The Pasadena Playhouse To Host This Year's Drama Critics Circle Awards

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has begun the celebration of its 50th anniversary by announcing its nominations for the year 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018). The Awards will take place on Monday, April 8, 2019, at the historic Pasadena Playhouse, in Pasadena's Playhouse District.

Although the Pasadena Playhouse will be hosting the LADCC Awards for the very first time, returning once again is onstage host Wenzel Jones of IMRU, the LGBTQI Radio News Magazine on KPFK 90.7, as well as local composer-conductor Christopher Raymond as musical director for his second consecutive year. The entire production will be in the hands of stage manager Heatherlynn Gonzalez, veteran of more than a decade's worth of LADCC service.

One or more plaques will be presented in each of 18 categories and seven special awards will also be presented. Topping the nominations, the Antaeus Theatre Company has a total of 12 in various categories, including for the McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1993) for their productions of both "The Hothouse" and "The Little Foxes."A Noise Within has 10 nominations, including for Production for "A Picture of Dorian Gray." The Center Theatre Group has a total of nine nominations, including for Production of "Come From Away." Both the South Coast Repertory and East WestPlayers have seven nominations each. And the Celebration Theatre and the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, each with seven and six nominations, respectively, are uniquely both up for the McCulloh Award for Revival for their individual productions of "Cabaret."

Sergio Trujillo, is nominated for Choreography for both "Ain't Too Proud," Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre and "On Your Feet," Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Allison Dillard, is nominated for her work in Costume Design for both "Bliss, Or Emily Post Is Dead," Moving Arts and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," Celebration Theatre. Set Designer John Iacovelli, a winner of multiple LADCC awards for Scene Design, is nominated for "The Little Foxes", Antaeus Theatre Company.

The LADCC special award recipients are as follows:

  • The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre will be awarded to Echo Theater Company.
  • The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play goes to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, originally produced by South Coast Repertory.
  • The Kinetic Lighting Award for distinguished achievement in theatrical design goes to sound designer Robert Oriol.
  • The Milton Katselas Award for distinguished achievement in direction goes to Cameron Watson.
  • The Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community will be presented to Native Voices at the Autry.

More of the complete list of nominees for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for theatrical excellence in 2018 is here.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 S El Molino Ave, in Pasadena. Standard general admission tickets (a small service fee applies) are $40 and are now available. All purchased tickets will be held at Will Call and tickets are also available at the door. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show reception in the courtyard. The show will commence at 7:30 p.m. and nominees will receive instructions via email regarding how to claim complimentary tickets.

For all other inquiries, email: criticsawards2019@gmail.com.


The 29th Annual LA STAGE ALLIANCE OVATION AWARDS is Monday, January 28, 2019

The 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards is Monday, January 28, 2019. The black-tie ceremony will be held at DTLA at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on Broadway at 7:30 p.m.

The Ovation Awards, created to recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production, and design in the Greater Los Angeles area, is the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles where nominees, their peers, and all L.A. theatre-lovers will join in the much-anticipated annual celebration of a year of excellence in Los Angeles theatre, issuing a wide variety of awards in categories that recognize the plethora of theatrical talent in Los Angeles and their art.

The 33 categories, listed from Best Production of a Play (Large) to Lead Actor in a Play, to Lead Actress in a Play to Fight Direction, along with Ovations Honors Winners. The awards season is September through August and concludes with a tabulation to determine the nominees in each of the categories, with several award winners from last year returning this year as nominees.

Center Theatre Group, who won three Ovation Awards last year for their productions, has a total of 18 nominations this year–with “Soft Power” receiving 12 nominations–including a nomination for Best Production of a Musical (Large Theater) for both “Soft Power” and “Spamilton.” Center Theatre Group is also nominated for Best Presented Production for “The Red Shoes.”

The East West Players, who won Best Production of a Musical (Large Theatre) for “Next to Normal” last year, has a total 13 different nomination this year in various categories, including for Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theater) for “Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin” co-produced with Rogue Artists Ensemble, who also is nominated for 8 productions co-produced along with the East West Players.

The Actors Co-Op, who earned Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations” last year, is nominated this year for Best Season for “The 39 Steps,” “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” “A Walk in the Woods,” “A Man for All Seasons,” and “Violet.” Rubicon Theatre Company who won Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre) last year for “Gulf View Drive,” has two nominations this year both for Jane Anderson, who is nominated for Playwriting for an Original Play, and Krystle Simmons, who is nominated for Lead Actress in a Play, for “The Baby Dance: Mixed.”

Harry Groener who won last year for Lead Actor in a Play is nominated again this year for Featured Actor in a Play for his work in Antaeus Theatre Company's “Three Days in the Country.” Andrew Schmedake, who won last year for Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations,” Actors Co-op, is nominated this year for his work both on Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and After Hours Theatre Company's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Corwin Evans, who won Video/Projection Design (Intimate Theater) last year for SoulArt's “Plasticity,” is nominated again this year for Sacred Fools Theater Company's “The Art Couple” in the same category.

L-R: Bryan Bellomo, Clayton Farris & Brendan Hunt in “The Art Couple.” Photo by Darrett Sanders, courtesy of Sacred Fools Theater Company.

 

There are some very prolific individual nominees this year as well, including Multi-Ovation Award-winning Lighting Designer Jared Sayeg who is nominated once again, this year, for Lighting Design (Large Theater) for his work in “Our Town,” Pasadena Playhouse. Jeff Gardner, who won Sound Design (Large Theatre) last year for Center Theatre Group / The Echo Theatre Company's “Dry Land,” is nominated again this year for A Noise Within's “A Raisin in the Sun” and for Sound Design (Intimate Theater,) he is nominated this year both for Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and “The Hothouse.” Michael Mullen, who won Costume Design (Intimate Theatre) for Theatre Planners' “Siamese Sex Show” last year, is nominated once again this year for his work both in Celebration Theatre's “Cabaret” and Theatre of NOTE's “Year of the Rooster.”

The LA. Stage Alliance just recently moved into the new home on 514 Spring Street in the heart of DTLA, late last year, on the fourth floor of the historic building and theatre that is owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated by the Latino Theatre Company. The landmark Greek-Revival with its iconic columns was constructed in 1916 and designed by John Parkinson, along with and G. Edwin Bergstrom, the former who also designed many of the city's other landmark buildings in the area in the early 20th Century. The building later became the home to the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1985, keeping the original 50-by-100-foot stained glass ceiling, ornamental bronze cornices, and marble walls featured in its lobby.

A stunning landmark itself, The Theatre at Ace Hotel is located at 929 South Broadway, in Downtown Los Angeles. Valet Parking is available 24/7 and there are pay lots in the surrounding area.

UPDATED 1/28/19

Ticket sales are now closed.

The Ovation Awards can be watched LIVE at 7:30 p.m. here:

YOUTUBE:

https://t.co/cdbKOWssVf

FACEBOOK:

https://t.co/akHCItb0g3

Red carpet arrivals will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m.


Winners! Killers! Producers!: 'Celebration' Announces Its 2019 Season, 'Celebrating' Reading Series' 'Skin Like Milk'

Last updated: 12/6/18 12:15 a.m.

Celebration, under Executive Director Michael C. Kricfalusi, has announced its 2019 season of shows under the artistic direction of Michael A. Shepperd, making this season Celebration's 37th and the fourth in its home at The Lex.

The 2019 Season will open with the Los Angeles premiere of "Born To Win," written by Matt Wilkas and Mark Setlock, and Directed by Michael Matthews, and tickets go on sale today, Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

Starring Drew Droege and Wilkas, "Born to Win," tells the story of "Pinky Corningfield, who's always dreamed of her daughter winning the 'Supreme Queen.'" When newcomers to the child pageant circuit, Marge, along with her participating daughter, show up "to grab the glory," Pinky will stop at nothing to get that crown.

"I'm very excited about the fact that we are doing “Born to Win” [which] came out of our Celebrating New Works," said Shepperd. "[Celebrating New Works is] our program that we do once a month where we take a new or 'newish' writer and a newish play and we give it a stage reading to see if it can be part of our season.”

"Born To Win" opens Friday, February 15, 2019, and plays until April, 2019.

Also premiering is "The Secretaries" written by The Five Lesbian Brothers and opens April 2019.

'The Secretaries' is going to be an all-female cast, helmed by a female director and all-female team," said Shepperd. "Lighting design, set design, props, costumes, sound design – everyone is going to identify as female.”

"A killer comedy, 'The Secretaries,' chronicles the initiation of Patty Johnson as she lands the job of her dreams at the Cooney Lumber Mill in Big Bone, Oregon. But those dreams turn into bloody nightmares when she discovers the truth her co-workers have been hiding from her!," according to the synopsis. Written 20 years ago, this play is "as fresh as if it was written today in its skewering of feminist archetypes of the ‘80s and ‘90s."

"I'LL tell you when we're getting in too deep!” - The Producers

Celebration's Los Angeles intimate theatre premiere of "The Producers" with book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, and original direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, and directed by Matthews, will open June 2019.

