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!
Actress and Singer, Tiffany Bailey, has many talents. She also happens to be a behavioral therapist for children with autism. I laud her for that. Last Spring 2019, she released an album entitled "Jazz with Pop," and her cabaret show was very well received. In this interview, she updates our readers as to the success of the CD and talks about her other projects for 2020.
DG: How has your CD been selling since your concert last spring?
TB: The Jazz with POP CD has been selling okay. People seem to like the disco-inspired groove of Twilight Tone and the soft haunting feel of True Colors the best. More people are hearing about Jazz with POP, so that is great! I have it listed on all music platforms: iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, CD Baby! I also have it available on my website:
DG: When is your next concert appearance and where?*
TB: I’ve got a few private gigs coming up in January and February [and the] next public gig is set for Thursday, April 9, , at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. This is one of my favorite venues. I have some cool things planned.* Lots of exploration in 80s/90s pop, musical theater, epic songs that have theatrics, a little Jazz, and comedy! Another gig I’m excited about is Thursday, June 26, , at The Gardenia Lounge. with my friend, Francesca Amari, who is a popular cabaret singer in Palm Springs. Two very different shows. Both incorporating: comedy, cabaret, and some musical theater, mixed with pop.*
DG: Are you changing what you will sing for the next series of concerts?
TB: In some ways yes. I will always have my Jazz roots. But, I’ve really been exploring the comedy of Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Also, finding some great musical theater I like; some pop-influenced songs, and a little Lawrence Welk, if you can believe it.
DG: Tell our readers again about growing up with a musical father and how it motivated you to want to sing professionally.
TB: Growing up with a father who plays music has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. When it came to learning about cool artists. My dad was steeped in the jazz world, so I learned about and listened to Chet Baker, Diane Schuur, Charlie Parker. But he also introduced me to the Bee Gees, Captain & Tennille, Ray Charles, Hall & Oates, The Carpenters…the list goes on. Even now, dad is always sending me links to music I should listen to. We have a lot of fun chatting about it. And he really understands my musical tastes, so I listen to a huge variety of music.
DG: Are you embarking on essaying other styles of music, or do you feel more comfortable staying with jazz and pop?
TB: I feel very safe with and love singing the jazz standards and pop music, but I’m definitely exploring new music genres in the last few years. I’m wanting to bring in a funk component to some of my arrangements; I’m also exploring adding a theatrical element to my shows, so I’m listening to a lot of show tunes, both from the Golden Era of Broadway and contemporary shows. I’m really attracted to songs that tell a story, and I want to translate that to my shows: storytelling with music, words and lights. I want my audiences to feel “full” when they leave my shows. I want the music to speak out, loudly. And I want them to really understand the stories behind the songs and feel the passion I do about the music itself.
DG:What other projects are on the horizon or more specifically in the near future?
TB: I’m exploring more acting and voiceover work. I’ve gotten my headshots done for commercial film and TV. I’m trying to put myself out there to get a feature film. I love using my voice in fun ways and exploring what I can do as an actor. Recently, I’ve started to figure out how to perfect Carol Channing’s unique speaking style. It’s a tricky one; she was such an incredible talent.
I’m also looking to get more involved in directing cabaret shows and theatrical productions. I have a background in music and art therapy. I truly enjoy working on shows and being involved in the writing and development process. I think I bring something valuable to other artists, including adding the component of fun, organization, creativity, and collaboration.
DG: Tell us again who your favorite singers are, old and new.
TB: My idol, Karen Carpenter is number one. Others include Lea Michelle, Sharon McNight, Esperanza Spalding, Casey Abrams, and Melody Gardot. Lately, I’ve been really intrigued and enamored with Billie Eilish–both as a person and performer.
DG:Do you wish to add anything?
TB: I decided this past year to really follow my passions, so I have been taking piano lessons, which has added so much joy to my life. My goal was to accompany myself at a show, and I’m happy to report that I will be doing that! I just want to immerse myself in the entertainment world, from music to directing to cabaret to voice work and acting.
