THE BEST OF SHOWS ON BETTER LEMONS IN 2019

Better Lemons had a fantastic year and we couldn't have done it without the fantastic critics, publicists, and audience members who share their love of Los Angeles theater, by posting on Better Lemons and sharing their favorite shows and their reviews on social media.

We are especially grateful for all the Registered Critics who took their time this past year to rate shows they have reviewed to be included in our LemonMeter.

There were 1200 productions registered on Better Lemons in 2019! Out of those registered shows, over 600 received at least one review from a Critic and 201 were reviewed by Audience members. Out of these shows, we selected the winners that were most favored by Critics and/or Audiences.

Here is a list with all the Better Lemons SWEET productions of 2019:

The Better Lemons DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(33 shows out of 1200 productions received
a DoubleSWEET #LemonMeter rating
from audience and critics)

TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM at the Whitefire Theatre
41 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

IF WE RUN at the Lounge Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

RAISED BY WOLVES at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
30 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

FERTILE: A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE EXPECTATION OF PROCREATION currently at the Whitefire Theatre
27 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
8 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HOLLYWOODN'T at the Santa Monica Playhouse
20 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE BULLY PROBLEM at the Arena Theatre - Theatre of Arts
17 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
9 Critics reviews - 94% Sweet

THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR at the Complex Theatre
15 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

THE ELEPHANT MAN at the El Portal Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet
7 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

MONO/POLY at the Odyssey Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

MASTERS OF THE DARK REALM at the Actors Workout Studio
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

BUNNY THE ELF LIVE! currently at the Stages in Fullerton
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR at the Complex Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

A BIT MUCH at the Lounge Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

(IM)PERFEKT at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

BLACKBOXING at the Complex Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

MIL GRUS at the McCadden Place Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TRANSFERENCE at The Broadwater
9 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SCRAPS at the Matrix Theatre
8 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
15 Critics reviews - 87% Sweet

SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS at The Broadwater
8 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

NEIL SIMON'S MUSICAL FOOLS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

ROMEO AND JULIET IN HELL at the Actors Workout Studio
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
8 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

FALLEN SAINTS: SALEM at the Actors Workout Studio
7 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
7 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SAVING CAIN at the Hudson Theatres
6 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
5 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

THE LAST CROISSANT at The Broadwater
5 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREYA'S LAST DANCE at the Hudson Theatres
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE at the Complex Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
6 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

CLARISSANT at the Atwater Village Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 88% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CIRQUE DU GISELLE at the Assistance League Theater
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

BATTER UP: MY BRAIN ON BASEBALL at studio/stage
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
4 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

JOAN AND WHAT DID THEY SAY - AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at Theatre Unlimited (T.U. Studios)
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREASON at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
4 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

45 MILLIGRAMS at The Broadwater
3 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet
3 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

The Better Lemons Audience #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(32 shows out of 1200 productions received
a minimum of 10 audience reviews
and have received a SWEET #LemonMeter rating by the Audience)

TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM at the Whitefire Theatre
41 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

IF WE RUN at the Lounge Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

RAISED BY WOLVES at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
32 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
30 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

FERTILE: A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE EXPECTATION OF PROCREATION currently at the Whitefire Theatre
27 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

AN EXCUSE TO BEHAVE BADLY at the Lounge Theatre
22 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

HOLLYWOODN'T at the Santa Monica Playhouse
20 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THE BULLY PROBLEM at the Arena Theatre - Theatre of Arts
17 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

TELENOVELA at the Actors Workout Studio
16 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

AMERICAN STRANGER THE MUSICAL at Studio C
16 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR at the Complex Theatre
15 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MONO/POLY at the Odyssey Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MASTERS OF THE DARK REALM at the Actors Workout Studio
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BUNNY THE ELF LIVE! currently at the Stages in Fullerton
14 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR Complex Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet

THE ELEPHANT MAN at the El Portal Theatre
14 Audience reviews - 96% Sweet

MANDY PICKS A HUSBAND at the Actors Company
13 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

A BIT MUCH at the Lounge Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

ASK A BLACK WOMAN at Studio C
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BIRTHDAY at the Actors Company
12 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

(IM)PERFEKT at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

LEAVING PRINCE CHARMING at the Lounge Theatre
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

ENERJOYCE...EVOLUTION OF A PISCES BABY BOOMER at the Santa Monica Playhouse
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

YES. NO. MAYBE. at the Complex Theatre
11 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BECOMING PEACE: A ONE WOMAN DRAMEDY ABOUT POWER, CULTURE, VIOLENCE AND NONVIOLENCE at the Lounge Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

