, interact, collaborate, and produce the things they dream of, creating a culture that supports artistic freedom. Whether art is your work, your hobby, or something you’ve never done before, ACTTC is interested in what you have to offer.

    Welcome to the LA theatre world ACTTC. You couldn
    t make your debut in a better place than at the Fringe.

    Songs for a New World is produced by Scott Stevens and Gino Marconi and features choreography by Heidi Buehler, musical direction by Jim Blackett, scenery by Robert Selander, and costumes by Isabel Mandujano.


    You can also check out their Kickstarter campaign and hear one of the songs in the final minutes of the video. 

    SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD
    June 6 – 28, 2014
    Complex Theatres (East Theatre)
    6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038
    Tickets: $12.50
    http://hff14.org/1780
    www.facebook.com/acuppateatheatre

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    From the wild world of Michael Shaw Fisher and The Orgasmico Theatre Company, who brought you previous Fringe hits Exorcistic: The Rock Musical Parody Experiment and Doomsday Cabaret, comes The Werewolves of Hollywood Blvd, A Damnable Rock Musical. 

    It’s a bloodthirsty new rock musical about the Hollywood underworld, the 2008 financial crisis and the corporate strategies of Vlad the Impaler. What?! When a horror lit agent gets laid off, he latches onto a mysterious werewolf script and discovers he has more in common with the werewolves of history than he could have ever dreamed. (WARNING: this musical ROCKS.)

    As usual, it’s based on a fascinating story and one that should create quite a stir. Here’s what Michael has to say about his latest adventure. I think you’ll agree it sounds like a crazy ride!

    Michael Shaw Fisher
    “Around the time of the economic crisis in 2008 I learned about a man named Peter Stump who lived in 1590 and was tried and executed for being a werewolf. As I read on, I realized that thousands of others had been executed for being ‘werewolves.’ 

    There seemed to be three reasons for this: these people were mentally ill and persecuted for their illness, or they were serial killers that the religious villagers were unable to find any rational answer for, or they suffered from lycanthropia where a person believes they are wolf. This would have been less common but the condition does exist and perhaps the superstitions of the times would convince a person of such a thing.

    Anyway, I found the story of Peter Stump to be particularly gruesome-yet-provocative since, admittedly, I tend to identify with outcasts. I sat down to write the show and what ended up coming out surprised me. I found myself weaving these horrific tales into the modern landscape of hopelessness brought on by the 2008 financial crisis. As a country, we had been following the wrong ideals and corporate heroes, which created a lot of victims and even some monsters.

    So I asked myself, ‘Who are the werewolves and vampires of this world we actually live in?’ I didn’t just want to do a show with werewolf makeup and a bunch of silly songs because that doesn’t seem very interesting to me. What I love most about the Hollywood Fringe is not just its potential for fun parody (which there is always a market for) but also the way Fringe audiences are sophisticated and hungry for a challenge, and love to discover powerful new theatre.

    With Werewolves we hope to achieve moments of absurdity, darkness, sadness AND wild hilarity, and to give a complete emotional experience to the audiences we love. I really hope we achieve it with this show.

    I think we have the strongest team yet to achieve what is certainly our most ambitious project to date. The show will have much more choreography and a larger cast. Jesse Merlin returns after playing the ‘old priest’ in Exorcistic as does David Haverty who played Kurt Billy in Doomsday Cabaret. Sarah Chaney and Leigh Wulff return for their third Orgasmico production. Aaron Lyons is helming the project as our director, and of course Michael Teoli, who I worked with several times now, is back, this time as the composer! Michael musical directed and arranged Doomsday Cabaret and Exorcistic so it’s exciting for him to be the composer this time around. I am doing book and lyrics. Other new Orgasmico members include: Mark Jablon, Laura L Thomas, Jim Hanna, Hannah Johnson, Alex Lewis and Kyle Nudo.

    It’s a killer team and it is a killer show – full of twisted surprises! Can’t wait to see you all there!”


    THE WEREWOLVES OF HOLLYWOOD BLVD
    June 7 – 28, 2014
    Theatre Asylum (Lillian Theatre)
    6320 Santa Monica Blvd 
    Tickets: $8 (preview) $16 (regular performances)
    http://hff14.org/1507

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    Sketch comedy morphs into musical comedy when Victorian Courting & Zombies hits this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Set in the Regency Period, the show follows the hapless and ill-fated Funktard sisters who have been left destitute and must marry off Elizabeth to a wealthy suitor. If only one of the suitors could look past the sisters’ facial defects, extra limbs, and miniscule dowry and love them for their brains. Their luck may turn around when Mr. Blubberbutt invites them to one of his famous balls and introduces them to an interesting fellow with a limp, a grunt, and an appetite for flesh.

    Sounds like a Fringe-goer’s dream, right? So how did the show originate?

    According to writer Susan Sassi, the idea originally started out as a sketch, and was just a fun parody exercise. “I have always loved Jane Austen novels and films,” she says. “Writing a short parody, poking fun at the courtship rituals of the period was easy and fun, but then it turned into something much bigger. The finished product has some very profound commentary on gender roles and societal expectations. 

    The shorter version had a very successful performance as a UCB Spank Show and in the iO West Scripted Comedy Festival. We loved how it turned out and received so many great comments from audiences that we decided to expand it. Then, just before the Fringe deadline, my mom passed away. She was the person who inspired my love for musical theater and encouraged me to pursue acting and singing as a career. Music was her huge passion so I wanted to put up this show at the Fringe as a tribute to her memory.” 

    As for why they chose zombies as the subject for the show she adds, “Zombies are very hot right now. Everyone loves zombies and I hear they kill at the Fringe, (pun may or may not have been intended)” she laughs. Our zombies are comedic singing and dancing zombies unlike anything seen to date.” 

    Composer & musical director Bryan Blaskie agreed saying that what he thinks makes Victorian Courting & Zombies stand out is that it is a comedy before anything else. “Susan and the cast come from the improv and sketch worlds. I joined as a musical theatre geek to write a few funny songs, but once this thing developed outside of UCB and iO West, it became a musical. 

    The most rewarding part of this project as a composer is really taking the musical motives of the show and layering them on top of each other as the plot develops. Since Susan uses a lot of the book to comment on the style and expectations of the Victorian era, I use the music to comment on ‘musical theatre’ expectations. These aren’t just funny songs. I really worked to pay attention to scansion, prosody, and form so that I could elevate this from a comedy with songs to a musical comedy. I use different styles of music throughout; gospel, baroque, My Fair Lady-style flourishes, Cy Coleman-esque belting, and more. And since there are only 9 numbers, that’s a lot to cram in.

