Ashton's Audio Interview: Armin Shimerman (Quark from 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine') the director of 'Measure for Measure'

Armin Shimerman, best known by his fans as Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is also an accomplished Shakespearean scholar and teacher. He is one of two directors of Measure for Measure.

Enjoy this interview with Armin Shimerman co-director of “Measure for Measure at the Antaeus Theatre Company, playing through Apr 6th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


JOAN OF ART: A House is definitely a Home, Let's Go Surfing, A Delicious Feast, and Comedy is Back at the Hudson

I know staying home and watching the news can make some of us feel that it is dangerous out there, but I promise with the help of some hand sanitizer, you'll all be fine. Plus the events this week are certainly worth the trek away from your house.

And speaking of home that's exactly what you will find out the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. HOME created by Geoff Sobelle is a play like nothing you've ever seen.

It's an extremely original, heartfelt theatre piece performed without words. 'Home' is a fast moving, unique blend of concept, movement, music and visual storytelling that shows us what it means to make a house a home.

On an empty stage, a house rises before your eyes. Residents past, present and future rollick through its rooms in an impromptu dance that defies time and space, magically transforming our mundane everyday tasks into a glorious intimate and profound celebrations.

HOME has played in several cities including New York and Boston to rave reviews. This is definitely on my 'must see' list and I'll be in the audience this Friday evening.

For tickets and more information go the TheBroadStage.org or call the box office at (310) 434-3200.

HOME plays Thursday, March 5th through Sunday March 8th. The Broad is located at 1310 11th Street in Santa Monica 90401.

Next are you ready to go surfing? Well for those of you that don't surf, there is something going on that's pretty close to it. I'm talking about POINT BREAK LIVE!. After its debut a decade ago, this laugh out loud over the top show has settled back in L.A. for another run. Many of my friends have seen it and they assure me that I won't stop laughing.

POINT BREAK LIVE is the theatrical spoof of the 1991 Patrick Swayze - Keanu Reeves cult classic film that shuffles up the casting a bit by assigning Keanu's role of Johnny Utah to an audience member - chosen by the crowd's reaction, as measured by the Keanu Woah-O-Meter.

In case you forgot the plot of the film, the Reeves character is an undercover FBI Agent and Swayze's character is the head of a gang that robs banks, blows things up, skydives with loaded guns and in between catches waves - big ones. This crew of adrenaline junkies are called the Ex-Presidents.

You can expect an exuberant hour and a half of watching the antics of this crazy cast. Oh by the way ponchos are provided at the door to protect you from all the water, fake blood and other various liquids that tends to get thrown at you from the stage.

If a hysterically funny, off the wall spoof is your thing, then go to PointBreakLA.com to buy tickets. The show is playing at Club Los Gobos on 3040 Sunset Blvd., 90026.

Now at some point this weekend you are going to eat and there's a restaurant that I went to last weekend that's absolutely fabulous. I've eaten there before but for some reason I forgot how delicious the food was. I know, hard to believe, right?

The restaurant is called MILO AND OLIVE and it's open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They call themselves a neighborhood bakery and pizzeria but it's so much more than that.

I tried their wood fired pizza, scrumptious garlic bread, incredible homemade Minestrone soup filled with market vegetables, beans, parmesan brodo and herbs, homemade pasta along with several appetizers and despite getting fuller by the minute, my friends and I couldn't stop devouring everything that was put in front of us.

For those of you who aren't vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of chicken and meat dishes to try. The food at Milo and Olive is always fresh and always of the highest quality.

Owners Josh and Zoe, both Santa Monica natives, have opened several neighborhood restaurants along with their partner Colby Goff to form what is now the Rustic Canyon Family.

Other food establishments include the wonderful Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe, Sweet Rose Creamery, Tallula's, Cassia Rice & Noodle Kitchen and the newest Birdie G's which I can't wait to try.

Milo and Olive is located at 2723 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica 90403. Their phone number is (310) 453-6776. For hours and more information go to MiloAndOlive.com.