"It's the first time the Celebration Theatre has gotten its hands on 'The Producers' and creates something spectacular in an intimate theatre," said Shepperd.

Winner of 12 Tony Awards®, two theatrical producers pull together a team of theatre wannabes, ne'er-do-wells, and misfits, and dream up a get rich scheme involving overselling "interests" in a Broadway play they're sure is destined to be a flop. Hilarity ensues when the show "unexpectedly turns out to be a massive hit!"

"The Producers" is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International and with StudioCanal.

Celebration is located at The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles, 90038. Tickets go on sale here for the season tomorrow, Wednesday, December 5, 2019, and be sure to check their Calendar for updated information.

Also, coming up next week, as part of the Celebrating New Works reading series, Celebration will present "Skin Like Milk," written by Ryan Fogarty, produced by Nathan Frizzell, and directed by Ryan Bergmann, in a one night only performance, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at the West Hollywood City Chambers.

"Skin Like Milk." Illustration poster courtesy of Celebration, Celebrating New Works.

"Skin Like Milk" centers in "Berlin, 1941. In a makeshift basement gay bar, Heinrich and Otto have just strangled a Nazi officer ... after hiding the body, guests arrive attempting to forget the destruction from last night's air raids. ... Emile, Heinrich's former lover, and his new interest, ... Horst, show up to share a drink and a bit of music with their friends. As the night unravels, the alcohol disappears and air raids resume, the men realize that their dark bar is no longer a refuge from the hateful world above."

"Skin Like Milk," plays once only, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 7:30 p.m. at The West Hollywood City Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood.

For "Skin Like Milk" only, admission is free, with donations gratefully accepted. Contact Celebration via email for more info, or call 323-957-1884.

Celebration is a community of artists dedicated to entertain, inspire, and empower with innovative productions that celebrate the LGBTQ community.

To become a member, purchase a subscription, or get single tickets for "Born to Win" or any Season 2019 shows, visit Celebration, contact via email for more info, or call 323-957-1884.

Updated 12/6/18, 12:15 a.m.: Date change, "Born to Win" opens on Friday, February 15, 2019.

Updated 12/5/18, 10:00 a.m.: - Name correction for Michael A. Shepperd with spelling in attributions corrected.

 


Stage Raw Announces its 2018 Theater Awards Nominees

The 2018 Stage Raw Theater Awards celebrate excellence on the Los Angeles stages in venues of 99-seats or under. This fourth annual edition includes productions that opened between January 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.
Stage Raw is a community funded professional journalism website that was created in response to the decline of arts coverage in local mainstream and alternative media.
A catered nominees reception and Stage Raw fundraiser party is being held at the The Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz, on Tuesday, July 24, 7 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $100 (which includes complimentary admission to the Theater Awards ceremony), in support of Stage Raw. All nominees are invited as complimentary guests of Stage Raw.
(Nominees include everybody whose name appears on the list below; all actors and understudies named in the program for all ensemble categories; all actors, understudies, directors, playwrights, stage managers, choreographers, designers and producers in the categories of Best Revival, Best Musical and Best Production; and in the category of Production Design: all producers, directors, and designers.)
The evening will include live music and performances by Burglars of Hamm; Cheray O'Neal; Padua Playwrights; and Kristina Wong.
At the nominees reception, there will also be a silent auction of drawings created for this event by Alan Mandell, Ken Sawyer, French Stewart, Vanessa Stewart, Richard Fancy, Jon Mullich, Jon Lawrence Rivera, Stephen Sachs, Simon Levy, Gary Grossman, Kristina Wong, Michael A. Shepperd, Ken Werther, David Elzer, Jaime Robledo, Leo Marks, Nike Doukas, Tom Jacobson, Kirsten Vansgness, David Melville, Jessica Hanna, Steven Stanley, Philip Littell, Mark Seldis, Katharine Noone, Tony Abatemarco, Ann Closs-Farley, Herbert Siguenza, Jules Aaron, and more.
The Awards ceremony is slated for Monday night, August 20, at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, hosted by Coeurage Theatre Company, directed by Jer Adrianne Lelliott, and celebrating the theme of “community.” Tickets are $30.
Tickets for both events can be found at Eventbrite.com/e/stage-raw-theater-awards-tickets-46961390784#tickets, or visit StageRaw.com and press the “2018 Theater Awards” tab.
The 2018 Nominees are:
FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
Guillermo Cienfuegos, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Bjørn Johnson, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Bjørn Johnson, Red Speedo, Road Theatre Company
Bjørn Johnson, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Edgar Landa, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Doug Oliphant, Br'er Cotton, Zephyr Theatre
Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN
Omolara Abode, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Nicholas Acciani, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
J. Walt Adamcyk and Hannah Beavers, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Benjamin Durham, This Land, Company of Angels
Corwin Evans, The Art Couple, Sacred Fools Theater Company
Hana Sooyeon Kim, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Hana Sooyeon Kim, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Yee Eun Nam, Br'er Cotton, Zephyr Theatre
Tom Ontiveros, The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
SOUND DESIGN
Joseph V. Calarco, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jeff Gardner, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Jeff Gardner, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Christopher Moscatiello, The Devil's Wife, The Skylight Theatre
Christopher Moscatiello, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
John Nobori, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Robert A. Ramirez, Master Class, The Garry Marshall Theatre
John Zalewski, I Carry Your Heart, Bootleg Theatre
LIGHTING DESIGN
Brandon Baruch, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
John E.D. Bass, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Elizabeth Harper, The House In Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Elizabeth Harper and Rose Malone, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Matt Richter, I'm Not A Comedian... I'm Lenny Bruce, Theatre 68
Pablo Santiago-Brandwein, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
Andrew Schmedake, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Andrew Schmedake, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Andrew Schmedake, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
COSTUME DESIGN
Wendell C. Carmichael, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Allison Dillard, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Christine Cover Ferro, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Ashphord Jackoway, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Terri A. Lewis, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Linda Muggeridge, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Michael Mullen, Fixed, Echo Theater Company
Lena Sands, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Jeff Gardner, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Kangaroo Rat (Tim Desrosiers and Anna Bell), Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Bernie Sirelson, Alysia Michelle James, and Elisa Rosin, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Surrija, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
CHOREOGRAPHY
Joel Daavid, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Joyce Guy, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Carolyn Katz, Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
Michael Marchak, Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Jen Oundjian, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Roman Pantoja, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Anne-Marie Talmadge, Alina Bolshakova, Leslie Charles Roy Jr., and the NMA Ensemble, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
MUSICAL DIRECTION
Jake Anthony, The View Upstairs, Celebration Theatre
Gina Belafonte, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Jennifer Lin, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Dylan Price, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Lyndon Pugeda, Honky Tonk Laundry, Hudson Mainstage Theatre
Dimitri Toscas, Master Class, The Gary Marshall Theatre
SET DESIGN
Nicholas Acciani, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Joel Daavid, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Justin Huen, This Land, Company of Angels
John Iacovelli, Bled For The Household Truth, Rogue Machine Theatre
John Iacovelli, El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
John Iacovelli, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
David Mauer, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Jeff McLaughlin, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Victoria Tam, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
SOLO PERFORMANCE
Giovanni Adams, Love Is A Dirty Word, VS Theatre
Alex Alpharaoh, WET: A DACAmented Journey, Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.
Bryonn Bain, Lyrics From Lockdown, The Actors' Gang
Keight Leighn, (A)partment 8, The ABC Project
Ronnie Marmo, I'm Not a Comedian, I'm Lenny Bruce, Theatre 68
Tina Preston, Don't You Ever Call My Anything But Mother, Open Fist Theatre Company
TWO PERSON PERFORMANCE
Martin Rayner & Martyn Stanbridge, Freud's Last Session, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Misty Cotton & Bets Malone, Honky Tonk Laundry, Hudson Mainstage Theatre
Tim Cummings & Brian Henderson, The House In Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Gary Patent & Dan Via, Plunge, Son of Semele Theater
James Eckhouse & Graham Sibley, Redline, IAMA Theatre Company
Alex Hernandez & Tonya Pinkins, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
SUPPORTING MALE PERFORMANCE
Noel Arthur, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Ryan Brophy, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Eduardo Fernandez-Baumann, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Harry Groener, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rob Nagle, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Jeris Poindexter, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Gabriel Romero, The Madres, The Skylight Theatre
Montae Russell, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Desean Kevin Terry, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Adolphus Ward, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
MALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Josh Clark, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Drew Droege, Die, Mommie, Die!, Celebration Theatre
Alex Elliott-Funk, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
Alex Fernandez, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Leo Marks, The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Roman Pantoja, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
Darrett Sanders, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
Joel Scher, Supper, Theatre of NOTE
LEADING MALE PERFORMANCE
Daniel Bess, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Benjamin Burdick, Bled For The Household Truth, Rogue Machine Theatre
Joe Hart, Stupid Kid, Road Theatre Company
Bruce Ladd, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Ben Martin, Walking To Buchenwald, Open Fist Theatre
Esau Pritchett, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Graham Sibley, Redline, IAMA Theatre Company
Adam Silver, Exit Strategy, The Los Angeles LGBT Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre
Desean Kevin Terry, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Dawn Didawick, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
Emily Goss, Forever Bound, Atwater Village Theatre
Ella Joyce, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Ciera Payton, King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Maya Lynne Robinson, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Maya Lynne Robinson, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Michaela Slezak,Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers, The Skylight Theatre
Cheryl Umaña, This Land, Company of Angels
Karen Malina White, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Christine Woods, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
FEMALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Anna Lamadrid, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Debra Jo Rupp, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Paige Lindsey White, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Corryn Cummins, Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers, The Skylight Theatre
Carolyn Hennesy, Master Class, The Garry Marshall Theatre
Margarita Lamas, The Madres, The Skylight Theatre
Nan McNamara,33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Jaimi Paige, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Ashley Romans, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Camille Spirlin, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Heidi Sulzman, Bugaboo and The Silent One, The Lounge Theatre
Miranda Wynne, Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
ADAPTATION
Nambi E. Kelley, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Mary Zimmerman, The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
PLAYWRITING
Giovanni Adams, Love Is A Dirty Word, VS. Theatre
Alex Alpharaoh, WET: A DACAmented Journey, Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.
Bekah Brunstetter, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Alessandro Camon, Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
Bernardo Cubría, The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
Leslye Headland, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
Jeremy J. Kamps, Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
Dan O'Brien, The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Evangeline Ordaz, This Land, Company of Angels
Marja-Lewis Ryan, Bugaboo and the Silent One, The Lounge Theatre
PRODUCTION DESIGN
Caught, Think Tank Gallery
Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
This Land, Company of Angels
Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
COMEDY ENSEMBLE
Bad Jews, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
The Hothouse, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Supper, Theatre of NOTE
With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
ENSEMBLE
33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Exit Strategy, The Los Angeles LGBT Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny, Greenway Court Theatre
Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
COMEDY DIRECTION
Lindsay Allbaugh, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Jennifer Chambers, The Cake, Echo Theater Company
Guillermo Cienfuegos, Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
Lisa James, El Niño, Rogue Machine Theatre
Jessica Kubzansky, With Love and a Major Organ, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Dana Resnick, Bad Jews, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Felix Solís, The Giant Void In My Soul, Ammunition Theatre Company
DIRECTION
Andi Chapman, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Gregg T. Daniel, Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, Caught, Think Tank Gallery
Carol Katz, Daedalus' Daughter, Bootleg Theater
Thomas James O'Leary, 33 Variations, Actors Co-op
Robert Mandel, Freud's Last Session, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Michael Michetti, A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Jaime Robledo, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Michael A. Shepperd,Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Annie Tippe, Cult of Love, IAMA Theatre Company
MUSICAL OF THE YEAR
Dessa Rose, Chromolume Theatre
Pacific Overtures, Chromolume Theatre
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre
REVIVAL OF THE YEAR
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Antaeus Theatre Company
King Hedley II, The Matrix Theatre
Les Blancs, Rogue Machine Theatre
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, After Hours Theatre Company
Rhinoceros, Pacific Resident Theater
A Streetcar Named Desire, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
Caught, Think Tank Gallery
The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, Sacred Fools Theater
Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
Rotterdam, The Skylight Theatre
Runaway Home, The Fountain Theatre
The Secret in the Wings, Coeurage Theatre Company
This Land, Company of Angels
Time Alone, Belle Reve Theatre Company
QUEEN OF THE ANGELS
Dolores Chavez
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Norman Lloyd


