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


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – November 11 - 17, 2019


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

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


Chico's Angels: Chica's in Space

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Dory Phantasmagory

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Arcadia

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I Get Restless

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The Scarlet Letter

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Outside Mullingar

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

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Fireflies

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She Loves Me

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A Christmas Carol

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Aubergine

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Fertile

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The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever

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A Very Happy Goyisha Hannukah

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Three Jews and a Blonde Walk Into The Braid

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Taboo II

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Max and Willy's Last Laugh

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A Christmas Rush at the Movies

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Pockets

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Embridge

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Bucket List Cabaret: Dark & Dirty

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The Christmas Present

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Dear Yoko

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Salvage

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Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

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It's A Wonderful Life - Charity Screening

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Charley's Aunt

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Marvels of Magic

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – November 4 - 10, 2019


Theatrical shows, Musicals, Staged Readings, Solo Shows, LGBTQ Theatre, and MORE, now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


Saint Joan

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For The Loyal

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The Manor

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Seven

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Wild at Hart

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Niki Haris and Donna De Lory

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Santasia: A Holiday Comedy

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The Legend of Georgia McBride

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The World is My Home: The Life of Paul Robison

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Big Queer Convo: 50 Years of Queer Theatre

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A Night in _____ Shorts

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Hot Tragic Dead Thing

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Enerjoyce: Evolution of a Pisces Baby Boomer

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Hot off the Press: Staged Readings at the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival

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Bunny the Elf LIVE!

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The Man Who Came to Dinner

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A Twisted Christmas Carol

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Little Black Dress: The Musical

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Growing Gills to Drown in the Desert

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Ashton's Audio Interview: the cast of "Mono/Poly" at Odyssey Theatre

Two monogamous couples encounter a polyamorous triad at a costume party. The triad becomes entwined in the business and personal lives of the first two couples, forcing them to examine their long-held beliefs about love and marriage. Although sexually free, the members of the triad adhere to their own fairly rigid ethical code. Who’s moral now? Will the couples and the triad live happily ever after?*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Mono/Poly” at Odyssey Theatre, running until Nov 10th. 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


Ashton's Audio Interview: Sharon Lawrence - Sylvia Costas Sipowicz in the ABC drama series NYPD Blue stars in "A Kid Like Jake" at the Pasadena Playhouse

Pearle’s acclaimed play is a study of intimacy and parenthood, and the fantasies that accompany both.*

Enjoy this interview with Sharon Lawrence and the cast of “A Kid Like Jake” at the Pasadena Playhouse, running until Nov 3rd. 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 – September 23 - 29, 2019

Theatrical shows, Film Festivals, and Musicals NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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

Short & Sweet Film Festival

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The Outsider

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Operation Ajax

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Absolutely Halloween

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You Don't Know My Life!

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Do Us Part

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The Surveillance Triogy

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Mono/Poly

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Cock

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Living After

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My Favorite Suicide

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(IM)PERFEKT

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LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

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The Italian in Me

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Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “The Surveillance Trilogy” at Theatre 40

1953 Los Angeles. A couple returns home to discover they are being spied upon by government informants. 2017 Havana, a doctor and his patient grapple with the debilitating effects of espionage that have nearly shuttered the U.S. Embassy. 2019 Encino, a screenwriter discovers her artificial intelligence assistant is listening in with an agenda all its own. This play reveals the past and present ways our relationships, our electronic devices, and our very lives can be spied upon — and turned against us.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “The Surveillance Trilogy” at Theatre 40, playing through Oct 14th. 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 – September 16 - 22, 2019

Theatrical shows, Film Festivals, Fringe Festivals, Dance, and Shakespeare NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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

Rooftop Screams at the Montalban

The Addams Family

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Evil Dead

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Hocus Pocus

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Dawn of the Dead

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The Mummy

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Ghostbusters

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Beetlejuice

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Get Out

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Coco

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Theatrical Festivals, Shows, and Dance Performances

Gem of the Ocean

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Driving Wilde

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To Dad With Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen

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Charlotte Stay Close

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My Name is Mommy

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Jack and the Giant

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Fools

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Fertile

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Yoga Play

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Titus Andronicus

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Tonoccus McClain: Living A Why Not Life