I believe you can never have to much laughter and that's why the last thing I'm going to recommend for your weekend fun is TMI HOLLYWOOD at the Hudson Theatre located at 6530 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood 90038.

What is TMI HOLLYWOOD you ask? Well if you take Saturday Night Live, mix it with TMZ and add a dash of The Daily Show you get LA's most celebrated live comedy show.

To give you an idea of the kind of comedy they do, every time Chrissy Teigen claps back at her haters, Trump opens his Twitter or someone asks Alyssa Milano her opinion, TMI Hollywood is there with its own hilarious take on the story.

As their tag line states; 'When a story breaks in Hollywood, we'll be there with the crazy glue.' For more about them visit their website at TMIHollywood.com.

This very funny show plays every Sunday starting March 8th from 8:00pm-9:30pm through June 2020.

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


Ashton's 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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Nowhere on the Border director Stewart J. Zully Presents His Take on the Play Currently at The Road Theatre on Magnolia

The Road Theatre Co is proud to present the premiere of "Nowhere on the Border" by Carlos Lacámara and directed by Stewart J. Zully. The play concerns itself with the question "Why do people cross borders?". Two working class men, an Anglo on border watch and a Mexican, face off in the desert. What is discovered is that border crossings are both physical and emotional. The play opened January 17 at the Road on Magnolia and will play through March 8. Director Zully took time out of a busy schedule to discuss the play.

What are your challenges directing Nowhere on the Border?

SZ: Many years ago I performed in an earlier draft of this play, and this was the first time I had directed a play that I had been in previously. It was interesting being reminded of my own acting choices from more than 10 years ago and then collaborating on new ones with the two actors performing this role (we have an alternate cast). Chet Grissom and Lance Guest are such experienced actors that it was rewarding to see them find their own character choices through our process.

What do you feel is the best feature(s) of the play? How does it speak to the audience?

SZ: Nowhere On The Border reminds us that we are more similar than different. When it comes to natural disasters, such as floods, fires, hurricanes, etc., we as a species get together as one—"Are you alright?” "Look at mother nature’s devastation, etc." Then, when the dust has settled, we get back to manmade problems, such as war, poverty, religion. This play is a reminder that we are all human, as the desert, a natural phenomenon, awakens in us an animal instinct. The characters in this play bond through adversity, and the audience gets to witness that.

Can you tell us a little bit about your cast?

SZ: I have been blessed with solid pros, in both casts, as the characters are inhabited by some well seasoned stage actors. I recommend people not only see the show, but actually see both casts, as the work is fascinating in the hands of different actors. The types that have been cast are vastly different in many ways, so the alternate cast puts its stamp on the roles thoroughly. And since we had to mix and match, having some of the actors in the alternate cast performing with the first cast, we have created a true ensemble of 12 people. I have been blessed with some enormous talent to direct.

What have you been up to as of late? How is your book doing?

SZ: Last year I published my memoir, MY LIFE IN YANKEE STADIUM Forty Years as a Vendor and Other Tales of Growing Up Somewhat Sane in the Bronx. The book tells the story of my working at the ballpark in New York for 2500 events as I pursued my career in show business as an actor, director, writer, and producer. For the past year I did promotion with interviews and book signings so it was nice to be able to stay in one place and focus on this play, which has been percolating at The Road for a number of years. And now, here it is…

Nowhere on the Border plays on Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Road in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony that is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo. There is plenty of street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or go to RoadTheatre.org.


A Super Scary Movie, Burlesque Meets Queen, and Our Favorite Monster

First up is a film I saw at a press screening this week and was really surprised by how good it was. Actually considering it was written and directed by horror maven Leigh Whannell ('Insidious: Chapter 2 & 3', 'Saw') I shouldn't have been that surprised.

The film is The Invisible Man starring the excellent Elizabeth Moss who never makes a wrong move. She's in practically every scene and absolutely nails it.

I always rate how scary a film is by how many times I jumped out of my seat and grabbed the arm of the stranger sitting next to me. I counted at least five times.

