Interview: Rachel Parker on her World Premiere of ‘The Wolfe & The Bird’

The need for personal isolation during 2020 appears to have led to a plethora of solo shows being developed and performed online and in person in which performers create mostly autobiographical tales meant to unify their own experience with the rest of us. So when I heard about Rachel Parker’s world premiere of her darkly funny, moving ‘The Wolfe & The Bird’ premiering at the Matrix Theatre on September 18, I decided to ask her about its development as well as the many characters which play a part in her story via voiceover artists.

(Shari): Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your show, as I expect you are very busy in final rehearsals this week.

(Rachel): I’m happy to be speaking with you, Shari.

(Shari): Please share a little about your theatrical background in the Los Angeles area.

(Rachel): My first theater community here was Westside Comedy Theater. I’m a huge fan of the improv principles “yes, and-ing,” “there are no mistakes,” and “following the fear.” Eventually, I found my way into a LaBute play for one Fringe Festival, which led to my directing a play at Fringe the following year. Two of the actors from that play were Theatre of NOTE members and encouraged me to audition for the company. It was there that I aligned with actress/playwright Dagney Kerr to act in an early version of her poignant play “Deanna and Paul” being put up at another theatrical community of hers in NoHo. I’ve now collaborated a few times with some of those artists. And through the magic of Actors Access, I was able to collaborate with multi-Ovation-nominated Stefan Marks in his artfully wackadoo play “Space.”

(Shari): The play’s description states, “No time to sleep. No room for error. No pleasing mom. A young girl struggles to find herself against the backdrop of 1980s small town America in the world premiere of The Wolfe & The Bird, a darkly funny and deeply moving solo play written and performed by Rachel Parker (Ovation-nominated Space at the Stella Adler Theatre).”  Am I right in assuming the play is autobiographical, told as an adult looking back on how she got to where she is today. Is that a correct assumption? And if not, please fill me in!

(Rachel): It is autobiographical, yes. It is not, however, presented as a reflection piece. The audience experiences Rachel receiving and perceiving her life and the people in it at ages 8, 12, 15, and so on. The play does begin with a Timeless Rachel but quickly moves to Rachel at 8.

(Shari): You share in program notes that the play exists because of Isadora O’Boto and Matt Hoverman. How did they influence its creation?

(Rachel): I met Matt Hoverman at Naked Angels’ “Tuesdays@9” back in New York. Not only is Matt a talented playwright and Emmy award-winning TV writer, he’s a deeply gifted doula of solo shows since 2001. Innately, Matt is able to meet a solo show artist where she is with her work — and with herself — and to gently tease loose and shed all the stuff that encumbers the telling of a story. Matt leads with loving kindness. He’s simply the best kind of teacher. Isadora O’Boto is also a Go-Solo Workshop alum. She and I synced up and became accountability partners almost upon meeting. Isadora is an exceedingly deep listener. No matter how inchoate a scene of mine is, Isadora’s able to detect my aim and question me in a fashion that nudges me toward reaching my destination. Ours has been the most validating collaboration I’ve had to date.

(Shari): Tell me more about the 1980s small town where you grew up and which of its residents we meet in the play.

(Rachel): My house was situated between an idyllic small lake and a dangerously busy road in a village between Flint and Pontiac. My blue collar father adored that lake, which he himself grew up on. Almost all family downtime was spent on the lake, and a lot of it with my mother’s Flint modeling school coworkers and students. The audience will spend a bit of time with models Kim, Jett, and Rob with the Ken doll hair. Before Rachel starts interacting with her ballet instructor and a couple high school teachers, the audience will get to know Dana the babysitter, who hangs out nonstop with her boyfriend Matt in the basement… that is until they take Rachel and her sister on a road trip to a Pontiac hospital.

(Shari): No doubt most women grow up having issues with their mom, feeling as if there is no pleasing her. Do your observations about her outlook on life figure prominently in the play?

(Rachel): Yes.

(Shari): Does your relationship with her figure into the play’s title The Wolfe & The Bird?  Or if it doesn’t, what does it reference?

