The Better Lemons 2019 Fringe Audience and Critics Choice Awards

As of this post, the critics and the audiences have spoken, resulting in almost 99 Hollywood Fringe productions receiving a SWEET #LemonMeter rating and 19 Fringe productions receiving #DoubleSWEET ratings (both critics and audience members agreeing on a sweet production).

It takes three reviews from critics or three reviews from the audience to generate a #LemonMeter rating.

The Better Lemons Fringe Audience and Critics Choice Awards, as well as the DoubleSweet Awards are based on the number of reviews submitted before the time of publication.

The shows with the most reviews receive the Audience and the Critics Choice Awards. The Awards are based on the number of reviews, regardless of the #LemonMeter rating of Sweet, Sweet and Sour, or Sour.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THESE WINNERS who have registered their shows on Better Lemons and encouraged audiences and critics to voice their opinion about their show, regardless of the outcome!

Audience Choice Awards:

1st Place
TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM

2nd Place
RAISED BY WOLVES
IF WE RUN

3rd Place
HOLLYWOODN'T

Critics Choice Awards:

1st Place
BOXING LESSONS
THE BULLY PROBLEM

2nd Place
POCKETS
SCARLETT FEVER
FERTILE: A Conversation About the Expectation of Procreation
THE SAME ROOM

3rd Place
(IM)PERFEKT
TRANSFERENCE
MIL GRUS
TATTERED CAPES
OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE
WIGFIELD
SON OF A BITCH
THE SCORPION AND THE FROG: A TIME-KILLER

The DoubleSweet Awards are based on the SWEET #LemonMeter rating by both Critics AND Audience members as of Friday noon, June 5th.

DoubleSweet Awards:

(in order of most audience reviews)

RAISED BY WOLVES
IF WE RUN
HOLLYWOODN'T
THE BULLY PROBLEM
FERTILE: A Conversation About the Expectation of Procreation
THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR
BUNNY THE ELF LIVE!
A BIT MUCH
CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR
(IM)PERFEKT
TRANSFERENCE
MIL GRUS
START SWIMMING
SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS
SAVING CAIN
BATTER UP: MY BRAIN ON BASEBALL
CIRQUE DU GISELLE
THE LAST CROISSANT
PIT OF GOBLINS
OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE
TATTERED CAPES
45 MILLIGRAMS
HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO


The Winners at the 10th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival Awards 2019

The 10th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival Awards Ceremony was presented Sunday, June 30, 2019, at the Montalbán Theatre. Here are all of the winners of the Community Awards.

Top Of The Fringe

The Last Croissant

International

Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth

Fringe First (World Premiere)

Pockets

Cabaret & Variety

Blackboxing

Comedy

Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse

Dance & Physical Theatre

Tattered Capes

Ensemble Theatre

The Last Croissant

Immersive Theatre

Vote For Murder!

Musicals And Operas

Pockets

Solo Performance

Mr. Yunioshi


Voices from the Fringe: Writer/Performer Ross John Gosla

Returning to this year’s Fringe after his 2017 Producer’s Encore! Award-winning Desert Warrior: A Benghazi Story is writer/performer Ross John Gosla. He is premiering his new solo show, Sexual Misadventures of a Straight White Male: A Privilege Story.

Ross spoke with Better Lemons about the new piece and what he’s been involved with since we saw him last.

Better Lemons: What have you been up to since the 2017 Fringe?
Ross John Gosla: Wow, hard to believe it's been two years. Been keeping busy. I did a short run of Desert Warrior in January 2018, followed by a couple of one act plays. I was brought on staff full-time at the Complex Hollywood, where Monica Martin and team have been working at full speed to improve and renovate since she took over ownership last year.

I filmed an episode of the web series The Wasteland, in which I played a captured insurgent in a dystopian future. I shot a big commercial at the beginning of this year directed by an Academy Award-winner (NDA). Most recently, I provided the narration for the documentary Masculinity that Inspires Change that dropped on Amazon Prime this past May.

BL: Tell us a bit about the new piece. What was the inspiration?
RJG: The piece follows a privileged straight white male named "Ross" as he goes on an adventure through the Man Make Machine in order to become a real man in 2019. When the Weinstein scandal broke, I found myself quickly saying, "But I'm not like that," as I’m sure many men did. And we men tended to vocalize that sentiment loudly.

But as the narrative evolved, a resounding female voice said: "Shut up and let this play out." And as it did, the moment of epiphany came. I asked myself if there were any areas of sexual violation that I have committed, any lines crossed, any boundaries not respected. And in that introspection, I found a myriad of unchecked behavior — behavior that in a different set of life circumstances could very well lead to a Weinstein-esque persona.

From there, I applied the same formula I used with Desert Warrior. I took that behavior I revealed and a couple other seemingly unrelated events (my Taekwondo years, and a couple of key conversations with my Dad), put them into the brain mixer, and here we are!

