Center Theatre Group Mourns The Loss of Founding Director, Gordon Davidson

October 3, 2016

Center Theatre Group Founding Artistic Director, Gordon Davidson, passed away Sunday, October 2, 2016.

“Gordon Davidson was one of the most renowned and respected artistic directors in regional theatre, in large part because he was one of the original founders of the entire concept,” said Center Theatre Group Artistic Director, Michael Ritchie. “He led Center Theatre Group for 38 years and produced one of the broadest arrays of plays, particularly new plays, of any theatre in the country.

Gordon Davidson. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Gordon Davidson. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Without his prolific vision for Center Theatre Group 50 years ago, the theatrical landscape in Los Angeles, and the country, would be very different. He remains one of theatre’s great leaders and I was proud to call him a mentor, friend, and colleague.”

From 1967 to 2005 Gordon Davidson was the Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center of Los Angeles. In addition to his role at the Taper, Davidson was the Producing Director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre for 15 years, and the Artistic Director of the inaugural season (2004-2005) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. In addition to redefining theatre in Southern California, he was one of the founders of the regional theatre movement and had a permanent impact on theatre throughout the country and the world.

Gordon guided hundreds of productions to the Taper stage while overseeing numerous special projects sponsored by the Taper. This work and his direction of many of the Taper plays were acclaimed both in Los Angeles and New York, garnering the Taper a Tony Award for theatrical excellence in 1977.

Plans for a memorial event will be announced in the coming days.

Is Hollywood More Vulnerable to “The End Times?”

April 3, 2016

It’s subtle at first, innocent, even rational. Guidance, during a difficult time, we all need it. Maybe there is a promise of salvation, or just something to hang onto that will get us to a better place. Or unstick us in our careers.

Ever wonder if you could be taken in by a cult?  When we see stories like HBO’s “Going Clear,” with recognizable stars joining Scientology, or hear about Jim Jones and the murder-suicide in his Peoples Temple where over 900 followers perished, most of them by downing cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, we instantly think, ‘no way, not me.’  But there is a window into all of our minds and souls.  It’s called faith; a vulnerable place with just enough space between you and the divine for the manipulative to slither in.

THE END TIMES draws from the true experience of Jesse Mu-en Shao, playwright and former member of group that still practices today. In this world premiere play, he calls the group, The Lord’s Restoration; a cult that he says was founded in Los Angeles with controversy somewhat similar to groups like Scientology and Berg’s Kabbalah Center. Shao slips us in a side door of this religious group to witness the spiritual intoxication of his main character Tim; born and raised within this religious community,

 Jesse Mu-En Shao

Jesse Mu-En Shao

and a devout follower of Witness Lee’s ministry. When his best friend is cast out of the church for ‘living in his mind,’ Tim’s life slowly unravels as he begins to question the foundations of his faith.

Tim’s manipulation seems so obvious at first but the subtle and insidious influences from the leaders and caring followers within, make it quite plausible that rational and intelligent people could be easily ushered into a mindless loop of spiritual addiction to the church. As an ex-Jonestown member recalls, “vulnerable people feeling disenfranchised, for whatever reason, find comfort within these communities,” and as long as they conform there will be rewards. Try to get free; and there will be consequences. Stay with them; and you are instructed to avoid your own thoughts. It’s a rabbit hole that takes your free will and from there, truth fades.

On the outside, many of these groups seem to be an easily recognizable con. But, witnessing the inner workings through The End Times might make you question just how easily you, or someone you know, could slip down that rabbit hole too. Playwright Jesse Shao shares his perspective on it:

This cultish theme seems ripe for Hollywood, with controversial groups here like Scientology and Kabbalah. Was that a consideration when planning to have the world premiere of “The End Times” open in Los Angeles? 