(Rachel): My village boasts a number of dirt roads — Wolfe and Bird Roads are but two of them. A number of nights were spent dreading those two roads. For me, they induced terror. For my mother, they provided a place to let out some of the deathless pressure within her. I would also add that it suggests different parenting styles.

(Shari): Tell me a bit about working with so many other actors via voiceover, including James Heaney, Dagney Kerr, Ivory Tiffin, Madeleine Townsend, Phil Ward, Silvie Zamora on the creation of all the characters they portray in the play.

(Rachel): For about eight months, director Alina Phelan and I had been meeting up every few weeks or so over Zoom, fleshing out the script. I believe it was while Alina was cleaning one day that it occurred to her how nice it would be to simply see Rachel receive the words and actions of the surrounding characters. We asked Silvie Zamora and James Heaney to partake in a Zoom reading (Silvie reading all the female characters and James all the male ones). Immediately it became clear how necessary it was to have other energies supporting the storytelling. We were so fortunate to have Silvie take on the role of my mother and to get one socially distanced in-person rehearsal and conversation with her. Silvie’s EQ is through the roof, and I simply can’t imagine anyone else in the role. As my mother is a very complicated human being, having Silvie voice all the female roles would be a disservice to my mother and to this fine actress. Same for James Heaney, who voices my father.

Casting the other actors was a dream. I was familiar with everyone’s work (save Silvie) and knew that, as they were all pros, one Zoom table read would suffice. A week later, we held individual recording sessions at The Matrix with our sound designer Stephen Epstein. It all felt pretty seamless. And safe.

(Shari): Which of these characters do you think figures most prominently in your story?  Why?

(Rachel): Silvie and James as my parents, of course. But Phil Ward as my social studies teacher and Dagney Kerr as my ballet instructor are pivotal players. These teachers provided Rachel anchors for artistic expression and chances to have “wins” during a childhood ruled by chaos.

(Shari): Tell me about bringing Alina Phelan onboard as director.  Have you two worked together before?  Did you work together in person or remotely on The Wolfe & The Bird?

(Rachel): Alina is a veteran member of NOTE. I’d been admirer of her work as both actor and director for years. Once WOLFE & BIRD was in a pretty good place, I tapped-tapped her email inbox to see if directing a solo show would be of interest to her. Thankfully, she was receptive to reading it. Turns out Alina and I both hail from Michigan! And she instantly understood the people I was striving to bring to life. Most likely it’s due to the sheltering in place that Alina’s schedule was open enough to even consider this project.

(Shari): And you have quite a well-known technical team with Lighting Design by Matt Richter, Sound Design by Stephen Epstein, and your Stage Manager Kelly Egan. No doubt you have worked together before?

(Rachel): It’s a tech-heavy show, and dang am I lucky to be surrounded by such talent! Stephen Epstein and I worked together on “Space” so enlisting him to design sound for this was a no-brainer. And Kelly Egan, well… I certainly knew her work at NOTE but this is my first opportunity to work with her, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This show couldn’t happen without her. I know she would demur at such a statement but it’s true. And Kelly is the one who brought Matt Richter onto the team. Truly thanking my lucky stars for this gem of a man and lighting designer. His visceral understanding of story and how to technically support it is simply beyond me. To be profiting from his expertise is a dream. Matt’s taken the production to another level.

(Shari): What is the message you hope audience members walk away with at the end?

(Rachel): Expression is vital. Perfection expression is not. Art heals. Good teachers make the world go round.

(Shari): As a former teacher, I love seeing my former students succeeding. So I really appreciate you expressing that belief in your play.  Thanks so much for speaking with me!

The Wolfe & The Bird premieres September 18 through October 10, with performances on Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 18; Sept. 25; Oct. 2 (no evening performance on Oct. 9). Saturday at 2 p.m.: Oct. 9 ONLY and  Sundays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 19; Sept. 26; Oct. 3; Oct. 10, at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave. in L.A. 90046 (west of Stanley Ave., between Fairfax and La Brea – arrive early and be mindful of street parking restrictions). Tickets are $18, available in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5219775 or at the box office prior to each performance, based on availability. Admittance is limited to ages 12+ with proof of vaccination required – no exceptions – and masks must be worn properly covering your nose and mouth throughout the performance as mandated by the County of L.A.

