“Game Of Thrones – The Musical” Slays at the Macha In West Hollywood

Hollywood, CA: March 16, 2016

GAME OF THRONES-The Musical is rocking the Macha Theatre, garnering rave reviews. Co-written, Co-Produced and Directed by STEPHEN CHRISTOPHER PARKER, he is an actor with credits in a slew of hit movies including Juno, Rebound, Blades of Glory and Little Miss Sunshine. Parker also had substantial roles on prime-time television in shows such as ER, Rizzoli and Isles, Fish Hooks and 90210.

His Co-Writer and Co-Producer, STEVEN BRANDON, hails from Australia where he was a successful theater producer in Sydney, starring in and directing productions of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and Urinetown: The Musical. With his company Canned Laughter, Steven produced productions of Rent, Lend Me A Tenor, Closer, and Noises Off. Soon after moving to L.A. Brandon and his writing partner sold a single-camera comedy pilot titled, Single Girl Theory to ABC Family and were staffed on the CBS sitcom Friend Me.

Hollywood Revealed: Hi, guys. Congrats on the success of Game of Thrones, the musical.

Steven Brandon: Thank you.

HR: How did you decide to do this particular show?

Steven Parker: It’s been two years since we produced “Lost – The Musical” and Brandon and I thought it was time to step up to the plate again.

Steven Brandon: Parker always had a passion for Game of Thrones. The TV series is currently at the height of its popularity. I was not yet a convert and had to sit down and binge all sixty episodes to get acquainted with the show.

HR: How did the two of you meet?

Steven Brandon: At the wrap party for the final episode of ER. Parker was a recurring guest star on the show and I happened to be working on the Warner Bros. lot. I had previously seen Parker in a short film directed by my cousin and after saying hello we became instant friends.

HR: Tell us about the music for GOT. Who wrote it?

Steven Parker: When we decided that we would do original music we knew we would have to team up the other people. We are not the most musically inclined but we did write the lyrics and teamed up with ERIN STEGEMAN and ACE MARRERO, whom we know from their show, “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera.” Erin and Ace came on board as our musical producers and directors and really knocked it out of the park, turning in catchy rock ‘n’ roll versions of all of our songs.

HR: You have thirty cast members in your production and you doubled down by hiring two separate groups of actors who alternate the roles. How hard was that?

Steven Brandon: Casting went pretty well. A number of actors knew of our reputation from other shows, such as “Lost-The Musical, and we got a lot of strong candidates walking through the door.

Steven Parker: Knowing that we could pick two actors for each role saved a lot of arguing and dicussion because they were a lot of people that we liked and wanted in the show.

HR: What about the role of Tyrion? Did you try to get an actual little person to play Tyrion Lannister?

Steven Brandon: At first we did and we met with a few of them but they were not musical theater trained or ready. A lot of great actors and comedians came in to read but they were not the best of singers.

Steven Parker: Plus they are all constantly working and could not commit to the length of our run.

Steven Brandon: We ended up finding BRAD SIMANSKI and DREW BOUDREAU, both 5 feet tall, who are fantastic and do their job perfectly in their show stopping number.

HR: Did the cast contribute to the material in any way?

Steven Parker: Both casts are super talented and bring so much extra to their roles. The character of Jon Snow is picked on quite a lot in the show and the different reactions from MAX REED and ZACK KANNER are priceless.

Steven Brandon: During the second act the Lannister’s get together and really pour it on thick. The cast decided themselves to put on dark make up and glam outfits and become the “Glamisters.” It was not in the script but it became a brilliant addition to the show.

HR: What is next for GOT musical?

Steven Parker: We are still performing for the next five weeks at the Macha theater in West Hollywood. After that we take a small break and then head to San Diego for Comic Con to do shows from July 20-22!

HR: Why is THIS the GOT show to see in L.A?

Steven Brandon: The TV series does not come back on the air until July 16. We have the perfect refresher course with our show as we start from the beginning and tell the story in order ,parodying season one, book one.

Steven Parker: This will definitely wet your appetite for the return of the TV show and is a great introduction to fans of musical theater who have not seen “Game of Thrones” would like to know what it’s all about.

Steven Brandon: Plus we are the only Game of Thrones musical in town with an actual throne!

HR: You also have a Soundtrack?

Steven Brandon: Yes, we are very proud of our Original Cast Recording. All 12 Original songs from the show plus 4 bonus tracks. You can sample the tracks and purchase the CD at www.cdbaby.com/cd/gameofthronesthemusicala

HR: Nice! Any ticket discounts?

Steven Parker: For readers of Hollywood Revealed, you can type in the coupon code “sword” at checkout to receive a 15% discount off tickets.

HR: That’s very generous, guys. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and wishing you continued success.

Steven Brandon: Thank you.

Where: The Macha Theatre, 1107 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

When: Running now through April 16th at 8:00 pm. Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, Sundays at 7pm.

Tickets: www.gotthemusical.com

(Remember the discount code)

 

 

“Shades Of Disclosure” Celebrates Life

Review by: Peter Foldy

Heartbreaking, but ultimately positive and powerful, the World Premiere of SHADES OF DISCLOSURE, reminds us of the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that still continues to pose a host of social injustices such as homophobia, racism, immigration rights, healthcare discrimination, and the rights of transpersons.