Audio Interview: The cast of “Dead Boys” at Celebration Theatre

Dead Boys - 2017 Best of Fringe award winner comes to Celebration! It's the end of the world. Two millennials trapped in the basement of their old high school. The only gay kid in school. And the guy who used to beat him up. Provocative, hilarious, and heartbreaking, Dead Boys is about two modern American young men who have no choice but to face fate, race, sexuality – and each other.*
Enjoy this interview about “Dead Boys” at Celebration Theatre, running until Jul 31st. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*Taken from the website


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.


Writer/Actor Matthew Scott Montgomery Mashing Up Disney Millennials With Seasoned L.A. Theatre-Goers

Expanded and polished, Matthew Scott Montgomery's multi-award-winning DEAD BOYS begins at the Celebration Theatre July 1, 2018. Matthew's one-act on two millennials trapped alone in their old high school basement morphed into a full-length dark, but comedic piece. Matthew most amiably agreed to answer my probing inquiries.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Matthew!

How did you originally come up with the premise of DEAD BOYS? You weren't in a trapped situation somewhere before, were you?

Well, it started because I love two-person shows! I got addicted to the idea of working on one after acting in a workshop of a two-person play called COROMANDEL, by Nick Johnson with EST LA. It seems like the purest form of acting to me - just two people for 80 minutes. There's no hiding! So I definitely set out to write a two-hander, and knew I wanted to tackle race and sexuality, and the first draft happened very quickly. I basically took a long weekend marinating with these two characters in mind and I just went with where they were taking me. And the "trapped" aspect and the bit-of-horror element that came along with it kind of happened organically. My personality is really upbeat and find myself doing comedy a lot, but underneath, I'm actually more drawn to dark side of things - and I love a good twist. One person who saw DEAD BOYS last summer called it a millennial Brokeback Mountain meets Moonlight meets 10 Cloverfield Lane, and that feels really apt!

Your 2017 production of DEAD BOYS won a number of awards. Can you give us a run-down of your various initial reactions to being notified of your honors (City of West Hollywood: One City One Pride Scholarship Award-winner, Best of Fringe, Encore! Producers Award, and a Diversity in American Theater Award finalist)?

The scholarship grant I got as part of WeHo's One City One Pride was TOTALLY unexpected and really exciting. That was also awarded before we opened, it was just based off of the script, so I thought, "Maybe I'm onto something here!" It definitely helped build anticipation to give us that boost of buzz before we had our first performance and I felt like I had a lot to prove to live up to that scholarship. At the same time, I didn't think ahead too much, mostly just focused on putting on the best show we could each performance at a time, so the fact that we got extended so many times thanks to the Encore! Award was a thrill. To be recognized by Fringe specifically felt very COOL, like I was at the cool table, and to be a finalist for Diversity in American Theatre was really special too. DEAD BOYS poses some tough questions and is really frank in the character's points-of-view, but it's actually a celebration of diversity; I'm really glad it was and is continuing to be seen as that.

This isn't your first dance at Celebration. You acted in revolver in 2013 at their former location on Santa Monica Blvd. Was revolver your first collaboration with Celebration?

revolver was my first time ACTING with them. DEAD BOYS is my first time co-producing with them and my first time on the Lex stage! I feel like I'm in great company with a lot of the actors and shows. I'm such a big fan of that have come before me. I love the whole team at Celebration and revolver was a lot of fun. When I did DEAD BOYS as part of Fringe, multiple people commented that it seemed like a good fit for Celebration, and I agreed. And I had been talking with Todd Milliner, who has worked on several shows there, for a few years about potentially working on something together. He and the literary director Nate Frizzell and one of our producers Tom DeTrinis have always been champions of my work and they're great friends; they came to see it last year, we stayed in touch about it and the timing worked out great. Tom and Jay Marcus, our other producer, are incredible and have been really enthusiastic about it.

Tell us what factors led you to exercise your creative chops at the Celebration.

I couldn't be happier that DEAD BOYS' first official home is at a place that is known for being a beacon in Los Angeles LGBT entertainment. The show has definitely evolved since last year - it was a one act then and now it's a full-length. I had invaluable help working on it in The Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre; Beth Bigler and the whole team over there really brought DEAD BOYS to life (pun intended). I consider both theaters homes of mine, but it was important to me to embrace the queer aspects of the story as much as possible, so Celebration was a perfect fit. Celebration is such a great name for the company because it's exactly that - celebrating all things LGBT. They do such respected and important work and are always telling colorful stories; I'm really honored to be co-producing with them.

When did you become a company member of Celebration?

2013 when I did revolver. I was hooked!

How do you address Celebration's four Michaels (Kricfalusi, Matthews, O'Hara, Shepperd) when they're in the same room? Nicknames? Last names? Michael #1, #2, #3, #4?

Ha, ha! GREAT question! Michael Kricfalusi is "Kric." Michael Matthews is "Michael Matthews." I'm not sure why this is, but for me; it's always the full name! Michael O'Hara is "O'Hara." And Michael Shepperd is "Shep." Please don't ask me to pick a favorite!

Did you grow up wanting to be an actor or a writer? Or both?

I've always wanted to be an actor, even if at the time I didn't know how to articulate that. Like the character Levi in DEAD BOYS, I didn't grow up in an environment with a lot of obvious outlets to act, so if you kind of trace back and look, that's what I was always trying to do. Writing came hand-in-hand with that a lot because I wanted to perform, but didn't know how to get started. So I'd write stuff for myself. One time in school, I wrote a musical for me and friends to do just in a classroom - guerrilla style - like we met there at 4PM and kind of just did it for ourselves. After working on TV for a few years, I was so surprised how many of my co-stars didn't do theater or know much about it, and I was like, "That's it! I'm taking you to a play so you can see what it's all about!" And they weren't always enthusiastic about that - but if I was in and/or wrote something, they were more prone to see it. So honestly, that's kind of what I did. So writing has always come from the immediacy of wanting to act.