CAT SH!T CRAZY...FROM HOT MESS TO HOT MAMA IN FOUR SIMPLE CATS at the Whitefire Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

OCTOPI WALL STREET at the New American Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

EMBRACE LOVE FREE at the Santa Monica Playhouse
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

BLACKBOXING at the Santa Monica Playhouse
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

MIL GRUS at the McCadden Place Theatre
10 Audience reviews - 100% Sweet

The Better Lemons Critics #LemonMeter Choice Awards for 2019
are going to the following productions:

(92 shows out of 1200 productions received
a minimum of 10 critic reviews
and have received a SWEET #LemonMeter rating by the Critics)

DANIEL'S HUSBAND at The Fountain Theatre
26 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

WITCH at the Geffen Playhouse
21 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

HANDJOB by the Echo Theater Company
21 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Ahmanson Theatre
21 Critics reviews - 76% Sweet

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN by the Antaeus Theatre Company
20 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

SKINTIGHT at the Geffen Playhouse
19 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE by the Antaeus Theatre Company
19 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at The Fountain Theatre
19 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS at the Ahmanson Theatre
18 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

MATTHEW BOURNE'S SWAN LAKE at the Ahmanson Theatre
18 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

1776 THE MUSICAL at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
18 Critics reviews - 94% Sweet

BRONCO BILLY - THE MUSICAL at the Skylight Theatre Company
18 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

AN INSPECTOR CALLS at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
18 Critics reviews - 81% Sweet

DEADLY at the Sacred Fools Theater Company
18 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

ON BECKETT at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HELLO DOLLY at the Pantages Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

READY STEADY YETI GO at the Rogue Machine Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 82% Sweet

TOO MUCH SUN at the Odyssey Theatre
17 Critics reviews - 82% Sweet

SALVAGE at the Lounge Theatre
16 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

LOOT at the Odyssey Theatre
16 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

ANNE, A NEW PLAY at the Museum of Tolerance
16 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES at the Geffen Playhouse
16 Critics reviews - 84% Sweet

NICK DEAR'S FRANKENSTEIN at A Noise Within
16 Critics reviews - 78% Sweet

RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL at the Pasadena Playhouse
15 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

INDECENT at the Ahmanson Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
15 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

DANA H. at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 97% Sweet

EIGHT NIGHTS by the Antaeus Theatre Company
15 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

FALSETTOS at the Ahmanson Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

A KID LIKE JAKE by the IAMA Theatre Company
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

LACKAWANNA BLUES at the Mark Taper Forum
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

HYPE MAN at The Fountain Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

SCRAPS at the Matrix Theatre
15 critics reviews - 87% Sweet

OTHELLO at A Noise Within
15 Critics reviews - 80% Sweet

PARADISE at the Matrix Theatre
15 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

LINDA VISTA at the Mark Taper Forum
15 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

AUGUST WILSON'S JITNEY at the Mark Taper Forum
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TO DAD WITH LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY EBSEN at Theatre West
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum
14 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

DIANA OF DOBSON'S by the Antaeus Theatre Company
14 Critics reviews - 93% Sweet

MOBY DICK - REHEARSED at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum
14 Critics reviews - 89% Sweet

THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER by Deaf West Theatre
14 Critics reviews - 89% Sweet

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at the Pasadena Playhouse
14 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

TWO TRAINS RUNNING AT MATRIX at the Matrix Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

IN CIRCLES at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TWELFTH NIGHT at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

RAGTIME at the Chance Theater
13 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

NEIL SIMON'S MUSICAL FOOLS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

WITNESS UGANDA at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 92% Sweet

THE JOY WHEEL at the Ruskin Group Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE WOLVES by the Echo Theater Company
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

FAITH HEALER at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE NICETIES at the Geffen Playhouse
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

ARGONAUTIKA at A Noise Within
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

THE PRODUCERS at the Celebration Theatre @ The Lex
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

FEFU AND HER FRIENDS at the Odyssey Theatre
13 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

LIGHTS OUT: NAT "KING" COLE at the Geffen Playhouse
13 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

GRUMPY OLD MEN: THE MUSICAL at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
13 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

HAPPY DAYS at the Mark Taper Forum
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

CANYON at theLos Angeles Theatre Center
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

THE VANDAL at the Chance Theater
12 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

DEATH OF A SALESMAN at the Ruskin Group Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 96% Sweet

NANCY F***ING REAGAN at the Secret Rose Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 88% Sweet