Given that Scientology and Kabbalah exist here, it’s certainly appropriate, but not intended. However, it is a bit ironic considering that the introduction of this religious group in the United States began here in Los Angeles. Skylight Theatre produced last year’s hit “Disconnection” written by ex-Scientologist Alan Barton, so it’s clear that they have an interest in raising these questions about cults and audiences are eager to hear these stories. Disconnection had an extended run, and played to full houses.

What did you want to say with this piece?

Jesse: The journey to identify and to leave a cult is already filled with trial, to stay away and grow into your own life is another. The process of this play has allowed me to adequately define

 Christian T. Chan and Mariah Robinson

Christian T. Chan and Mariah Robinson

my own experience with this religious group, I call it the Lord’s Restoration for the play, which I grew up in. It is a cult. Being able to say that has been critical to my own healing. I hope this piece speaks to others who have been raised in religious extremism, so perhaps they can use the play as a tool to better define their own experiences.

Why is it important to produce this play now? 

Jesse: The story needs to be told. Since I was in high school I don’t recall a public voice that has spoken out against this group, that wasn’t silenced by them. In the last few years they’ve patched up their image, and indicated that previous statements contesting their practices had been recanted. The public voice that seeks to expose, must come back. Practitioners of any faith deserve the truth. Those who tried to reform the movement from the inside, and were isolated and pushed out for trying to reveal truth, need vindication.

Jon Lawrence Rivera (Director): It’s important to give some insight into the worlds that we are unfamiliar with. I was drawn to it because it’s a play about people that scare me. About a system that scares me.

What’s your relationship with the two producing partners, Skylight Theatre Company and Playwright’s Arena?

Jesse: I knew the Artistic Director of Playwright’s Arena, Jon Rivera, from USC as he directed many shows for playwrights in the MFA program. It wasn’t until he came to see my thesis reading for, The End Times that we really began to communicate. After the Hothouse Reading with Pasadena Playhouse, Jon expressed interest in directing it. He plugged me into Skylight and the rest is an ongoing journey of discovery.

Now that you’re in rehearsals, can you share your experience on the advantages, and disadvantages, of working on a new play as it unfolds with the director, and the cast every day?

Jesse: I think that there are only advantages, I’ve yet to find any disadvantages. Previously, I spent a year writing The End Times and another year developing it with a different group of wonderful artists, this experience works as an advantage to the production. Those who helped me develop the play in it’s early stages, Nancy Keystone, Wyatt Fenner, James Ryan, Christopher Rivas,

Matt Pascua and Christian T. Chan

Matt Pascua and Christian T. Chan

Virginia Vale and Timothy Jo – they helped me get the world that I was trying to build off the ground. This built a life into the play. They became very close to the text, and we developed something that became unique to our collaboration. Bringing in a new set of eyes to that picture and being with them day to day really lets me understand what parts of that collaboration hold up on the writing end of the spectrum.  I can only say that with each rehearsal I grow more excited with what comes out of the room.

From Jon Lawrence Rivera (Director): Playwrights’ Arena and Skylight Theatre Company only do new works. So the process is the same for all work. Both companies are committed to helping the playwright tell their stories in the most theatrical and clear way possible.

Has your own belief system wavered, or grown stronger, through the process of developing this play? 

Jesse: I’ve gained more courage. The inevitability of it being performed means that I can no longer be timid about the implications of what that means. This play and what I’m talking about is now in the public eye, it’s something the Lord’s Restoration could hear about. Honestly, that terrifies me, but excites me at the same time. I have to stand by my work and my beliefs.

From Jon Lawrence Rivera (Director): It reinforced my belief that there is something wrong with any structured religion.

Does it matter if your audiences are devoutly religious or atheists? Do you have any hopes about what the audience experience might be? 

From Jon Lawrence Rivera (Director): It’s a play for everybody. It’s like watching a political play. Everyone comes to it with his or her own bias. Hopefully they come out of it with a slightly better understanding of what a young person goes through when they start questioning their beliefs.