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Buried Child

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The Chinese Lady

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Little Shop of Horrors

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Measure for Measure

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I Never Saw Another

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The Music Man

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Never is Now

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Miss Lilly Gets Boned

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The Dumb Waiter

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Barrymore

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Romeo and Juliet

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HalfTruths, Full Plate

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Milkcrate Monologues Vol. 1

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TST Sum Poetry

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Conversations 'Bout the Girls

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Art is Useless When You're Being Mauled by a Bear

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Fourth Annual Binge Fringe Festival of FREE Theatre

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Masoch and Desade

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4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane

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Peter & the Wolf Presented by LA Youth Ballet

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – September 9 - 15, 2019

Theatrical shows and Staged Readings NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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

Through A Magicians Eyes: Starring Blaise
Serra

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House Of Me

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The Music Of Brian Gallagher

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Thelma Houston: From Sunshower To Motown

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In Trousers

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Sight Unseen

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Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

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The Pack

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The Three Musketeers At North Coast Rep Theater School

Sh

More Guns!

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Opening Night: The Improvised Musical

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The Really Awesome Improv Show

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Canuck As F*ck

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Life In Boobs

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All My Sons

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Omniscope: Dance And Architecture Show

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Supportive White Parents

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To T, Or Not To T

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Steve Grand: The Pink Champagne Tour

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The Nosotros 49th Annual Golden Eagle Awards at The Montalbán Theatre

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Ashton's Audio Interview: Derek Chariton - Heinrich (Stargate Origins) stars in "Andy Warhol’s Tomato" at Pacific Resident Theatre

Pittsburgh folklore has it that there is a working class bar which has the reputation for being the place where a teenage Andy Warhol drew on napkins in exchange for Coca-Cola. While drinking at that same bar, playwright, Vince Melocchi, began to see it in a different way… as a creative, mysterious place. He noted, “Andy allowed us to see, think, and feel about art in a completely new way. I wanted to find out who and what were his real influences. Andy Warhol’s Tomato imagines a chance encounter between Warhol and a Pittsburgh bar owner, as one of the steps on Warhol's extraordinary journey in life”*

Enjoy this interview with Derek Chariton - Heinrich (Stargate Origins) and the cast of “Andy Warhol’s Tomato” at The Pacific Resident Theatre, running until Sep 29th. 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 – July 3 - 21, 2019

Theatrical shows, Film Festivals, Cabaret, and Music Programs  NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar, including Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore! Producers and Best of Broadwater Award recipients.

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

MEN ON BOATS

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Towne Street Theatre's "Push the Culture" Nights of Sum Poetry!

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Tartuffe

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The One-Man Improvised Musical

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She LA Arts Summer Theater Festival

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Fefu and Her Friends

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West Side Story

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It Happened in L.A

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OTHERWISE ENGAGED

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LOOSE KNIT

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The Last PowerPoint

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Boeing Boeing

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Dope Queens

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Musical Theatre West presents "Disney's The Little Mermaid"

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Ryan Raftery's "The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Martha Stewart"

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Adam Pascal: So Far ..,

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Embrace Love Free

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Under Milk Wood

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Beasts from the Sea!

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Enerjoyce...Evolution of a Pisces Baby Boomer

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Camp Fangoria

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Early Birds

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THE SPANISH PRAYER BOOK

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Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me

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Ashton's Audio Interview: Ben Ahlers - Liam in NBC’s The Village stars in "Good Boys" at Pasadena Playhouse

As a senior at St. Joseph’s Prep, Brandon Hardy has the world at his feet. He is handsome, athletic, smart, and a shining example of the perfect private school student, just like his father was. But when a sex tape becomes the talk of the locker room, the comfortable lives of the Hardy family threaten to shatter.*

Enjoy this interview with Ben Ahlers - Liam in NBC’s The Village staring in “Good Boys” at The Pasadena Playhouse, running until Jul 21st. 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


Ashton's Audio Interview: Robbie Jarvis - the young James Potter in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the cast of "Loot" at Odyssey Theatre

When Loot was first performed in the '60s, it shocked audiences with its merciless mockery of conventional propriety and frank depictions of police brutality and religious hypocrisy.*

Enjoy this interview with Robbie Jarvis - the young James Potter in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the cast of “Loot” at The Odyssey Theatre, running until Aug 10th. 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