“All That’s Good And True”: One More Productions Beckons Audiences Come, Discover Their August & Otherworldly “Secret Garden”

August 25, 2015
“One More Productions” Presents “The Secret Garden” August 20-September 13, 2015 At “The Gem Theatre” In Garden Grove, CA. (www.OneMoreProductions.com)

“One More Productions” Presents “The Secret Garden” August 20-September 13, 2015 At “The Gem Theatre” In Garden Grove, CA. (www.OneMoreProductions.com)

Who among us doesn’t recollect the old nursery rhyme that queries “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” This very question may easily apply to “The Secret Garden”, the Tony Award-Winning musical based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel. Now, “One More Productions”–Orange County’s “little theater company that could” handily demonstrates once again they can—and do–with this, their latest presentation at the landmark “Gem Theatre” in Garden Grove California. Boasting plenty of sumptuous music by Lucy Simon with Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman (the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of ‘Night Mother’,) this surprise insertion into the company’s 2015 season proves to be a highly laudable addition benefitting Southern California play-goers of all ages!

“Lift me up and lead me to the garden, where life begins anew. Where I'll find you, and I'll find you love me too.” Connor Dapkus as “Colin Craven” dreams he’s visited by Erika Baldwin as his mother, “Lily”

“Lift me up and lead me to the garden, where life begins anew. Where I’ll find you, and I’ll find you love me too.” Connor Dapkus as “Colin Craven” dreams he’s visited by Erika Baldwin as his mother, “Lily”

This endearing classic of children’s literature has been brilliantly re-imagined into a good old-fashioned operetta-style musical set towards the end of the Edwardian era’s “Belle Epoch” in the year 1911. The story centers around 11-year-old Mary Lennox who, in the wake of being orphaned when a Cholera epidemic strikes her settlement in British Colonial Bombay India, returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive widowed uncle, Archibald and his invalid son Colin. Their creepy old manor house, called “Misselthwaite” holds as many mysteries for the girl as it does wonders–including a long forgotten, completely fenced-in garden which beckons her and her cousin with subtle and sublime melodies and recondite beauty—which, with the eventual onset of spring, will miraculously uplift all of their lives forever.

“She needs a home--the only thing she really needs I cannot give. Instead she asks a bit of earth, to make it live!” Duane Thomas as “Uncle Archibald” meets Sophia Scarsi as his niece “Mary” while Chris Peduzzi as his brother “Neville” looks on.

“She needs a home–the only thing she really needs I cannot give. Instead she asks a bit of earth, to make it live!” Duane Thomas as “Uncle Archibald” meets Sophia Scarsi as his niece “Mary” while Chris Peduzzi as his brother “Neville” looks on.

Norman’s book and lyrics so spectacularly capture the honest vernacular of the times and location in which the tale takes place that one might even think the show was emphatically written in 1911! Dramatizing this compelling and charmingly magical tale of faith, forgiveness and ultimate renewal, the “ghosts’ of the past interact side-by-side with the characters of the ‘present’, and via this device the back-story unfolds. In one of the show’s more inspired theatrical devices, the chorus are employed as phantoms referred  to as “Dreamers”–specters from Mary and Colin’s past (including the spirit of his deceased mother) who guide the children to and through the discovery and cultivation of the titular garden, and in the process sparks new vitality within each of them. No need to worry regarding any “intense’ or frightening moments though—these apparitions, while ethereal enough are less haunting than romantic, handled as they are with great elegance, and all are entirely benign and (kid) friendly! Even the cholera epidemic depicted as part of the opening montage is stylish and graceful, represented by those who are about to succumb simply holding out red ribbons to signify their affliction before they fade into the background leaving Mary alone.

“Spirits are above! Charms aloft on high! Sweep away the storm comin' 'cross the sky!” Sophia Scarsi as “Mary” and Connor Dapkus as “Colin” are joined by Rebecca Silverman as “Martha”, Brandon Taylor Jones as “Dickon” and “The Dreamers” to raise up a miracle!

“Spirits are above! Charms aloft on high! Sweep away the storm comin’ ‘cross the sky!” Sophia Scarsi as “Mary” and Connor Dapkus as “Colin” are joined by Rebecca Silverman as “Martha”, Brandon Taylor Jones as “Dickon” and “The Dreamers” to raise up a miracle!

The simple orchestrations, a piano played by Toni Helm while Kevin Weed is on drums, actually (and quite appropriately) put the performances center-stage. In fact, the intimacy of “The Gem’s” auditorium makes the story being told (and the talent enacting it) seem even larger and grander. Special credit also goes out to Larry Watts for his meticulously authentic costumes which run the gamut from native Hindi saree’s and sherwanis to post Victorian gowns and morning suits to traditional turn-of-the-century Yorkshire country-wear. Directed by “One More Productions” Co-Founder Damien Lorton, here is a big, rollicking production, featuring a top-flight cast (many of them regulars at “The Gem”.) Indeed, it’s a safe bet to assert that this is probably the most uniformly accomplished ensemble in recent memory there with everyone a genuine powerhouse performer. “The House Upon The Hill” is a prime example of how effectively they can all come together to furnish some truly transcendent group harmonies, which they do time and again during the show. This is also one of those rare and remarkable productions where the extraordinary ending will have you fully absorbed and cheering every note along the way!

“There's a girl who no one sees, there's a girl who's left alone. There's a heart that beats in silence for the life she's never known…” Sophia Scarsi is “Mary Lennox”

“There’s a girl who no one sees, there’s a girl who’s left alone. There’s a heart that beats in silence for the life she’s never known…” Sophia Scarsi is “Mary Lennox”

Leading them all is young Sophia Scarsi as the orphaned waif, “Mary Lennox”. Sophia brings a nice vulnerability to “Mary” making us see the innocent insecurity behind her initial semi-tough “as sour as she looks” facade; this, consequently, makes it easy for us the audience, to like—and just as importantly, “root” for her–even more! As anyone familiar with several of “The Gem’s” previous productions already know, singing-wise Miss Scarsi has an exceptional ability to convey sincere emotion through song that many far beyond her years would envy. Her “Mary” is given snippets of songs over the course of the first act such as in “Show Me The Key” and “A Bit Of Earth”–which Scarsi adeptly supports; but it isn’t until directly following intermission that she unequivocally amazes with “The Girl I’m Mean To Be”, displaying an estimable expressiveness and sensitivity that many will undoubtedly empathize with. Connor Dapkus also exhibits thorough likability as Mary’s cousin “Colin Craven”. At the center of most of the plot’s more ‘enchanting’ elements—as in the vivacious dance-interlude “Come Spirit, Come Charm”–it’s likewise hard not to applaud his pivotal “reinvigoration” from sickly boy into a healthy, rambunctious lad.

“She has her eyes! The girl has Lily's hazel eyes, those eyes that closed and left me all alone.” Duane Thomas as Archibald Craven and Chris Peduzzi as his brother Neville remember “Lily’s Eyes”

“She has her eyes! The girl has Lily’s hazel eyes, those eyes that closed and left me all alone.” Duane Thomas as Archibald Craven and Chris Peduzzi as his brother Neville remember “Lily’s Eyes”

As Mary’s Uncle “Archibald Craven” and her only living relative, Duane Thomas gives us a man who isn’t so much cold or even neglectful, but rather one who is emotionally pained and conflicted. (“Does everyone who dies become a ghost?” Mary asks her uncle; “They’re only a ghost if someone alive is still holding on to them” he replies.) His opening act soliloquy “A Bit Of Earth” is absolutely sensational–and what a voice he too, possesses! His second act refrain “Race You To The Top Of The Morning” is brilliantly gallantly delivered—incredibly sung, but never sacrificing the potent heart-rending sentiment underneath, as Archibald dares himself to dream of better days for his ailing child. Furthermore, Chris Peduzzi is himself superb as his brother, “Dr. Neville Craven”, the one who is assigned to Colin’s care (and who, we learn, had surreptitiously loved and wanted Lily for himself.) Similarly gifted with an operatic voice, he makes for the perfect villain (whether or not he’ll admit his motivations include gaining Misselthwaite for his own!) Peduzzi strikes just the right balance between strict and menacing, which is in keeping with the overall tone of the piece. He also quickly substantiates how rich and formidable a voice he also has, in numerous musical moments interspersed all through the show; but together, Thomas and Peduzzi dazzle with their dual declamations “Lily’s Eyes”—making for a symbiotic pair of bona-fide knockout performances! Moreover, Erika Baldwin as the omnipresent spirit of “Lily Craven” is nothing short of astounding. With a magnificent voice captivating enough to merit an ovation all its own, she manages to impress starting with the show’s very first lines (“Clusters of Crocus, purple and gold; blankets of Pansies, up from the cold. Lilies and Iris safe from the chill—safe in my garden, Snowdrops so still”;) then subsequently in an early “flash back” titled “A Girl In The Valley”, recalling Lily and Archie’s courtship. In the second act, her aria “Come To My Garden” is a deeply affecting duet with her son “Colin” and ranks as one of the very best and most stirring songs written for a musical…well, ever! Not to be overlooked either is her expert handling with Thomas of the reprise of “A Bit Of Earth” as well as their tender final duet, “How Could I Ever Know”.

“When a thing is wick, it has a light around it--maybe not a light that you can see; but hiding down below a spark's asleep inside it, waiting for the right time to be seen!” Sophia Scarsi as “Mary” and Brandon Taylor Jones as “Dickon” await the Yorkshire Spring

“When a thing is wick, it has a light around it–maybe not a light that you can see; but hiding down below a spark’s asleep inside it, waiting for the right time to be seen!” Sophia Scarsi as “Mary” and Brandon Taylor Jones as “Dickon” await the Yorkshire Spring

Brandon Taylor Jones also does a terrific job as Mary’s new pal “Dickon” who teaches her many important lessons about the garden and how to tend it. His is admittedly a tricky role to sing, but Jones triumphantly makes his ‘mark’ right away with Dickon’s introductory “conjuration”, “Winter On The Wing” which is part aria, part druid chant, and gives him the opportunity to hit some fairly prodigious notes. Then again, Jones more than ascends to every challenge this role entails. His and Mary’s near-acapella duet, “Wick” is a pure delight, wherein he explains to her concerning the newly rediscovered flower-patch, “A lot of what looks dead is really just biding its time”, and score as one of the evening’s undeniable crowd-pleasing moments.

“Remember this old thing you heard me say: It’s the storm—not you—that’s bound to blow away!” Rebecca Silverman as “Martha” offers some much needed words of wisdom to Sophia Scarsi as “Mary”

“Remember this old thing you heard me say: It’s the storm—not you—that’s bound to blow away!” Rebecca Silverman as “Martha” offers some much-needed words of wisdom to Sophia Scarsi as “Mary”

Rebecca Silverman is also outstanding as his sister, Martha–the affable chambermaid who befriends Mary and first tells her of her late Aunt’s garden and how much it meant to her. Silverman particularly shines with the jaunty “If I Had A Fine White Horse” which injects a breath of fresh, light-hearted air into the proceedings early on—especially after the more somber beginning.  Later she’s given the rousing “11 O’clock” number, “Hold On” giving Mary a sound dose of strength and resilience when she needs it most. So too, on opening night the role of Mrs. Medlock—the estate’s harsh-minded housekeeper was commendably played by Elyssa Alexander (—which she alternates with Carmen Tunis throughout the run,) while Ira Trachter equally offers A-Plus support as “Ben”–the Manors’ chief groundskeeper, whom Lily once charged with care of her garden.

A production to ‘greatly fancy’, “The Secret Garden” began previews on Thursday, August 20th , before “officially” opening on Saturday, August 22, where it is slated to run through Sunday, September 13, 2015. Show-times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Tickets may be obtained either by phone at: (714) 741-9550 x 221, on-line by visiting: https://tickets.onemoreproductions.com or at the theater box-office Tuesday and Thursday between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM or two hours before curtain. “The Gem Theatre” is located at 12852 Main Street in historic down-town Garden Grove, California. (Special “Student Rush” tickets are also available for Thursday and Friday performances, and can be purchased 2 hours prior to curtain in person at the theater Box Office.)

“High on a hill sits a big old house with something wrong inside it. Someone died, and someone's left alone and can't abide it!” The Cast of One More Productions’ “The Secret Garden”

“High on a hill sits a big old house with something wrong inside it. Someone died, and someone’s left  alone and can’t abide it!” The Cast of One More Productions’ “The Secret Garden”

Production Stills By Lisa Scarsi, Courtesy Of Dan Pittman at “Pittman PR” (www.pittmanpr.com) And “One More Productions” (www.onemoreproductions.com) Special Thanks To Dan Pittman, Damien Lorton, Nicole Cassesso, And The Cast & Crew Of “One More Productions” “The Secret Garden” For Making This Story Possible.

A Real ‘Swingin’ Musical: Sure As Sun Turns To Moon, 3-D Theatrical’s “Tarzan” Is A Regional Premiere Worth Waiting For!

August 4, 2015
•“3-D Theatricals” Presents “Tarzan, The Musical” August 1-9, 2015 At “The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center” In Redondo Beach, California (www.3DTheatricals.org)

“3-D Theatricals” Presents “Tarzan, The Musical” August 1-9, 2015 At “The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center” In Redondo Beach, California (www.3DTheatricals.org)

“Hasn’t this been a most surprising afternoon!” ‘Jane’ breezes incredulously in Disney’s “Tarzan, The Musical”; yes, it is a bit eyebrow-raising to think they’ve made a musical about this legendary “Lord of the jungle”; yet that’s also what makes it so flat-out incredible! Now, Southern California’s award-winning “3-D Theatricals” once again scores a major theatrical ‘coup d’état’ with this, the Southern California regional premiere of the Tony nominated “Tarzan–The Musical”! The hit stage adaptation of Disney’s 1999 animated film (itself based on Edgar Rice Burroughs classic tale,) the book is by multiple award-winning playwright Henry David Hwang and features the electrifying contemporary score by Phil Collins. A thoroughly charming show for all ages, after a successful run last month at the landmark “Plummer Auditorium” in Fullerton California, “Tarzan” has made its highly anticipated move to “The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center” in Redondo Beach, California (SPOILER ALERT: Once your jaw drops to the floor from sheer amazement, it’s sure to stay there right up until the final curtain!)

“For one so small, you seem so strong. My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm.” Daebreon Poiema as “Kala” reassures Jude Mason as the boy, “Tarzan”

“For one so small, you seem so strong. My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm.” Daebreon Poiema as “Kala” reassures Jude Mason as the boy, “Tarzan”

Featuring the Oscar and Golden Globe “Best Original Song” winner, “You’ll Be In My Heart”, Collins’ score builds upon and has been expanded from the original film subtly moving the action along every bit as much as the dialogue does. This dynamic (make that downright physical) retelling of the ‘origin’ story of one of popular literature’s most enduring characters opens after a shipwreck off the coast of West Africa. As played out in the opening number, “Two Worlds”, washed up on the shore, a young English couple and their infant son try to survive for a time in the jungle. However, upon being suddenly orphaned, the child is taken in and raised by a tribe of gorillas–principally, “Kala” a kindly she-gorilla who is grieving the recent loss of her own baby from the same leopard responsible for the couple’s demise. Now called “Tarzan”, the lad grows to manhood yearning to discover the reason for his own uniqueness…until one fateful day when he encounters a jungle expedition—and most especially, one breath-taking young lady named “Jane Porter”. “Son Of Man” is a rousing early group effort as young Tarzan takes his first tentative steps toward learning how to swing on a vine (which, as any classic movie lover already knows, is something of his trademark!) “On this journey that you’re making, there’ll be answers that you’ll seek, and it’s you who’ll climb the mountain; it’s you who’ll reach the peak,” his gorilla “family” all sing to him, and by the end of the number he essentially ‘grows up’ before our eyes. Quite a lot happens in the second act, but it too flies swiftly by, ultimately leading to an emotional climax: “You are the discovery of discoveries,” Jane’s father “Professor Porter” tells him at the story’s emotional peak; “A totally good man!”