AMERICA ADJACENT at theSkylight Theatre Company
12 Critics reviews - 83% Sweet

DEFENDERS at The Broadwater
12 Critics reviews - 79% Sweet

ANASTASIA at the Pantages Theatre
12 Critics reviews - 75% Sweet

JULIUS WEEZER at the El Portal Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO at the Pacific Resident Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

BURIED CHILD at A Noise Within
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

HERSHEY FELDER: A PARIS LOVE STORY at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

ANNA IN THE TROPICS by the Open Fist Theatre Company
11 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

THE GLASS MENAGERIE at A Noise Within
11 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

AT THE TABLE at The Road Theatre Company
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

MISS LILLY GETS BONED at the Rogue Machine Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

SISTERS IN LAW at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

THE GREAT LEAP at the Pasadena Playhouse
11 Critics reviews - 91% Sweet

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at the Odyssey Theatre
11 Critics reviews - 86% Sweet

M. BUTTERFLY at the South Coast Repertory
11 Critics reviews - 77% Sweet

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER by The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 100% Sweet

TREYA'S LAST DANCE at the Hudson Theatres
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

DAMES AT SEA by the Sierra Madre Playhouse
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

NEVER IS NOW at the Skylight Theatre Company
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

THE NEW ONE at the Ahmanson Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 95% Sweet

FRIENDS WITH GUNS at The Road Theatre Company
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL by 5 Star Theatricals
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

DISNEY'S FROZEN at the Pantages Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 90% Sweet

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by the 24th STreet Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

SPECIAL at the Theatre of Note
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

SWEENEY TODD - THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET at the South Coast Repertory
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKE-FILLED ROOM at Theatre 40
10 Critics reviews - 85% Sweet

LOOSE KNIT by The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre
10 Critics reviews - 80% Sweet


TICKETHOLDER AWARDS 2019 PART I

My 28th annual TicketHolder Awards are now posted on my TicketHoldersLA website in two parts. You can read it below and click here for photos.

Choosing my honorees this year is a real bitch. Almost as many tears shed as Carrie Ann Inaba eliminating a sports figure she finds hot. Yet there’s not much else good to write home about in 2019 besides theatre in El Lay. Between the mess we’re making of our planet and the eye-opening disintegration of everything I’ve championed and held dear all my life, thank Terpsichore it’s been a spectacular year for the creation of theatrical art to help ease the pain and frustration of living in our Trumpian nightmare. And even though I have a whole heap of productions to honor this year, with part of my time spent in New Orleans hosting an exhibit of my paintings and medical issues to tackle that seem to come with the territory at age 348, there were also a lot of noteworthy productions I sadly missed. In my world, it’s definitely been a year to praise some monumental directorial work and a plethora of spectacular ensemble casts; choosing winners in both categories has not been an easy task. And what do you think of the Geffen Playhouse? After too long a period of less-than exciting fare, the announcement in 2017 that Matt Shakman had been hired as the complex’s artistic director guaranteed a positive change and without a doubt, the turn around has been staggering. Two of the company’s casts are tied here for Best Ensemble, two of its masterful set designs are as well, and five of my top production choices for 2019 were presented at the Geffen, including my second, third, ninth, and tenth pick for Best Play and second choice of Best Revival. If I gave an annual award for Best Season, surely the Geffen Playhouse would win this year. As a matter of fact, maybe I should initiate such a thing. As a matter of fact, I think I will. 

THE 2019 TICKETHOLDER AWARD
FOR BEST SEASON

Geffen Playhouse; Matt Shakman, resident puppetmaster

BEST PRODUCTION OF 2019

Linda Vista, Center Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum
The Thanksgiving Play, Geffen Playhouse
RUNNERS-UP: The Abuelas, Antaeus; Andy Warhol’s Tomato, Pacific Resident Theatre; Apple Season, Moving Arts; Dana H., CTG/Douglas; The End of Sex, Victory Theatre Center; For The Love Of (or the Roller Derby Play), Theatre of NOTE/CTG at the Douglas; 4.48 Psychosis, Son of Semele; Frankenstein, A Noise Within; Handjob, Echo Theatre Company; The Mountaintop, Garry Marshall Theatre; On Beckett, CTG/Douglas; The Play That Goes Wrong, CTG/, Ahmanson; Sisters in Law, Wallis Annenberg Center