Jesse: I used to hope for atheists because I wanted to see if they could relate and understand the world that I had portrayed. But, as I began to hear the responses from audience members who came from devout religious experiences, I was really intrigued by the parallels and connections we shared. I think more than anything, I hope to have plenty of audience members who have shared a similar experience, and hopefully they find some comfort from the work.

As far as the audience experience from the show? I hope they understand the love and comfort that is within some of the communities like this. It’s an important reason why people stay and why the rigidity and suffocation from that culture is overlooked.

The End Times opens on Saturday, April 16th and runs at 8:30pm Fridays and Saturdays, 3:00pm on Sundays through May 15, 2016. Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027. Tickets are $15 – $34. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://skylighttix.com

 

 

Celebrity Verdict – Twenty Years Later

An Interview with David McMillan, writer of WATCHING O.J. – a World Premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA – Opening October 3rd.

A double murder case, it unfolded like a Hollywood movie. It was October 3, 1995. Everybody remembers where they were on that day, when the verdict was announced. In the wide cross-section of L.A.’s diverse population, tensions ran high as people awaited, and watched.

Twenty years to the day, David McMillan’s new play returns to the scene with a passionate, multi-racial perspective on that crucial moment. As the play’s characters patronize their local cleaners and neighboring businesses, a volatile discussion about race and social class bubbles to the surface, one that is more relevant now than ever.

Playwright, David McMillan

Playwright, David McMillan

David McMillan is a Los Angeles playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker. His writing credits include Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” the upcoming Fox show “Lucifer,” and a new pilot that he’s developing with producer Will Packer for NBC. David has received several awards for his work, including USC’s top prize for screenwriting.  Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA presents the World Premiere of “Watching O.J.” which is opening exactly 20 years to the day of the criminal trial verdict.

Hollywood Revealed: Why did the O.J. Simpson double murder trial have such a lasting impression on you?

David: As black teenager, growing up in Inglewood, I was fascinated by how people were watching the trial, through their own distinct racial, cultural, and historical lens. It wasn’t so much the events as it was everybody’s perception of the events. Even now, “the facts” of the case are often beside the point — what’s illuminating is how we look at those facts.

 Kareem Ferguson (as Jamal) and Robert Gossett (as Oz)

Kareem Ferguson (as Jamal) and Robert Gossett (as Oz)

Hollywood Revealed: Is your new play fictional or sort of a recap of your experience at the time?

David: The locale and characters are fictional, however they’re very much based on people I know, and some of my own experiences. I vividly remember the trial, the emotions it stirred, the conversations it provoked. So while it’s not “autobiographical,” the play is very much a creative snapshot of my memories of that time. That said, people who know me will say that they can see a few of my family members in some of the characters (glimpses of my mom and dad in particular). I won’t try to deny it — some influences you just can’t escape.

Hollywood Revealed: Will you talk about the process of getting this play started, and if it is a common way that you work.

Angela Bullock (as Cordia) and Lisa Renee Pitts (as Kim)

Angela Bullock (as Cordia) and Lisa Renee Pitts (as Kim)

David: Honestly, every project starts out differently. Sometimes it’s a character, sometime it’s a situation/set-up, and sometimes it’s an idea. For “Watching O.J.” it was really the idea that first inspired me. I liked the idea of using the O.J. trial as a dramatic backdrop/catalyst for exploring racial tensions in America. I didn’t have any of the characters at that point — I discovered those later (or maybe I should say, they discovered me). It’s a messy process — and to be honest, I wish it were less messy. I wish I could just come up with a premise, outline it from beginning to end, write it, and then voila — the play is finished. But I’ve come to learn that creativity, and writing a play in particular, is a lot more complicated than that. You write, you re-write, you get feedback, you re-think, and then you write and write and re-write some more. And eventually, if you’re lucky, the world gets to see it.

Hollywood Revealed: Exactly 20 years from the announcement of the criminal trial verdict, your play opens. Was that the plan from the start?

