Spotlight Series: Meet Dana Weisman, A Musical Theatre Actor Who Longs to Get Back Onstage ASAP


This Spotlight focuses on Dana Weisman, a musical theatre actor who longs to get back on the stage and entertain audiences as soon as possible!


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

Dana Weisman (Dana): It seems like I have been involved with theatre my whole life. Originally from New York, I began taking dance lessons at around 7 years old and then became a company member in a local children’s theatre troupe when I was around 10.  Like many young girls at the time, I was captivated by the musical Annie when it opened on Broadway and would have given my right arm to be part of that experience. In my mid-teens I attended a performing arts camp called French Woods in the Catskills and further fanned my musical theatre ambition.

Roy Okida and Dana Weisman in "Somethings Afoot"

Then, after the movie Fame came out, I was given the opportunity to audition for the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia) and was accepted as a Vocal Arts major. We were classically trained, but for me one of the most fun and fulfilling parts of my high school years was being a member of M&A’s acclaimed Gospel Choir. While at M&A, I was also a part of a professional theatre company in Manhattan called The First All Children’s Theater. With this troupe, I had the opportunity of performing at the Kennedy Center in an original musical called The Trip when I was 16 years old.

After high school, I attended Northwestern as a Theatre major for a couple of years before transferring to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (Circle-In-The-Square) as I had decided I wanted to earn a BFA. After college followed long years of waiting tables at MANY restaurants up and down Manhattan. You can definitely “Betcha your life a waitress earns her pay!”

In between waiter gigs and other odd jobs, I took classes and built my resume doing lots of regional and summer stock theatre. I made lifetime friends at all these jobs and seemed at times to move closer to my goal of a Broadway gig - but then would slide back. It became frustrating as I saw many of my friends move on to Broadway and my confidence eventually began to erode. I learned there is no question one needs to have an unflagging, burning desire coupled with talent and being in the right place at the right time in order to succeed in this biz. But I seemed to never have all three at the same time.

Dana Weisman as Frau Blucher

Eventually, after a break-up, I decided to move to Los Angeles where my brother was living and try out a change of scenery and maybe pursue the TV/film side of the biz. Shortly after being in LA, I met my husband Jon, a native Angelino, and my fate to become a West Coast transplant was sealed. After getting married, I decided to pursue my other strong interest - psychology - and in between raising a family of three, I earned my graduate degree and became a licensed MFT.

However, as almost any theatre person can attest, once you are bitten by the theatre bug, it is impossible to truly get rid of the itch to be involved in the business in some way, shape or form. After years of singing lullabies to my children, I decided I wanted to get back to singing in another capacity. A few wonderful years singing with the famed Angel City Chorale was followed by my LA theatre debut with Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Since then, I have been performing in many other venues around LA, The Blank Theatre, The West Coast Jewish Theatre, and the Cupcake Theatre, to name a few, and also trying to break into the television / commercial / film / VO side as well.

Dana Weisman in "Broadway Bound"

(SB): I remember being amazed at your performance in Broadway Bound with The West Coast Jewish Theatre, quoting from my Broadway World review: "And what dedication to her craft was on display by Dana Weisman (understudy for Maria Spassoff), taking the stage with a broken leg in a boot and walking on crutches as Kate's sister Blanche Morton. But as soon as the initial surprise wore off in a matter of seconds, the lovely scene with Blanche visiting the family home, dressed to the nines by Shon Le Blanc in a lovely dressy suit and fur coat, reflected how well she has done for herself." A truly masterful performance! What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show? 

(Dana): Luckily, I was in between shows at the time the “Safe At Home” quarantine began. I had recently ended a run at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center as Donna in Mamma Mia and was auditioning for my next opportunity. I had a callback in the works but unfortunately, the show was postponed as we started to see the ripple effect all over LA of theaters closing and schedules being put up in the air indefinitely. Post show confidence is always a great booster for moving forward to one's next goals. So while I wasn't part of a show in the works at the time the quarantine began, any momentum I was hoping to build upon post Mamma Mia has had to be suspended indefinitely.

Dana Weisman as Donna in "Mamma Mia"

(SB): If you missed Dana in “Mamma Mia” in Simi Valley, here is my review of that fabulous production.

Regarding that callback, how was the shutdown communicated with you?

(Dana): News of this particular shutdown was communicated online via Facebook, emails, and other social media. That said, I knew it was coming and had contemplated perhaps not even attending the original audition because by that time, shutdowns were already taking place all over town. But I am glad that I did though as it always feels good to get out and turn in a mini-performance and get to do what you love, even in nerve-wracking audition circumstances.

(SB): Do you know if plans are in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Dana): As far as I know, this particular production will commence in the future but no dates have been announced as yet. I certainly hope and pray that CoViD-19 and future precautions do not effectively “kill” live theatre, and I look forward to the day when auditions and live performances can resume. But I know that smaller theaters and theatre companies will have their budgets affected by the shutdown, and that all shows will be pushed back and schedules will have to be altered and reworked. I have a daughter who is attending Northwestern University in the fall as a freshman but, as with theatre, schedules are up in the air and may look like something completely new that we have not yet seen as we get closer to the start of the next semester.

