This Spotlight focuses on Elmira Rahim who began her acting career in Iran, trained at USC, and created the ÉLAN Ensemble whose inaugural production, How We're Different From Animals, was the recipient of Best Adaptation at Stage Raw Theater Awards in 2019 as well as nominated in multiple categories including Best Production at Stage Raw Theater Awards and LA Drama Critics Circle Awards. But like so many others, this year’s production of a modern adaptation of Trojan Women with A Noise Within had to be postponed until theaters can safely open again.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Elmira Rahim (Elmira): I started my acting career in Iran when I was a teenager and was fortunate enough to work with some prominent theater companies including Ayeneh, which led me to perform in in Paris in 2004. Working in Iran as an actor has given me a perspective of what it means to push the boundaries and use limitations as opportunities to be creative, which I will forever cherish and use as a force. After leaving my roots in Iran, I joined the USC MFA Acting program where I got the chance to work with some of my most inspiring mentors. The training at USC and the opportunity to collaborate with artists from different backgrounds inspired me to start a theater company, ÉLAN Ensemble, dedicated to creating adaptations and devised works rooted in physical theater techniques.
I am proud to share that ÉLAN's inaugural production, How We're Different From Animals, was the recipient of Best Adaptation at Stage Raw Theater Awards in 2019 as well as nominated in multiple categories including Best Production at Stage Raw Theater Awards and LA Drama Critics Circle Awards. I have also been working as an actor with other theater companies in Los Angeles as well as pursuing a career on camera and in voice over, but working as the leader and artistic director of ÉLAN has been one of the greatest honors of my theatrical career.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?
(Elmira): Before the pandemic, I was in conversation with A Noise Within to present a modern adaptation of Trojan Women with ÉLAN Ensemble as part of their Noise Now season. As you can imagine, an opportunity like this is really valuable for a new theater company and often takes time to come to fruition, but it did seem like we were getting closer. The presentation was not yet announced but we were planning to schedule it for August and could not wait to share this powerful piece with the audience. But it was clear to us after the shutdown that live performance in August was not going to be an option.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
(Elmira): I deeply feel for all colleagues and friends who had to cancel shows before opening or in the middle of a run. As an actor and a producer, I can totally understand the financial and emotional burden such action incurs. Since our performance dates at ANW were not yet confirmed, we were lucky to only have to communicate with the cast that we will be looking at another time to share this work, which was still hard considering we are still not certain when we will be able to safely gather in theaters again.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(Elmira): As of right now, Trojan Women is announced to be performed at ANW on Dec 19th, but we are still waiting for more specific guidelines. As you know, most theaters have cancelled their seasons until next year, so there is a possibility of having to postpone again.
(SB): What future productions on ÉLAN’s schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(Elmira): ÉLAN is also in development for another project which is going to be a devised piece in process for a year or so. Now that we can’t be in the same room, we have started working on it one day at a time online.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Elmira): We have been scheduling multiple Zoom readings and meetings like most companies. I am also trying to use this time to write, read and think of ideas for future productions. Some online works and creations have been truly inspiring, but we all miss being in the same room together and feeding off of each other's energy and artistry.
(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?
(Elmira): I would like to extend my love to the LA Theatre community. During this time of isolation and reflection, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have met many wonderfully talented artists who are also wonderful human beings. At the same time, I wish that we will come out of this as a community with more awareness to create works that reflect our society more truthfully. Living in such a multicultural city is truly an asset for the Arts, and with all that is going on in our society today, I hope that we can recognize an opportunity for change and our individual role in creating it. I cannot wait to see you all in the theater! "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." Rumi
I would love to invite readers to a wonderfully unique modern adaptation of Trojan Women at A Noise Within/Noise Now at ANoiseWithin.org/noise-now.
Also, would love to share ÉLAN's website for any upcoming productions. ElanensEmble.com
ÉLAN Ensemble's productions of How We're Different From Animals and Seven. Photo credit: Meredith Adelaide
This Spotlight focuses on Monica Ricketts who discovered the magic of performing onstage as a child and never looked back or wanted to do anything else. I first asked her what she would like readers to know about her theatrical background.
Monica Ricketts (Monica): As a performing artist, the phrase: “good things take time” is a sentence I’ve heard for many years, but hadn't truly applied to my own life until I became a professional actor. By nature, I am a person who longs for immediate results in a fast-paced and “goal oriented” way. But, as I reflect on my last 7 years here in LA, I can recognize the truth in the statement: PATIENCE IS KEY.
Growing up I had big dreams, but in my mind, they were only that: unattainable DREAMS. From the time I was eleven years old, I was heavily involved in my local children's theater in the small town of Carson City, NV and auditioned regularly to get a taste of performing on that stage. I was shy and quite insincere, but once I had a costume, makeup and a script to recite, I suddenly found my VOICE and was surrounded by people like me, who had strong imaginations and a playfulness that was dying to be released. Being a theater kid, I was finally given the freedom to express this part of myself and let me tell you... it felt MAGICAL. I no longer had to hide or shy away from my passion, but rather, I was encouraged to emote, to sing loudly, to be funny and CONNECT.
This passion of theater carried me through middle school, giving me a safe place to discover different sides of my identity, and later, I found myself in the drama program at Carson High School, where I treated my class like a college program. I knew from day one that I wanted to succeed and learn and grow, and, trust me: it was NOT always easy. But I learned to not give up, and somehow got back on my own two feet with each challenge that came to me. When senior year arrived, I got an opportunity that began to shift this belief when I auditioned for the lead role of Emily Webb in the play Our Town. This was the most difficult piece of theater that I had ever tackled, and I prepared for it with much determination. And to my great surprise, I got cast! This was my first venture playing a role that was both challenging, and outside of my school or familiar children’s theater, and it proved to me that that THIS was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: I wanted to pursue an ACTING CAREER.
Shari Barrett (SB): That just proves it doesn’t matter at what age you know. But when you know, there is little else that speaks to your soul as deeply as acting does.
(Monica): Once I graduated high school, I decided to drive down to LA to audition to be a Main Stage Performer for Disney Cruise Line, and at only 18 years old, I got cast as Cinderella and Snow White in the musicals onboard the beautiful Disney Wonder Ship. It was my first professional acting/singing job and I was THRILLED. While onboard, I got to explore the beautiful landscapes of Alaska on the cruise itinerary and live my dream of performing for ten months! From that moment on, I was even more determined to continue to pursue my acting career.
Shortly after, I got cast in a regional production of “Pinkalicious” at the North Coast Rep Theater in Solana Beach, CA, and then I moved to LA to be a full-time actor. I soon got involved with local theater companies, and got cast as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical at the Actors Repertory Theater of Simi Valley, and that role changed my life forever. I learned how to laugh at myself, take risks, and dive deep into the heartfelt story of self-acceptance and appreciation, which taught me so much. After that production, I got cast in Spring Awakening at the NoHo Arts Center as Ilse, Hope Cladwell in Urinetown the Musical at Cupcake Theater), Kate Monster in Avenue Q at Cupcake Theater, and Ado Annie in Oklahoma! at Candlelight Pavilion. Then I began to dip my toes in film and commercials.