BEST REVIVAL PRODUCTION

JitneyCenter Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum 
FalsettosCenter Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
RUNNERS-UP: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antaeus Theatre Company; Cats, Pantages; The Cripple of Inishmaan, Anteaus Theatre Company; Happy Days, CTG/Mark Taper Forum; Hello, Dolly!, Pantages; Jesus Christ Superstar, Pantages; Loot, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble; The Ruffian on the Stairs, Los Angeles LGBT Center; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Garry Marshall Theatre

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION

Indecent, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
Justin-Sayre-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Dean-Stewart

Dedicated to Camp: A Conversation with Justin Sayre about Ravenswood Manor and Much More

Writer, producer, performer Justin Sayre's episodic camp extravaganza Ravenswood Manor closes this coming weekend after a very successful run at Celebration Theatre. Between episode rehearsals, I buzzed with Justin to spill some tea on the show, it's origins, the production process, and more. Catch the last week of Ravenswood because they are ending with a BANG, honey!

For tickets, go to CelebrationTheatre.com/ravenswood

Roger Q. Mason (RQM): Justin, you are a riot! What you've done beautifully is successfully shown audiences the breadth and depth of authentic camp (in the best way). Tell me about the origins of Ravenswood Manor.

Justin Sayre (JS): I wanted to write a long-form play for a while, and I was  searching for something Camp. I'm very dedicated to Camp. I think it's the cornerstone of Queer art, and I really thought it was time to take the leap. For a long time, my best friend, whom I've pitched every project I've ever written, had always told me of my similarity in thought and practice to Charles Ludlam. It took me a little while to catch up. I thought doing something episodically would be helpful since I had been writing for Television for a couple of years. I loved Dark Shadows, and thought a gothic setting would be perfect for Camp. Then the ideas just started flowing. I did a first reading of the first six episodes at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre with an incredible cast that included Jeff Hiller, Nathan Lee Graham, Jenn Harris and many more. It was so fun, I just wanted to keep doing it. Now I've had another chance. I'm already looking forward to the next.

(RQM): You are writer, performer, and producer on this project. As a fellow multi-disciplinary artist, I'd love to learn more about your process from page to stage.

(JS): Well, that's very broad! I started as an actor, so I have to see it. I don't write a lot of stage directions in my plays unless the lines need it to make sense. I like to find rhythms and space in the room. The stuff I know and want, I write in. But I love problem-solving. So much of my creation is about problem-solving. I also like using the theatre for what it is. You can't do CGI or crazy special effects in the theatre, or at least it's very hard to do them well. I like to create theatre magic, which is more about imagination and human stagecraft. I like making things in front of people and making the audience an active participant in the process of making the show, even if it's just imagining the scenery. I like the collaboration of making in the room. So I always want to work with the best. That's why the actors I strive for are always so brilliant. I don't like to micromanage. I like to facilitate flight.

(RQM): Serialized theatre is an exciting and rigorous beast. It relies on the magic of a killer script, fantastic, adventuresome actors, and grounded, inspired directors. What's it been like building this piece in the room with your team? On the afternoon I saw the show, you were readying for rehearsal of the next episode right after taking well-deserved bows from the work just presented.

(JS): I should say, that we go in with the script, and I would say 98% is on the page. I am a firm believer in doing my work. But I've also been trained not to be precious about a joke. If one doesn't work, we'll find another. What I'm always first listening for is, does the story track and does it all make good dramatic sense. I would be disingenuous to say that the show lives all on the page. I'm working with some of the most brilliant and insightful comedic actors in the country, to not let them form a joke to themselves or to add a little aside, that comes from their character, would be folly. But we all begin with the page, and then it's play. We've often said backstage that we're working so terribly hard, a new play each week for 6 weeks, but we're all so happy doing it. We all have our bits, we all have our weeks to shine and we all generally and genuinely like each other. It's a brilliant process.

Angela Cristantello as Claire the witch and Leslie-Ann Huff as Debbie the witch in Ravenswood Manor

Angela Cristantello as Claire the witch and Leslie-Ann Huff as Debbie the witch in Ravenswood Manor. Photo by Bryan Carpender.

(RQM): This show feels very much like work I've seen in New York. I love that it is happening and being received well here in LA. How do we continue challenging and engaging our Angeleno theatre audiences?

(JS): I think there is great theatre going on out here, and I think LA is only ready for more. Ravenswood feels like New York because I still feel like I'm in New York and come out of that sensibility. I think the thing that needs to happen in LA, is that we all, artists and audiences, need to create a culture of going to the theatre. Of making things the MUST SEE event in LA. We need to make the reality of the theatre here a bigger deal, simply because there's already great work going on.