“All the things you dreamed of, all the visions that you saw, well, the time is drawing in now--it’s yours to claim it all!” Devin Archer as “Tarzan” and the cast celebrate in “Son Of Man”

“All the things you dreamed of, all the visions that you saw, well, the time is drawing in now–it’s yours to claim it all!” Devin Archer as “Tarzan” and the cast celebrate in “Son Of Man”

Directed by Rufus Bonds, Jr., here is an extremely fast-moving production, which Bonds and his vivacious cast of 34 brilliantly talented performers (including a children’s ensemble) further enliven by always making good use of “The Redondo Beach Center’s” ample auditorium space. Inextricably intertwined with his direction are the technical elements that make the truly astounding feats of theatrical prestidigitation possible. From the opening “shipwreck” of Tarzan’s parents (including an eye-popping live ‘overhead shot’ as they literally walk “down” a beach once they’ve been washed ashore,) to the pounce of a jaguar who’s caught in mid-flight, the ingenious use of stage “flying” add immensely to the production’s considerable “wow” equation, (all courtesy of the virtuoso work by “Flight-sequence Choreographer”, Paul Rubin.) Not to be overlooked either are the incredible technical contributions made by Stephen Gifford’s colorful and near-kaleidoscopic scenic design, which is fully complimented by Jean Yves Tessier’s expansive and equally multi-hued lighting design (—which also features a number of sprawling light projections throughout the theater to convey the feeling of a large, looming jungle.) Even the opening ‘show drop’ conjures up the mythos and mystique of “deepest, darkest, Africa”! Moreover, Sharell Martin’s animal costume designs wisely eschew any overly-complex or limiting “Planet Of The Apes” make-up or head-dresses, in favor of a simpler, more symbolic “look”, hence a far more efficacious one.

“Together we will see this through--You for me and me for you!” Intelligence is the mother of Invention for Jude Mason as young “Tarzan” and Lawrence Cummings as “Terk”

“Together we will see this through–You for me and me for you!” Intelligence is the mother of Invention for Jude Mason as young “Tarzan” and Lawrence Cummings as “Terk”

Ebullient and athletic, Linda Love Simmons’ choreography also adds immeasurably to the production’s over-all success, similarly propelling the action forward at a delightfully frenetic pace. Incorporating loads of airborne and gymnastic ‘magic” (–for that’s precisely what it amounts to–) Simmons builds upon traditional African dances while integrating plenty of snappy modern moves along with some majestic balletic turns, ‘tour en l’airs’ and ‘grands jeteˊs’ as well. The big dance interlude, “Jungle Funk” early in the first act (which ends with young Tarzan’s initial meeting with “Terk”, who will become his best Gorilla playmate) is part gymnastic meet-part modern dance piece and all nothing short of astonishing! She also garners great results in using several of her dancers to “play” unusual characters, such as a ribbon dancer to represent a flowing stream, or the garden of “living” flowers and other related fauna when we first encounter “Jane”.

Devin Archer as “Tarzan” meets up with an old Nemesis, Remmie Bourgeois as “The Leopard”

Devin Archer as “Tarzan” meets up with an old Nemesis, Remmie Bourgeois as “The Leopard”

Devin Archer does an extraordinary job in the title role, while Katie DeShan joins him as the bookish but beautiful “Jane”; both are strong personalities in their own right with commendably forceful voices; throughout their on-stage pairing they work terrifically together. Although we don’t actually see him until mid-way through Act One, Archer is certainly worth waiting for. Debuting in the closing phrases of the buoyant “Son Of Man”, he makes his impression quickly and indelibly, going on to enthrall with his parts in “Different” (when he first lays eyes on Jane) then in “Everything I am” and the reprises of “You’ll Be In My Heart” and “Sure As Sun Turns To Moon” (both poignant dual accomplishments with his ‘mother’ “Kala”.) Likewise, Ms. DeShan’s “Jane” delivers a graceful and exceedingly affable interpretation of this classic heroine from the time we are introduced to her–right before one over-sized blossom attempts to make her its lunch. That’s when Tarzan swings in and saves the day, and the historic meeting of Jungle-man and his future mate takes place. Sharing many memorable musical moments, Archer and DeShan particularly shine with the up-beat “Strangers Like Me” as both find that their mutual curiosity about the other is fast becoming mutual attraction, which culminates in a stunning mid-air Pas-de-Deux! Subsequently, their romantic duet, “For The First Time”, in which each, singing apart but in sumptuous harmony, finally realizes the depths of their feelings. Indeed, this number ranks as a bona fide showstopper and one of the best musical sequences in a show full of them!

“Are these emotions racing through me? Tell me I must-Tell me I can…I never felt these things; I’m finding who I am” Katie DeShan as “Jane” shares some happy time with Devin Archer as “Tarzan”

“Are these emotions racing through me? Tell me I must-Tell me I can…I never felt these things;
I’m finding who I am” Katie DeShan as “Jane” shares some happy time with Devin Archer as “Tarzan”

Daebreon Poiema, remembered for her inspired performance in 3-D Theatrical’s comparably lauded “Ragtime” is the wise and kindly Mother Gorilla, “Kala”. Poiema finds the honesty and humanity in what easily could be just another “Disney” cartoon caricature. She excels right from square one with the iconic “You‘ll Be In My Heart”, sung this time as a dreamy lullaby, then shortly after with “Sure As Sun Turns To Moon”–her duet with “Chief Gorilla” “Kerchak”; in fact, this latter offering is a lovely light-hearted intermezzo that showcases both of their voices wonderfully. Later, when she takes the now-grown Tarzan back to the treehouse where she found him, is genuinely touching, culminating in a stirring reprise of “You’ll Be In My Heart” as Tarzan, contemplating leaving his Jungle home to return to England with his newfound lady-love, tries to assure her he’ll always be there in spirit (“Just look over your shoulder” he sings, “I will still be there.”) Marc Cedric Smith also boasts an impressive presence with a rich, deep, commanding voice as the primary “Silver-back”–and head of their gorilla tribe, “Kerchak’. His too, is a refreshingly “human’ and empathetic portrayal navigating the tricky “mixed feelings” the character has regarding this non-furry little ‘stranger’ Kala has brought in to their midst. His solo, “No Other Way” pulsates with power as he attempts to dispel the boy from their midst, while still affording him much-needed “fatherly” advice on how to survive (“The safest parts of the jungle are the darkest” he warns.)

“No turning back! What’s done is done--I have SEEN what they can do!” Marc Cedric Smith as “Kerchak” fumes over what to do about young “Tarzan”

“No turning back! What’s done is done–I have SEEN what they can do!” Marc Cedric Smith as “Kerchak” fumes over what to do about young “Tarzan”

Young Jude Mason as the “fledgling” Tarzan also more than proves he’s a gold-medal contender in his own right, carrying out some pretty prodigious moves; after all, this is an exceptionally ‘physical’ role, and Mason demonstrates tremendous agility and adeptness with everything he’s called upon to achieve—and does it with a polish and confidence many a Broadway veteran would envy. Then there’s Lawrence Cummings who in like manner elevates the “Awesome” factor (already fairly high for this production) with his portrayal of Tarzan’s Gorilla pal, “Terk”. The best friend we all wish we had, he himself does a remarkable job furnishing some big laughs, lightening the mood when needed. What’s more, whether singing or dancing Cummings completely dazzles, displaying his outstanding vocal talents with “Who Better Than Me”, then verifying how capable he is in the dance department with both the raucous first act “Jungle Funk” and again leading the second act opener “Trashing The Camp”. In addition, Joey D’Auria renders first-rate support as Jane’s blustery British father, “Professor Porter”. As with the rest of her “crew”, he doesn’t appear until after intermission, but provides an important sympathetic presence nonetheless. Not a hunter as seen in previous versions of the story, he’s played as a rather gentle, refined man of science—not to mention an infinitely supportive father who gets some of the best comic lines (“I’ve never been able to lie to you Daddy” Jane says sheepishly at one point; “No, but it’s a testament to your character that you keep on trying,” he replies.) He and his daughter are there in Africa to study—not destroy. This in turn makes Brian Abraham’s trigger-happy “guide”, “Clayton” all the more menacing and sinister as the show’s villain. His secret plan is to trap Tarzan (along with a few gorillas and other hapless denizens of the jungle) to sell to a circus (–once Jane and her father are properly “dispensed” with of course.) For this reason, given recent headlines, the themes suggested in this subplot are disquietingly timely, hitting their marks with added bite—probably more now than when the show opened last month for its Fullerton run.

“We’re here to Find Gorillas-Not Harm Them!” Joey D’Auria as “Professor Porter” and Katie DeShan as “Jane” square off against Brian Abraham as their ‘guide’ “Clayton”

“We’re here to FIND Gorillas-Not Harm Them!” Joey D’Auria as “Professor Porter” and Katie DeShan as “Jane” square off against Brian Abraham as their ‘guide’ “Clayton”

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to ‘meet’ this “Tarzan”; once you have, you’ll never forget it—and it’s even better ‘by the beach’ (“The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center” that is!) Having opened Saturday, August 1st, “Tarzan, The Musical” will play through Sunday, August 9th, 2015 at “The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center” located at 1935 E. Manhattan Blvd. in Redondo Beach, CA. Remaining show-times are Friday, August 7 at 8:00 pm, Saturday, August 8 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, with a matinée at 2:00 pm on Sunday August 9th, 2015. Tickets are available by calling 714 589-2770 ext. 1 between the hours of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday; 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm Saturdays; by logging onto: www.3dtheatricals.org  , or at the Theater Box Office starting two hours prior to performances (Group and Student discounts are also available.)

“Break it up and shake it up! Shout it out--come on now, LET IT OUT!” Lawrence Cummings as “Terk” and Company are “Trashin’ The Camp”

“Break it up and shake it up! Shout it out–come on now, LET IT OUT!” Lawrence Cummings as “Terk” and Company are “Trashin’ The Camp”

Production Stills By Isaac James Creative  (www.IsaacJamesCreative.com) Courtesy Of Michael Sterling & Associates (www.msapr.net) and “3-D Theatricals”; Special Thanks To Michael Sterling, T.J. Dawson, Gretchen Dawson, Daniel Dawson, And To The Cast And Crew Of “3-D Theatricals” “Tarzan, The Musical” For Making This Story Possible.

‘Run And Tell That’: It’s Irrefutable–“The Chance Theater’s” “Hairspray” Is Big, Bright And Beautiful!

July 20, 2015
“The Chance Theater” At “The Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center” Presents “Hairspray” July 10-August 9, 2015 In Anaheim, CA. (www.chancetheater.com)

“The Chance Theater” At “The Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center” Presents “Hairspray” July 10-August 9, 2015 In Anaheim, CA. (www.chancetheater.com)

“What gives a gal power and punch? Is it charm? Is it poise? No it’s ‘Hairspray’!” Now the award-winning “Chance Theater” at the “Bette Aiken Theater Arts Center” in Anaheim, California is presenting this ‘mother’ of all musicals as their main-stage summer offering for 2015! Based on the film from cult movie Legend John Waters, the book is by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and music by Marc Shaiman. The winner of eight 2003 Tony Awards (among them, “Best Musical”) “The Chance” puts audience members in the center of the action with a more intimate staging of this vibrant celebration of rock n’ roll, revolution, and one determined adolescent’s dream to change the world–and it loses nothing in the transition.

“You can try to stop the seasons, girl, but ya know you never will—and you can try to stop my dancin' feet, but I just cannot stand still!” Taylor Hartsfield as “Tracy Turnblad” “Just Can’t Stop The Beat”

“You can try to stop the seasons, girl, but ya know you never will—and you can try to stop my dancin’ feet, but I just cannot stand still!” Taylor Hartsfield as “Tracy Turnblad” “Just Can’t Stop The Beat”

The time is 1962: Baltimore, where full-figured, big-bouffanted teen “Tracy Turnblad” wants to dance! Despite her equally plus-sized mother “Miss Edna”, trying to discourage the girl’s ambitions, young Tracy’s passion for life is as broad as her waist-measurement, and although “her mom tells her no, her feet tell her go!” Luckily, when the opportunity to dance on “The Corny Collins Show” arises, she jumps at it, and soon her talent gains the admiration of most everyone–particularly the show’s juvenile heart-throb, “Link Larkin”. Of course, not all are thrilled with the decision to have her on the show; the station’s ‘blue-blooded’ manager, “Velma Von Tussle”, whose own daughter “Amber” is slated for the program’s “star-spot” (not to mention Link’s affections,) will stop at nothing to get Tracy bounced, especially since she has the audacity (–gasp–) to want to abolish any racial barriers among the cast to include her African-American pals, “Seaweed” and “Little Inez”. (“So my dear, so short and stout–you’ll never be ‘in’ so we’re kicking you out!” she’s told.) Sounding the charge “Two, Four, Six, Eight, TV’s got to integrate!” you can bet your most cherished pair of “Cha-Cha Heels” the results will be larger even than Miss Edna’s prodigious dress-size!

“Without love, life is like a beat that you can't follow; without love, life is Doris Day at the Apollo!” Xavier J. Watson Is “Seaweed” With Sarah Pierce As His ‘Lady Love’ “Penny Pingleton”

“Without love, life is like a beat that you can’t follow; without love, life is Doris Day at the Apollo!” Xavier J. Watson Is “Seaweed” With Sarah Pierce As His ‘Lady Love’ “Penny Pingleton”

Utilizing various playing spaces throughout the theater, Director Kari Hayter makes full use of “The Chance’s” ample auditorium, in essence casting the viewers as the ‘studio audience’ for “The Corny Collins Show” and all the related goings-on. This makes for a livelier, more ‘immersive’ experience, thus a more satisfying one as well. What’s more, she keeps the pace surprisingly quick without sacrificing any significant comic or ‘message’ moments the show boasts. O’Donnell and Meehan’s clever script positively crackles with witty one-liners referencing 1960’s pop-culture, and also features more than a few nods to John Waters other films along with a well-placed homage (or two) to the classic musical “Gypsy”. Co-Choreographed by Kelly Todd and Christopher M. Albrecht, under their collective guidance, nobody merely ‘walks” in this show when they can ‘bop’! Similarly making the most from the theater’s overall amplitude, the innovative staging of the show’s copious dance sequences have all been masterfully adapted to accommodate three-dimensions, and the outcome is a magnificent pastiche of vintage moves painting terpsichorean pictures that are far greater than the sum of their parts! This, after all, is a show that from its very inception was built around the often offbeat “fad” dances of the early/mid 1960’s (with the actual civil rights story coming along shortly thereafter,) so the dance elements have to be striking. Happily, they live up to–and surpass–expectation! Furthermore, Todd and Albrecht incorporate numerous element from those period dances like the ‘Monkey’, ‘Pony’, ‘Madison’, and the ‘Twist’ (look extra close and you’ll even find a few ballet moves thrown in as well!) They also effectively invent several new steps like the ‘Stricken Chicken’ or Amber’s concluding salvo “Cooties”, all of which hearken back to all those great (or sometimes ridiculous) fleeting dance crazes that kids emphatically had to keep up with to be considered “in”. Kudos also to Matt Scarpino for his ultra-contemporary cubistic scenic design and Bradley Lock’s incredible (and excruciatingly accurate) costume design which colorfully recall the many shades of this fast-changing time in our nation’s history.