It was an exciting time - but I kept on feeling a desire to travel and perform abroad. After three years of auditioning for Universal Studios Japan (a theme park in Osaka, Japan), I finally got cast as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike/actor. I have had the opportunity to professionally portray Marilyn since 2014, and I feel quite blessed to carry on her legacy in such a special way. Working in Osaka also gave me the opportunity to travel and experience such a beautiful country. I hiked Mt. Fuji, I appreciated the history, immersed myself in the culture and broadened my horizons. It was a 10-month contract, and while I was away, I discovered SO much about myself and grew not just as a performer, but as a person as well.
(SB): But of course, the Los Angeles Theatre community soon called you back!
(Monica): When I came back to LA, I decided to change my focus and REALLY put my heart and soul into musical theater, because I realized just how much it meant to me and that it is my true calling. And that’s when a huge transformation took place.
The year 2019 was a life changing one: it began with playing Martha May Whovier in the wonderful holiday event Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood. The shortly after, I got cast in Musical Theatre Guild’s production of Minnie’s Boys as Miss Taj Mahal, and also got cast in 5 Star Theatricals production of Matilda the Musical as the Acrobat/Ensemble. It was absolutely incredible to suddenly be working at a level I had only imagined before! These experiences truly shaped my career and I’m so thankful for them.
And that summer, I got the biggest opportunity I’ve ever received: I got to play Sleeping Beauty in Into the Woods at the Hollywood Bowl. Suddenly I was performing alongside Sutton Foster, Patina Miller, Gaten Matarazzo, Sierra Boggess and Skylar Astin, all of who I had admired and looked up to for so many years. It was unbelievably rewarding and an experience I’ll never forget and solidified that this is where I BELONGED. I also received my first Playbill Credit, which was a huge step for me.
Later that fall, I performed at A Noise Within in Pasadena, CA in a workshop called A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter which was a feminist take on Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, written by Anna Miles of “A Beating of Wings” an Artist Collective.
And finally, I had the accomplishment of auditioning and getting cast as Evelyn Nesbit (the girl on the Swing) in Ragtime the Musical at one of the highest acclaimed regional theaters in Southern California: Musical Theatre West. This all happened in ONE year - and my goal of focusing whole heartedly on my theater career TRULY paid off.
I am so thankful for the support of my family, friends and representation who always encourage me to never give up. It is where I feel most alive, and feel so blessed to share my passion with the world. I can’t imagine my life without it. So, after these 7 years, I now know for certain that the phrase “good things take time” istrue - being persistent, working hard and not giving up is what dreams are made of - and with that, PATIENCE is key.
(SB): That is quite a roster in the musical theatre world! What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled in March 2020?
(Monica): I was currently involved with a staged reading of an original musical about the Kennedy Family: called Rose Marie: A Kennedy Life Interrupted. It is a show I have been workshopping with James Mellon and Margaret Owens for a few years now and we were about to perform it for the public. I was also in the midst of auditioning for a few productions: including Mamma Mia for McCoy Rigby Entertainment. The shutdown was communicated via email with the production of Rose Marie, and for Mamma Mia, it was also communicated via email as well as on Julia Flores Casting website. And as far as I know, both productions plan on postponing to a later date as I haven’t heard that either of them will be cancelled permanently.
(SB): Now that you have some time off, how are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Monica): I have been very blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive online community that constantly inspire me to be creative. I have an Instagram account (@monicadanae) where I often share performance videos, create costumes/vintage fashion, and share my daily life. It has helped me keep my artistic interests alive and well, and I am grateful to have other people to inspire me.
I have also received a few voiceover opportunities that I can record from home, as well as Disney-inspired collaborations that have been well received. I also write poetry and am in the process of getting my book published (@poetrybymonica), so sharing via social media has been very helpful. And I have been staying busy by creating princess videos for children through Wishing Well Entertainment, where I dress up as their favorite character and either make a pre-recorded video with a message/story/song or we talk via ZOOM or FaceTime.
(SB): And certainly, almost every little girl I have ever known has wanted to be a Disney Princess. What other 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?
(Monica): This is a time of uncertainty for many of us, and one that I couldn’t have possibly imagined. The world without theatre is much less colorful, and a whole lot lonelier. And I have to be honest; it hasn’t been easy at all. It’s been especially heartbreaking to watch theaters put their productions on hold, have to cancel, or have to close their doors entirely. But we must not lose hope. Seeing this beautiful community come together through social media and other outlets to support each other in any way they can has been inspiring.
What I’ve taken away from this situation is the extreme importance of the performing arts in our world, and I know that I will never take this art form for granted ever again. Theatre is MAGIC and I’m honored to be a part of it. I miss every aspect of it - from the auditions, rehearsals, tech week, performances and backstage memories and laughter. My hope is that we can bounce back with more strength and passion than ever before, because the world will definitely need a couple hours of theatre bliss inside a theater after the Earth heals from this trying time. And I am certain that we will prevail!
A Resident Artist at A Noise Within and a member at the Antaeus Theatre Company, she's also played in productions such as "Gem of the Ocean" at A Noise Within, "The Mountaintop" at the Garry Marshall Theatre, and "The Cake" at The Geffen Playhouse and Echo Theatre Company. Classically trained in Shakespeare and theatre at The Old Globe at the University of San Diego, she's also appeared in off-broadway and regional theatrical such as "The Winters Tale" at Theatre 150, "Merry Wives of Windsor", "Alls Well That Ends Well," "Two Gentleman of Verona" at The Old Globe, "Hecuba" at The Pearl Theatre Company, and "The Cherry Orchard" at The Classical Theatre of Harlem. As a Director, Ratteray has helmed "By The Way Meet Vera Stark," "In Love and Warcraft," and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" at Pomona College, along with staged readings throughout the Los Angeles area.
Ratteray's film and television credits also include “Snowfall,” “Castle," “All My Children," “Chemistry," “The Young and the Restless” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” just to name a few. With a master's in Arts education and training from The Old Globe at the University of San Diego and a bachelor's from New York University, she is currently a professor at Pomona College and has also studied theatrical clown with Philippe Gaulier, Christopher Bayes, David Bridel, and Angela De Castro and she is currently at work creating her solo clown show, “Both, And,” according to her website.
A Noise Within led all producing companies with five awards spread over three of their productions—"Argonautika," "The Glass Menagerie," and "Frankenstein." The Geffen Playhouse won three awards, one each for their productions of "Key Largo," "Skintight," and "Witch."
Lies and Legends Award for Best Ensemble Award
Matt Darriau, Elizabeth A. Davis, Joby Earle, Patrick Farrell, Harry Groener,
Lisa Gutkin, Mimi Lieber, Steven Rattazzi, Richard Topol, Adina Verson,
Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre
Billy Barnes Award for Best Cabaret Performance
Daniel Thomas Bellusci, Brittney Bertier, Ellie Birdwell, Bruce Kimmel,
Kerry O’Malley, Jenna Lea Rosen, Robert Yacko,
L’Wonderful, L’Marvelous, Legrand, Kritzerland at Vitello’s
Special Award for Props and Puppet Design
Erin Walley and Dillon Nelson, Argonautika, A Noise Within
Better Lemons is currently in the process of updating our calendar with shows that have postponed, updated, or canceled due to coronavirus and concerns and actions towards the safety of theatre patrons.
