Like a box of chocolates, here's a rich and varied collection of L.A. theatrical, comedy, magic, and variety shows, readings, and classic films to enjoy for your Valentine's, Galentine's, or Palentine's Weekend--and beyond--currently registered on Better Lemons' Calendar.
SHE LOVES ME - Romantic, charming and brimming with joy, this musical comedy reminds us that one kind deed can open up a world of possibilities. At Maraczek’s Parfumerie, clerks Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. https://t.co/zIecVyUoTUpic.twitter.com/MrRERNnR9f
Mistakes Were Made coulda-woulda-shoulda - Returning in January 2020. Enjoy schadenfreude at its finest as you safely experience other people's mistakes (all of them all too true.) in the world premiere of Jerry Mayer's latest play. https://t.co/Ca9cyFTevqpic.twitter.com/Wvrjc7SC0V
Actor/singer Bill A. Jones has a varied background as an entertainer and has established himself as quite a sensational crooner of pop songs over the past few years. As he prepares to perform at Feinstein's Upstairs at Vitello's this Valentine's weekend, he chats in detail about his career thus far.
Tell our readers about your love of singing and how your career got started.
BJ: I grew up in an extended musical family outside of Nashville, and the music we performed was country. As a 6 year old, in talent shows and on local radio stations, I sang songs like, "Okie From Muskokee" and "Folsom Prison Blues." Yes, I sang lyrics like, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" as a 6 year old! (laughs) So I grew up singing in church and at square dances, and hearing rock and roll on the radio, until I discovered the great standards sometime in my early teens. One of my earliest influences came from the Bing Crosby Christmas album, and from there I gradually worked up to Sinatra and all those other iconic artists that sang what we now call Classic Pop Standards.
About the same time, I started doing musicals in high school, and started working in radio when I was 16. For a stretch during my college years, I'd be rehearsing a play during the week, on Saturday Nights play Bass and sing in a square dance band, and on Sundays knock out a shift at a Nashville radio station. While I eventually stopped playing country music - about the time I got cast in a production of a wonderful little musical called Tintypes - I stayed with the radio, and continued acting and singing. Eventually I moved to LA to scratch the acting itch, and promptly stopped singing for about 15 years!
Why did you stop singing?
BJ: Well, when I got out here, the Musical Theatre scene was very different from what I was used to. For one thing, they expected you to dance! And while I'd started tentatively singing with a Big Band in Nashville, I had no idea of how to connect with that community in LA. So for about 15 years I concentrated on my acting career, worked as a radio personality, and met my wife and started a family.
Fast forward to me singing "But Not for Me" on a passenger talent night on an Alaskan Cruise about 17 years ago. That got my singing 'itch' going big time. I returned to LA, discovered a Big Band that needed a singer, and one 'coincidence' after another since then led me to where I am today. And interestingly enough, when I started singing again, my acting career picked up. I remember, I was thinking about an arrangement of some song or another as I was waiting to audition for Glee, for instance. And ironically, I got cast on that show not for my Singing ability.
Tell us about your time on Glee.
BJ: I had the pleasure of recurring for 6 seasons as "Rod Remington." If you've never seen the show, Rod was sort of a later day version of Ted Baxter from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show - a local TV newscaster who was a legend in his own mind.
First time I worked, I did a little ad lib that broke up everyone, and I was doing a little schtick making eyes at Jane Lynch - who was playing back - and I guess someone took notice and the role got bigger than originally intended. I had a ball every time I was on set, and I'll forever be grateful to Ryan Murphy for taking my career up several notches.
Apart from your family background did anyone serve as a mentor to you? Who was this mentor and how did this person help you to go forward?
BJ: I know I'll leave someone out, but here it goes: my Nashville vocal coach, Lucille David is one. my High School drama teacher, Joyce Mayo. Steve and Eydie's musical director for 27 years, Jack Feierman, who taught me a lot. A couple of Big Band leaders, John Vana and Harry Selvin. Arrangers Bill McKeag and Diz Mullins. Composer and arranger Van Alexander. Pianist Bill Marles. And when I first started singing again, a gentleman named Frank Perry. He was perhaps one of the last staff pianists at one of the hotels here in LA, and had rubbed elbows with dozens of greats. Frank saw me singing early on with a Big Band, and during the break said, "Hey, come over here," as if he could no longer hold back his frustration, and had to steer me in a better direction. That started a conversation that lasted for several years on how to approach lyrics. Invaluable. All of them.
Talk about your daughter and her contests and advancement in the field. She is taking after you and you sang together in the past. Will you get an opportunity to sing together again soon?
BJ: I tell people she's the real talent in the family. She just starred in her school's musical production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. When I did my show in New York at the Triad a few months ago, the next night she sang with her high school choir at Carnegie Hall. We've only sung together a few times, like at a recent Actor's Fund benefit, but it's always a joy, and the response has been tremendous. And she's only a junior in high school. She'll be my special musical guest Valentine's weekend at Feinstein's at Vitello's.
You've sung a lot with Big Bands, as well as with smaller groups. Which do you prefer?
BJ: When I worked on radio, I used to crank up the monitor whenever a great Sinatra record would come on with a classic arrangement by Nelson Riddle and the like. I gained a huge appreciation for orchestration. To have the power of 17 musicians displaying that artistry while backing you is amazing - especially considering I have several of those classic charts in my book. But I also love working with a small group, or just a piano. You gain a flexibility and an intimacy that's hard to duplicate with a large group. The communication with your audience is more immediate, as sometimes you can hear subtle nuances like the inhale of a breath or a sigh. At the show at Feinstein's I'll be straddling those worlds with 6 musicians - a trio plus 3 horns, which lets me have a little bit of both. So, to circle back to your question - I love them both. Don't make me decide!
How do you feel about contemporary music? Hip Hop and Rap? Are you comfortable with it? Do you think the American Songbook will survive?
BJ: I think the Songbook is going to survive as long as there is an appreciation for great melodies and lyrics that touch us in a meaningful way. Which will hopefully be forever. As far as contemporary music, I find some of Ed Sheerran's writing quite good, for instance. But there's also a lot of dreck out there, too! (laughs) I used to be totally dismissive of Rap, but I saw a performance by Common a while back, and I gained a greater understanding. I now see how it (Rap) can be a legitimate means of artistic expression. But to repeat, there's a lot of dreck out there!
Who is your favorite composer?
BJ: That's a tough one! I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one. Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn, Frank Loesser, all tick the boxes for me. Irving Berlin would be another.
What is your favorite musical show of all time?
BJ: Again, a tough one! I used to say My Fair Lady without hesitation, as I played Higgins back in school, and have had a deep affection for it ever since. But there've been so many great shows since then, it'd be hard to say. But My Fair Lady is a great one.
Tell us a bit more about your daughter. Does she want to be a professional musical theatre actress? What are her plans?
BJ: As of now, she wants to pursue Musical Theatre, and is looking at various university level programs. Time will tell. She's a junior in high school, so things could change.
