Audio Interview: The Cast of Sugar Plum Fairy at East West Players

The story of Sugar Plum Fairy, based on Loh’s original offering on This American Life, follows a 12 year-old Sandra and her over-the-top dream of landing the lead in the inevitable dance school production of The Nutcracker. Loh and friends are pitted against the vicious hierarchy of desirable roles in this well-weathered ballet, while she desperately yearns to be recognized as a pre-teen queen in her own right. The play features Shannon Holt and Tony Abatemarco in a rotation of quirky characters from her misfit friends to a rigid Russian ballet instructor, as well as being co-conspirators in spreading some literal holiday cheer around the theater. Wittily set to a classical music score (a la Disney’s Fantasia’s hippopotamus ballerinas), Sugar Plum Fairy is knitted together with moments of audience participation, and attendees are encouraged to dress in their most festive outfits, prepare for sugary showers of candy, and get photos for the ‘gram with Yuletide-themed set designs that include reindeer, an animatronic Santa, and even, if you’re lucky, Frosty the Snowman.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of "Sugar Plum Fairy" at East West Players, playing through Dec 22nd. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – December 2 - 9, 2019


Theatrical shows, Musicals, Holiday Shows, and MORE, now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Plaid Tidings

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Leslie Jordan: Deck Them Halls, Y'All

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The San Fernando Valley Master Chorale

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Crimson Cabaret

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Numi Opera Presents Der Ring Des Polykrates

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Mistakes Were Made coulda-woulda-shoulda

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Sam Harris: Unwrapped!

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SCISSORHANDS: A Musical Inspired By The Film

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CHRISTMAS WITH A Z!

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Sugar Plum Fairy

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Audio Interview: Karen Malina White (Charmaine Brown: The Cosby Show/A Different World) stars in "Eight Nights" at Antaeus

Set during eight different nights of Chanukah over the course of eight decades, Eight Nights tells the story of Holocaust survivor Rebecca Blum, who arrives in America at age 19 to forge a new life. As Rebecca moves through time, the play explores the lives that come and go in her New York apartment, where ghosts of the past both haunt and guide her. Maisel lyrically weaves together heart-aching moments with life-affirming humor to call out the trauma experienced not only by concentration camp survivors, but by African American descendants of slavery, by interned Japanese Americans, and by current victims of war in Africa and the Middle East.

Enjoy this interview with Karen Malina White starring in “Eight Nights” at Antaeus, running until Dec 16th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


JOAN OF ART: An Immersive Nutcracker, Bob's Annual Holiday Office Party, and Santasia - A Holiday Comedy

It's that time of month where most of the events coming up have a holiday theme that has absolutely nothing at all to do with shopping which for me is a good thing. I am so burnt out from hearing about all the sales going on. So if you would like another way to spend your money, here are some suggestions that might add some magic to this holiday season.

First up is an enchanting Immersive Nutcracker Cocktail Fete. Even though the show doesn't start until next Thursday, December 12th, tickets are going fast so I'm adding it to my column now.

It's midnight on Christmas - the most magical hour. The Stahibaum family are fast asleep, all except for Clara, whose waking dream leads her on an adventure alongside mischievous mice, candied royalty and a heroic nutcracker.

Travel back in time to experience the classic story of The Nutcracker like never before as actors, music and creative cocktails transform a 19th century parlor into an enchanting winter wonderland. Join your favorite characters as they use everything in the room including you, to create a comical and intimate take on this timeless tale.

This show is part immersive theatre and part cabaret. Guests will also have the option of choosing three tasteful spiked beverages and themed drinks. You will witness first hand the story coming to life all around you with the help of a selection of costumes to dress up in, parlor games and a cheeky remote controlled mouse. You will also get to waltz with the Sugar Plum Fairy, fence alongside the Nutcracker and find yourself cast in some of the lead roles.

THE IMMERSIVE NUTCRACKER COCKTAIL FETE is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season and indulge in true holiday spirit. This is a 21+ event.