Who were your writing idols growing up?

I'm a huge fan of Kevin Williamson and Joss Whedon. And R.L. Stine.

Would you say you have two distinctly different groups of fans - those of your Disney Channel shows and those of your Celebration and Del Shores work?

Ha, ha, I definitely think that's true. Doing YELLOW with Del was my big break really. That got me recognized by Disney Channel. I started working on the channel while the show was still running. Then, literally the day after it closed, I was full time working for Mickey Mouse for a couple years. It was a strange transition. I had a lot of grown, mostly gay men recognizing me around town for my theater work, and then overnight, it became mostly teenage girls recognizing me for the TV work.

Have the two groups ever mash-up?

Sometimes! Theater helps them mash-up actually. It's always really fun and means so much to me when fans of my work on Disney or people who follow my social media come to see me onstage. For some, DEAD BOYS was their first play they had ever seen. There were adults from the traditional theater world and young adults who know me from TV or Instagram/YouTube who travelled to see the show last summer and were there in the audience together. And I think they both identified with it in different ways, both equally rewarding. Because DEAD BOYS deals with the emotional fall-out of high school, I think millennial audiences can identify with it because of the freshness of that experience. Older audiences can appreciate the things that have never really changed about school and being haunted by it. There's something so volatile and intense, and sometimes sexy, and sometimes heartbreaking about high school that stays with everyone, I think.

Describe the evening at the LADCC ceremony in 2010 you won Best Actor for your role in Del Shores' YELLOW.

That was pretty surreal, one of the best nights of my life probably. I actually on set that day, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it on time to the ceremony. We were filming a scene where I got ketchup sprayed in my hair. I raced to take a shower in my dressing room as soon as we wrapped and barely made it on time. YELLOW was the most rewarding job. Del and the whole cast was really a family, so that night was a blur of pure love. I brought the award with me to work the next day to show a friend, and it was at our table read and our show runner asked me, "What was it that?" And I did a little show-and-tell. That felt cool. I was like "See! This was that thing I kept talking about!"

Any plans for taking DEAD BOYS on the road, or to another city?

You know I was just talking about that with Del Shores the other day. He thinks Palm Springs could be a good fit! I'm also a big fan of Diversionary Theatre in San Diego. I love Los Angeles and the theater scene here - when stuff is good here, it's REALLY good - and so I'm proud to be a part of the scene here for the time being. But I do want to share it with a lot of people, and I do have followers online who live all over. Any excuse to perform it anywhere, or to have it performed anywhere, is a gonna be a good excuse for me!

Can you share what your next script will be dealing with?

I have a couple ideas, and they're equal parts sexy and spooky. There may be a ghost involved... I told you I'm drawn towards dark side of stuff!

What reactions would you like the Celebration audiences to leave with after the curtain call of DEAD BOYS?

There's a part of the show that's in Spanish, and even though a good portion of the audiences may not speak the language, I think they'll "get" what's being said. Also, even though I mentioned the darkness in it and the logline is fairly dramatic, it's also a really funny show. Tragedy and comedy can be so close to each other. So I hope they laugh with, and fall in love with the characters like I have - they're both complicated and imperfect, and the show is a lot of fun. When we did it at Fringe, I was blown away by how different types of people identified with it in different ways. I had a friend who is a straight white woman that was very moved by it. I have a younger friend who is biracial and bisexual and she was very moved by it. And we've had a lot of return audience members who've brought friends. That has been a gift that's kept on giving.

Thank you again, Matthew! I look forward to seeing your BOYS.

No, thank YOU! Insert a "dead" pun here that's in REALLY good taste! I'll knock 'em dead? I don't know!

For DEAD BOYS ticket availability and schedule through July 31, 2018; log onto CelebrationTheatre.com


Ryan O'Connor Dishes on His VOTE'ng, PRAY-ing, & LOVE'ng

Actor and popular Los Angeles cabaret staple Ryan O'Connor will be bringing a new and improved edition of his VOTE, PRAY, LOVE to the Celebration Theatre for four performances only, beginning April 8, 2018. Directed by Tony Award-winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, VOTE, PRAY, LOVE will cover a little politics, a little personal challenges and a little Elizabeth Taylor. Ryan agreed to a friendly inquisition from me for some behind-the-scenes tidbits and some chuckles.

Thank you, Ryan for doing this interview.

I've seen you displaying your vocal and comic chops on stage at Rockwell in THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF MEAN GURLZ and UMPO HOME ALONE. Is Rockwell where you first connected with your director Marissa? You and she also co-hosted A Little New Music at the Catalina last year.

We've actually been friends for over 15 years. We met while she was doing HAIRSPRAY on Broadway. I was a young and hungry, struggling musical theatre actor. We both moved to L.A. around the same time and I had done a few things at Rockwell over the years. Then she came in for UMPO HOCUS POCUS, and I joined the party on MEAN GURLZ. Now we both consider it a home away from home, same way I feel about Celebration. In the show, when I talk about the friend whose guest room I lived in, it was hers! So, she was the natural director for the show. She knew it very well!

Is your title VOTE, PRAY, LOVE a play on Julia Roberts' 2010 flick Eat, Pray, Love? Or, maybe, the 2013 Bravo series Eat, Drink, Love?

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, is huge inspiration for me. When I applied for the job working on the Hillary campaign, I told the woman who hired me that this was my "Eat, Pray, Love" moment and it just sort of stuck. But I wanted a campaign element in the title, so I chose the word "VOTE." Besides, I already did a show all about food years ago. This is a very different story. I don't know that Bravo show! I'll have to look it up!

You're a self- admitted Elizabeth Taylor fan. Wasn't there any titles of her films you could have tweaked to use for this show instead? Ryan on a Hot Tin Roof? Who's Afraid of Virginia O'Connor? Ryan O'Patra?

Ha! Ha! Ryan O'Patra is hilarious!! My favorite Elizabeth movie is actually called Boom! It was a big flop with her and Richard Burton, an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, but it's fabulously campy and in a scene opposite a nearly dead Noel Coward, she wears this incredible gaudy headdress and white and gold caftan, that (spoiler alert!) may make an appearance in VOTE, PRAY, LOVE. I even have a rare Polish movie poster for it which is a drawing of a caftan made out of Elizabeth and Richard's faces. It's stunning. Some day I'd love to musicalize the film and actually play Elizabeth, but I don't know if anyone is banging down my door to produce that. Ha! Ha!

Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Mz. Taylor?

I never met Elizabeth. It's a great regret of mine. I remember being told she was wheeled in to The Abbey once when I was nearby, but she was already covered in throngs of gay men trying to get to her, and I just thought it best to leave her an icon I never met. I didn't actually realize the impact she had on my subconscious until after her death and then, even more evidently, during my divorce.

Will fans of yours experience the same VOTE, PRAY, LOVE at the Celebration that you put on last December at the Rockwell? Or will they be able to detect subtle (or major) changes?

I actually really hope that everyone comes back because I've made a ton of changes and it's so much better! Ha! Ha! It was really well-received, but it was definitely a cabaret show with guests. This time, I've taken the dramatic narrative a little deeper, flushed out the story into a concise takeaway and gotten some incredible actors to actually step in and play multiple roles - based on real people. I have Katherine Tokarz, Lindsay Heather Pearce, and Amber Liekhus playing actual women I met working for the Hillary Clinton campaign in Michigan. Plus some surprise stuff that everyone is really gonna like. I also have the incredible actor Alex Nee playing a character we call "Trouble." He's sort of the sexy, charming villain of the piece, playing multiple facets of, well… trouble. I've cut some songs and added some new stuff plus some actual scenes and less monologues and, truthfully, it's much more like an actual musical than a solo cabaret show. It's pretty exciting. I hope everyone comes back!

How long did you work as field organizer for Hillary's 2016 presidential campaign?

I worked as a Field Organizer for four months. From July through the November Election in 2016. That's where the bulk of the drama of the show comes in. It's about the strength I got from these incredible women I met there. As well as, the actual day-to-day of working for the campaign, and the highs of being certain we would elect the first female President of the United States, as well as, the incredible lows, like the Comey letter and, of course, Election Night.

Must have been difficult editing down the stories you accumulated of that time. How did you whittle it all down to fit into VOTE, PRAY, LOVE? You picked the Top Ten funniest incidents? What other criteria came into play in your Hillary material selection?

Yeah, basically. The humor comes from the absurdity of the situation mixed with the incredibly high stakes. I'm also somebody who will find the humor in absolutely anything. So, even a dramatic story like this, you can always trust that I am going to focus on the humor wherever I can. My hope is that by using humor I can help people sort of process and digest this time that most of us would rather not relive.

Can you share a Hillary incident that almost made it into your show, but didn't?