BJ: Feinstein's at Vitello's in Studio City, Saturday February 15th. Yeah, I've done my "Great Gentlemen of Song" show a lot, and I'll be repeating some of that material. But this time I'll be focusing on romance. The Theme is 'Love Songs and More," in recognition of Valentine's Day. Last time I played at Vitello's a few years ago, we sold out the place a day in advance - so I'm telling people to get tickets early. I'll be bringing in 6 musicians this time - I call them my 'A Players' - and I plan to have a great time. And hopefully the audience will too! (laughs) Seriously, this is a very different experience than when I appear as a guest with a big band. I take a great deal of pride in my nightclub and cabaret shows, as I feel it lets me do what I do best. Not just sing, but tell stories, and share something of myself in a hopefully entertaining way.
Do you want to add anything?
BJ: People sometimes ask me what I prefer: Acting or singing.
Well, when you work in a scene with someone like Jane Lynch, who elevates your game because of their artistry - that's pretty special, and something I'd be very reluctant to give up.
But when you do a show like the one coming up this Valentine's weekend - the energy, or love that you put out as a performer, gets returned to you manifold by the audience. Which further feeds and elevates what you send in return to the audience.
Yes, this week it's all about music and in particular three musical icons who created music and who will always be remembered.
First up is BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL playing at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks.
Long before she was Carole King, this chart topping music legend was Carole Klein, a girl from Brooklyn New York with a passion and lots of chutzpah.
She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll. It wasn't until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her real voice.
BEAUTIFUL is the inspiring true story of Carole King's remarkable rise to stardom from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann ultimately becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
The show continues to dazzle in New York and to packed houses world wide with its wit, charm and soul featuring a stunning array of beloved songs including 'I Feel The Earth Move,' 'One Fine Day,' 'You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,' 'You've Got A Friend' and of course the title song.
I've seen the show in New York and I can't wait to see it again this weekend. Performances are February 13th at 7:30, February 14 at 8pm, February 15th at 2pm and 8pm, and February 16th at 1pm and 6:30pm.
The Fred Kavli Theatre is located at The Thousand Oaks Bank Of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 East Thousand Oaks Blvd in Thousand Oaks, 91362.
Now for a musical about one of the biggest musical icons. The show is called JUST IMAGINE: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN LENNON.
The premise is simple. Imagine John Lennon returns for one last concert and you are there. 'Just Imagine' transports you to another place and time putting you 'one on one' with the musical legend who shook the world.
You will experience Lennon's timeless musical genius through Tim Piper who takes us through John's life from his tumultuous childhood to becoming a worldwide music superstar as well as a groundbreaking social icon that influenced generations.
The show promises to tell us the stories behind the songs and will reveal insights about the birth of the Beatles, the pressures of super stardom, and John's relationships with his lovers and fellow Beatles.
Backed by the rock band WORKING CLASS HERO Piper channels Lennon in this critically acclaimed tribute.
The show is playing at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, located at 3050 Los Angeles Avenue in Simi Valley, 93065. For tickets go to Unsigned-Records.com or call the box office at (805) 583-7900.
The third musical on my 'must see' list this week has us traveling further back into the past. LADY DAY at EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL is a play with music recounting several events in the life of the one and only Billie Holiday.
The play premiered in 1986 in Atlanta Georgia and soon played off -Broadway and then it made its Broadway debut in 2014.
You can now see this wonderful and important production at the Ebony Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles.
The drama with music examines and explores the life of the legendary Billie Holiday during one of her final performances in Philadelphia in March 1959 four months shy of her death age the age of 44. Billie Holiday used everything that happened in her life to inform her art.
According to director Wren T. Brown, sixty years after her death, at a time in America when race, gender, and the opioid crisis are being discussed loudly on a daily basis, Miss Holiday's life and career are a great example of what it means to not just survive but triumph in the face of lifelong abuse and struggle.
The limited engagement began February 6th and plays through March 1st. I'm a big fan of Miss Holiday and I guarantee, after you see this show, you will be one too.
For tickets and more information go to EbonyRep.org. The Ebony Repertory Theatre is located at 4718 West Washington Blvd, Los Angeles 90018.
Lastly I recommend a show that explores one of my personal favorites - the Tango. In particular the Argentine Tango. No dance is more sensual nor expresses the man-woman relationship than this one. It's also known as the Authentic Tango.
The show is called ONCE UPON A TANGO and it is is the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day.
On February 16th at 6pm, Once Upon a Tango - Valentines Day Show will be playing at The Colony Theatre at 555 North 3rd Street in Burbank 91503.
After making their debut in Santa Barbara and San Diego in their #onceuponatangotour, GD Tango presents an all new version of the show that will be full of surprises. Not to mention their latest addition - master tango dancers brought to you from Argentina.
Guillermo Salvat and Miriam Lea brings romance and passion to each of their performances. Their dances are based on real people and events that the audience can enjoy and relate to. Through their movements thay tell an enchanting original tale that you will remember long after the curtain falls.
I've seen the show and I promise you will absolutely love it.
Even though most people will have their minds on Super Bowl Sunday, there are still a lot of other fun things to do this upcoming weekend starting with seeing The Lula Washington Dance Theatre. I've seen them many times in the past and they never cease to blow me away. They are that good!
Lula Washington's company focuses on using dance to explore social and humanitarian issues, including aspects of African-American history, culture and life.
This brilliant ensemble of dancers will be celebrating their 40th anniversary on January 30th through February 1st at the Bram Goldsmith Theatre which is part of The Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts.
This company has built an international reputation for their earthiness, vitality, energy and humanism of its repertory, bringing charisma and interpretive power to every dance.
The performances are at 7:30pm on Thursday, January 30th, Friday, January 31st, and Saturday, February 1st. The Wallis is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills.
To purchase tickets go to TheWallis.org/Lula or call the box office at (310) 746-4000 from 10-5pm. This is definitely a 'must see' event.
Another event I go to every year is photo l.a.. The event is starting at 6pm today and running through Sunday, February 3rd. Once again it will be at the Barker Hangar at 3021 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica.
photo l.a. brings the best of the photography world to you with a collaborative platform that links dealers and collectors with a gamut of galleries from around the globe. If you're a lover of photography this is definitely the place to be.
They will have over 65 galleries represented along with 10,000 collectors and enthusiasts. Personally I can't wait.
To purchase tickets or to find out more information go to photola.com.
Now if you're in the mood for some Rock & Roll, then head down to the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills to see the legendary Jefferson Starship on Saturday night, February 1st.
The band rose from the ashes of another legendary San Francisco band, Hall of Fame inductees, Jefferson Airplane. Founder Paul Kantner who died in January 2016 at the age of 74 knew that combining powerful creative forces, personalities and talents could create something far greater than the sum of its parts and that's exactly what he did.
Between 1974 and 1984 Jefferson Starship released eight gold and platinum albums, twenty hit singles, sold out concerts worldwide and lived out legendary rock and roll escapades.
Today the Starship remains dedicated to breathing new life into the living catalog of the Jeffersonian legacy, going to the edge, pushing the sonic boundaries and staying true to the original spirit of the music.
The music that defined a generation and spanned decades is alive and well and more relevant than ever in pop culture. Songs such as Volunteers, White Rabbit, Wooden Ships, Somebody to Love, Today, Miracles, Count On Me, just to name a few, continues to reverberate throughout the collective consciousness today.
The Jefferson Starship go on at 9pm with doors opening at 6pm. The Canyon Club is located at 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills 91301-3304. To purchase tickets click here or call (888) 845-5006.