(RQM): After the final episode of Ravenwood, what's next for you?

(JS): I am working on a few TV projects, but I am headed out of LA for a bit to go and work on my newest book. My show The GAyBC's has been turned into a book that will be released by Chronicle Books in 2020. I'm also going to New York next week to do a show at Joe's Pub and celebrate my 10 years in Cabaret. After that, two new plays this year and the second season of Ravenswood Manor. You know a few things, just to keep me off the street.

Featured photo: Justin-Sayre - Photo by Matthew Dean Stewart


The 30th Annual 'LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards' Nominations Announced


Nominees for the 30th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards were announced on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, on @ This Stage. The ceremony will take place Monday, January 13, 2020, at the  Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Center Theatre Group Leads With 20 nominations for their productions of Lackawanna Blues (5), and Linda Vista (4) at the Mark Taper Forum; Ain’t Too Proud (1) at the Ahmanson Theatre; and Dana H. (7), and Quack (2) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, along with Best Season. Fountain Theatre follows with 19 nominations for their productions of "Cost of Living" (9), "Daniel’s Husband" (6), "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play" (3), and Best Season., Geffen Playhouse Garners 18 nominations for their productions of "Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol" (8), "Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole" (8), "Mysterious Circumstances" (2), and "Black Super Hero Magic Mama" (1)., La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts garnered 14 nominations for their productions of "Singin’ in the Rain" (11), "Beauty and the Beast" (2), and "A Night with Janis Joplin" (1), and tied with the Pasadena Playhouse who received 14 nominations for their productions of "Singin’ in the Rain" (11), "Beauty and the Beast" (2), and "A Night with Janis Joplin" (1). And Sophina Brown gets 10 nominations for her production of "August Wilson’s Two Trains Running."

Ovation Honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement in areas that are not among the standard list of nomination categories, have been awarded to Romero Moseley (Music Composition for a Play, Hype Man: A Break Beat Play at Fountain Theatre, and Dillon Nelson & Erin Walley (Puppet Design, Argonautika, A Noise Within.)

During the 2018–2019 voting season, 278 productions were registered for awards consideration by 124 producing organizations, and 3,838 individual artists were evaluated. This year’s 272 voters cast a total of 6,462 ballots.


The 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards Nominations


BEST SEASON

BOSTON COURT PASADENA
Everything That Never Happened
Ladies
The Judas Kiss

CENTER THEATRE GROUP
Dana H.
Lackawanna Blues
Linda Vista
Quack
Sweat
Valley of the Heart

FOUNTAIN THEATRE
Cost of Living
Daniel’s Husband
Hype Man: a Break Beat Play


BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Intimate Theatre

ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST
The Actors’ Gang Theater

AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre

EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED
Boston Court Pasadena

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
Angela Nicholas

THE WOLVES
The Echo Theater Company


BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Large Theatre

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

LACKAWANNA BLUES
Center Theatre Group

LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL
Garry Marshall Theatre

LINDA VISTA
Center Theatre Group


BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Intimate Theatre

LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

THE LAST FIVE YEARS: A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE
After Hours Theatre Company

THE PRODUCERS
Celebration Theatre


BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Large Theatre


BEST PRESENTED PRODUCTION


ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A PLAY

AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre

LINDA VISTA
Center Theatre Group

RADIANT VERMIN
Door Number 3 Theatre

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE

Angela Nicholas

THE WOLVES
The Echo Theater Company


ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A MUSICAL

LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


CHOREOGRAPHY

EDGAR GODINEAUX & JARED GRIMES
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

ABDUR-RAHIM JACKSON
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

SPENCER LIFF
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

JEFFREY SCOTT PARSONS
DAMES AT SEA
Sierra Madre Playhouse

JOHN PENNINGTON
A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
A Noise Within

STEPHANIE SHROYER
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within

JOHN TODD
THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND
Reprise 2.0


MUSIC DIRECTION

DARRYL ARCHIBALD
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

MATT GOULD
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

KEITH HARRISON
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

JENNIFER LIN
THE LAST FIVE YEARS: A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE
After Hours Theatre Company

GERALD STERNBACH
THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND
Reprise 2.0


BOOK FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

DENNIS HACKIN
BRONCO BILLY – THE MUSICAL
Skylight Theatre Company

DOUG HAVERTY
A CAROL CHRISTMAS
The Group Rep

FLORIAN KLEIN
SHOOTING STAR – A REVEALING NEW MUSICAL
Shooting Star Productions


LYRICS/COMPOSITION FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

MICHELE BROURMAN, CHIP ROSENBLOOM & JOHN TORRES
BRONCO BILLY – THE MUSICAL
Skylight Theatre Company