    I wanted it to be a flashy and entertaining MUSICAL with dance breaks, harmonies, and belting. We even added an ensemble! Susan keeps the jokes rolling every beat, and this cast is making me laugh until at I cry at the piano. Together it’s an incredibly entertaining and cohesive show that speaks beyond singing and dancing zombies to gender inequality and societal expectations.”


    In addition to Sassi the cast for this 45-minute musical comedy includes Graham Beckett as Alfred, James Ross as Mr. Blubberbutt, David Kerns as Mary Funktard, Blake Hogue as Mr. Bingsley, and Diana Varco as Jane Funktard, with ensemble members Manny Hagopian, Kat Radley, Christina Nannos and Greg Goodness directed by Gina Ippolito.

    VICTORIAN COURTING & ZOMBIES
    June 13, 21 & 28, 2014
    Complex Theatres (The Dorie Theatre)
    6476 Santa Monica Blvd
    Tickets: $10
    http://hff14.org/1828 
    www.victoriancourtingandzombies.com

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    MUSICAL NEWS:Actors Co-op announces its 23rd anniversary season beginning with The Mystery of Edwin Drood, book, music & lyrics by Rupert Holmes Sept. 19-Oct. 26, 2014. Drood is based the unfinished novel of Charles Dickens and is set in the raucous world of a Victorian era music hall. Follow the journey of a troupe of actors as they sing and dance through the unfinished story of Edwin Drood - allowing the audience to vote on the ending. The season will also include The Diviners (Oct. 17-Nov 23), Pride and Prejudice (Feb. 6-March 15, 2015), My Children! My Africa! (March 21-May 3, 2015), Around the World in 80 Days (May 8-June 14, 2015). Actors Co-op is located at 1760 N. Gower Street, Hollywood, CA 90028, on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. www.ActorsCo-op.org

    The MainStreet Theatre Company has announced its 2014/2015 season of family entertainment of children and families. The 3-show season will include the west coast premiere of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s The Three Little Pigs (October 4-19, 2014) directed by Jessica Kubzanskywith musical direction by Janice Rodgers Wainwright. Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper will follow Feb. 28-March 15, 2015, adapted by Jonathan Bolt and directed by Abigail Deser. Doug Harvey and Jeremy Lelliott will play two boys in 16th century England, who trade clothes on a lark, and accidently trade lives as well. MainStreet will also host the Vital Theatre Company’s production of Fancy Nancy, the Musical May 9 & 10, 2015. Performance take place at Lewis Family Playhouse, Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739. www.lewisfamilyplayhouse.com

    Singer/songwriter Susannah Blinkoff will bring her solo show Daughter of ... , directed by Stan Zimmerman, to the Hollywood Fringe Festival for five performances only at Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge beginning June 7 at 9pm. Daughter of ... is Blinkoff’s tale of growing up backstage in Manhattan as the daughter of a successful songwriter. The musical memoir features songs written by her mother Carol Hall (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Free to Be You and Me) as well as her own pop-rock tunes. Daughter of ... bursts showbiz bubbles and celebrates Blinkoff’s creative heritage. Tickets are on sales at www.hollywoodfringe.org or by phone at (323) 455-4585. Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge, 1123 Vine Street in Hollywood, 90038.

    The Pianist of Willesden Lane returns to Laguna Playhouse for one week only June 24-29. Award-winning concert pianist Mona Golabek stars in the one-woman show based on a true story adapted and directed by Hershey Felder and based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Golabek and Lee Cohen. The music-filled evening recounts the personal story of Ms. Golabek’s mother in Nazi-occupied Europe. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. in Laguna Beach. www.lagunaplayhouse.com

    Laguna Playhouse will also present Hershey Felder’s newest production, the west coast premiere of Chris Lemmon starring as his father Jack Lemmon in Jack lemmon Returns, a play with music about a world famous dad and his son, written and directed by audience favorite Hershey Felder, June 11-22. “This remarkable story told by Chris Lemmon in the voice of his father is performed in the style of musical storytelling that audiences have come to know from me,” said playwright/director Hershey Felder. “Being able to work with Chris to present this piece has been an incredible joy both because of Chris’ skill as an actor in the tradition of his father, and as a musician given that music was such an important part of his father’s life.” www.lagunaplayhouse.com

    The Attic Theater & InspireD Productions presents Annie Get Your Gun June 6 – July 6 at the Attic Community Theater, 2834 S. Fairview, Santa Ana, 92704. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. To purchase tickets or for more information, call( 714) 662-2525 or go to  www.ocact.com.

    The Grove Theatre in Upland announces the return of Menopause The Musical® for 8 performances, June 18-22. Menopause The Musical® is a groundbreaking celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived “The Change.” Tickets are currently on sale now and can be purchased by calling 909-920-4343. Set in a department store, four women meet by chance while shopping for a black lace bra at a lingerie sale. After noticing unmistakable similarities among one another, the all-female cast jokes about their woeful hot flashes, mood swings, wrinkles, weight gain and much more, while forming a unique bond with the entire audience. http://grovetheatre.com/

    AWARDS: The nominees for the 3rd Annual Jerry Herman Awards, a celebration of the achievement and excellence in high school musical theatre in Los Angeles have been announced. KABC-7 reporter George Pennacchio will host the awards show at the Hollywood Pantages on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 7pm. All tickets for this awards celebration are $25 and are now on sale to the public online at www.JerryHermanAwards.com or www.HollywoodPantages.com. Award presenters include Obba Babatunde, George Chakiris, Richard Chamberlain, Monty Hall, Shirley Jones, Reneé Marino, Russ Tamblyn & Ben Vereen.

    CONGRATS: Congratulation to S.T.A.G.E. Goes To The Movies for raising nearly $275,000 for Aids Project Los Angeles at its May 30th Anniversary production on May 10. Robert Osborne hosted the star-studded event which took place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. For more information about Aids Project LA go to www.apla.org. www.stagela.com

    DANCE: The LA So-Cal Dance Invitational, presented by South Coast Dance Arts Alliance, will play one performance only, on Friday, June 20, at  the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, CA, 90068. Six acclaimed Southern California dance companies will perform: Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Andy Vaca’s Jazzworks--Long Beach, COLABO Youth Dance Collective, LA Contemporary Dance Company, and Invertigo Dance Theatre. Showtime is 8:30 pm, and tickets are on sale now at www.fordtheatres.org. General admission tickets purchased prior to June 2 receive a $5 discount. For more event info, visit www.socaldanceinvitational.org.