Lastly if you are done seeing all the Oscar nominated movies and want to see a film that is so much fun and so well acted, then head over to your local movie theatre and see Guy Ritchie's new film, The Gentlemen. I absolutely loved it.
It stars Charlie Hunnam, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant who has never been better. Everyone in the cast absolutely nails their part. The film is funny, clever and full of twists and turns that you won't see coming. At least I didn't.
Without wanting to give too much away, The Gentlemen is the story of Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) who is an American expatriate who became rich by building a marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from those who want his fortune.
This action comedy opened wide and it's playing at an AMC theatre near you.
Whatever you do this weekend people, make it a great one.
Theatrical, One-Person, Improv, and Comedy shows, Staged Readings, Live Jazz, Music, Dance, and Award Shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.
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What if that which you identify with suddenly disappeared? Who would you be then? (IM)PERFEKT is a solo show about identity, beauty, and labels. Sometimes you need to lose who you thought you were in order to discover who you truly are. https://t.co/Q4zhRHPLTJpic.twitter.com/9YIBaDDLHq
Long Beach physical theatre company Bossy Flyer brings 'dazzling acrobatics feats' to LA. Inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre's masterpiece 'No Exit' 3 acrobats test the limits of human connection in a confined space with no words & no exit. @daviolo_LA #LAThtrhttps://t.co/dlgyaCK05Gpic.twitter.com/8bvpbaPAsQ
Even though the holidays are over there are still plenty of fun things to do, starting with the LONG BEACH COMIC FESTIVAL held at the Long Beach Convention Center.
This is a celebration of comic books and pop culture that showcases the exceptional works of talented writers, artists, illustrators, and creators of all types of pop culture.
You will find exhibitors promoting various products as well as entertaining and educational programs, guest signings, and meet & greet sessions with celebrities.
The event starts Saturday, January 11th from 10am - 6pm and Sunday the12th from 11am - 5pm. For information about the festival and the expo go to LongBeachComicExpo.com.
The Long Beach Convention Center is located at 300 East Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach 90802.
Another kind of entertainment can be found at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. DANCE AT THE ODYSSEY begins on January 10th and runs through February 9th.
You will find L.A.'s most exciting dance here including the world premiere by String Theory, Acts of Matter and Dance Aegis. Also performing will be JA Collective and Slauson Rec, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company and Victoria Marks.
On Friday genre bending String Theory will premiere their work Landscapes & Layers which explores the intersection of sound and movement through interactive sculptures, dance, sound design and music.
Layering sound against the backdrop of contemporary dance, the ensemble creates a highly visual and textural world with an echo of the old west. I've seen this company and absolutely love them.
Also performing this weekend is Rebecca Lemme/Acts of Matter with special guest DANCE AEGIS. Rebecca is a choreographer, performer, educator and visual artist. This is another dance troupe you do not want to miss.
For more information and to purchase tickets go to OdysseyTheatre.com. The Odyssey is located at 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. in West LA 90025.
Now I'm sure there are many of you that want to keep partying even though the holidays are over and what better place to do that is at the 90's BEER FESTIVAL on Saturday starting at 6:30pm until 10:00pm.
So put on your best flannel and grunge shirt and make your way downtown to enjoy unlimited samples of beers, ciders and specialty cocktails like the Capri Sun Cocktail cooler and the Red Gusher martini.
You will also enjoy live music from the nineties boy who will be taking you on a musical journey of hits over the entire decade.
All drinks and food are included in the ticket price. The festival takes place at Civic Center Studios 207 South Broadway in LA. For more information and to purchase tickets go to FeverUp.com.
A great way to end the weekend is making your way over to the Mark Taper to see the 2019 Tony nominated Best Play and Pulitzer Prize finalist WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME by famed writer Heidi Schreck.
This boundary breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will affect the next generation of Americans.
Fifteen year old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.
Schreck's timely and galvanizing play, directed by Oliver Butler became a sensation off Broadway last fall before transferring to Broadway where it received to Tony Award nominations among countless other accolades. This play is absolutely brilliant.
To purchase tickets go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. The Mark Taper is located at 135 North Grand Avenue, Downtown LA.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend people, make it a fun one and HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone.
The 37th season of the Verdi Chorus continues with the Fox Singers , presented by the Verdi Chorus and the Sahm Family Foundation, in Songs of Fantasy for one night only at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on February 1, at 7:30pm. #Verdihttps://t.co/vvQybMOuN4pic.twitter.com/INTTcDDtC8
Well first I have to say, besides reviewing films, I'm in the Writers Guild so this is the time of year I've seen so many films that they are all starting to blend together except for a few outstanding ones, which I've mentioned in my columns in the past.
To remind you: FORD VS. FERRARI, 1917, THE JOKER, THE IRISHMAN, THE FAREWELL, WILD ROSE, MARRIAGE STORY, AD ASTRA, CAPITAN MARVEL, AVENGERS END GAME, CATS, JO JO RABBIT AND DOLEMITE IS MY NAME are some of the films that I absolutely loved. There are probably many more but that's all I can remember right now.
Okay so this week I have to start off with the film that everybody has been waiting to see...STAR WARS: THE RISE OF THE SKYWALKER directed by J. J. Abrams. To my surprise this film (which I saw yesterday), which is the last one in this beloved epic, has gotten very mixed reviews. In fact some critics have downright hated it. I am not one of those critics. I actually loved it.
The film stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac. Of course, C-3PO, Chewbacca, BB-8 are also back along with a few new characters. Basically it doesn't matter what I or anyone says about this movie. If you're a fan you will see it. If not, then you won't.
Personally I think you will walk out of the theatre satisfied and in my case teary eyed because in the end, it's about friendship and good vs. evil with good winning out. Something that I'm sure, considering what is going on in our country now, you all can relate to.
STAR WARS; THE RISE OF THE SKYWALKER opens in theaters this Friday, December 20th. Love to know what you think.
Next up and on a totally different note is Matthew Bourne's beautiful, mesmerizing, amazing SWAN LAKE playing at The Ahmanson. This is a spectacular production that will make you laugh, dazzle you and make you cry tears of joy.
The choreography is absolutely stunning. Bourne keeps the iconic elements of the original production loved by millions around the world, but he creates an exciting reimagining of this classic. It is thrilling, audacious, and emotional. This SWAN LAKE is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble which shattered conventions turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm.
It won an Olivier Award in the UK and three Tony's on Broadway. Matthew Bourne's powerful interpretation of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece is a passionate and contemporary SWAN LAKE for our time.
For tickets and more information go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. It plays through January 5th, 2020. The Ahmanson is located at 135 North Grand Avenue, Downtown LA, 90012.
I have seen the show CATS three times...Once on Broadway. Once in Los Angeles at the now closed Schubert Theatre and once in Vancouver. My poor husband hated it the first time he saw it with me in New York, but somehow I convinced him to see it with me two more times. It didn't make any difference. He still hated it.
Now the film CATS is opening and I saw it yesterday. (Yes I did a double feature.) and I thought it was so unique, beautiful, touching with amazing choreography and beautiful acting and singing. All I wanted to do after is go home and hug my cat.
Tobe Hooper directed and it's based on T. S. Eliot's poetry collection 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.' Lee Hall and Tom Hooper wrote the screenplay with music by the great Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The film stars Judi Dench, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and newcomer Francesa Hayward. The story is simple and yet it's not. A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.