The show will take place from 12/12/2019 to 01/19/2020 and is located at 1039 Olive Street, Los Angeles CA 90015. Tickets are $65.00. To purchase tickets and for more information go to fever.com or NutcrackerCocktailFete.com.

On December 5th through the 22nd, BOB'S ANNUAL HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY is returning to the Atwater Village Theatre and having seen this show in the past, I promise you a really over the top fun time.

The show has earned a solid cult following with audiences and critics alike. Playwright Joe Keyes and Rob Elk are proud to bring back the longest running Holiday hit. Now in their 24th year, this hilarious and irreverent comedy has become a vital part of every Christmas season in Los Angeles since 1995.

Briefly, every year insurance agent Bob Finhead's whacked out friends and clients stop by his small town Iowa office for their annual holiday bash. The town Mayor, the Sheriff, the twin Farmer sisters, the stoner, the town floozy and the pastor's wife have already RSVP'd for this year's event, but Bob has dreams of a bigger life and wants to escape their narrow minded thinking.

Will Bob be able to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional inventor and move to the big city or will he come to realize how much he is the heart and soul of the town? Will any of this matter once the party starts, the bickering and fighting begins and the drinks hit the floor?

Well you're just going to have to travel to The Atwater Village Theatre located at 3269 Casitas Avenue to find out.

For more information including cast schedule go to BobsOfficeParty.com or call 1-800-838-3006.

Finally a different kind of comedy show... SANTASIA which is now in its 19th year at the Whitefire Theatre. The show includes an extremely creative and dedicated group of actors who take us on yet another journey through their own very unique Christmas imagination.

They will once again entertain us with their delightfully warped and seasonally fueled stories, songs and glorious dance extravaganzas. At its heart, it's a sketch show with claymation and live action films created by brothers Shan and Brandon Loeser which are liberally sprinkled through the evening and some very elaborate dance numbers choreographed by Tania Pearson-Loeser.

But in the end, this show is really all about love - their love for Christmas, their love for each other and their love for giving us their own very hysterically funny version of what Christmas really means to them all. One moment you will be laughing and the next, you will be wiping a tear from your eye from remembering those who will be missed around the tree this year.

For tickets and more information go to Santasia.com. The Whitefire theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks.

Whatever you choose to do this week, make it a fun one.


Audio Interview: Kathryn Farren stars in Embridge at Little Fish Theatre

In Victorian-era England, love cynic Mabel Martin moves to an enchanting country estate with her eccentric family and meddling servants. But her doubts about love become tested when a charming man offers to help save her sister from a disastrous arranged marriage. This delightful story will captivate theatregoers of all ages.*

Enjoy this interview with Kathryn Farren staring in “Embridge at the Little Fish Theatre, playing through Dec 15th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


La Virgen in Los Angeles - 17 Years And Counting- A Conversation with Playwright Evelina Fernandez

Lauded playwright Evelina Fernandez's gorgeous and long-running annual play pageant La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dio Inantzin (Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of God), will perform at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Downtown Los Angeles for the 17th year on December 6 & 7, at 7:30pm. As she and the team prepare to present the show again this year, I had to find out more about the production, its history, and a few tid bits on this year's presentation.

RQM: This is your 17th year - congratulations on such a long-running and successful run of this special event. Let's go back to the beginning - how did La Virgen get started?

EF: Thanks so much! We, the Latino Theater Company, first produced La Virgen at the Million Dollar Theater in 1991 right after the closing of the original LATC where we were in residence as the Latino Theater Lab and we later performed it at St. Alphonsus Church in East L.A. For those early productions we used El Teatro Campesino's version "La Virgen del Tepeyac" by Luis Valdez. Fast forward to 2002 when Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral was almost completed and our Artistic Director, Jose Luis Valenzuela, thought it would be wonderful to perform "La Virgen" there. The first response from the Cathedral staff was a "no." But, in November they changed their mind and we scrambled to make it happen, not wanting to pass up the opportunity. Campesino's script wasn't available so we decided to write our own adaptation with our own original music and we called it, La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin (Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of God) and we've been doing it ever since.