Photos by Joshua Stern

Graphic Design by Damon Pablo


Spotlight Series: Meet Costume Designer and Educator Halei Parker Who Makes Art a Part of Her Everyday Life


This Spotlight focuses on Costume Designer and Educator Halei Parker, who I first met in the dressing room at the Clark Library when she showed up with a wonderful variety of cleverly designed costumes for the publicity photo shoot for Lady Windermere’s Fan when I was the publicist for Chalk Repertory Theatre. Halei really opened my eyes to the possibilities for character interpretation that a costume designer can bring to a show.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

“Lady Windermere's Fan” with Chalk Repertory Theatre and the Clark Rare Book Library

Halei Parker (Halei): I'm a freelance costume designer for theatre, opera, dance, immersive experiences, and film. I'm also an educator, and think of myself as a storyteller and world creator. The projects that excite me the most are deeply collaborative and are usually highly stylized and a little weird, especially since I love mixing ideas from disparate sources to create something magical and new.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

“Gallery Secrets” with Chalk Repertory Theatre and the Los Angeles Natural History Museum

(Halei): I was mentoring students and beginning to source and fabric shop for a production of Sweeney Todd at Cal State LA when we were shut down. I was also beginning the design phase for the Getty Villa summer show. This year the Troubies (Troubadour Theatre Company) were going to be performing our new original musical LIZAstrata (think Los Vegas Liza Minnelli meets Aristophanes' Lysistrata meets the Troubies). Thankfully I had just wrapped shooting on a film and closed the show Earthquakes In London at Rogue Machine right before the world turned upside down.

“How The Princh Stole Christmas” with Troubadour Theatre Company

(SB): Here is the link to my review of the multimedia “Earthquakes on London” at Rogue Machine which examined the effects of global warming.

How were the shutdowns communicated with the cast and production team?

George Takei in “Allegiance” with East West Players and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center

(Halei): For Sweeney, we heard in our production meeting, two days before the Stay-At-Home order. The Liza news came at the end of March. We all saw it coming, but I was really hoping it would still manage to go on. The world could really use some more Troubie joy about now. It was pretty crushing. At this point, we are looking at postponements for both of those, and thankfully not cancellations.

(SB): I really loved all the outrageous costumes you designed for the Troubies “A Christmas Carole King” which I saw at the El Portal last December.

What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Halei): The whole rest of my year is now in flux, since no one really knows when we will be allowed to gather together again to experience live theatre in a group setting. I'm just trying to keep all my fingers and toes crossed that we can make stories for the world again before the year is out.

“Hairy Ape” with Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Halei): Art is always alive in my home. More than half of my apartment is actually a costume shop, so I'm surrounded by fabrics and my tools. I've been able to keep busy by making hundreds of masks from my eclectic stock of fabrics, and have done a few costume challenges that have proven to be quite fun. I'm trying to curb my use of social media.... somewhat. That is especially true when I am designing and creating costumes for shows.

I'm also feeding my need to make Art for others right now by making a mural for my building on the wall of our little garden.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Halei): Chin up, loves. The world is going to need us more than ever when we are allowed to meet again. Just keep that passion alive in your heart.

You can find my work on Instagram HaleiParkerDesign and me at HaleiPie.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



CONNECT THRU CREATIVITY MAY 8 - 15

Solo artist Diana Varco led an art therapy exercise - Connect Thru Creativity - daily on IG Live @dianavarco during COVID-19 stay-at-home-orders from March 18th to May 15th.

Thank you to everyone who has joined Diana along the way for Connect Thru Creativity - wow, it’s been quite a journey both personally and artistically!

If you missed the journey, feel free to do the exercise on your own or with loved ones!

Just…

Grab a piece of paper and some coloring utensils.

Draw your current thoughts and emotions as if they’re a ‘Weather Report’ (ie: is it sunny in your inner world or cloudy with a chance of rainbows? Are there green tornadoes?)

Draw for as long as you’d like or are able to, then write down the narrative of the picture after.