The most famous and one of the most beautiful songs ever written is MEMORY and I have to admit, I kept waiting for Jennifer Hudson to sing this incredible piece of music. Now I am a very big fan of hers, but truly I did not like the way she sang the song. Not sure if it was the director's idea or hers. Having said that, if you are a fan of CATS you will love the film.
CATS opens in theatres this Friday, December 20th.
California natives QUITAPENAS will bring a tropical Latin heat to the holiday season at Union Station’s final Cocoa Concert on Friday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. on the South Patio, in collaboration with Metro Art Presents.
QUITAPENAS delivers a rhythmic contagion with a unique combination of Afro-Latin music. Inspired by música tropical y bailable, each song echoes a remix of history with a nod to the music of Angola, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. The band, whose name translates “to remove worries,” will have guests dancing their holiday cares away all evening.
Having lived in Peru, Columbia and Brazil for two years I am a very big fan of this genre. You can't help but feel happy while listening and moving to these incredible sounds.
The festive, family-friendly holiday celebration will transform the station into a winter wonderland featuring live music, Cocoa Bars with Elftenders, Santa selfies and a Candy Cane Lane where a custom neon photo-op will make your season bright alongside a soaring Candy Cane Queen and holiday-themed arts, crafts, interactive games and entertainment.
I'll be here Friday, dancing the night away and I suggest you all come down and join me.
Whatever you chose to do this weekend and upcoming week, I want to wish you all a very happy, fun, joyous and loving holiday and New Year. Hopefully all the hatred and anger of 2019 will end and 2020 will bring about a new way of doing things...a way that helps mankind, helps the planet and helps all the creatures on Planet Earth.
Rest your feet after all that shopping, get out of that L.A. holiday traffic for a few hours, and slip into a cozy theatre or concert venue during the Holidays!
Los Angeles theatre is alight with dozens of musicals, comedy, cabaret, magic, live radio plays, film and live mash-up productions, classic Dickens, music, dance, variety, and family-friendly shows themed to get you into the spirit of the season.
Here's is a healthy collection of shows available now and until you are just about ready to ring in the New Year.
ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY (ETC) presents the second show of its 2019-20 Season, the can’t-miss, holiday event of the season, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, adapted by Joe Landry, from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra & Jo Swerling and directed by ETC’s Director of Education and Outreach, Brian McDonald.
Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present the Los Angeles premiere of a new adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play, based on the 1947 Lux Radio Hour, adapted by Lance Arthur Smith, original songs and arrangements by Jon Lorenz, directed by Joseph Leo Bwarie.
"Miracle on 34th Street" brings a heartwarming and classic tale of faith, love, and the gift of miracles to the holiday season, featuring live Foley effects and a score of holiday carols this beautiful story is sure to ring in Christmas for all. OVATION RECOMMENDED PRODUCTION!!! At the Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre.
A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play - The Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play, directed by frequent Porters collaborator Drina Durazo. "Charles Dickens was known for being a performer of his own works; his novels were written with such vivid theatricality that they were almost like plays," says Durazo. "We're aiming to recreate the experience of Dickens' public recitals with a A Christmas Carol, The One-Man Play, and it's been a great joy exploring this beloved classic by way of Krieger's dynamic performance."
Having most recently taken on the roles of Theseus in The Two Noble Kinsmen and director of Romeo and Juliet, Associate Artistic Director Gus Krieger portrays over thirty characters in this telling of Dickens' classic tale. Having assumed iconic roles for the company including Richard III, Shylock, Benedick, and King John, Krieger is thrilled to return to the boards of North Hollywood.
A Los Angeles holiday tradition is back with some show veterans for just a few dates in a special engagement! It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play takes place at KAWL, a struggling 1940s radio station that good-hearted owner Michael Anderson is barely keeping alive. He calls on some old friends (with big personalities) and some less-than-professional station employees to offer up a live radio version of Frank Capra’s touching masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life in what might sadly be the station’s last live show. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…
TROUBADOUR THEATER COMPANY continues its 25th SILVER ANNIVERSARY SEASON with "A CHRISTMAS CAROLE KING." Musical Direction by Derrick Finely, Directed and Adapted by Matt Walker, in a limited Engagement opening Friday, December 13, 2019, at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood!
For their 18th annual holiday offering, The Troubies have combined the soulful sounds of songstress Carole King with one of the most enduring stories of our time – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – and the result is SO FAR AWAY from what you'd expect!
Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, at A Noise Within, Directed by Geoff Elliott & Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
ANW’s delightfully festive, musically merry holiday tradition returns! Families love the inspirational story of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge—the perfect burst of boundless good cheer for the season, and beyond!
“Only a die-hard humbug could remain unmoved by so charming a yuletide treat.” – Los Angeles Times
A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory. This is the 40th year for the beloved Orange County holiday classic—and marks the final time that Hal Landon Jr. will portray everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Nineteenth-century London comes to life when your family joins the SCR family for the holidays. Recapture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with this timeless Dickens classic and all your favorite characters—Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come. No children under the age of 6, please.
Instead of performing Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told -- plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season! An outrageous holiday romp for the whole family (except those who still believe in Santa!) Written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez. Music by Will Knapp. Directed by Gary Lamb. Musical director: Sean Paxton.
Yippie ki yay, theatre goers! We're settling the debate, once and for all. Yes, "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie. But when John McClane meets Ralphie from "A Christmas Story," let's just say more than just your eye might get shot out! What better way to end the year than by mashing up classic Christmas movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" with characters from some of your favorite "Not A Christmas Movie" movies like "Batman Returns?" Mix in a few iconic movie props, a team of talented writers, directors and actors and let the holiday drama and hi-jinks ensue! The way only our RUSH play festival can! Great for the whole family!
Written by Tyler Bianchi, Evan Baughfman, Jeff Folschinsky, Holly Sidell, Samantha Grace, Adam Neubauer, Samantha & Lilia Marquis, Directed by Jonathan Fahn, Jennifer Novak Chun, Holly Witham, Corey Chappell,
Randy Marquis, Tom Jones & Stacy Ann Raposa. At the Actors Workout Studio.
Developed in the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, Eight Nights is the heartfelt, lyrical portrait of a German Jewish refugee haunted by her past...witnessed over the course of generations of the same family that inhabits a single apartment from 1949 to 2016. Set during the eight nights of Chanukah, and spanning eight decades of the protagonist’s life, Eight Nights 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.
Dysfunctional Family Christmas - Misunderstandings, Mistaken Identities, and Holiday Chaos create a fun-filled Christmas Morning at the Logan Home.
Before they sell the family home, Dean and Joanne Logan want one perfect final Christmas with their adult children. Although, once Grandpa is found dead, their plans go haywire as they attempt to hide the body from the family.
"A sardonic, merrily subversive tale—just the antidote to bright-eyed joy before too many shopping days have passed. Worth more than a photo album full of Santas!" NY Newsday. When it was first broadcast on National Public Radio, The SantaLand Diaries generated more requests for tapes than any story in This American Life’s history except the death of Red Barber. Timothy Olyphant brought the story to life on stage off-Broadway, and for the fourth year in a row Patrick Censoplano dons the candy-cane tights for a Santa Monica Playhouse holiday celebration in this outrageously funny one-man play from NPR’s well-loved humorist David Sedaris about the author’s experiences as an unemployed writer taking a job as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York City, taking a wry look at how the holiday season brings out the best – and the worst – in us all. Toast the Holidays! Your ticket includes a pre-show glass of champagne or non-alcoholic eggnog.