“Why take a chance when you get up and dance? If you twist, I insist you use Hairspray!” Ellie Wyman As “Amber Von Tussle” Is Taking Center Stage While Jordan Goodsell As “Corny Collins” Looks On.

“Why take a chance when you get up and dance? If you twist, I insist you use Hairspray!” Ellie Wyman As “Amber Von Tussle” Is Taking Center Stage While Jordan Goodsell As “Corny Collins” Looks On.

Featuring a sizable and diverse multi-ethnic cast (–one of the largest ever for a musical at “The Chance”–) this is decidedly a ‘chorus” show and every one of the hard-working ensemble do a first-rate job filling out, filling in, and invigorating each big number, making them ignite with energy and enthusiasm! “Welcome to the 60’s” is a grand-slam for the entire ensemble early on; they also work some formidable stage magic with their combined parts in the first act closer, “Big, Blonde And Beautiful”. Act Two picks up in “The Big Doll House” after Tracy and company have been arrested for trying to crash Corny’s ‘very special “Mother-Daughter” day at the TV station. It sure is a real rouser after intermission though, relaunching things in a humorous and spirited way. Everything culminates in a foot-stomping, roof-raising truly “Grand” finale, that, at its heart is a terrific socially-responsible turn on all those great old “Let’s Have A Show” movies!

“Hey Tracy, hey baby, look at us! Where is there a team that's half as fabulous?!” Joe Tish As “Edna Turnblad” And Taylor Hartsfield As “Her” Daughter, “Tracy” Are ‘Welcoming The Sixties’

“Hey Tracy, hey baby, look at us! Where is there a team that’s half as fabulous?!” Joe Tish As “Edna Turnblad” And Taylor Hartsfield As “Her” Daughter, “Tracy” Are ‘Welcoming The Sixties’

Plucky Taylor Hartsfield stars as Tracy Turnblad, the plus-sized high-school senior who only wants to dance on local TV’s top-rated teen dance program, “The Corny Collins Show”. In Miss Hartsfield’s capable hands, Tracy is an exuberant, completely likable lass whose biggest flaw isn’t her physical size, but rather (initially) trying too hard to impress ‘the popular crowd” (“I’m teasing my hair as high as I can” she laments after being refused an audition just on the basis of her looks; “Is there no pity for a teen just trying to fit in?!”) Yet this makes her ultimate journey toward emotional maturity and development of a social conscience all the more brave and gratifying (“I just think it’s stupid that we all can’t dance together” she declares guilelessly.) This girl also has a tremendous voice and some pretty savvy dance moves for which she’s given plenty of opportunities to showcase. “I Can Hear The Bells” is a terrific solo, as is her stirring reprise of “Good Morning Baltimore” (—sung from within a jail cell,) which sets the tone for better things to follow. Moreover, Joe Tish is “Divine” as her “mother” Edna Turnblad—“a simple housewife of indeterminate girth”. As much has this is Tracy’s story, “Edna” still plays a (literally) huge part in it. Possessing a boisterous baritone and impeccable comic timing, Tish makes the most of this vocal incongruity to garner some pretty solid laughs, amazing with such numbers as “Welcome To The 60’s” (Edna’s first time outside the safety of her apartment in years) then later, joined by Robin Walton as “her” husband “Wilbur” with their thoroughly delightful “love” duet, “You’re Timeless To Me” (“Some folks can’t stand it–say time is a bandit, but I take the opposite view, ‘cause when I need a lift, time brings a gift–another day with you!” they bill-and-coo to one another.)

“Ma, I gotta tell you that without a doubt I got my best dancing lessons from you; you're the one who taught me how to "twist and shout"--because you shout non-stop and you're so twisted too!” Sarah Pierce Is “Penny Pingleton” With Karen Webster As Her Mother, “Prudy”

“Ma, I gotta tell you that without a doubt I got my best dancing lessons from you; you’re the one who taught me how to “twist and shout”–because you shout non-stop and you’re so twisted too!” Sarah Pierce Is “Penny Pingleton” With Karen Webster As Her Mother, “Prudy”

Sarah Pierce too, reveals an expressive voice and laudable comedic skills, making her mark as Tracy’s timid, plain-Jane best-friend Penny Pingleton, who blossoms into a pretty and confident “checker-board chick” in love with “Seaweed”, amiably played by Xavier J. Watson. “Seaweed” himself demonstrates some catchy steps and sultry gyrations, and Watson’s lead in “Run And Tell That” is “Groovy” with a ‘hip and happening’ ‘G’! Likewise, LaJoi Whitten is an absolute revelation as his “mother”, “Motormouth Maybelle”. Although her finest moments occur later in the show, throughout, she’s everything this character should be: strong, serene, balanced, but capable of conveying genuine passion and urgency when required, as during the production’s dynamic “11 O’ Clock” number “I Know Where I’ve Been”–one of most moving “civil rights” anthems written for a musical. Here it’s a definite showstopper that’s worth waiting for! Timyra Joi is also a diminutive bundle of sheer vivacity with a voice large enough to shake the heavens as her ‘daughter’ “Little Inez”. (If anything, young Miss Joi is the one actress you wish had more to do, as her times in the spotlight are always nothing short of electrifying!)

“Can't ya hear that rumbling? That's our hunger to be free--it's time to finally taste Equality!” LaJoi Whitten As “Motormouth Maybelle” is “Big, Blonde & Beautiful”

“Can’t ya hear that rumbling? That’s our hunger to be free–it’s time to finally taste Equality!” LaJoi Whitten As “Motormouth Maybelle” is “Big, Blonde & Beautiful”

Glorious and glowering as the station owner and former “Miss Baltimore Crabs”–“Velma Von Tussle”, Camryn Zelinger utterly bowls ’em over—bringing to life one of the tastiest villainesses ever to appear in musical comedy! (If only year’s earlier, that damn Shirley Temple hadn’t stolen her friggin’ act!) Committed to keeping black and white TV all white, she also gets the best lines, even gloating at one point: “It pays to have a politician in your pocket and Polaroids in your safe!”; then, upon meeting Edna she sneers “I guess you two are living proof that the watermelon doesn’t fall far from the vine!” Zelinger’s expert execution of “Miss Baltimore Crabs” hits all the right comic notes; later, after butting heads with Corny regarding efforts to desegregate his show, she seethes “He’s a puppet—but I hold the purse and its strings!” Ellie Wyman is also sweetly sinister as her daughter, “Amber”—the picture-perfect mean girl who, according to Tracy, has “acne of the soul”. As the would-be ingénue of Collins’ show, she does a superlative job serving at the forefront of numbers like “The Nicest Kids In Town”, while “Mama I’m A Big Girl Now”—a lively trio comprised of “Tracy”, “Penny”, and “Amber” as they individually ‘share’ in the tribulations of ‘modern teen-dom’, is a triumph for all three actresses.

“Just like Frankie Avalon had his favorite Mouseketeer, I dream of a lover Babe, to say the things that I long to hear…” Cody Bianchi Is Teen Heart-Throb, “Link Larkin”

“Just like Frankie Avalon had his favorite Mouseketeer, I dream of a lover Babe, to say the things that I long to hear…” Cody Bianchi Is Teen Heart-Throb, “Link Larkin”

Not to be overlooked either is Cody Bianchi as “Link Larkin”, boy-crooner and the resident ‘teen idol’ of “The Corny Collins Show”. Suavely ‘styling’ his songs with hints of “Elvis”, “Fabian” and other Bubble-Gum Icons of the day, he scores delivering “It Takes Two”, and again with his part in “Without Love”, when he and “Seaweed” attempt to rescue their lady-loves, “Tracy” and “Penny” respectively. In addition, sporting a brilliant tooth-paste smile and pristinely lacquered hair, Jordan Goodsell is appropriately charming and unctuous as small-time TV host “Corny Collins”. He shines presiding over “The Nicest Kids In Town” (which introduces his fresh-faced, strictly-Caucasian troupe,) then subsequently in the big title number (which is essentially a commercial for the show-within-a-show’s sponsor!) Outstanding also are Elizabeth Adabale, LaRece Hawkins and Jenae Thompson as the aptly named “Dynamites”—together they form a ‘supreme-ly’ awesome 60’s era “girl group” furnishing some harmonic spark and pizzazz to “Welcome To The 60’s”.

“You're like a rare vintage ripple--a vintage they'll never forget. So pour me a teeny weenie TRIPLE  and we can toast the fact we ain’t dead yet!” Joe Tish As “Edna” Shares A ‘Timeless’ Moment With Robin Walton As Husband, “Wilbur”

“You’re like a rare vintage Ripple–a vintage they’ll never forget. So pour me a teeny weenie TRIPLE
and we can toast the fact we ain’t dead yet!” Joe Tish As “Edna” Shares A ‘Timeless’ Moment With Robin Walton As Husband, “Wilbur”

Here’s ‘the chance’ to see this old favorite like it’s never been seen before–“You can’t stop” from having an outrageously enjoyable time at the theater! Having begun previews on July 10th, 2015, “Hairspray” officially opened on Friday, July 17th where it will play through Sunday, August 9th 2015. Show-times are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Saturday matinées at 3:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM (special added performance on Wednesday, July 22, at 8:00 PM) “The Chance Theater” is located at 5522 E. La Palma Avenue in Anaheim, CA. Tickets can be ordered by calling the theater box-office at: (714) 777-3033, or on-line by visiting: www.chancetheater.com . Also check them out on face-book at: https://www.facebook.com/chancetheater .

“Once upon a time I used to dress up ‘Ken’; but now that I'm a woman--I like ‘bigger’ men!”  Ellie Wyman As “Amber Von Tussle” Protests That She’s “A Big Girl Now” To Camryn Zelinger As Her ‘Mama’, “Velma”

“Once upon a time I used to dress up ‘Ken’; but now that I’m a woman–I like ‘bigger’ men!” Ellie Wyman As “Amber Von Tussle” Protests That She’s “A Big Girl Now” To Camryn Zelinger As Her ‘Mama’, “Velma”

Production Stills By Doug Catiller At True Image Studio (http://trueimagestudio.com) Courtesy Of “The Chance Theater” At “The Bette Aiken Theater Arts Center”; Special Thanks To Casey Long, Kari Hayter, Kelly Todd, Christopher M. Albrecht, And To The Cast And Crew Of “The Chance Theater’s” “Hairspray” For Making This Story Possible.

‘Lose Your Blues’: The Laguna Playhouse “Cuts Loose” With The Musical, “Footloose”

July 14, 2015

FOOTLOOSE - ART

Please Louise! Jack Get Back! Whoa, Milo!” Let’s hear it for the historic “Laguna Playhouse” in Laguna Beach California, where they’ve kicked off their 2015-2016 season with the totally awesome summer offering “Footloose”! The hit stage adaptation based on the classic 1984 cinematic blockbuster of the same name, the book is by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie based on Pitchford’s original screenplay, with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. (Additional music is provided by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins & Jim Steinman.)

“We’re shakin’ the past, makin’ our breaks—takin’ control if that’s what it takes” (The kids of “Bomont” are finally turnin’ it loose and getting “Footloose”!)

“We’re shakin’ the past, makin’ our breaks—takin’ control if that’s what it takes” (The kids of “Bomont” are finally turnin’ it loose and getting “Footloose”!)

Featuring a rollicking Top 40 score, expertly augmented by others that have been written specifically for this stage retelling, familiar songs include “Holding Out for a Hero”, “Let’s Hear it For the Boy”, “Almost Paradise,” and the iconic title number, “Footloose”. Those original numbers, which initially provided background music on the big screen, here have been cleverly incorporated into the story to be sung and enacted by the enthusiastic 18 member ensemble. The result is a fast-paced buoyantly entertaining musical that’s sure to delight the entire family (–don’t be surprised however, if you leave the theater feeling younger and more revitalized than when you got there!)

In a jivey twist on the age-old story of teenage rebellion vs. establishment repression, streetwise city-boy “Ren McCormack” and his mother leave Chicago to move to the small Midwestern town of “Bomont” (“They don’t even have a zip code” he’s told.)  There he’s shocked to learn his new home has made rock music and any kind of dancing illegal! The action commences immediately, dispensing with a formal overture in favor of the exhilarating title number, as our boy says farewell to all his friends in Chicago and prepares to leave (“Mom, we’ve got a ten-hour drive ahead” he tells his equally reticent mother of their wistfully anticipated road trip “–we’ve got a lot of time to disagree.”)  This segues into the more staid and reverent “On Any Sunday” as we meet Reverend “Shaw Moore”–the Bible-thumping minister responsible for keeping the town dance-free, along with his flock, wherein is overheard “You know how a stranger is–if he’s not dumb, he’s dangerous” they immediately pronounce of the young newcomer. After church, Ren also encounters “Ariel Moore”, the pastor’s lovely but (slightly) wild daughter and the two join forces. With their senior prom just around the corner, Ren, Ariel, and their classmates want to do away with this outdated ordinance, and with her support, he finds the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the ban and in the process, enlivens the soul of the oppressed town’s young people! “We’re gonna throw a kick-ass party that’s gonna knock Bomont right off its tractor!” he proclaims.

Director and Choreographer Paula Hammons Sloan has created a first-class production that displays many of these old favorites in a completely re-invigorated, vivacious new light—even going so far as actually improving them in many ways. Indeed, this is one musical that builds on and genuinely surpasses its source material. Given the august reputation (and even the title) of this, it practically goes without saying that the dancing especially needs to be extraordinary, and most assuredly, in this regard “The Laguna Playhouse’s” latest presentation never disappoints! Moreover, at intermission, spectators were invited up on stage to join members of the cast in a free line-dancing lesson, which is completely fitting as Act Two commences at a honky-tonk when our young heroes take a road trip, essentially to learn how to dance in preparation for the big bash they’re hoping to pull off (“Think of it as research” Ren tells them.) Subsequently, encompassing a mixture of classic country-western, free-flowing new-wave and vintage 1960’s “go-go” meets 1940’s “jitter-bug”, the big dance at the end makes for a genuinely fun finale that’s so large and spirited it literally explodes off the stage and into the audience!

“Back where I come from, life’s never hum-drum, I wish I could take you there.” (Logan Farine as “Ren McCormack” “Can’t Stand Still”)

“Back where I come from, life’s never hum-drum, I wish I could take you there.” (Logan Farine as “Ren McCormack” “Can’t Stand Still”)

The leads are both extremely likable which is vital to the production’s success and identifiably, and happily too, they live up to the tasks laid out for them—and then some! Logan Farine stars as “Ren”—“A Chicago transplant with all the charm and sophistication that comes from living in a bustling metropolis” whose coming to town instigates all the events that follow (“If there’s anything worth fighting for, it’s freedom” he declares.) Logan capably launches the show with the opening “Footloose”, before going on to dazzle with some amazing acrobatic moves in “I Can’t Stand Still”; immediately after he is unceremoniously informed of the town’s ban on dancing and popular music for the last five years. Then his solo, “I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)” builds into a brilliant Act One finale. If Ren is the character that drives the story though, Lily Davis as “Ariel”, the preacher’s kid with the big attitude, affords it with an emotional center. At heart, she’s “Just a church goin’ gal with some Bad-Ass Red Cowboy Boots” who’s “holdin’ out for a hero’, and she’s found it in this recently arrived McCormack lad. Miss Davis’ dramatic presence is as high-caliber as her vocal ability and she’s absolutely riveting with each of her numbers. Making her mark right from the start with “The Girl Gets Around”, we learn what a free-spirit she really is (“God’s gonna strike you with a bolt of lightning” Ariel is warned; “No, SHE’S not!” the girl retorts.) After intermission, her romantic duet with Farine, “Almost Paradise” marks yet another case of a song winning far better on-stage than on film, making for a real highlight (In fact, one could almost feel many among the more seasoned members of opening night’s audience pleasantly melting back into youthful reveries hearing these two harmonize such beautiful lyrics!)