David: Wish I could say yes, but it’s really more like a confluence of happy accidents. The script was ready, and we were able to assemble an extraordinary cast that was available, and Keith Szarabajka, the director, was between television projects. So it worked out great, beyond what anyone could have hoped for.

Lisa Renee Pitts (as Kim), Angela Bullock (as Cordia), Tony Pasqualini (as Harold), and Kelly Wolf (as Sheila)

Lisa Renee Pitts (as Kim), Angela Bullock (as Cordia), Tony Pasqualini (as Harold), and Kelly Wolf (as Sheila)

Watching O.J. opens on Saturday, October 3rd and runs at 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm Sundays, through November 8, 2015. Post show talk backs are scheduled throughout the run with special guests. Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA is located in the Atwater Village Theatre complex 3269 Casitas Ave. LA, CA 90039. Tickets: $19.95 at 818-858-0440 or watchingoj.brownpapertickets.com  

The cast includes Lisa Renee Pitts (Straight Outta Compton – as Dre’s mom), Robert Gossett (Broadway Fences, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Last Minstrel Show. Currently in the TNT’s Major Crimes as Chief Taylor reprising the role he created in The Closer), Angela Bullock, Kareem Ferguson, Robert Gossett, Tony Pasqualini, Tarah Pollock, Eve Sigall, Roy Vongtama, and Kelly Wolf.

Photos by:Hope Burleigh

‘Pro99’ Actors’ Equity Members Send Open Letter to AEA President Kate Shindle

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 27, 2015)

Members of the “Pro99” movement of Actors’ Equity Association have issued an open letter to AEA’s newly elected president, Kate Shindle, in response to her victory and to her inaugural address as president of the national union for actors and stage managers.

The open letter is signed by over 400 Equity members (listed below), including such notable names as Ed Asner, Francis Fisher, Sally Kirkland and Alfred Molina.

AEA President Kate Shindle

AEA President Kate Shindle

The “Pro99” movement formed in late 2014 in opposition to AEA’s rollout of a new plan that will effectively force “intimate theaters” in Los Angeles to pay Equity actors minimum wage, go “non-union” or even close – despite an overwhelming vote against the plan by 66% of the Los Angeles membership on an advisory referendum. “Pro99” members around the nation, who take their name from the current AEA “99 Seat Plan” that allows members to volunteer in smaller venues, oppose AEA’s new promulgated plan. They are requesting that Equity leadership put a moratorium on the plan until local members’ voices can be heard, and that the union work with its members to develop an alternative plan that will more realistically address the needs of the Los Angeles theater community.

The Letter reads:

Dear President Shindle,

We, the undersigned members of AEA who support the Pro99 movement, both in the L.A. area and around the nation, congratulate you on your win, and wish you a successful term as President of our beloved union. We were satisfied that our passionate campaigning helped to elect you, and appreciated that during your campaign you came to Los Angeles to meet with us and express your interest in the 99- Seat debacle that has galvanized our Los Angeles Theatre Community.

In your “Inaugural Column” in the July/August 2015 edition of Equity News you wrote: “Everyone has a different definition of what’s cool; to me, the coolest thing Equity can do is to encourage its members to be passionate, vocal activists and ambassadors. Because that will not only make our industry more successful, it will also make our union stronger.”

We couldn’t agree more. We are also encouraged and grateful that you mention our cause in your column, especially since we do not feel we have always been fairly represented in Equity News and emails — that is, when we’ve been represented at all. Thank you for your willingness to both meet with us and publicly discuss what absolutely continues to be a crisis in our union. As you noted, we do have much to celebrate about intimate theatre in L.A. — almost thirty years of rich and creative work under the guidelines endorsed by our own union.