Created and performed by the revolutionary QueerWise, a Los Angeles based group of LGBTQ writers and spoken word artists, Shades of Disclosure introduces us to a a number of HIV/AIDS survivors, and a few that were spared. Their deep and personal stories illuminate not only what they went through when the plague hit some thirty years earlier but how it still impacts their lives today.

The cast members on stage are not actors playing roles. They are real people sharing remembrances of heartbreak and loss, of good luck and bad. Some on stage were infected early while others, though promiscuous and care-free, escaped the epidemic.

Wrapped in an atmosphere of the current political climate, QueerWise tell their stories in well staged production that encourages others to do the same. “Who Are You?” they ask.

The outpouring of truthfulness on stage soon becomes contagious and one cannot help but feel a deep empathy.

Ultimately, we know that honesty about ones self is a beautiful, unifying and galvanizing force that we need to carry into 2017 if we are to survive, thrive, and maintain, says director, Michael Kearns.

Though it may sound like this performance piece is a downer, it is actually a celebration of being alive. Something we can all relate to.

Featuring Albert Auben, Gil Feroli, Cheri Gaulke, Randy (Joe) Gravelle, John Glenn Harding, Jessie Jacobson, Sophie Kim, Darrell Larson, Timothy Mack, Mason Mahoney, Jen O’Connor, Roland Palencia, Christine Papalexis, Jim Pentecost, Ken Pienkos and David Trudel, Shades of Disclosure plays at 8:00pm Saturdays, and 3:00pm on Sundays through February 25, 2017.

Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027.

Tickets are $15 – $40. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://SkylightTix.com

Skylight Theatre Company’s Board of Directors present “Salute 2016”

Los Angeles, Ca – SHARON LAWRENCE (Rizzoli & Isles) and BARRETT FOA (NCIS: Los Angeles) lead the list of celebrities who join event hosts FRENCH STEWART (3rd Rock from the Sun, Mom) & VANESSA CLAIRE STEWARD (Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara) as Skylight Theatre’s Board of Directors celebrates the artistic achievements of GARY GROSSMAN and the Skylight Theatre Company for this year’s annual Skylight French & Vanessa names from internetSalute being held December 4th at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.

Over the past three decades, from Camelot Artists Productions to Katselas Theatre Company and in 2013 becoming Skylight Theatre Company, the one constant thread has been Gary Grossman. First as a producer and eventually becoming its Artistic Director in 2008, Skylight and Gary have become synonymous with nurturing artists, producing live theatre in Los Angeles and developing new work.

Over 2500 different artists have graced Skylight’s stages including 204 Los Angeles based writers. Skylight and Grossman have helped to craft, develop, workshop and mount a large body of original works, generating 166 readings, 157 workshops, and 69 world premiere productions.

Works developed under Skylight’s auspices have gone on to garner awards and accolades for their playwrights, around the world. Sigrid Gilmer, a member of Skylight’s resident writers’ PlayLAb received the coveted 2014 USA Artists Ford Fellowship and PinkLemaireCraginColemanJames_edited-1$50,000, while Nathan Allan Davis’ play “Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea” received the prestigious Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association 2015 New Play Citation. The Humanitas PlayLA workshop, launched in 2015 with support from the Center Theatre Group, has selected Skylight resident writers to fill five out of the ten available positions from over 200 candidate submissions. Louisa Hill, another of Skylight’s resident writers, won Third Place in the inaugural year of the associated Humanitas PlayLA Playwriting Prize.

Through Grossman’s leadership, Skylight’s plays have made their way across the United States to New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Denver, and San Francisco, while internationally they have been performed in Paris and Edinburgh, with additional productions scheduled for Australia, Canada and Greece.

Skylight has been a community leader, providing artistic opportunities for at-riskTM_2A022 teens and helping to feed the hungry. In the last three years, 1250 teens in Los Angeles detention centers and high schools have experienced Lyric Project writing workshops. Supported through partnerships with ASCAP Foundation, the City of Los Angeles, and Boeing’s Employee Community Fund, 45 of the young lyricists have been mentored and teamed with professional songwriters to create new songs that are performed in a unique and fully realized musical event for the stage. Since 2012, Skylight artists have been putting Art Into Action, donating their time and talent to help feed LA’s hungry on Thanksgiving Day; since the program began over 1200 hungry people have been fed in the Downtown and MacArthur Park areas.

Gary Grossman’s unselfish efforts for the Los Angeles theatre community were recognized at the 2016 Stage Raw Theatre Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He continues to be an adSandersAnassiCASTvocate for the Los Angeles theatre community leading interactions with Actors Equity Association and LA Theatre Producers for a workable agreement between the actors union and Los Angeles producers.

Eileen Barnett, Gigi Bermingham, Dale Kristien, Marcelo Tubert, and Denise Woods, will be performing along with additional surprise guests. Directed by David Galligan, Choreography by Lee Martino, Musical Direction by Michael Sobi, and hosted by French Stewart & Vanessa Claire Stewart.

David Galligan has directed all the S.T.A.G.E benefit shows in LA since 1984 and began directing for Grossman and Skylight back in 1985 with a celebrated production of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.

French Stewart is perhaps best known for his roles in the television series Mom and 3rd Rock From the Sun. He is a member of Sacred Fools Theater Company, playing the title role in their 2012 hit production of “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton” which moved to the Pasadena Playhouse.PRISON BOXING Leah Joki Group-102

Vanessa Claire Stewart is recognized as a quadruple threat – singer, actress, director and writer. She is most often recognized for her performance as Keely Smith in Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara (Los Angeles, Chicago) that she co-wrote with Taylor Hackford and Jake Broder, but she has also opened the Newport Jazz Festival as a vocalist, and penned and then directed the wildly successful “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton,” which starred her husband French Stewart.