“I faced the nights alone—oh, how could I have known that all my life I only needed you…” (Logan Farine as “Ren” and Lily Davis as “Ariel” with Carol Robinson as “Vi Moore” and Ricky Pope as “The Reverend Shaw Moore”)

“I faced the nights alone—oh, how could I have known that all my life I only needed you…” (Logan Farine as “Ren” and Lily Davis as “Ariel” with Carol Robinson as “Vi Moore” and Ricky Pope as “The Reverend Shaw Moore”)

As the key “adults” in the cast, Ricky Pope excels in bringing humanity and a basic goodness to the tricky role of the “Reverend Shaw Moore” the man who has the town in a moral strangle-hold and the one responsible for the ban. His “Heaven Help Me” is well conveyed as he himself is finally brought to contemplate the righteousness of his convictions (“If Heaven can’t help, who can?” he questions dejectedly.) This vulnerability makes his ultimate redemption all the more fulfilling—even joyful–when it at last occurs. Meanwhile, Jill Slyter as Ren’s Mother, “Ethel” is a far stronger, more supportive presence here than has been depicted in previous versions—it is she who gives Ren a much-needed pep talk when he can use it most. Joining them is Carol Robinson as “The Reverend’s” wife and Ariel’s mother “Vi”. Her stirring second act benediction “Can You Find It In Your Heart” (another of the score’s first-rate additions written expressly for the stage) is tenderly conveyed as Vi, caught in the midst of the growing tensions between her daughter and husband, tries to bring peace back to her household. Earlier, Slyter and Robinson along with Davis comprise a melodic trio with the equally touching and pensive “Learning To Be Silent” as each ponder the cost of remaining passive in the face of moral intimidation, or as Ethel and Vi put it: “Learning there are some topics that we don’t even mention, and if they come up, then we try to be vague; there are subjects from which we divert all attention, and some we avoid like the plague!”

Outstanding energy is also provided by Charlene Jean, Melissa Mangold and Ashley Nicole Martin as Ariel’s gal-pals “Rusty”, “Urleen”, and “Wendy Jo” respectively.

“We’ve got to turn you around and get your feet on the ground, now take a hold of your soul…” (The cast of The Laguna Playhouse’s are cutting loose in “Footloose”)

“We’ve got to turn you around and get your feet on the ground, now take a hold of your soul…” (The cast is cutting loose in The Laguna Playhouse’s “Footloose” ! )

Each maintains a vibrant vocal footing in each of the numbers they’re so much a part of, and together the three even form a sort of Greek Chorus–often commenting on the action through song, such as when they inform Ren that to enforce this “law”, constant surveillance is required, meaning anyone even thinking about going against the grain in Bomont must be wary that “Somebody’s Eyes Are Watching” (“Somebody’s eyes are following every move! Somebody’s waiting to show they don’t approve,” they warn.) Likewise, they join with Ariel for the dynamic “Holdin’ Out For A Hero”, effectively ‘raising the roof’ as Ariel (and all of them by extension) dreams of her perfect man. In addition, Miss Jean showcases her own impressive voice leading “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” (which also features a lively dance interlude) sung in praise of her clumsy crush, “Willard Hewett”. In that role of Ren’s none-too-bright farm-boy buddy, Michael Stancliff also delivers a great blast of comic support, handily making this character his own and banishing any memories of Christopher Penn’s hot-headed “bull in a china shop” turn from the film. At first resistant to the new kid’s personal magnetism, he soon becomes Ren’s chief ally in his quest to win over Ariel (“Ariel likes trouble,” he advises, “and you have definitely proved to everybody in this town that you are T-R-U-B-L!”) Demonstrating some pretty cool moves and a voice to be reckoned with, Stancliff particularly shines with his part in “I Can’t Stand Still”, and later with the hilarious “Mama Says You Can’t Back Down” (—complete with a well-deserved encore!)

“Just like paradise–how could we ask for more?” So “turn it around and get your feet on the ground,” and head to the “Laguna Playhouse”, located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, CA. Having opened on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015, “Footloose” is slated to run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 1:00 PM and 5:30 PM. Additional performances are Thursday, July 23 & Thursday, August 6 at 2:00 PM. (There will be no performances on Sunday, July 26 or Sunday, August 9 at 5:30 PM.) Tickets can be purchased in person at “The Laguna Playhouse” box-office between the hours of 12:00 PM. and 5:00 PM, Mondays through Saturdays; Sundays: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Open until show-time on performance days) or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787) Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. To order on-line or for more information on all shows and programming visit: http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com .

“Footloose, The Musical”  at The Laguna Playhouse’s “Moulton Theater”, July 8th-August 9th, 2015; 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, CA. www.lagunaplayhouse.com

“Footloose, The Musical” at The Laguna Playhouse’s “Moulton Theater”, July 8th-August 9th, 2015; 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, CA. http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com

Production Photos By Ed Krieger, Courtesy Of Demand PR (www.demandpr.com) Special Thanks To David Elzer At Demand PR, Paula Hammons Sloan, Ann E. Wareham, Karen Wood And To The Cast & Crew Of The Laguna Playhouse’s “Footloose, The Musical” For Making This Story Possible.

 

Love Is Insane: The Gem’s “Next To Normal” Has The Prescription For Mind-Blowing Theater In Garden Grove, CA.

June 23, 2015
“One More Productions” Presents “Next To Normal” June 18-July 12, 2015 At “The Gem Theatre” In Garden Grove, CA. (www.OneMoreProductions.com)

“One More Productions” Presents “Next To Normal” June 18-July 12, 2015 At “The Gem Theatre” In Garden Grove, CA. (www.OneMoreProductions.com)

“It’s medicine—not magic” her doctor informs “Diana”, the complex woman at the center of “Next To Normal”–the winner of three 2009 “Tony Awards” including “Best Musical Score” as well as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. “It’s not perfect, but it’s all that we’ve got.” The latest undertaking at the historic “Gem Theatre” in Garden Grove California, the show is in keeping with the theater’s resident production company, “One More Productions’” ethos of more than simply offering local audiences the kinds of stage entertainment that they want to see, bestowing upon them the type of unique (and in this case poignant and profound) theatrical experiences they deserve as well. “This is a story that deserves to be seen” said Director Damien Lorton on opening night; “It’s a story that deserves to be told!” In point of fact, the six-character piece is an exceptionally good fit for the intimacy of “The Gem’s” 158-seat auditorium; don’t be fooled though–there’s a whole lot of humanity and some gargantuan emotions exploding across that stage thanks to a soul-stirring production that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and so-called “normal” suburban life.

“I am the one who knows you, I am the one who cares. I am the one who's always been there…” Alex Bodrero As “Dan” Reassures Elyssa Alexander As His Wife “Diana”

“I am the one who knows you, I am the one who cares. I am the one who’s always been there…” Alex Bodrero As “Dan” Reassures Elyssa Alexander As His Wife “Diana”

“Next To Normal” introduces “The Goodman Family”–an almost stereotypical middle-class American family. Dan the father is an architect, mom Diana stays home and cares for their teenage daughter and son; all ‘appears’ to be ordinary to the point of mundane. Look a little closer though and you’ll see their lives are anything but typical, because Diana has been battling serious manic depression for 16 years. Featuring a vivacious pop/rock score by Tom Kitt who wrote the music and Brian Yorkey who penned the book and lyrics, the result is an incredible and intensely moving bit of theater if ever there was one–highly enjoyable even as it tugs at your heartstrings. “One More Productions” Co-founder Damien Lorton, who serves as both the Stage and Musical Director, wisely favors subtlety and realism over overt ‘flash’ and ostentation for ostentation’s sake, which makes the substantial issues the show introduces shine solidly through! Likewise, Wally Huntoon’s bare-bones, split-level utilitarian set, complimented by John Hyrkas’ vibrant, multi-colored digital lighting design, wonderfully puts the actors–and everything they’re enacting–in sharp focus.

“Sing a song of forgetting--a song of the way things were not. Sing of what's lost to you--of times that you never knew” “The Goodman Family”: Alex Bodrero As “Dan”, Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” & Kat Ljubic As “Natalie”

“Sing a song of forgetting–a song of the way things were not. Sing of what’s lost to you–of times that you never knew” “The Goodman Family”: Alex Bodrero As “Dan”, Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” & Kat Ljubic As “Natalie”

The top-notch cast expertly work together to create numerous “can’t miss” moments on stage—many one right after the other. “My Psycho-Pharmacologist And I” is a rousing group endeavor early on, and speaks with knowing authenticity to anyone who’s ever had to deal with any kind of psychotropic, or mood-altering medications. Throughout, there are plenty of duets and trios that propel the plot forward, taking viewers intimately into the hearts and minds of each character with equal doses of sincerity compassion and sometimes jolting relatability. Given that Diana doesn’t respond well to her ‘drug therapy” more extreme measures are called for—including rounds of “Electroconvulsive Therapy” (ECT) This inspires two more ensemble accomplishments –“I Wish I Were Here” (which opens the second act,) and “Better Than Before”, during which Diana’s family and doctor try to help her rebuild her impinged memory brought about by such radical neurological treatments. Unfortunately, if the temporary memory loss it causes weren’t bad enough, memory recovery provokes relapse.

“What happens when the burn has healed, when the skin has not regrown? What happens when the cast, at last, comes off and then you find the break was always in another bone?” Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” With Alex Bodrero As “Dan” & Brandon Taylor Jones As “Gabe”

“What happens when the burn has healed, when the skin has not regrown?
What happens when the cast, at last, comes off and then you find the break was always in another bone?” Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” With Alex Bodrero As “Dan” & Brandon Taylor Jones As “Gabe”

As housewife, mother and “Pfizer Woman Of The Year” (–she jokes,) Elyssa Alexander triumphs in her excruciatingly “human” portrayal of “Diana” whose very personal journey we are taken on, and through whose eyes the events unfold. Possessing an expressive voice that handily manages all the intricacies of the sophisticated contemporary score, perhaps most importantly, Ms. Alexander displays terrific personability in a decidedly intricate, multifaceted role. This has us empathizing with her and her ‘condition” every step of the way. Diana’s first act soliloquy “I Miss The Mountains” in which she laments the flattened-out, homogenized nature of her feelings since beginning “meds” (even as she—secretly– contemplates going off them,) is brilliant and affecting: “Everything is balanced here and on an even keel; everything is perfect–nothing’s ‘real’!” she pines. Shortly after, her duet with son Gabe titled “I Dreamed A Dance” appropriately just might bring tears to your eyes, while “Maybe (Next To Normal)” is a tenderly conveyed “Eleven O’clock” number serving as a kind of optimistic ‘exclamation point’ to this venerable musical drama, as at last she tries to acknowledge and ease her daughter’s pain (“We’ll live with what’s real and let go of what’s past…and maybe I’ll see you at last” she consoles the girl.) Alex Bodrero also does an outstanding job as “Dan”–Diana’s ever-patient husband “who stayed” through all their combined tribulations brought about by her illness. His is another Key role that must garner our sense of connection in order to make the entire piece work, and in this regard Bodrero unfalteringly attains his goal! His solo “You Don’t Know” provides a genuinely potent moment, as does his first act declaration “I’ve Been”, wherein he overwhelmingly ponders the constant ups-and-downs of his life with Diana. Later, he delves still deeper in a forlorn, last-ditch grasp at hope with the couple’s Act One closer, “A Light In The Dark”.

“We'll be the one thing in this world that won't hurt.” Jonathan Fierros As “Henry” Tries To Explain His Feelings For Kat Ljubic As “Natalie”

“We’ll be the one thing in this world that won’t hurt.” Jonathan Fierros As “Henry” Tries To Explain His Feelings For Kat Ljubic As “Natalie”

Kat Ljubic is also spot-on as their tightly-wound daughter, “Natalie”. (“You’re kind of a confusing person” her boyfriend tells her at one point; “you should see my mother,” she counters.) Ljubic’s performance here is refreshingly honest (as are all of those given by this cast.) Yet, although she gets most of the ‘laugh’ lines, this gifted young actress makes clear that her precocious sarcasm is merely a flimsy cover for a heavy existential hurt that’s too often been underplayed in previous versions. Her solo turn, “Super Boy And The Invisible Girl” is compelling and well-delivered, granting insight into this girl’s sense of isolation. (“Son of steel, daughter of air—he’s a Hero, a Lover, a Prince…she’s not even there!” Natalie broods.) In addition, Ljubic’s trio with her “Parents’, “A Song Of Forgetting” is not only beautifully sung by all three, it’s also one of those truly rare high-octane theatrical occurrences to be encountered on this or any stage! As her hapless boyfriend “Henry”, Jonathan Fierros also surprises and amazes. While most of Fierros’ best moments come after intermission, he gives the kind of quietly powerful performance that continues to impress long after the final curtain has been rung down. At first glance, his “Henry” may appear to be just another goofy stoner, but over the course of the show, he laudably transforms into someone far greater—affording Natalie her first real taste of understanding she’s ever known. Indeed, in furnishing her with some much-needed strength, she is later able to give it to her father when he too, needs it.

“They've managed to get rid of me, I'm gone without a trace; but sear the soul and leave a scar no treatment can erase!” Brandon Taylor Jones As “Gabe” Confronts Elyssa Alexander As His Mother, “Diana”

“They’ve managed to get rid of me, I’m gone without a trace; but sear the soul and leave a scar no treatment can erase!” Brandon Taylor Jones As “Gabe” Confronts Elyssa Alexander As His Mother, “Diana”

However, in what could be considered a bona-fide ‘break-out’ performance, Brandon Taylor Jones, a familiar face at “The Gem” positively soars as “Gabe”—Dan and Diana’s enigmatic son who may yield crucial enlightenment concerning his mother’s disorder. Running the gamut from seductive to sinister, starting with his part in the opening “Just Another Day”, he excels at expressing the often elaborate, many-sided sentiments Yorkey’s lyrics encompass, ensuring each achieves its full merit. Brandon’s subsequent rendition of “I’m Alive” is nothing short of dynamic, as is his haunting second act (almost accusatory) commentary on his mother’s treatments (and what they’ve done to her) called “Aftershocks”: “The memories will wane, the ‘aftershocks’ remain…” he exhorts, ultimately questioning “With nothing left to remember, is there nothing left to grieve?!” Rounding out the cast is Edgar Torrens as “Dr. Madden”—Diana’s “Rock-Star” Psychiatrist who contributes first-rate support where required, bringing spark and charisma to an otherwise easily marginalized role. (“Valium’s my favorite color—how did you know?” Diana tells him.)