* This concert has been canceled due to COVID-19. When things get back to normal, the concert will be rescheduled.
DG: When I asked Tiffany Bailey what she is doing to stay active creatively, she had the following update.
TB: Haven’t rescheduled yet. So hard to know when to do it. Probably looking at early next year, or end of this year. Just continuing to work on projects and stay musically moving and grooving.
We were so excited to be doing our show, "The Tiffany Zone," April at Feinstein’s.* But, safety is what’s most important. We are looking forward to rescheduling. The Tiffany Zone, directed by Keri Kelsey, is going to be a blast to the ’80s and ’90s, quirky stories, heartfelt ballads, and lots of music you can celebrate with. We are even bringing back actual high school show choir friends from my high school–Erin Rivlin & Crystal Keith! Both ladies are exceptional musicians. We will have some great moves too. My special guest will be jazz musician, Jeffrey Gimble [and] featuring Emile Hassan Dyer as well. Musical Director, Jamieson Trotter!
During this time, I’ve been staying sane by playing piano two hours a day, taking a sight-singing class with Jazz singer/teacher Sandra Booker, working on shows with Karen Celeste Cruz, and Francesca Amari Sajtar. Dancing every day and learning new moves. Having creative conversations with friends and family. Acting silly, taking risks (videos, live streams, writing), virtually making crafts with my niece. Finding resourceful ways to connect with people. Taking time to appreciate the space during this scary time. Funny how suddenly doing the dishes, has become more enjoyable—especially to music. Grateful to all who are helping to burn this pandemic out.
A Noise Within led all producing companies with five awards spread over three of their productions—"Argonautika," "The Glass Menagerie," and "Frankenstein." The Geffen Playhouse won three awards, one each for their productions of "Key Largo," "Skintight," and "Witch."
Lies and Legends Award for Best Ensemble Award
Matt Darriau, Elizabeth A. Davis, Joby Earle, Patrick Farrell, Harry Groener,
Lisa Gutkin, Mimi Lieber, Steven Rattazzi, Richard Topol, Adina Verson,
Indecent, Ahmanson Theatre
Billy Barnes Award for Best Cabaret Performance
Daniel Thomas Bellusci, Brittney Bertier, Ellie Birdwell, Bruce Kimmel,
Kerry O’Malley, Jenna Lea Rosen, Robert Yacko,
L’Wonderful, L’Marvelous, Legrand, Kritzerland at Vitello’s
Special Award for Props and Puppet Design
Erin Walley and Dillon Nelson, Argonautika, A Noise Within
Dead Man’s Cell Phone - a wildly imaginative comedy about how we memorialize the dead, & how that remembering changes us. It is the odyssey of a woman forced to confront her own assumptions about intimacy, morality, & redemption. @FeinsteinsLA@LAThtrhttps://t.co/d1JzVXQg99
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - With a dash of depravity and a brilliant score, this Tony Award-winning musical thriller shocks the senses with savage comedy, stunning terror, and razor-sharp wit. @ANoiseWithin#LATheatre#LAThtrhttps://t.co/bYKUJJpFqZ
Fueled by the force that is the Hollywood Fringe Festival, creatives brought a banquet of quality smaller theatre and performance art to 2019 to Los Angeles, with many projects growing beyond its borders and seeking destinations in other mediums.
From local producers, east coast transplants, and across-the-pond ex-pats; from solo introspective, post-apocalyptic satire, and the cutting edge, to dance, aerial and burlesque–eight artists reflect on their personal accomplishments and challenges in 2019, as well as on the inspired work of their peers, and share their plans and hopes for more to come in 2020.
What have been some highlights in 2019 for you personally and your career?
L. Walker –“One of the professional highlights for me this past year was producing Aeriform Artists Media Cirque du Giselle. To be able to present a uniquely executed, extremely well-received performance piece in a festival where there are 400 plus shows was an amazing experience. One of Aeriform Arts main values is inclusivity and we've managed to grow our production arm while honoring those values. We are pleased to have worked with Women’s Health Magazine and Hearst Media coaching and coordinating aerial shoots for magazine covers with both Julianne Hough and Para-Olympian Amy Purdy, as well as work with Yvie Oddly, winner of 'Drag Race' Season 11 for RuPaul's World Of Wonder Productions. Personally, my most important accomplishment for the year was being able to create a better work-life balance, allowing me to truly enjoy what I do.”