Great question!! Yes!! One of my favorites that I couldn't get in the show! One day, I was out knocking doors to remind people to vote and check people's voter registrations and make sure they knew their polling locations… daily business as usual for us. And this day, I was knocking doors in a retirement village, and this old man answered the door in a shirt and no pants. No underwear, nothing. He must have been 85, and he had a walker, but that didn't cover everything up. He then proceeded to invite me in, tell me about every Democrat he ever voted for, what he thought about gerrymandering in Michigan, and his position on every ballot measure - with no pants. And he never referenced it. He was completely lucid and so nice, but no pants. I didn't know what to do, so I just acted like it was normal. I resisted the urge to ask him to volunteer. Seemed a little risky.

I congratulate you on being in such a healthy place that you can mine laughs out of your previous health challenges for inclusion and exposition in VOTE, PRAY, LOVE. Soooo, would you proudly share with us your latest goals you've attained?

Ha! Ha! Wow! I never thought I'd get that question in an interview, but yes! I have been sober for two years and four months now. I've maintained my weight loss and even started running, if you can believe it! I also quit smoking six months ago, which was actually the hardest of all! So, now I just have a ridiculous Starbucks Cold Brew problem. It's bad.

Is your divorce going to make me laugh through your tears?

I hope it makes you laugh! And, if you need to cry, I hope it helps! I didn't talk about it until I had some distance. It was really hard. Everyone tells you it will be okay, and they're right. But when you're in it, (pause) it feels impossible and endless. I remember getting so much strength from Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher, Michael Ausiello, and other people who shared their super personal stories. Those people's books, movies, and shows gave me so much hope and if I can do that for anyone, it's all been worth it. Well, sort of. Ha! Ha!

Will you be covering your encounter with Oprah in VOTE, PRAY, LOVE, in which she chose you to be one of the ten finalists out of 19,000 applicants in her search for the next TV star?

I will. Sort of. It's kind of where I pick up the story. Like, here I was on top of the world, how did it all fall apart? I actually just made a big decision last night about something I want to put in the show and I'm really excited. I think it's gonna be cool. Oprah fans will be very pleased. Hopefully, Oprah will too!

If you had your druthers, and knowing all you do now about Hillary and Mz. Taylor, would you have ever wanted to have switch places with one or both of them? Or not?

Ohhh, that is a serious question!!! Hillary is currently wearing a lot of caftans, traveling the world, and seeing a lot of theatre. And no one had a more interesting life than Elizabeth. So, they're both pretty tempting. But, I actually have a pretty spectacular and interesting life. If I didn't, it would be so obnoxious to think anyone would want to hear about it for 90 minutes!

Can you give us a hint to some of the songs we might be hearing in VOTE, PRAY, LOVE?

I use almost entirely songs by female songwriters to tell the story. So, you're gonna get these stories told through the music and lyrics of women you know and trust, like Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox, Ani DiFranco, Whitney Houston, and a bunch more. I sneak a couple show tunes in there too, though, don't worry.

Thank you again, Ryan! I look forward to laughing and crying through your triumphs!

Thanks, Gil! I'm excited for you and your readers to see it!

For tickets to check out how much Ryan will be you laugh or make you cry at one of his four scheduled performances through April 16, 2018; log onto CelebrationTheatre.com


PRISCILLA's Jessica Hanna Making Outsized Theatre Magic Within Intimate L.A. Parameters

The Celebration Theatre will be presenting the Los Angeles intimate theatre premiere of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL as their second show of their 2017-2018 season, beginning February 10, 2018. We had the opportunity to chat with a die-hard, creative contributor to the Los Angeles Theatre community, Jessica Hanna, who just happens to be directing this huge extravaganza in the tiny, but always efficient Lex Theatre.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Jessica!

You have worked with a number of Los Angeles theatres, especially Bootleg Theatre which you co-founded. What magnetic forces drew you to The Celebration and PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL?

I've been a fan of Celebration Theatre for some time, but hadn't had the chance to work with them. So when Michael Shepperd asked me to direct PRISCILLA... well, it's PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL at Celebration Theatre, how would that not be a fantastic project? I was honored they brought me on and I'm having a fantastic time making it. PRISCILLA is about transformation. All of the characters, even the bus, go through some sort of transformation on the outside and in. We are living in a time of transformation, which isn't easy, but it can be glorious. And in this case, sparkly. The stage version is lavish with a very large cast and, well, the titular character is a bus, so the puzzle of how to make this epic journey story in an intimate theater also excited me. Working within parameters seems to be something I thrive on. We have to find ways to tell the story that work on the scale of the space without losing the surprise and delight built in to the show. We have a great team of collaborators in the room and I'm very excited about what we've found so far and can't wait to see what we have on February 16.

I scored an early screener of the 1994 film, and I must have watched it with friends at least twenty times within the first three months I had it. Were you first familiar with the film? Or the stage musical that began in 2006?

I never saw the stage version, but the movie was striking when it came out. The images and story were fierce and groundbreaking. It helped to create change in Western culture's perception and feelings about gender. Plus, it had amazing costumes, super fun music, and at the time, was a window into another country and culture that I didn't know much about and found totally exciting.

As a multi-creative, did you want to just sink your teeth into PRISCILLA then? Which creative aspect of PRISCILLA did you want to tackle? Or did you simply enjoy it as a 'civilian'?

Well, when I saw it, I was a just a child (ahem). So it never occurred to me that it would be something I could work on. When I heard it was a musical, all I could think was, it has to be a giant show because it has to have a bus in it, right? How do they do that? A lot of the theater work I've made or been part of making, has a flare or spectacle aspect involved. So the challenge of making a giant show in an intimate setting means figuring out how theater magic can create spectacle in a small space. My theater tastes run the gamut from simple and small to giant costume shows. This one lands more on the giant costume side. Yet, at its heart is a simple story of being true to yourself, facing your fears, and finding support and acceptance with friends and family.

The movie is iconic for many artistic reasons, but also, because it was groundbreaking. We wouldn't have RuPaul's Drag Race today without it. PRISCILLA is set in the 90s and we are working hard to pay homage, but not make it a copy or a dated period piece. We're reflecting where we are now within a period piece. For instance, the three Queens (Tick, Bernadette and Adam) all represent different eras of drag to me. Bernadette is the earlier Les Girls style - more in the style of burlesque. Tick is the late 70s/80s avant-garde drag of early RuPaul, and Adam is closer to us now as gender becomes more fluid. I think, or I hope, by following these ideas, we'll end up with a very relevant show that reminds us where we came from and encourages us to keep progressing forward.

Any particular moments really register with/touched you?

Tick's relationship with his son or his finding a relationship with his son always moved me. Remember this was 27 years ago, so the idea that a gay drag queen would or could be married and have a child was still very taboo. To watch Tick fear that his son would reject him, and then see that who he is, is exactly who his son wants and needs, was deeply moving. And, of course, watching Bernadette kick ass against bigots was fantastic to watch. Still is.

The movie itself was such a convergence of magical talents - songs, costumes, performances, sweeping fabric atop a giant high heel atop a pink bus, ping pong balls. What can the Celebration Theatre audiences expect to see in their tiny, but so-efficiently-used space?

They're going to get all that and, oh, so much more. The space is going to be packed with joy. And sparkles. And heart. I hope that audiences will be jumping in their seats, overcome with the creativity on the stage, fighting the urge to sing along, and in the next moment find themselves moved by the beautiful relationships and the friendship and acceptance the Queens find. Celebration always makes the most of their space and this show will carry on that tradition. We have a spectacular team of theater magic makers and they are employing all their tools. I hope that there will be a lot of surprise at what we have created.

Aside from the aforementioned tiny space of the Celebration, what challenges did you have to deal with and overcome in mounting PRISCILLA there?

Working within parameters causes creative choices that would never have been thought of if the space were giant and the budget unlimited. We must be creative in order to figure out how to tell the story the way we want within the parameters. There have been challenges in figuring out how to scale the cast size down to something workable for the space. How to then schedule rehearsals with a large cast of working actors is also a bit of a dance, always is. I love ensemble theater work and I strive to make space for the ensemble to find each other, which is difficult when you have a very limited rehearsal time and a LOT of material to learn quickly. But we were able to take a little time to do some ensemble work that really helped the group gel and grew their excitement about working with each other. And when working in a small space, cultivating excitement and awareness of each other makes a huge difference in focus that permeates the stage and effects the audience in beautiful ways.

Have you worked with any of this cast and crew before?

I've worked with a few of these artists, but most are new to me, which I love. I'm always excited to meet talented strangers! Los Angeles is teeming with amazing artists. I feel privileged to have opportunities to get to know and work with more of them.

I've never directed Tad Coughenour (Bernadette), but he has been in a couple shows I've produced. And I've been a fan of Gina Torrecilla (Marion) and her work at Celebration, so that's been a treat to work with her. Becca Kessin sound designed a show I produced at Bootleg years ago, but we hadn't found another project to work on until this. And Brandon Baruch, the lighting designer, and I have a long and fructiferous history of collaboration and we're having a ball on this one.