“My Psychopharmacologist and I...It's like an odd romance; intense and very intimate,  we do our dance.” Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” Meets With Edgar Torrens As “Dr. Madden”

“My Psychopharmacologist and I…It’s like an odd romance; intense and very intimate,
we do our dance.” Elyssa Alexander As “Diana” Meets With Edgar Torrens As “Dr. Madden”

“Make up your mind” to see this as soon as you can! Having opened Thursday, June 18th, “Next To Normal” will play through Sunday July 12th 2015. Show-times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Sunday Matinees at 2:00 PM. “The Gem Theatre” is located at 12852 Main St in Garden Grove, CA. Tickets may be ordered either by phone at: (714) 741-9550 x 221 or on-line by visiting “One More Productions” website located at: www.OneMoreProductions.com (Special $10 “student rush” tickets are also available for Thursday and Friday performances.)

Production Stills By Lisa Scarsi, Courtesy Of Dan Pittman at “Pittman PR” (www.pittmanpr.com) And “One More Productions” (www.onemoreproductions.com) Special Thanks To Dan Pittman, Lisa Scarsi, Damien Lorton, Nicole Cassesso, And To The Cast & Crew Of “One More Productions” “Next To Normal” For Making This Story Possible.

“…And when the night has finally gone, and when we see the new day dawn,  we'll wonder how we wandered for so long…so blind.” The Cast Of “One More Productions” “Next To Normal”

“…And when the night has finally gone, and when we see the new day dawn,
we’ll wonder how we wandered for so long…so blind.” The Cast Of “One More Productions” “Next To Normal”

Glad Company: A Most Delightful “Mary Poppins” Soars Up To The Highest Heights In La Mirada, CA.

June 2, 2015

“If you reach for the stars all you get is the stars, but we’ve found a whole new spin: if you reach for ‘The Heavens’, you get the stars thrown in!”—Mary Poppins 

“Mary Poppins” at “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” (www.LaMiradaTheatre.com)

It’s a ‘Jolly Holiday” in La Mirada California, where “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts’ in association with Mc Coy-Rigby Entertainment are offering the final production of their acclaimed 2014-2015 season–the ebullient “Mary Poppins”! Based on an inspired blending of the time-honored stories by P.L. Travers and the iconic film by Walt Disney Productions, this often mesmerizing theatrical achievement certainly puts the “Super” in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”! Adapted for the stage by Julian Fellowes, it features the unforgettable songs by brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with several new ones (and additional music) by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. With these more recent pieces flowing seamlessly from the older ones, rest assured that this “Mary” features most all of the best-loved refrains from the movie’s Academy Award-winning score, including: “Step In Time”, “A Spoonful Of Sugar”, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite”, and the sumptuous “Feed The Birds” (–said to be Walt Disney’s personal favourite among all the songs from his various cinematic outings) in addition to several remarkable new numbers which provide the story with plenty of unexpected melodic marvels!

“Oh, it's a jolly holiday with Mary--Mary makes your Heart so light! When the day is gray and ordinary, Mary makes the sun shine bright!” (Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins” is serenaded by Leigh Brian Wakeford as “Bert”)

“Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary–Mary makes your Heart so light!
When the day is gray and ordinary, Mary makes the sun shine bright!” (Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins” is serenaded by Leigh Brian Wakeford as “Bert”)

Fellowes book highlights the comedy inherent to the story—particularly early on during the opening number, “Cherry Tree Lane” into which has been cleverly incorporated several familiar tunes from the motion picture, integrating them into a larger musical sequence. (This happens frequently throughout with the songs and situations referencing those in the film, but never exactly duplicating them.) There we are introduced (or more fittingly, re-introduced) to the “Banks” family of “#17 Cherry Tree Lane”, London in the year 1910. Social-climbers who put “appearances” before feelings, there’s husband George, his wife Winifred, and their unruly children, Jane and Michael. If ever a clan was in need of some intervention (at least for the Edwardian era) it’s this one! That “help” arrives in the person of the titular “uncanny nanny”, whom they soon discover is “Practically Perfect, in every way”: “I’m practically perfect, and here’s my aim” she tells the children, “by the time I leave here you both will be the same!” (“Better keep an eye on this one” Michael cautions upon her sudden arrival; “She’s tricky!”)

With so much happening at any given moment, Glenn Casale’s crisp direction permits the story to move at near break-neck speed, while still keeping the viewer’s attentions sharply focused. This allows maximum appreciation of all the adventures unfolding on-stage while never permitting the truly spectacular “special effects” employed to ever overtake the significant humanity occurring at the same time. Likewise, the original choreography by the late Dan Mojica has been lovingly recreated by Dana Solimando and serves as a magnificent living epitaph for this deeply respected artist. Again, don’t expect a carbon-copy of the movie; however, this unique re-envisioning of the Disney blockbuster is just as (and in many ways, even more) fulfilling! Indeed, many moments once regarded as sacrosanct within the traditional “Disney” canon have been given a whole new lease on life. For instance, the audience favourite “Jolly Holiday”—the first “big” crowd pleasing number, has a totally fresh, invigorating “look” (no button-clad buskers or dancing penguins here–as, word has it, was Ms. Travers strict directive.) Instead it’s a colorful odyssey through the park—complete with a balletic statute, as Mary advises the children that plain or fancy, magical or mundane, depends entirely on how one chooses to look at something. Similarly, “A Spoonful Of Sugar” has been repurposed into a new scene directly drawn from Traver’s “Mary Poppins In The Kitchen” where it works exceptionally well! Subsequently, in the second act, “Step In Time” ranks as one of the most astounding dance interludes anyone is bound to see this season (–or any other for that matter–) having been transformed, accompanied by added verses, into a lively tap-number that holds more than a few stupefying moments. Shortly after, “Anything Can Happen If You Let It”—another new addition to the score—could itself arguably be considered one of the very best “Eleven O’Clock” numbers of any musical within the last decade or so.

“Each virtue virtually knows no bound; each trait is great and patently sound!” (Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins” advises Shannon Warne as “Mrs. Banks” & Martin Kildare as “Mr. Banks” that she’s “Practically Perfect In Every Way”.)

“Each virtue virtually knows no bound; each trait is great and patently sound!” (Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins” advises Shannon Warne as “Mrs. Banks” & Martin Kildare as “Mr. Banks” that she’s “Practically Perfect In Every Way”.)

The key relationship in this version is that of the Banks children and cheerfully, young Noa Solorio and Logan J. Watts as “Jane” and “Michael”, are more than up to the challenge. Additionally, they both demonstrate laudable sincerity–not trying to “play” some adults’ ‘idea’ of what children are supposed to be as so often is the case. This affords a refreshing air of believability throughout, and they especially score big with their contributions to “A Spoonful Of Sugar”, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” and “Anything Can Happen”. As their father, “George Banks”, Martin Kildare is anything but the befuddled victim of his circumstances many are doubtless accustomed to. Here, his troubles at the bank stem not from the children disrupting things but rather because, in reminding him of his honor and ideals, he is (temporarily) suspended for doing something fairly noble. Shannon Warne is also utterly charming as his wife, Winifred, who ultimately proves that behind every great man, there’s an even greater woman like her looking out for him! In fact, her introspective “Being Mrs. Banks” is such a strong addition to the score that one gets the notion that had it been a part of the original screen classic, it would have walked away with the “Best Song” Oscar for that year!

Another advantage to this re-telling is the ‘endearingly eccentric’ figures who populate and enliven it. As Mary’s “Jack-of All-Trades” pal “Bert”, Leigh Brian Wakeford is our dashing and genial guide through all of the goings-on, and along the way, he even delivers some sheer amazement of his own! Wakeford shines leading “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” in the first act, then with the softer reprise of “Chim, Chim Cher-ee” that concludes it, which has been reworked into a touching roof-top duet between he and Mary; after intermission, he absolutely astonishes with his part in “Step In Time” wherein he literally walks up and around the entire proscenium arch (–and yes! It is as thoroughly eye-popping as one would expect!) Dino Nicandros too, as the Banks’ much put-upon servant, “Robertson-Ay” is terrific with a bona-fide flair for slap-stick–and what a powerful voice he has! Furthermore, Joël Renȇ as “Mrs. Corry” the “Word Seller” (with the biggest one naturally being “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) is unabashedly brilliant! She handily oversees the vibrant celebratory (and show-stopping) number honoring the story’s most famous adjective to impressive result–plus, if you look real close at some of the hand-gestures the cast are making while ‘spelling out” the word, you may just notice they appear to be using American Sign Language (–still more evidence of Mojica’s inventiveness.)

“When Dukes and Maharajahs pass the time of day with me, I say me special word and then they ask me out to tea!” (Joël Renȇ as “Mrs. Corry” leads the cast of “The La Mirada Theatre’s” “Mary Poppins” in praise of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!)

“When Dukes and Maharajahs pass the time of day with me, I say me special word
and then they ask me out to tea!” (Joël Renȇ as “Mrs. Corry” leads the cast of “The La Mirada Theatre’s” “Mary Poppins” in praise of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!)

Also worthy of note is Helen Geller as the kind-hearted “Bird Woman” who sits on the steps of “St, Paul’s Cathedral”. She manages to send joyful shivers down your spine with her part in “Feed The Birds”. Then there’s the ominous “Miss Andrew”—the villainess of the tale. Dazzlingly played by Mary Gutzi, Miss Andrew is the woman who raised Mr. Banks (and hence, is responsible for the uptight way he is.) Referred to as “The Holy Terror”, she’s a delicious cross between the Wicked Witch of the West (with a proper British accent of course,) and Snow White’s Evil Queen—and, given Ms. Guzi’s boisterous, fun, and prodigiously “operatic” take, she’s that severe cautionary figure every frustrated parent threatens their misbehaving moppets with (“Brimstone and Treacle and carbolic soap, these are the tools of my trade,” she sermonizes; “With spoonfuls of sugar you don’t have a hope of seeing that changes are made!”)

As for “Mary” herself, what (enough) can be said about this ‘picture perfect performance’–save that Brandi Burkhardt is like a lavish gift for any musical-theater lover! Presenting us with a pleasantly disarming “Mary”, she’s proper enough but not at all stand-offish, and her voice is not one note less than pristine; happily also, she gets plenty of great opportunities to show it off with such stylish numbers as these! It’s never easy stepping into roles that are so ingrained in the public’s consciousness as are the big screen interpretations (by Julie Andrews in her Oscar-winning role and Dick Van Dyke, respectively) but both Burkhardt and Wakeford go a long way in making these their very own and it pays off “in the most delightful ways!” Not to be overlooked either are the production’s more technical but nonetheless significant “co-stars”, including Janet Swenson’s incredibly bold, prismatic costumes, Jonathan Infante’s extraordinary digital light projections and Paul Rubin’s breath-taking “flight” sequences—all of which contribute so much to the play’s overall “enchantment” quotient. Then again, this whole enterprise is about surprises, and there’s plenty to be had here!

“All that it takes is a spark then something, plain as a park becomes a wonderland  All you have to do is look a-new, then you’ll understand” (Leigh Brian Wakeford as “Bert” welcomes Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins”, Noa Solorio as “Jane” and Logan J. Watts as “Michael” to a “Jolly Holiday”)

“All that it takes is a spark then something, plain as a park becomes a wonderland
All you have to do is look a-new, then you’ll understand” (Leigh Brian Wakeford as “Bert” welcomes Brandi Burkhardt as “Mary Poppins”, Noa Solorio as “Jane” and Logan J. Watts as “Michael” to a “Jolly Holiday”)

Anyone missing their sense of wonder lately can come claim it again at “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” where it’s waiting with this wonderful, wonder-filled  rainbow-flavored bon-bon of a show! After opening on Saturday, May 30th, “Mary Poppins” will run through Sunday, June 21. Show-times are 7:30 pm on Wednesdays & Thursdays; 8:00 pm on Fridays; 2:00 pm and 8pm on Saturdays; with matinees at 2;00 pm on Sundays. (There will be additional performances on Tuesday, June 16 at 7:30pm and Sunday Evenings June 14 & 21 at 7:00 pm, with special “Talkbacks” with the cast and creative team after the final curtain, on Wednesday, June 3 and Wednesday, June 17.) “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada California. Tickets may be obtained by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box-office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 or by logging onto: www.lamiradatheatre.com (Student, Senior and Group Discounts are also available.)

“Broaden your horizons--open different doors: You may find a ‘you’ there that you never knew was yours!” (Brandi Burkhardt is “Mary Poppins” & Leigh Brian Wakeford is “Bert” with Logan J. Watts as “Michael” and Noa Solorio as “Jane”)

“Broaden your horizons–open different doors: You may find a ‘you’ there that you never knew was yours!” (Brandi Burkhardt is “Mary Poppins” & Leigh Brian Wakeford is “Bert” with Logan J. Watts as “Michael” and Noa Solorio as “Jane”)

Production Stills By Michael Lamont, Courtesy Of David Elzer At Demand PR (www.demandpr.com) McCoy-Rigby Entertainment And “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts”; Special Thanks To David Elzer, Ken Werther, Tom McCoy, Cathy Rigby, And To The Cast & Crew Of McCoy-Rigby Entertainment & “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” Production Of “Mary Poppins” For Making This Story Possible.

“Tomorrow’s” At Hand: Bet’cher Bottom Dollar That The Segerstrom Center’s “Annie” Clears Away The Cobwebs And The Sorrow In Costa Mesa, Ca.!

May 16, 2015

 

"The Segerstrom Center For The Arts" Presents "Annie" May 13-May 24, 2015 In Costa Mesa Ca. www.scfta.com

“The Segerstrom Center For The Arts” Presents “Annie” May 13-May 24, 2015 In Costa Mesa Ca. http://www.scfta.org

“Hey Hobo-man! Hey ‘Dapper-Dan’!”–you’ve both got your style but “The Segerstrom Center For The Arts” in Costa Mesa California has got “Annie”! The Tony Award-winning” musical based on the world-famous comic strip by Harold Gray featuring a book by Thomas Meehan with Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Martin Charnin settled into ‘the O.C.” for a two-week run beginning Wednesday, May 13th, 2015.

"When I'm stuck with a day that's gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin..." (Issie Swickle As "Annie" Sings To New Friend Sunny As "Sandy")  Issie Swickle Annie   LYNN ANDREWS Miss Hannigan   GILGAMESH TAGGETT Oliver Warbucks   ASHLEY EDLER Grace Farrell   GARRETT DEAGON Rooster Hannigan   LUCY WERNER Lily   Allan Ray Baker FDR   AMY BURGMAIER Mrs. Pugh, Ensemble, u/s Miss Hannigan   CAMERON MITCHELL BELL Bert, Ensemble   ANGELINA CARBALLO July, u/s Molly   JOHN CORMIER Ickes, Ensemble, u/s Rooster Hannigan   BRIAN COWING Bundles, Ensemble, u/s FDR   Adia Dant Pepper, u/s Annie   TODD FENSTERMAKER Drake, Ensemble, u/s Warbucks, FDR   CHLOE HORNER Swing   LILLYBEA IRELAND Tessie   EVAN MAYER Swing   JAKE MILLS Ensemble, u/s Bert   MEGHAN SEAMAN Ensemble, u/s Lily   HANNAH SLABAUGH Star to Be, Ensemble   SYDNEY SHUCK Kate   LILY EMILIA SMITH Ensemble, u/s Grace Farrell   LILLY MAE STEWART Molly   CHLOE TISO Swing   ISABEL WALLACH Duffy   Sunny Sandy   MACY u/s Sandy - See more at: http://anniethemusical.com/team.php#sthash.16bjwTB8.dpuf

“When I’m stuck with a day that’s gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin…” (Issie Swickle As “Annie” Sings To New Friend Sunny As “Sandy”)

Set in New York City during a bleak depression-era winter of December 1933, everyone’s favorite orphan suffers the indignities of a “Hard Knock Life” at “The New York City Municipal Orphanage-Girl’s Annex” run by the embittered matron “Miss Hannigan” who regularly makes her young charges’ lives unbearable. Unlike most of the other kids there though, spunky Annie clings steadfastly to the belief that her parents are still alive and will one day return to claim her, having left her on New Year’s Eve 1922, with her part of a locket and a note claiming they would one day return and use it to identify her by. With the holidays quickly approaching Billionaire Oliver Warbucks invites her to spend two weeks with him, initially hoping that having an orphan spend the holidays at his Park Avenue estate will ‘improve’ his public image as a ruthless captain of industry. Yet once there, his heart softened by Annie’s irrepressible charm and optimism, he offers to adopt her only to be stunned when she (at first) refuses—asking instead for his help to find her real mom and dad. He agrees, offering a whopping reward for Annie’s parents, which is announced on NBC’s “Hour Of Smiles” radio program, where upon it attracts the attention of Miss Hannigan’s no-good just-paroled brother, “Rooster” and his floozy girlfriend, “Lily St. Regis” (“I was named after the hotel”.) They agree to cut Hannigan in on the action if she helps them with some ‘specifics” about the girl; but never fear: this classic family musical has as happy an ending as a Broadway musical has ever conjured up for our young heroine, “Daddy Warbucks”, her dog “Sandy” as well as her orphan friends and the entire nation, once President Roosevelt stops by Warbuck’s mansion to announce “A New Deal’ for Christmas”!