However, we’re concerned about your mention of a recent Fringe Festival production that was produced under the proposed “New 99-Seat Theatre Agreement.” Though you present it as something to perhaps celebrate, we wish to be clear that that Agreement is precisely what an overwhelming majority of local AEA members voted against in the advisory referendum (66%: a landslide). As you can imagine, LA members don’t consider this an event to celebrate. We think it is, in fact, the problem, and not the solution. Worse, we think the way the new agreement was promulgated by the union is even more problematic for the democratic process. We have found the actions and messaging of the leadership of our union troubling, and the fact that the leadership ignored the will of its own membership is deeply disturbing. Worst of all, we firmly believe this new plan will effectively destroy our vibrant theatrical community.

We love our union. We have, from the beginning, offered to work with Council and staff to find a solution that will not only address our concerns, but also make our union stronger and respectful of local members’ needs. We welcome turning a new page with your support and willingness to listen to us articulate the realities of our community in order to resolve this crisis.

In solidarity,
Members of AEA
#PRO99 movement

Photo by:Joe Marzullo

You Tube Icon Freddie Wong To Be Honored By Hollyshorts 2015

Hollywood, CA: August 10, 2015

YouTube icon Freddie Wong, the filmmaker behind the online phenomenon web series Video Game High School, will be honored with the 2015 HollyShorts Trailblazer Award at next Thursday’s HollyShorts Film Festival’s opening night celebration.

The event takes place on August 13 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater.

Wong will be honored with the Award for his outstanding accomplishments as a filmmaker freddie_wongand YouTube pioneer. Wong and RocketJump’s videos have amassed more than 7.5 million subscribers on YouTube with over 1 billion views of their content. Season 3 of their Video Game High School web series drew over 85 million views. RocketJump is in the process of creating a long-form series for Hulu with Lionsgate.

Wong joins an impressive star-studded evening at HollyShorts opening night, which will feature short movies starring Rose McGowan, Jason Patric, Sharon Lawrence, Rose McIver, Beth Grant, Robert Forster, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Lawson, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, and many more. HollyShorts is the largest annual gathering of short form movies in Los Angeles with over 15,000 anticipated attendees for the week-long event (August 13-22) and over 400HollyShorts logo 2012 (2) pieces of short form content being showcased in competition. Actress Victoria Summer will be presenting the Award to Wong on Thursday.

Freddie Wong is the co-founder of digital entertainment company RocketJump. He co-created the award-winning web series Video Game High School (VGHS) that aired its third and final season, breaking crowdfunding records for a web series by raising $900K last year. RocketJump has entered into a content partnership deal with Lionsgate and signed a deal to bring RocketJump’s next series to Hulu.

Commented Daniel Sol, co-founder, HollyShorts: “Freddie Wong exemplifies a HollyShorts Trailblazer, what he’s been able to accomplish with VGHS and his shorts is just astounding. Numbers don’t lie, with over 1 billion global views on YouTube, Freddie and RocketJump are this generation’s new storytellers and we are proud to honor them at HollyShorts, this will be an epic night to remember.”

HollyShorts past honorees include The Russo Brothers, David Lynch, Eli Roth, Joe Carnahan, Paul Haggis, Matthew Modine, Bill Plympton among others.

Matilda The Musical Opens At the Ahmanson Theatre Sunday, June 7th

Center Theatre Group launches the First National Tour of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical” this Sunday, June 7 at 4 p.m. at the Ahmanson Theatre.  Produced by the Royal Shakespearematilda-poster Company and The Dodgers, “Matilda The Musical” continues performances in Los Angeles through July 12, 2015.

The three girls sharing the title role are Gabby Gutierrez, Mia Sinclair Jenness and Mabel Tyler. The principal cast also features (alphabetically) Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood), Bryce Ryness (Miss Trunchbull) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble of “Matilda The Musical” includes Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, 12MATILDA_SPAN-articleLargeLuke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

Winner of 50 international awards including four Tony Awards ®  and a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards including Best Musical, “Matilda The Musical” is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny.
Based on Matilda-1024_225334kthe beloved novel by Roald Dahl, “Matilda The Musical” is directed by Tony Award ® winner Matthew Warchus (“God of Carnage”), who helms this production with a book by Tony Award ® winning playwright Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Australian comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin.