RQM: One of the things that excites me about the show is that it gives voice to indigenous peoples and celebrates their role in the mythos and ethos of the Virgen story. What research was involved with developing that aspect of the show?

EF: There are many versions of this story. But, the genesis of all of them is the Nican Mopohua, the Nahuatl narrative of the four apparitions of La Virgen de Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. I chose to embrace a new translation, "Tonantzin Guadalupe," by Miguel Leon Portilla (2000) which is a secular recounting of the Nican Mopohua that emphasizes Nahua culture and spirituality, unlike previous translations. I also read any and all scripts of the story that I could get my hands on, from the very religious to the very comical.

RQM: Has the show changed and evolved over the years? If so, how?

EF: Absolutely! The first year we performed at the Cathedral we had hand-held microphones and hand-held lights that began to lose power in the middle of the show. We have added new elements over the years like handmade indigenous costumes and music and dance solos that have grown organically from the participants. The story is the story, but the telling of it has grown and developed into the beautiful production you see today. Several years ago we added english supertitles to make the show more accessible for non-Spanish speakers and, most recently, we've added video projections and new sets that are designed as Mexican folk shadow boxes for the Virgin's apparitions. In addition, the script has changed over the years as I include new rhythms, suggestions and improvisations by the actors, many of whom have performed in the show for 17 years.

RQM: Theatre and religion have long lived hand in hand - back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, and later the Catholic mystery plays. What is the collaborative relationship like with the Cathedral?

EF: From the beginning the collaboration with the Cathedral has been one of mutual respect and support. The first years we performed, Cardinal Mahoney played a key role in introducing the play and the relationship between theater, music and cathedrals throughout history as gathering places to enjoy the arts. The new and open attitude of the Cathedral, the access to all to be on the altar and even sit in the Cardinal's chair made it easy for us to put up the play there. Even now, audiences are surprised that the Aztec dances take place on the altar and even consider it subversive (in the positive sense). After 17 years of working together, we have developed a "system", per se, of offering this holiday gift to all Angelenos and especially to poor and working people who cannot afford to take their families to other holiday offerings in the City.

RQM: I imagine this show attracts both traditional theatre goers as well as those who don't normally attend traditional theatre productions. What's the take away for you as a playwright to write a piece that speaks so broadly and widely to people?

EF: I always say that this is my favorite show because of the community in the play and the people who attend. Many of the participants, actors and community, have been part of the show since the beginning and doing the play is part of their holiday tradition. Yes, it's a play, but for our community, it is so much more. La Virgen de Guadalupe has long been a symbol of social justice for our community because she is the Virgin that looks like us. It's a story of hope and perseverance, but it is also story about racism, classism and the abuse of the indigenous people in Mexico after the conquest. It represents triumph for the underdog and the eventual reconciliation of the indigenous and European which represents who we are now as Mestizos. It's also wonderful to have this pageant attended and lauded by traditional theatre goers because I believe it promotes dignity and understanding of Mexican indigenous culture.

RQM: I've been told we have a new Virgin this year. Tell us a little about her and her work.

EF: Esperanza America has covered for Suzanna Guzman in the past. She's been in many of the Latino Theater Company productions at our theater, the LATC ; "A Mexican Trilogy" and, most recently, she played La Virgen in "The Mother of Henry." She's been in our productions of La Virgen since she was 5 years old. This year Suzanna had a conflict with the dates and so Esperanza is going on for her again. She has a beautiful voice and is a lovely actor. Oh, and she happens to be my and Jose Luis's daughter!