" 'Stead of treated, we get tricked! 'Stead of kisses, we get kicked!" ("Annie" And The Other Orphans Bemoan Their "Hard Knock Life") Issie Swickle Annie   LYNN ANDREWS Miss Hannigan   GILGAMESH TAGGETT Oliver Warbucks   ASHLEY EDLER Grace Farrell   GARRETT DEAGON Rooster Hannigan   LUCY WERNER Lily   Allan Ray Baker FDR   AMY BURGMAIER Mrs. Pugh, Ensemble, u/s Miss Hannigan   CAMERON MITCHELL BELL Bert, Ensemble   ANGELINA CARBALLO July, u/s Molly   JOHN CORMIER Ickes, Ensemble, u/s Rooster Hannigan   BRIAN COWING Bundles, Ensemble, u/s FDR   Adia Dant Pepper, u/s Annie   TODD FENSTERMAKER Drake, Ensemble, u/s Warbucks, FDR   CHLOE HORNER Swing   LILLYBEA IRELAND Tessie   EVAN MAYER Swing   JAKE MILLS Ensemble, u/s Bert   MEGHAN SEAMAN Ensemble, u/s Lily   HANNAH SLABAUGH Star to Be, Ensemble   SYDNEY SHUCK Kate   LILY EMILIA SMITH Ensemble, u/s Grace Farrell   LILLY MAE STEWART Molly   CHLOE TISO Swing   ISABEL WALLACH Duffy   Sunny Sandy   MACY u/s Sandy - See more at: http://anniethemusical.com/team.php#sthash.16bjwTB8.dpuf

” ‘Stead of treated, we get tricked! ‘Stead of kisses, we get kicked!” (“Annie” And The Other Orphans Bemoan Their “Hard Knock Life”)

Perhaps more than with any other musical in recent memory, Strouse and Charnin’s buoyant score not only captures the “feel” of the times perfectly, but also provides great insight into the characters whether it be the dejected sense of outrage and hopelessness expressed in “We’d Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover” to the jubilant “I Don’t Need Anything But You” (and of course, even after nearly thirty years, the immortal “Tomorrow” still remains one of the best anthems of resilience and faith since “Keep Your Sunny Side Up” graced the hit-parade back in the actual 1930’s!) Combined with Meehan’s always eloquent script that’s packed with plenty of great references to the ‘pop’ and political culture of the era, it’s no surprise that “Annie” has become one of the most endearing shows ever written. None other than Martin Charnin himself, who not only wrote all of these incredible lyrics, but served as the show’s original Director, has once again returned to the Director’s chair to helm this touring production, where he takes full advantage of all these textual and lyrical virtues. Keeping the pace fairly swift while accentuating all the best comedic moments available, Charnin changes things here and there–altering a line or perhaps throwing in an extra joke at intervals, making this particular production just unpredictable enough to keep it lively and fresh while still unfailingly remaining true to those essences that made “Annie” so great in the first place. Joining him as Choreographer is Liza Gennaro (whose father Peter helped stage the original show back in 1977.) Indeed, for this run Ms. Gennaro has likewise recreated several sections of her father’s Tony-Award winning dances here. Keeping it all humming is Keith Levenson behind the baton of the 10 piece orchestra, while equally distinguished is the scenic design by Beowulf Boritt and costumes by Suzy Benzinger which are exceptionally bright, colorful and uniquely suitable for a musical based on a comic-strip.

"Today I'm stealing coal for fire--Who knew I could steal ?!" (Issie Swickle As "Annie" & Sunny As "Sandy" And The Company Of "Annie") Issie Swickle Annie   LYNN ANDREWS Miss Hannigan   GILGAMESH TAGGETT Oliver Warbucks   ASHLEY EDLER Grace Farrell   GARRETT DEAGON Rooster Hannigan   LUCY WERNER Lily   Allan Ray Baker FDR   AMY BURGMAIER Mrs. Pugh, Ensemble, u/s Miss Hannigan   CAMERON MITCHELL BELL Bert, Ensemble   ANGELINA CARBALLO July, u/s Molly   JOHN CORMIER Ickes, Ensemble, u/s Rooster Hannigan   BRIAN COWING Bundles, Ensemble, u/s FDR   Adia Dant Pepper, u/s Annie   TODD FENSTERMAKER Drake, Ensemble, u/s Warbucks, FDR   CHLOE HORNER Swing   LILLYBEA IRELAND Tessie   EVAN MAYER Swing   JAKE MILLS Ensemble, u/s Bert   MEGHAN SEAMAN Ensemble, u/s Lily   HANNAH SLABAUGH Star to Be, Ensemble   SYDNEY SHUCK Kate   LILY EMILIA SMITH Ensemble, u/s Grace Farrell   LILLY MAE STEWART Molly   CHLOE TISO Swing   ISABEL WALLACH Duffy   Sunny Sandy   MACY u/s Sandy - See more at: http://anniethemusical.com/team.php#sthash.16bjwTB8.dpuf

“Today I’m stealing coal for fire–Who knew I could steal ?!” (Issie Swickle As “Annie” & Sunny As “Sandy” And The Company Of “Annie”)

The 25-member cast are uniformly amazing and are afforded plenty of opportunities to show off their collective brilliance on which the production runs so well. Given that the story begins so modestly in the confines of the orphanage, focusing on the cast’s younger members, the first really big full (adult) cast production number is the doleful “We’d Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover”, as a rag-tag collection of former high-rollers turned down-and-outers in a makeshift “Hoover-ville” underneath the 59th Street Bridge bemoan their by-gone glory days: “In every pot he said a chicken, but Herbert Hoover he forgot—not only don’t we have the chicken, we ain’t got the pot!”! Then, dispensing with the traditional ‘Servants Dance’ that introduces the hustle and bustle of the Warbucks mansion just before Annie realizes “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”, the “staff” nonetheless get their moments to shine via their inclusion in the big “NYC” number (complete with new added lyrics) after Annie suggests they might like to be treated to an evening at the movies as well, when Warbucks offers to take her to the Roxy on her first night as his guest. Subsequently, they also add luster and excitement while performing the title tune “Annie”, sung at Annie’s Christmas Eve Adoption celebration, which has been expanded somewhat with the integration of several verses from “We Got Annie”—a number cut from the initial Broadway run but eventually re-inserted into the 1982 film adaptation. Executed in tandem with one another, both songs are improved as a result giving Act Two a delightful lift.

"And if tomorrow I'm an 'Apple Seller' too, I don't need anything but you!" (Gilgamesh Taggett As "Daddy Warbucks" Celebrates With Issie Swickle As "Annie") Issie Swickle Annie   LYNN ANDREWS Miss Hannigan   GILGAMESH TAGGETT Oliver Warbucks   ASHLEY EDLER Grace Farrell   GARRETT DEAGON Rooster Hannigan   LUCY WERNER Lily   Allan Ray Baker FDR   AMY BURGMAIER Mrs. Pugh, Ensemble, u/s Miss Hannigan   CAMERON MITCHELL BELL Bert, Ensemble   ANGELINA CARBALLO July, u/s Molly   JOHN CORMIER Ickes, Ensemble, u/s Rooster Hannigan   BRIAN COWING Bundles, Ensemble, u/s FDR   Adia Dant Pepper, u/s Annie   TODD FENSTERMAKER Drake, Ensemble, u/s Warbucks, FDR   CHLOE HORNER Swing   LILLYBEA IRELAND Tessie   EVAN MAYER Swing   JAKE MILLS Ensemble, u/s Bert   MEGHAN SEAMAN Ensemble, u/s Lily   HANNAH SLABAUGH Star to Be, Ensemble   SYDNEY SHUCK Kate   LILY EMILIA SMITH Ensemble, u/s Grace Farrell   LILLY MAE STEWART Molly   CHLOE TISO Swing   ISABEL WALLACH Duffy   Sunny Sandy   MACY u/s Sandy - See more at: http://anniethemusical.com/team.php#sthash.16bjwTB8.dpuf

“And if tomorrow I’m an ‘Apple Seller’ too, I don’t need anything but you!” (Gilgamesh Taggett As “Daddy Warbucks” Celebrates With Issie Swickle As “Annie”)

Leading them all is nine-year-old dynamo Issie Swickle as the titular ginger-haired waif with the never-say-die optimism. A likable little lady with a truly prodigious voice and crisp-clear diction, this ensures that each of her songs positively resound throughout Segerstrom Hall’s substantial 3000-seat auditorium. Miss Swickle has us solidly on her side right from those first notes, and her best moments–well, they pretty much all are—but her opening salvo “Maybe” as Annie dreams of the parents who gave her up, is A-plus, as is the iconic “Tomorrow” sung to her new pal, “Sandy” a shaggy-haired terrier mix, after saving him from dog catchers in New York’s St. Mark’s Square. Gilgamesh Taggett is similarly spot-on as the Billionaire industrialist “Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks”. He too, has a voice to be reckoned with which is wonderfully showcased at the start of “NYC”, but it isn’t until after intermission with his solo “Something Was Missing” that the true potency of his inspiring vocal ability is finally heard. This song also features a particularly touching interlude between the pair as “Daddy Warbucks” leads “Annie” in a simple waltz when she consents to be his own little girl. However, Lynn Andrews practically steals the show as the buxom, bumbling villainess “Miss Hannigan”. Her raucous take may be a more sober depiction of the character many might remember but it’s perfectly in line with this entire production. Andrews’ ability to deliver a great gag-line or throw off a pun is always dead-on target (When the orphans excitedly tell her about hearing Annie on the radio, she curses her luck, sarcastically uttering “Next they’ll probably do a musical about her!”) Gifted with a fantastic singing voice as well, she manages to raise the roof with her Act One lament, “Little Girls”, then again joined as part of a dastardly trio of ne’er-do-wells in the jazzy, jivin’ showstopper “Easy Street”.

"You don't get there by playin' from the rule book--you stack the aces, you load the dice..." (Lucy Werner As "Lily St. Regis, Garrett Deagon As "Rooster" & Lynn Andrews As "Miss Hannigan" Dream Of "Easy Street")

“You don’t get there by playin’ from the rule book–you stack the aces, you load the dice…” (Lucy Werner As “Lily St. Regis”, Garrett Deagon As “Rooster” & Lynn Andrews As “Miss Hannigan” Dream Of “Easy Street”)

Another awesome aspect to this show is the first-rate characters who populate it, and outstanding support is provided by Ashley Edler as Warbuck’s devoted and ever resourceful secretary “Grace Farrell”. Although she may seem to be the picture of order and efficiency, Edler provides a few quick clues that Grace may have deeper feelings for her boss than one might first suspect. Moreover, Garrett Deagon in the role of Miss Hannigan’s Con-artist brother “Rooster” offers an interpretation that’s more sly than sleazy or overtly threatening; whereas Cameron Mitchell Bell demonstrates his striking tenor voice in service of “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile”, making for a terrific (if slightly pompous) “Bert Healy”—Star of the NBC “Blue Network’s” radio show, “The Oxydent Hour Of Smiles”. Jeffrey B. Duncan too, as the wheelchair-bound President “Franklin Delano Roosevelt” presents the commander-in-chief as kinder and more mild-mannered—not so much clueless about the dire straits his country is in, just in dire need of some inspiration. This makes Annie’s scene at the White House all the more effective where, having introduced him and his cabinet to the ideas expressed in “Tomorrow”, they immediately start plans for the “New Deal”.

"Gee Annie, I dream about havin' a mother and father again, but you're lucky--you really got 'em ." (Lilly Mae Stewart Is "Molly" With Issie Swickle As "Annie")

“Gee Annie, I dream about havin’ a mother and father again, but you’re lucky–you really got ’em .” (Lilly Mae Stewart Is “Molly” With Issie Swickle As “Annie”)

“Annie’s” own miniature cheering section are her fellow urchins, including Adia Dant as “Pepper”–the hot-headed ‘bully’ of the group, LillyBea Ireland as the emotional “Tessie”, and Isabel Wallach as the plucky “Duffy”, along with Sydney Shuck who plays “Kate” and Angelina Carballo as the gentle-spirited “July”. So too, pint-sized powerhouse Lilly Mae Stewart also exhibits some remarkable comic expertise herself as “Molly” the littlest orphan. Together, they rock the stage, first with “Hard Knock Life” (—which itself is an absolute knock-out,) then later with their rendition of “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile”, and again in the very ‘grand’ finale, “New Deal For Christmas.” Not to be overlooked either are “Sunny” and “Macy”–the dogs who share the position of Annie’s canine cohort, “Sandy”. They may not appear in many scenes, but when they do (including the show’s very last moments when reunited with Annie for good,) it’s unforgettable!

"I've just decided if my administration is going to be anything, it's gonna be optimistic about the future of this country!"  Gilgamesh Taggett As "Oliver Warbucks" Takes Issie Swickle As "Annie" To Meet Jeffrey B. Duncan As "F.D.R." & His Cabinet)

“I’ve just decided if my administration is gonna be anything, it’s gonna be optimistic about the future of this country!” (Gilgamesh Taggett As “Oliver Warbucks” Takes Issie Swickle As “Annie” To Meet Jeffrey B. Duncan As “F.D.R.” & His Cabinet)

At intermission on opening night, throughout the lobby could be heard patrons blissfully humming snippets of this tune or that (chief among them being “Tomorrow”, naturally) corroborating still further the power of this unabashedly “joyful” show! Little wonder then that by the time the curtain-calls rolled around thoroughly enchanted audience members couldn’t jump to their feet fast enough to give this “Annie” a genuinely well-deserved (and thunderous) ovation! So move them feet’ to 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa Ca. and “The Segerstrom Center For The Arts”. “Annie” plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM and Sundays at 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM through Sunday, May 24th 2015. (The 2:00 PM performance on Saturday, May 23, 2015 will also include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation.) Tickets may be obtained by logging onto: www.scfta.org , by phone at (714) 556-2787 or in person between the hours of 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily at the Segerstrom Center box office located at: 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa.

