Actor/Singer Robert Bannon Works Creatively During COVID-19 Closure of Feinstein's

Actor/singer Robert Bannon has worked on Broadway and on TV's "SNL." He was scheduled to present his cabaret show "Unfinished Business" at Feinstein's at Vitello's April 14 (Feinstein's is closed until further notice because of the Corona Virus.) In our conversation he tells us about his background and how his love of the "American Songbook" came to be.

Tell our readers why you are recording an album in salute to the American Songbook. You graduated from Juilliard Prep. What did you learn from the composers of these songs? Who are your favorites?

RB: Growing up in a good little Italian-Irish family in NJ, the music of Sinatra, Sammy, Dean, Johnny was reverent. The instrumentation, storytelling, and classic nature of these songs just spoke to me. I have always been a fan of the “story” and the build of a song. I love singing all music and listening to everything from hip hop to country (and sometimes that sneaks into the show) but all in all nothing beats the classics. They can be done and reimagined but the bones of them remain and will last forever.

I did go to Juilliard Prep, I was in the first music theatre class under Bertin Rowser and Diane Wilson. I am so grateful to them for seeing something in me, as a child, I didn’t see in myself. I learned that acting and musical theater are truly art forms. There is a difference between fame/celebrity and the art and the work it takes to serve it. That goes back to the classic element of the show. It is my story, but I serve the music and I hope that translates.

As far as composers, I learned it iss all in the melodies. Can you listen to a song and remember it? That is the magic of a good song. Also the saying that you don’t remember what you did or what you said but you will always remember how you FEEL! Does the music make you feel something? The universal themes of them all!

I have a bunch of favorites. I love Johnny Mercer. His vibe and style is just timeless. The poetry of his lyrics is second to none. Also I love Anthony Newley. He is often not thought of but I love the DRAMA of his music!! His arrangements and songs are full of drama. It makes a moment in my shows and hopefully emotes something we all can relate to!

You title your concert show Unfinished Business. You are so young. Usually artists use this term at the end of their careers. What is your intent?

RB: Thanks for this question and saying I’m young!

There is a story to the title. When I was in high school and at Juilliard, I ended up getting sick for 4 years. I had undiagnosed Lyme disease which turned into meningitis before Justin Bieber made it a newsworthy thing. I literally never had a chance to go to high school as a “normal” student. When I recovered I only knew one thing - singing. I started putting myself out there. I got called in to replace Roger in Rent on Broadway. I walked in, botched the audition and freaked out. I changed my major to Political Science and became a history teacher done with performing. After two Masters Degrees in Education, I felt something was missing. I would literally tear up at a curtain call or a concert.

So after 10 years of not performing, fate intervened. I met up with the amazing performers and writers Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews. They just did their show Witness Uganda at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. They helped me literally dust off the rust and get back out there. They told me I had something to say. The first day I sang again I said I had some "Unfinished Business" to do and it stuck. I called my show that in NY at 54 Below. It is the journey and the lesson that we all have something unfinished to do. Take a step and the path will FOLLOW!

Do you tell anecdotes in your show or just sing? As a principal in SNL, you must love comedy. Any comedic stories or skits we may look forward to?

RB: I think I talk as much as I sing! I have stories for days and have had such an interesting life thankfully! I love to talk about my journey, family, love, and some of the things that I’ve experienced. I love comedy! I grew up obsessed with SNL so being there is beyond anything I could ever imagine. I’m so grateful to just be in the halls of that American Institution!

I do have some fun stories. I talk about my childhood obsession with all things Manilow, being stuck on an elevator with singing legend Phoebe Snow, my personal life which is a show in of itself, etc! There are a lot of laughs. I am all Jersey all day so that totally comes across in the show.

Talk more in depth about SNL. What has this added to your career as a performer? Has improv strengthened your delivery and stamina onstage?

RB: I was first asked to be on SNL in a sketch about the TSA. In the sketch they let me through security with a sketchy bag and book bag while others were not allowed to come through as they had a travel ban. I had to shave my head for the part and I asked the Casting Director, if I shave my head, can I be on a live show? Please! It actually worked. Ask and you shall receive.