SALUTE kicks off at 6pm with a VIP dinner and 7:30pm for the stage show on Sunday, December 4, 2016. The Colony Theatre is located at 555 N. 3rd Street, Burbank CA. 91502. Tickets range from $150 – $425. Proceeds benefit Skylight’s Artistic Development Programs. Dinner reservations and show only tickets can be purchased online at http://skylighttix.com with more information at 213-761-7061. All performers are subject to availability.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ktcla and Twitter: @SkylightThtr

Review: Hedwig And the Angry Inch Keeps It Fresh At The Pantages

by Peter Foldy

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is an innovative, powerful and wickedly humorous musical that will stay with you long after the final curtain.

The show actually began its life as a racy, sexually charged cabaret act. Created by STEPHEN TRASK and JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL, it first morphed into a 1998 off-Broadway hit and thenDarren-Criss-Hedwig-and-the-Angry-Inch a 2001 film before finally hitting the bright lights of Broadway in 2014. As the show’s legend grew, ultimately rising to cult status, it’s stars also received well deserved acclaim. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, who played “Hedwig” on Broadway won a Tony, as did LENA HALL, here in Los Angeles reprising her role as “Yitzhak,” Hedwig’s back-up singer husband.

Though it’s been twenty years since it’s inception, this welcome First National Tour still packs a punch and manages to keep it fresh for new audiences. As we are drawn into Hedwig’s heart-breaking story,  the nature of the play allows for saucy, cutting-edge, ad libbed banter from it’s star, here brilliantly played by the energetic and talented, DARREN CRISS.

Hedwig, we learn, is an East German rock singer who suffered a botched sex-change operation that left her down there with only an inch of flesh. In Los Angeles to perform a one-night-only concert at the Pantages, she reveals that 1434618341137.cachedshe was recently involved with “Tommy Gnosis,” a now famous rock star with whom she co-wrote many of the songs that helped fuel his career. Hedwig was in fact the “mysterious blond” who distracted Tommy while he was driving his car, causing him to crash into a school bus. That accident and it’s subsequent notoriety made Tommy a star, leaving Hedwig to live her sad life as an “internationally ignored song stylist.”

By coincidence Tommy is also in town, headlining the Hollywood Bowl, and when Hedwig opens the backstage door, she can hear him talking to his adoring fans, never once acknowledging Hedwig’s contributions.

Throughout the show we also meet the aforementioned “Yitzhak,” a doting waif of a man whom Hedwig treats with disdain. Though Yitzhak also craves the spotlight, Hedwig does all she can to prevent her husband from showing off his talents.

Joining the pair on stagehedwig-rebecca-naomi-jones-3794 is Hedwig’s fictional band, The Angry Inch, comprised of musicians JUSTIN CRAIG (guitars, keyboards), MATT DUNCAN (bass, guitars, keyboards), TIM MISLOCK (guitar) and PETER YANOWITZ (drums), the same quartet who played the Broadway run and who are really not a fictional band at all.

In between banter, Hedwig and the Angry Inch roll through an array of great songs, many of them a nod to glam rock, grunge and metal rock. There are also ballads like, “Wicked Little Town” and “Wig In A Box” that are also standouts.

But the real stand out here is Darren Criss. His performance as Hedwig electrifies as it breaks your heart. Criss is charming and likeable, seemingly inhabited by Hedwig’s persona in this 90 minute physically demanding role.82321-11 He speaks to all those with a dream not fully realized, making L.A. a perfect venue for this story. Criss’ job is not made any easier by the array of over-sized wigs and platform heels his character prances around in, but the physically fit actor makes it seem flawless.

Lena Halls surprises as “Yitzhak” once her powerful singing abilities are finally revealed, and in a clever twist, Hall becomes Hedwig by the end of the show, allowing Criss to reveal his muscular body and the fact that he is not a “slip of a girly boy” at all.

The set by JULIAN CROUCH is compact. A car crash scene with moving parts that seems a good fit for this car crash of a story.

MICHAEL MAYER’S direction keeps the show moving at a pace while some ingenious screen projections from BENJAMIN PEARCY during the beautiful ballad, “The Origin of Love,” make us feel as if we are watching Hedwig in an animated fish bowl, his thoughts coming to life in front of our eyes.18386_show_landscape_large_02

Tickets for HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH are on sale now and are available for purchase at www.HollywoodPantages.com or www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Boulevard). Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by visiting www.PantagesGroups.com or by calling 866-755-3075.

Darren Criss will NOT appear as “Hedwig” in the following performances: Sunday, November 6th at 6:30pm; Sunday, November 13th at 6:30pm; Sunday, November 20th at 6:30pm & Friday, November 25th at 8:00pm.

 

 

 

 

“It’s Time” Is A Poignant Celebration Of Love And Life

Review by: Peter Foldy

The Beatles said it best. “All You Need is Love.” Paul Linke reaffirms that notion in his heartfelt, nostalgic solo performance currently running at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. Linke’s current piece, IT’S TIME, bookends his Ace Award Nominated HBO Showcase entitled “Time Flies When You’re Alive.”