Jonathan Tipton Meyers - Photo by Cooper Bates
J. T. Meyers – “Personal highlights from this year began with performing a selection from my solo show 'We Are Traffic: A Solo Rideshare Adventure' on KPCC's Unheard LA. Then turning that solo show into a half-hour television pilot alongside a one-hour dramedy, 'BLERD' about a young black engineer who lands his dream job at a private sector Space Company, then discovers a conspiracy that might destroy it. I also co-created alongside fellow storyteller Katya Duft, a live storytelling show about rideshare called 'Ride or Die' to bring together passengers and drivers. I've met some beautiful artists who inspire me and 5,000+ people in this city trying to get from one place to another and they've inspired me to bring their stories to the world.”
R. Moore – “2019 has been a true treat. Career-wise, I had the opportunity to direct many great theatrical productions including Los Angeles Brisk Festival's award-winning production of 'RECESS' written by Kara Emily Krantz and starring Kyle Secor and Hailey Winslow. I also got to direct my first musical for the Hollywood Fringe Festival [HFF], 'Jamba Juice: The Musical.' Other productions include 2Cents Theatre INKFest's 'East Stanton Station' and OC-Centric New Plays Festival 'Still Moving' written by Ben Susskind...On the theatre side, I worked as the associate director on many great television shows this year, including my fourth year on CW's Masters of Illusion and the Hollywood Christmas Parade. My favorite shows to work on were the CW variety show 'The Big Stage' and the upcoming Disney+/Jim Henson talk show Earth to Ned, where alien Ned comes to invade Earth but finds himself enamored by human culture [and] abducts various celebrities to understand how Earth and humans operate. For Henson fans, they will be delightfully impressed with this show. Personally, I completed two half marathons this year: New York and Las Vegas. I'm very much looking forward to doing many more in 2020. I had the pleasure of being a Producers Guild of America Mentor in their Power of Diversity Workshop.”
M. Ritchey – “2019 has been one of my favorite years. I’ve had some tragedy and some pitfalls to be sure, but overall, I love the trajectory of this past year. Personally, I started to trust my instincts more and be okay with people not “getting” me or my choices. I’ve been more open to possibility and did a lot of leaping into things that scared me, mostly to very positive results–many of them being in my career. I did a lot of acting this year: I wrote and performed a one-man show (with two people in it) called 'Blackboxing' at the [HFF 2019] where I tried to shove as much of 'me' onto the stage as I could - and it was overwhelmingly accepted. That led to me shooting a music video for the song 'Smellay Lahk A Turkay' with For Love of Parody Productions which was fantastic. (It was written for my aunt Julee back in 1995 who passed away a few weeks after the music video debuted, just after her birthday.) I did a 48-hour project with my company, M3, and stepped into two 'last-minute' shows in October and December, I made big strides with my writing partner on a screenplay, I saw and reviewed a ton of L.A. theater, made some great new friends, and was featured on a playing card and poster thanks to Matt Kamimura and 'Matt: The Gathering.' And I got to work with Sebastian Munoz and Force of Nature Productions directing my play 'Romeo and Juliet In Hell.' Amazing year.”
Jenelle Lynn Randall
J. L. Randall – “Well the past few years have been rough with no rep–my manager died...in the past month I’ve gotten a manager, booked a few voice-over gigs, and met the love of my life so 2019 turned out okay. But I have to say 'the' most important thing I accomplished was my Eartha Kitt show that I wrote, EP'd and starred in this past June at [HFF 2019], 'I Wanna Be Evil: The Eartha Kitt Story.' We opened with three sold-out houses, got rave reviews, and offers to bring the show to other theatres. That was very taxing–as it was my first fringe and I did everything except direct myself–but it was very rewarding. I also did a truncated version of my [HFF 2019] show for Feinstein’s At Vitello's in L.A. in September, where that show also has rave reviews on Broadway World.”