Since then I have had big roles, small roles and everything in between. Check out Electric Shoes with Kenan Thompson and see my bass playing wig debut. Seeing the way that show works and how talented they all are is inspiring. I’ve seen some of the best in the biz work up close to make that show fly. It’s always an honor. When I was first on, a friend from elementary school wrote me and said “You used to stay up and watch this show every Saturday and now you are on that stage!” It is a pretty surreal moment!

Improv is simply the best! It is scary which makes the payoff so much better. I am a graduate of Willian Esper for acting under the amazing Barbara Marchant. That program is Meisner acting technique which is mostly improv. That skill is something that makes you so present in your work as an actor and has certainly helped my stage show and listening to the audience moment to moment. It keeps you on your toes and ready for anything! Who knows what will come out of my mouth!?

What is your favorite Broadway show? It does not have to be one that you have done.

RB: That’s a tough question. I love Rent. I loved finally being able to be in Rent after my awful audition as a kid and being Roger. That show resonates with me so deeply about love and living each day to the fullest.

I would love more original musicals to be made on Broadway! Witness Uganda is BRILLIANT! That score is something that has stuck with me. It was genius at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. Matt Gould who co-wrote that show has a new show coming to La Jolla called Lempicka! Go SEE IT! I am hoping after California it takes over NYC!

Any particular role that you are yearning to play onstage?

RB: I would love to play Bobby in Company. I just relate so much to his character and the score is brilliant. I also love comedy and have been singing “My Girlfriend Who Lives In Canada” for years. So I would love to be fitted with a puppet to have some fun in Avenue Q! I am always down for some campy puppet moments.

Did you grow up with music in your family? What inspired you to be an actor and singer?

RB: My parents loved music. My dad loved placing big headphones on me and letting me rock out to Earth, Wind and Fire. My mom loved Carly Simon. We would listen to her when she made us breakfast every weekend but don’t ask them to sing! Ha! They are not singers. My parents are kinda shy and I am literally shot out of a canon 24-7. I think I always wanted to make people smile and entertain. I would take the sheets from my bed, make curtains, and put on shows for my family since I could remember.

I tell a story about trying sports and being dreadful (soccer goalie is not on my special skills on my resume) and finally being like "nope I quit!" Take me to singing lessons instead. Sixth grade hit, I was the Prince in Cinderella at my school, I was hooked. I wanted to sing and act anywhere and everywhere.

My parents were hip and loved music. I was the old soul. I got a karaoke machine for Christmas with the Hits of Manilow and I was sold. Hook line and sinker. I would listen and study him nonstop.

What was it like performing with giants like Patti LaBelle and Whoopi Goldberg? What did you learn from being in their presence?

RB: Wow! I had the pleasure at 12 years old to perform with Ms. LaBelle at a tribute concert for Laura Nyro (songwriter) at the Beacon Theatre. I have loved her since. She was so kind, humble, and a FORCE on stage. She brings 110% every time and is so authentically herself. Her kindness and authenticity are what makes people love her. I have had the pleasure to see her numerous times after and sing with her again, she is as amazing now as ever! OBSESSED!

Whoopi is such a wonderful performer, kind, and generous. She was such a wonderful person to be around. I think I learned that being kind matters. Being a good listener and remember that you matter and your art matters but you can’t do it without the people who support it.

Do you have a goal in LA? Are you looking toward more work in TV and roles in film? Will stage always remain a vital part of your performing life?

RB: It is so humbling to be booked at Feinstein’s in Studio City. No one is more surprised and honored than me. Three years ago, I had hung it all up and had not done a thing so I’m thrilled people are inspired and supportive. I am focusing on my new album which is on the way based on the one man show and journey. My first love will always be me, a stool, mic, and a piano player. It’s taken me decades to be comfortable sharing my story, and that will always be the one I want to tell first and foremost. I am just happy to meet some new friends in LA and spread my message and music! Therefore stage and the live show will always be the first love. We are always adding more dates so I’m so grateful for that. You can find all upcoming dates on RobertBannon.com.

I also love TV and film! I would love to do more straight up acting. That is such a fulfilling way to make a living to be the vessel for the text and project either comedy or drama-that is a blast. I am open to whatever surprises life has to to offer. One thing I learned is it’s gonna surprise me so let’s see where it goes!

Add anything you wish here that we did not already mention.