This time Linke shares a remarkable journey that saw him love deeply and then grieve desperately before finding a new love again, I_T_Paul_Linke2a love that has sustained him and his family for over twenty five years.

Best recognized for his role as “Artie Grossman” on the NBC-TV series CHiPs as well as for his co-starring roles in “Parenthood” and “K-PAX,” Linke’s story starts out in the 1960s. He introduces us to his younger self, a horny pot smoking college kid who has no clue where his journey is headed. Nor does he care. His main focus are girls and seeing the Doors at the Whisky Au Go Go. By chance he finds himself in a college acting workshop where at his audition he proceeds to embarrass himself with an impromptu improvised sex act on a plant. Not a great start, but, hey, it’s the 60s.  Fortunately, the people running the workshop see something in this free spirited wild child–a potential of talent–which gets him into class and ultimately sparks his interest in pursuing a life as an actor.

Having finally discovered his calling, Linke also manages to fall in love. It’s a deep, committedI_T_Paul Linke4 love that brings him much happiness and produces three beautiful children. But as most of us know, life sometimes has other plans. Linke’s wife is diagnosed with breast cancer and before long he finds himself a single dad with not a clue as to how to move forward.

Linke shares his deep debilitating grief while humorously revealing his attempts at dating and parenting. It’s a time of  pain and desperation but somehow Linke carries on.

Eventually, through an unexpected introduction, he meets a beautiful actress called Christine and he is instantly smitten. His nerves however get the better of him and he makes an obnoxious first impression. The opportunity almost implodes but the actress gives him another chance and gradually a deep, caring relationship is formed and a broken family slowly becomes whole again.

Expertly directed by I_T_Paul Linke8EDWARD EDWARDS, Linke’s story is brought to life through a series of projected photographs that ably connects the audience to Linke’s loved ones.

This is a beautiful journey. One that is honestly and openly shared. It is hard not to shed a tear, nor to feel empathy during Linke’s 70 minute performance. He celebrates the magnitude of life, the power of love and applauds the contributions of those around him who helped turn his life around. And isn’t that something we can all relate to? Seeing “It’s Time,” may compel you say thank you, or I love you to those who matter the most in your life.

When: IT’S TIME runs at 8pm on Fridays, 5pm Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays through December 4, 2016 (no performances November 25 – 27).

Where: Ruskin Group Theatre is located at 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

How Much: Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors, and guild members) and can be purchased in advance by calling (310) 397-3244 or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com Ample free parking available.

 

 

Skulduggery – Never Trust A Ghost

Play Review by:Peter Foldy

MICHAEL SHAW FISHER’S musical prequel to Hamlet, SKULLDUGGERY, currently playing at the Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood, is an emancipation of one of history’s most epic stories. Fisher takes Shakespeare’s greatest play and extracts the core, bringing the characters to life in a most vibrant and colorful way. In particular, Fisher shines a light on Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the villain of the original story, showing us his human perspective.

Skullduggery takes placeskullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29404314503_o years before the birth of young Hamlet. Claudius is a meek and poetic teenager when he and his brother, the imposing Hamlet Senior, meet Gertrude for the first time. Emotions run high among the three youngsters and an attraction between Claudius and Gertrude is apparent. With the kingdom is on the brink of war swift choices must be made. Claudius’ sickly demeanor makes him more of a battlefield liability than a viability and he is soon left behind while Hamlet and their father, known only as “The King,” leave for war. Seven years later Hamlet Senior returns to Elsinore and takes Gertrude as his bride, leaving his brother nursing a broken heart.

Time passes. Chaos ensues and the country is forced to reconcile with the new, warmongering king.

While this may sound dark and gloomy, Skullduggery is also a light-hearted musical romp with songs such as “Never Trust A Ghost,” “Girl Talk” skullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29737035550_oand “Snake In The Garden.” The play attempts to reveal answers missing from the original Hamlet. What really happened to Yorkick? What fate befell Ophelia and Laertes’ mother. The skeletons in Shakespeare’s masterpiece all come come out to play and ultimately, Claudius is faced with his most difficult decision. To kill or not to kill?

JOHN BOBEK as Claudius convincingly transforms from a poetic teen, filled with puppy love, to a murderous villain and the nemesis of Shakespeare’s classic play. DAVID HAVERTY creates an ominous force as Hamlet Senior, while LEIGH WULFF’S brilliant and melodic Gertrude brings them together and helps to reveal the humanity in the villain.

JOE FRIA (substituting last week for Brendan Hunt) as Yorick is a stunt-laden spectacle while CURT BONNEM as Polonius and REBECCAskullduggery-the-musical-prequel-to-hamlet_29404310583_o LARSEN as Berta, bring a lighthearted, comedic essence to the production.

The Scenic Design by DEANNE MILLAIS and the costumes by LINDA MUGGERIDGE bring character and a sense of reality to the incredible story.

Fisher’s intelligent play, (he wrote the script and the music), SCOTT LEGGETT’S sure handed direction, NATASHA NORMAN’S fluid choreography and MICHAEL TEOLI’S impressive musical direction, (leading a tight 10 piece band), make Skulduggery a not to be missed theatrical event. It’s a Broadway worthy production right here in our own backyard.

WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday Matinees at 3pm. Ending November 5.

COST: $25 online at http://www.sacredfools.org or by calling 310 281 8337

Moral Imperative At Theatre 40

Play review by: Peter Foldy

A moral imperative is a strongly-felt principle that compels a person to act. It is when something must happen because it’s the right thing to do.