BL: Your director, Steph Martinez, is a Fringe first-timer. What’s her background?
RJG: She is a blessing from Heaven. We met at the theater program at Arizona State in 2007. A similar training style — the program primarily utilizes Viewpoints as a tool to train actors and devise new work. We reconnected here in LA and are part of the same acting studio, Studio 24/7. A brilliant actress and artist, she has masterfully shaped the piece and kept me truthful in the work with insightful notes and questions. Most importantly, she has brought a perspective that is crucial to any conversation dealing with improving gender relations.

BL: What message do you hope to deliver with this piece?
RJG: Understanding and healing. I believe there are certain unifying male experiences that all men share. I'd like to think that if the show causes one other man to honestly examine his "gray areas," and he comes to recognize those times when he may not have actually had consent. Or he was false with his intentions, and learns from those mistakes and can foster a higher ideal in the future, that would be a powerful message indeed.

BL: How does it feel to be back at the Fringe as a performer?
RJG: I love the Fringe, it's my absolute favorite time of the year. You meet so many like-minded artists and make so many new friends. The electricity in the air is palpable — this year especially. All the participants seem extra pumped!

BL: What words of advice would you give to Fringe neophytes?
RJG: Dive in headfirst, have fun, hydrate, rest when needed; rinse and repeat.

BL: What other shows playing this year sound intriguing to you?
RJG: On my must-see list:
At the Complex:
It's Personal
Klingon Tamburlane
Pocketmon!
This Way Yonder
At the Broadwater:
Meet Me in Mizzery
At the McCadden:
No More Toys
At the Stephanie Feury:
George.

Sexual Misadventures of a Straight White Male: A Privilege Story plays June 14-
29 at the Complex Hollywood’s Flight Theatre, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd. Specific dates and showtimes, as well as ticketing information, can be found on the Fringe site.


Voices from the Fringe: Writer/Director Thomas Wortham

Making his Fringe debut this year is Thomas Wortham, the writer, producer and director of An American Video Store, set in one of the titular establishments that barely exist anymore.

In the midst of beginning a new job and preparing his show for the Fringe, Mr. Wortham still found the time to talk to Better Lemons.

Better Lemons: What was the inspiration behind this piece? Personal
experience?
Thomas Wortham: I don't know how it works now, but in the ‘90s kids would just hang out at various retail locations, whether it be the mall, an arcade or — in my case — a video store. I got hooked at a young age by my mom's VHS collection and it just never stopped. There was a Blockbuster up the street from my house that I practically grew up in. I also worked at a Hollywood Video Store in college, which was an awesome and terrible experience all at the same time. I always wanted to write some form of this story and the mistake I always made was trying to make the plot about the actual downfall of the video store business. Something in the vein of Empire Records, where it was all about saving the store.

I finally felt I had unlocked the idea when I realized the story had to be about the characters and allow the business aspects to simply act as a foundation for what was happening.

BL: Any parallels with Clerks - which, of course, would be a perfect connection?
TW: It is so funny you ask this. OF COURSE Clerks and Kevin Smith are a massive influence on myself and the play. In fact, just two nights ago I attended his Fatman Beyond podcast taping in Hollywood. They do a Q&A at the end and I was able to get up and ask a question wearing a shirt that had my play's logo on it.

Kevin is so generous with folks promoting their stuff, and with his connection to video stores, he immediately asked me about my shirt and insisted I plug all aspects of my play before and after me asking my question. It was incredible. He also had some nice things to say about the Fringe, which was cool.

But in terms of the mechanics of the play, it was crucial that the script had scenes that allowed the characters to wax intellectual about movies. Very similar to how Dante and Randal talk about Star Wars in Clerks, or how Brodie and T.S. talk about Superman in Mallrats. And you know just how shitty jobs  really have an impact on how our lives play out, when we are young can, whether we recognize it or not in the moment.

BL: What does (or did) the video store symbolize in American culture?
TW: I think that more than anything the video store era just represented a communal experience that sadly is the biggest thing missing when you select something through a streaming service. I'm sure the algorithms that Netflix uses are very sophisticated, but the way an organic conversation with customers and clerks could lead you down such interesting and unexpected paths was something I think is impossible to replicate.

BL: Briefly, what’s the show about? How will it resonate with audiences?
TW: Taking place over three pivotal moments in the history of the American video store, our intimate story of clerks and customers examines the rise and fall of a cultural phenomenon that defined a generation. The show is an hour long - with the goal being a funny, emotional and nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who has ever enjoyed the experience of going to a video store to pick out a movie.