The Invisible Man is a 2020 science fiction horror film and a contemporary adaptation of the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells and a reboot of The Invisible Man film series.

It follows a woman who believes she is being haunted by her brilliant, wealthy, abusive husband, despite the fact that he has died from an apparent suicide.

The film has a couple great twists and scares you won't see coming, so if that's what you enjoy, you will not be disappointed. The Invisible Man produced by Universal opens in theaters this Friday, February 28th.

Next up is BURLESQUE RHAPSODY: A QUEEN TRIBUTE which will require you to take a little trip to Harvelle's in Long Beach.

The title of the show is Dirty Little Secrets and it pays tribute to the musical sounds of one of the most commercially successful bands of all time: QUEEN!.

Dirty Little Secrets brings their very own special touch to the amazing songs that Queen produced and at the same time pays tribute to the incredible talent of Freddie Mercury.

The show is a mix of comedy and brilliant burlesque performers and having seen it before, it's something you do not want to miss.

Dirty Little Secrets plays at Harvelle's at 201 East Broadway in Long Beach on Friday, February 28th. For tickets call 562-239-3700 or go to LongBeach.Harvelles.com.

Now if monsters are your thing then this weekend head on over to the Lovelace Studio Theatre at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts to see the world premiere of FRANKENSTEIN, an exuberant amalgamation of dynamic physical theatre, live music and experiential design bringing Mary Shelley's tale to life in a modern take that spotlights the dangers of unregulated technology.

Sourced predominantly after Shelley's novel the production features a cast of twelve all doubling as musicians . The show is created, staged and composed by Four Larks' Mat Sweeney with design and choreography by Sebastian Peters-Lazaro and libretto written with Jesse Rasmussen.

This is Shelley's nightmarish vision of inverted creation and a show you will remember long after the curtain falls.

The remaining performances are Friday, February 28th until Saturday March 7th 2929. To buy tickets and for more information go to TheWallis.org/Frankenstein.

The Wallis is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills 90210.

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


Ashton's Audio Interview: Stephen Sachs the author and director of 'Human Interest Stor'

Stephen Sachs is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the Fountain Theatre and the author of 15 plays. Recent work includes his Deaf/Hearing love story, Arrival & Departure (“Critic’s Choice,” Los Angeles Times); his stage adaptation of William Goldman’s screenplay for All the President’s Men, starring Bradley Whitford and Joshua Malina at L.A. City Hall; and his stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which premiered at the Fountain Theatre and was remounted by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. His play Bakersfield Mist is performed worldwide.

In Human Interest Story, newspaper columnist Andy Kramer is laid off when a corporate takeover downsizes the City Chronicle. In retaliation, Andy fabricates a letter to his column from an imaginary homeless woman named “Jane Doe” who announces she will kill herself on the 4th of July because of the heartless state of the world. When the letter goes viral, Andy is forced to hire a homeless woman to stand-in as the fictitious Jane. She becomes an overnight internet sensation and a national women’s movement is ignited.*

Enjoy this interview with Stephen Sachs the author and director of “Human Interest Story at the Fountain Theatre, playing through Apr 5th. 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


Nowhere on the Border Playwright Carlos Lacámara Talks About His Critically Acclaimed Play at The Road

The Road Theatre Co is proud to present the premiere of Nowhere on the Border by Carlos Lacámara and directed by Stewart J. Zully. The play concerns itself with the question "Why do people cross borders?" Two working class men, an Anglo on border watch and a Mexican, face off in the desert. What is discovered is that border crossings are both physical and emotional. The play opened January 17 at the Road on Magnolia and will play through March 8. Playwright Carlos Lacámara, who also plays a role in the alternate cast, took time out of a busy schedule to discuss the play in detail.

Is the play Nowhere on the Border autobiographical?

CL: The play is not autobiographical, but as a refugee to this country, I have great empathy for those who tear themselves away from their homes and families to search for a better life.

What actual event(s) inspired you to write this play?