Using this definition it might have been correct to eliminate Adolph Hitler before he ignited World War II. Or to have disposed of Charlie Manson before he and his minions went on their murderous rampage. While I suspect moral imperatives are seldom murder related, SAMUEL WARREN JOSEPH’S riveting new play, MORAL IMPERATIVE, tackles a dilemma that does ultimately lead to someone’s demise.

Joseph’s M_I_0109 copy 2 story concerns “Seth” (MARTIN THOMPSON) a self righteous professor and Provost who has waited patiently to be appointed president of Briarton University, his Alma Mater. Seth’s world is shattered when his most hated rival, Oscar (DAVID HUNT STAFFORD) is unexpectedly bestowed that prestigious position.

When Oscar’s modus operandi becomes clear it drives Seth to the edge of desperation. Oscar, we discover, intends to eliminate tenure for the professorial staff, start a school hockey team, and perhaps most offensive, start a hotel management school.

Already disgusted with the dumbing down of America, Seth seethes with anger as he commiserates with his close friend and colleague, “Robert” (KEN KAMLET). As they discuss various options, German philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s name is mentioned and Seth suggests that perhaps it is their moral imperative to wipe Oscar from the face of the earth. It takes some convincing but a plot is hatched and eventually executed, but not without complications.

Seth finally realizes his dream and becomes University president, delivering a touching eulogy at Oscar’s funeral. His partner in crime however slowly begins to unravel.

Soon a Colombo like detective, (BRANDEE STEGER) pits Robert and Seth against each other in order to confirm her suspicions that Oscar didn’t die of natural causes. Here the play takes some brilliant Hitchcockian turns as it spirals toward it’s poignant conclusion.

Director, HOWARD STORM,M_I_0236 copy 2 expertly guides his talented cast through this twisted thriller. One and all deliver stellar performances.

Martin Thompson as “Seth” capably hides his desperation as a pompous man with little left to lose. SUSAN DAMANTE as his wife, “Mary” is powerful as a woman who recognizes the truth but tries to ignore it for as long as possible. Ken Kamlet as the volatile Robert is compelling. It is painful to watch him unravel and crumble.

The set design by JEFF G RACK is detailed and exceptional. At times I felt like I was watching a wide screen movie.

If you’re fan of intelligent theater, Moral Imperative is the play to see.

WHERE: Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. The venue is on the campus of Beverly Hills High School and there is free parking.

WHEN: Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00, Mon. at 8:00

TICKET PRICES: $30.

HOW: Reservations may be made by calling (310) 364-0535 or online at www.theatre40.org.

 

 

 

Siamese Sex Show Will Leave You Smiling–And Maybe Scratching Your Head

Review by Peter Foldy

Who cares if the story line of the SIAMESE SEX SHOW by JOHN PAPAGEORGE, now playing at the Lounge Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood make little sense. It’s a light-hearted romp with great costumes and talented singers and dancers performing radio worthy pop tunes that are going to entertain and have you leaving the theater with a smile on your face.

Okay, you really want SSS_0159 copyto know what the show is about?

Let me try and explain it if I can.

We’re in the future. A mysterious military, industrial, entertainment complex called Monocorp has fabricated a global epidemic claiming that sex will lead to certain death. By controlling our most basic human need Monocorp stands to profit. Why you ask? Because they have created a “safe” sex product called the Love Light that is guaranteed to increase their power and wealth. Or something.

This somehow brings the world to the brink of an apocalypse and it will now take four fallen pop stars to overcome their pop star differences and band together in order to stop Monocorp’s evil agenda.

Are you following me?

If not it really doesn’t matter, because here’s SSS_0078 copythe thing. The Siamese Sex Show is a hoot. Director, KIFF SCHOLL, calls it “a living comic book that satirizes pop music, technology, and of course sex,” and while the story line may be a yawn to some, the show is a joy ride with cutting edge music and some stand out performances.

The entire cast gives it their all. Some are worthy of special mention.

EDDIE GUTIERREZ as “George O Thornhill” delivers a Broadway worthy turn as a nerdy Clark Kent type who ultimately betrays Monocorp. A strong singer and dancer Mr. Gutierrez presence here centers the craziness whenever he’s on stage.

ERIN RYE is hilarious as a sex robot with a “Doctor Evil” like tic, placing her little finger in the corner of her mouthSSS_0362 copy before speaking. Her joyful exuberance in this role is contagious.

RICCARDO BERDINI is at ease as “Mr. Hadji,” an Italian magician who also happens to be a great singer, while JILLIAN EASTON is an alluring love interest.

JANELLE DOTTE, MIKI HOLMES, ALYSSA NOTO and DAYNA ALICE AUSTIN, the four beautiful ladies the play calls “The Board” are excellent in their song and dance routines.

Other impressive cast members include ISAAC CRUZ, SEAN LEON, CLOIE WYATT TAYLOR and KEITH E. WRIGHT.

Kudos to APRIL THOMAS’ choreography, MICHAEL MULLEN’S costume design, SHEILA DORN’S wig and makeup design, DAVID OFFNER’S sets, YEE EUN NAM’S production design as well as the effective lighting by KELLEY FINN.