The following is a list of venues and shows that we have updated and have been updating currently.
If you have a show that needs updating, please log in and update your show accordingly. If you are postponing, do not delete your event and feel free to email us via our contact form should you need assistance with updating.
Carey Crim's west coast premiere Never Not Once plays at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura February 5 through 23 for a three week engagement only. Award winning British director Katharine Farmer will helm the production. In our conversation she talks about the play, her cast and just how enriching it is to work at the Rubicon.
Discuss the complexities of Never Not Once and your challenges as the director.
KF:Never Not Once is as complicated as you want it to be. It can simply be watched as a family drama, or it can trigger a conversation that is longer than the play itself about identity and whether we are more than the simple sum of the choices that we, and others, make. I hope that the play will give our audiences the option to think, and if we have all done our job correctly, audiences will feel compelled to care.
The central challenge to directing and staging the play has been to capture and convey the haunting humanity that definitely exists in the plot and its characters, but lives just as much between the words as it does within them.
What is the message of the play? How does it stand apart from other dramas about dysfunctional families?
KF: We are living in an era of self, but it is not obvious that this is making us any happier. Likewise, science is evermore confident that it is providing us with answers, but is it making us any smarter about which questions really matter?
The message of Never Not Once is that while trying to understand one’s self is the most natural thing in the world, a focus on “I” should not crowd out an understanding of “us”. This play certainly has it’s fair share of dysfunctionality but the concept of family is less of the problem and more of a solution.
Tell us about your cast and their dynamics.
KF: For everyone in the cast, this is their Rubicon debut!
Sydney Berk is playing Eleanor, the college student who wants to find her father. Sydney trained at LAMDA in the UK and has worked extensively with A Noise Within in LA. Her two mothers are played by Diahnna Nicole Baxter and Melanic Cruz. Diahnna co-created, co-wrote and starred in “SATACRACY 88,” the first web series to win an Emmy Award, and was nominated again the next year. Melanie had a recurring role in HBO’s Big Love and recently was seen on stage as Sara in Lucky Me at Theatre West in Nebraska. Our other two cast members are Issac Cruz, who was recently involved with the multi-theatre homeless support production of Homeward LA for the second consecutive year, and Michael Polak who’s theatre credits include The Illusion at North Coast Repertory Theatre and Doubt at International City Theatre.
Working with this fantastic cast has been a pleasure. They have always approached rehearsals with a focus, passion, and openness that really serves the play.
Two moms and a daughter searching for her father. Is it a lesbian couple or does that bring about a spoiler alert?
KF: A lesbian couple are at the centre of the play and yet the play is not about lesbianism. Allison and Nadine have created a truly loving home, thereby ticking the “nurture” box. Their daughter Eleanor feels the need to find her father to fully understand her genetic heritage, in order to tick the “nature” box. This need would be every bit as essential if her mother was in a heterosexual relationship. The lesbian relationship brings it greater clarity, intensity and poignancy. Separately I think that it will constitute progress for the LGBTQIA+ community when characters in drama are from that community without the plots of those dramas implying that their sexual orientation is all that defines them.
Talk about the other plays you have directed at the Rubicon. Do you have a favorite?
KF: Asking me what my favourite show is is like asking me to pick my favourite child: I have loved them all. I will always remember Last Train to Nibroc as my first professional directing experience. I will always be proud of South Pacific for the courage it took to put a twist on one of the great classics of musical theatre. But to answer your question, Gulf View Drive was my favorite, for its sense of closure for both the characters and the audience who’d followed May and Raleigh’s journey for three years.
You have won many awards. How does that make you feel about working at the Rubicon?
KF: Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil are the best mentors that a young director could hope for and the Rubicon is so much more than just a venue. From the “Friends of Rubicon” to the staff and volunteers, Karyl Lynn and Jim have created a loving, caring and support structure for creatives of all ages and in my case, all nationalities. Rubicon is a shining example of excellence in regional theatre on a global scale. When it comes to awards, they are a much appreciated blessing that I would rather not dwell too much upon. My focus and priority is that my next audience will enjoy my next show.
Back to Never Not Once. Does the play come to the Rubicon intact or have there been changes since it premiered at Jeff Daniels' theatre?
KF: I first read the play in 2016 and loved it since inception. We have made a few small changes to the script since its production at the Purple Rose Theatre, but it’s very much been a case of evolution not revolution. I have always been in awe of Carey Crim’s gift for natural dialogue and compared to other pieces of new writing that I have worked on, much fewer iterations have been required.
(photo credit: Craig Sugden)
Never Not Once plays at the Rubicon Theatre February 5 through 23. The Rubicon Theatre Company is located at 1006 E Main St Ventura, CA 93001
RUNNERS-UP: Ron Bottita, Loot, Odyssey; Gilbert Glenn Brown, The Mountaintop, Marshall; Dempsey Bryk, punkplay, Circle X; Seamus Dever, The Abuelas, Antaeus; Zackary Stone Gearing, Hir, Odyssey; Zackary Stone Gearing, punkplay, Circle X; Nicholas Hormann, Loot, Odyssey; Tom Ormeny, The End of Sex, Victory; Michael Manuel, Frankenstein, ANW; Will Thomas McFadden, 1984, Actors’ Gang; Will Thomas McFadden, Violence: The Misadventures of Spike Spangle, Farmer, Actors’ Gang; Rob Nagle, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Rob Nagle, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Bruno Oliver, Waiting for Waiting for Godot, Sacred Fools; Bob Turton, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Actors’ Gang
RUNNERS-UP: Mike Birbiglia, The New One, CTG/Ahmanson; Helder Guimaraes, Invisible Tango, Geffen Playhouse; Bill Irwin, On Beckett, Douglas; Tova Katz, See You at the Funeral, Broadwater Mainstage; John Leguizamo, Latin History for Morons, CTG/Ahmanson; David Mynne, A Christmas Carol, Wallis; Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H., CTG/Douglas; Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues, CTG, Taper
RUNNERS-UP: Keith Allen, Deadly, Sacred Fools; Will Bozier, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; James Delisco Beeks, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Aaron LaVigne, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Ryan Melia, The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; Andrew Monaghan, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; Liam Mower, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Andy Robinson, Julius Weezer, Troubadour
