Del Shores Goes This Side of Crazy

Actor/playwright Del Shores certainly needs no introduction. His plays Southern Baptist Sissies, Sordid Lives, and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife have been made into either films or TV series. Shores is opening his latest play This Side of Crazy at the Zephyr Theatre, tonight, January 31. In our conversation he tells our readers about the play in detail. Those who like 'crazy' should not miss this one!

Tell our readers about the story behind This Side of Crazy.

DS: This play has been brewing for years. It all started with my obsession with gospel music. When I listen to the song Son of a Preacher Man, I sometimes go down a YouTube rabbit hole and listen to the music I grew up with, mostly Southern gospel. I became obsessed with Dottie Rambo, who wrote over 2000 gospel songs. Then a crazy thing happened — Dottie Rambo contacted me (around 2005) on MySpace no less and told me she was a fan of Sordid Lives. She sent me a package of all her CDs and even a Dottie Rambo doll. A few months later, we were on tour with the play Sordid Lives and we landed in Nashville, where she lived. I invited her to come see the play where I got to meet her. Then tragically, just a few months later, Dottie was killed when her tour bus crashed. I became even more obsessed with her. And the more I watched her, the more I realized that as she gave God the glory, like many performers, she was also pretty narcissistic. Praising herself while praising Jesus! So, I thought ‘Oh, I could heighten that a little bit’, and I found my character “Ditty Blaylock”.

In another YouTube rabbit hole, I saw these three little girls called The Peasall Sisters singing perfect gospel three-part harmony. These little pastor’s daughters went on to win a Grammy award for doing the voices for George Clooney’s daughters in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

As I do so often when I write, I started playing the ‘What if’ game. What if Ditty Blaylock was the mother of three girls, little superstars for Jesus. What happened to them when they grew up?’ I then found Rachel, Bethany and Rachel, and as always, my characters started writing their story.

Does This Side of Crazy and Sordid Lives have any similarities?

DS: I guess my humor will always peak through. This was/is darker, with much more drama, more the blend of tones of my last three (Southern Baptist Sissies, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, and Yellow.) But the themes of family, forgiveness, and secrets are certainly similar to Sordid Lives. It’s not as broad. Less camp, although some would think “Ditty" just may rival “Brother Boy."

These stories come from your past. How much is real and how much is fiction?

DS: This one really is all fiction. Oh sure, there are people I’ve met who inspired characters and characteristics, but I really did create the Blaylocks. I guess if anybody is a little bit me, it would be that wild child “Bethany."

You create wonderful female characters. Explain how females dominated your life growing up.

DS: Oh they were all around me. Starting with my mother, who was a force (some of “Ditty” is certainly my Mom). I was fascinated by my aunts, the women in church and the backsliding relatives who wore lots of make up and had big hair and had very loud voices, with strong opinions. So, yes, I gravitate to tell the stories of woman of a certain age because frankly, I love them.

What is the theme or message in this play?

DS: Family. Forgiveness. And not just that we always need to forgive or are capable - but can we when the crime is so big; depression because of circumstances; sisters/siblings. Like I said, some dark themes in this, but I think many can relate to the stains that so many families have.

What would you like audiences to take away after seeing it?

DS: I want them to first and foremost enjoy an evening or a matinee of theatre. Laugh some, forget that outside world for a couple of hours, maybe think and shed a tear or two. A lot of people will also probably realize that their lives are not all that bad after visiting the Blaylocks.

Tell us about the cast and the chemistry between its members..

DS: It is a ridiculously talented cast. They all started as friends and now have become family. They truly love each other. The play is so intense that we always start by trading hugs. I adore each and every one of them and they are all repeats, having been in other plays, films, or TV of mine.

Anything you wish to add?

DS: Just that it’s amazing to be back doing theatre in Los Angeles. LA is the city that embraced my work as a playwright and I am so very grateful. And, it certainly takes a village. I love my “Crazy” theatre family. The designers, the cast, crew - and my amazing producing partners Emerson Collins and Louise H. Beard.

To make reservations, go to DelShores.com


The ‘59th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration' Free Music and Dance

This year's 59th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, performed Live at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, will also be broadcast live on PBS SoCal and KCET and streamed live at pbssocal.org, Monday, December 24, 2018, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration presented by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors provides Angelenos of all ages and is Los Angeles' largest multicultural holiday celebration. The event honors the dynamic, rich cultures of the county where many diverse L.A.-based artists and community groups showcase their talent, artistry and traditions on The Music Center's iconic Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage.
The show is broadcast live in Southern California on PBS SoCal and KCET and viewers can also live stream it on pbssocal.org. An estimated audience of more than 4,000 will watch the show live at The Music Center, with more than 18 million local viewers enjoy the program on television and online.
This year's co-hosts, internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and actor Brian White (Ambitions, Bronx SIU, Ray Donovan), and over 20 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies from all over L.A. Will help celebrate the season during the free, three-hour holiday show.
Highlights of the 59th annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration include the Daniel Ho & Halau Keali'i o Nalani, performing original songs in English and Hawaiian with hula choreography, Le Ballet Dembaya, a professional West African drum and dance company, Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts, a Filipino dance ensemble of traditional music and costumes, Lorenzo Johnson & Praizum, a diverse choir with upbeat, positive hymns, including traditional, contemporary, hip-hop, R&B, Christian and gospel, and Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, an all-female ensemble of festive Mariachi music.

New to this year's show will feature Infinite Flow, America's first professional wheelchair ballroom dance company, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the largest majority African American orchestra in the country, the Pasadena Girls' Choir, a newly formed under the Musical Director Barbara Allen (America's Got Talent, Dancing With The Stars), the Paso de Oro Dance Company, performing regional dances in celebration of Mexican and Latin culture, and Tres Souls, performing sounds and songs of the 1940s-1960s Bolero style popularized during the golden era of Mexican cinema.
Additional performers will include the Citrus Singers, a 45-member a cappella and handbell ensemble from Citrus College, the Colburn Concert Choir and the Young Men's Chorus from the Colburn School of Performing Arts, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, the Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, a music ensemble of 11-to-18-year-olds representing the communities of Acton and Agua Dulce, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Precious Blood School Children's Choir Filipino youth ensemble performing in Tagalog and English, official Korean cultural ambassador(s) Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, Los Robles Master Chorale, MUSYCA Children's Choir, Pacifico Dance Company with classical and contemporary Mexican dance, and The Spirit Chorale of Los Angeles is a professional ensemble dedicated to keeping alive the Negro spiritual along with jazz, blues and original gospel works.

The 59th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration free live show is Monday, December 24, 2018, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012. First come, first seated. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and patrons may come and go throughout the three-hour performance. The live broadcast on PBS SoCal, KCET, and online at pbssocal.org airs from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. The broadcast program will encore on Christmas Day, December 25, 2018, on PBS SoCal 2 at 3 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., and on December 26, 2018, at 11 a.m.
For more information, call (213) 972-3099 or visit the show website at HolidayCelebration.org. The show is free, there are no reservations or tickets needed to attend the show, and there is free parking at The Music Center parking garage.