Produced by RACQUEL LEHRMAN and Associate Produced by VICTORIA WATSON of Theatre Planners, Book, Music and Lyrics by JOHN PAPAGEORGE, Rap Lyrics by rap lyrics by KOOL KEITH, MISTAH FAB ans J DIGGS, Siamese Sex Show is presented by El Greco Production.

WHEN:
Performances through Nov. 13:
Fridays October 14, 21, 28, November 4, 11 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays October 15, 22, 29 November 5, 12 at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays October 9, 16, 23, 30 November 6, 13 at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:
Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA  90038

TICKET PRICES:
$30 general admission

HOW:
(323) 960-7738 or http://www.plays411.com/siamese

Check out the music for the Siamese Sex Show here: http://www.siamesesexshow.com/music1.html

Finding Your Stride In Hollywood Is Like Dating An Alien

–PLAYWRIGHT NEIL McGOWAN HAS BEEN THERE–

You just have to put yourself out there. In order to find “the one,” it can turn into a search far and wide…perhaps to other worlds. Sounds like the perfect analogy for the artists’ journey.

Neil McGowan’s new play, “My Girlfriend is An Alien! by Keith DeFacto,” is having its world premiere in Venice, California at the award winning Pacific Resident Theatre. The company’s main stage seasons are touted for their exquisite productions of the lesser-produced classics by some of the world’s best writers. Currently, Tennessee Williams’ “The Eccentricities of a Nightingale” (Critics’ Choice – LA Times; Ovation Recommended) has just extended through September 25th. But, at the other end of the same block, on their second stage, it’s a whole different world…with aliens.

Director Guillermo Cienfuegos explained, “at first glance, perhaps you see a spoof on B Science Fiction movies. Looking deeper, you’ll discover a play about a guy who’s putting on a play to get a girl to fall in love with him – and it’s not going well. This play is about the struggle of the creative process, and being brave enough to put yourself out there, and to riskImage 1 being judged. Will this guy give up and run away when things get scary, or will he take a chance and risk it all, not knowing what the outcome will be?”

Isn’t that exactly what it’s like sometimes in this town when you’re working in the business and trying to crack the code? But, this is a comedy. We caught up with writer Neil McGowan and director Guillermo Cienfuegos and got some fun and insightful perspectives on the journey of life, love, and the business of using your creative mind in Hollywood.

HR: Neil, are you into aliens or is your play a metaphor for something else? How did this piece come about and why did you choose Guillermo Cienfuegos to direct it?

Neil: Actually, the alien aspect was one of the last things to appear in my process. The play is about a writer/actor having a crisis of confidence about himself, as an artist and person, in real time during a performance of his own play. I realized that I was essentially going to have to write two plays. I knew that whatever the play-within-the-play was about should mirror, on many levels, what was happening personally to Keith DeFacto, the fictitious playwright. Themes of alienation, and not fitting in, seemed to dovetail nicely with the things that DeFacto is dealing with. It also helped to strengthen the love story that happens within the play.

My first girlfriend in high school might as well have been an alien, because my understanding of women and love in general was so unsophisticated. The result was something that was simultaneously terrifying and exciting. I would imagine falling in love with an alien at any age would be pretty similar to falling in love for the first time.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with Guillermo a few times. He directed me as an actor in a series of plays written by Keith Stevenson (who plays Keith DeFacto in “My Girlfriend is an Alien…) called “The Fried Meat Trilogy.” Guillermo is especially great with new plays, which typically need a lot more than just someone to show up and tell the actors where to stand. For this play, I really needed someone to explain to me what I had written, essentially. I knew he wouldn’t give up until the two of us, and the entire cast, solved this crazy puzzle.

HR: Guillermo, when did you become aware of “My Girlfriend is an Alien…” and what was your first impression?

Guillermo: I was a big fan of Neil’s play “Lone-Anon,” produced by Rogue Machine. I’ve always considered him to be an extremely talented and funny writer and actor, so I was happy when he asked me to direct this. I was expecting it to have an inventive, complex and unusual voice, and I was not disappointed.

HR: Why are you staging it at Pacific Resident Theatre? Aren’t they known for presenting the classics?

Neil: They have a well-earned reputation for producing classic plays, but the truth is…there is no better theater in L.A. for developing a play. Their workshop space provides a safe place for any company member to produce whatever they want, for a short run, guarded from the risk of it being reviewed. ImageMany plays from their program have become fully realized productions, even moving to New York. I hope PRT starts getting the credit it deserves for the chances it has taken with new plays and for the opportunities that it has given to emerging playwrights in this city.

Guillermo: I consider Pacific Resident Theatre to be my home, so when it came to producing “My Girlfriend is an Alien…” it was really a no brainer.

HR: What is the most essential element to get right when you’re launching a new play? How about the most challenging?

Neil: It’s different for each play. For this piece, which attempts to do so much on a few different levels, the most challenging and essential element has been clarity. Making sure that within all of the humor, pathos and high-concept ideas, there is a through-line that is easily followed and understood. But most of all it really is a comedy, so it should be purely entertaining and have the audience walking out of the theater feeling better than when they walked in.

Guillermo: With a new play, the first thing to make sure of is that the characters and relationships are clear and that the story tracks. We work-shopped the play for some time to make sure of that – although Neil’s script was pretty strong to begin with. From a director’s POV, the first essential element is the casting. Particularly, with an unusual comedy like this – the actors need to be able to approach the scenes and events in the play in a totally real way while always embracing the comic anarchy. It takes a very good and very flexible cast, which I’m thrilled to have, across the board.