BRUCE KIMMEL
A CAROL CHRISTMAS

The Group Rep

ERIK RANSOM & THOMAS ZAUFKE
SHOOTING STAR – A REVEALING NEW MUSICAL
Shooting Star Productions


PLAYWRITING FOR AN ORIGINAL PLAY

MALCOLM BARRETT
BRAIN PROBLEMS
Ammunition Theatre Company

JAMI BRANDLI
BLISS (OR EMILY POST IS DEAD!)
Moving Arts

JONATHAN CAREN
CANYON
IAMA Theatre Company

ELIZA CLARK
QUACK
Center Theatre Group

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN
DESERT RATS
The Latino Theater Company

LUCAS HNATH
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

ANNA MOENCH
MAN OF GOD
East West Players


DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

JOCELYN BROWN
LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

JOSEPH LEO BWARIE
THE ROOT BEER BANDITS
Garry Marshall Theatre

DAVID LEE
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

SPENCER LIFF
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

GRIFFIN MATTHEWS
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


DIRECTION OF A PLAY

MICHAEL ARDEN
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

ALANA DIETZE
THE WOLVES
The Echo Theater Company

WILL THOMAS MCFADDEN
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST
The Actors’ Gang Theater

RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
LACKAWANNA BLUES
Center Theatre Group

MICHELE SHAY
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

JOHN VREEKE
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

LES WATERS
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group


LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

CLIFTON DUNCAN
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

MARC GINSBURG
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

DULÉ HILL
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

MICHAEL STARR
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

JAMIE TORCELLINI
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts


LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

KIMBERLY IMMANUEL
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

SARA KING
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

APRIL NIXON
THE COLOR PURPLE
Greenway Arts Alliance

MONIKA PEÑA
LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

SHANNON WARNE
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse


LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

TIM CUMMINGS
DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre

JEFFERSON MAYS
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

ROB NAGLE
THE JUDAS KISS
Boston Court Pasadena

RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
LACKAWANNA BLUES
Center Theatre Group

FELIX SOLIS
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

BOB TURTON
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST
The Actors’ Gang Theater


LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

CHERISE BOOTHE
AMERICAN SAGA – GUNSHOT MEDLEY: PART 1
Rogue Machine

DEIDRIE HENRY
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL
Garry Marshall Theatre

CASEY KRAMER
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
Angela Nicholas

MILDRED LANGFORD
AMERICAN SAGA – GUNSHOT MEDLEY: PART 1
Rogue Machine

ELLEN LAUREN
BACCHAE
The Getty Villa

ANGELA NICHOLAS
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
Angela Nicholas

DEIDRE O’CONNELL
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

KATY SULLIVAN
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre


FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

RICK BATALLA
JULIUS WEEZER
Troubadour Theater Company

JOSH GRISETTI
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

ADAM LENDERMON
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

DYLAN SAUNDERS
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

MICHAEL SHEPPERD
THE PRODUCERS
Celebration Theatre

PHILLIP TARATULA
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

DANIEL J. WATTS
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse


FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

LEDISI
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

GISELA ADISA
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

BRYCE CHARLES
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

AMBER IMAN
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

JENNIFER KNOX
DAMES AT SEA
Sierra Madre Playhouse

RUBY LEWIS
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

ZONYA LOVE
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse


FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

TOBIAS FORREST
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

TIM HILDEBRAND
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
Angela Nicholas

WESLEY MANN
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
A Noise Within

ALEX MORRIS
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

ROB NAGLE
THE LITTLE FOXES
Antaeus Theatre Company

MAURY STERLING
THE JOY WHEEL
Ruskin Group Theatre Co

ADOLPHUS WARD
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown


FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

JENNY O’HARA
DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre

NIJA OKORO
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

XOCHITL ROMERO
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

JAQUITA TA’LE
TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET
Sacred Fools Theater Company

JOCELYN TOWNE
THE LITTLE FOXES
Antaeus Theatre Company

CORA VANDER BROEK
LINDA VISTA
Center Theatre Group

DENISE YOLÉN
SCRAPS
The Matrix Theatre Company


COSTUME DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

NAILA ALADDIN-SANDERS
TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET
Sacred Fools Theater Company