S. Vlasak – “This year started with a bang for me with my 'Nights at the Algonquin Round Table' receiving a run in January at the Carriage House Theatre in Lexington, Kentucky. Every show sold out, and I flew there to be part of the fun–joining in talkbacks after some shows. The director, Bob Singleton, and the entire cast all did a fantastic job with my Dorothy Parker-centered Roaring Twenties comedy. Of course, [also] 'Disrobed: Why So Clothes-Minded?' was the focus and highlight of 2019 for me. This unique 'naked cast and audience' theatrical experience, produced and directed by Brian Knudson, sold out its debut Fringe Festival run and extensions, won some awards, and has now settled into a once a month residency at Matt Quinn’s Studio C Theatre in Hollywood.”
C. LaCohie – “This year has been insane both personally and career-wise. I had premiered my solo show 'Vixen DeVille Revealed' in L.A. back in 2018, and at the beginning of 2019 I set my goal to take the show on the road. I toured the show to four cities in three different states and won three awards, including 'Best One Person Performance,' 'Best Solo Performance,' and 'Best Out Of Town Show.' On returning to L.A. I then entered into a deal to have the show taped as a one hour TV special, which we are working on releasing in [2020.] Finally, I had also set a goal to link the show to a charitable cause and 2019 saw the launch of my book 'Vixen's Unleashed' and later a calendar version of the book, proceeds of which go to support the Vixen's Unleashed Scholarship Program - information on both the book and scholarship are available.”
M. Robinson – “A highlight for my year personally has been learning to play golf. It's fun because every time you play is a chance to get better. With my career winning best comedy for 'Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive the Apocalypse' at [HFF 2019] was such a rewarding experience. I was so proud of the cast and crew and getting recognition like that was unbelievable.”
What were your top five favorite shows, productions, or performances this past year?
L. Walker – “My five favorite productions this year are a hodgepodge of mediums and styles - circus, music, dance, and film are huge parts of my world. In no particular order, my five favorites this year were: Bauhaus at The Palladium, 'Disrobed: Why So Clothes-Minded?' by Steven Vlasak, [documentary] 'Industrial Accident: The Story Of Wax Trax! Records' with concert by Ministry, 'O' Cirque du Soleil, and 'Tarantina.'
J. T. Meyers – “[My] top five favorite shows this year were relatively small in scale, but gigantic in spirit and heart: Kate Radford's glowing multi-media show 'Drought,' Makha Mthembu's powerful time bomb 'No Child Left Behind,' Mitchell Bishop's mind-bending adventurous, gloriously insane 'Pit of Goblins,' John Leguizamo's profound 'Latin History for Morons,' and 'August Wilson's Jitney'–which needs no additional kudos, it was just brilliant.”
R. Moore – “Based off creative approach, there are two [shows] that really come to mind. During the Brisk Festival, Gerald B. Fillmore's play 'Join the Club' was an insanely hilarious view of an immigrant finding their way to America. When it comes to drama, 'Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies' directed by Allison Bergman for the OC-Centric New Plays Festival was not only relevant to the cultural issues where we're seeing inequality but an insightful look at mental health issues. On the East Coast...'Slava's Snowshow' looks like an unassuming clown performance until you find yourself covered in fake snow while clowns climb through the audience. The show ends with ginormous balls for the audience to pass around, as well as more snow! Because of a personal connection, I have to share I enjoyed 'Say Something, Bunny!' The show deciphers wires recorded from the early 1950s of a family and discovers the voices in the recording has to not only New York roots, but has insights to the early days of musicals on Broadway. I say this is a personal connection because one of the characters in the recording was a Moore and a possible relation to my family lineage!...My list wouldn't be complete if I didn't include at least one dance performance. And for that, I have to say 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.' Matthew Bourne's reimagining of the story is very timely and the talent performed is incredible. The production value is extraordinary and the use of lighting, graphics, and production design is great."