BL: Can you tell us a bit about the cast?
TW: My girlfriend Aidan Rees is our lead and is also a producer. She is an incredibly talented actoress who is a regular at Second City. I'm always blown away by her ability to be such a versatile performer. Going from improv to sketch to everything scripted can be challenging for anyone to execute. We found our second lead, Jeff Coppage, through a self-tape. He has the uncanny ability to add flavor to dialogue that wasn't intended as a joke, and all of a sudden I'm laughing my ass off. So damn unique and funny.

Kristin Morris is a close friend of mine and an extremely accomplished actor. I saw her in West Side Story at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach and I always knew I would love to write a part that would be brought to life by her amazing talents. Antoine Dillard, Misao McGregor and Angelique Maurnaé were all actors that Aidan had worked with before. While I was not familiar with their work, they have all knocked it out of the park and made their characters jump off the page in a way I never could have imagined.

BL: Is this your first Fringe experience? Or have you attended in previous years, either as an audience member or talent?
TW: First time Fringer in every capacity. I am so excited and thankful to be exposed to this brand new weird world.

BL: What other shows intrigue you at #hff19?
TW: Lots of shows that are also at Stephanie Feury look great. I have had the chance to meet the creators of George. and Treason so I look forward to seeing those. The ladies who are putting on 2 for 1 seem to be cooking up something unique. An Excuse to Behave Badly sounds like a really smart and fun concept. I am intrigued by the ambitious premise of She Kills Monsters. I am sure there are plenty more I would love to see but honestly those are some of the folks who I have met at office hours that caught my eye.

I look forward to a Fringe year when I can be just an attendee and have more time to learn about other shows instead of focusing so much on ours.

BL: Finally, have you made the trek to the last remaining Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon?
TW: I have not. I would love to. Fortunately, there are a handful of video stores still operating in the LA area that I have gone to recently to help inspire the show. In particular, Cinefile Video in Santa Monica made me feel at home, so if any of this conversation makes you miss the experience, go check ‘em out and show them some love!


An American Video Store plays June 9-29 at the Stephanie Feury Studio
Theatre, 5636 Melrose Avenue. Specific dates, show times and ticketing
information can be found on the Fringe site.


See Our Fringe Teaser at the BLACK

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is launching previews this week, June 6th, 2019.

I have recorded about 80 production teasers at The Black in Hollywood that have registered their shows on our website and here is a short teaser for you.

The full teasers will be published soon and we hope you will see and share them with your friends and family!

Featured productions in this video:

BLACKBOXING

BUNNY THE ELF LIVE!

CHRISSY METH ~ A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL AND THE JOURNEY BACK

(IM)PERFEKT

LIVIN' THE DREAM (A JOURNALISTIC JOURNEY)

OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE

SHE KILLS MONSTERS


Voices from the Fringe: Singer/Performer Victoria Gordon

Making her Fringe debut this year is singer, actor and Los Angeles native Victoria Gordon, who is bringing her cabaret show to the Complex in Hollywood. The piece, entitled Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe, is a combination of musical performance and comedy.

In anticipation of her upcoming appearance, Ms. Gordon spoke with Better Lemons about her show and her all-around Fringe experience.

VICTORIA GORDON - LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGEBetter Lemons: You performed this show before, right? What’s different about this Fringe production?
Victoria Gordon: I did perform a version of this show before — in September 2018 at the Broad in Santa Monica. But I knew that wasn’t the finished version. As soon as I got the video of that show back, I started taking notes to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. And I used that to refresh and expand my repertoire, which also led me to write new monologues. At the end of the day, while some of the songs are the same, almost everything around them is different.

BL: And the music… How were the pieces selected?
VG: Everything came to me differently. I love musicals and listen to cast albums all the time, so sometimes, a song just hits me and I think, “I have to sing that!” That’s how the song “Another Round,” from Bright Star, ended up in the show - I was at the Ahmanson, watching the cast perform it, and I just knew I had to do it. Others are old favorites, like “It Might As Well Be Spring,” or characters I’ve dreamed of playing, like Mabel Normand in Mack and Mabel (that’s how I wound up with “Wherever He Ain’t,” one of Mabel’s big moments). And then there are the songs I never imagined singing, but someone else suggested and I quickly realized that they were right. “I Am What I Am” is one I never saw myself performing, but my sister told me I had to give it a try, and now it’s a cornerstone of my act — thanks, Natalie!

BL: How about the band? Did they accompany you in last year’s show?
VG: Two out of three, yes! I met my Musical Director-slash-drummer, Sam Webster, through two contacts: my arranger and a studio musician I trust. They both recommended Sam, so I contacted him and we hit it off right away. He brought in both my bass player, Chelsea Stevens, and pianist, Adam Bravo. Adam is new for this show. He wasn’t available in the fall, but I’m a huge fan already!

BL: Is this your first time at the Fringe? How are you enjoying the experience?
VG: This is my first Fringe as a participant. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I’m really thrilled to be part of it! I’ve met so many incredible people and learned so much about theater and performance. This is such a great and inclusive community.