Tickets for “Matilda The Musical” at the Ahmanson are available at
www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling (213) 972-4400, and in person at the Center Theatre
Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets start at $25 (ticket prices are subject to
change). Hot Tix, at $25 each, may be purchased in advance by phone or, subject to
availability, on the day of performance at the box office (no checks). Group tickets are
available by calling (213) 972-7231. For the Deaf community: Information and charge, TDD
(213) 680-4017. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue
in Downtown L.A. 90012
www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
@MatildaBroadway
www.facebook.com/MatildaOnBroadway

Birth: The Movie

By
Alan von Kalckreuth

Chiropractor turns to filmmaking in order to halt the alarming trend of delivering babies in breach position by cesarean section.

Dr. Elliot Berlin has now executive produced two films dealing with the medical professions trend away from natural birth for babies about to be born in the breach position, or being delivered by mothers who had a previous child delivered by cesarean section.  A breach birth is where the baby is in Cut-N-Grab-2an upright poison at the time of delivery.  Babies who dive headfirst into this world manage to reduce the risks of complications and distress during labor and are the preferred option.  Those who are in a feet, or butt first, position can present complications, and on occasion require a degree of skill that is no longer taught to delivery doctors.

Berlin, along with a growing number of medical professionals, want doctors to be taught the skills necessary to deliver breach babies through natural birth if that is what the mother chooses.

“I’m about people knowing there are choices,” Berlin declared to the informed audience attending a preview of his new film Heads Up.  The film was screened to a select audience of medical professionals and parents in preparation for its release this spring.  Berlin a chiropractor and founder of the Berlin Wellness Group, a prenatal, pediatric and family chiropractic wellness center in the Mid Wilshire area of Los Angeles explains that the issue is about a nation wide policy to deliver babies who are in a breech position by c-section because it is in the interests of the insurance companies to have these babies delivered in the lowest risk circumstance.  This choice of birth practice is looked on by the medical profession as desirable even if the outcome interferes with natures process to encourage mother baby bonding that will be central to the child’s future emotional well being.

Berlin is one of a growing number of advocates who are saying CutnGrabthat the faulty science that led to c-section birth as the only option for both breach birth and additional births post c-section by the medical profession since 2002 needs to be updated.

The importance of natural birth is that it allows the baby and the mother to bond during the birthing process and immediately after.  In the case of a c-section once the baby has been removed from the mother the mother needs further surgical treatment and so the baby is placed in an incubator.

Heads Up shows the miracle of birth; in this case a butt-first breach birth being delivered by Dr. Stuart Fischbein, one of the few doctors in Los Angeles prepared to deliver breech babies.  The baby is calm and flexible and through some impressive yoga moves eases itself into the world where her heaving and puffing mommy is waiting with open arms to hug her future collage grad.

Film maker, Mel Kennedy-Morrow, contrasts this birth with a surgical cut-and-grab birth where the mother is shrouded from seeing her own delivery and the baby is quickly taken away by a nurse as the attending doctors stitches her belly back up again… while discussing tax advantages of property investment.

An Evening Of Classic Broadway Returns To Rockwell Table And Stage

April 14, 2015

By popular demand, Fraser Entertainment Group’s critically-acclaimed ongoing series AN EVENING OF CLASSIC BROADWAY returns to Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz on Wednesday, April 22 at 8pm.  It’s a great way to celebrate Broadway Your Way on Earth Day enjoying songs from classic musicals performed by a cast of singers from Broadway, television and film.