ALLISON DILLARD
BLISS (OR EMILY POST IS DEAD!)
Moving Arts

ELENA FLORES
SEÑOR PLUMMER’S FINAL FIESTA
Rogue Artists Ensemble

DIANNE GRAEBNER
THE JUDAS KISS
Boston Court Pasadena

TERRI LEWIS
THE LITTLE FOXES
Antaeus Theatre Company

RACHAEL LORENZETTI
LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

MYLETTE NORA
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown


COSTUME DESIGN – Large Theatre

KATE BERGH
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

JESSICA CHAMPAGNE-HANSEN
THE ROOT BEER BANDITS
Garry Marshall Theatre

JENNY FOLDENAUER
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within

CARLTON JONES
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

DANE LAFFREY
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

SHON LEBLANC
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

KAREN PERRY
BLACK SUPER HERO MAGIC MAMA
Geffen Playhouse


FIGHT DIRECTION

JEN ALBERT
SUCKERPUNCH
Coeurage Theatre Company

AARON AOKI & THOMAS ISAO MORINAKA
VIETGONE
East West Players

AHMED BEST
SCRAPS
The Matrix Theatre Company

MICHAEL CALACINO
ROPE
Actors Co-op

ANDY LOWE
MAN OF GOD
East West Players

MIKE MAHAFFEY
DEFINITION OF MAN
DConstruction Arts

JESSE JAMES THOMAS
TWO NOBLE KINSMEN
The Porters of Hellsgate


LIGHTING DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

CHU-HSUAN CHANG
HYPE MAN: A BREAK BEAT PLAY
Fountain Theatre

JENNIFER EDWARDS
DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre

BRIAN GALE
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

JOHN GAROFALO
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

JARED SAYEG
THE LITTLE FOXES
Antaeus Theatre Company

ANDREW SCHMEDAKE
THE LAST FIVE YEARS: A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE
After Hours Theatre Company

JAYMI SMITH
EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED
Boston Court Pasadena


LIGHTING DESIGN – Large Theatre

ELIZABETH HARPER
MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
Geffen Playhouse

THOMAS ONTIVEROS
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL
Garry Marshall Theatre

JARED SAYEG
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

JARED SAYEG
THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND
Reprise 2.0

JENNIFER SCHRIEVER
LACKAWANNA BLUES
Center Theatre Group

BEN STANTON
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

PAUL TOBEN
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group


SCENIC DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

FRANCOIS-PIERRE COUTURE
EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED
Boston Court Pasadena

JOEL DAAVID
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Dance On Productions, LLC

STEPHEN GIFFORD
THE PRODUCERS
Celebration Theatre

MATTHEW G. HILL
SEÑOR PLUMMER’S FINAL FIESTA
Rogue Artists Ensemble

JOHN IACOVELLI
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

JOHN IACOVELLI
THE LITTLE FOXES
Antaeus Theatre Company

DEANNE MILLAIS
DANIEL’S HUSBAND
Fountain Theatre


SCENIC DESIGN – Large Theatre

BRETT J. BANAKIS
MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
Geffen Playhouse

MIKE BILLINGS
HEISENBERG
Rubicon Theatre Company

ANDREW BOYCE
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

TOM BUDERWITZ
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

DANE LAFFREY
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

DANE LAFFREY
QUACK
Center Theatre Group

TODD ROSENTHAL
LINDA VISTA
Center Theatre Group


SOUND DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

MALIK ALLEN
HYPE MAN: A BREAK BEAT PLAY
Fountain Theatre

JEFF GARDNER
AMERICAN SAGA – GUNSHOT MEDLEY: PART 1
Rogue Machine

JEFF GARDNER
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

JEFF GARDNER
SCRAPS
The Matrix Theatre Company

ADAM MACIAS
ROPE
Actors Co-op

CHRISTOPHER MOSCATIELLO
RADIANT VERMIN
Door Number 3 Theatre

CRICKET MYERS
THE LAST FIVE YEARS: A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE
After Hours Theatre Company


SOUND DESIGN – Large Theatre

PHILIP ALLEN
LACKAWANNA BLUES
Center Theatre Group

PHILIP ALLEN
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

ROBERT ARTURO RAMIREZ
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL
Garry Marshall Theatre

MIKHAIL FIKSEL
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

HOWARD HO
MAN OF GOD
East West Players

ROBERT ORIOL
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within

JOSHUA D. REID
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse


VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

MATTHEW G. HILL
THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE
24th Street Theatre