The story of Sugar Plum Fairy, based on Loh’s original tale 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.
Sixteen actors play nearly 30 characters in a holiday spectacular that will put you in a festive mood! A play-within-a-play, this fast-paced comedy follows a small, LGBTQ+ community theatre as it struggles to pull together its annual holiday pageant.
Written by Joe Marshall, directed by Bree Pavey. The cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Cassandra Carmona, Matt Caudel, Noah Copfer, Andrew Cottrell, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Dan Ellis, Javier Flores, Barbera Ann Howard, Sean James, Corey Klemow, Katy Laughlin, Ignacio Navarro, Alejandro Baquero Sanchez, Scottie Smith, Luke Sookdeo, and Bart Tangredi.
Rubicon Theatre audiences are invited to “rejoice and be plaid” this holiday season as Ventura’s non-profit professional theatre company presents the hilarious and heartwarming musical comedy PLAID TIDINGS in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. The production is directed by the original creator STUART ROSS, and the cast for PLAID TIDINGS includes SEAN BELL, ADOLPHO BLAIRE, JOSHUA DAVID CAVANAUGH and ZACHARY EDWARDS, all making their Rubicon Theatre debuts. The show includes holiday favorites such as “Cool Yule,” “Let it Snow,” and “Joy to the World”; a hysterically funny speed-date version of “The Ed Sullivan Show” featuring the Rockettes, the Chipmunks and The Vienna Boys Choir; and other memorable hits from the era, like “Sh-Boom,” “Fever” and “Hey There.”
The Los Angeles Times called PLAID TIDINGS “a many splendored thing.” Variety described the show as Musical utopia…the perfect show. And the Daily News called the show “heaven-sent holiday fare.”
“SANTASIA - A Holiday Comedy” created by Shaun and Brandon Loeser, directed by Shaun Loeser, is celebrating its 20th year. At the Whitefire Theatre, this Off-Broadway Hit and Critics’s Pick laugh out loud annual holiday romp, is the perfect blend of Yuletide snark and sentiment, and has been compared to "The Carol Burnett Show", "The Kids in the Hall", "In Living Color", "Saturday Night Live" and Vaudeville. This multi-media holiday special has it all including classic Rankin and Bass Claymation inspired movies, musical parodies, and heartfelt holiday moments.
The Wallis & For The Record’s biggest, record-breaking hit returns this 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 Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater 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.
WARNING: This production features theatrical haze effects, adult content, and brief nudity. It is recommended for ages 13+.
The San Fernando Valley Master Chorale is excited to bring back one of the most anticipated concerts of the season, our annual holiday sing-along concert! Joining us on stage this year will be the delightful San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus, under the direction of Sean Carney.
Led by Artistic Director Charlie Kim and accompanied by Bob Remstein, expect to hear your favorite holiday classics along with John Rutter's "Gloria" accompanied by a brass quartet. And lots of audience participation! Join us for a night filled with fun, music, and holiday cheer for the whole family. All ages are welcome.
Ugly Sweater Contest: Oh, and don't forget to bring your ugly sweater! This year SFVMC will give away free tickets for a future concert to the audience member who brings the ugliest holiday sweater.
The Merry Little Christmas Show - BroadwayWorld Critics’ Pick and StageSceneLA Award-winner Scott Dreier, star of last season’s acclaimed hit "Doris and Me," returns to The Colony Theatre with his holiday concert. Featuring special guest Kurtis Simmons and music director Andy Langham. Dreier will take audiences back to the feel of cherished, classic, holiday TV specials hosted by Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and others — paying homage while also providing his modern take with pop and jazz interpretations of holiday treasures. The performance will include holiday classics including "Sleigh Ride," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "O Holy Night," "I’ve Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm," "Merry Christmas Darling," and many more. This show will transport you back to your living room sitting around the fireplace telling stories and sharing songs of the season.
How did a nice Evangelical Christian girl from Arizona wind up doing a one-woman comical cabaret show at Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT) in Santa Monica? Audiences will laugh and maybe even sing along, as they learn the secrets of Anna Abbott’s dual life in her new solo show, "A Very Goyisha Hanukkah," playing two performances only at The Braid, JWT’s art and performance space.
The Group Rep presents A Twisted Christmas Carol, a world premiere comedy written by Phil Olson, directed by Doug Engalla, produced by Alyson York, a Texas-style spoof of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Talk-backs are after Sunday shows 12/21 and 01/04. Upstairs at the Group Rep on the second floor of the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601. The Upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode, Directed by Jerry Pilato & Erica Livingstone
Santa's Reindeer Tells All! With each deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer and seems to implicate everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself. Don't miss this expose of North Pole Naughtiness.
Starring David Janisch as Dasher, Eric Trigg as Comet, Christine McCoy as Dancer, Andrew Walters as Hollywood (Prancer), Mclain Parker as Cupid, Melanie Mino as Blitzen, Michael Adler as Donner and Kellen Gold as Vixen.
Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan returns to Catalina Jazz Club with his hilarious holiday show "Deck Them Halls, Y’All" for one performance only. Best known for his stand-out roles in "Sordid Lives," "American Horror Story," "The Help," as the beloved Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace" (for which he is currently shooting the final season), and most recently as Sid on the Fox series "The Cool Kids," Leslie Jordan has charmed fans for over four decades.
His hilarious holiday tales are not to be missed. Jordan’s special guest will be country-pop singer Brandon Stansell.
Los Angeles Times calls Impro Theatre “Amazing!” One of the funniest evenings as the troupe spins an entire play into comedy gold right before your eyes. Starting with an audience suggestion, the troupe creates completely improvised, full-length plays in the styles of the world’s greatest writers. Join us this holiday season for a hilarious comedy inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. Comic portrayals, cruel melodrama and heartbreaking tenderness explode onto the teeming streets of Victorian London. A fun and festive evening of comedy.
Laguna Playhouse brings back its holiday tradition! A Special, Stripped Down to the Abs, Musical Event! "The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf" at Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach!
With Special Guest Appearances by Broadway’s Nick Adams, jackbenny and more! Ho, Ho, Ho, you don’t want to miss this show!
Broadway stars Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages, Sweeney Todd) and Nick Cearley (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All Shook Up) return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped-down, mashed-up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello and an array of zany instruments.
BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are back in an all-new two-queen holiday extravaganza at The Montalbán!
After last year’s wildly successful "To Jesus, Thanks for Everything," Jinkx and DeLa return to the stage this holiday season in a high-spirited scramble to maintain your interest! DeLa is all sugar and Jinkx is all spice — but how do these two very different gals deal with the stress of the holidays? A little song, a lot of eggnog, and theatres full of people looking at them. Yup ... all they want for Christmas is attention!
Returning to Hollywood by popular demand, platinum-selling recording artist and Tony Award-nominated actor Sam Harris brings his new holiday show to Catalina Jazz Club for one performance only. Led by his longtime musical director Todd Schroeder, Harris will perform Broadway, pop, and holiday fare.
The Theatre School @ North Coast Rep presents "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Charles M. Schulz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer, and by Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson.