BL: What makes “Live” a good fit for the Fringe? What can audiences expect?
VG: My show is a throwback. I’ve been describing it lately as an “old-school nightclub act,” back in the day when lounge singers were off-duty Broadway performers. It’s not something that many people my age do anymore, but it’s the only music I’ve ever wanted to sing, and I think Fringe audiences are used to less-than-expected offerings.

Audiences can expect to laugh a lot — usually with me, but sometimes at me—and to hear showtunes they know and love (or maybe a few they don’t know yet!). It’s also just a fun show. I modeled it after Bernadette Peters and Jane Krakowski’s shows, and what I love about them is that they’re just enjoyable shows, filled with entertaining stories and great songs. Nothing too dramatic or depressing; it’s a lighthearted but still touching show.

BL: Tell us a bit about your background.
VG: I grew up in Los Angeles, as did both of my parents, so all of my grandparents were very active in my childhood. My mom’s family was all musical; my dad’s family worked in TV comedy. Both sides were very accomplished, so I got to see what it really takes to be successful in music or entertainment. I grew up playing the violin, but later switched to singing, and haven’t looked back since! I always wanted to be an actress and singer, and got into writing in my teens. I started producing comedic film and TV projects for Amazon while still in college, and post-college, that became my full-time job. But when the opportunity to stage a solo cabaret came up, I jumped at the chance, and Victoria Gordon Live was born. It’s been a great way to put everything I know — performance, production, and live events — into practice at once.

BL: Since the Fringe is a collaboration, what other shows intrigue you?
VG: So many! I have a folder filled with sixty-ish Fringe flyers and they all sound like great shows. I am especially excited for Bunny the Elf, because Christi Pedigo has brought so much sunshine to Fringe this year; Leaving Prince Charming, because Lara Repko’s story is so personal and moving; and Batter Up! My Brain on Baseball, because the idea of a baseball trivia show is just so Fringe.


Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe plays June 6 (preview) through June 27 at the Complex Hollywood’s OMR Theatre, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd. Information and ticketing can be obtained on the Fringe site.


The TVolution 2018 Hollywood Fringe Awards!

And here they are

The TVolution

2018 Hollywood Fringe Awards…

BEST OF THE FRINGE AWARD

Burglars of Hamm's Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

BEST SOLO SHOW (FEMALE) AWARD

Katt Balsan – Balls'ON

BEST SOLO  SHOW (MALE) AWARD

Joshua Thomas – Let There be Thistles

BEST MUSICAL AWARD

New Musicals Inc.'s:  Manson's Girls

BEST COMEDY AWARDS (TIE)

Mackers! & The Day I Became Black

BEST DRAMA AWARD

Ain't That America

BEST ENSEMBLE AWARD

Pervert

Robert Watkins, Nick Howard & Gabrielle Farrow

BEST ACTOR

John Braham (Red) Ain't that America

BEST ACTRESS

Yokko (Medea) Butoh Medea

BEST DIRECTOR

Christopher Johnson – The School of Night's Hercules Insane

BEST INTERNATIONAL SHOW

Still

THE ESSENCE OF FRINGE AWARD (tie)

Jack Benny (A Ménage En Train) & Shilo Kloko 

Awards aside, there are, still, far many more individuals whose talents deserve some note of distinction and we at TheTVolution wish the privilege of acknowledging them:

Honors to the following Productions:

Hush by Madcap Creative

Sex and the Musical by For the Love of Parody Productions

The Runaway Clonby Zaftig Inc., The Unknown Artists & Ruckus Rockwell

Echoes by Redbeard Theatre & Fringe Management LLC

Honors to the following Actors:

Jim Martyka (Hans Gruber) A Very Die Hard Christmas

Ben Hethcoat (Chris Burden) A Beast/A Burden

Matt Curtin (Allen Ginsberg) Beatniks: A New Musical

Jeff Sumner (Creep) Dracula's Taste Test

Steven Syzdio (Abbie Hoffman)
Uncivil Correctness:
Osama Bin Laden, Joan Rivers, Abbie Hoffman

Tim Kopacz (Philip) Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Chris Chapman (Henry V) Henry V (And Cocktail Party)

David Garver (Trent) American Conspiracy

 Honors to the following Actresses:

Joana Knezevic (Mrs. Alving) Ghosts

Megan Rose Ruble (Susan Atkins) Manson's Girls

Corsica Wilson (Jessica Burden) A Beast/A Burden

Tracy Leigh (Words) Easy Targets: Artists & Heroes

Pam Eberhardt (Laura) The Runaway Clone

Rachel Berman (Diane di Prima) Beatniks: A New Musical

Cyanne McCaerin (Constance Wilde) The Importance of Being Oscar

Virginia Tran (Kerri) Skin Jobs

Koni McCurdy (Birdy) Blind Spots

Melanie Holmes (Lily) Negative Spaces

 Honors to the following Performers:

Christopher Piehler – Sink or Swim

Burt Grinstead & Anna Stromberg – Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Alli Miller – Craftlesque

Evan McNamara – Last Christmas

Cooper Bates – Black When I Was a Boy

Jordan Rountree – Epic Fail

Honors to the following Writers:

Mitchell Bisschop – I Can Hear You Now

Jim Vejvoda – Skin Jobs

Davia Schendel (Book, lyrics and music) – Beatniks: A New Musical

Benjamin Schwartz – American Conspiracy

Giovanni Zuniga – Pervert

John Braham –  Ain't That America

Michael Shaw Fisher (Book, lyrics and music) – Doctor Nympho vs the Sex Zombies

Pam Eberhardt (Book, lyrics)  and Jonathan Brenner (music) – The Runaway Clone

Joe Hernandez-Kolski & Joshua Silverstein — The Joe & Joshua Show  (2018 edition)

Honors to the following Directors: 

Jonghee Woo – Ghosts

Gregory Crafts – A Very Die Hard Christmas

Branda Lock – Let There Be Thistles

Jin Blanchette – The Women of Lockerbie

Changting Lu – House of Tales

Albert Dayan – Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Matt Ritchey – American Conspiracy

Dan Schultz – Ain't That America 


TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE 2018 HOLLYWOOD FRINGE
A MODEST REMINDER:

SUCCESS IS NOT GAUGED BY AWARDS
OR
THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
BUT
BY THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ONE'S OWN EFFORTS.
CONGRATULATIONS TO FRINGERS ONE AND ALL.
LET'S DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

Reprinted with permission from TheTvolution.com


"Meet the Critics" Panel Podcast

On Saturday, June 2, Better Lemons and Theatre West hosted “Meet the Critics!” featuring several of LA's premier critics for a panel discussion of theatre criticism.

The following critics attended:

Shari Barrett from Broadway World
Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as a theater reviewer, entertainment columnist, and publicist to ""get the word out"" about theaters of all sizes throughout the Los Angeles area.
Dale Reynolds from Edge Media Network
Dale Reynolds, a SoCal native, has been a critic for theatre, film and DVD since 1970, for a wide variety of outlets in NYC and L.A., including StageAndCinema.com, StageHappenings.com, EDGELosAngeles.com, and for Frontiers Magazine for many years, in addition to being West Coast Editor of A&U Magazine for four years.
Monique LeBleu from Los Angeles Beat
Monique A. LeBleu is a reviewer, writer, photographer, videographer, shameless foodie and wineaux. She has won multi JACC Journalism awards for her feature writing, critical journalism, and social media statewide competitions.
Patrick Chavis from LA Theatre Bites
Patrick Chavis is the creator, designer, podcast writer, and head editor of LA Theatre Bites. Because of the massive size of the Los Angeles area and its theatre presence, Patrick decided his reviews should take the form of podcasts en lieu of more traditionally written articles. He is also one of the creators of the Orange County based theatre review site, the Orange Curtain Review.
Bill Raden from LA Weekly
Since Bill wrote his first review for LA Weekly over 30 years ago, he has covered theater on both coasts, won multiple awards for his political journalism, and today continues to focus on Los Angeles' experimental and intimate stage scenes for LA Weekly as well as for the online stage journal, Stage Raw.
Leigh Kennicott from ShowMag
Leigh Kennicott has an extensive background in theatre, film and television and a Ph.D. degree in Theatre, awarded in 2002. A writer, director and actor, Leigh Kennicott began theatrical reviewing at Backstage, followed by Pasadena Weekly and Stage Happenings blog before joining showmag.com in 2018.
Katie Buenneke from Stage Raw
Katie has been a theater critic for over a decade, and has been reviewing Los Angeles theater for 7 years. She ran Neon Tommy's theater section for three years before freelancing for LA Weekly for another three years. She joined the LA Drama Critics Circle in 2015, and she's currently a regular contributor to Stage Raw. She earned her BA in theater and MFA in film producing from USC.
Jordan Riefe from The Hollywood Reporter
Currently serves as West Coast theatre critic for The Hollywood Reporter, while also covering art and culture for The Guardian, Cultured Magazine, and KCET Artbound. Cover theater for OC Register/Coast Magazine in Orange County and theatre and film for LA Weekly. Assigned beat for THR focuses on touring productions of Broadway shows.
Ernest Kearney from The TVolution
He is presently the cultural critic for The TVolution.com.
Michael Van Duzer from This Stage LA
Michael Van Duzer has reviewed opera performances, both locally and nationally, for over 30 years in a variety of print and online media outlets. After leaving his job in 2014, he was finally able to add theatre to his reviewing schedule.
Ryan M Luevano from Tin Pan LA
Ryan Luévano is a professor of music at Woodbury University and Santa Ana College. During the summers he is a regular teaching artist at A Noise Within Theatre Company in Pasadena. When he's not making music he pens as a theater critic for his blog Tin Pan L.A. where you can read all about the L.A. theater scene.
 