**No need to stick to just weather, anything goes in your weather report - so draw away! **

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. They can also be complex and varied. Follow your intuition and draw truthfully from your heart, you might be surprised at what comes out!

Catch up on the final days of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

May 14th:

May 15th:

Here are a few of Diana’s favorite pictures from the journey:

April 9th:

April 18th:

April 28th:


CONNECT THRU CREATIVITY - MAY 7 - MAY 13, 2020

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future.

Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

May 7:

May 8:

May 9:

May 10:

May 11:

May 12:

May 13:

 

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



Connect Thru Creativity - April 22 - April 29, 2020

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future.

Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 22nd:

April 23rd:

April 24th:

April 25th:

April 26th:

April 27th:

April 28th:

April 29th:

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.


Connect Thru Creativity - a Daily Art Therapy Exercise

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future. Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 15th:

April 16th:

April 17th:

April 18th:

April 19th:

April 20th:

April 21st:

April 22nd:

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



Connect Thru Creativity - a Daily Art Therapy Exercise

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to draw your feelings into the language of weather!

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise you can do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on your own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Join Diana daily LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco to draw your emotions into art.
Here’s Diana's 'weather' for today, April 15th:

Like weather - daily emotions are different and, at times, also somewhat the same. They can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer.

For Diana, the past week of this daily art exercise has seen a journey of frustration and acceptance - as well as the reliance on (and gratitude for) creativity.

Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

Catch up on the past week of Connecting Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 8th:

April 9th:

April 10th:

April 11th:

April 12th:

April 13th:

April 14th:


This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



JOAN OF ART: A Magnificent Dance Company, photo l.a., an Iconic Rock Group and Guy Ritchie at His Best

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.


JOAN OF ART: 'A Christmas Carole King', A Powerful ControversIal Film, Mesmerica -A Visual Music Journey, and Christmas On the Seas

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JOAN OF ART: A Film About Two Great Men With a Dream, A Rocking Rocker From The Past, A Beautiful Garden of Lights, and A Night of Comedy

As everyone gets ready for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and shops for sales online and the old fashion way (in retail stores), there are many fun things to do this upcoming weekend to relieve the stress of it all.

First, one of my favorite films of the year (yes I've said that before, but the list keeps growing) is about to open this Friday at theatres around town.

The film is FORD v FERRARI starring Matt Damon as American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as the fearless British race car drive Ken Miles.

This is the true story of how the two men battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Company. Together they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

Directed by James Mangold this film will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The car races are amazing and Matt Damon and Christian Bale do an incredible job of acting. The film, besides being extremely entertaining, is also a fascinating glimpse into history.

It's definitely a 'must see' on the big screen.

Remember the song HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN? How could you not? There has been countless renditions of it by more singers than I could possibly name in this space. Well Eric Burdon, the English singer-songwriter and vocalist of the rock band The Animals and funk band War who made this traditional folk song famous in 1964 will be appearing Friday, November 18th at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks and I will definitely be there.

He will be appearing of course with his group The Animals and this promises to be one electrifying concert. Eric has been a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1994 and named one of the 100 Greatest Voices of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. He has one of the most distinctive and soulful voices in rock.

This is one show you don't want to miss. The Fred Kavli Theatre is located at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd in Thousand Oaks, CA. For tickets and more information go to BAPacThousandOaks.com or call the box office at (805) 449-2787.

Now if you're craving something a bit more mellow this weekend, head for The Descanso Gardens to see their Enchanted Forest of Light starting this Sunday, November 17th and playing through January 5th 2020.

Enchanted Forest of Light is an interactive nighttime experience unlike anything else in Los Angeles featuring a one mile walk through unique lighting experiences in some of the most beloved areas of Descanso Gardens.

There are a variety of large scale light displays, many of which are interactive, allowing visitors to manipulate the lights and sounds. If you've never been to Descanso Gardens just know that you are in for something very special. They are renowned for their botanical collections and spectacular seasonal horticultural display.

Descanso founder, E. Manchester Boddy preserved these 150 acres of gardens, woodlands and chaparral for future generations to experience the natural heritage and beauty of Southern California.