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees among everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but this proves to be a frustrating endeavor. When an attempt to restore the proper holiday spirit with a forlorn little Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to discover the real meaning of Christmas.
The Nutcracker from critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet,celebrating 25 years. The Nutcracker comes to life with this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage. The Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, and a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination. Meet the cast after the performance for photos and autographs. This is family entertainment at its best.
Experience the joy of the season as Jenny Wong, GMCLA’s interim Artistic Director and Associate Conductor of the LA Master Chorale, leads GMCLA in choral classics, timeless Christmas carols, a medley of hits from the beloved film Love Actually, Broadway bonanzas, and Mariah Carey’s anthem – it’s all you’ll want for Christmas. A Los Angeles tradition for the entire family, this concert will be truly Spectacular!
Curated by Performances à la Carte, Jazz ‘n Paz continues with its’ seasonal intimate jazz series showcasing some of Los Angeles’ finest jazz musicians. To ring in the holidays, the December concert, Carols of the Belles, features the vocals of the iconic Barbara Morrison, Jamie Perez, and Renee Myara, at Pasadena’s Neighborhood UU Church. In a jazzy program of standards and holiday favorites, the musicians behind the angelic voices feature Michael Ragonese on piano, James Yoshizawa on drums, Danny Janklow on sax and flute, and Luca Alemmano on bass...A Holiday Champagne Party will follow the concert and may be added to any concert ticket purchase online for an additional $12. The party will feature appetizers, desserts, champagne and non-alcoholic punch along with music, dancing, comedic holiday improv antics and capped off with a Holiday Sing-A-Long.
L.A.’s largest holiday spectacular celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019 is at The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Join this year’s co-hosts, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and actress Marissa Ramirez (Blue Bloods), for this free, three-hour holiday show featuring 25 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures that make up L.A. Once again, PBS SoCal will host a live broadcast of the event that has been a Los Angeles holiday tradition since 1959, while KCET will air the program twice on Christmas Day.
Legendary Cuban jazz trumpet player Arturo Sandoval, accompanied by his world-renowned band, will kick off this year’s celebration with a medley of holiday songs. Returning favorites include Hālau Keali’i o Nālani & the Daniel Ho Trio, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, gospel choir Greater LA Cathedral Choir, Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy and folklorico troupe Pacifico Dance Company. Some of this year’s newcomers include Latin folk band Cuñao, the dancers and drummers of African Soul International and a cappella group Street Corner Renaissance.
All-female, two-time GRAMMY award-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will team up with their “brother” band Mariachi Espectacular, and Jewish cultural revival band Mostly Kosher will share the stage with Urban Voices Project, a choir made up of men and women surviving homelessness on Skid Row. Those who can't make it to The Music Center on Dec. 24 can watch the live broadcast on PBS SoCal starting at 3 p.m., with the rebroadcast on KCET on Christmas Day from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., or online at pbssocal.org/holidaycelebration.
It's the most BEAUTIFUL time of the year and for their 18th annual holiday offering, the ridiculously talented TROUBIES, who I've seen more times than I can remember, is presenting A CHRISTMAS CAROLE KING.
The show adapted and directed by Matt Walker has combined the soulful sounds of songstress Carole King with one of the most enduring stories of our time, 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens and I promise, the result will be so far away from anything you'd expect.
To give you a hint of how it's going to go, Will Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up ONE FINE DAY feeling like a NATURAL WOMAN and eventually we'll find out if he breaks his CHAINS after he's shown what's truly BEAUTIFUL. You get the idea.
The Troubies are an amazing theatrical company and along with the rockin sounds of the Troubadorchestra you will definitely FEEL THE EARTH MOVE UNDER YOUR FEET.
The Troubadour Theater Company continues its 25th Silver anniversary season bringing the Los Angeles audiences a quarter century of mayhem. If you've never seen this incredibly funny, brilliant group now is your chance to be blown away by their creativity, originality, and their talent.
Their fast-paced laugh filled, loose adaptations of classic plays, literature and film, as well as their original productions and hilarious sketch material, make this company an exciting experience for theatre goers of any age.
The show opens Friday December 13th at 8pm and runs through Sunday December 22nd at 4pm at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Performances are Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm & 8pm and Sundays at 4pm with an added performance on Thursday, December 19th at 8pm.
For tickets and more information go to ElPortalTheatre.com or by calling the box office at 818-508-4200 or 866-811-4111. Don't miss it!
'There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.'. The world is first introduced to RICHARD JEWELL (brilliantly portrayed by Paul Walter Hauser) as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta Games. It was his quick thinking and swift actions saving countless lives that made him an instant hero. But within days, this law enforcement wannabe became the FBI's number one suspect, vilified in the court of public opinion with his life ripped apart.
There's no doubt that Clint Eastwood, who directed this film, is a brilliant filmmaker. Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and rest of the cast are all excellent and the story is incredibly gripping and extremely heartbreaking watching Jewell's life fall apart when he was only trying to do the right thing.
My one problem with the movie, and it's not a small one, is Eastwood's inaccurate portrayal of the now deceased, real life reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) who broke the story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He shows her willing to do anything for a story including sleeping with the investigation's lead agent (Jon Hamm).
The Atlanta Journal has said that there is absolutely no evidence she slept with anyone to get the story and they along with Scrugg's family, have
demanded a prominent disclaimer but both Eastwood and Warner Bros, the distributor of the film, has refused their request.
Having said that and even though I completely disagree with Eastwood's politics, I still recommend seeing this powerful, gripping film which opens in theaters Friday December 13th.
Now for something lighter...JAMES HOOD'S MESMERIC 360. This is a unique visual music journey designed to stimulate the mind and senses, bringing together the music of Grammy nominated composer and percussionist James Hood together with visually hypnotic, 3D animated art curated from artists around the world.
This is one of the most successful fulldome music shows ever. You will experience the magic of this 360 degree immersive show at The Vortex Dome in Downtown LA. This family friendly, mind blowing projection and live experience is designed to relieve stress and is suitable for all ages 6 years and above.
I've seen this show before and I know I'll be back many times over. The Vortex Dome is located at Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 South Bixel Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017. It takes place Saturday, December 14th and show times are 5:00pm, 6:30pm and 8:00pm. For tickets and more information you can call 213-534-3720 or go to JamesHood.com/mesmerica360.
Finally what would the Christmas season be without a BOAT PARADE and on Saturday December 14th from 5:55pm to 8pm you can watch a trail of lighted boats cruise through the main channel of Marina del Rey. You should arrive early to grab a spot on the lawn at Chace Park or a good photo spot at Fisherman's Village, two of the most popular viewing places.
Narration on a PA system is available at both locations. This year the parade's theme is 'Kids Make Holidays Bright.' A Brief fireworks show starts at 5:55pm to announce the start of the parade. Admission is free. I've been going to this event for more years than I can remember and it has always been fantastic.
Chace Park is located at 13650 Mindanao Way in Marina del Rey, 90292.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one people.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Actor and producer Nick Rubando, whose co-productions of Maddy's Musical and more have been a part of the L.A.'s ever-growing smaller theatre scene—including during the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Hollywood's Media District each June—made the choice to leave his career in entertainment in Los Angeles in order to flip a congressional seat in his home state of Ohio's 5th Congressional District currently held by Republican incumbent Bob Latta.