Voices from the Hollywood Fringe 2018: Lola Kelly and Sterling Powers of ‘The Witnessing'

Making its world premiere at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe is The Witnessing, an immersive, multisensory theatrical experience that explores a shocking paranormal experience. As described on the Fringe site:

"Unexplained phone calls, disembodied voices, moving objects and heart-stopping apparitions plagued the Davidsons' Utah home from 2008 to 2010. Desperate for an explanation, they called upon the renowned Daugherty Paranormal Research Center to help solve the mystery behind the strange disturbances."

Director Lola Kelly and writer Sterling Powers were kind enough to answer some questions about the paranormal thriller.

What was the inspiration behind “The Witnessing”? How was it developed?

Sterling Powers: I met (the Davidsons) while hiking in Utah in the summer of 2016. I was so fascinated with their story — mainly because they don't believe in ghosts, and yet they had all of these strange things happen in their home that no one could explain. The story was originally about (Mrs. Davidson's) experiences specifically, but [sound designer] Rolfe Kent was much more interested in the investigation aspect of it, so we decided to develop that instead.

After more than a year of research — gathering data, news clippings, conducting multiple interviews, writing, rewriting, and assuring everyone that we wouldn't use their real names — I finally handed the script over to Rolfe, Lola, and [producer] Savannah Wheeler.

What is the show about? What will audiences be experiencing?

Powers: This is a lecture given by the skeptical researchers who were investigating the disturbances in the Davidson home. Audience members will hear stories, see slides, listen to audio recordings, and handle some pretty spooky artifacts.

Lola Kelly: The show is based on two real paranormal experts whose mission is to debunk the mysteries of the world through science, and the story is about what happens when they (and we) face things that can't be explained. The audience will experience a condensed and enlivened version of one of their actual lectures.

What makes the piece immersive? How does the audience participate?

Powers: The Witnessing breaks the fourth wall without forcing people to participate, which I think is important for a truly bone-chilling experience. In order to feel and enjoy the thrill of fear, you have to first feel safe. Attending a lecture is inherently participatory and somewhat bland, even if you don't ask any questions.

You know that the panel members are talking to you; you know that you chose to be there. It's not like a Halloween haunted house, where you walk in expecting a teenager with a mask and chainsaw to startle you. This isn't about jumps, or cheap thrills — this is about making you question your own ideas about what's real or even possible. I want people to walk out and wonder if their own home might be haunted — even if they never considered it before.

Kelly: To me, immersive theater abandons the old proscenium model and allows audience to step into real or spectacular worlds, which our play certainly does. Our show isn't the most participatory because it's based on a real life model that is presentational (a lecture), but audiences will have direct address and will be able to handle, feel, smell, hear and question in a wonderful way.

What are the skillsets of the talent involved?

Kelly: Galen Howard is a really singular performer with decades of experience in film and theater. His take on the real-life assistant is as grounded as it is eerie. He's recently appeared in the immersive hit The Willows. Jason Paul Field plays our Dr. Daugherty and Field brings an intensity, magnetism and commitment to research that matches the real guy. He's a classically trained Carnegie Mellon graduate and played Humphrey Bogart in The Blank's Something Truly Monstrous and a lead in Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West at the Ruskin.

Given the time restrictions of Fringe, how will the logistics be handled?

Kelly: With gusto! We have a small cast but a lot of artifacts and tech to bring in so we'll be keeping it to the essentials and creating a game plan for the most efficient load in and out. Obstacles always give way to creativity. We'll also be allowing the audience who arrive early to observe some of the set up if they are curious to take a closer look at the paranormal artifacts we'll be setting out.

Is this the company's First Fringe production?

Kelly: Yes.

What makes the show an ideal fit for the Fringe?

Kelly: It is the sort of experimental and intimate new work that thrives at the festival. It's concise and exciting.

Since the Fringe is collaborative, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout out to?

Kelly: One Last Thing Before You Go, which is also playing at Thymele Arts.

The Witnessing plays May 31, June 15 and 16 and June 21, 22 and 23 at various times at Thymele Arts, 5481 Santa Monica Blvd. It is recommended for ages 18+ and is not for the faint of heart. More information and tickets can be found on the Fringe site.


Voices from the 2018 Hollywood Fringe: David Lucarelli, Writer of ‘Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror'

The writer talks about the ghost shows of yore, their relevance in today's society and its manifestation at the Fringe.

