Spotlight Series: Meet Composer, Conductor, Lyricist, and Producer Christopher Raymond


This Spotlight focuses on composer, conductor, lyricist, and producer Christopher Raymond who has won an NAACP, Stage Raw, and Broadway World Awards for his work in theatre. Chris has also music directed several Los Angeles area awards shows as well as 14 productions with DOMA Theatre Company in Hollywood, among many others. And in December 2018, he became Music Director for Valley Outreach Synagogue in Calabasas where Passover and Shabbat services are being LiveStreamed from home.


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

Christopher Raymond (Chris): I started my career at the age of 15 by playing in the band for Jason Robert Brown's 13 The Musical at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and on Broadway.

(SB): I saw 13 The Musical at both the Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum and really loved the energy in the show. And all the teenage emotions bursting at the seams reminded me of many challenging days I experienced as a middle and high school teacher.

(Chris): I then went on to study music at CalArts, and am now a composer, lyricist and music director, and have won an NAACP, Stage Raw, and Broadway World Award for my work in theatre.

I co-wrote the theme song for the show, Troy (which opened at the 80,000-seat Beijing National Stadium in July, 2017), and music directed and orchestrated the Ovation Awards twice (at The Ahmanson Theatre and at the Theatre at Ace Hotel). I also music directed / arranged the LA Drama Critics Circle Awards twice.

I music directed, conducted and played piano for 14 productions with DOMA Theatre Company in Hollywood, including prominent revivals of Avenue Q, American Idiot, and Dreamgirls (which was awarded "Best Musical" by the LA Drama Critics Circle Awards and the LA Times Awards.)

I recently wrote the book, music and lyrics for Scarlet Letter: The Musical, which had a workshop production at Greenway Court Theatre. A highlights reel for the musical is available on YouTube here:

In December 2018, I became Music Director for Valley Outreach Synagogue in Calabasas. Working with Rabbi Ron Li-Paz, Cantor Michael Li-Paz, Chaplain Jennifer Eaves Nye and the rest of the VOS team is a continually inspiring experience.

(SB): How has COVID-19 affected your work at your Synagogue?

(Chris): The quarantine orders began in Los Angeles shortly before Passover. Due to this, we at VOS held two virtual Seders on our website. The Rabbi, Cantor, Chaplain, and myself LiveStreamed our Seders from our respective homes as our congregation joined us from their homes. It was a beautiful way to create joy and unity during a challenging time for the world.

We are currently LiveStreaming our Shabbat Services on Friday nights and all of our classes are being held online. We are grateful to live in a time when technology allows us to continue functioning and providing help as a Synagogue while our leadership and membership remain safely isolated at home.

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

(Chris): I have been recording / composing music in my home studio and I have also been making musical videos for Valley Outreach Synagogue's website. I have also had an opportunity to watch and support many friends' musical and arts-related projects online, which has been a joy.

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

(Chris): As a community, we are all going through uncharted waters, but I believe that at the end of the day we will be stronger and hopefully a bit wiser from the lessons we've learned during this pandemic. May we all stay safe and do our best to keep up our spirits/morale by continuing to learn, grow and create / appreciate art.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Kelly Brighton, an Actor, Singer, Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer


This Spotlight focuses on Kelly Brighton, an Actor, Singer, Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer who has appeared in theatrical productions his entire life. As a member of DOMA Theatre, Kelly has received accolades for his roles in several company productions. He is also preparing to take a new musical he has written to the stage, and as a Recording Artist works with some of the finest producers and recording engineers in Hollywood.  So what’s this always-busy guy up to while quarantined at home?  But first, Kelly shares a bit about his theatrical background.


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

Kelly Brighton (Kelly): I’m a Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer, which keeps me very busy. I started early in Theatre when I did two shows as a kid with Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, sang with LA Opera and the UCLA Opera Workshop. Those were really fun, busy times. I’m very grateful to my parents for supporting me to do what I love to do. Thanks to my Mom and Dad, I’ve been in the Theatre my whole life. Flash forward to today. In January I performed at the 2020 LA Ovation Awards. It was an honor to perform for our LA theatre colleagues, many of whom are my friends. It’s always a grand, black tie event at the beautiful Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

I’m a member of DOMA Theatre and played the conflicted Pontius Pilate in our production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Our superb cast and show were unanimously praised by critics and audiences, so much so that we extended our sold-out run twice at The Met Theatre in Hollywood. I received a Robby Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical as Pilate from L.A. Theatre critic, Rob Stevens.

Kelly Brighton as Lord Henry Wotton in "Dorian's Descent"

I had a great time as Lord Henry Wotton in DOMA Theatre’s Dorian’s Descent, the new musical written by Christopher Raymond and Marco Gomez, based on Oscar Wilde’s Gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I led Dorian into a life of debauchery in our beautifully produced show.

One of my favorite productions was Octavio Carlin’s hilarious farce, Hollywood Party, at the Hudson Theatre. It was mad-cap romp that audiences loved in which I played Rodrigo De Altamirano and spent the entire show looking for Lilyan Tashman. Movie star shenanigans.

I’ve written the music and lyrics with my writing partner Jane Stuart and we also co-wrote the book for a new musical farce titled Kiss Me, Quick! We’ve had two hilarious table reads with my DOMA friends and we’re planning a workshop production, making it a very exciting time for us. DOMA is developing a multi-use Arts Studio with a performance space in the Arts District in DTLA which will allow for immersive experiences as we develop new musicals in association with Behind The Mask, Inc. Stay tuned!