M. Ritchey – “I saw a terrific amount of theatre this year, either by personal choice or as a reviewer, and my obvious stand-outs list was 15 strong. But the five that broke convention and were the most intellectually, artistically, and visually stimulating for me were: 'Growing Gills to Drown In The Desert' at Loft Ensemble. A heady, funny, emotional, and existential look into who we are as individuals, a society, and the meanings of theater and life. 'The Magic Flute' at LA Opera. I’ve been wanting to see this show – Mozart’s classic directed as a live 1920’s film with projections and characters pulled from classic silent films – for years. A good friend got me an amazing seat and I was just as blown away as I had hoped to be. 'Butcher Holler Here We Come,' A Economy Production at [HFF 2019]. Not only was this story (based on real events of a coal mine collapsing and burying five men) incredibly well-written, directed, and acted, but it was done in complete darkness in a room at Thymele Arts with only the use of practical headlamps. The action took place all around the audience, making it completely immersive but with no burden on the audience to have to 'do' anything. It was frightening, exciting, engrossing, and other words ending in '-ing.' 'The Death of Sam Mobean,' Orgasmico Theatre Company at [HFF 2019.] Not only did Michael Shaw Fisher’s mind-bender of a play (reminiscent of 'Invitation to a Beheading' and more than one Kafka novel) move me in the brainpan and tickle my funny bone, but it featured Schoen Hodges in what I consider the best male performance at [HFF 2019]. 'Supportive White Parents' at Second City. Centered around an Asian girl who wishes on a shooting star for supportive white parents and 'magically' gets her wish. [The play] features brilliant cross-cultural stereotypes, sharp writing, fantastic music, a talented cast, and the mandatory 'lesson'–Joy Regullano’s show was my favorite new musical of 2019. Immediately following this list is 'Mr. Yunioshi,' my favorite one-man show, and 'Boeing Boeing,' the most sharply directed and acted piece I saw.” – Matt Ritchey
S. Vlasak – “I got to see a lot of live theatre in 2019, but It’s the shows that were somehow next level in structure and style that most stand out. ' Cirque du Giselle' an acrobatic show from Aeriform Arts, as part of [HFF 2019], was every bit as visual and breathtaking as something from Cirque du Soleil. Actually, I liked it better, with its world-class performers, a strong narrative, and fantastic costumes evoking visitors from the afterlife. My other 2019 highlights, all reviewed on Better Lemons, and all with distinctive and innovative staging, were Greg Crafts/Theatre Unleashed’s 'Tattered Capes,' LA Opera’s 'The Magic Flute,' Sacred Fool’s 'Waiting for Waiting for Godot,' and another love letter to actors, Matt Ritchey’s 'Blackboxing.'"
C. LaCohie – “In no particular order. Three of my favorite shows come from [HFF 2019.] 'Yes. No. Maybe.' by Raymond-Kym Suttle, which has some stunning acting talent and beautiful provocative writing. 'Cirque Du Giselle' an exquisitely skilled aerial ballet adaptation presented by circus school Aeriform Arts. 'Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-next-door' written by Marnie Olsen and directed by Jennifer Chun (which was, in fact, my second time seeing the show after seeing it at a different venue in 2018) was once again an outstanding roller coaster of a ride through heart-wrenching vulnerable storytelling, expertly peppered with genuine laugh-out-loud moments of light relief. Every cast member took this show to another level and I probably cried even more than the first time around. Honorable mention goes to 'Blue Man Group' which I saw at the Pantages - another second for me this year...I'm going to include 'Foodies and Boobies Burlesque Brunch' in my top five (an ongoing burlesque brunch show at El Cid.) I've been meaning to see this show for a while and then was cast to perform with them in November!!! I couldn't wait to get off the stage to watch the rest of the show. The performers they brought in were some of my favorite burlesquers in town, so prolific, entertaining and oozing charisma. The whole show was just put together so well, the whole cast having such a blast on stage, the audience just can't help but be swept away with the atmosphere. As a burlesque performer of 15 years, YES, I've seen a lot of burlesque. Done badly, you want to kill yourself. Done right, it's like you died and went to heaven. Producer Ginger Lee Belle is doing all kinds of other-worldly brilliance!”