    CONCERTS/CABARET: Former Mouseketeer and musical theatre & club favorite Lindsey Alley presents the Los Angeles premiere of her all-new show, Blood, Sweat & Mouseketears, one night only Tues. June 10 at the Cavern Club Theatre at Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave. in Silverlake. During this memorable evening of booze, belting and belly laughs, Lindsey takes us on a comedic musical journey...and her hilarious quest for the elusive “Happily Ever After.”  Along the way, she sings some fabulous songs (including those Disney favorites that tug at your heartstrings), and spills some unforgettable stories (what Justin and Britney are really like!).  Brace yourself, as Lindsey puts her Disney image on the shelf and lets it all hang out...prompting her mother’s unsolicited stock apology, “I tried. I tried and I failed!” Tickets Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door and can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

    Kritzerland presents Nobody Does It Like Me – The Songs of Dorothy Fields Sun. June 1st at 7:00 pm starring Tara Browne, Cynthia Ferrer, Zachary Ford, Kim Huber, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Sarah Staitman and Robert Yacko, with special guest Kerry O’Malley. Musical direction is by Lloyd Cooper. Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal. To RSVP call (818) 754-8700.

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    Are you ready for some good old fashioned singing and dancing, and a big dose of British silliness? Then The Translucent Frogs of Quuup is one for your theatre schedule at the Fringe. Set in 1922 London, Anthony Marigold-Bentley (Larry Mura), bank clerk third-class, meets Edith (Anna Kate Mohler), a very modern woman, with ideas. Swept up into a world of romantic ideals, they throw caution to the wind and decide to take a trip up the Amazon in search of the legendary Translucent Frogs of Quuup with the help of a witty narrator, a pianist and a canoe.

    No Excuses Theatre Company continues its U.S. premiere of the musical comedy at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, following a run at the Long Beach Playhouse in March. Originally produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the musical won The Guardian’s Best Original Music Award, and features book by Chris Larner and music by Mark Stevens.

    It was a trip abroad that Larry Mura says brought the show to his attention, creating an unforgettable impression on both he and his then girlfriend (now wife), Sophie. “We both went to London in 2004 to study theatre for a semester in college, roughly 10 years ago. It was there that we got a chance to see The Translucent Frogs of Quuup at the King’s Head Pub Theatre. The show had been picked up and extended from The Edinburgh Fringe Festival earlier in the year. If I remember correctly, we happened upon a flyer in a window and decided to give it a go not knowing anything about the show at all…and it was just magic.

    Everything about Quuup was an experience, right down to purchasing the tickets from an office that looked like a cartoon with papers stacked to the ceiling and being crammed into a tiny theatre in the back of a pub. We were so lucky to see the show with the original creators Chris Larner and Mark Stevens, the musical director, who both played themselves in the show.

    We laughed ourselves silly all night, and yet, this screwball of a comedy had such a touching ending. I turned to my wife after it was over and said ‘we have to produce this show.’ We returned home, graduated from college, and continued on with life, always with Quuup on our mind. I spent the next 5 years on and off finding a way to contact the author, Chris Larner, and was finally successful, however it wasn’t until this year that all the pieces were able to come together. With great encouragement from the Long Beach Playhouse, we took to the stage during their collaborative series to a resounding success. We all had so much fun that we wanted to continue to give others a chance to see Quuup.”

    Have they ever participated in the Fringe before? “No,” he says, “this is our first time, but we thought there would be no better show to produce than this one. The Translucent Frogs Of Quuup is for anyone who simply wants to laugh and take a moment away from their everyday grind to just enjoy themselves. There is one particular musical number that is a must-see. Without giving too much away, if you’ve ever wanted to see a dance number while going up the Amazon River with a canoe, then you’ll want to catch this. We are truly looking forward to sharing the joy and happiness this show gave us when we saw it 10 years ago.”


    The show is directed and choreographed by Sophie Mura and, in addition to Larry Mura and Anna Kate Mohler, stars Andy Zacharias as Mark and Russell Montooth as Chris. 

    TRANSLUCENT FROGS OF QUUUP
    June 15 & 29, 2014
    Complex Theatres (East Theatre)
    6476 Santa Monica Blvd
    http://hff14.org/1823
    www.translucent-frogs-quuup.com

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    You heard that right… Scar Face: The Musical. Producer Nick Howell and writer/director Chris O’Neilltake a flying leap into the Fringe with a new musical that uses the film Scarface as its springboard. Check out this description:

    Theatre is dying…especially British theatre. Nobody’s showing up to see Shakespeare, Chekov is just that dude from Star Trek, and Broadway is overrun with musical versions of Hollywood movies. What is the Royal Shakespeare Corporation to do but join in the reboot musical boom?

    Writer Jonathan Pinter Sorkin (David Mapother) has convinced Britain’s most lauded theatrical producer Andrew Lloyd Mendes (Matt Murray) that Scar Face: The Musical will bring the people back to the theater. Now, acclaimed director Felicity Bigelow (Meghan Derr) must workshop the play to see if this is a theatrical bowel movement, or the savior of modern British theatre. [Andrew Lloyd Mendes…you’re killin’ me!]

    Where did the inspiration for this musical come from? Chris O’Neill and Nick Howell give us the back story and what to expect from Scar Face: The Musical.

    Chris, where did it all begin?

    Chris: It started as a sketch idea to do an ad for Scar Face: The Musical on Broadway winning various Tonys (no pun intended) for songs with names like “Don’t You Ever Try to F**k Me, Tony.” Then came the idea to do a full stage show that follows the audience watching the Royal Shakespeare Corporation doing a workshop of Scarface as a musical, which gave us another layer of comedy. It was a chance to say something about theatre turning into musical adaptations of Hollywood films and I think watching that dynamic provides lots of opportunity for laughs.

    Nick, how did you become involved?

    Nick: Chris and I had riffed the idea as a short/parody commercial for a YouTube viral video, and it was filed away with the countless other ideas that live in that vault. Out of the blue one day, he approached me about submitting it for the Hollywood Fringe. I was initially against it because I thought it was a straight, on-the-nose musical adaptation. It wasn’t until I fully realized the layering-in of the studio execs workshopping it live that I ‘got it,’ but I was hesitant even through the first round of auditions. It’s one thing to read a script yourself; it’s another to have it read by talented musical theatre actors, and to visualize that layering materialize right in front of your eyes. It really helped it sink in. There’s an Inception‘play-within-a-play’ nature to it that people won’t see coming, and is what really makes it unique, and ultimately what sold me and got my full support.

    It sounds like it will make a great addition to the Fringe.

    Chris: It is so outrageous, ridiculous, controversial and insane that the audience’s jaws will be on the floor from the opening number. The film Scarface is already over the top, with its bad ‘80s fashion, synth music, and overacting, so you have a fantastic challenge in taking it even further. It’s fast-paced, energetic, filled with one-liners and slapstick, and, honestly…where else are you going to see something like this? Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the idea of how Scarface could actually be turned into a musical? It’s also very much the essence of Fringe because it’s a black box style show, with minimal props and no set, so it fires the imagination and suspension of disbelief of the audience.