RB: Thank you so much for your time and platform! Come see me at the show and say hi! I am so excited to share this show with LA! Joining me is Michael Orland as Music Director! Michael was the MD on American Idol for 15 seasons. He’s worked with everyone and is as talented as he is kind. You don’t want to miss what surprises we both have in store. Also, LA has some of the best singers in the world and I happen to know them so expect a bunch of surprises and a lot of fun!

Unfortunately Feinstein's is closed until further notice because of the Corona Virus.*

* I asked Robert Bannon what he is doing creatively during this time. Are you working on the CD of the "American Songbook?" When your appearance is rescheduled, will there be a CD release party?

RB: I am working on the album! It will be of the Great American Songbook. It is produced by Bob Magnuson and features arrangements by Tedd Firth and Rich DeRosa of songs you know but with my own twist. Thanks to technology we will hopefully do it all digitally and get it ready to be out as soon as possible. I am trying to be as creative as possible with this time out.

The new goal is once we have a new date for Feinstein’s in LA this summer it will be an album release with a whole new show! So I am definitely looking forward to what comes in the future. For now, just sending light and love to everyone to stay safe!


The 34th Annual 'Robby Award' Winners Announced


The 34th Annual Robby Awards show scheduled for March 23, 2020, has been canceled due to the Coronavirus and social distancing.

Here is the list of the winners for the best in Los Angeles area theatre for 2019.  With the Robby Awards, a few categories resulted in a tie vote, even with critic Rob Stevens as the only voter.

The Pasadena Playhouse’s production of "Ragtime" won Best Musical as well as three other awards. The Ahmanson Theatre’s production of "Indecent" also won four awards, including Best Drama. Best Comedy was awarded to Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s "Loot" which also won two other awards.

A Noise Within led all producing companies with five awards spread over three of their productions—"Argonautika," "The Glass Menagerie," and "Frankenstein." The Geffen Playhouse won three awards, one each for their productions of "Key Largo," "Skintight," and "Witch."

Among 99-seat theatres, Celebration Theatre won two awards for its production of "The Producers," Boston Court Pasadena won two awards for "The Judas Kiss," and Antaeus Theatre Company won two awards for "The Cripple of Inishmaan," while two awards were given to shows at the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.


The Robby Awards


Teri Ralston Award for Best Musical
Ragtime, Pasadena Playhouse

Virginia Capers Award for Best Director of a Musical
David Lee, Ragtime, Pasadena Playhouse

Michael G. Hawkins Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Marc Ginsburg, Ragtime, Pasadena Playhouse

Michelle Nicastro Award for Best Actress in a Musical
Shannon Warne, Ragtime, Pasadena Playhouse

Gary Beach Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Michael A. Shepperd, The Producers, Celebration Theatre

Lisa Robinson Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Lauren Van Kurin, Earth to Karen, Hollywood Fringe Festival

Dom Salinaro Award for Best Choreography
Christine Negherbon, Holiday Inn, Musical Theatre West

Elan McMahan Award for Best Musical Direction
Gregory Nabours, Scissorhands, The Fuse Project

John Raitt Award for Best Music and Lyrics
Brooke deRosa, Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon, Trial Run Productions

Nan Martin Award for Best Drama
Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre

Martin Benson Award for Best Director of a Drama (Tie)
Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, Argonautika, A Noise Within
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre

Ray Stricklyn Award for Best Actor in a Drama
Rob Nagle, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court Pasadena

Sally Kemp Award for Best Actress in a Drama
Deborah Strang, The Glass Menagerie, A Noise Within

Richard Doyle Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Kasey Mahaffy, The Glass Menagerie, A Noise Within

Belinda Balaski Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Jenny O’Hara, Daniel’s Husband, The Fountain Theatre

Carole Cook Award for Best Comedy
Loot, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Ron Link Award for Best Director of a Comedy
Bart DeLorenzo, Loot, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Tom Troupe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy (Tie)
Harry Groener, Skintight, Geffen Playhouse
Evan Jonigkeit, Witch, Geffen Playhouse

Lu Leonard Award for Best Actress in a Comedy
Elizabeth Arends, Loot, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Albert Lord Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
JD Cullum, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Antaeus Theatre Company

Dee Croxton Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Anne Gee Byrd, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Antaeus Theatre Company

Michael Devereaux Award for Best Playwriting
David Hare, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court Pasadena