Matthew Robinson - Photo by Matt Kamimura
M. Robinson – "I've seen so many amazing shows, so apologies in advance if you feel I overlooked your show. I will definitely wake up in the dead of night realizing I forgot an awesome production. These are listed in no particular order: 'Lights Out: Nat 'King' Cole,' 'We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915 is a 2012,' 'When Colossus Falls' at Acting Out INKFest, 'Meet me in Mizery,' and 'Pockets.' There are so many I am thinking of but I've written this list 12 different ways.”
What is your favorite food and/or holiday tradition for the New Year?
L. Walker – “I've given up on 'resolutions.' As I’ve grown older and wiser I’ve realized that looking backward isn't the best way to live your life–I like to look forward. I like to start the New Year out at the beach surfing and setting my intentions for the year, the beach is one of the places I feel the calmest at.”
J. T. Meyers – “I have no New Year's traditions, but it's such a good idea that I will start one: A Hollywood Hike to humble myself under the big blue sky.”
R. Moore – “When it comes to New Year's traditions, there are two musts: watching 'New Years Eve Rockin' Party' (with that Ryan Seacrest guy) and an overflowing cup of Welch's sparkling cider. Watching the ball drop in NYC is something I always make sure I do. Goal making is a big part of what I do not just at New Year's but throughout the year. My approach has morphed over the years as I've gone from aspiring to now being in the thick of my career journey. I now look at goal setting as a course correction and aligning my energy with opportunities and networking to continue in the direction I've started. What is different at New Year's is I look at any unfinished business I may have on my plate, critically look at what did work and didn't work in the past year, and examine what will be best for the new year. I don't quite do dream boards, but I do post my goals around my bedroom as reminders. There's a lot that can pull your focus in Los Angeles, so it's key for me to say, 'Is this going to be helpful for me or is there something better for me to use my time?'"
M. Ritchey – "I had two holiday traditions at Christmas with my family, one of which has sadly gone away – the annual Snakespoon. (I won’t go into it, but if you’re interested, check it out here.) But through the year, members of my family keep an eye out online or in stores for entries into the Ugly Ornament Contest. It’s exactly what it sounds like: we buy the ugliest ornaments we find during the year and then present them on Christmas Day to one another. We vote as a family and one ornament reigns victorious. Check ‘em out.”
J. L. Randall – “I make sure I go back east, Maryland, to visit my mother for the holidays...on December 30, 2019, she turned 80, so I’m very excited for her party.”
S. Vlasak – “Holiday traditions? I come from a big family, and we do tend to round everyone up, so I do enjoy those Christmas cookies and Italian food! And it’s LA, so…Tamales! Family and friends are the best! As for New Year’s, I just dust off last year’s resolutions and determine to do them again. No, really.”
C. LaCohie – “Food! I go home to the UK every year for the holidays and I can't get enough of that black pudding! Nom Nom...Every new year I come up with a word for the new year, rather than resolutions. I stole this from Bonnie Gillespie–who I'm sure stole it from someone else–but it's something I encourage my students to do also. The way I use it is it's a word that you will filter all your decision making through for the rest of the year. In 2016 my word was 'go' as in 'go to things'–make a conscious effort to accept invitations. If I was tired at night. and not sure whether to attend, I would 'go.' 2017, the word was 'create,' which meant whenever I was given the opportunity to create something, I would. I would choose that option over making money, overspending time doing general upkeep–unlike the previous year, if it was a toss-up between going to some event and finishing up some costume–I would stay at home and create. 2018 was 'finish,' as in finish off unfinished projects, but also put a 'finish' a polish or embellish already completed things. I finished creating my solo show, I finished a lot of unfinished burlesque act ideas. I painted my grotty looking living room. Last year was 'risk.' If making a decision, the only reason against it was it was too risky– risky financially, risky that I might fail–well, I went and did it!! I really think this is why I've actually accomplished so much this year, I just kept taking the risks. I haven't figured out my word for 2020 but I will meditate on it on New Year's Day and put it first and foremost in my Freedom Mastery Calendar–another other of my New Year traditions. I go through the whole process of goal setting as set out in the front of the calendar. If you haven't heard of Freedom Mastery check it out."