    Do you think people will remember Scarface well enough to get the humor?

    Nick: There’s certainly an element of assumption on my part that most people are familiar with the 1983 film, and will have a huge ‘WTF?!’ moment when they hear about it being adapted into a musical, driving them to see it. I think what they EXPECT to see will be extremely different from what they ACTUALLY see, and that’s what excites me. Like Chris said, jaws will hit the floor in the first 60 seconds. For perspective, I’m personally not a big theatre guy. I dabble mostly in things that require cameras, but certainly respect and appreciate the art of live performance. If I wasn’t involved with the show and heard about it on the street, I would absolutely go out of my way to see how in the hell someone could adapt something as ridiculous as Scarface into a musical.

    What made the time feel right to do it now?

    Chris: Broadway has become increasingly overrun with huge budget musical adaptations filling the theaters -- Rocky being the latest one -- and it’s only a matter of time until London’s West End starts doing the same thing. Universal announced a ‘reboot’ of Scarface which also plays into the element of the plot where studio executives are cashing in on a film and redoing it. It’s exciting because it will be premiering in the town where these decisions get made…and might just be playing to an audience filled with execs.

    Nick: It’s also very timely because a couple of months ago, Jimmy Im of Vanity Fair posted a controversial article about Quentin Tarantino and Rumer Willis ‘saving LA theatre,’ touting that LA theatre was dead. The Internet exploded and, as a producer, I’m all over what the Internet explodes about, good and bad. It showed, more than anything, the disconnect between celebrity press, Wilshire Blvd, and boots-on-the-ground awareness of what’s really going on in this town. For the record, we had already signed the papers to produce Scar Face: The Musical and were rehearsing already, but it certainly feeds into the whole parody M.O. of the show, with studio execs trying to ‘revive interest in theatre by adapting cult films into musicals.’

    What type of music are you using for the show?

    Chris: The musical style is cheeky, cheesy, over the top and very tongue-in-cheek. Without giving spoilers, we’ve taken certain Karaoke versions of certain well known songs and used them as the music for our songs.

    Nick: Ever heard the phrase ‘Two Wrongs Make a Right?’ The lyrics of the songs pull directly from lines of dialogue, or call out certain subject matter, of the original film. They are completely over the top, set to some of the most recognizable (read: ridiculous) karaoke music of all time, creating this magical cohesion of comedy several times throughout the show. When I first heard them performed, I remembered I hadn’t laughed that hard since seeing some of the musical numbers in Team America.

    SCAR FACE: THE MUSICAL
    June 7, 13 & 21, 2014
    Theater Asylum (Lillian Theatre)
    6320 Santa Monica Blvd
    Tickets: $15
    http://hff14.org/1783 
    www.orbitaljigsaw.com

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    DOMA Theatre Company will present the world premiere of a new musical based on Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray during this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Dorian’s Descent opens May 30, prior to the beginning of the Fringe, and will continue through July 20 for an extended run. 

    Set in the future, the story follows the enigmatic Dorian Gray, the inspiration behind Basil Hallward’s masterpiece, Dorian’s portrait. With the influence of Basil’s devious friend, Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian sells his soul in order to remain forever young while the picture ages over time.

    Dorian’s Descent features book by Chris Raymond, Marco Gomez and Michael Gray, lyrics by Marco Gomez and Chris Raymond, and music by Chris Raymond. Gomez directs, Raymond also provides musical direction and orchestrations, and choreography is by Tania Possick. The show is produced by Mike Abramson and Dolf Ramos.

    “We stayed very close to the source material in terms of the story and tried to incorporate Wilde’s language wherever possible,” explains Gomez. “Our biggest challenge was the internal nature of Dorian’s conflict in the novel, which we needed to open up and dramatize. We created a character, the ‘Demon,’ played by the wonderful Toni Smith, who helps make sense of Dorian’s personality change.”

    Raymond adds, “It’s a wild, magical and mysterious story, and the themes are so relevant in today’s image-obsessed culture. The score draws on many influences, including classic Broadway, opera, and modern dance music. The large cast provides rich, complex vocal harmonies throughout the show.”

    Michael D’Elia stars in the title role, with Jeremy Saje as Basil, Kelly Brighton as Henry, Cassandra Nuss as Sibyl, Lauren Hill as Madeleine, Toni Smith as the Demon, Tony Graham as James and Michelle Holmes as Margaret. The ensemble includes Johanna Rose Burwell, Kevin Corsini, Robert Glen Decker, Andrew Diego, Tony Dooley, Jillian Easton, Kia Dawn Fulton, Timothy Hearl, Lauren Hill, Susan Huckle, Michael Liles, Garret Riley, Jenny Torgerson, Tiffany Williams and Lindsay Zana.

    Producer Michael Abramson says the production design will be particularly impressive boasting the award-winning talents of John Iacovelli (set design), Jean-Yves Tessier (lighting design), Julie Ferrin (sound design), Michael Mullen (costume design), Karen Sanchez (makeup), Hallie Baran (props), and Gabrieal Griego (production manager).

    Abramson also feels that the classic story is still timely and relevant today saying, “I think Fringe-goers will love seeing how a novel like The Picture of Dorian Gray can be modernized in such a way that even today’s audiences can relate to the story. Adapting it to a modern-day setting is what is truly unique and special about the show. Marco and Chris have also added a new character – The Demon – who was not present in the original novel, which allows the audience to visually see and even develop a connection and relationship to the force that sends Dorian spiraling down the pathway of destructive love-affairs, seduction, decadence and murder.”

    DORIAN’S DESCENT
    DOMA Theatre Company and Requiem Media Productions, LLC
    May 30 – July 20, 2014
    The MET Theatre
    1089 N. Oxford Ave.
    Los Angeles CA 90029
    Tickets: (323) 802-4990 or www.doriansdescent.com
    Fringe Tickets (June 6 – 29): http://hff14.org/1827

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    Adult fans of the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, otherwise known as bronies, are the subject of a new musical from the award-winning creative team of last year’s Fringe favorite, The Real Housekeepers of Studio City. Featuring music by Joe Greene, book & lyrics by Heidi Powers& Tom Moore, and directed by Ryan Bergmann, Bronies: The Musical is the story of three outsiders who find purpose, meaning, love – and each other – all thanks to cartoon ponies.

    The back story is personal, especially for husband and wife writers Heidi Powers and Tom Moore. Here Heidi talks about their latest adventure into TV Land. Welcome to the herd!