John Iacovelli Award for Best Scenic Design
John Lee Beatty, Key Largo, Geffen Playhouse

Best Projection Design
Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia, Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Paulie Jenkins Award for Best Lighting Design
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre

Garland Riddle Award for Best Costume Design
E. B. Brooks, The Producers, Celebration Theatre

Steve ”Canyon” Kennedy Award for Best Sound Design
Robert Oriol, Frankenstein, A Noise Within

Lies and Legends Award for Best Ensemble Award
Matt Darriau, Elizabeth A. Davis, Joby Earle, Patrick Farrell, Harry Groener,
Lisa Gutkin, Mimi Lieber, Steven Rattazzi, Richard Topol, Adina Verson,
Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre

Billy Barnes Award for Best Cabaret Performance
Daniel Thomas Bellusci, Brittney Bertier, Ellie Birdwell, Bruce Kimmel,
Kerry O’Malley, Jenna Lea Rosen, Robert Yacko,
L’Wonderful, L’Marvelous, Legrand, Kritzerland at Vitello’s

Special Award for Props and Puppet Design
Erin Walley and Dillon Nelson, Argonautika, A Noise Within

Robby Living Legend Award
Teri Ralston


Audio Interview: The Cast of 'Guys and Dolls' at The GEM Theater

Guys and Dolls is a musical romantic comedy involving the unlikeliest of Manhattan pairings: a high-rolling gambler and a puritanical missionary*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Guys and Dolls at The GEM Theater, playing through Mar 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


From Mormon to Callback Queen Actor/Singer Luke Monday Takes the LA Stage By Storm

Actor/singer Luke Monday has performed as standby for Elder Price in The Book of Mormon which just canceled at the Ahmanson Theatre. He is now preparing to perform his concert/cabaret at Rockwell Table & Stage on Monday March 16 entitled Callback Queen. In our interview Monday talks about both shows and how he really likes performing in Los Angeles.

I understand you are standby for Elder Price in The Book of Mormon. Have you gotten the chance to perform for this show yet? Do you cover other roles?

LM: Yes, I have been performing as a standby for Price! I went on for him on Tuesday March 3rd. I only cover Elder Price in the show. When it’s a role as demanding as this, often times companies will hire a standby just to cover that part. I’m the only Price standby in this company.

This is without a doubt the funniest musical comedy, especially for gay people. Are audiences still jumping out of their seats?

LM: They really are! I wasn’t sure what to expect since the show has played here a few times, but we’ve been selling really well and the crowds have been fantastic. I went on on a Tuesday night, and it honestly felt like a Friday night crowd. Totally electric. I loved it!

What do you think is the message of The Book of Mormon and do you think the message is important in today's mixed up world?

LM: My takeaway from the show is that it’s ok to follow your own path, even if it’s not what you expected. Particularly in Elder Price’s case, he’s had this very specific idea of how everything in his life (and afterlife) will play out. Obviously once he gets paired with Cunningham and sent to Uganda, that all gets derailed. But by the end of the show he learns to manage the change, and in that change he finds a new strength. I think that’s something anyone watching can learn from. Life always throws curve balls, but it’s all about how you handle the struggles and find a way to move forward!

Is this the favorite role you have played? If not, what is your favorite role and why?

LM: The Book of Mormon is definitely one of my top favorites! Maybe top 3? I love the music in this show. I remember watching the Tony’s one year, hearing I Believe for the very first time and thinking, “I can do that!” Almost 9 years and 3 auditions later and here I am! My other favorites would have to be Gabe in Next to Normal and George in She Loves Me.

You were in Mamma Mia. What part did you perform in that show and did you enjoy being in that production?

LM: Mamma Mia was a blast! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was my first time touring, and the people in that show became my family. I was in the ensemble and I covered Sky, the fiancée. I loved Mamma Mia because no matter what negativity was going on in the world at the time, we could take the audience away for 2 hours and escape all of that and just have fun.

Your cabaret show Callback Queen premiered last summer in San Diego. You tell anecdotes about your career and sing Broadway show tunes. Can you give us a little sneak peek without creating a spoiler alert?