CL: Two different ideas inspired Nowhere on the Border. First, both my wife and I come from working class families. I find that working men (and I am specifically referring to men) often blame their difficulties on other working men of different races or ethnicities rather than on the upper classes that have more control over their fate. A working man from Pennsylvania and one from Mexico have much more in common with each other than they do with Bill Gates or David Koch, so I decided to let two working men from different nations battle out their differences along the southern U.S. border. My other inspiration came from a Los Angeles Times article that followed a father who spent weeks looking for his missing daughter in the desert. Along the way, he found many other dead bodies, and each time he did, he called the Border Patrol and waited for them to take the corpse away. I combined these two ideas to create Nowhere on the Border.

What is the play's intent?

CL: I want this play to remind us that we are all one.

What is it like  playing one of the characters in a play that you wrote?

CL: It’s wonderful to get to portray a character in my own story. Theatre is story telling. Playing a character gives me the wonderful opportunity to live the story I created, and it’s easier to memorize lines that I wrote myself.

What would you like audiences to take away from seeing the play?

CL: I would love for audiences to see themselves in the characters, and to understand that any of us could easily have found ourselves walking across a burning desert, fleeing danger and poverty, were it not for an accident of birth. Immigrants and refugees are as good and smart and deserving as any of us, maybe more so when you consider the courage it takes to do what they do.

Nowhere on the Border plays on Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Road in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony that is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo. There is plenty of street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818-761-8838 or go to RoadTheatre.org.


Ashton's Audio Interview: The Cast of 'NOWHERE ON THE BORDER' at the Road Theatre

A border watch volunteer confronts a Mexican man who claims to be looking for his missing daughter. Set in a hostile wasteland between nations, Nowhere on the Border reveals the personal dramas that drive people to cross borders both physical and emotional.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “NOWHERE ON THE BORDER at the Road Theatre, playing through Mar 8th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Lee Blessing Shows Multiple Perceptions of Reality

Actors Co-op presents Lee Blessing's "A Body of Water" that opened February 5 for previews with official opening night Friday February 7. The play runs through March 15. Multi award winning actress Nan McNamara serves as director. I sat down with Blessing and here's what he has to say about the play and mounting this production.

I am always fascinated by your plays. What character is telling the truth? Or is it all a dream...or a nightmare? You keep us on the edge of our seats with your wonderful dialogue. How did A Body of Water come about? 

LB: I can't answer most of these questions, but I will say that the idea for the play occurred to me as I was waking up one morning. I was relatively newly divorced (from a long marriage) and was still feeling the very powerful (for me at least) post-trauma effects of that. In some ways I suppose this is a play about trauma in all its forms. It's about those moments in life when nothing that we think we know feels real any longer--nothing that we depended on, nothing that we knew in our hearts to be true. This happens to different people for different reasons of course, in different ways and at different points in their lives. But it happens to nearly everyone, I'd argue, whether we'll admit it or not.

You have been called our greatest American playwright because you deal with issues that are relevant. Sports are a typical love of the American culture and have played into many of your plays, like baseball in The Winning Streak and football in For the Loyal. Do sports play into this piece?

LB: Sports really don't have a role in this play, unless you count jogging. Actually I have the bad habit (for a playwright) of writing about a great many different phases and aspects of contemporary life as well as many different sorts of people encountering quite a range of challenges. America tends to favor playwrights who stick to a fairly narrow range of issues and styles and sort of do the same thing over and over again, often quite brilliantly. They develop sort of a "shingle" to hang out, so people will know what to expect before even seeing their next play. For whatever reason, I tend not to do that.

Tell our readers about A Body of Water in detail without creating a spoiler alert.

LB: This is such a difficult piece to talk about. It's highly conceptual, and one really doesn't want to ruin any surprises or sharp turns that it may contain. I will say that the two people that we meet at the start of play are in their fifties and in great physical health--just as I happened to be when I wrote it. I'll also say that while it's hard to talk about the play before seeing it, it's hard not to talk about the play after seeing it. So feel free to look me up then.

You always lace your plays with a delicious sense of humor. Is there humor here as well?

LB: There is a LOT of humor in this play. And, just like my life, it never fails to make me laugh.

