Voices from the Fringe: Singer/Performer Victoria Gordon

Making her Fringe debut this year is singer, actor and Los Angeles native Victoria Gordon, who is bringing her cabaret show to the Complex in Hollywood. The piece, entitled Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe, is a combination of musical performance and comedy.

In anticipation of her upcoming appearance, Ms. Gordon spoke with Better Lemons about her show and her all-around Fringe experience.

VICTORIA GORDON - LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGEBetter Lemons: You performed this show before, right? What’s different about this Fringe production?
Victoria Gordon: I did perform a version of this show before — in September 2018 at the Broad in Santa Monica. But I knew that wasn’t the finished version. As soon as I got the video of that show back, I started taking notes to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. And I used that to refresh and expand my repertoire, which also led me to write new monologues. At the end of the day, while some of the songs are the same, almost everything around them is different.

BL: And the music… How were the pieces selected?
VG: Everything came to me differently. I love musicals and listen to cast albums all the time, so sometimes, a song just hits me and I think, “I have to sing that!” That’s how the song “Another Round,” from Bright Star, ended up in the show - I was at the Ahmanson, watching the cast perform it, and I just knew I had to do it. Others are old favorites, like “It Might As Well Be Spring,” or characters I’ve dreamed of playing, like Mabel Normand in Mack and Mabel (that’s how I wound up with “Wherever He Ain’t,” one of Mabel’s big moments). And then there are the songs I never imagined singing, but someone else suggested and I quickly realized that they were right. “I Am What I Am” is one I never saw myself performing, but my sister told me I had to give it a try, and now it’s a cornerstone of my act — thanks, Natalie!

BL: How about the band? Did they accompany you in last year’s show?
VG: Two out of three, yes! I met my Musical Director-slash-drummer, Sam Webster, through two contacts: my arranger and a studio musician I trust. They both recommended Sam, so I contacted him and we hit it off right away. He brought in both my bass player, Chelsea Stevens, and pianist, Adam Bravo. Adam is new for this show. He wasn’t available in the fall, but I’m a huge fan already!

BL: Is this your first time at the Fringe? How are you enjoying the experience?
VG: This is my first Fringe as a participant. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I’m really thrilled to be part of it! I’ve met so many incredible people and learned so much about theater and performance. This is such a great and inclusive community.

BL: What makes “Live” a good fit for the Fringe? What can audiences expect?
VG: My show is a throwback. I’ve been describing it lately as an “old-school nightclub act,” back in the day when lounge singers were off-duty Broadway performers. It’s not something that many people my age do anymore, but it’s the only music I’ve ever wanted to sing, and I think Fringe audiences are used to less-than-expected offerings.

Audiences can expect to laugh a lot — usually with me, but sometimes at me—and to hear showtunes they know and love (or maybe a few they don’t know yet!). It’s also just a fun show. I modeled it after Bernadette Peters and Jane Krakowski’s shows, and what I love about them is that they’re just enjoyable shows, filled with entertaining stories and great songs. Nothing too dramatic or depressing; it’s a lighthearted but still touching show.

BL: Tell us a bit about your background.
VG: I grew up in Los Angeles, as did both of my parents, so all of my grandparents were very active in my childhood. My mom’s family was all musical; my dad’s family worked in TV comedy. Both sides were very accomplished, so I got to see what it really takes to be successful in music or entertainment. I grew up playing the violin, but later switched to singing, and haven’t looked back since! I always wanted to be an actress and singer, and got into writing in my teens. I started producing comedic film and TV projects for Amazon while still in college, and post-college, that became my full-time job. But when the opportunity to stage a solo cabaret came up, I jumped at the chance, and Victoria Gordon Live was born. It’s been a great way to put everything I know — performance, production, and live events — into practice at once.

BL: Since the Fringe is a collaboration, what other shows intrigue you?
VG: So many! I have a folder filled with sixty-ish Fringe flyers and they all sound like great shows. I am especially excited for Bunny the Elf, because Christi Pedigo has brought so much sunshine to Fringe this year; Leaving Prince Charming, because Lara Repko’s story is so personal and moving; and Batter Up! My Brain on Baseball, because the idea of a baseball trivia show is just so Fringe.


Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe plays June 6 (preview) through June 27 at the Complex Hollywood’s OMR Theatre, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd. Information and ticketing can be obtained on the Fringe site.


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and lot of show have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorite shows and when you click on each show, you will see all the critics and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your theatre adventure this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

I DIED TODAY

Public Comment, a New Musical

Still…The Play Inspired by 4:44

INGERSOLL SPEAKS – AGAIN!