RUNNERS-UP: Ron Bottitta, Hir, Odyssey; Chad Coe, The End of Sex, Victory; Bill Brochtrup, Daniel’s Husband, Fountain; Rob Brownstein, Anne, a New Play, Museum of Tolerance; JD Cullum, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus; Seamus Dever, Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus; Arye Gross, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Stephen Guarino, Handjob, Echo; Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Waiting for Waiting for Godot, Sacred Fools; Justin Huen, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Carl J. Johnson, Driving Wilde, Theatre of NOTE; Brandon Rachal, Native Son, Antaeus/CTG at the Douglas; Tom Szymanski, Violence: The Misadventures of Spike Spangle, Farmer, Actors’ Gang; Will Von Vogt, Witch, Geffen Playhouse; Josh Zuckerman, Eight Nights, Antaeus
RUNNERS-UP: Anne Gee Byrd, Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus; Irene De Bari, The Abuelas, Antaeus; Mary-Pat Green, Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus; Alexandra Henrikson, The Thanksgiving Play, Geffen; Sadie Kuwano, punkplay, Circle X; Mara Klein, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Mildred Marie Langford, Native Son, Antaeus/CTG at the Douglas; Mary Gordon Murray, Anne, a New Play, Museum of Tolerance; Jenny O’Hara, Daniel’s Husband, Fountain; Zoe Yale, Eight Nights, Antaeus
RUNNERS-UP: Rick Batalla, Julius Weezer, Troubadour; John Colella, The Producers, Celebration; Andrew Diego, The Producers, Celebration; Paris Fitzpatrick, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Ben Ferguson, The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; F. Michael Haynie, Frozen, Pantages; Paul Louis Lessard, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; P.T. Mahoney, In Circles, Odyssey; Steven Rattazzi, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Morgan Rusler, Julius Weezer, Troubadour; Michael A. Shepperd, The Producers, Celebration; Alan Vincent, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Dan Weschler, The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis
RUNNERS-UP: Madelaine Brennan, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Elizabeth A. Davis, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Victoria Hoffman, Julius Weezer, Troubadour; Beth Kennedy, Julius Weezer, Troubadour; Katrina Lyndon, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; Mary Ann Welshans, The Producers, Celebration; Brittney S. Wheeler, Deadly, Sacred Fools
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A PLAY (TIE)
Stephen Borrello, Joely Fisher, Andy Garcia, Rose McIver, Louis Mustillo, Danny Pino, Tony Plana, Richard Riehle, Bradley Snedeker; Key Largo,Geffen Playhouse
RUNNERS-UP: John Apicella, Noel Arthur, Paul Baird, Gabriela Bonet, Claudia Elmore, Turner Frankosky, Troy Guthrie, Steve Hofvendahl, Connor Kelly-Eiding, Michael Khachanov, Alex Knox, Mehrnaz Mohammadi, Madalina Nastase, Liza Seneca, Janellen Steininger, George Villas; The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus Theatre Company
Victor Anthony, Joshua Bitton, Lesley Fera, Liza Fernandez, Matthew Hancock, Marisol Miranda, Montae Russell; Between Riverside and Crazy, Fountain Theatre
James A. Alfred, A. Russell Andrews, Francois Battiste, Harvy Blanks, Amari Cheatom, Anthony Chisholm, Brian D. Coats, Steven Anthony Jones, Patrese D. McClain; Nija Okoro, Keith Randolph Smith, Ray Anthony Thomas; Jitney, Center Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum
Crystal Diaz, Elinor Gunn, Liesel Hanson, Faith Imafidon, Cindy Lin, Nadia Marina, Lynn Odell, Alina Phelan, Briana Price, Nicole Gabriella Scipione, Yolanda Snowball, Jenny Soo, Nancy Stone, Tania Verafield; For The Love Of (or the Roller Derby Play), Theatre of NOTE / Center Theatre Group, Kirk Douglas Theatre
Ian Barford, Tim Hopper, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Chantal Thuy, Cora Vander Broek, Troy West; Linda Vista, Center Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum
Ro Boddie, Max Casella, Micaela Diamond, Peter Jacobson, Jason Kravits, Nellie McKay, Saul Rubinek, Miriam Silverman, Joey Slotnick, Sam Vartholomeos, CJ Wilson, A Play is a Poem, Center Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum
Scott Cote, Peyton Crim, Brandon J. Ellis, Angela Grovey, Ned Noyes, Jamie Ann Romero, Evan Alexander Smith, Yaegel T. Welch; The Play That Goes Wrong, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
Sile Bermingham, Reed Michael Campbell, Brian Foyster; The Ruffian on the Stair, Los Angeles LGBT Center
Will Brittain, Eli Gelb, Harry Groener, Kimberly Jurgen, Idina Menzel, Jeff Skowron, Skintight, Geffen Playhouse
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A MUSICAL
Nick Adams, Nick Blaemire, Audrey Cardwell, Eden Espinosa, Thatcher Jacobs, Bryonha Marie Parham, Max von Essen; Falsettos, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
RUNNERS-UP: Rick Batalla, Chelle Denton, Beth Kennedy, Janelle Lillian, Luis “L.T.” Martinez, Mike Sulprizio, Cloie Wyatt Taylor, Matt Walker, Dave C Wright, A Christmas Carole King, Troubadour Theater Company
The ensemble of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
Alex Falberg, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, Matt Nuernberger, Arya Shahi, Dan Weschler; The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The ensemble of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
RUNNERS-UP:Reed Michael Campbell, The Ruffian on the Stair, Los Angeles LGBT Center; Olivia Elsease Hardy, Summer, Pantages; Thatcher Jacobs, Falsettos, CTG/Ahmanson; Michael Rishawn, Handjob, Echo; Jarrod Takle, Circa: Humans, Wallis
RUNNERS-UP: Sir David Hare, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Larissa Fasthorse, The Thanksgiving Play, Geffen; Hershey Felder, A Paris Love Story, Wallis; Stephen Adly Guirgis, Between Riverside and Crazy, Fountain; Dave Hanson, Waiting for Waiting for Godot, Sacred Fools; Joshua Harmon, Skintight, Geffen; E.M. Lewis, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Taylor Mac, Hir, Odyssey; Jennifer Maisel, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Michael McKeever, Daniel’s Husband, Fountain; Vince Melocchi, Andy Warhol’s Tomato, PRT; Gregory S. Moss, punkplay, Circle X; Erik Patterson, Handjob, Echo; Vanessa Claire Stewart, Deadly, Sacred Fools; Paula Vogel, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Gay Walch, The End of Sex, Victory; Stephanie Alison Walker, The Abuelas, Antaeus
RUNNERS-UP: Alistair Beaton, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus; Nick Blaemire, Anne, a New Play, Museum of Tolerance; Matthew Bourne, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Nick Dear, Frankenstein, ANW; Jeffrey Hatcher and Andy Garcia, Key Largo, Geffen; Lucas Hnath, Dana H., CTG/Douglas; Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Actors’ Gang; Jennifer Lee, Frozen, Pantages; Jonathan Shapiro, Sisters in Law, Wallis; Jen Silverman, Witch, Geffen Playhouse; Michael Gene Sullivan, 1984, Actors’ Gang; Matt Walker, A Christmas Carole King, Troubadour; Matt Walker, Julius Weezer, Troubadour; Jacqueline Wright, Driving Wilde, Theatre of NOTE