You have contributed to the theatre community using many of your various talents. Which gives you the most satisfaction - hearing the audience direct responses to your own performance onstage? Or sitting in the back of the house listening to the audience respond to the combination extension of your talents?

Sitting at the back of the house - or if a space has a vom, I love to watch & listen from a vom.

Wait, Jessica! Sorry to interrupt your train of thought, but what's a 'vom'?

The 'vom' is an entrance or aisle into a theater - comes from Ancient Rome, I think, when that aisle or hall out of the theater led to the vomitorium. You can stand in the vom and not be seen by the audience.

My new word of the week - 'vom.' Can't wait to use it. "I was standing in the vom on my way to the vomitorium and..." I digress, back to you, Lovely Lady.

I actually have a hard time sitting in an audience during a show I've directed. The energy I get from bearing witness to an audience's reactions to my collaborators performances and ideas is moving. Literally. I love hearing/feeling an audience say, "Yes!" and take the ride with the company. That's the exciting part when I'm onstage or off. Nothing like an audience saying, "Yes! I'm in. What happens next?!"

Since co-founding Bootleg Theatre in 2006, what growth have you noticed in the Los Angeles theatre scene?

You got another few pages of space? The growth has been astounding really. In the artists and the levels and variations of storytelling. L.A. is vast, and there is space for all different kinds of theater artists and their interests. And, one could argue, more importantly the audiences have grown. There is an interest in live performance in the city that feels different. Maybe it's because of the times we live in, and the technology that isolates us; but more and more I see ALL kinds of people out seeing art. Wanting to have a group experience that illuminates their humanity. Audiences all walks of life with different interests. Angelenos are craving experience. We are adventurous by nature, that's how many of us ended up here in the first place. We followed our interest, our dreams. Dared ourselves. And you can see it in the cultural landscape of the town. So much new work being incubated. Retelling of old stories in fantastic ways. Artists seem to feel a safety here to express, to attempt their wildest dreams. We encourage each other to reach because that's why we're here too. I'm gonna really start waxing poetic here soon. I can talk about theater and art for hours. It's my favorite subject.

One more thing on this topic, there has been an energizing in the L.A. theater community in the last few years, as many of us were forced to more clearly define what our theater scene has been, what it is and what we want it to become. It is a difficult and sometimes infuriating process, but it has caused conversation, collaboration and creative solutions. And I hear more pride in what we create and how we create it than ever before. It's an exciting time to be an artist anywhere, but especially in Los Angeles.

As one who's been in and around the Los Angeles theatre community, what do you see as its status in the next five years?

I think it will continue to grow. The theater that's made here will be exported more with tours of L.A.- based productions and scripts developed here in L.A. being picked up by regional theaters. Busting the myth that L.A. isn't a theater town. New plays will continue to be developed here, as I don't see the small screen giving up on all the amazing playwrights they're hiring lately. And those playwrights are based here and want to make plays. And the plays they are writing and will write will reflect the diversity of L.A., and make them more accessible in more places outside of L.A. National New Play Network rolling premieres will become more prevalent. What's really going to be key, I think, to the continued growth of the L.A. theater community is support, not just financial (though that's always welcome), from the city and state. I would love to see the city put more effort into promoting the theater and live performance scene as an asset, a glorious facet of an exciting city. Finding ways to get more young people interested in theater and art early. Helping artists make spaces that encourage collaboration and conversation that will energize all Angelenos.

Next ten years?

Ten years from now, L.A. will all be gearing up for the Arts Festival that I hope will be happening in tandem with the Olympics that summer. The city will find exciting ways to highlight and celebrate local artists, as well as, bring in some international artists, hopefully from Latin and South America. And by that time, I hope we have at least two new midsize theaters that will be supporting the growth of shows year-round by local artists. The larger houses will be casting and hiring a majority of local artists. Work will highlight diversity and give voice to those without equality more and more, because that's what audiences want to see. And since we're dreaming about the future, the city will have at least ten well-appointed spaces around town that they rent for theater and live performance for $1 a year.

What do you see for Jessica Hanna in the next five, next ten years?

Lots and lots of theater making. Continuing to allow my interest to dictate what I work on. I have a couple stories I'd like to tell in the television format as well. I will be touring theater pieces that I've directed, outside of L.A. and outside of the country. Being hired to direct outside of L.A. Working with artists all over the world, yet always being based in L.A., 'cause I mean, the weather's pretty damn amazing. And as stated above, I love this L.A. scene. I will have created an incubator space for artists of all mediums to collaborate, develop and present their work - including my own. And I will be a part of whatever arts component is happening with the Olympics. Working to highlight local artists and raising the profile of Los Angeles theater.

Thank you again, Jessica! I do so look forward to reliving my Australian road trip on the pink bus through your eyes!

You're so welcome, Gil!

To check ticket availability for Celebration Theatre's PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL running through March 25, 2018; log onto CelebrationTheatre.com


THIS IS NOT EMMA STONE'S "BOULDER CITY"

Jimmy Fowlie as Mia Dolan at the Celebration Theatre

SO LONG BOULDER CITY by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black, performed by Mr Fowlie and directed by Mr Black

The title of this meta-comedy will be immediately recognizable to any avid fan of Damien Chazelle's film LA LA LAND.  In the film, Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone (who won an Academy Award for her performance), writes herself a one-woman show called "So Long Boulder City" in a desperate attempt to boost her faltering career.  Only 9 people show up - none of whom is her boyfriend Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling.  However, her ploy works out better than she ever expected, since one of the attendees is a high-powered casting agent.

All of this is such far-fetched nonsense - as I wrote about in one of my first columns for this website - that it seems to be crying out for lampooning, and this show by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black more than fills the bill.  While not everything works, the parts that are funny are howlingly so - as in one bit that features Abraham Lincoln's niece.  Personally, I could see anothere way to go with this parody, that would hone closer to the character of Mia Dolan and evoke Ms Stone's performance more acutely.  But this broadly farcical approach works too, and Mr Fowlie is a hoot as an untalented LA actress who is too in love with herself and her "dreams" to even notice how terrible a performer she really is.

I highly recommend this if you want to laugh your ass off at one-person shows in general and at the LA entertainment industry scene in particular.  But it's better if you know the source material well - or can go with someone who does.

The fun continues at Celebration Theatre until November 6th.  But if it keeps selling out the house, as it's been doing... do I hear extension?


THREE QUICK HIPSTER TIPS FOR THE WEEKEND

As usual, there's so much going on in the SoCal area this weekend, including a dangerous fire (try to avoid that).  For those who want a memorable experience at the theater, here are 3 options - all have some humor in them, though only one is a laugh out-loud comedy.

 

George Wyner and Richard Fancy are brothers in "Daytona". Photo: John Perrin Flynn

DAYTONA by Oliver Cotton, directed by Elina de Santos

There are so many great older actors in Los Angeles, and far too few plays that really give them anything to perform.  But Daytona at Roguemachine has three terrific roles, which are inhabited to the hilt by George Wyner and Sharron Shayne as a long-married couple and Richard Fancy as Mr Wyner's long-absent brother, under the pitch-perfect direction of Elina de Santos.  The play takes place in Brooklyn in 1986, where Joe and Elli are preparing for their dance competition the next evening, a hobby they've cultivated for the past 15 years.  Then Elli goes out to pick up her dress from her sister, where she will also spend the night.  Suddenly the downstairs buzzer sounds.  Joe is shocked to hear the voice of his brother Billy, who he hasn't heard from for the past 30 years, and whose entrance will shake up the easy-going world of Joe and Elli.  I completely agree with Kathleen Foley's review in the LA Times that the play has some major problems, most of which crop up in the Second Act, when the writing begins to waver and drift.  But, as Ms. Foley asserts, the actors couldn't be better, and their moment-to-moment character work is thrilling to watch.  Certainly Richard Fancy - who I've seen in numerous shows at Pacific Resident Theatre and elsewhere around town - has never seemed more focused and relaxed, having the time of his life.  This is a play and a production that will likely stay in your mind long after the houselights have come up.

UPDATE: DAYTONA has to close earlier than expected, on Monday October 16, but Roguemachine is looking to move and reopen it, so your support is essential.

Karen Finley in the The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery (Photo: Carolina Restrepo)

THE EXPANDED UNICORN GRATITUDE MYSTERY by Karen Finley at Redcat

Karen Finley, the author and performer of the one woman show at the Redcat in DTLA for this weekend only, is herself something of a unicorn on the American performance art scene, part stand-up comic, part Oracle at Delphi.  She came to public prominence in the early 1980s as one of the NEA 4 - 4 performance artists of highly political and controversial works who had received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, much to the disgust of conservative senator Jesse Helms.  She has continued to develop her work far out of the mainstream (by choice), using sexual imagery in unexpected ways (just google "Finley yams" and "Finley chocolate" for  more detailed accounts) to bring attention to the glorification of rape and other acts of misogyny in the central nervous system of American life.  Pretty much alone among her peers, she has managed to maintain her integrity and develop her metaphors in a series of performance art pieces and books and recordings.  That alone would provide a good reason to catch her new show at Redcat, if you can still score a ticket.  But this is something different than I've seen from Ms. Finley before.  (I caught both her yam and her chocolate performances.)  There is no nudity this time - that's a first, at least in my limited experience.  There are three sections to her performance, and the first two are funnier than anything I've seen from her.  These satirize American consumerism and American politics, respectively.  In the political section, she takes on Hillary Clinton, Trump and their campaigns, to devestating effect.  The third (and most powerful) section is Karen Finley being Karen Finley - dispensing with the clown costumes and the wigs and assuming the role of Cassandra the Seer, peering poetically into the darkness of the American soul.  What she sees is dark indeed - a hollowness which has to be filled up with things, a death-wish that yearns for mass destruction.  Her performance is so dense with references and layers of meaning that it is difficult to take in in one sitting.  On the other hand, who knows when you'll get another chance?