    “We chose to do a musical about the phenomenon of bronies - or bros who love My Little Pony - because the topic fascinated us. I had heard about them in the news, and I'll admit that I didn't understand why grown men would be interested in My Little Pony. (Personally, I had collected them as a child, but had never considered watching the rebooted series that premiered in 2011.)

    Then my niece and nephew, who are teenagers and bronies, introduced us to an episode of the show. I definitely could see that it was well-written and produced, including characters with unique personalities, strength and agency. But I was still curious about why it had become so popular among grown men. [My husband and co-writer] Tom Moore and I absorbed everything we could on the topic, including watching the terrific documentary, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, which inspired us to create an original musical to explore the topic further. This terrific view into a misunderstood world reminded both of us of our experience as fans of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
      
    Before we met, we were both going through a tough time, feeling lonely and battling depression. Simultaneously - but on opposite sides of the country - we discovered Buffy in syndication. Buffy made us feel like we weren’t alone. While we connected to the wonderfully complex fictional characters, we also began to connect with real people in the online and local communities that sprouted around the show. Many of these fellow fans are still treasured friends today. The experience transformed our lives so much that we eventually listed Buffy proudly on the personal ads that brought us together.

    I’m continually inspired by how the My Little Pony fandom boldly breaks out of society’s conditioned gender norms… but at its heart, bronyhood, like all fandom, is built on friendship and shared love. So Bronies: The Musical is about the restorative power of community, and how loving something - and sharing that love with someone else - can bring so much joy into our frequently challenging lives.

    In March while we were writing the musical, a story broke about a nine-year-old boy in North Carolina who was bullied for wearing a My Little Pony backpack to school. Instead of addressing the bullying problem, the school initially banned the backpack. Fortunately, the school administrators came to their senses - but the outpouring of love and support for the young brony really impressed us, and we have included a similar, fictionalized plot within our story.

    Brony outreach has inspired us in other ways, too. We invited bronies everywhere to be a part of the musical by submitting a photo of themselves holding a sign of support for our fictional bullied character, Tyler, to be used at a key moment in our show. The response has been beautiful and astounding - all kinds of people, of all ages, have sent photos and messages of support. We even received a picture from an Air Force pilot in front of the Marine One helicopter, holding a toy pony that accompanied him on missions in 26 countries - along with a sign in support of Tyler. 

    I think people will enjoy seeing Bronies: The Musical because it has a universal message that every person is ‘weird,’ or unique in their own way, and that communities - built around pop culture, family, friends - strengthen us and help us feel less alone in this world. On top of that, it’s just fun. We have disco pony goddesses, puppets, and a techno rave finale - whats not to love?

    BRONIES: THE MUSICAL
    June 7 – 28, 2014
    Lounge Theater
    6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
    Tickets: $15 online, $20 at the door
    http://hff14.org/1575 
    www.broniesthemusical.com

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    This world premiere musical comedy romance comes from the award-winning talents behind Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Altar Boyz. Mags and Andy are a screenwriting team with a track record of hits and a professional relationship that’s firing on all cylinders. But when Andy’s marriage hits the rocks, forever single Mags finds she wants something more. Will romance ruin their perfect relationship? Dog and Pony is a witty and irreverent look at what women want and whether men fit the bill...or don’t. Tickets: www.theoldglobe.org

    L-R: Jon Patrick Walker, Nicole Parker and Eric William Morris.
    Photos by Jim Cox.


    L-R: Heidi Blickenstaff, Eric William Morris, Beth Leavel,
    Jon Patrick Walker and Nicole Parker


    L-R: Jon Patrick Walker, Nicole Parker and Eric William Morris

    L-R: (from left) Eric William Morris, Nicole Parker, Beth Leavel, Heidi
    Blickenstaff and Jon Patrick Walker


    Eric William Morris and Nicole Parker

    Heidi Blickenstaff and Jon Patrick Walker

    John Patrick Walker and Nicole Parker

    L-R: Nicole Parker, Jon Patrick Walker, Eric William
    Morris, Heidi Blickenstaff and Beth Leavel


    Nicole Parker and Eric William Morris

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    MUSICAL NEWSLa Jolla Playhouse will mount the world premiere of Up Here, a new musical comedy featuring book, music and lyrics by the husband-and-wife composing team of Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Disney World’s Finding Nemo: The Musical). Up Here will be directed by Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers and will be part of the Playhouse’s 2015/16 season (dates TBA). The musical follows Dan, an ordinary guy with a boring social life, an unused gym membership and a lot going on upstairs. When he finds a potential spark with Lindsay, his attempts at love are jeopardized by his chaotic subconscious mind. Up Here is about moving past ourselves – and those little voices in our head - to find happiness.  www.lajollaplayhouse.org

    The Festival of New American Musicals has launched its 7th season, recommending a record 13 new musicals and events in the month of June. Many of them have been featured here on Musicals in LA as well. They are:
    The Ghost of Gershwin, an original homage to George Gershwin at the Lonny Chapman Theater, through June 22
    Chasing the Song, a world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse through June 15
    For the Record: Quentin Tarantino, the popular cabaret show at DBA in West Hollywood, through July 26
    Dog and Pony, a world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego, through June 29
    Nickel Mines, a world premiere at UC Irvine, through June 7.
    Elements, a west coast premiere by the Angel City Chorale, June 6 & 7
    Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, a musical cabaret at the new Fifty-Seven in downtown LA, through June
    Werewolves of Hollywood Blvd, premiering at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (Lillian Theatre), through June 28
    A Little New Music, the Festival joins in showcasing songs from new musicals at Rockwell in Los Feliz on June 10.
    Futurefest, the Festival’s annual marathon featuring talented high school and college talent performing songs from new musicals at Rockwell on June 11.
    Artland, the first world premiere musical developed at the LA County High School of the Arts, through June 15.
    30 Minute Musicals, musical satires of blockbuster movies – Independence Day and Outbreak, at the Hudson Theatre in West Hollywood, through June.
    One Singular Sensation, the Festival expands to Napa for Broadway Under the Stars in June and July. For more information about all of the shows, go to www.lafestival.org.

    The Grove Theatre will open Oklahoma! this Sat., May 31 and run for 8 performances through Sunday June 15. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about a romantic rivalry on the Western frontier boasts a collection of classic songs and a spirit that has made it an enduring favorite. Featuring such Broadway favorites as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say We're in Love,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” and the exuberant title song, this brilliant first collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein set box-office records as it ushered in the Golden Age of American musical theater. The Grove Theatre is located at 276 E. Ninth Street, Upland, CA 91786. Tickets: http://grovetheatre.com/

    San Diego Musical Theatre will present Next to Normal directed by Nick DeGruccio, starring Bets Malone (Diana), Robert Townsend (Dan) and Eddie Egan (Gabe), Sept.26 - Oct. 12 at the North Park Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness as Diane Goodman struggles with bipolar disorder. Tickets: www.sdmt.org.