For tickets and more information go to DescansoGardens.org. They are located at 1418 Descanso Drive, LaCanada, Flintridge 91011.

Lastly I plan on ending the weekend this Sunday laughing and what better place to do it then at The Hudson Theatre where their all new TMI Hollywood Thanksgiving Show, featuring music and stand-up by Luke Null from Saturday Night Live and the new album 'Guitar Comic'. will be playing.

If you love SNL and love to hate TMZ then TMI HOLLYWOOD, LA'S longest running comedy show is a hilarious night out for you.

Every Sunday night TMI presents an all new 90 minutes of sketch comedy based on the stories of the week in entertainment, celebrity and pop culture. It's hosted each week by a celebrity guest and featuring live performances by some of Los Angeles' best up and coming musicians and stand-up comics.

Nothing is off limits. Nothing is too silly or trivial and nothing is too controversial. TMI with its own unique and hilarious take on a story will have you laughing so hard you may fall out of your chair.

The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. For tickets and more information go to TMIHollywood.com or call 323-856-4249.

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


JOAN OF ART: Tarantino, Vice is Nice, and Art Share

I love Quentin Tarantino's films. I've seen every single one of the them more then twice and I know, having seen "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" at a press screening early this week, I will definitely be seeing it again.

This time Tarantino takes us on a trip back to 1969. The place is Hollywood, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) discover as they make their way around an industry that they hardly recognize anymore.

The ninth film from this writer/director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's Golden Age. The film is touching, funny and knowing what winds up happening...horrifying.

"Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" opens in theatre July 26th. Also in the cast is Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Luke Perry in his last role and the wonderful Margot Robbie who plays Sharon Tate capturing her childlike innocence and joy which adds to the audience's pain of knowing her fate.

Compared to all of Quentin's other films, this one is the least violent. It has plenty of humor and insight into a time long gone.

'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood' starts Friday and will be playing in theaters all around town, but get your tickets as soon as possible. I'm sure the film will be selling out quickly.

VICE IS NICE is the next thing on my list and it is not at all what it sounds like. This is an event put on by the Animal Rescue Alliance on Saturday, July 27th from 6:30pm to 11pm. You will have a blast at this event and at the same time make a big difference in the lives of animals are in need of a home.

Last year over 750 animal lovers attended VICE IS NICE and helped raise much needed funds for the Animal Rescue Alliance. This 10th annual event will be the best one ever. Music, dancing, drinks, food, raffle, casino games, tarot card reading and more.

The Animal Rescue Alliance rescues and finds loving homes for abandoned and abused companion and farmed animals. They offer sanctuary to those animals that have special needs and for which it is more difficult to find a good home. The animals come from a variety of backgrounds...from homeless strays and feral animals to rescues from kill shelters and hoarding situations.

Wherever and whenever they see an animal in distress, they help. This is one of my favorite organizations. All an animal wants is to be loved and in return they are forever grateful. I always say, an animal always knows when you save their life. Why not support an organization that does just that?

The Animal Rescue Alliance (TARA) is located at Rancho Providencia, a peaceful four acre ranch in Chatsworth. TARA is a haven for goats, horses, donkeys, parrots, geese, cats and dogs. Their address is 10945 Old Santa Susana Pass Road, Chatsworth, CA 91311.

For tickets and more information go to TheAnimalRescueAlliance.org. or call 818-256-0060.

THE FUTURE IS NOW is a free art show that starts on July 27th and runs through August 11th.

Art Share LA'S 'The Future Is Now" poses the question: What then, does our future look like? Will it be a warning? A call to Action? A celebration of ingenuity? Witness for yourself what the future for you, Los Angeles, and the world may hold. Intriguing? VERY.

Art Share LA is located downtown at 801 East 4th Place, Los Angeles. They are opened Wednesday-Sunday 1-6pm.

For more information call them at 213-687-4278 or email them not only about their upcoming shows, but submitting art work as well at... ArtShareLA.org.

While you are downtown you might want to head over to the REDCAT theatre to check out THE NEW ORIGINAL WORKS FESTIVAL 2019. At REDCAT you will find some of the world's most intriguing envelope-pushing avant-garde theatre, film, music and performance art.