Jimmy Fowlie as Mia Dolan at the Celebration Theatre

SO LONG BOULDER CITY by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black, performed by Mr Fowlie and directed by Mr Black

The title of this meta-comedy will be immediately recognizable to any avid fan of Damien Chazelle's film LA LA LAND.  In the film, Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone (who won an Academy Award for her performance), writes herself a one-woman show called "So Long Boulder City" in a desperate attempt to boost her faltering career.  Only 9 people show up - none of whom is her boyfriend Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling.  However, her ploy works out better than she ever expected, since one of the attendees is a high-powered casting agent.  All of this is such far-fetched nonsense - as I wrote about in one of my first columns for this website - that it seems to be crying out for lampooning, and this show by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black more than fills the bill.  While not everything works, the parts that are funny are howlingly so - as in one bit that features Abraham Lincoln's niece.  Personally, I could see anothere way to go with this parody, that would hone closer to the character of Mia Dolan and evoke Ms Stone's performance more acutely.  But this broadly farcical approach works too, and Mr Fowlie is a hoot as an untalented LA actress who is too in love with herself and her "dreams" to even notice how terrible an actress she really is.  I highly recommend this if you want to laugh your ass off at one-person shows in general and at the LA entertainment industry scene in particular.  But it's better if you know the source material well - or can go with someone who does.

 


Drew Droege Dishes on His Many Faces Leading to His Latest of Charles Busch's Angela Arden

An avid, frequent, and popular staple of in Los Angeles theatre scene, Drew Droege adds to his impressive repertoire of female characterizations with his latest role as Angela Arden, the role Charles Busch wrote and originated in his DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! Drew will be high-camping it up at The Celebration Theatre beginning February 10th.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Drew!

My pleasure! Thank YOU!

You will be taking on Charles Busch's iconic role of Angela in his 2007 cult classic DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! at the Celebration Theatre. When did you first become aware of Charles Busch?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. However, I had a very well-worn Samuel French catalog and stumbled onto the title PSYCHO BEACH PARTY. I ordered it and immediately fell in love. I desperately campaigned for my high school drama club to produce it, but they had just canceled prom because of freak dancing. So obviously, it was never approved. Instead, we just performed an evening of original and clean poetry. 

Have you seen Charles Busch perform live?

Yes! I got to see him in his play THE THIRD STORY at La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. I was playing his role in RED SCARE ON SUNSET in LA at the time, so the cast drove down to see him and meet him. He is poisonously hilarious to watch live. 

What were your preparations for this role of Angela?

I've watched several Bette Davis, Lana Turner, and Susan Hayward movies to get into the mindset of these women and into the style we're playing. Angela is a blast, because she's equal parts washed-up, drunk, raunchy, vulnerable, glamorous, vindictive, and every inch a STAR! I think it's truly Charles' best character.

You are a fixture of LA Theatre, frequently appearing @ the LA LGBT Center, the Rockwell, Casita del Campo and Celebration. Which gets your creative juices up more, performing live theatre or TV shows and podcasts?

I love doing all of them because they all work different muscles. There's nothing like performing in front of a rowdy LA crowd - I feel so lucky that I get to do stupid fun shows. And, Oh, My God! We all need to get together and laugh - now more than ever. But TV and film are satisfying because I can be a piece of something bigger and try to be somewhat real. And podcasts are just pure raw, sobbing, naked honesty that I also find myself needing now more than ever.

Do you prefer tackling a female role (Miranda Priestley in UMPO THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Velda in UMPO TROOP BEVERLY HILLS, Mellie Moleson in PRAIRIE-OKE!) to a male role (BRIGHT COLORS & BOLD PATTERNS)?

I always just look at the character's point of view first. To me, their gender is less interesting than what drives them. I hope that I get to play both men and women for my entire life.

UMPO producer Kate Pazakis told me, once you put on Miranda's wig, you became her. Do costumes make the woman for you?

Oh, my god, absolutely. I have always been that actor who screamed for his rehearsal shoes! And wigs are powerful beasts - put them on and just say, 'Yes!'

Did you 'become' Angela when you first tried on her wig?

I'm still trying wigs, and I'm still finding Angela, so... 

You are infamous for your Chloe Sevigny parodies. What made you pick Chloe in particular to 'do'?

I put on a wig for something else and realized I looked like her. And I've long been fascinated by Chloe and her world. And she has been the gift that has kept on giving. And I debuted her in a sketch comedy show at Celebration Theatre - 15 years ago!!!

What was growing up in South & North Carolina like?

It was perfect for me. Everyone is a drag queen or a sketch character there. And I had a family and very close friend circle, and it was always about love and laughter and FOOD!

Was being funny your defense mechanism?

Yes. And pretending to be possessed by Satan - that created a necessary fear that kept the Carolina bullies at bay. 

When did you decide you could make a career out of being funny?

I'm still figuring that out. 

Who were your comedy idols growing up?

Carol Burnett, Divine, Jan Hooks, Madeline Kahn, Goldie Hawn, Kevin Kline, The Kids In The Hall, The State, Laurel and Hardy, and my Dad. 

Was being part of The Groundlings a major stepping stone for your career? Absolutely! First of all, the training is unparalleled, because it made me create original characters. It made me stop waiting for the phone to ring and create my own career. And it's never about jokes at The Groundlings - it's about what's true to the people you are playing. I was fortunate enough to make it through their program and get to perform there and work with the funniest people in the world. My first legit TV job was on RENO 911!, thanks in many ways to The Groundlings. And my most recent TV job was doing four episodes of IDIOTSITTER, created by and starring brilliant Groundlings friends Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse. I will be forever grateful.

Did you find your NY audience reactions different or similar to your LA audience reactions to your BRIGHT COLORS?

Every audience was wildly different. I guess in general, New York has less regard/respect/reverence for celebrities, so they understood the ridiculous tragedy of my character's obsession with them. Truly, that show is my favorite thing ever, ever, ever to perform. 

What's in store for Drew Droege in 2017?

I'm going to be shooting TVLand's brilliant new Heathers series and writing sporadically for a Netflix show - and hopefully bringing BRIGHT COLORS & BOLD PATTERNS back to New York soon. It all feels so exciting and exhausting at once! Come see DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! The cast is amazing and our director Ryan Bergmann is a genius. We're having a blast, and so will you! 

Thank you, Drew! Looking forward to seeing you transformed into Angela.

DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! plays through March 26, 2017. For ticket info and further info, log onto www.celebrationtheatre.com


Ovation Award Winners 2016!

Last night was the 27th Annual Ovation Awards hosted by Alexandra Billings and held at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Celebration Theatre had a strong night taking home 7 awards. Looks like taking a bus to the awards was a great idea as the company had a lot to celebrate.
Host Alexandra Billings was a delight and gave a passionate speech about how now is the time to march. She also brought down the house with her rendition of Creep by Radiohead. Executive Director Steven Leigh Morris gave a wonderful speech about empathy. Luis Alfaro had us all up on our feet shouting "I AM". The overall night had a political tone to it, but it wasn't one of hopelessness and desperation. It was a call to action highlighting the transformative power of live theatre.
The winners in each category have asterisks *** by them. Congratulations to all the winners!