    TELEVISION: KCET will present two shows for musical fans this week. On Thurs, June 3, 2014 at 10:00 pm, they will air A Broadway Lullaby, a new documentary from award-winning director Barbara Rick. The documentary provides an unprecedented inside look at Broadway’s brightest performers, all uniting to combat breast cancer through the beauty and power of music and art. The film captures the inspiration, rehearsals, recordings and creative process of artists including Victoria Clark, Raul Esparza, Sutton Foster, Marva Hicks, Nikki M. James, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Laura Osnes, Vanessa Williams, Charles Randolph-Wright, Stephen Schwartz, David Shire, and Jules, and musicians Larry Campbell, Dave Eggar, Taylor Eigsti, Gil Goldstein, Fred Hersch, Julian Lage, and many more.  The documentary will also stream online at www.kcet.org. Click Here for more about the documentary and view the teaser below.


    Then on Friday, June 6 at 8:30 pm, Dialogue With Doti, hosted by Chapman University president Jim Doti, will debut. The talk show profiles today’s leaders in business, science, the arts and more. Doti’s first episode features four-time Tony Award®-winning playwright Terrence McNally(Master Class, Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman). McNally will share stories and memories of his life and discusses his play Mothers and Sons which has been nominated for a Tony Award®.

    YOUTUBE: News from across the pond - Episode one if Don’t Let Go is now available on YouTube. The musical film is by Jacob William, a recent Goldsmiths University graduate, and is produced by Seth Chan and directed by Bella Barlow. Don’t Let Go tells the story of Tom (played by William) who, after a car accident leaves him in a wheelchair, fights to save the girl he loves (Annie Kirkman) from an abusive relationship (Roy Ryan). Featuring ten original songs performed live and characters like a reggae-singing Grandma (played by Juliette Kaplan of BBC’s Last Of The Summer Wine), Don’t Let Go is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about embracing life and love in the face of sheer adversity. For more information, go to www.dontletgo.co.uk or www.jacobwilliam.co.uk or check out the video below.



    CABARET: Eric Petersen and wife Lisa Marie Morabito will co-host A Little New Music 5 at Rockwell: Table & Stage, June 10 at 8:00 pm. The evening will showcase songs by award-winning writers Buck & Acquisto, Michael Gordon Shapiro, Drew Fornarola, Adam Gwon, Andrew Gerle, Michael Finke, Rosser & Sohne, Atkins & Segal, Salmond & Aronson, Defoe & Sinutoke, Wilmott & Stevens, Sankoff & Hein, and Daniel Maté, with special appearances by musical comedy duo Schoolcraft & Murray, and Milburn & Vigoda. Performers include Julie Tolivar, Anne Torsiglieri, Jennifer Hubilla, Joey Haro, Sophie Oda, Joseph Morales, Amanda Kruger, Daniel David Stewart, Elise Dewsberry, Kailey Swanson, Cassidy Barnes, Travis Joe Dixon and more. Musical Director is Bryan Blaskie. Doors open at 6:30. www.alittlenewmusic.org

    ANMT NEWS: The Academy for New Musical Theatre presents three brand new 15-minute musicals on June 23 and 24 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. The annual 15 Minute Musicals are a decades-long tradition at ANMT and conclude each season’s Core Curriculum of the writers’ workshop, which has been in existence for over 40 years. This season’s theme is Can’t Get Enough: three short musicals about addiction. Shows featured includes The Lover: A Tale of Obsessive Love by Grace Jasmine (book & lyrics) and Ron Barnett (music), Smartest Zombie at Harvard by Bryon Richards (book), Natalie Elder (lyrics) and Marc Macalintal (music); and Spoilers! by Mitch Glaser (book), Mike Shapiro (lyrics) and Erik Przytulski (music). The cast features Noel Britton, Sara Gonzales, Jeffrey Landman, and Kevin Yee, directed by Joshua Finkel, and music directed by Ron Barnett. Tickets are $25 at www.anmt.org.

    SEARCH FOR NEW MUSICALS: July 15 is the submission deadline for ANMT’s annual Search for New Musicals. Entries are accepted from around the globe and winners receive awards worth up to $25,000 in workshop productions, concert readings, feedback, and developmental support. All entries will receive constructive dramaturgical feedback, and will be entered in the Search contest. The winner of the 2014 Search will be announced by November 15, and will receive a workshop with the Academy Repertory Company, detailed feedback from the ANMT staff, and will be given a concert reading in Los Angeles. Writers may submit their shows electronically via ANMT's website, or submit materials by mail after completing an online submission form. For more info go to www.anmt.org.

    ANMT’s BIZ OF THE MUSICAL THEATRE BIZ CONFERENCE will take place July 18-20 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. Sign up by June 15 and take advantage of the $100 off early registration discount. Every other year, NMI & ANMT host a prestigious conference on the business side of the musical theatre business. Panelists include award-winning writers, artistic directors, commercial producers, entertainment lawyers, agents, union reps, and social media marketing experts. For information go to www.newmusicalsinc.net and click on DEVELOP and then CONFERENCE.

    ANMT BOOT CAMP:The Academy for New Musical Theatre is offering three courses this summer for musical theatre bookwriters and lyricists as part of the annual Musical Theatre Summer Boot Camp. They are: 

    BEATING BROADWAY - August 5, 7, 12, 14
    Instructor: Scott Guy 
    Tues/Thur for 2 weeks; 7-10pm 
    Using Steve Cuden's book Beating Broadway, these four sessions will detail the 'beats' of the plot line of several successful Broadway musicals

    BOOK LAB- July 12, 26, August 2, 9, 16, 23 (note no July 19)
    Instructor: Elise Dewsberry 
    Six Saturday mornings from 10am-2pm 
    The Book Lab is designed as an introduction to writing the book of a musical while also outlining the collaborative steps involved in creating a new musical with the whole team.

    OUTLINING ANYWHERE!- July 14, 21, 28; August 4, 11, 18
    Instructor: Elise Dewsberry 
    Six Monday evenings from 7pm-10pm 
    The Outlining Lab is available in-person OR online (or a combination of the two!) Video lectures, exercises, handouts, and tests are all available online.

    For complete course details, prices, early bird discounts and registration info go to www.anmt.org and click on BOOT CAMP.