Making its world premiere at the Fringe is the intriguing-sounding Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror, a throwback to the theatrical ghost shows that were popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. Writer David Lucarelli was kind enough to answer some questions about the show.

What was the inspiration behind the creation of Dr. Zomba?

I was at Comic-Con one year and I stumbled on a book called “Ghost Masters,” by Mark Walker, about the history of the ghost shows. I found out the ghost shows were this spooky, funny, scary magic show that featured hypnotism, mind reading, a séance, monsters and ghosts. I was immediately fascinated by this lost bit of spooky Americana. I really wanted to see one, but since very few people are doing them anymore and it's kind of a lost art. I figured the only way to see a ghost show was to write one and put it on myself!

What will audiences be experiencing? Is the piece immersive?

The climax of every ghost show is an immersive “blackout sequence,” in which the audience is in total darkness and surrounded by supernatural phenomena they can see, hear and feel! They had all kinds of tricks to make this happen. We went back and studied the ghost show manuals from the '50s, and came up with a few new tricks of our own.

What's your personal history with the ghost shows of yore?

I'm a monster kid and a horror writer. I grew up loving Halloween, haunted houses, Scooby Doo, TV horror hosts, Rocky Horror, Famous Monsters of Filmland, etc. This show is for all the misfits like me.

What are the skillsets of the talent involved?

Dr. Silkini's Ghost Show was considered one of the top ghost shows in the 1950's. A few years ago when the people that had the rights to Dr. Silkini were looking to bring the show back, they hand-picked our star, David M Beach, to be the new Doctor Silkini. That didn't end up happening, but we've very lucky to have David as the star of Doctor Zomba. David is an actor, comedian, magician, juggler and ventriloquist, all of which makes the perfect skill set for him to be the ringmaster of our ghost show!

Kerr Lordygan plays Ear-Gore. He is a Fringe veteran and an award winning actor, director and playwright. Tamara Torres plays Sirena. She's an actress and dancer who has appeared in film, television and music videos. S. Alessandro Martinez is a horror and fantasy writer who is making his stage debut as Dracula. Our director, Kevin Wetmore, is the Professor and Chair of Theater Arts at Loyola Marymount University. Fight choreography is one of his specialties and we'll be utilizing that talent — among many others — in the ghost show.

I wrote Tinseltown, the critically acclaimed crime drama from Alterna Comics, and The Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade graphic novels.

Given the time restrictions of Fringe, how will the logistics be handled?

We allowed ourselves twice the normal time to set up our show (30 minutes, vs. the usual 15). And since we're the final late night show at the Flight theater every Saturday night, we won't have anybody breathing down our necks on the back end, either.

It is. Abacab Studios is the name for all my creative projects. I stumbled on the Fringe Fest last year when a co-worker at Fox invited me to see her perform in a play and I ended up going to four other shows! You can find out more about my other work at abacabstudios.com.

And what makes the show an ideal fit for the Fringe?

The ghost show is a lost art, but you can see its influence in the séances at the Magic Castle, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and in the graphics of artists like Rob Zombie. It's in some ways the last vestige of vaudeville, and in other ways is still on the cutting edge of immersive experiences.

Since the Fringe is collaborative, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout out to?

So many shows sound so compelling I want to see them all! I won't make it, but I'm going to try. Blackballed, about the history of Negro League Baseball, sounds fascinating. Lights Out in the Hermit's Cave is a performance of some of the classic spooky radio shows of the 30s and 40s. Dracula's Taste Test and Cthulhu: The Musical! both sound like really fun shows that might appeal to fans of Doctor Zomba's Ghost Show.

Final comments: We want as many people to see this ghost show as possible. You can save $3.00 off tickets with discount code: BetterLemons. For Fringe participants, tickets are only $5.00 for all shows, and the show is free for Fringe Volunteers.

Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror plays June 2, 9, 16, 18 and 23 at various times at the Flight Theater at the Complex, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets can be purchased on the Fringe site.


Voices from the 2018 Hollywood Fringe: Lucy Gillespie, Writer of 'Keeping Up with the Prozorovs'

Making its world premiere at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Fest is playwright Lucy Gillespie's comedy Keeping Up With the Prozorovsa mashup of Chekhov's Three Sisters and the Kardashians' reality show. She took the time to answer some questions about the piece for me.

What inspired you to write this mash-up?

Last February, I broke my back in a snowboarding accident, was airlifted to a hospital, then rushed into emergency spinal fusion surgery. The week after surgery was terrifying. I had no idea what my recovery would involve, or if I'd ever walk again. I was in constant pain, too scared to move in case I injured the surgery site. It was during this week that I watched the Kardashians for the first time. I'd always been aware of them, of course, but with the distanced dismissal of a self-confessed snob.