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – November 25 - December 1, 2019


Theatrical shows, Musicals, Holiday Shows, and MORE, now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


This Side of Crazy

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Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles Presents Holiday Spectacular

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Safe Harbor

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Theatre 40 Presents its Holiday Show

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Sunday Dinner

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JOAN OF ART - A Musical About Love, Winter Fun in Downtown LA, A Thousand Lights at Union Station and A Poignant, Raw, Beautifully Written, Directed, and Acted Film

After you have stuffed yourselves with delicious food, and visited friends and family, here are some fun things you might want to do that does not include eating or shopping.

First up is the return of LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This is their biggest, record-breaking hit of the holiday season. The multimedia concert celebration of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time is back by popular demand, now as a not-to-be missed Los Angeles tradition.

The team behind LA's award winning series For the Record transforms the theatre into an immersive cinema, where the modern classic written by Richard Curtis is reborn as a revolutionary stage and screen event.

To tell the story, the film and live action seamlessly intertwine throughout the London setting. Iconic scenes on screen share the stage with an all star cast of singers and a 15-piece orchestra as they reimagine the film's hit soundtrack including 'Christmas is All Around' and 'Trouble With Love.'

'Love Actually Live' is a first-of-its-kind theatrical cinema experience. The show runs from November 27th - December 29th. To purchase tickets and for more information visit TheWallis.org/Love or call 310-745-4000.

The Wallis-Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Next up is something fun for the whole family and one of my favorite things to do...ICE SKATING...Growing up in New York City once the winter was upon us, you could find me with my white skates with pink pom poms ice skating at New York's famed Rockefeller Center. It was always a magical, super fun experience even when I'd fall on my butt which I did more times than not.

Now you can lace up your skates and have the same experience as I did at PERSHING SQUARE HOLIDAY ICE SKATING RINK.

Open daily as of November 14th 2019 until January 20, 2020, you won't want to miss this magical winter wonderland that promises to delight all people of all ages. So grab your family, friends, co-workers or a date and visit The Bai Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square for festive fun and unforgettable memories.

The is their 22nd Anniversary Season so you know they're doing something right. Also every Tuesday throughout the rink, the season will be dedicated to FROZEN. Ice rink lights will be predominantly blue and every third song played will be from the FROZEN'S original Broadway Cast Recording at 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm.

For more information go to HolidayIceRinkDowntownLA.com. or call 313-624-4289.

 

Speaking of Downtown, at Union Station THOUSANDS OF LUMINOUS LIGHTS are setting the stage for a month long holiday celebration which started on Thursday November 21st.

The holiday season Union Station's historic south patio will be transformed into a hub of holiday entertainment with a Luminous Holiday Light Display, a Tree Lighting Ceremony, illuminating a towering tree with thousands of glistening lights as snowdrifts from the sky fall to welcome the holiday season.

Additionally, the station's iconic clock tower will be adorned with a massive 20 foot wide wreath. There will be a month-long series of eclectic Cocoa Concerts and a Holiday Festival and Artisan Market featuring a distinctive diverse performers, artists and artisans from across Los Angeles.

The Union Station Holiday Festival, a pop-up artisan market, rolls into the station's south patio on Saturday December 7th from 10am to 6pm with more than 40 of L.A.'S most sought after artists and artisans, live entertainment, a Beer Garden, food truck favorites and fun, free activities for the kids.

The Cocoa Concert series continues on Friday, December 6 at 6:40pm (Latin beats from the Congas ), Friday, December 13th, 6:30pm (The singing sounds of the HI-FI HONEYDROPS AND Friday, December 20th, 6:30pm (Special Guests to be announced).

There will also be Santa selfies, a Candy Cane Lane where custom neon photo-op will make your season bright alongside a soaring Candy Cane Queen and holiday-themed arts, crafts and interactive games and entertainment.

I'm taking my eleven year old niece there next weekend and I'm probably going to have just as much fun as she will. For additional information on holiday events at Union Station, check out 'happenings' at UnionStationLA.com.

Lastly I high recommend one of my favorite films of the year MARRIAGE STORY, written and directed by NOAH BAUMBACH, who is also one of my favorite screenwriters. This 2019 films stars the fantastic Scarlett Johansson and the equally fantastic Adam Driver along with the wonderful Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta and Julie Hagerty.