This upcoming presentation of AN EVENING OF CLASSIC BROADWAY marks the seventh installment of the successful concert series, produced by Dianne Fraser. Musical Director, Brad Ellis is pleased to announce the cast featuring singers from Broadway, television

Musical Director, Brad Ellis

Musical Director, Brad Ellis

and film: Will Collyer, Louise Marie Cornillez, Savannah Leigh, Kelly Lester, Alex Newell, Joanne O’Brien and Jeffrey Polk.

Rockwell Table & Stage is located at 1714 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles 90027.  Doors open at 6:30pm with the show beginning at 8pm. Tickets are $10, $15 or $20 plus a 2-item food minimum.  Valet and street parking available.  For tickets and additional information: http://rockwell-la.inticketing.com/events/496559/an-evening-of-classic-broadway/

The series Musical Director Brad Ellis is regarded as one of the most respected and sought after composers, arrangers, and musical directors in the musical theatre community.  He has enjoyed a newfound fame as the on-camera pianist on the hit television series GLEE. Lately, he has been traveling the world as Musical Director for Matthew Morrison’s solo show.

In addition to his role on Glee, Mr. Ellis can be seen coaching in the “Special Features” of the DVD Release of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast. Long before Glee, Mr. Ellis was renowned for his clever and instantly recognizable arrangements for such shows as Forbidden Broadway, Forbidden Hollywood, Whoop-Dee-Doo, and the Christmas edition of Forever Plaid known as Plaid Tidings. He has arranged and orchestrated for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Philadelphia Symphony and the CD “Unexpected Dreams – Songs from The Stars” featuring members of the LA Phil to benefit Music Cares which supports music programs in

Producer, Dianne Fraser

Producer, Dianne Fraser

the LA schools. In concert, and on CD, Mr. Ellis has worked with Billy Joel, Angela Lansbury, Kristin Chenoweth, Scarlett Johansson, Patti LuPone, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Ariana Grande, and Jeremy Irons to name a few.

Other shows presented by Fraser Entertainment Group include Starr Quality, Actors Fund Benefit and Tribute to Rick Starr, and Gifts of Love: the Words and Music of Stephen Schwartz, both at the Catalina Jazz Club, as well as the 4-night, 4-venue Actors Fund benefit concert event, CABARET IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN LOS ANGELES directed by David Galligan, which returns for a second engagement this fall. Learn more about Fraser Entertainment Group at www.fraserentertainmentgroup.com

What:
It’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day enjoying songs from classic Broadway musicals performed by a cast of singers from Broadway, television and film.

Where:
Rockwell Table and Stage is located at 1714 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles 90027.

When:
Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Doors open at 6:30pm with the show beginning at 8pm.
Valet and street parking available.

How:
Tickets are $10, $15 or $20 plus a 2-item food minimum. For tickets and additional information: http://rockwell-la.inticketing.com/events/496559/an-evening-of-classic-broadway/

Fest For Beatles Fans 2014 Invades Airport Marriott

by Peter Foldy

Los Angeles: October 11, 2014

Just like often retold bible stories, the brilliant career of the BEATLES continues to be celebrated and deservedly grow to legendary status throughout the world.  Fifty two years after the release of their first single, “Love Me Do” on October 5, 1962, the Fab Four are famous and successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Early on in their careers,IMG_4435 the Beatles themselves predicted maybe a five year run.  Ringo talked of opening hairstyling saloons when he thought his Magical Mystery Tour would come to an end.  And in-fact the Fabs only stayed together as a group for something like a dozen years if you count the Quarrymen period, but in those twelve years they changed the world and it is fair to say that the impact they made on their audience is immeasurable.

It’s no surprise then that the FEST FOR BEATLES FANS 2014, currently underway at the LAX Airport Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles is finding a devoted audience who have been showing up to bask in the Beatle mystique.  Celebrating 40 years of the Fest, the promoters have gathered an impressive collection of Beatle memorabilia, all avail available for purchase at the Airport Marriott.  Cups, mugs, luggage, poster and photographs, all with a Beatles theme.  And then there are the books.