HR: Why do you think that comedy is important for telling this story?

Neil: It’s difficult for me to imagine writing something that doesn’t involve a fair amount of pain, and therefore it’s impossible for me to conceive of writing something that isn’t also funny. As an audience member, I respond best to the plays, movies and TV shows that are able to get that balance right.

Guillermo: I agree. I’ve never come across any material that couldn’t be deepened and improved by finding the humor in it. The main character in this case, Keith DeFacto, finds himself facing the most challenging personal and professional crises of his life, simultaneously, and it’s all happening in front of an audience. For DeFacto, these are very real and serious problems – but that’s also fertile ground for comedy. I think Neil and I have done everything we can do to tell the story of DeFacto’s struggle, while always remembering to find the funny.

HR: Your play “Lone-Anon” was made into a film, to be released next year. Do you write plays with the idea in mind to have them developed into movies?

Neil: Not at all, it’s enough of a challenge to finish a playImage 2 without trying to imagine it in some other medium at the same time. “Lone-Anon” becoming a movie was a bit of a fluke that I wasn’t expecting. Although, I do have to say that it was a lot of fun, adapting my own idea into something completely different. Since I tend to have a lack of ideas that really excite me enough to sit down and work on, I’ve begun thinking in terms of recycling old ideas and other things that I’ve written and perhaps developing them in other media.

HR: Why do you think audiences will enjoy this play?

Guillermo: It’s a very funny script, and we have a very funny cast, so unless you don’t like laughing I think you’re going to enjoy yourself.

Neil: I feel like it hits a sweet spot. It’s uniquely thought provoking, without being too “out there.” It touches on universal feelings of self-doubt and self-worth and being human and falling in love. It manages to talk about those things in ways that feel new, and have not been seen a thousand times before. Most of all, it is just fun and filled with joy. There’s an alien, and people in funny costumes, and some of the best actors in Los Angeles.

HR: What else are you both working on now?

Guillermo: I have another play opening this month at Rogue Machine Theatre. It’s the West Coast premiere of a racially charged cat and mouse thriller called “Dutch Masters” by Greg Keller. Slightly different fare than “My girlfriend is an Alien by Keith DeFacto.” I’ve been directing them both at the same time – one during the day and one at night – for the past couple of months. It’s been a lot of fun jumping back and forth from these two very different universes.

Neil: “Loners” (the movie version of Lone-Anon) is very nearly done with post-production. We’re looking forward to the film festivals in 2017. I have another completed play I’d like to workshop at some point, but I’d really love to dive into writing something new. Whether it’s a play or movie or whatever…but I need a good idea first.

The award winning cast includes Dan Cole, Brenda Davidson, Rick Garrison, Ron Geren, Brian Letscher, Sophie Pollono, Michael Prichard, Keith Stevenson, Elspeth Weingarten, and Carole Weyers.

“My Girlfriend Is An Alien! by Keith DeFacto,” written by Neil McGowan, runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm (added performances on Thursdays for September 1, 8, 15, and 29) through October 2, 2016 (No performance on Saturday, Sept. 10th).

Pacific Resident Theatre is located at 703 Venice Blvd. in Venice, CA 90291.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at http://www.pacificresidenttheatre.com or by calling (310) 822-8392.

Church and State by Jason Odell Williams on Stage at The Skylight Theatre

ENTERTAINMENT, POLITICS AND OUR GUN CULTURE

Violence has been present and popular in films since the movie industry began. It attracts audiences, but does it influence audiences to act more aggressively? In this election year politics brings many questions to the surface, including our gun laws.

CHURCH & STATE playwright Jason Odell Williams doesn’t think that film or television is solely to blame for our current gun culture. His latest work examines the way politics touches on subjects like this and influences elections. The play has been chosen by the National New Playwright Network to make its rolling World Premiere at the Skylight Theatre this summer, spotlighting the company’s knack for “in-the-moment-theatre,” developed to reflect current culture and the issues of our time. Wherever you stand on gun laws, however we look at these issues, it seems clear that the conversation is not over. Especially in a year filled with violence.

Jason Odell Williams

Jason Odell Williams

HR: Where does your story start?

Williams: It begins three days before a U.S. Senator’s bid for reelection in North Carolina. After a school shooting he makes an off-the-cuff comment about God, calling into question his previously stated beliefs. As his campaign manager and support camp try desperately to contain the damage, things turn in an unexpected direction.

HR: CHURCH & STATE is getting lots of attention for its rather uncanny “plucked from the headlines” focus on the politics of gun control. Ironically, the automatic weapon mentioned in your play was the same model used in the Orlando massacre. Had you hoped to draw attention to the gun violence issue when you wrote it?

Williams: It’s very sad how timely the play is right now, but it was timely when I first started writing it 3 years ago, and timely when I had the beginning of the idea almost 10 years ago. So while it may seem as if it was plucked from our current headlines, it actually began for me after the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. I went to UVA, so the images on TV of candlelight vigils by my Cavaliers for our rival Hookies touched me profoundly. Then Tucson happened, and I watched the news, riveted and angry. Then Aurora. And I watched again, riveted and angry. Then Newtown. And I’d had enough. A month later, in January 2013, I had a first draft of what would eventually become Church & State.

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HR: Why is this such a meaningful subject for you?