What is the main theme of the play? What do you want audiences to take away after seeing it?

LB: I suppose if the A Body of Water has a theme, it has something to do with the nature of courage and our inability to live without faith. After all, something has to get us through the inevitable traumas.

Do you care to add anything?

LB: If there's such a thing as music in dialogue, I think this is one of the most musical plays I've written. Just don't expect to hum along.

To purchase tickets for A Body of Water, call 323-462-8460 or visit ActorsCo-Op.org


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.


Ashton's Audio Interview: The Cast of "Law and Order: the Musical!" at Broadwater Second Stage Theater

A grisly murder has taken place, and cops and lawyers can't stop screwing up their quest for justice. Who killed the seemingly saintly housewife turned prostitute? Is it mob related? A closeted gay foodie? A pompous doorman? Each twist leads to more absurdity and perhaps some insight into what truly ails our criminal justice system. Think Airplane!... with songs and social commentary.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Law and Order: the Musical!” at the Broadwater Second Stage Theater, running until Mar 15th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Actress Barbara Brownell Continues to Inspire Us All

Actress Barbara Brownell is a true inspiration. She has spent her life performing on the Broadway stage, on film, and in television with a few great surprises along the way, which she discusses with us in much detail.

You have won a BWW award in 2017. What was the play you won the award for and what did you enjoy most about it?

BB: The play was Dull Pain Turned Sharp, written by Brent Beerman and directed by Kay Cole. I played Linda, a woman in her 60s who faces the dilemma of wanting her only daughter to have a grandchild, but is conflicted about a health danger she might have passed down to her. I enjoyed working on a multi-layered character and with a wonderfully talented cast.

You were nominated this past year for directing Laundry and Bourbon/Lone Star. Talk about the plays and what they meant to you.

BB: Laundry and Bourbon and Lonestar are two one acts written by James McLure. While the plays stand on their own, they make a nice companion set because the central conflict in each piece as well as its characters are related closely to those in the other play. They appealed to me because they contain serious themes about friendship, family, and getting through tough times and yet both plays are also delightfully funny. I was blessed to work with two strong casts which made the rehearsal process particularly fun and rewarding.

You have worked in the past with some great directors including Woody Allen. What play did you perform with him, what character did you play, and what was the experience like?

BB: I did Play it Again, Sam with Woody for one year on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.

My part was Dream Sharon, his fantasy of the perfect woman. When we were in Boston, pre-Broadway, Woody decided to have his dream girl come to life at the end of the play. So I reappeared and he named the character Barbara, after me. Of course, working in a hit show on Broadway opened doors for me. I got a nice role in Going Home with Robert Mitchum and Jan Michael Vincent and was cast in The David Frost Review TV series. However, the most enduring gift is the close friendship I’ve enjoyed these many years with fellow cast member Cynthia Dalbey. I do remember Woody saying, about his writing, “There’s no secret. I make myself write everyday.” And about his directing, “I just cast well, and let them play.”

You also worked on the 2012 film The Master. You mentioned Paul Thomas Anderson, the director who obviously meant a great deal to you. Two of the stars, Joaquin Phoenix, who was competing for an Oscar this year for The Joker, and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman are unforgettable. What role did you play and what do you remember most vividly about the movie?

BB: My character was a wealthy New York socialite who was being put through a Past Life Regression by the Master. When P.T. (Paul Thomas) found out that I was a hypnotherapist and familiar with the process, he sought out my help in shaping the scene. The only line he had written for me was “My name is Margaret O’Brien.” He wanted Philip and me to improvise the rest, and so we did. Many takes actually. It was exhilarating. Watching Philip work gave me chills. Joaquin was in the scene, but only as an observer. My impression is that he was never really out of character, even at lunch. While Amy Adams in addition to being extraordinarily talented, was one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met.

Mention some of the other wonderful directors you have worked with.