But now, heavily dosed on a variety of opioids, I fell in love with them: their beautiful china doll faces, their soft round curves, their warmly-lit homes filled with plush, tasteful furniture. In Kardashian-land, there is no pain; only spa treatments, new car smell and an abundance of healthy snacks. This was heaven, the ultimate manifestation of the American dream. After a few episodes, it occurred to me (theater nerd that I am) that Three Sisters had finally made it to Moscow.

What's it all about?

As I said, Chekhov's Three Sisters have finally made it to Moscow (Calabasas, CA). At first, they are overjoyed. All their dreams have come true! Over time, the reality sinks in that wherever you go, there you are. And that the price you must pay to succeed in Moscow is everything you loved and took for granted back home.

How did you and director Katie Lindsay find the cast?

Facebook! Luke Forbes was in my webseries, Unicornland. Nikita Chaudhry is a fellow NYU alum, Christopher Soren Kelly is my friend's partner. Fabianne Meyer and Chloe Dworkin went to high school with Katie! Lauren White and Janai Dionne know each other from improv circuit, and came to us through a friend of Katie.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

Laughs! Most of our artistic decisions have been made in the name of fun. Everything I write has themes, a message, et cetera, but we really just want people to have a raucous night at the theater.

Is this your first Hollywood Fringe experience? Is everyone ready for the lightning-fast switching that's all part of the Fringe?

Lucy Gillespie.

Yes, we are HFF virgins! But Katie and I both did the off-off-off-off thing in NYC and are well-seasoned in indie, self-produced theater. As a member of EST's Youngblood Playwrights Group, I regularly took part in the monthly short play Brunches where everything — writing, rehearsals, tech, full brunch — came together in a week. And Katie, Fabi and Chloe did Urinetown at the Edinburgh Fringe!

Since the Fringe is a collaborative venture, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout-out to?

So many! My friend Chris Sullivan is producing Best Friend, which I've read and am really excited about. Our friend Cat LaCohie, benefactor of our corsets and furs, is producing a majorly sexy and fun burlesque show called Vixen DeVille Revealed!, and we're sharing actress Janai Dionne with Modern Romance.

What other plays have you written?

Webseries: Unicornland, 2016. Plays: One of Us, NYC 2014; The Forum, NYC 2013; Outfoxed, NYC 2012; and The Atwater Project was an O'Neill Finalist in 2012.

This piece is female-centric and diverse. Is that a common theme that runs through your work?

Absolutely.

Keeping Up with the Prozorovs plays June 3-23 at various times at the McCadden Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place. Specific times and ticket purchases can be located on the Fringe site.


Fringe Friday: Office Hours Schedule + Workshop 2 Panelist Announcement

Join Hollywood Fringe staff and participants for weekly casual meet-ups at different bars around Hollywood. If you're wondering what the fuss is all about, check out this FringeTV video.
Office Hours take place Wednesdays starting March 28th. The times and locations are below; for drink specials and updates, check out this blog post and the #drinkingaboutfringe hashtag on Twitter and Instagram (as well as #hff18, the official festival hashtag).
March 28th, 7-10pm - St. Felix (1602 N. Cahuenga Blvd.)
April 4th, 7-10pm - Lost Property (1704 Vine St.)
April 11th, 7-10pm - Paloma (6327 Hollywood Blvd.)
April 18th, 7-10pm - Pig N' Whistle (6714 Hollywood Blvd.)
April 25th, 7-10pm - The Well (6255 Sunset Blvd.)
May 2nd, 7-11pm - BLACK (6202 Santa Monica Blvd.)
May 9th, 7-10pm - 33 Taps (6263 Hollywood Blvd.)
May 16th, 7-11pm - Three Clubs (1123 Vine St.)
May 23rd, 7-11pm - BLACK (6202 Santa Monica Blvd.)
May 30th, 7pm-Bar Close - Three Clubs (1123 Vine St.)
Networking is an essential ingredient to your success at Fringe and the Fringe organizers are giving you a ton of opportunities to mix and mingle! Hope to see you #drinkingaboutfringe soon.
Consider this your last call to join the Fringe organizers this Sunday, March 11th for Workshop II: Money & Promotion from 2-4pm at the Complex, moderated by their Outreach Manager Ellen Den Herder.
They have some awesome panelists lined up to share their expertise (and encouragement!) who have all had successful Fringe shows: Sofie Khan, Tom Cavanaugh & Kat Primeau.
Click the workshop link above to reserve your free seat.


Some Other Notable Upcoming Dates:
The next #HFF18 Twitter Chat is on Wednesday, March 14th from 2-3pm. Check the link for tips and the full schedule.
Venues will still be hosting tours and open houses this month. Check out the list here.
Town Hall II: Marketing takes place Tuesday, April 3rd at 8pm. Check out the full schedule of this year's Town Hall & Workshop series here.
Purchase Ads for the printed guide by April 15th at hollywoodfringe.org/market.
Questions? Send them to [email protected].