As Democrat, Rubando, is running against two other candidates in the March primaries. Since announcing his candidacy, he has spent the last 27 weeks of his campaign gaining supporters and volunteers along the way in a grassroots effort to affect change in Ohio's 5th district, an area that has been subject to gerrymandering and resulting legal battles. Rubando, who majored in Journalism with a minor in Marketing at Indiana University, brings a platform that includes national issues such as removing big money and corporate super PAC's from politics and continued national healthcare, to more local issues such as factory farm toxic run-off and algae bloom that is destroying Lake Erie and family farms and the trade wars and tariffs that are damaging Ohio's farming community and economy.
Rubando, who, along with David Ruben and their company R&R Incorporated, produced musical reviews and shows such as "Legends of the Hidden Three Clubs," "Musicals & Mimosas," and "Inspecting Carol" at the Three Clubs in Hollywood. He returns to Los Angeles during the November holidays to both visit family and friends and to hold a fundraiser at the Three Clubs to support his campaign back in Ohio. The fundraiser, "Nick's Hollywood Return Fundraiser," on Saturday, November 30, 2019, will bring together donated entertainment by his family of performers and supporters, whose productions have also been featured at the Three Clubs, to show their support for Rubando.
Via telephone, Rubando spoke clearly and passionately on what prompted his decision to run, his grassroots efforts in his campaign, the people he has met on the campaign trail, working with his team of volunteers, and his vision for Ohio's 5th District as their Congressional Representative.
So let's begin with what was your political background or inspiration that made you consider running for a congressional seat.
"I actually worked for the Katie Hill for Congress campaign in 2018. And there has been some stuff with Katie [in the news] recently, but when I joined up on her campaign she was a young, first-time candidate who moved back to her home town to really take on an unresponsive incumbent. I thought it was really important to be on her campaign. You know, after Donald Trump got elected, we would watch the news, and it was just bad news after bad news—and it felt demoralizing. It felt like there was nothing that I could do, or really any of us could do, to make it change. And then when I learned about Katie's campaign, I was really excited about her message and I wanted to help bring about that kind of change.
Photo courtesy of Nick Rubando for Congress.
This was in the Semi Valley area, just north of Los Angeles. So, I started with the campaign before the Democratic primaries. I would drive up there—sometimes an hour's drive—and knock on doors. And that started to motivate other people to knock on doors with me, and I started teaching other people about best practices. And it felt amazing, because every time something bad in the news would happen, it'd be like, 'It's fine! Because on Saturday I'm going to go knock on doors for Katie Hill and I am going to make a difference!'
Katie ended up winning the Democratic primary and then she ended up flipping that district. It used to be a Republican-held seat, and then she flipped it and it became a Democrat-held seat and it was amazing! It was amazing to see the hard work that we had all put into that race come into fruition and really be something great and be a positive change for that area.
So [later] I started doing some research into my home town after that race. I was inspired by how Katie moved back into her home town and I started looking into my home town—I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. So, I did a little research online and the first thing that came up was toxic algae bloom that had ruined Lake Erie—Lake Erie, this beautiful, pristine, fresh body of water that I used to go swimming in and go tubing in and go fishing in. And now they have these toxic algae blooms that occur every Summer there, which, for a couple of years was so bad that residents couldn't even drink the water that was coming out of the faucet. When I was in L.A., as well as in the theatre programs that I was running and performing in, I was also working for a tech start-up. And they were really big in the American food industry.
And from researching and being a part of this tech startup I was learning a lot about CAFO [confined animal feeding operations] or factory farms—these large-scale warehouses where they keep animals shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder and pump full of antibiotics—and I learned that the wastewater from these facilities gets dumped into rivers. This wastewater then spreads onto fields and then it runs into rivers and it goes into Lake Erie, and that's what causing these toxic algae blooms.
I was so disgusted by it that I wanted to move back to my home town to make a difference there. Ohio is such an important battleground state, and with the 2020 elections coming up, I thought where better to go than to my home town to really create some positive change. When I got there I wanted to work on a Congressional campaign because that is what I had been doing in the past. So I was asking people, 'Who's running against Bob Latta?' He is the Republican incumbent. And people were saying [at the time,] 'You know, I don't think anyone's doing it. No one really has stepped up.'
The district's kind of hard. It's pretty gerrymandered. This guy raises a lot of money, he gets almost 75% of his donations from corporate PACs, and I couldn't let that stand. I have never been someone who asks why something happened. I always ask 'Why not?' So, I thought, 'I'm just going to run myself! I'm going to step up and run this race!' And so far the response has been fantastic. I do a lot of work with the Young Democrats of Wood and Lucas County, the two largest counties in the districts, and the work with the Advocates for Clean Lake Erie—all these groups have been super supportive during our campaign. I've also gotten really close with the Ohio Farmer's Union who doesn't like these factory farms either, because every time one of these farms opens up it usually closes down about ten family farms. It's a crisis that is going on in the American food industry here in Northwest Ohio and we're trying to change that.”
You mentioned about gerrymandering in Ohio, has any of that been undone?
“[Federal courts] have ruled that the districts are gerrymandered—that they are unconstitutionally drawn. But because they will be redrawn at the 2020 census, the courts have decided to wait until the 2020 census is completed to redraw the lines. So, the lines will not be redrawn for this race, but the next congressional race...there'll be all brand new lines!
Ohio, if you look at the voting breakdown, is a 50/50 State where there are just as many people who vote for Democrats as do Republicans. But we have to look at our Congressional Representatives. We have four Democrats, and I believe seven Republicans, so you can see where it really should be a split, but it is not the case there.”
Photo courtesy of Nick Rubando for Congress.
Regarding the tech start-up you mentioned, where is it, and what is it that they are trying to do? How were they influential to you?
“I worked for a company called Thrive Market. They are based in Marina Del Rey. They are a fantastic organization. Their mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. So what they do is they sell organic groceries online and provide organic foods to your door. It's similar to like a Whole Foods Market, but cheaper. It's a membership model, like a Costco, where you pay something like $55.95 for the whole year, but you get premium discounted groceries, but they deliver them all throughout the United States. You look at places in Northwest Ohio, or some of the rural suburbs that I'm representing, these places are like “food deserts”—you have to drive far to get to a grocery store, and then if you want organic food or really higher quality goods, you can't always find them at regular markets. But this company would deliver them right to your door.
So with regard to the algae bloom issue in Ohio, let's talk more about what you learned was happening there.
"When I lived in California, I was not aware that Lake Erie was having this algae bloom problem even though I was aware of factory farms. But once I started doing some research on my hometown, I noticed these algae blooms were occurring a lot. Literally just a couple years ago people in the whole northwest Ohio area couldn't drink the water, they couldn't take showers, because the water was so toxic and I learned that the reason for that was the waste run-offs caused by these huge, large-scale factory farms.
The problem is that you have the Trump administration rolling back screening protection laws in the EPA which makes it even easier for these companies to dump their waste. So the problem is just compounding upon itself.”
What was the catalyst that propelled you to run for Congress and what kind of background brought you to consider it?
“In college—I was at Indiana University—and on the 2008 Obama campaign, I registered student voters. That was the first time that I got politically active—engaging students and ensuring that we could get a big a turn out in the state of Indiana. When we were working on that campaign, we flipped the state of Indiana from red to blue for the first time in 50 years. That Barack Obama win in 2008 was historic!