RUNNERS-UP: Darin Anthony, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Daniel Aukin, Skintight, Geffen; Matt Bretz and Lisa Sanaye Dring, punkplay, Circle X; Dexter Bullard, Linda Vista, CTG/Taper; Emily Chase, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Guillermo Cienfuegos, Between Riverside and Crazy, Fountain; Gregg T. Daniel, The Mountaintop, Marshall; Michael John Garces, The Thanksgiving Play, Geffen;Maria Gobetti, The End of Sex, Victory; Doug Hughes, Key Largo, Geffen; Rhonda Kohl, For The Love Of (or the Roller Derby Play), Theatre of NOTE / Kirk Douglas; Simon Levy, Daniel’s Husband, Fountain; Marti Lyons, Witch, Geffen Playhouse; Matthew McCray, 4.48 Psychosis, Son of Semele; Will Thomas McFadden, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Actors’ Gang; Michael Michetti, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Michael Michetti, Frankenstein, ANW; Tim Robbins, 1984, Actors’ Gang; Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney, CTG/Taper; Stephanie Shroyer, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus; Jacob Sidney, Waiting for Waiting for Godot, Sacred Fools; Bob Turton, Violence: The Misadventures of Spike Spangle, Farmer, Actors’ Gang; Les Waters, Dana H., CTG/Douglas
RUNNERS-UP: Matthew Bourne, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Matthew Bourne, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; Stuart Carden with members of the PigPen Theatre Co., The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; Michael Grandage, Frozen, Pantages; Michael Matthews, The Producers, Celebration; Des McAnuff, Summer, Pantages; Jamie Robledo, Deadly, Sacred Fools; David Schweizer, In Circles, Odyssey; Timothy Sheader, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Matt Walker, A Christmas Carole King, Troubadour
RUNNERS-UP: Rob Falconer, The Play That Goes Wrong, CTG/Ahmanson; Ryan Thomas Johnson, Deadly, Sacred Fools; Robert Oriol, Frankenstein, ANW; Nellie McKay, A Play is a Poem, CTG/Taper; Members of the PigPen Theatre Co., The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; Arturo Sandoval, Key Largo, Geffen; Stephanie Shroyer with the members of the cast, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus
RUNNERS-UP: Derick Finley, A Christmas Carole King, Troubadour; Shawn Gough, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Ryan Thomas Johnson, Deadly, Sacred Fools; Amanda Morton, Summer, Pantages; Abdul Hamid Royal, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Marshall; Anthony Zediker, The Producers, Celebration
RUNNERS-UP: Rob Ashford, Frozen, Pantages; Matthew Bourne, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Kate Coleman, In Circles, Odyssey; David Dorfman, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Nadine Ellis, Janet Roston, The Producers, Celebration; Drew McOnie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Sergio Trujillo, Summer, Pantages; Matt Walker, and Suzanne Julie Narbonne, Julius Weezer, Troubadour
RUNNERS UP: Andrew Boyce, Dana H., CTG/Douglas; Lez Brotherston, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Alex Calle, The Mountaintop, Marshall; Francois-Pierre Couture, Frankenstein, ANW; Joel Daavid, A Streetcar Named Desire, Odyssey; Alexander Dodge, Anastasia, Pantages; Hershey Felder, A Paris Love Story, Wallis; Lydia Fine with members of the PigPen Theatre Co., The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; David Gallo, Jitney, CTG/Taper; Stephen Gifford, The Producers, Celebration; Lauren Helpern, Skintight, Geffen; Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong, CTG/Ahmanson; Christopher Oram, Frozen, Pantages; Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Sibyl Wickersheimer, punkplay, Circle X
RUNNERS-UP: E. B. Brooks, The Producers, Celebration; Lez Brotherston, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Lez Brotherston, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; Angela Calin, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus; Wendell C. Carmichael, The Abuelas, Antaeus; Linda Cho, Anastasia, Pantages; Linda Cho, Key Largo, Geffen; Ann Closs-Farley, Driving Wilde, Theatre of NOTE; Ann Closs-Farley, In Circles, Odyssey; Ann Closs-Farley, punkplay, Circle X; Diane Graebner, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Alex Jaeger, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Diane Laffrey, Witch, Geffen Playhouse; Shon LeBlanc, A Streetcar Named Desire, Odyssey; Garry Lennon, Frankenstein, ANW; Linda Muggeridge, Deadly, Sacred Fools; Christopher Oram, Frozen, Pantages; Emily Rebholz, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Roberto Surace, The Play That Goes Wrong, CTG/Ahmanson
RUNNERS-UP: Christopher Akerlind, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Christopher Ash, A Paris Love Story, Wallis; Neil Austin, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Howard Binkley, Summer, Pantages; Martha Carter, Apple Season, Moving Arts; Paule Constable, Swan Lake, CTG/Ahmanson; Bart Cortright with members of the PigPen Theatre Co., The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; Lee Curran, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Rick Fisher, An Inspector Calls, Wallis; Elizabeth Harper, Mysterious Circumstances, Geffen; David Hernandez, The Judas Kiss, Boston Court; Donald Holder, Anastasia, Pantages; Peter Kaczorowski, Key Largo, Geffen; Natasha Katz, Frozen, Pantages; Karyn D. Lawrence, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Rose Malone, For The Love Of (or the Roller Derby Play), Theatre of NOTE / Kirk Douglas; Tom Ontiveros, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Marshall; Andrew Schmedake, Native Son, Antaeus/CTG at the Douglas; Paul Toben, Dana H., CTG/Douglas
RUNNERS-UP: Eric Carstensen, A Paris Love Story, Wallis; Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H., CTG/Douglas; Mikhail Fiksel with members of the PigPen Theatre Co., The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wallis; Jeff Gardner, The Abuelas, Antaeus; Jeff Gardner, Eight Nights, Antaeus; Jeff Gardner, Native Son, Antaeus/CTG at the Douglas; Paul Groothuis, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Matt Hubbs, Indecent, CTG/Ahmanson; Peter Hylenski, Frozen, Pantages; Cricket S. Myers, The Producers, Celebration; Robert Oriol, Frankenstein, ANW; Gareth Owen, Summer, Pantages; Robert Arturo Ramirez, The Mountaintop, Marshall; Jonathan Snipes, Mysterious Circumstances, Geffen; Daniel S. Tator, A Christmas Carole King, Troubadour
RUNNERS-UP: Adam R. Macias, The Arbuelas, Antaeus; Adam R. Macias, Native Son, Antaeus/CTG at the Douglas; Duncan McLean, Cinderella, CTG/Ahmanson; Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson, Mysterious Circumstances, Geffen; Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson, Key Largo, Geffen; Aaron Rhyne, Anastasia, Pantages
Better Lemons had a fantastic year and we couldn't have done it without the fantastic critics, publicists, and audience members who share their love of Los Angeles theater, by posting on Better Lemons and sharing their favorite shows and their reviews on social media.
We are especially grateful for all the Registered Critics who took their time this past year to rate shows they have reviewed to be included in our LemonMeter.
There were 1200 productions registered on Better Lemons in 2019! Out of those registered shows, over 600 received at least one review from a Critic and 201 were reviewed by Audience members. Out of these shows, we selected the winners that were most favored by Critics and/or Audiences.
Here is a list with all the Better Lemons SWEET productions of 2019:
The Better Lemons DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:
(33 shows out of 1200 productions received
a DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter rating
from audience and critics)
My 28th annual TicketHolder Awards are now posted on my TicketHoldersLA website in two parts. You can read it below and click here for photos.