The film follows a married couple going through a coast to coast divorce. You can see it in theaters around town and it will also be streaming on NETFLIX starting on December 6th. The film received widespread critical acclaim particularly for Baumbach's screenplay and direction as well as the acting of Johansson, Driver and Dern.

MARRIAGE STORY is at times funny, extremely raw and deeply emotional. Driver plays a successful theatre director in New York City. His theatre company is currently producing a play that stars his wife Nicole (Johansson) a former teen film actress. That's all I really want to say about it except that I promise, you will be thinking about this film long after the credits end. I know I was.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays even though I'm a staunch vegetarian. For me it's all about getting together with people that I love and sharing what we are all thankful for. I hope that you all besides having fun and experiencing delicious food, take a moment and reflect on all the things in your life that you are grateful for.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – November 18 - 24, 2019


Theatrical shows, Musicals, Holiday Shows, Comedy, LGBTQ Theatre, Politics, Fundraiser Cabaret, and MORE, now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Department of Dreams

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Out of the Eclipse

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Twas the Night Before Christms

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The Great Leap

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Nick Rubando's Hollywood Return - Fundraiser Cabaret

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Fifteen Men in a Smoke Filled Room

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Sweeney Todd

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Julius Caesar

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See You at the Funeral

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Dysfunctional Family Christmas

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This Side of Crazy

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It's a Wonderful Life

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The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf

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The Tony Martini Variety Hour

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Bill Morrison's Dawson City: Frozen Time Live!

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Bad Habits

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An Ocean in my Soul

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Audio Interview: Haile D'Alan stars in THE ART OF DINING at the Gloria Gifford Conservatory

The play takes place in the late 70s in upscale New Jersey at the shore. Ellen and Cal have opened a restaurant, The Golden Carrousel, and after four weeks, the place is taking off with the dinner crowd. Ellen is the passionate gourmet chef, and Cal is the passionate Maitre’D, host, waiter and bartender. They have been married for eight years and this restaurant is their baby. Tonight, we join them and their very eccentric guests as Cal worries about paying off their $75,000 business loan, impressing the diners for future reservations, and Ellen lovingly and sensually creates gourmet meals. Tonight’s guests are the married people who are gourmands and cannot control any of their appetites; the women who show up to eat and diet at the same time; the shy, neurotic, romantic female writer hoping for everything who is meeting the charming, debonair publisher who has an appetite for life. Everyone craves and eats and laughs, and the audience will smell the food, join in the laughter, and feel the passion, and eat.*

Enjoy this interview with Haile D'Alan staring in “THE ART OF DINING at the Gloria Gifford Conservatory, playing through Dec 8th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website

Haile D'Alan stars in The Art of Dining

Haile D'Alan stars in The Art of Dining

www.better-lemons.com /Oct 19-Dec 8
Juicy. Delicious. Salivate your way through THE ART OF DINING by award winning playwright Tina Howe. A hilarious exploration of tantalizing appetites and desires. Then eat with the cast. Gourmet meals at every show.


JOAN OF ART: A Very Merry Magic Mania, Cars and More Cars, Evolution of L.A. Street Art and a Musical Icon

I know a lot of you are busy Xmas shopping and taking advantage of all the sales going on, but if you decide to take a break from all that and want to have some fun, here's a few events that you should check out.

One of my favorites is A VERY MERRY MAGIC MANIA hosted by Magician Extraordinaire Albie Selznick. I've seen many of Albie's shows and have always been blown away by his talent.

After a summer of bringing magic to the masses at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Albie is back with a new show called A VERY MERRY MAGIC MANIA. It will still be at the Santa Monica Playhouse, but instead of Mondays, it will be Saturday and Sunday evenings, from November 23rd through December 29th.

This Saturday at 8pm magicians Trigg Watson, Chris Randall, Dave Cox and Chris Moorman will be performing while on Sunday at 3pm Michael O' Brien will be added to the show.