M. Robinson – “For New Year's Eve, my family loves to make black-eyed peas usually in a stew.”
What can we expect in the New Year from you personally? What creative endeavors or projects are coming up?
L. Walker – “This year my company Aeriform Artists Media is in the design stage of a Social Circus production. These traveling performances will utilize circus as a medium for exploring, exchanging ideas, championing and bringing awareness to the societal experiences of various marginalized groups. Our goal this year is to find ways to expand creatively and grow organically.”
J. T. Meyers – “In this new year, you can expect a full production mounting of 'We Are Traffic,' hopefully, followed by a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. In addition, I'll be pitching both TV pilots and finishing a screenplay, 'All My Friends,' about the 2003 blackout in NYC.”
R. Moore – "In the new year, I am partnering with playwright Kara Emily Krantz to bring her play 'inValidated' to the 2020 [HFF.] 'inValidated' is a two-time O'Neill semi-finalist and currently a 2020 National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist. I am also looking forward to see what the seeds I planted in 2019 may create, including shadowing fantastic directors on network shows. Who knows...there may also be a resurgence of the 2018 [HFF] favorite 'Buzz'd Out!' finally making it to a television near you! No matter what happens, I am looking forward to creative and 'awespiring' 2020!”
M. Ritchey – “I just began my Storycrafting service where I work with actors, writers, or anyone with a story to tell and help guide the process – theater, film, novel, short story, etc. Deadlines are always important so I have some people working toward [HFF] shows in June. Storycrafting: I’m working with a friend to create a Summer Theater Program, continuing to work with Director’s Lab West, and looking for a company to produce my sure-fire hit comedy 'Shpider.' Guaranteed hit. Seriously. Call me. Happy Holidays.”
J. L. Randall – "I am entering National Alliance for Musical Theatre in NYC, so I’m excited, and anticipating my Eartha show 'I Wanna Be Evil: The Eartha Kitt Story' being accepted into that festival. I'm also looking for a producing theatre that will help me develop my show further for the NY market. The plan is Off-Broadway, then Broadway. I’m ambitious and hopeful, but anything is possible.”
S. Vlasak – "For 2020–Yes, the Roaring Twenties are back! There are additional productions brewing around the country for 'Nights at the Algonquin Round Table.’ And although it’s too soon to make any announcements, the premise is also being developed as a TV series. 'Disrobed' may be found on the first Saturday of every month [starting March 2020] for those whose bucket list includes 'attending the theatre in my birthday suit.' And I’ve written a darkly humorous and (not very) naked look at the culture of celebrity, 'Beautiful Monsterz,' which I hope to present this June for the [HFF.] And, of course, I’m looking forward to attending and being transported by all the new works from L.A.'s innovative writers, actors and directors, and to logging in a few more hours hanging out with them at the Broadwater Plunge.”
C. LaCohie – “Other than getting the solo show turned into a TV show (which, as I pass it over to the producers is now out of my hands) I will be looking to take the show out of town again towards the end of the new year coupled with showcases of the scholarship winners. Plans for that are on hold the next couple of months as I'm planning my wedding taking place in May (Eeek!) In March, I'll be going out of my comfort zone with the Vixen DeVille Coaching as I'm exhibiting and speaking at this year's 'The Best You Expo,' the largest personal development gathering on the planet. I'm currently writing my 20-minute TEDTalk-style speech and all of the self-doubt is, of course, creeping in! Come check out the Best You Expo March 20 and 21, 2020 at LA Convention Center."
M. Robinson – “I am working on a new play, 'Glamour,' for the [HFF.] And have a few more plays in development–one about paramedics, and another about astronauts in deep space. I am hoping that I can continue to create interesting stories, and I am super excited for the projects my friends are working on. I feel 2020 is going to be a strong year for a ton of folks!”