    AWARDS: The Nederlander Organization and Hollywood Pantages Theatre have announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Jerry Herman Awards. KABC 7 Eyewitness News Entertainment Reporter George Pennacchioserved as the master of ceremonies for the evening. Grand prize winners include Joshua Velez from HArts Academy (Pippin) and Ayla Stackhouse from Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts (In The Heights). Best actor & actress runners up are Sawyer Patterson from John Burroughs High School, Kelsey Smith from Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, Nick Sparks from Oakwood High School and Julia McDermott from Mira Costa High School. Notre Dame Academy’s Luelle Robles won the “No Small Parts” Award for her role in Hairspray.

    Other award recipients include Sheldon Donenberg and Holly Gould for Best Actor and Actress respectively; Santa Monica High School (Pippin) for Best Musical Staging or Choreography; Marina High School (Crazy for You) for Best Costumes; The Academy of Music at Hamilton High School (Anything Goes) for Best Orchestra; Agoura High School (Into the Woods) for Best Scenic Design; and Chaffey High School (Monty Python’s Spamalot) for Best Technical Crew. www.JerryHermanAwards.com

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    James Barbour (with Nathaniel Irvin on ground). Photos by Michael Lamont

    Front row, back of the house, VIP seats and everything in between - every seat in a theater has its pros and cons, which can often make the audience experience in one part of the theater very different from the experience in another. That experience also depends on who you are seated next to, in front of, or behind. For an epic musical like Les Misérables, now appearing in a powerful regional production directed by Brian Kite in the 1251-seat La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, I experienced what it was like in the extreme house right section of the audience about six rows back. 

    From that vantage point, the magnificent ballads and rousing choruses sung by a large cast packed with gifted singers never suffered a beat. In fact, Claude-Michel Schönberg’s music is incredibly well-served by the formidable cast no matter where you sit and, for that reason, this “stand and sing” musical deserves every bit of the praise it is sure to receive.

    Also on the plus side; sitting house right and this close to the stage makes it very easy to let the nuances of the actors’ performances affect you at a deep level. The stellar work done by James Barbour in the role of Jean Valjean is especially obvious here as he is often blocked downstage center and has some choice scenes down left (house right) as well. Barbour is a force of nature as the thief cast aside by a system of justice that turned its back on him for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. A man changed by years in prison, it is one of a handful of roles that offers an actor the opportunity to show what really lives inside him and just how deep he can reach. In Barbour’s case, it is a well that appears to be bottomless. This actor can do it all.

    When you see Les Miz, let’s face it, one of the things you hope for is a Valjean who can sing the incredibly challenging part – I mean really sing it – and Barbour is, hands down, the best I’ve heard. Searing high notes full of concentrated emotion soar over the orchestra, and if his floating pianissimo falsetto at the end of “Bring Him Home” doesn’t make you want to jump out of your seat and explode into instantaneous applause, I’ll be very surprised. Opening night’s audience could barely contain itself. 

    What you lose sitting extreme house right six rows back however is visual perspective. Anything that happens upstage left is hidden from view and the magical effects created when seen from the front reveal their secrets when the same scene is viewed from the side. This is where sitting center or further back comes in handy. In these seats, lighting changes and body placement create heartbreaking moments, such as when Fantine’s (Cassandra Murphy) beautiful hair is cut on stage as a last desperate attempt to earn money but, from the side, all you see is her wig being removed by another actor. And when Javert (Randall Dodge, best when singing in full voice rather than clipping his notes) steps over the railing to plunge to his death, lighting changes and a rapidly flown out railing create a falling effect that is quite stunning. When seen from the side and closer up however, all you see is a flimsy prop rail that rocks back and forth until it is pulled up above him.

    Jeff Skowron, as Thénardier, makes great use of the full playing area in “Master of the House,” prancing hilariously around the stage and including everyone in the audience in his demented antics. Looking like a walking cadaver, he is very much the picture of 19th century Beetlejuice, singing with a growling character sneer in his voice and adding a healthy measure of comic relief to everything he does. He knows what’s funny and has the timing to prove it. Sound designer Josh Bessom inserts a particularly effective underground echo for Skowron in the sewer scene that enhances the immediacy of time and place.

    Valerie Rose Curiel’s creamy voice gives a lovely new color to the role of Éponine and Anthony Federov (Enjolras) spurs the students on to revolution with passionate intensity and American Idol-class pipes. Two skirmishes outside the barricade build upon the driving anthem begun by the ensemble during the Act I finale propelling the action forward to its inevitable conclusion. Nathaniel Irvin’s (Marius) standout number is the “Café Song,” better known as “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” a haunting dreamlike sequence filled with the ghosts of dead soldiers. With so much testosterone-laden political dissent loose on stage it is also terrific to hear the ensemble women featured in Turning with individual solo lines that reveal an excellent collection of voices. They add an underlying richness to the choral sound so beautifully integrated with the men by musical director John Glaudini.

    Potent and sweepingly epic in the scope of its story and depth of emotional vulnerability, Les Misérables stands in a class by itself. It is well-suited to La Mirada Theatre’s assets and though it will be a different show depending on where you sit, you’ll still be rewarded with an unforgettable experience.

    Randall Dodge and James Barbour

    Jeff Skowron and James Barbour. Photo credit: Jason Niedle

    The Company of Les Miserables

    L-R: Kimberly Hessler, Nathaniel Irvin and Valerie Rose Curiel 

    LES MISÉRABLES
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
    Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg
    Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
    May 30 - June 22, 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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    Ace Young as Joseph and Diana DeGarmo as Narrator.
    Photos by Daniel A. Swalec


    A revved-up, splashy revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring Ace Young in the title role and Diana DeGarmo as the Narrator, jubilantly ushers in the hot days of summer at the Pantages Theatre. The husband and wife team, who both rose to fame on American Idol before finding success in Broadway musicals, leads an extremely talented cast of agile young performers in Andy Blankenbuehler’s reimagined production.

    Blankenbuehler creates a relatable modern day entry into the biblical tale of Joseph and his brothers before DeGarmo conjures up the characters and Joseph’s journey, from favored son to slavery and back again, begins. Accompanied by a full-on disco light show, quirky storybook touches, and a dazzling array of costumes, it’s a musical for the whole family delivered with a nod to the ‘80s and a wink to its own silliness. Two hours of this sung-through rock musical flies by.



    DeGarmo powers out the Narrator’s storytelling with the kind of wide-eyed charm that you wish your Sunday school teacher had been capable of, popping in and out of scenes like a pixie on patrol. Young, bare-chested with ripped muscles and that sparkle in his eye, is as likable as ever, incorporating both the naïveté of an innocent boy and the confidence of a prince into his portrayal of Joseph. 