A VERY MERRY MAGIC MANIA offers the opportunity to see multiple world class magicians in an intimate venue. Albie's guest magicians have appeared on America's Got Talent, Penn & Teller: Food Us, Masters of Illusion, Wizard Wars, to name just a few.

For tickets or more information go to MagicManiaLA.com or call 310-586-1166.

Now besides magic I love cars. Well in truth I love vintage cars, but I still can't resist going to the LA AUTO SHOW every year and this year is no different. Starting Friday, November 22nd through Sunday December 1st one of the world's largest auto shows with 1,000 vehicles will return to LA and I can't wait to see what the future holds when it comes to driving.

This show is a one stop shop for comparison shopping for cars, trucks, SUV'S, electric vehicles and more without any sales pressure.

Whether you're shopping for a new vehicle, or just want to do some free test drives while experiencing the latest tech or exploring an assortment of customized rides and exotics, you will find it here at the LA AUTO SHOW at the LA CONVENTION CENTER, 1201 South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA next to the Staples Center.

Besides the cars, there will be numerous celebrity appearances from the entertainment, sports and automotive worlds and they're available for meet and greets, autograph signings and selfie sessions. For more information go to LAAutoShow.com or call (310) 444-1850.

Another thing I can't get enough of is STREET ART. I've walked the streets of downtown L.A. where I saw some of the best Graffiti art. Well now you don't have to travel that far to see some great Street Art. Just go over to the Annenberg Space For Photography on Friday, November 22nd at 7pm where you'll find THE EVOLUTION OF STREET ART IN LA, an evening with Judy Baca, Brooklyn-based street artist Swoon, and graffiti artist Saber.

Since the 1970's street artists - from muralists to graffiti artists have tried to 'maintain real estate.' Whether protecting giant murals from small but marring graffiti tags, to ensuring giant 'bombs' are not whitewashed by city or state authorities, L.A.'S STREET ART SCENE has battled to preserve its representation of the city's civic life.

Building on these themes for this lecture and discussion, muralist and Social and Public Art Resource Center co-founder Judy Baca will present on the transformation of L.A.'S storied mural and graffiti art scenes.

Known best for her work, The Great Wall of Los angeles (1976-83, Baca will also lead a conversation with the Brooklyn based street artist Caledonia Curry (aka Swoon) and graffiti artist Saber to explore the roles graffiti and mural art plays in representing marginalized communities in a quickly gentrifying city.

The Annenberg Space for Photography is located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, in LA 90067. For more information go to AnnenbergSpaceForPhotography.org.

Last but never least there is a Musical icon performing at the Wiltern Theatre. The icon is known simply as MADONNA.

We all know she gives larger-than-life performances so it'll be interesting to see her 'scaling-down.' Ahead of the release of her new album, MADAME X, Madonna is embarking on a small-ish theatre tour including 11 nights at the Wiltern Theatre located at 3780 Wilshire Blvd, in Koreatown, 90010.

The doors open at 7:30pm but Miss M. won't be going on until 10:30pm. The tour actually started on Tuesday, November 19th and continues through Monday November 28th. For more dates, times, tickets, etc go to Wiltern.com.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you all have a blast.

Justin-Sayre-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Dean-Stewart

Dedicated to Camp: A Conversation with Justin Sayre about Ravenswood Manor and Much More

Writer, producer, performer Justin Sayre's episodic camp extravaganza Ravenswood Manor closes this coming weekend after a very successful run at Celebration Theatre. Between episode rehearsals, I buzzed with Justin to spill some tea on the show, it's origins, the production process, and more. Catch the last week of Ravenswood because they are ending with a BANG, honey!

For tickets, go to CelebrationTheatre.com/ravenswood

Roger Q. Mason (RQM): Justin, you are a riot! What you've done beautifully is successfully shown audiences the breadth and depth of authentic camp (in the best way). Tell me about the origins of Ravenswood Manor.