Best Season

CELEBRATION THEATRE
Bootycandy
Dream Boy
The Boy From Oz
GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE
Barcelona
Big Sky
Guards at the Taj
In & Of Itself
Outside Mullingar
Sex with Strangers
Stage Kiss
These Paper Bullets! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
Thom Pain (based on nothing)
***LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER
Fool for Love
HAM: A Musical Memoir
Hit the Wall

Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre)

AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
HONKY
Rogue Machine
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company
***DRY LAND
The Echo Theater Company

Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre)

ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
***GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court

Best Production of a Musical (Intimate Theatre)

***THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Best Production of a Musical (Large Theatre)

AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Best Presented Production

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER
Center Theatre Group
***1984
The Broad Stage
JANE AUSTEN UNSCRIPTED
The Broad Stage

Acting Ensemble of a Play

ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
***THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
FLY
Pasadena Playhouse

Acting Ensemble of a Musical

***THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners

Choreography

ANNIE YEE
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***JANET ROSTON
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
TASHEENA MEDINA
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
DANA SOLIMANDO
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
JOHN FARMANESH-BOCCA
TEMPEST REDUX
Odyssey Theatre Company & New American Theatre

Music Direction

BRYAN BLASKIE
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
PATRICK SULKEN
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
DAVID O
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***TODD SCHROEDER
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center
GERALD STERNBACH
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale

Book for an Original Musical

ROBERT HULL & CAROLINE SHERMAN
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MO WILLEMS
ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S: “WE ARE IN A PLAY!”
MainStreet Theatre Company
***MICHAEL SHAW FISHER
SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT
Orgasmico Theatre Company

Lyrics/Composition for an Original Musical

***REBEKAH ALLEN
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
DEBORAH WICKS-LA PUMA & MO WILLEMS
ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S: “WE ARE IN A PLAY!”
MainStreet Theatre Company
MICHAEL SHAW FISHER
SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT
Orgasmico Theatre Company

Playwriting for an Original Play

NANCY KEYSTONE
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
STEFAN MARKS
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
JULIE MYATT
JOHN IS A FATHER
The Road Theatre Company
JASON WILLIAMS
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company
ERIK PATTERSON
ONE OF THE NICE ONES
The Echo Theater Company
***LUIS ALFARO
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court
JASON WELLS
THE ENGINE OF OUR RUIN
The Victory Theatre Center

Direction of a Musical

***MICHAEL SHEPPERD
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
OANH NGUYEN
A CHORUS LINE
Chance Theater
BRIAN KITE
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
NICK DEGRUCCIO
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
BILLY PORTER & KEN SAWYER
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Direction of a Play

ALAN MANDELL
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
JOSEPH CALARCO
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
JERRY KERNION
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
TRIP CULLMAN
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
GIOVANNA SARDELLI
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***KEN SAWYER
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
KATHARINE FARMER
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company

Lead Actor in a Musical

ANDREW BONGIORNO as Peter Allen
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
JON JON BRIONES as Georges
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES
East West Players
DAVID LAMARR as James Thunder Early
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MARC GINSBURG as Aaron
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***SAM HARRIS as Multiple Characters
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Lead Actress in a Musical

RACHEL YORK as “Little” Edie Beale/Edith
GREY GARDENS
Center Theatre Group
***MOYA ANGELA as Effie
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
BRITTNEY JOHNSON as Lorell Robinson
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ERICA LUSTIG as Casey
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ALISON LUFF as Charlie Jane
BREAKING THROUGH
Pasadena Playhouse

Lead Actor in a Play

BARRY MCGOVERN as Clov
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
STERLING K. BROWN as Hero/Ulysses
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
STEFAN MARKS as Kurt Finge
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
RAMIZ MONSEF as Babur
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***SAM ANDERSON as John
JOHN IS A FATHER
The Road Theatre Company
ERIK ODOM as Raleigh
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
ROB NAGLE as Charlie Whitmore
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company

Lead Actress in a Play

BETTY GILPIN as Irene
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
***LILY NICKSAY as May
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
ANGELLE BROOKS as Ruth Younger
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Ruskin Group Theatre Co
STARLETTA DUPOIS as Mama Lena Younger
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Ruskin Group Theatre Co
KATE MORGAN CHADWICK as Holly
BED
The Echo Theater Company
CONNOR KELLY-EIDING as Ester
DRY LAND
The Echo Theater Company
DANIELLE TRUITT as Camae
THE MOUNTAINTOP
The Matrix Theatre Company

Featured Actor in a Musical

RYAN DRISCOLL as Cain/Japheth
CHILDREN OF EDEN
Cabrillo Music Theatre
LEIGH WAKEFORD as Man #2
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
JUSTIN MICHAEL WILCOX as Man #1
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Art
***STANTON MORALES as Barfee
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse
ELIJAH ROCK as Cab Calloway
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
WILKIE FERGUSON III as Jesse Belvin
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners
MATT MAGNUSSON as Huggy Boy
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners

Featured Actress in a Musical

NATALIA VIVINO as Yonah
CHILDREN OF EDEN
Cabrillo Music Theatre
KELLY LESTER as Marion Woolnough
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
***BESS MOTTA as Judy Garland
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatrere
JESSICA PENNINGTON as Liza Minnelli
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
BETTY BUCKLEY as Edith Bouvior Beale
GREY GARDENS
Center Theatre Group
MICHELE SPEARS as Ensemble
SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED
Impro Theatre
CRISTINA GERLA as Olive
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Featured Actor in a Play

***MICHAEL SHEPPERD as Actor 4
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
JAMES GREENE as Nagg
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
MICHAEL MCKEAN as Colonel
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
LARRY POWELL as Homer
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
RAY FORD as Gene Jefferson
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
ROBERT GOSSETT as Oz
WATCHING O.J.
Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA
MATTHEW HANCOCK as Carson
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Featured Actress in a Play

***PAULA CHRISTENSEN as Nicky
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
CHARLOTTE RAE as Nell
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
SAMEERAH LUQMAAN-HARRIS as Penny
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
PATRENA MURRAY as Fourth/Odyssey Dog
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
ROBIN PEARSON ROSE as Aoife
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Geffen Playhouse
SHARON SHARTH as Mrs. Gill
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
VIVIS as Tita
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court

Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre)

KARYN LAWRENCE
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***ELIZABETH HARPER
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
MATTHEW DENMAN
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
TIM SWISS
DREAM BOY
Celebration Theatre
ELIZBETH HARPER
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
MATT RICHTER
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
KATELAN BRAYMER
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Lighting Design (Large Theatre)

JARED SAYEG
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
JAPHY WEIDEMAN
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
LAP CHI CHU
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
DANIEL IONAZZI
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Geffen Playhouse
STEVEN YOUNG
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MIKE BILLINGS
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
***KC WILKERSON
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions

Scenic Design (Intimate Theatre)

SARA RYUNG CLEMENT
SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN
The Theatre @ Boston Court
STEPHEN GIFFORD
DREAM BOY
Celebration Theatre
JOHN IACOVELLI
KINGDOM OF EARTH
Dance On Productions in assoc. w/Linda Toliver & Gary Guidinger
JOHN IACOVELLI
THE MONEY FI$H
Cox Productions
PETE HICKOK
RIO HONDO
Theatre of NOTE
MICHAEL NAVARRO
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
***JOHN VERTREES & ERIN WALLEY
DEATHTRAP
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Scenic Design (Large Theatre)

JOHN IACOVELLI
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
MARK WENDLAND
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
DEREK MCLANE
BIG SKY
Geffen Playhouse
TOM BUDERWITZ
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***TOM BUDERWITZ
CASA VALENTINA
Pasadena Playhouse
MIKE BILLINGS
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
JEFF COWIE
THE CITY OF CONVERSATION
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Sound Design (Intimate Theatre)

JOHN NOBORI
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***JOHN NOBORI
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
JOSEPH CALARCO
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
RANDY TICO
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
CHRISTOPHER MOSCATIELLO
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
DAVID B. MARLING
BIRDER
The Road Theatre Company
MATT RICHTER
A GULAG MOUSE
Sacred Fools Theater Company

Sound Design (Large Theatre)

CRICKET MYERS
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
VINCENT OLIVIERI
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
VINCENT OLIVIERI
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
PHILIP ALLEN
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
CRICKET MYERS
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
BRUNO LOUCHOUARN
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court
***DREW DALZELL & NOELLE HOFFMAN
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions

Costume Design (Intimate Theatre)

KERRY HENNESSY & LORI MEEKER
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
ALLISON DILLARD
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
***MICHAEL MULLEN
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
LENA SANDS & SARAH BROWN
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
HALEI PARKER
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
CANDICE CAIN
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Sierra Madre Playhouse
A. JEFFREY SCHOENBERG
CLOUD 9
The Antaeus Company

Costume Design (Large Theatre)

MAGGIE MORGAN
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
ANN CLOSS-FARLEY
WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD
Center Theatre Group
DENITSA BLIZNAKOVA
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
JESSICA FORD
THESE PAPER BULLETS! A MODISH RIPOFF OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Geffen Playhouse
KATE BERGH
CASA VALENTINA
Pasadena Playhouse
***CHRISTINE COVER FERRO
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions
VICKI CONRAD
THE IMAGINARY INVALID
Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum

Video/Projection Design

***MATTHEW HILL
MAN COVETS BIRD
24th Street Theatre
DALLAS NICHOLAS
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
STEPHEN EPSTEIN & RON WOOD
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
JONATHAN INFANTE
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
DAVID GALLO & BRAD PETERSON
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ADAM FLEMMING
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions
HANA KIM
THE CITY OF CONVERSATION
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Ovation Honors Recipients

Composition for a Play:

GREGORY NABOURS
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company

Fight Choreography:

EDGAR LANDA
THAT PRETTY PRETTY; OR, THE RAPE PLAY
Son of Semele Ensemble

Puppet Design:

GREG BALLORA, SEAN CAWELTI, CHRISTINE PAPALEXIS, JACK PULLMAN, BRIAN WHITE
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
Recipient of the 2017 Richard E. Sherwood Award
PABLO SANTIAGO