LM: The show sort of opens with my very first rejection, not getting the part I wanted in my 4th grade school play, and then we continue all the way to the present. I noticed a trend with concerts and cabarets that a lot of them are just greatest hits of roles people played or originated i.e. their success stories. And while that is perfectly great, I thought it would be interesting to flip that idea on its head and share stories of rejection. Every actor has them! Without giving away too much, there are going to be appearances from my talented friends from The Book of Mormon, awesome medleys and mashups, a costume reveal, glow sticks, and a choose-your-own finale. It should be a blast!

Do you have a favorite musical or composer or performer?

LM: I think it’s a tie between West Side Story and Ragtime for favorite musical. Two of the most glorious scores ever written, and sadly still so relevant now. I don’t think I’ve got a favorite composer. I appreciate so many of them for different reasons! But I have a few favorite performers. I’m a huge Gavin Creel fan. His voice was and is one of the best in the business. I want to play everything he’s ever played. I guess I’m on my way, seeing that he was an Elder Price! Another fav is Laura Osnes. She’s a true triple threat and just has a positive presence that I think is so important in a cut throat industry like this.

Have you auditioned for the King in Hamilton role yet? It's a funny, funny role.

LM: Obviously I’d love to play that part but I haven't auditioned yet! I think it’s pretty spectacular that a character can be onstage for such a short time and yet be so memorable. So it's definitely on my list of auditions to do. Thankfully Hamilton will be around for MANY years, so there’s time!

Tell our readers anything that I did not mention, like the camaraderie with your Mormon cast or how LA audiences are different from those in other cities across the country.

LM: Well, I love my cast. This is the longest I’ve been with any company and I can honestly say I love each one of them. We lift each other up, and I know they’ll be at Callback Queen on the 16th cheering me on. I think the audiences in LA are used to seeing great theater, so they are really smart! They pic up on the details and the nuances that often go unnoticed in other cities. Being here is a reminder of how truly funny and well written this show is. It feels new again in a way.

Catch Luke Monday on March 16 at Rockwell Table & Stage at 1714 N. Vermont Ave. in Hollywood in "Callback Queen." Call 323-669-1550 for table reservations. 

Both shows cancelled. Check back after the Corona Virus to see if Callback Queen will be rescheduled.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – March 2 - 8, 2020


Better Lemons currently has over 140 shows NOW registered on the Better Lemons Calendar!

Registered NEW this week are Art Shows, Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Solo, Readings, and more:
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Wait Until Dark

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Bernhardt/Hamlet

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One Way Ticket to Oregon

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The Pack

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Darkness Comes Alive: Discover Your Neon Eternity

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Muse of Fire (Henry 4/5)

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Divorce

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Scintilla

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2nd Annual NOT REAL ART Creators Conference

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Bakersfield Mist

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ANTIDOTE TO NOISE: FOUR VOICES

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Poor Clare

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Alice in Wonderland the Musical

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Señorita Julia - Staged Reading

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Audio Interview: The Cast of 'Found' at The Los Angeles Theatre Center

IAMA Theatre Company presents the West Coast premiere of Found, a new musical inspired by Davy Rothbart’s popular Found magazine, which features scores of actual discarded notes and letters that have been “found” in the real world by everyday people.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Found at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, playing through Mar 23rd. 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 – February 25 - March 1, 2020


Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Immersive, Solo, Readings, Kid-friendly shows, and more now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


The Serpent

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LA Fest by Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA

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The Bindings

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Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's

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Soul Trek

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Five Pieces of Paper: Stories my Hungarian grandmother refused to tell me and other family tales. A Love tribute to my Holocaust surviving grandmother

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Dohee Lee: MU/巫: 9 Goddesses

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Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders

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Beat Bugs JV at Theatre School @ North Coast Rep

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The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

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The Colony Comedy Series – Hosted by Damon Williams

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Sex, Addiction & Love in the 21st Century at The Braid

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Sex, Addiction & Love in the 21st Century at dnj Gallery

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Man of God

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Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

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Show Up, Kids! Interactive Family Comedy

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Geronimo: Life on the Reservation

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Theresa Rebeck's "Seminar"

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Orphée

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JOAN OF ART: The Mormons are Back, A Musical that's Worth a Trip, A Visit to the Iconic Grand Central Market, and Get Ready to Dance, Dance, Dance

There's a lot of super fun things going on this weekend and I'm going to try my best to be at every one of them.

First up THE BOOK OF MORMON is opening at the Ahmanson Theatre at 135 North Grand Avenue downtown.