Justin Sayre (JS): I wanted to write a long-form play for a while, and I was  searching for something Camp. I'm very dedicated to Camp. I think it's the cornerstone of Queer art, and I really thought it was time to take the leap. For a long time, my best friend, whom I've pitched every project I've ever written, had always told me of my similarity in thought and practice to Charles Ludlam. It took me a little while to catch up. I thought doing something episodically would be helpful since I had been writing for Television for a couple of years. I loved Dark Shadows, and thought a gothic setting would be perfect for Camp. Then the ideas just started flowing. I did a first reading of the first six episodes at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre with an incredible cast that included Jeff Hiller, Nathan Lee Graham, Jenn Harris and many more. It was so fun, I just wanted to keep doing it. Now I've had another chance. I'm already looking forward to the next.

(RQM): You are writer, performer, and producer on this project. As a fellow multi-disciplinary artist, I'd love to learn more about your process from page to stage.

(JS): Well, that's very broad! I started as an actor, so I have to see it. I don't write a lot of stage directions in my plays unless the lines need it to make sense. I like to find rhythms and space in the room. The stuff I know and want, I write in. But I love problem-solving. So much of my creation is about problem-solving. I also like using the theatre for what it is. You can't do CGI or crazy special effects in the theatre, or at least it's very hard to do them well. I like to create theatre magic, which is more about imagination and human stagecraft. I like making things in front of people and making the audience an active participant in the process of making the show, even if it's just imagining the scenery. I like the collaboration of making in the room. So I always want to work with the best. That's why the actors I strive for are always so brilliant. I don't like to micromanage. I like to facilitate flight.

(RQM): Serialized theatre is an exciting and rigorous beast. It relies on the magic of a killer script, fantastic, adventuresome actors, and grounded, inspired directors. What's it been like building this piece in the room with your team? On the afternoon I saw the show, you were readying for rehearsal of the next episode right after taking well-deserved bows from the work just presented.

(JS): I should say, that we go in with the script, and I would say 98% is on the page. I am a firm believer in doing my work. But I've also been trained not to be precious about a joke. If one doesn't work, we'll find another. What I'm always first listening for is, does the story track and does it all make good dramatic sense. I would be disingenuous to say that the show lives all on the page. I'm working with some of the most brilliant and insightful comedic actors in the country, to not let them form a joke to themselves or to add a little aside, that comes from their character, would be folly. But we all begin with the page, and then it's play. We've often said backstage that we're working so terribly hard, a new play each week for 6 weeks, but we're all so happy doing it. We all have our bits, we all have our weeks to shine and we all generally and genuinely like each other. It's a brilliant process.

Angela Cristantello as Claire the witch and Leslie-Ann Huff as Debbie the witch in Ravenswood Manor

Angela Cristantello as Claire the witch and Leslie-Ann Huff as Debbie the witch in Ravenswood Manor. Photo by Bryan Carpender.

(RQM): This show feels very much like work I've seen in New York. I love that it is happening and being received well here in LA. How do we continue challenging and engaging our Angeleno theatre audiences?

(JS): I think there is great theatre going on out here, and I think LA is only ready for more. Ravenswood feels like New York because I still feel like I'm in New York and come out of that sensibility. I think the thing that needs to happen in LA, is that we all, artists and audiences, need to create a culture of going to the theatre. Of making things the MUST SEE event in LA. We need to make the reality of the theatre here a bigger deal, simply because there's already great work going on.

(RQM): After the final episode of Ravenwood, what's next for you?

(JS): I am working on a few TV projects, but I am headed out of LA for a bit to go and work on my newest book. My show The GAyBC's has been turned into a book that will be released by Chronicle Books in 2020. I'm also going to New York next week to do a show at Joe's Pub and celebrate my 10 years in Cabaret. After that, two new plays this year and the second season of Ravenswood Manor. You know a few things, just to keep me off the street.

Featured photo: Justin-Sayre - Photo by Matthew Dean Stewart