Choosing my honorees this year is a real bitch. Almost as many tears shed as Carrie Ann Inaba eliminating a sports figure she finds hot. Yet there’s not much else good to write home about in 2019 besides theatre in El Lay. Between the mess we’re making of our planet and the eye-opening disintegration of everything I’ve championed and held dear all my life, thank Terpsichore it’s been a spectacular year for the creation of theatrical art to help ease the pain and frustration of living in our Trumpian nightmare. And even though I have a whole heap of productions to honor this year, with part of my time spent in New Orleans hosting an exhibit of my paintings and medical issues to tackle that seem to come with the territory at age 348, there were also a lot of noteworthy productions I sadly missed. In my world, it’s definitely been a year to praise some monumental directorial work and a plethora of spectacular ensemble casts; choosing winners in both categories has not been an easy task. And what do you think of the Geffen Playhouse? After too long a period of less-than exciting fare, the announcement in 2017 that Matt Shakman had been hired as the complex’s artistic director guaranteed a positive change and without a doubt, the turn around has been staggering. Two of the company’s casts are tied here for Best Ensemble, two of its masterful set designs are as well, and five of my top production choices for 2019 were presented at the Geffen, including my second, third, ninth, and tenth pick for Best Play and second choice of Best Revival. If I gave an annual award for Best Season, surely the Geffen Playhouse would win this year. As a matter of fact, maybe I should initiate such a thing. As a matter of fact, I think I will.
The Thanksgiving Play, Geffen Playhouse
RUNNERS-UP: The Abuelas, Antaeus; Andy Warhol’s Tomato, Pacific Resident Theatre; Apple Season, Moving Arts; Dana H., CTG/Douglas; The End of Sex, Victory Theatre Center; For The Love Of (or the Roller Derby Play), Theatre of NOTE/CTG at the Douglas; 4.48 Psychosis, Son of Semele; Frankenstein, A Noise Within; Handjob, Echo Theatre Company; The Mountaintop, Garry Marshall Theatre; On Beckett, CTG/Douglas; The Play That Goes Wrong, CTG/, Ahmanson; Sisters in Law, Wallis Annenberg Center
RUNNERS-UP: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus Theatre Company; Cats, Pantages; The Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus Theatre Company; Happy Days, CTG/Mark Taper Forum; Hello, Dolly!, Pantages; Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Loot, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble; The Ruffian on the Stairs, Los Angeles LGBT Center; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Garry Marshall Theatre
Rest your feet after all that shopping, get out of that L.A. holiday traffic for a few hours, and slip into a cozy theatre or concert venue during the Holidays!
Los Angeles theatre is alight with dozens of musicals, comedy, cabaret, magic, live radio plays, film and live mash-up productions, classic Dickens, music, dance, variety, and family-friendly shows themed to get you into the spirit of the season.
Here's is a healthy collection of shows available now and until you are just about ready to ring in the New Year.
ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY (ETC) presents the second show of its 2019-20 Season, the can’t-miss, holiday event of the season, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, adapted by Joe Landry, from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra & Jo Swerling and directed by ETC’s Director of Education and Outreach, Brian McDonald.
Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present the Los Angeles premiere of a new adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play, based on the 1947 Lux Radio Hour, adapted by Lance Arthur Smith, original songs and arrangements by Jon Lorenz, directed by Joseph Leo Bwarie.
"Miracle on 34th Street" brings a heartwarming and classic tale of faith, love, and the gift of miracles to the holiday season, featuring live Foley effects and a score of holiday carols this beautiful story is sure to ring in Christmas for all. OVATION RECOMMENDED PRODUCTION!!! At the Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre.
A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play - The Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play, directed by frequent Porters collaborator Drina Durazo. "Charles Dickens was known for being a performer of his own works; his novels were written with such vivid theatricality that they were almost like plays," says Durazo. "We're aiming to recreate the experience of Dickens' public recitals with a A Christmas Carol, The One-Man Play, and it's been a great joy exploring this beloved classic by way of Krieger's dynamic performance."
Having most recently taken on the roles of Theseus in The Two Noble Kinsmen and director of Romeo and Juliet, Associate Artistic Director Gus Krieger portrays over thirty characters in this telling of Dickens' classic tale. Having assumed iconic roles for the company including Richard III, Shylock, Benedick, and King John, Krieger is thrilled to return to the boards of North Hollywood.
A Los Angeles holiday tradition is back with some show veterans for just a few dates in a special engagement! It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play takes place at KAWL, a struggling 1940s radio station that good-hearted owner Michael Anderson is barely keeping alive. He calls on some old friends (with big personalities) and some less-than-professional station employees to offer up a live radio version of Frank Capra’s touching masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life in what might sadly be the station’s last live show. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…
TROUBADOUR THEATER COMPANY continues its 25th SILVER ANNIVERSARY SEASON with "A CHRISTMAS CAROLE KING." Musical Direction by Derrick Finely, Directed and Adapted by Matt Walker, in a limited Engagement opening Friday, December 13, 2019, at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood!
For their 18th annual holiday offering, The Troubies have combined the soulful sounds of songstress Carole King with one of the most enduring stories of our time – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – and the result is SO FAR AWAY from what you'd expect!
Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, at A Noise Within, Directed by Geoff Elliott & Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
ANW’s delightfully festive, musically merry holiday tradition returns! Families love the inspirational story of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge—the perfect burst of boundless good cheer for the season, and beyond!
“Only a die-hard humbug could remain unmoved by so charming a yuletide treat.” – Los Angeles Times
A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory. This is the 40th year for the beloved Orange County holiday classic—and marks the final time that Hal Landon Jr. will portray everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Nineteenth-century London comes to life when your family joins the SCR family for the holidays. Recapture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with this timeless Dickens classic and all your favorite characters—Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come. No children under the age of 6, please.
Instead of performing Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told -- plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season! An outrageous holiday romp for the whole family (except those who still believe in Santa!) Written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez. Music by Will Knapp. Directed by Gary Lamb. Musical director: Sean Paxton.
Yippie ki yay, theatre goers! We're settling the debate, once and for all. Yes, "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie. But when John McClane meets Ralphie from "A Christmas Story," let's just say more than just your eye might get shot out! What better way to end the year than by mashing up classic Christmas movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" with characters from some of your favorite "Not A Christmas Movie" movies like "Batman Returns?" Mix in a few iconic movie props, a team of talented writers, directors and actors and let the holiday drama and hi-jinks ensue! The way only our RUSH play festival can! Great for the whole family!
Written by Tyler Bianchi, Evan Baughfman, Jeff Folschinsky, Holly Sidell, Samantha Grace, Adam Neubauer, Samantha & Lilia Marquis, Directed by Jonathan Fahn, Jennifer Novak Chun, Holly Witham, Corey Chappell,
Randy Marquis, Tom Jones & Stacy Ann Raposa. At the Actors Workout Studio.
Developed in the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, Eight Nights is the heartfelt, lyrical portrait of a German Jewish refugee haunted by her past...witnessed over the course of generations of the same family that inhabits a single apartment from 1949 to 2016. Set during the eight nights of Chanukah, and spanning eight decades of the protagonist’s life, Eight Nights weaves together heart-aching moments with life-affirming humor to call out the trauma experienced not only by concentration camp survivors, but by African American descendants of slavery, by interned Japanese Americans, and by current victims of war in Africa and the Middle East.
Dysfunctional Family Christmas - Misunderstandings, Mistaken Identities, and Holiday Chaos create a fun-filled Christmas Morning at the Logan Home.
Before they sell the family home, Dean and Joanne Logan want one perfect final Christmas with their adult children. Although, once Grandpa is found dead, their plans go haywire as they attempt to hide the body from the family.