BB: I was privileged to work with two giants of the sitcom world, Jay Sandrich, who directed me in both the Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart shows, and Jimmy Burrows, who directed me in Barefoot in the Park where I played opposite Tab Hunter. Both Jay and Jimmy were such creative, inventive, and positive influences. I also was lucky enough to work with Steven Soderbergh in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra where I played Liberace’s sister, Angie. Candidly, the part didn’t amount to much, but I got to see Soderbergh work and how much his cast and crew adored him. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with two really talented “up and comers”, Ryan Eggold and Eric Bilitch, who both wrote and directed small, wonderful projects that I had so much fun doing.

This last year you were in the Grammy winning music video of Old Town Road with Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X, a song that set the Billboard record for consecutive weeks as the number one hit. How did this come about?

BB: I started my career as a dancer and continue to dance almost every day, especially line dancing. I auditioned with seemingly hundreds of dancers of all ages and styles, so that when I was cast, I really didn’t know what to expect or what I was to do. The song is a cross-over hit that combines hip hop with country dancing, which we did for hours. As the day turned to night, I was fairly certain that at least I’d be recognizable in the piece, but at 2am, they asked me to stay to shoot stills for the end piece of the video. So there I am, in the final frames, posed with Lil Nas X like a moonstruck couple in a prom photo. I found him to be delightful, if not a little overwhelmed by the sudden fame he was experiencing at the ripe old age of 20. I’ll say this, for all of my credits, from Broadway to the Silver Screen, no part has given me more cred with my grandchildren than my appearance in Old Town Road.

With such varied work on stage and on film both acting and dancing, what do you foresee as a main project for you in 2020?

BB: I’m working on a one person show tentatively entitled I am Barbara Brownell, I Think in which I explore how I navigated a challenging childhood and a lifetime of experiences to forge the person and performer I am today, only to discover late in life, that I’m not actually, biologically speaking, who I thought I was. The show gives me the opportunity to do just about everything...acting, dancing, even a bit of singing. It’s both wonderful and frightening to have complete creative control of something. I can’t very well blame anyone else for the writing, now can I?

Is there anyone in particular in the acting world who inspired you. Who are your favorite stars today ... from yesteryear and in present time.

BB: When I was very young, I did my best to imitate Shirley Temple. I even looked a bit like her, with a headful of curls. She was definitely my first inspiration. Nowadays? I’ve always admired Judi Dench, because she can do so many things so well. I used to love to watch her British comedy series As Time Goes By. And yet she’s just as deft in the classics, in Shakespeare, or in the Bond films, or a musical, or even as a director. All done with such class, but then again, she is a Dame!

Another contemporary British actress I’ve admired is Sarah Lancashire. Again, it’s the range she displays from drama and action to comedy that’s so impressive.

Do you prefer drama or comedy with either plays or screenplays?

BB: It’s hard to make a blanket statement. To me, the most important thing is whether I connect to the piece. Truthfully, though, I prefer work that incorporates both drama and comedy. That’s why I so enjoyed directing Laundry and Bourbon and Lone Star, for they both manage to tell heartfelt, human, dramatic stories laced with moments of pure comedic joy, with neither feeling out of step or unearned. Of course, as a performer, there’s nothing as intoxicating as getting laughs from an audience, but it’s doubly magical when you sense the audience is also connecting with you emotionally.

Maybe that’s why Neil Simon remains my favorite playwright. Of course, he is widely acknowledged as a genius for his comedies, but I think he is underappreciated as a dramatic writer. I’ve been blessed to perform Barefoot in the Park, Star Spangled Girl, and Come Blow Your Horn, all certainly light fare. But Chapter Two, Lost in Yonkers, and the Eugene trilogy, to name a few, certainly prove his mettle as a serious playwright.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?

BB: I was able to fulfill the dreams of a little girl from the poor side of Bound Brook, New Jersey to make it to Broadway. And to have the chance to work with the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Robert Mitchum, Woody Allen, Mary Tyler Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jon Hamm. And to be a senior citizen dancing in a Grammy winning music video. Maybe my greatest accomplishment is that I’m still here.

Sum up your career in one sentence.

BB: It’s not over yet, is it? Ask me again in ten years.