Photo courtesy of Nick Rubando for Congress.
At the time that I worked on the Obama campaign, my parents divorced and my mom was kicked off of my father's health insurance while she was struggling with some health concerns. It was a struggle to see her try to get an insurance card with a pre-existing condition.
I worked so hard for Obama, and then he passed the Affordable Care Act, and at that point in time—for the first time—my mom was able to afford an individualized insurance plan. And that changed her life. She was able to start her own small business because of that. So I saw how the work that we did, on just a small scale, was able to enable a presidential win...Government, in general, really can affect people's lives in a positive direction. And that's why it is so important to get politically engaged—and to vote—and to figure out what is important to you and to get behind it because it affects the lives of millions of Americans.”
What has the campaign trail been like and how many townships and counties have you visited?
"Our district has 14 counties, and we have visited them all. We have gone to Democratic meetings, meetings of concerned citizens, met with farmers, etc. We have gone into coffee shops and talked to people because we really want to know what is happening on the ground level. We've gotten to every single county, multiple times, and we're approaching as many people as possible. You know, our current representative never holds any Town Halls. He's absent, and people can never get in touch with him, so we are trying to paint a very stark contrast. I'm doing my best to meet with people so they can get to know me and learn to trust again. So they are like, 'Hey this guy's available when [Latta] is just sitting in Washington not doing anything for our community. We have been getting out into the community. We've put a lot of miles on the car!"
With your grassroots efforts, and not accepting corporate donations, I assume that the campaign is self-funded. What has your campaign crew been like?
"I didn't have any money to begin with, but we've gotten so much support and buy-in from the community. We have over 600 individual donors and we've raised close to $70,000. I have a campaign manager who is someone who ran in local elections here. Our campaign headquarters is directly across from Bowling Green University, so we have been getting a lot of [help] from the college students. We have about ten college student volunteers who come into the campaign office almost every day and who are intent about making a change.
We are picking up [supporters] everywhere we go, which is a great thing about visiting these counties. We meet with people and talk to them, and they want to join the team. We have now different captains everywhere we go."
“At the end of the day I really have to understand what all of my constituents are going through so I can best advocate for them.” – Nick Rubando
With your background as a working actor and producer in the entertainment industry, and working in L.A. Theatre, how has that experience translated? What have you learned from it and how do you feel it will make you a better representative of the people?
"I think one of the biggest things I have learned in the entertainment industry, especially in theatre, is empathy. When you are taking on a role, you really have to put yourself into someone else's shoes. And think about what life is like in their situation, how they view things, [and] what kind of problems they have. That empathy that I have been able to learn has served me so well [toward] being a representative. I go out into these communities and I'm speaking to these farmers. And I might not have the best understanding of what a farmer goes through every day, but through my work in the entertainment industry, I can put myself in that individual's shoes. At the end of the day, I really have to understand what all of my constituents are going through so I can best advocate for them. And I feel so lucky that I have been able to gain that kind of empathy through the work that I have done in the entertainment industry."
What would you say or feel is your responsibility personally for making change in Ohio, for the U.S., and to the world?
“I think everyone has a responsibility as American citizens. People have fought and died for their right to vote, and their right to make a change in this country and for their voices to be heard. So I think the most American thing that you can do is become an engaged citizen and attempt to make change. This was an opportunity that was presented to me. People wanted me to get involved in this and I didn't have anything else going on.
When you are running for [a political] office it's tough if you have a family, or you have small children that you have to take care of. I'm lucky I don't have that, so I have this big opportunity to step up and fulfill my duty as an American citizen. And I think that everyone who lives in this beautiful country shouldn't take it for granted. If we've learned one thing from the Donald Trump era is that we cannot take our democracy for granted. Too many times we think that everything is going to be fine and that other people will take care of us, but in reality we are all responsible. We are all responsible for this beautiful thing called America. So we all need to step up and get involved wherever we can."
Photo by Monique A. LeBleu ~ Nick Rubando as Le Phantom, Master of Ceremonies, in "Legends of the Hidden Three Clubs" for Hollywood Fringe, at Three Clubs, Thursday, June 10, 2017.
Let's talk about the local fundraising event at Three Clubs coming up. How did that come about and what can people expect from that?
“I have friends and family in the Los Angeles area, and they have been extremely supportive of this race. And they asked, 'What is one thing that we can do to help you out?' As I mentioned, we have a grassroots campaign and we're going up against an incumbent Republican who is taking 75% of his donations from corporate PACs. The worst of it all is that it's the exact same corporate PACs that he is making the laws about in Washington. He sits on the Energy and Commerce committees...oil and gas companies and the pharmaceutical companies, and those are the same corporations that he gets money from. And the pharmaceutical companies are the worst because our state is number two in opioid-related deaths and our [current] Representative gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from opioid manufacturers each year to get elected. And that is terrible!
It's so important that we're able to get support from individuals so we can have snacks and water and materials for our volunteers when they come into the [campaign] office. We need donations so we can print educational materials about our campaign that we hand out to our constituents when we knock on doors, so we can purchase online ads, send out mailers, etc. I'm a first-time candidate, so it's essential that I get name recognition and that my campaign message gets heard.
The fundraising event on November 30th at Three Clubs in Hollywood will raise money towards democracy and at the same time will have great entertainment. The crew from Cherry Poppins will be dancing, singing, and performing and 'MAD😜LIB! The Musical' show will also be there. It's amazing that these individuals that I have worked with for so long really believe in what we are doing and are helping out. They want to see a change and they're using their art to help inspire and create that change. That is phenomenal to see."
Is the Three Clubs donating the evening, in terms of the space, and anything else?
“The space is completely free. We are not paying for it. There will be food included in the ticket price, which is coming from my family, and my friends are helping serve. People have to pay for alcohol, but the Three Clubs is giving us the entire space and the entire night for free. They are such an amazing venue. I have done so many great shows there and they have been a huge supporter of my work! And I believe that a ticket to this kind of show is worth $35, while at the same time supporting democracy and getting some good food. It's going to be a really awesome event and evening!
This fundraiser is extremely important and we want everyone to come out to this event and meet with like-minded people so we can also make some changes in Los Angeles.”
Regardless of the outcome, do you have any plans, either way, win or lose? What is the first thing you would or will do once you'd win and any other plans down the road?
“Well, if we win, we'd be in Congress. And the first thing I would like to do is pass a law to get big money out of politics. And another thing I'd want to do is to ensure that Members of Congress won't be allowed to accept donations from companies that they actively legislating on. So if you are making laws that are about the energy and gas sectors, you are not allowed to accept money from big oil companies. You would think that would be a no-brainer, but that is not the case right now. These would be my first pieces of legislation that I would want to push through."
But the advantages of Super PACs go both ways, or all ways, politically, so anyone can benefit from them, right? Is that something you choose not to accept then?
“We're not accepting any corporate PAC money. But I should mention that our campaign was recently endorsed by an organization called Brand New Congress. They have a documentary on Netflix called “Knock Down The House.” They were very influential in the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, so we are extremely excited about that."
Nick's Hollywood Return Fundraiser is Saturday, November 30, 2019, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Three Clubs located at 1123 Vine St, 90038, in Hollywood. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased here. Donations can also be made here.