"A sardonic, merrily subversive tale—just the antidote to bright-eyed joy before too many shopping days have passed. Worth more than a photo album full of Santas!" NY Newsday. When it was first broadcast on National Public Radio, The SantaLand Diaries generated more requests for tapes than any story in This American Life’s history except the death of Red Barber. Timothy Olyphant brought the story to life on stage off-Broadway, and for the fourth year in a row Patrick Censoplano dons the candy-cane tights for a Santa Monica Playhouse holiday celebration in this outrageously funny one-man play from NPR’s well-loved humorist David Sedaris about the author’s experiences as an unemployed writer taking a job as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York City, taking a wry look at how the holiday season brings out the best – and the worst – in us all. Toast the Holidays! Your ticket includes a pre-show glass of champagne or non-alcoholic eggnog.
The story of Sugar Plum Fairy, based on Loh’s original tale on This American Life, follows a 12-year-old Sandra and her over-the-top dream of landing the lead in the inevitable dance school production of The Nutcracker. Loh and friends are pitted against the vicious hierarchy of desirable roles in this well-weathered ballet, while she desperately yearns to be recognized as a pre-teen queen in her own right. The play features Shannon Holt and Tony Abatemarco in a rotation of quirky characters from her misfit friends to a rigid Russian ballet instructor, as well as being co-conspirators in spreading some literal holiday cheer around the theater. Wittily set to a classical music score (a la Disney’s Fantasia’s hippopotamus ballerinas), Sugar Plum Fairy is knitted together with moments of audience participation, and attendees are encouraged to dress in their most festive outfits, prepare for sugary showers of candy, and get photos for the ‘gram with Yuletide-themed set designs that include reindeer, an animatronic Santa, and even, if you’re lucky, Frosty the Snowman.
Sixteen actors play nearly 30 characters in a holiday spectacular that will put you in a festive mood! A play-within-a-play, this fast-paced comedy follows a small, LGBTQ+ community theatre as it struggles to pull together its annual holiday pageant.
Written by Joe Marshall, directed by Bree Pavey. The cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Cassandra Carmona, Matt Caudel, Noah Copfer, Andrew Cottrell, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Dan Ellis, Javier Flores, Barbera Ann Howard, Sean James, Corey Klemow, Katy Laughlin, Ignacio Navarro, Alejandro Baquero Sanchez, Scottie Smith, Luke Sookdeo, and Bart Tangredi.
Rubicon Theatre audiences are invited to “rejoice and be plaid” this holiday season as Ventura’s non-profit professional theatre company presents the hilarious and heartwarming musical comedy PLAID TIDINGS in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. The production is directed by the original creator STUART ROSS, and the cast for PLAID TIDINGS includes SEAN BELL, ADOLPHO BLAIRE, JOSHUA DAVID CAVANAUGH and ZACHARY EDWARDS, all making their Rubicon Theatre debuts. The show includes holiday favorites such as “Cool Yule,” “Let it Snow,” and “Joy to the World”; a hysterically funny speed-date version of “The Ed Sullivan Show” featuring the Rockettes, the Chipmunks and The Vienna Boys Choir; and other memorable hits from the era, like “Sh-Boom,” “Fever” and “Hey There.”
The Los Angeles Times called PLAID TIDINGS “a many splendored thing.” Variety described the show as Musical utopia…the perfect show. And the Daily News called the show “heaven-sent holiday fare.”
“SANTASIA - A Holiday Comedy” created by Shaun and Brandon Loeser, directed by Shaun Loeser, is celebrating its 20th year. At the Whitefire Theatre, this Off-Broadway Hit and Critics’s Pick laugh out loud annual holiday romp, is the perfect blend of Yuletide snark and sentiment, and has been compared to "The Carol Burnett Show", "The Kids in the Hall", "In Living Color", "Saturday Night Live" and Vaudeville. This multi-media holiday special has it all including classic Rankin and Bass Claymation inspired movies, musical parodies, and heartfelt holiday moments.
The Wallis & For The Record’s biggest, record-breaking hit returns this holiday season! The multimedia concert celebration of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time is back by popular demand, now as a not-to-be-missed Los Angeles tradition. The team behind LA’s award-winning series For The Record transforms The Wallis’ Bram Goldsmith Theater into an immersive cinema, where the modern classic written by Richard Curtis is reborn as a revolutionary stage and screen event. To tell the story, the film and live action seamlessly intertwine throughout the London setting. Iconic scenes on screen share the stage with an all-star cast of singers and a 15-piece orchestra, as they reimagine the film’s hit soundtrack including “Christmas is All Around” and “Trouble With Love." Love Actually Live is a first-of-its-kind, theatrical cinema experience.
WARNING: This production features theatrical haze effects, adult content, and brief nudity. It is recommended for ages 13+.
The San Fernando Valley Master Chorale is excited to bring back one of the most anticipated concerts of the season, our annual holiday sing-along concert! Joining us on stage this year will be the delightful San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus, under the direction of Sean Carney.
Led by Artistic Director Charlie Kim and accompanied by Bob Remstein, expect to hear your favorite holiday classics along with John Rutter's "Gloria" accompanied by a brass quartet. And lots of audience participation! Join us for a night filled with fun, music, and holiday cheer for the whole family. All ages are welcome.
Ugly Sweater Contest: Oh, and don't forget to bring your ugly sweater! This year SFVMC will give away free tickets for a future concert to the audience member who brings the ugliest holiday sweater.
The Merry Little Christmas Show - BroadwayWorld Critics’ Pick and StageSceneLA Award-winner Scott Dreier, star of last season’s acclaimed hit "Doris and Me," returns to The Colony Theatre with his holiday concert. Featuring special guest Kurtis Simmons and music director Andy Langham. Dreier will take audiences back to the feel of cherished, classic, holiday TV specials hosted by Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and others — paying homage while also providing his modern take with pop and jazz interpretations of holiday treasures. The performance will include holiday classics including "Sleigh Ride," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "O Holy Night," "I’ve Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm," "Merry Christmas Darling," and many more. This show will transport you back to your living room sitting around the fireplace telling stories and sharing songs of the season.
How did a nice Evangelical Christian girl from Arizona wind up doing a one-woman comical cabaret show at Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT) in Santa Monica? Audiences will laugh and maybe even sing along, as they learn the secrets of Anna Abbott’s dual life in her new solo show, "A Very Goyisha Hanukkah," playing two performances only at The Braid, JWT’s art and performance space.
The Group Rep presents A Twisted Christmas Carol, a world premiere comedy written by Phil Olson, directed by Doug Engalla, produced by Alyson York, a Texas-style spoof of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Talk-backs are after Sunday shows 12/21 and 01/04. Upstairs at the Group Rep on the second floor of the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601. The Upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode, Directed by Jerry Pilato & Erica Livingstone
Santa's Reindeer Tells All! With each deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer and seems to implicate everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself. Don't miss this expose of North Pole Naughtiness.
Starring David Janisch as Dasher, Eric Trigg as Comet, Christine McCoy as Dancer, Andrew Walters as Hollywood (Prancer), Mclain Parker as Cupid, Melanie Mino as Blitzen, Michael Adler as Donner and Kellen Gold as Vixen.
Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan returns to Catalina Jazz Club with his hilarious holiday show "Deck Them Halls, Y’All" for one performance only. Best known for his stand-out roles in "Sordid Lives," "American Horror Story," "The Help," as the beloved Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace" (for which he is currently shooting the final season), and most recently as Sid on the Fox series "The Cool Kids," Leslie Jordan has charmed fans for over four decades.
His hilarious holiday tales are not to be missed. Jordan’s special guest will be country-pop singer Brandon Stansell.
Los Angeles Times calls Impro Theatre “Amazing!” One of the funniest evenings as the troupe spins an entire play into comedy gold right before your eyes. Starting with an audience suggestion, the troupe creates completely improvised, full-length plays in the styles of the world’s greatest writers. Join us this holiday season for a hilarious comedy inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. Comic portrayals, cruel melodrama and heartbreaking tenderness explode onto the teeming streets of Victorian London. A fun and festive evening of comedy.
Laguna Playhouse brings back its holiday tradition! A Special, Stripped Down to the Abs, Musical Event! "The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf" at Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach!
With Special Guest Appearances by Broadway’s Nick Adams, jackbenny and more! Ho, Ho, Ho, you don’t want to miss this show!
Broadway stars Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages, Sweeney Todd) and Nick Cearley (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All Shook Up) return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped-down, mashed-up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello and an array of zany instruments.
BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are back in an all-new two-queen holiday extravaganza at The Montalbán!
After last year’s wildly successful "To Jesus, Thanks for Everything," Jinkx and DeLa return to the stage this holiday season in a high-spirited scramble to maintain your interest! DeLa is all sugar and Jinkx is all spice — but how do these two very different gals deal with the stress of the holidays? A little song, a lot of eggnog, and theatres full of people looking at them. Yup ... all they want for Christmas is attention!
Returning to Hollywood by popular demand, platinum-selling recording artist and Tony Award-nominated actor Sam Harris brings his new holiday show to Catalina Jazz Club for one performance only. Led by his longtime musical director Todd Schroeder, Harris will perform Broadway, pop, and holiday fare.
The Theatre School @ North Coast Rep presents "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Charles M. Schulz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer, and by Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson.
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees among everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but this proves to be a frustrating endeavor. When an attempt to restore the proper holiday spirit with a forlorn little Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to discover the real meaning of Christmas.
The Nutcracker from critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet,celebrating 25 years. The Nutcracker comes to life with this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage. The Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, and a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination. Meet the cast after the performance for photos and autographs. This is family entertainment at its best.
Experience the joy of the season as Jenny Wong, GMCLA’s interim Artistic Director and Associate Conductor of the LA Master Chorale, leads GMCLA in choral classics, timeless Christmas carols, a medley of hits from the beloved film Love Actually, Broadway bonanzas, and Mariah Carey’s anthem – it’s all you’ll want for Christmas. A Los Angeles tradition for the entire family, this concert will be truly Spectacular!
Curated by Performances à la Carte, Jazz ‘n Paz continues with its’ seasonal intimate jazz series showcasing some of Los Angeles’ finest jazz musicians. To ring in the holidays, the December concert, Carols of the Belles, features the vocals of the iconic Barbara Morrison, Jamie Perez, and Renee Myara, at Pasadena’s Neighborhood UU Church. In a jazzy program of standards and holiday favorites, the musicians behind the angelic voices feature Michael Ragonese on piano, James Yoshizawa on drums, Danny Janklow on sax and flute, and Luca Alemmano on bass...A Holiday Champagne Party will follow the concert and may be added to any concert ticket purchase online for an additional $12. The party will feature appetizers, desserts, champagne and non-alcoholic punch along with music, dancing, comedic holiday improv antics and capped off with a Holiday Sing-A-Long.
L.A.’s largest holiday spectacular celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019 is at The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Join this year’s co-hosts, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and actress Marissa Ramirez (Blue Bloods), for this free, three-hour holiday show featuring 25 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures that make up L.A. Once again, PBS SoCal will host a live broadcast of the event that has been a Los Angeles holiday tradition since 1959, while KCET will air the program twice on Christmas Day.
Legendary Cuban jazz trumpet player Arturo Sandoval, accompanied by his world-renowned band, will kick off this year’s celebration with a medley of holiday songs. Returning favorites include Hālau Keali’i o Nālani & the Daniel Ho Trio, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, gospel choir Greater LA Cathedral Choir, Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy and folklorico troupe Pacifico Dance Company. Some of this year’s newcomers include Latin folk band Cuñao, the dancers and drummers of African Soul International and a cappella group Street Corner Renaissance.
All-female, two-time GRAMMY award-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will team up with their “brother” band Mariachi Espectacular, and Jewish cultural revival band Mostly Kosher will share the stage with Urban Voices Project, a choir made up of men and women surviving homelessness on Skid Row. Those who can't make it to The Music Center on Dec. 24 can watch the live broadcast on PBS SoCal starting at 3 p.m., with the rebroadcast on KCET on Christmas Day from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., or online at pbssocal.org/holidaycelebration.
Center Theatre Group Leads With 20 nominations for their productions of Lackawanna Blues (5), and Linda Vista (4) at the Mark Taper Forum; Ain’t Too Proud (1) at the Ahmanson Theatre; and Dana H. (7), and Quack (2) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, along with Best Season. Fountain Theatre follows with 19 nominations for their productions of "Cost of Living" (9), "Daniel’s Husband" (6), "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play" (3), and Best Season., Geffen Playhouse Garners 18 nominations for their productions of "Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol" (8), "Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole" (8), "Mysterious Circumstances" (2), and "Black Super Hero Magic Mama" (1)., La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts garnered 14 nominations for their productions of "Singin’ in the Rain" (11), "Beauty and the Beast" (2), and "A Night with Janis Joplin" (1), and tied with the Pasadena Playhouse who received 14 nominations for their productions of "Singin’ in the Rain" (11), "Beauty and the Beast" (2), and "A Night with Janis Joplin" (1). And Sophina Brown gets 10 nominations for her production of "August Wilson’s Two Trains Running."
Ovation Honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement in areas that are not among the standard list of nomination categories, have been awarded to Romero Moseley (Music Composition for a Play, Hype Man: A Break Beat Play at Fountain Theatre, and Dillon Nelson & Erin Walley (Puppet Design, Argonautika, A Noise Within.)
During the 2018–2019 voting season, 278 productions were registered for awards consideration by 124 producing organizations, and 3,838 individual artists were evaluated. This year’s 272 voters cast a total of 6,462 ballots.
The 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards Nominations
Rachel Myers accepts her Ovation Award for Scenic Design (Large Theatre) for "Skeleton Crew" (Geffen Playhouse) at 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.
Sponsors of this year’s Ovation Awards are DOMA Development Corporation; DOMA Theatre Company; Requiem Media Productions, LLC; SE7EN Waves Entertainment, LLC; Venture Hills Entertainment, LLC; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; F&D Scene Changes LTD; Ken Werther Publicity; Bakers Man Productions; Rosebrand; Zodiac Entertainment, LLC; Perpetua Holdings, LLC; Behind the Mask, Inc.; and Millennia Development, Inc.
LA STAGE Alliance is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in greater Los Angeles. The LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, founded in 1989, are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles. Voters are LA theatre professionals who are chosen through a vigorous application process each year by the Ovation Rules Committee. More information can be found at www.ovationawards.com.