DAVID MURAKAMI
BRONCO BILLY – THE MUSICAL
Skylight Theatre Company

DALLAS NICHOLS
SEÑOR PLUMMER’S FINAL FIESTA
Rogue Artists Ensemble

CIHAN SAHIN
ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST
The Actors’ Gang Theater

NICHOLAS SANTIAGO
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre


VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Large Theatre

HANA KIM
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

LUCY MACKINNON
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

YEE EUN NAM
THE MOTHER OF HENRY
The Latino Theater Company


OVATIONS HONORS RECIPIENTS


MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A PLAY

ROMERO MOSLEY
HYPE MAN: A BREAK BEAT PLAY
Fountain Theatre


PUPPET DESIGN

DILLON NELSON & ERIN WALLEY
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within


Rachel Myers accepts her Ovation Award for Scenic Design (Large Theatre) for "Skeleton Crew" (Geffen Playhouse) at 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.

Sponsors of this year’s Ovation Awards are DOMA Development Corporation; DOMA Theatre Company; Requiem Media Productions, LLC; SE7EN Waves Entertainment, LLC; Venture Hills Entertainment, LLC; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; F&D Scene Changes LTD; Ken Werther Publicity; Bakers Man Productions; Rosebrand; Zodiac Entertainment, LLC; Perpetua Holdings, LLC; Behind the Mask, Inc.; and Millennia Development, Inc.

LA STAGE Alliance is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in greater Los Angeles. The LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, founded in 1989, are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles. Voters are LA theatre professionals who are chosen through a vigorous application process each year by the Ovation Rules Committee. More information can be found at www.ovationawards.com.

The 30th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards will be Monday, January 13, 2020, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Tickets on sale soon.

 


JOAN OF ART: A Mel Brooks Broadway Hit, A Superhero Returns, Ramblin Jack Elliot and A Very Big Meow Festival

The Producers opening at the Celebration Theatre at the Lex on Friday June 30th is a musical adaption of Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks's 1967 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful.

Like many of Brooks' films the humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis and many show business in-jokes. The show is best known for the song, Springtime for Hitler. I've seen this in New York and loved it.

The Celebration Theatre has produced several musicals including 'The Color Purple' and they were all excellent. I'm sure this one will be as well.

The Celebration is located at 6760 Lexington Avenue in Hollywood. For tickets go to CelebrationTheatre.com. The show runs Fridays-Mondays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.

Even though my next pick doesn't open until Tuesday July 2nd I thought it definitely should be included of my weekend list of fun things to do. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a perfect way to start the July 4th holiday. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man played by Tom Holland must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya and Samule L. Jackson round out the cast and the film has already gotten rave reviews and I for one can't wait to see it.

Next up is one of my favorite old time performers, Ramblin Jack Elliot, an American folk singer/guitarist. At the age of 87 the dude still has it. Way back when Elliot taught himself guitar and started busking for a living. Eventually he got together with Woody Guthrie and stayed with him as both an admirer and student.

Elliott's guitar and his mastery of Guthrie's material had a big impact on Bob Dylan when he lived in Minneapolis. When Dylan reached New York, he was sometimes referred to as the 'son' of Jack Elliott, because Elliot had a way of introducing Dylan's songs with the words: 'Here's a song from my son, Bob Dylan.'

For years Ramblin Jack Elliot has been an interpretative troubadour bringing old songs to new audiences in his idiosyncratic manner. I've seen him several times and every show was just great.

Elliot will be performing Sunday June 30th at 8pm at McCabes Guitar Shop located at 3101 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. For tickets go to McCabes.com. Tickets are $30.00.

Last but not least, and definitely one of my favorite events of this upcoming weekend is CatCon at the Pasadena Convention Center located at 300 East Green Street in Pasadena. Why, you ask? Because I am a crazy cat lover. The show runs Saturday, June 29th from 9am to 6pm and Sunday June 30th 10am to 5pm.

This is the biggest cat-centric pop culture catstravaganza in the world. Immersive experiences, 200 exhibitors, photo booths, celebricats like Pudge and the Dark Lord plus the biggest adoption village ever awaits you.

Top talent both feline and human includes Cats of Instagram, Aaron's Animals, Shelly Roche of 'Tiny Kittens' and over 30 more plus over a dozen workshops and seminars, kitty cosplay, the Kitty Coloring Collective and Tons of giveaways and swag.

One of the best events where you get to hang out with thousands of people who love cats just as much as you do. If you're not a 'cat lover' I guarantee you after spending an afternoon here you will be.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to CatConWorldWide.com.

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


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: [email protected].


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


Ashton's 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