This Annual New Original Works Festival launches nine new works by Los Angeles emerging and mid-career artists who are redefining the boundaries of contemporary performance to invent hybrid artistic disciplines, re-imagine traditions and confront urgent issues. All artistic teams receive free rehearsal space, tech support and artist fees.

The 16th Annual New Original Works Festival kicks off with a program of works by solo artist Sola Bamis; visual and performing artists, Zach Dorn and Danielle Dahl; choreographer Katherine Helen Fisher and Andrew Ondrejcak's THE MUSES renders a suite of lush and riotous dances that conjures a communal space in celebration of the divine feminine.

For more information and for future performances go to RedCat.org.

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


JOAN OF ART: A Musical Satire, A Musical Fantasy, Art Universe and an UnCabaret

I love Broadway musicals and this weekend there are two I'm going to see starting with the wonderfully outrageous satire THE BOOK OF MORMON. First staged in 2011 in New York, the play is a satirical examination of Mormon beliefs and practices that ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service.

The script, lyrics and music were written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Trey and Matt are best known for creating the animated comedy South Park. Lopez co-wrote the music for the musical Avenue Q. 'The Book of Mormon' won the ten Tony Awards including one for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

I've seen it in New York City on Broadway and almost fell out of my chair laughing. It's that good. They go out of their way to break every boundary in the most unexpected ways.

The musical is playing at the Fred Kavli Theatre located at the Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza, 2100 East Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA. The show plays July 10th and 11th at 7:30, Friday July 12th at 8:00pm, Saturday July 13th at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, Sunday July 14th at 1:00pm and 6:30pm.

To buy tickets or for more information go to CivicArtsPlaza.com or call 805-449-2787.

Now for a very different kind of musical...The Musical Theatre West Production of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID at Carpenter Performing Arts Center located at 4350 East 7th Street in Long Beach.

The musical is based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and the classic animated film of the same name.

This is a hauntingly beautiful love story for all ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner, Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will definitely capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including Under the Sea, Kiss The Girl and Part of Your World.

I loved the film so I know I'm definitely going to love this stage production. I've seen many productions by Musical Theatre West and they do great work.

The show runs Friday, July 12th at 8pm, Saturday, July 13th at 2pm and 8pm, Sunday, July 14th at 1pm and 6pm and the following two weekends. The last show is Sunday, July 28th at 6pm. For tickets or more information go to Musical.org or call 562-985-7000.

A different kind of art entitled ART UNIVERSE can be found at Westfield Century City starting on July 12th and ending on July 21st. This is an original production by Likuid Art and 360Art, inspired by paintings and photographs which will take you on a visual journey that transports each viewer to a series of artistic worlds - bringing each piece to life through this animated, virtual spectacle.

Guests will enter a fully immersive, 360 dome theater, outfitted with surround sound where they can lay back and enjoy an experience that combines the future of art, entertainment and technology.

Art Universe features original score and sound design by Dynamite Laser Bean, showcases work by various artists including Android Jones, Greg 'Craola' Simkins, Karen Bystedt, Risk and Chris Saunders.

Their work has been reimagined using 3D modeling, animation and compositing to bring still images to life putting the audience inside of the art. How cool is that?

For more information including ticket prices, dates and time and tickets click HERE. The Westfield Century City is located at 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Finally the best way to end any weekend is by laughing and the best place to go for that is Beth LaPides UNCABARET. This Sunday, July 14th Beth will host comedians Julia Sweeney, Moon Zappa, Moses Storm, Byron Bowers, Debra DiGiovanni, Jamie Bridgers and Terra Naomi.

UnCabaret takes place the second Sunday of every month, 7:30 at the Rockwell.

The original 'alt-comedy show is now celebrating it's 25th year. Beth invites the most original voices in comedy to share the stories ripped from the headlines of their own lives for one-time-only nights, orchestrated to uplift and inspire. it's intimate, conversational and funny.

The Rockwell Table and Stage is located at 1714 North Vermont in Los Angeles. For tickets go to UnCabaret.com. I guarantee you'll have a great time.

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