"Let's ring every bell from it's rafter and chime cross the land: Tomorrow's At Hand!" (The Company Of "Segerstrom Center's"  "Annie")

“Let’s ring every bell from it’s rafter and chime cross the land: Tomorrow’s At Hand!” (The Company Of “Segerstrom Center’s” “Annie”)

Production Stills By Joan Marcus; Special Thanks to the Media Relations Staff of “The Segerstrom Center For The  Arts”, and to the cast and crew of Troika Entertainment’s touring Production of “Annie” ( http://anniethemusical.com ) for making this story possible.

The Main Attraction: 3D Theatrical’s “Side Show” Exhibits That One Plus One Equals Double The Great Production In Fullerton, CA!

April 28, 2015
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“3D Theatricals” Presents “Side Show” April 25-May 10, 2015 At “Plummer Auditorium” In Fullerton, CA. : http://www.3dtshows.com

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Step right up” to see one of the most inventive extravaganzas ever to grace the Great White Way! We’re talkin’ about “Side Show” folks–the hit musical featuring a book and lyrics by Bill Russell with music by Henry Krieger based on the lives of real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton who became a Vaudeville sensation at the height of the Great Depression. Right now 3-D Theatricals at the landmark Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton California is presenting this first-class entertainment as the second offering of their big 2015 season! Nominated for five 1998 Tony Awards, the story chronicles the sisters’ rise from circus oddities to one of the highest paid acts in vaudeville and occasional movie performers, while exploring their search for love and normality amidst the spectacle and scrutiny of the spotlight during the 1930’s.

“Come examine these aberrations, their malformations, grotesque physiques–Come Look At The Freaks!” (The Cast Of 3D Theatricals’ “Side Show”)

As the audience piles into the auditorium, one by one cast members similarly fill the bare bleachers on stage that are situated under strings of lights and a gilt-edged proscenium curtain. Performed sans either overture or entre’ act, house goes to half as the first wraith-like refrain is heard beckoning viewers to “Come look at the freaks…They’ll haunt you for weeks!” Even if, historically, one knows the ending will veer at best toward the bittersweet, we still remain hopeful right along with the sisters, every step of their journey; such is the strength of both Russell’s book and the performances of lead actresses Jeanette Dawson and Afton Quast. One thing’s for sure—they don’t write ‘em like this anymore!

“We’re a pair remarkably mated (people swear we must be related!) We can’t bear to be separated-We Share Everything!” (The “Hilton Sisters” Hit The ‘Big Time’)

Directed by T.J. Dawson, “Side Show” really could be considered a top-notch ‘operetta’—given the long sumptuously sung sequences filled with heightened emotion and lofty musical phrases. Happily, Mr. Dawson’s spirited and continually fluid direction plays to all these strengths—skillfully giving each aspect its due without ever getting overwhelmed or bogged down, but instead, using all of the robust sensibilities at play to drive the show on to continually bigger and better levels of impressiveness. By the same token, Leslie Stevens’ expert choreography vividly recalls the times and situations inherent to entertainment of the 1930’s, from a roadside dingy shanty exhibition to the more cosmopolitan presentations of Broadway or Hollywood during the same decade. The opening montage of “Come Look At Freaks” is A-Plus, quickly introducing–through movement–all of the “freaks” and their various acts; also, the vintage vaudeville-inspired steps from a nifty soft-shoe as the girls begin to learn their craft to snippets of a sultry New Year’s Eve tango in The Big Apple wonderfully ‘inform’ and enhance the on-stage goings-on. Still another noteworthy aspect to this particular production is the way all the supporting technical elements all blend extraordinarily well to add to its overall effectiveness and enjoyment. The 20 piece orchestra (including a harp), under the helm of Conductor Allen Everman, provide the many magnificent but never intrusive melodies that make the show ascend to dazzling heights! Also meriting kudos are Kate Bergh’s costumes that take the show from drab dust-bowl inspired flannels to fabulously showy and sophisticated 30’s era glamour.

“Two birds in flight, delighting far above the fray; they’re winging, they’re singing, they’re bringing melodies our way!”

The production also features some terrific ensemble work, and the voices of each member are more than up to the score’s pithy requirements. Indeed, another of the show’s copious virtues is the way it sandwiches in some pretty heady sentimental moments between some genuinely soaring musical passages. In addition to the opening, the group succeed prodigiously with “The Devil You Know”, which steadily builds—starting as a solo first, then involving the entire company as they debate the wisdom of the twins leaving their side-show home to risk pursuing the (perhaps empty) promises of their new managers, Buddy and Terry. Shortly after, they also collectively amaze with the touching “Say Goodbye To The Freak-show”. Throughout, the various opulent “spectaculars” once the twins ‘hit the big time’ (featuring among other things, a line of dancing Egyptian chorus-boys or a flock of brightly colored “birds”) offer plenty of great opportunities for some terpsichorean grandeur.

“Evermore and always, we’ll be one though we’re two; for I will never leave you…” (Afton Quast is “Daisy Hilton” And Jeanette Dawson Is “Violet Hilton”)

Headlining as the Hilton twins, Jeanette Dawson is “Violet” while Afton Quast is her sister “Daisy”; both possess incredible voices that work brilliantly in concert with one another, while still remaining distinct and memorably individual. Moreover, both are on stage practically the entire time! Their ‘duologue’ titled “Feelings You’ve Got To Hide” is a triumph for each, while their act one closer, the potent “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” sharply captures the universality of the Hilton girls story; for better or worse, they really are just like anybody else with the same hopes and vulnerabilities as everyone–especially when it comes to desire and romance. Later, their concluding chanson, “I Will Never Leave You” is both beautiful and slightly forlorn, featuring some excellent harmony from both.

“You deserve a better life–no more worry, no more strife.” (Gregg Hammer Is “Terry Connor”, Afton Quast Is “Daisy”, Jeanette Is “Violet”, And Gary Brintz Is “Buddy Foster”)

As “Buddy Foster”, the first to “discover’ them, Gary Brintz is likeable and exceptionally empathetic; however, although genial enough, we ultimately learn that he’s after his big “break” too! Gifted with a voice to be reckoned with, Brintz makes “More Than We Bargained For” a significant bit of fore-shadowing early on, before flourishing with the more playful “One Plus One Equals Three”. As his associate, “Terry Connor” —a talent scout for the famous “Orpheum Circuit” who initially undertakes to oversee the girls’ career, Gregg Hammer has a rich, full and expressive voice which he unveils to remarkable effect with his second act soliloquy “Private Conversation” as Terry dreams of the courage to express his deep affections for Daisy. Together, Dawson, Quast, Brintz and Hammer all do a striking job, first with “New Year’s Eve” during which Buddy finally proposes to Violet, then later with the surreal “Tunnel Of Love” as each of this admittedly unusual quartet ponder the romantic possibilities and complications facing them. Nathan Holland also offers up fine support in the dual role of the often seethingly vicious and conniving side-show “Boss” and later as Director “Todd Browning”. It is he who first greets the audience, striking just the right balance of tantalization and salaciousness with the opening wherein he introduces his curious assemblage.

“The Devil you know beats the Devil you don’t–that ‘Promised Land’ could turn out to be dry…” (Jay Donnell is “Jake”)

Jay Donnell too, as fellow side-show performer and the sisters’ loyal friend and protector, “Jake”, is a down-right revelation. Not only does he have an awesomely Atlantean and soulful voice, he also wields the passion to deliver it to the back of the house when required. Donnell absolutely electrifies with his part at the start of “The Devil You Know”, but he really brings down the house with his dynamic Act Two benediction, “You Deserve To Be Loved” as he fervently makes known his long suppressed feelings for Violet. Elevating this song into a bona fide “aria” (for that’s how much raw power he packs into it) Jake begs her not to go through with a sham marriage to Buddy who really can’t love her the way he truly does. This number also reveals one of the more heart-wrenching plot elements: if only she could see beyond the ingrained racism of the time, Violet could at last experience the one thing she desires most of all—a husband who deeply cares for her; but fearing society’s reaction to an inter-racial marriage, she condemns herself to a life devoid of any love at all.

“Groping my way toward an unstated goal, don’t know where I’m going but feel like I’ve been there before.” (“Terry”, “Daisy”, “Violet” & “Buddy” Take An Uncertain Ride In “The Tunnel Of Love”)

So sit back and hang on, because you’re in for a thrill-ride that’s “as grand as the canyon” and twice as enjoyable! Likewise, don’t be surprised if, on more than one occasion you find yourself wanting to shout “Encore!” Plummer Auditorium is located at 201 E. Chapman Avenue in Fullerton, California. “Side Show” opened Saturday April 25th and will run through Sunday, May 10th , 2015; Show-times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM, with added shows on Thursday, May 7 at 8:00 PM and Saturday May 9 at 2:00 and 8:00 PM. Tickets may be purchased by phone by calling 714 589-2770, Ext. 1, between the hours of 11:00 AM–5:00 PM, Monday through Friday; 12:00–4:00 PM on Saturday, or by visiting the Plummer Auditorium box office two hours prior to show-time. Tickets may also be purchased on-line by visiting: www.3dtshows.com. (Special Group and Student discounts are available.)

Production Stills By Isaac James Creative  (www.IsaacJamesCreative.com) Courtesy Of Michael Sterling & Associates (www.msapr.net) and “3-D Theatricals”; Special Thanks To Michael Sterling, T.J. Dawson, Daniel Dawson, Gretchen Dawson And To The Cast And Crew Of “3-D Theatricals” “Side Show” For Making This Story Possible.

Just The Perfect Blend-ship: The Gem Theatre’s “Anything Goes” Is ‘The Top’ In Entertaining Revivals!

April 21, 2015
"One More Productions" Presents "Anything Goes" April 16-May 3, 2015 At "The Gem Theatre" In Garden Grove, CA. www.onemoreproductions.com

“One More Productions” Presents “Anything Goes” April 16-May 3, 2015 At “The Gem Theatre” In Garden Grove, CA. :  www.onemoreproductions.com

Weigh anchor with one love-sick Wall-street whiz-kid, a pretty but prim socialite, her determined mother, two less than enthusiastic religious converts, a dim-witted gangster who’s on the lam with his boss’s number-one “dame”, and a brassy female evangelist-turned-nightclub singer; throw in a load of unforgettable songs and some fancy-steppin’ and you have Cole Porter’s quintessential musical theater classic “Anything Goes”! Now “One More Productions”, the resident company at the landmark “Gem Theatre” in Garden Grove California, has given this modern madcap masterpiece of maritime misadventure the first-class treatment it so richly deserves.

"Good authors too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose: Anything Goes!" The Cast Of One More Productions'  "Anything Goes"

“Good authors too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose: Anything Goes!” The Cast Of One More Productions’ “Anything Goes”

The one-liners come fast and furious here courtesy of the new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman (based on the original by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton with revisions by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse) and it’s no exaggeration to state that Porter was at the top of his game when he devised the score guaranteeing audiences would (in the words of one of his more famous verses) “feel after every line, a thrill divine down your spine”! And why not? When the luxury liner “S.S. American” heads out to sea, the iconic title number exalts “the world has gone mad today and good’s bad today, and black’s white today and day’s night today….” as plenty of hijinks on the high seas are also piped aboard as two unlikely couples set sail in search of romance. Along the way they’re aided by a crew of singing sailors, an exotic plot-twist (or several) and some of ‘The Great White Way’s’ most memorable standards, including “I Get A Kick Out Of You”, “Friendship”, and of course, the rousing “Anything Goes”.

"I hate parading my serenading 'cause I'll probably miss a bar; but if this ditty is not so pretty, at least it'll tell you how great you are!" (Adriana Sanchez Is Reno Sweeney With Alex Bodrero As Billy Crocker)

“I hate parading my serenading ’cause I’ll probably miss a bar; but if this ditty is not so pretty, at least it’ll tell you how great you are!” (Adriana Sanchez Is Reno Sweeney With Alex Bodrero As Billy Crocker)

Directed by “One More Productions” Co-Founder, Damien Lorton, on opening night he advised those in attendance that “Anything Goes” was a show they had been wanting to do for some time; happily, their thoroughly captivating re-mounting of this old favorite has proven to be more than worth the wait! Lorton’s direction is swift and sharp making the most of the most manic moments this exquisite farce boasts. What he and his troupe manage to achieve in effect, is a brisk and bubbly “Tex Avery” cartoon brought to life, incorporating many delectable ‘screw-ball’ moments into the proceedings. Likewise, Roberta Kay’s vivacious, unfailingly suave choreography encompasses a plethora of dancing styles from ballet and ballroom to sultry Latin rhythms and good ol’ tap for those really “big” chorus numbers. Individually, Billy and Reno’s debonair dance-break during “You’re The Top” demonstrates some gilt-edged strutting worthy of “Fred and Adele Astaire” themselves; however, the production really gels when the entire ensemble is on stage.

"I can't wait to get the stage all set so I can let the 'Gypsy' in me out!" (Chris Harper As Lord Evelyn Has "Hot Pants" For Adriana Sanchez As Reno)

“I can’t wait to get the stage all set so I can let the ‘Gypsy’ in me out!” (Chris Harper As Lord Evelyn Has “Hot Pants” For Adriana Sanchez As Reno)

“There’s No Cure Like Travel (Bon Voyage)” earns the first big (and well-merited) applause of the evening, while “De-lovely” starts off surprisingly simple then swiftly builds into a swell dance interlude presenting several couples in an elegant tango that culminates in a genuinely sweet moment between Hope and Billy. Similarly, the triumphant title sequence features a nifty ‘challenge dance’ between Reno’s “Angels” and the sailors that steadily progresses until soon everyone on deck is involved. Directly after intermission they all gather once more for the reverent “Public Enemy Number One” before seguing into the roof-raising “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”—complete with some high-kicking hoopla (again courtesy of Reno and her girls.)

"And now I'm ready to fly! Yes, to fly higher and higher--'cause I've been through the brimstone and I've gone through the fire..." (Reno With Her "Angels")

“And now I’m ready to fly! Yes, to fly higher and higher–’cause I’ve been through the brimstone and I’ve gone through the fire…” (Reno With Her “Angels”)

Leading the cast is Adriana Sanchez who is instantly likable as Manhattan’s “Sensuous Sermonizer’, “Reno Sweeney”. Her take is a compelling blend of wise-cracking silver-screen legends like “Ann Miller” and “Betty Hutton” with the girlish exuberance of “Darla Hood” (of “The Little Rascals” fame) which is especially fitting because everyone on this wacky cruise is basically a big kid at heart. Her powerful voice and big personality are an awesome fit for these amazing songs, and hers is the performance that really guides the show as she’s the character most all the others are connected to. In fact, Reno kicks off most of the best-known songs, and in doing so never disappoints. Her melodic pairing with Chris Harper as “Sir Evelyn Oakleigh”—a charmingly befuddled British Knight with a fascination (if not exactly a faculty) for American slang, ranks as a bona-fide comedic show-stopper! Titled “The Gypsy In Me”, during their intermezzo, she’s overheard to breeze “This is so fun!”–and she’s absolutely right! The entire show is! Yet it’s Sanchez’s masterful handling of both the titular Act One closer, followed by Reno’s boisterous second act “revival meeting” (where she’s clad in a flaming Red gown) that serve as the production’s dynamic musical ‘one-two’ punch!