I’m also a Recording Artist and work with some of the finest producers and recording engineers in Hollywood. My pop/soul music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and most digital platforms. I invite you to check them out at KellyBrighton.com

(SB):  What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(Kelly): In mid-March this year, I was in pre-production to direct/act in Seminar by Theresa Rebeck for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We did a staged reading at Theatre Palisades in August 2019 which was such a success, we decided to put it up for Fringe. I was also rehearsing new material for Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, and was in pre-production with my good friend, Jim West (Weird Al), to co-produce a new single I’ll be releasing. Of course, everything is on hold now. And after years of not seeing The Book of Mormon, I finally had tickets but it was cancelled. What a disappointment!

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

(Kelly): While at home now, as a member of SAG-AFTRA Singers, I’m a studio session singer and have a home studio, and work is being offered remotely. We download the tracks, record our vocals at home, then send them back. It works very well. I just did a fun, Zoom online “Radio Play” reading with the Quarantine Players! It was a live, Facebook event and we had a blast. More to come! I’m also using this time at home to compose and arrange, which is my full-time job at the moment. I’m thankful to be focused on the positive and in the zone of creativity. I recommend it! And I love vocal coaching and am considering using Zoom to coach online. It’s an amazing media tool which many of us are discovering for the first time.

(SB): That’s very true. I am on the Board of Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse and we held our April Board meeting on Zoom, which was a really fun way to get together without having to drive to a meeting. I’d love to keep doing it that way even when the quarantine is over.

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

Kelly Brighton and "Kiss Me, Quick!" cast

(Kelly): I ask everyone to remember that this is temporary. Focus on what you can do at home. Engage your creativity. Read those scripts you’ve been meaning to get to. Learn that monologue you’ve had on your desk for months. Bump up your self-tape submission game. Work on your website. Go through your archival photos and update your news page. Encourage your friends to do the same. Lift each other up. And if you’re hurting, reach out. It beats being pre-occupied with worry.

There is nothing like the magic of live Theatre. It transports us, teaches us, moves us, riles us. That’s what keeps us in love with it. I know what it takes to put up a show and sustain a run, and when I’m an audience member, I’m pulling for everyone on stage to knock it out of the park! Always remember so much of what we do as actors happens backstage. I like that graphic that shows top 10% of an iceberg – what the audience sees - and the 90% below water is what we do in rehearsal. Truth!

(SB) That’s for sure! It’s the reason I appear in a play or musical every five years or so, just so that I remember all the work that goes into bringing a production to the stage when I am in the audience reviewing a show.

(Kelly): I love our community and it means a great deal to me. Some of my dearest friends are those I’ve done shows with here. You’re in the pressure cooker of production, and you bond quickly because you count on each other to bring it every rehearsal and performance. The shows go up with a bang, you have your run, and inevitably you say good-bye to your cast mates and production crew. Post-show blues are a real thing. Right?!

And so we take our friendships with us and support each other. Texts, phone calls, and lunches. None of us are doing this alone since the very nature of theatre is collaboration. How nice is it that we can continue to help each other along the way.

When we’re up and running, please go see a show! Continue to support your fellow actors and theatre companies. Get back out there and audition. We can do this!


Kelly is repped by The Movement Talent Agency

Visit Kelly at his YouTube Channel, listen to him on iTunes or on Spotify and connect with him on Facebook or on Instagram.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



The Winners at the 50th Annual 'LA Drama Critics Circle' Awards Ceremony Held at the Pasadena Playhouse

The 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019. (Photo by Better Lemons)

The LA Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) held their 50th Annual Awards ceremony at the landmark Pasadena Playhouse where Better Lemons was in attendance to live tweet the evening's festivities and entertainment, Monday, April 8, 2019.

Wenzel Jones presided over the festivities, and Christopher Raymond served as music director with musical performances by Kristin Towers Rowles, Constance Jewell Lopez, and Zachary Ford.

There were four recipients of the 2018 Production award: Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory), Come From Away (Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre), Cry It Out (Echo Theater Company), and Sell/Buy/Date (Geffen Playhouse / Los Angeles LGBT Center).

Better Lemons' Chief Operating Officer Stephen Box (Left,) Publisher Enci Box, and Playwright & Screenwriter Steven Vlasak at the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019.

The Antaeus Theatre Company received the most awards, with three of its productions winning a combined seven trophies. Celebration Theatre's Cabaret took home six awards, the most awards for a single production, including one for Revival. Tom Hanks received a lead actor award for his performance as Falstaff in The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of Henry IV in a competitive category. 17 awards were presented in other categories with 17 productions taking home the honors.

In its inaugural this year, the Theater Angel award was presented to Yvonne Bell in recognition of her "long career devoted to fostering theater in Los Angeles ... [and] successful fundraising campaigns" to help open several cultural institutions, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art and the California Science Center.

Eight previously announced special awards were presented, including the Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater to Sacred Fools Theater Company and the Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band.

The LADCC was established in 1969  “to foster and reward merit in the American Theater and encourage theater in Los Angeles,” the LADCC site quotes from an announcement in the L.A. Times of that year.

Here is the list of award recipients as announced during Better Lemons' live coverage on Twitter:

Featured photo by Enci Box - Theatre patrons in the courtyard of the Pasadena Playhouse for the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, Pasadena, California, Monday, April 8, 2019. Enci Box contributed to this story and photos.


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

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

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

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

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

The LADCC special award recipients are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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