Williams: I don’t know. The issue of guns in America just strikes  a chord with me. Perhaps it’s because while it can make us feel helpless at times, I also feel like something can actually be done about it, if only we as a country had the courage to take action. So I support causes like Everytown.org and SandyHookPromise.org. But I also took action by writing this play. It felt like it was the only thing I could do, the only thing I could control.

The AR-15 was the gun used at Sandy Hook, which is why it’s the one mentioned in the play. And of course later it became the gun used in San Bernardino and Orlando and many others. It’s nicknamed “America’s gun” for a reason. It’s easy to buy, easy to use, and easy to shoot a lot of bullets in a short amount of time.

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HR: What do you hope to achieve with this play?

Williams: I certainly hope it will draws some attention to the issue of gun violence. That was always in the back of my mind as the play developed over time, but I also know that if events like Sandy Hook or Orlando don’t spark change, I have no illusions that my little play will be the thing that does it. I just hope this play can be part of many small ripples in the move toward progress and when we add them all up it will create a seismic shift in our country. And while every writer dreams that their work will live forever, my dream for this play actually is that it will become outdated. And many years from now people will read it and think, “How quaint. Americans used to argue about gun control!”

HR: Do you think that playwrights and producers have a responsibility to educate their audiences?

Williams: Yes and No. I think playwrights try to shed light on and reflect back to audiences what is happening in the world we all share. Inevitably that may teach people new things about themselves or others, but I don’t think that’s the primary goal of theatre. To me the primary goal is to entertain. We have a responsibility to entertain the audience. Do that first, and any sort of education that comes with it is a bonus. But I can’t personally write something with the idea that it will educate people about some issue. At least I can’t start from that place. I always begin by writing people talking. I put characters in a room, in situations that fascinate me, and just let them start talking and see where it takes me. For whatever reason, I’m at a time in my life where religion, guns and politics fascinate me – so that was the world I created for my characters.

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What interests me is a play that gets to the heart of the people around these issues. And when you write about people (not issues) you can’t help but let those people be funny and sad and honest and mean and heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. Because isn’t that what being human is? To me, comedy and tragedy are not two ends of a single line, but two points right next to each other on the same circle. So if this play happens to teach you something, great! But mostly I just hope it makes you feel something: joy, sadness, hope, love, passion for change, all mixed up at the same time. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion so I try to create those moments in my work.

HR: Does Hollywood need to ramp down the violence in film and TV, even in the cartoons for children?

Williams: No. Japan has more violent video games and movies than the U.S., yet they have a fraction of the gun deaths each year, even per capita. I think the issue in America, while complex and rooted in our Wild West nature, is about guns and guns alone. If we could beat the NRA the way we beat Big Tobacco a few years ago, it will go a long way to solving the gun violence epidemic that we have. But Hollywood is the least relevant factor in that equation.

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HR: As an EMMY nominated writer and producer, does it give you more freedom to pick your projects?

Williams: I don’t think so. I’m not actually at a stage in my career where I’m picking and choosing projects that people are offering me. I’m not like Aaron Sorkin (yet!) where people are pitching ideas to me or I’m pitching my own ideas to networks and studios. I don’t have an agent or manager submitting me for stuff, I just write what moves me and inspires me and I hope someone comes along who likes it as much as I do and wants to produce it. But I’m out there hitting the pavement so to speak, trying to get people to read my work. An Emmy nomination didn’t really make much of a difference in terms of getting doors opened. It’s still a daily grind. But maybe that’s a good thing. The hustle is good for an artist!

HR: Before working with them, were you aware that Skylight Theatre Company had several development programs for writers?

Williams: No, I didn’t know about that, but I’ve loved my time so far working with Gary Grossman and Elina de Santos and the amazingly talented cast, so I would love to develop more new work with Skylight in the future!

HR: What experience can audiences expect to have from attending this production?

Williams: I hope this play raises questions, sparks debate, while making them laugh and cry and feel moved. Perhaps moved enough to take action, bumping the needle ever so slightly in the conversation about gun violence. But mostly I hope this play speaks to your heart. Because, for me, that’s the only reason to write anything: to speak to each other’s hearts.

HR: Are you developing more work for the theatre now? What types of projects are in the works?

Williams: I don’t have any new plays that I’m currently working on. I’m almost finished writing my second novel, a middle grade book about a kids cooking competition show (like Cupcake Wars, Junior) called BAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. I’m also adapting my first novel, PERSONAL STATEMENT, into a screenplay – it’s about over-achieving high school kids who volunteer for a hurricane relief effort in an attempt to score points on their college applications. My wife and I are writing that together and we also co-wrote a TV pilot about baseball that was a finalist in a script competition that we’re shopping around. But the next big play idea hasn’t come to me yet. I’ve been happily mired in rewrites for CHURCH & STATE, but I think the next theatrical venture I’d like to tackle is writing a musical! I’ve never done it before, I have no idea how to start, it’s kind of scary and I think that’s a good thing.

CHURCH AND STATE  opens at 8:30pm on July 2nd and runs through August 14th, playing Saturdays 8:30pm and Sundays 3pm. Later in July, it will run in rep with Obama-ology which opens at 8:30pm on July 23rd and runs through August 28, 2016, playing Fridays 8:30 and Sundays 7:00

Where: Skylight Theatre – 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., LA. CA. 90027.

Tickets: $15 – $39 (or two-play package $63).

Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://skylighttix.com