"Blessings on thee thou noble chap for putting this ship of ours on the map!" (Alex Bodrero As Billy Is Hailed As "Public Enemy # 1")

“Blessings on thee thou noble chap for putting this ship of ours on the map!” (Alex Bodrero As Billy Is Hailed As “Public Enemy # 1”)

Joining her is Alex Bodrero as the story’s hapless hero–Billy Crocker; while always appropriately dashing, Bodrero also brings an amiable “guy-next-door” quality that’s a mix of “Jimmy Stewart” and “Hank Williams” to this gutsy junior executive who stows away on the vessel in order to prevent the marriage of his lady-love. He especially shines with his solo “You’d Be So Easy To Love” in the first act, then later while delivering a sumptuous rendition of “Night And Day” (sung in the ship’s brig) which makes for a refreshing inclusion in the second. Megan Davis also does a commendable job as the debutante of Billy’s dreams, “Hope Harcourt”. Hers is a more sensitive, ‘human’ portrayal, hence a much more agreeable one. Instead of spending all her time pushing Billy away, it’s obvious Hope truly wants to be with him as well, making her soliloquy “Goodbye, Little Dream” all the more touching.

"If you ever feel so happy you land in jail I'm your bail!" (Adriana Sanchez As Reno Sweeney Assures Ira Trachter As Moonface Martin Of Their "Friendship")

“If you ever feel so happy you land in jail I’m your bail!” (Adriana Sanchez As Reno Sweeney Assures Ira Trachter As Moonface Martin Of Their “Friendship”)

Ira Trachter too, is delightfully dithery as “Public Enemy #13”: “Moonface Martin”, while Producer Nicole Cassesso is marvelously mischievous as the top ‘gun-moll’ of them all, “Erma”. Striking just the right balance between “bump” and “grind”, Erma confesses that she’s been “cursed with sex-appeal”, lamenting “It’s been my downfall”, to which one young passenger proclaims “She ain’t confessing—she’s advertising!” Fine support is also furnished by Carmen Tunis as Hope’s Mother, “Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt”. In what could be an easily over-looked or marginalized role, given her hilariously histrionic approach, it stands out for all the best (read: most side-splitting) reasons! Not to be overlooked either are Ashley Elizabeth, Lexi Cross, Hannah Clair and Ashley Bauer Harkey who all do a first-rate job as Reno’s “Fallen Angels”: “Purity”, “Virtue”, “Angel” and “Chastity” respectively. In addition, Cris Cortez, Tad Fujioka, Brandon Taylor Jones and Zack Martinez as a quartet of sailors all handsomely harmonize “There’ll Always Be A Lady Fair”.

"There'll always be a lady fair--a Jennie fair or a Sadie fair; there'll always be a lady fair who's waiting for you there."

“There’ll always be a lady fair–a Jennie fair or a Sadie fair; there’ll always be a lady fair who’s waiting for you there.”

Often a director will tell a performer to “have fun with it and the audience will too”; never has this been truer than with this show at “The Gem”: it’s apparent that the cast is having a blast there before the footlights, so viewers in turn can’t help but enjoy themselves right along with them! After rolling out the gang-plank on Thursday, April 16th, “Anything Goes” runs through Sunday, May 3rd 2015; show-times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM; “The Gem Theatre” is located at 12852 Main Street in Historic Downtown Garden Grove California. (Children and Senior discounts are available, and special “Student Rush” tickets are also obtainable for Thursday and Friday Performances.) For more information or to purchase tickets, call “One More Productions” at (714) 741-9550, ext. 221, or visit their website at www.onemoreproductions.com.

"Your devotion I prize, but you must realize, my boys, other girl's 'luxuries' are my 'necessities' " (Nicole Cassesso As  Erma Warns Her "Devotees": "Buddy  Beware"!)

“Your devotion I prize, but you must realize, my boys, other girl’s ‘luxuries’ are my ‘necessities’ ” (Nicole Cassesso As Erma Warns Her “Devotees”: “Buddy Beware”!)

Production Stills By Lisa Scarsi, Courtesy Of Dan Pittman at “Pittman PR” (www.pittmanpr.com) And “One More Productions” (www.onemoreproductions.com) Special Thanks To Dan Pittman, Damien Lorton, Nicole Cassesso, And To The Cast & Crew Of “The Gem Theatre’s” “Anything Goes” For Making This Story Possible.

A ‘King-ly’ So Cal Debut: Though Her Classmates Have Met Their Untimely Cessation, “Carrie, The Musical” Is A Grade-A Sensation!

March 21, 2015
"The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts" & Bruce Robert Harris And Jack W. Batman Present "Carrie, The Musical" March 18-April 5, 2015; 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada CA. (www.lamiradatheatre.com)

“The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” & Bruce Robert Harris And Jack W. Batman Present “Carrie, The Musical” March 18-April 5, 2015; 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada CA. (www.lamiradatheatre.com)

(WARNING SOME SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW) You can’t keep a good girl down! In 1988, it seemed that “Carrie, The Musical” would be simply another casualty along the Great White Way; that is, until 2012 when its creators came together to significantly rewrite book and score, from which was reborn a momentous show that quickly went onto a triumphant “Off-Broadway” run. Now “The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts” in La Mirada California, in association with Producers Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman have once again reunited the show’s original creative team to present the Los Angeles area debut of an all-new, completely reimagined, “immersive” theater production of this truly one-of-a-kind musical!

Based on the acclaimed novel by Stephen King, “High School Musical” this isn’t–it’s more like a cross between “Spring Awakening” and “The Twilight Zone” instead. Even so, this “Carrie” is like NOTHING you’ve ever seen before! Overflowing with profound performances, jaw-dropping sets and spectacular special effects, it features a revised book by Lawrence D. Cohen (who also wrote the screenplay for the classic 1977 big-screen adaptation,) with music by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. No strangers to the often schizophrenic world of adolescence, between them, the pair have worked on such iconic “teen” entertainments as “Fame”, “Footloose” and “Pretty In Pink”; their songs here are pithy, and painfully honest, while also managing to send a few chills down your spine when called for. Although subjects like abuse and blatant ignorance are always a bit tough to take (and here it’s no different) both Cohen’s script and Gore and Pitchford’s score masterfully pinpoint and portray numerous aspects of the high-school human condition in ways few musicals in recent memory have been able to.

"Who will hold me when there's no one? When the smiles I used to see are not for me, what will I do? (Emily Lopez As "Carrie" Calms Her Misty Cotton As Her Mother)

“Who will hold me when there’s no one? When the smiles I used to see are not for me, what will I do? (Emily Lopez As “Carrie” Tries To  Calm Misty Cotton As Her Mother)

Totally transforming the stage into an intimate “black box” theatre—or specifically, “Ewen High School”, spectators are put right into the very heart of all the goings-on! Moreover, this ‘immersive’ atmosphere begins before audiences even enter the theater, when they are taken through a shadowy corridor reminiscent of a Halloween theme-park maze, which has been made to look like a high school that’s seemingly been through a recent cataclysm of some kind. The auditorium itself is decorated as the school’s gym in which all the action will take place, while center stage sits an inconsolable girl whom we will soon detect is “Sue Snell”— the lone survivor of a horrible tragedy. With this retelling, the story is seen in flashback through Sue’s beleaguered mind: “If only that day in the shower had never happened” she laments, recalling how, viciously taunted by her peers at school and brutalized by her psychotically religious mother at home, 17-year-old high-school outcast “Carrie Etta White” leads a lonely, tormented life until she discovers that she’s gifted with rare-yet-potent psychokinetic abilities; but when a vicious prank at her school’s Prom (right after she’s been named “Prom Queen”) goes horrendously wrong, Carrie’s unwary classmates and mother learn too late just how fatal a mistake it is to mess with a girl like her!

This new and innovative concept is the brainchild of Director Brady Schwind, and it pays huge dividends. Schwind keeps the action fluid, but not so rapid that many key elements or sentiments expressed are overlooked or rushed through; indeed, often there are several things happening simultaneously in several performance areas throughout the theater, and if anything, at times it can be a challenge to take them all in. Cautious minds also may rest assured that the story’s controversial “shower scene”, while containing some very brief nudity, is handled with great tact and discretion—yet another credit to Schwind’s directorial capabilities. Wisely too, he’s kept the special effects in the service of, instead of overpowering, the on-stage happenings. This is a musical more about people than ‘powers’, so when something phantasmic does occur, it startles–then amazes, making it far more memorable! Lee Martino’s spirited choreography also helps punctuate many of the key moments as well. Best described as hip-hop meets be-bop, she gives her dancers plenty of large group movements reminiscent of a vintage VH1 video brought to life!

"Oh my life is gonna take flight--can't wait 'til Saturday Night! You ain't seen nothin' yet-it's gonna be a night we'll never forget!" (The Cast Of The La Mirada Theatre's "Carrie, The Musical")

“Oh my life is gonna take flight–can’t wait ’til Saturday Night! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet-it’s gonna be a night we’ll never forget!” (The Cast Of The La Mirada Theatre’s “Carrie, The Musical”)

First making their collective presence felt as the ‘ghosts’ of Sue’s lost classmates, the fresh-faced and superbly talented ensemble seethe out of the shadows, slowly ‘materializing’ with each pulsating beat of the opening number which details the crucial pubescent problem of fitting “In” (“I’d crawl out of my skin, and so would you, ‘cause life just doesn’t begin until you’re IN!”) Joining again, they back up the Evangelic “Open Your Heart”, giving it a fittingly “glorious” consummation; then they effectively initiate the second act with the optimistic “A Night We’ll Never Forget”, wherein each prepares for their big evening. Once revealed, the actual “Prom” is so breath-taking that even as the plot speeds toward its ultimate inevitable conclusion, you genuinely hope it won’t occur.

More than with many other musical theater heroines, a lot rides on the performance of “Carrie” herself as singer and actor, and here, Emily Lopez in the title role of the taunted “girl with something extra-sensory” has us in her corner all the way! Possessing the enviable ability to bring clarity and intensity to the considerable emotions being expressed through song, her opening rant, appropriately titled “Carrie”, is forceful and affecting. Through it, we learn just what a wounded soul this girl is, as well as how she clings to the hopes for better days despite everything. Lopez again impresses with her part in “Evening Prayers” (a duet with her mother.) This may be the most surreal sequence but it’s also the one of the most vital, as it’s here that Carrie starts to realize the extent of her mental powers and the inner-strength they can bring her. She may begin literally cowering before a large hovering crucifix while locked in a ‘prayer closet”, but she certainly doesn’t end that way, leaving her confinement with a definite swagger! Her final moments of Act One are about as portentous as they get, as Carrie, announcing her decision to go to the prom, then exits with the same sense of serenity one would find in the eye of a hurricane, after demonstrating her “abilities” to her now terrified mother.

"You've become Satan's Bride-Pray for mercy! Get down on your knees! You've got Jezebel's pride and your soul is a hole of disease!" (Misty Cotton Is "Margaret White" With Emily Lopez As "Carrie")

“You’ve become Satan’s Bride-Pray for mercy! Get down on your knees! You’ve got Jezebel’s pride and your soul is a hole of disease!” (Misty Cotton Is “Margaret White” With Emily Lopez As “Carrie”)

As Carrie’s mother, Misty Cotton also does a superlative job in a decidedly tricky role; her “Margaret White” is an over-the-hill hippie/Jesus freak who surrendered her mind and logic long ago. “I can see you inside—full of sin and full of pride!” she condemns Carrie; still, Cotton succeeds at painting her in a more “three-dimensional” light with very human foibles than has been seen in earlier incarnations. Yes, she loves her daughter, but is so blinded by the light of her rigid “faith” that she can’t bear to face reality. Her rancorous “Eve Was Weak” is as infuriating as it is passionately delivered, but it’s after intermission that Cotton indelibly makes her mark with “When There’s No One”–a haunting melody that’s both beautiful and bone-chilling, because under all the soft words and dulcet tones, this is where Margaret finally surrenders what’s left of her tenuous grip on sanity. (“When the song dies, there is silence; when the tune that filled my days—no longer plays, the room is still…” she pines.) In the equally pivotal role of “Miss Gardner”, the girl’s coach who looks beyond Carrie’s plain, shy facade and sees someone worthy of self-esteem, Jenelle Lynn Randall is likewise a force to be reckoned with. Her song, “Unsuspecting Hearts” in which she gives Carrie the courage to accept Tommy’s invitation to the prom, may even bring a tear or two to your eyes.

No stranger to the La Mirada stage (appearing in last season’s award-winning “Les Miserables”,) Valerie Rose Curiel completely steps into the persona of quintessential ‘mean girl’ Chris Hargensen, and her rendition of “The World According To Chris” is a bona-fide highlight illuminating how Chris (the daughter of a local lawyer naturally,) has been raised to believe she’s inherently superior to other girls (“In every litter there’s a runt—Carrie White is ours” she gloats, later rationalizing her cruel behavior with, “nobody ever died from a scar!”) In fact, so ‘on the money’ is Ms. Curiel’s portrayal that on opening night when Chris finally “gets hers”, it was met with a spontaneous round of applause! In contrast, Kayla Parker’s “Sue” is similarly awesome as the affable girl next door with a conscience lacking in many of her compatriots at school. Her declaration “Once You See” is musical dynamite conveyed with the high-caliber urgency of a girl shaken into understanding the error of her callow, shallow ways.

"The world according to Chris is: Better to punch than get punched; better to burn than get burned --learn that and you're gonna go far!" (Valerie  Rose Curiel Is Chris Hargensen With Her 'Admirers'")

“The world according to Chris is: Better to punch than get punched; better to burn than get burned –learn that and you’re gonna go far!” (Valerie Rose Curiel Is Chris Hargensen With Her ‘Admirers'”)

Joining her is Jon Robert Hall as Sue’s boyfriend, “Tommy”—the lad whom she talks into being Carrie’s date. Together they make the kind of handsome, wholesome “dream couple” we all wish we had been a part of back in our own high school days. Hall too, has a clean, expressive vocal styling evocative of a young Richard Marx which he puts to excellent use during Tommy’s “Dreamer In Disguise”, infusing it with depth and soul. With Parker, their romantic duet “You Shine” (as Tommy wishes he could take his lady-love to the Prom instead) also rates a giant thumbs up! Offering a more ‘humane’ take on the role made famous by John Travolta in the film, Garrett Marshall also does a noteworthy job as Chris’ juvenile-delinquent boy-toy “Billy Nolan”. More a big, boisterous puppy dog with a booming voice to match, Billy tentatively regrets what they’re planning (“Isn’t this a little low—even for you?” he asks Chris.)

Set your mind to seeing “Carrie, The Musical” ASAP! After beginning previews on Thursday, March 12th, the show opened on Wednesday, March 18th, where it will run through Sunday, April 5, 2015. Show-times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm; there will be two performances on Friday April 3 at 7:30 pm and 11:00 pm; with only one matinee at 2:00 pm on Sunday, April 5th. “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” is located at: at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada, CA. Tickets for this engagement can be purchased at their website, located at: www.lamiradatheatre.com , or by calling the Box Office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 (Student and Senior discounts are available.) For more information about “Carrie, The Musical” visit www.experiencecarrie.com .

(www.experiencecarrie.com)

(www.experiencecarrie.com)

Production Stills By Jason Niedle (tethos.com) Courtesy Of David Elzer At Demand PR (www.demandpr.com) And “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts”; Special Thanks To David Elzer, Brian Kite, Bruce Robert Harris, Jack W. Batman And To The Cast & Crew Of “The La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts” Production Of “Carrie, The Musical” For Making This Story Possible.

 


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