    Webber & Rice purposely parodied a number of musical styles in Joseph and each song is delivered by the cast with gusto and great pipes, fully encompassing the spirit of this colorful world. Ryan Williams (Pharoah) gets the crowd-pleaser award for his hip-twitching Egyptian Elvis impersonation and Brian Golub’s (Reuben) over-the-top western number switches gears so many times you can’t help but laugh out loud. As Simeon, Paul Castree gives new meaning to the phrase nasal affectation, spoofing the French in Those Canaan Days, and William Thomas Evans brings two distinctly different characters to life, Jacob and Potiphar, with Potiphar’s ragtime specialty a highlight.

    In another complete change of tone, Will Mann’s yummy island-flavored calypso is as luscious and smooth as it gets. All of these numbers also feature the rest of the ensemble adding personality and life to the antics with Blankenbuehler’s comedy-riddled choreography. The obvious energy pulsing throughout this ebullient revival never loses steam.

    The production also works well technically on its trimmed-for-traveling set design however video projections that shouldn’t have been bouncing up and down took some time to settle in Act I. DeGarmo and Young’s microphones could also use less treble and more bass in the mix so the sound isn’t so thin on top.


    I wasn’t prepared to love this show as much as I did but this high-energy song and dance pop phenomenon turned me into a believer. For all you dreamers out there, this one’s for you.







    JOSPEH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
    June 3 - 22, 2014
    Hollywood Pantages

    6233 Hollywood Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    www.hollywoodpantages.com

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    The cast of The Fantasticks. Photos by Sherry Barnett

    Despite their best efforts, the good folks of Good People Theater Company are unable to recreate the magic they achieved with their 2013 fringe hit, A Man of No Importance, in their current revival of The FantasticksContributing to the lackluster production are pacing issues and actors without the singing ability, stage presence, or emotional depth to effectively handle the demands of the roles. The exposed nature of comedy makes it even more difficult to pull off than drama and so much more obvious when it isnt working. In the absence of real passion, poignancy and an understanding of how to blend the bitter with the sweet - which is what makes this Schmidt & Jones classic so satisfying - it left me feeling restless. Even the more successful comedy songs by the fathers did not keep me engaged for long. The saving grace is the wonderful harp accompaniment which creates a sparkling mark in the plus column, despite the show’s onstage deficiencies.

    Matt Franta and Audrey Curd

    Matt Stevens and Michael Wallot

    Christopher Karbo

    Joey D'Auria, Matt Franta and Corky Loupe

    Matt Stevens, Matt Franta, Audrey Curd
    and Michael Wallot


    Audrey Curd and Christopher Karbo

    Joey D'Auria and Corky Loupe

    Matt Stevens, Matt Franta, Audrey Curd and Michael Wallot

    THE FANTASTICKS
    June 5 – 29, 2014
    Good People Theater Company
    Lillian Theatre
    1076 Lillian Way at Santa Monica Blvd
    Tickets: $10 (preview) $20 (general run) $10 (students and seniors).
    www.hff14.org/1513
    www.goodpeopletheaterco.org

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    L-R: Jon Patrick Walker, Nicole Parker and Eric William Morris
    Photos by Jim Cox

    An Idaho film festival reunites a pair of estranged screenwriters in the new musical Dog and Pony by Rick Elise (Peter and the Starcatcher, Jersey Boys) and Michael Patrick Walker(Altar Boyz). As Mags (Nicole Parker) and Andy (Jon Patrick Walker) rehash memories from their 13-year partnership, we quickly see that this dysfunctional relationship was doomed from the start. We also know from the beginning how this musical is going to end.

    He’s married; she’s single. He’s selfish and completely unaware of the needs of others, and she’s a nice girl who lets him walk all over her. In theory, no matter how hard Mags tries, the poor codependent girl keeps getting sucked into the orbit of the world that revolves around Andy. For thirteen years she’s been his gal Friday, best friend and “work spouse,” hanging in there like a loyal hound who keeps waiting for the ball to be thrown while cranking out successful films.  

    When Andy wants her to give up her Caribbean vacation and spend Fourth of July at his country home with his family so they can write, she says yes. At Christmas time, when he begs her to pick up his present for his daughter from a New York pet shop – a dog – and drive it out to his country home by six o’clock in the morning, she also says yes. And when she finally starts to get a clue that he may be the reason she doesn’t have anything close to resembling a love life, she still gives in and agrees to fly across the country with him for a show pitch because Andy is neurotic and can’t handle planes.

    Delivering the dog does give Parker a dynamite fast-patter comedy song “What The Hell Am I Doing.” In it, she berates herself while pedaling a mini car in circles around the stage, slowly coming unglued. Whether the staging is a result of the theater in the round configuration or a visual example of how Andy has her running in metaphorical circles (or a combination of both), it offers big bang for the buck and director Roger Rees knows it. Here, as in many of Walker’s songs and much of Rees staging, situation and lyrics collide to create real hilarity.

    In fact, the songs, while not the kind you walk out the door humming, have a contemporary uptown appeal that make you pay attention to what they have to say. It is where some of the most telling information is revealed, especially from the supporting characters.

    Heidi Blickenstaff gets two of the best songs. In Act I it’s “One Less Pony” while playing Andy’s wife Jane. No one does subtext better than Blickenstaff and what she layers into this one, with her eyes and her phrasing, make it a great example of what happens when the right actor plays the right part. It’s a dose of reality without being heavy-handed and one of the most memorable moments in the show.

    Blickenstaff’s other highlight is in Act II as Bonnie, Andy’s new flame. A peculiar yet perceptive free spirit with a habit of choosing the wrong word like Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, she’s an oddball, but a likable one. And that makes her a lot of fun.

    Beth Leavel is double mother trouble, first waltzing in to undercut Andy with her overbearing advice, and then later returning as Magnolia’s put-upon mom. (Yes, Mags’ full name is Magnolia, a flower whose meaning coincidentally is that which lasts and endures.) At one point Leavel switches back and forth between the two moms with such manic precision - while singing - that you wonder how she can keep the two women straight. Eric William Morris completes the cast in a combination of roles that shows his versatility, easily going from bare-chested boy toy to geeky talk show host to the real deal relationship.

    Given that Walker’s character is so self-absorbed, and we don’t get to see him with his guard down nearly enough, it’s awfully hard to like him. And Parker, always the underdog, takes thirteen years and the length of a full musical before she exhibits any gumption at all. Both sing well and have the acting chops to soar in these roles but they are challenged from the start by the writing. Thats a disconnect Dog and Pony cant afford since everything rests on the audience’s ability to empathize with the main characters. Still, it’s possible that this relationship musical has a deeper story to tell. It just isn’t there yet.
    Nicole Parker, Jon Patrick Walker, Beth Leavel,
    Heidi Blickenstaff and Eric William Morris

    DOG AND PONY
    May 28 - June 29, 2014
    The Old Globe
    1363 Old Globe Way
    San Diego, CA 92101
    www.theoldglobe.org

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