Bob Eubanks and Chris Carter

Bob Eubanks and Chris Carter

Just when you thought you have seen every book on the Beatles ever written, this festival brings you even more.  And some seem fascinating.

“Liddypool’ by David Bedford (www.liddypool.com) promises unprecedented research into Liverpool, the city where the Beatles grew up.  Complete with eight hundred images, exclusive interviews with people who knew them personally as well as a foreword by fired Beatles drummer, Pete Best, “Liddypool” promises to separate fact from fiction.  Skimming the pages it certainly seems like a fascinating read.

On the lighter literary side comes “Confessions of a Beatlemaniac” by Dee Elias.  (www.ConfessionsofaBeatlesManiac.com)   A true story of a fan who broke all the rules to meet the Beatles.  When I met Ms. Elias this afternoon at the Fest, she shared stories of how she actually met the Fabs and also proudly showed me a single sock enshrined in a glass frame that the author stole BANDfrom singer, Billy J. Kramer’s room while he was sleeping some fifty years earlier.  She was about to return the sock to Mr. Kramer momentarily, him being probably unaware that it had gone missing.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around to witness the momentous event.

Another seemingly interesting literary work is “The Beatle Who Vanished” by Jim Berkenstadt.  (www.TheBeatleWhoVanished.com)  It is the first historical account of Jimmie Nicol, the mostly unknown drummer who replaced Ringo Starr on tour for thirteen days in 1964.  Berkenstadt promises to solve the mystery of what happened to the man who become a footnote in Beatle history.  Riddled with betrayal, drugs, divorce, bankruptcy and an eventual disappearance, many have wondered whether Jimmie Nicol is dead or alive.  Berkenstadt’s book has the answer.

But it isn’t just memorabilia you will find at The Fest for IMG_4434Beatle Fans.  As we have now come to understand, the Fab Four had a Midas touch and anyone who every had anything to do with the group is also still in demand by the public at large.

The promoters have gathered a fine collection of “Beatle people.”  Some of the special guests include PETER ASHER of Peter & Gordon fame, the aforementioned BILLY J. KRAMER, DENNY LAINE, (a member of Paul McCartney’s “Wings,”) JACK OLIVER, former President of Apple Records, BOB EUBANKS who presented the Beatles live in concert at the Hollywood Bowl and later at Dodger Stadium, Beatle fan club president and former Beatles secretary, FREDA KELLY, and JOHN KOSH, art director of Apple records and the man who designed Abbey Road album cover.

CHRIS CARTER, hostLA_poster_FEST of KLOS’ “Breakfast With The Beatles” radio show conducts the interviews and Mr. Carter will be broadcasting his program live from The Fest on Sunday morning, October 12!

There are live bands, movie screenings, and a great environment that brings a feeling of comforting nostalgia.

As the Fab Four once told us, all you need is love, and if it’s the Beatles you care about, The Fest for Beatle Fans, 2014 is definitely the place to be.

Closing 11pm, Sunday October 12, 2014.

LAX Airport Marriott
5855 West Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90045

Tickets on sale at the event.

 

 

 

 

Lauren Bacall Dead at 89

Hollywood, CA:  August 12, 2014

Legendary actress, Lauren Bacall has died after suffering a stroke today.

Ms. Bacall was only 19 years old when she starred with the Humphrey Bogart in the 1944 movie “To Have and Have Not,” director Howardlauren-bacall-family-guy-300 Hawks’ film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway‘s novel. She would go on to marry her much older co-star and they began one of Hollywood’s most famed personal and professional partnerships.

Bacall and Bogart married in 1945 and were together until his death in 1957.

In 2009, she was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award, “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her No. 20 on its list of the 25 actresses on the AFI’s “100 Years … 100 Stars.”

Lauren Bacall is survived by three children.

Her performance in the film, “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.