I've seen this musical (are you ready?) four times over the last few years. Why do I keep going back? Because it's hysterically funny, brilliant and super clever on every single level. I absolutely loved every second of this show and I promise you will too.

According to The New York Times...THE BOOK OF MORMON is completely irrelevant, outrageous and 'the best musical of the century' and numerous publications more than agree with these sentiments.

This wonderfully offensive, extremely smart show is from the minds of Trey Parker, Richard Lopez and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. Need I say more?

But I will. Briefly it's the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries they are sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. They start out in Salt Lake City and wind up in a remote Ugandan village. What follows is a sidesplitting story of Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church like you've never seen before.

THE BOOK OF MORMON opened this week and plays through March 29th.

For more information and for tickets go to CenterTheatreGroup.org.

Next up is a different kind of musical that will have you traveling to downtown Los Angeles to The Los Angeles Theatre Center, which resides in a historic beautiful building that was originally a bank constructed In the late 1930's and early 1931.

It's really cool to see that some of the history of the building has been preserved. In fact on the lower floor is the bank's original vault and if you're super quiet and have a vivid imagination, you might just see a ghost or two.

Back to the musical which is entitled FOUND. This musical comedy was inspired by scores of surprising and eccentric discarded notes and letters that have been 'found' in the real world by every-day people and brought to irreverent theatrical life.

The show is based on the collection curated by Davy Rothbart in his 'Found' books and magazines. premiered off Broadway in 2014 and was the 'Critic's Pick' by The New York Times.

This insightful and hilarious musical is a raucous exploration of human connection and the beautiful weirdness in all of us. I personally can't wait to see it.

The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 513 South Spring Street, Downtown LA 90013. For tickets go to TheLATC.org/Found or call 213-489-0994.

FOUND opens tonight February 20th at 8pm with performances taking place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 4pm and Mondays at 8pm through March 23rd 2020.

Okay now that you're downtown, you must visit one of my favorite eating haunts that has always without fail satisfied all of my culinary needs and left me extremely full and happy. I'm talking about THE GRAND CENTRAL MARKET located at 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

This is a feasting grounds with a dynamic lineup of vendors that have been here for decades. In fact, the market can be traced back from its days as an open grocery to its modern 'destination dining'.

Its excellent reputation draws James Beard quality chefs. All of the thirty stalls in GCM are definitely worthy of your attention whether it's for lunch, dinner or an in between snack. No matter what your food tastes are, you will find it here.

The Market is turning 100 this year and after you visit this place, you will definitely be shouting "HERE'S TO ANOTHER 100!."

To see everything the GCM offers go to their website at GrandCentralMarket.com.

Last on my list, but definitely not least is the BLUE 13 DANCE COMPANY noted for its rhythmic and charged performances that blend hip-hop, ballet and modern and traditional Indian dance.

This incredibly talented company showcases its exuberant genre bending artistry at one of my favorite theatres, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, which is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills 90210.

BLUE 13 DANCE COMPANY is L.A. based and has been influencing the modern dance landscape through their reimagining of the classical forms from India with an American contemporary aesthetic.

They've performed on stages around the world, from Paris and Morocco to New York using dance as a vehicle for storytelling and I for one can't wait to see them.

The BLUE 13 DANCE COMPANY will be performing on February 21st through February 22nd at 7:30.

For tickets and more information go to TheWallis.org.

Whatever you do this weekend people, make it a super fun one.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 10 - 16, 2020


Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Variety shows, and more now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


For The Love of the Glove

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Hot Tragic Dead Thing

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FERTILE

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Law & Order: The Musical!

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Old Jews Telling Jokes

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The Wild Party

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Richard Lederer's Presidents Tonight! at North Coast Repertory Theatre

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Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson

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Pan Am Returns

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The Swords of Sorrow- BURAI II

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Death and Other Girly Things

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AFTERGLOW

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Ain't All So Grimm

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Jelly Beans

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Deconstructing Holly

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Show Me A Hero

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JOAN OF ART: Three Musicals and a Tango

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.

For tickets and more information go to bapacthousandoaks.com. or call (800) 745-3000.

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 super talented Karole Foreman stars in the title role along with music director Stephan Terry.

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.

For tickets and more information go to GDTango.com.