Cabaret

Sam Shaber: Life, Death & Duran Duran

New Kid on the Block

LADY FARTS

My Mom Died When I Was 14 (A Comedy)

DAMAGED FURNITURE

Cowboy Mouth- Fringe Encore Award winner

The Color Collective

Pump Boys and Dinettes

The Crucible

RUMORS

ALL MY SONS

Coriolanus

Hostage

Our Very Own Carlin McCullough

Mexican Day

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

Lysistrata Unbound

THE HUMANS

100 Aprils


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and lot of show have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorite shows and when you click on each show, you will see all the critics and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your theatre adventure this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

Houses Without Walls

The Universe (101)

The 39 Steps

Skeleton Crew

DAMAGED FURNITURE

I DIED TODAY

Cowboy Mouth- Fringe Encore Award winner

Still…The Play Inspired by 4:44

INGERSOLL SPEAKS – AGAIN!

Cabaret

Sam Shaber: Life, Death & Duran Duran

The Color Collective

New Kid on the Block

Pump Boys and Dinettes

Coriolanus

RUMORS

THE HUMANS

Hostage

Our Very Own Carlin McCullough

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

Mexican Day

Lysistrata Unbound


A Conversation with June Carryl

I met June Carryl back in 2010 when the two of us were participants in Directors' Lab West. Her ideas about theatre mesmerized me because of their narrative specificity and rootedness in sound dramaturgical practices. In 2011, June was part of my playwright renaissance: I'd taken about 3 years off of writing in order to find out why I still told stories through this medium. When Son of SemeleTheatre invited me to present my play ONION CREEK, an Adam and Eve tale set in rural Texas, I immediately called June because she was an exciting theatrical mind whom I knew would direct the HELL out of that piece. My instinct was right – her work on the show was wonderful. But more importantly, I learned that she was a fellow writer, and her mentorship of my creative development process (as a burgeoning post undergrad finding his way in LA's theatre scene) helped mold the writer I am today.

But there is more – in addition to writing and directing, June is also a powerful actor, someone who knows how to really pull audiences into the center of a character's need through performance. Right now, June Carryl is performing in Celebration Theatre's production of CABARET. The show runs through August, and you can get tickets here: CelebrationTheatre.com

And if you know what's good for you, you will get some tickets. The show is amazing.

I saw the production, helmed by Celebration's co-artistic director Michael Matthew earlier this week, and - the old folks used to say – the show sent me, honey. Of course, I was gaga for June's turn as the now-alone but love-seeking boarding house owner Fraulein Schneider. She brings a tautly constructed, grounded, polished, and full-bodied interpretation to the character who, seeing limited options in light of changing politics in rising Nazi Germany, forgoes a chance at love in exchange for her perceived route to survival.

I was so proud of my friend June! And you know I had to get the skinny on the show. So you know I had to have a kiki with June. And better believe that I had to spill some of this tea for you guys, our lovely Better Lemons readers.

So, without further ado, here's my conversation with June Carryl:

Roger Q. Mason (RQM): This is your 13th collaboration with lauded director Michael Matthews! Wow, what an accomplishment!! How did you two start working together?

June Carryl (JC): In 2009 I got to do OTHER PEOPLE'S GARDEN GNOMES by Aliza Goldstein as part of The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Fesitval. Michael Matthews was the director. He was this lovely presence, fierce intelligence and vision, big brown eyes and just so kind and supportive. First day of rehearsal and before we went up he said, "Just say what you mean, and mean what you say." Part of my journey has been learning what that means.

RQM: You are a consummate artist - you act, write, and direct. How do these different disciplines inform each other as you make work?

JC: Honestly, I just want joy in my life and I get that telling stories. My mom achieved a lot in life, but I don't think she got to do what she really wanted. Writing is a way to take back some control. It's my way to vent, to talk about the world. I suppose directing is the same thing, though I get a real charge out of seeing an opportunity to shape words or a moment or a stage picture; acting is my excuse to play people who are just braver than I am, more messed up, but way more honest and vocal than I am.

RQM: Tell me EVERYTHING about CABARET - well, as much as you want. You're acting in the show, right? What's your role? What was the rehearsal process like?

JC: I get to play Fraulein Schneider who ends up betraying her heart for the sake
of survival. When Matthews told me he wanted me for this role, I was like, "You want me to WHAT?!?" It was really scary to think of myself as the betrayer. In life, you want to think you'll be stronger than that, but to get to be a full-fledged human being who is flawed and fails is just the greatest gift. Black bodies are so often portrayed as either wholly noble or demonic. We don't often get to be fully human. Matthews' rehearsals are really fun. He has a vision, a goal, but he leaves it to the actor to find their way there. You feel challenged and terrified and so supported. You're willing to fail because you're in such a safe space.

RQM: Why do we still need to see CABARET?

JC: We've cycled backward. We are staring fascism and genocide in the face and having to decide what direction we'll go with detention camps for immigrant children and an American president who wants his people to stand up and listen like Kim Jong Un. We are witnessing the last gasps of white supremacy, and not sure what happens next. This show asks the hard question of whether we go there before going in a better direction.

RQM: What is next for you?

JC: Don't know. I'm writing a musical with my singing teacher, Mia Milan who is AMAZING.