Whatever you do this weekend people, make it a fun one. Oh and a romantic one.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 4 - 9, 2020


Rooftop Film Festivals, Musicals, Comedy, Magic, Shakespeare, Cabaret, Variety shows, and more now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


Ragtime The Musical

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The Bogeyman

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ROD ROGET’S CELEBRITY NIGHTCAP at Zombie Joe's Underground

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Barrett Foa has Friends!

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Never Not Once

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Hamlet

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Hamlet: The Rock Musical

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Barefoot in the Park

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TAME: Up Close And Personal

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The Velveteen Rabbit

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Valentine's 2020 at The Montalban

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Casablanca at The Montalban

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The Notebook at The Montalban

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Breakfast at Tiffany's

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JOAN OF ART: The L.A. Art Show, A Poignant and Important Musical, Sneakers Everyone and The Constitution

There are a lot of super fun things happening this weekend in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas starting with the L.A. Art Show.

The L.A. Art Show continues to lead the way with innovative and one of a kind experiences for an expanding audience. The show is the unparalleled international art experience with over 120 galleries from more than 20 countries exhibiting painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation, photography, fashion, design, video, and performance.

More than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space is committed to today's prominent galleries. I've been going to this event for the last 20 years and I'm never disappointed. Besides great people watching, the eclectic art displayed here is some of the best.

The show takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA, 90015. It runs from February 5th through the 9th. Hours are 11am-5pm. For more information and tickets go to LAArtShow.com.

As you know I absolutely love musical theatre and one of my favorite shows Ragtime (which I've seen twice) is back in Southern California at The Carpenter Performing Arts Center February 7th through the 23rd in honor of Black History Month.

This five time Tony Award Winning musical is based on E. I. Doctorow's acclaimed novel which tells the story of three families trying to find their way during the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Each family is struggling with the changing cultural climate in America and each facing the promise of hope and new beginnings in the midst of prejudice and bigotry.

Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally wrote the book and features a score filled with memorable songs. The music is haunting and memorable. If you see one musical this year, I highly recommend Ragtime.

For tickets go to Musical.org or call (562) 56-1999. The Carpenter Performing Arts Center is located at 6200 East Atherton Street in Long Beach 90815. It's definitely worth the trip.

Now if you're a fan of sneakers and think of it as art, then SNEAKERTOPIA; SNEAKER AND STREET ART EXHIBIT is the place to be this weekend.

Sneakertopia is the new massive sneaker and street art exhibit, transporting you through a series of immersive, mind-blowing galleries celebrating the art and culture of sneakers. This is a story of creativity, expression, and innovation.

You will witness the sneaker's epic ascension through sports, music, film, fashion, and fantasy.

There will be a 15,000 square foot indoor playground packed with priceless kicks, oversized sights and sounds and interactive street art masterpieces.

SNEAKERTOPIA takes place Friday February 7th through March 1st at 6081 Center Drive, Suite 222, Los Angeles 90045. For tickets go to Sneakertopia.com or call (323) 546-5950.

Lastly there is a powerful, important, and extremely moving play at the Mark Taper. The play is called What The Constitution Means To Me and this is a definite 'must see.'

In fact every man, woman, and mature teenager should see it. At a time when the Constitution is being assailed by those who have sworn an oath to defend it, this buoyant and often stirring civics lesson is the theatrical curriculum Americans desperately need now.

Actress Maria Dizzia brings to life the maddening, mournful history of how women's bodies have been abused by laws and the male dominated courts imperiously interpreting them. And don't worry about the play getting too heavy. It is infused with humor...lots of it.

For tickets to this extraordinary theatrical event go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. The Mark Taper is located at 135 Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, 90012. The show runs through February 28th.

Whatever you do this weekend people, have a great one.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – January 27 - February 3, 2020


Theatrical, One-Person, Musicals, and Comedy shows, Music, Dance, and Cabaret now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


Sugar Houses

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Looking for Leroy

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Cafe Vida

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The Andrews Brothers

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Taming the Lion

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Birthday Wish

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Uncle Vanya

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Matt & Ben

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The Secret Comedy of Women

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Our Man in Santiago

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Shades of War The play

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Melinda Doolittle - The Great American Soul Book

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The World is My Home: The Life of Paul Robeson

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A Good Day to Fly

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