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

Dana Weisman with "Sunday in the Park" cast

(Dana): So far, I have taken advantage of this time by cocooning at home with my family by resting, cooking, baking, watching TV, taking safe distancing walks, meditating and attempting to get some much-needed sleep. Lots of self-care. However, I will say that it can be difficult maintaining motivation as lethargy is not easy to stave off when the rule of the day is to stay at home and mostly indoors. As a theatre person - and generally a “people person” - the distance created by interacting onscreen is not always as fulfilling as the live experience. But if this is the new normal, we will all need to adjust.

Moving into this next phase, I hope to begin keeping up personally by honing my audition songbook, learning monologues, and reading plays. There are so many online classes for just about any aspect of the theatre -- auditions, dance, acting -- I hope to begin taking part in many of them. Some groups I participate in are doing online play readings, and I am planning to also take part in those. Keeping up with my fellow actors in Zoom chats is also a much-needed balm.

(SB): It’s been fun being in a few of the Zoom meetings with you! Any more thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the LA Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Dana): It is difficult to maintain hope and positivity during such unprecedented and anxious times. But theatre isn’t going anywhere. I think it’s best to just take a little rest and time to recalibrate and emerge with renewed vigor once it is safe to again “go live.” As we have all seen, the Arts in all forms are what people are turning to in these crazy times to keep going and to be inspired. They provide solace, laughter, a creative outlet, and catharsis even when shared via distance and online.

Forgive my corny sign-off but it’s true: “The sun will come out tomorrow!”


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Christine Joëlle, a Versatile Actor Who Also Runs a Successful Pet Care Service


This Spotlight focuses on Christine Joëlle, an actress I first saw onstage in the summer of 2004 as Madge Owens in Picnic, directed by Gail Bernardi for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Christine and I went on to work together in many productions for the community theatre group, both onstage and on production teams. Since then, I have been fortunate to follow her path across the stages of professional theatre companies all over town, always enjoying her ability to transform herself into a great variety of characters – often during the same show!  And I am also a very happy customer of her pet care service, Movin’ Paws.


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

Christine Joëlle (CJ): I graduated from James Madison University and attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have worked in several theaters all around the city, having performed in over 60 stage productions. I am a proud theatre company member of THE ROAD and THEATRE 40 and union member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

Jennifer Laks, Lary Ohlson and Christine Joëlle in "Night Watch" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger

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

(CJ): I was currently working on Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Jerry Mayer at The Santa Monica Playhouse. We were on its 4th extension before having to postpone until a future date.

Christine Joëlle in “Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Photo by Evelyn Rudie

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team? 

(CJ): Via emails and phone calls. Ultimately, we came to a mutual decision to close the theatre for our and our patron’s safety.

(SB):  Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(CJ): Our producers, Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo will most likely resume running the show. I have no doubt that all the cast members would be delighted to return.

(SB): I really enjoyed Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda and all the characters you played in it. It’s so much fun to attend a show that keeps you laughing - and crying - at the same time from start to finish at such universal human foibles! Here is my review on Broadway World.

What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown? 

Christine Joëlle in the immersive theatre show “Delusion”

(CJ): I was not planning to be in other shows at the moment. But I do have a strong feeling many fall shows and activities may not happen either. For example, the Haunted Play production staff of the immersive theatre show Delusion will most likely not take place this year because it’s the type of show where you must secure and rent a location by May/June in order for production planning to commence.

Caleb Slavens, Alison Blanchard, Christine Joëlle and Christian Pedersen in "Flare Path" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger(SB):  How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(CJ): I’m definitely becoming a master of ZOOM chats! Ha! And am putting my self-tape skills to good use as well.

I am also the owner and CEO of a successful pet care service called Movin’ Paws. So, I’ve been busy keeping it movin’ during these crazy times. If you need any dog/cat care for your furry ones, we’d be delighted to lend a helping paw. Check out our services at MovinPaws.com 

(SB): My dog Cody, bird Ernie, and I all highly recommend Movin’ Paws for their excellent service and personal care of your pets! 

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?

(CJ): Stay Strong and Safe. Without our health, our return to the stage shall take longer. The Arts and our creative community shall never die. We shall need it now more than ever. Keep that creative flow going!

(SB): And in closing to you personally, Christine – windmills!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Multi-Talented Triple-Threat Actor John Devereaux from Hamilton Touring Company


This Spotlight focuses on John Devereaux, a multi-talented triple-threat actor who I shared the stage with in Little Shop of Horrors at the Westchester Playhouse after he arrived in Los Angeles from Houston, and who has gone on to charm audiences across the country in touring productions of Rent and Hamilton. John also appeared locally in Dreamgirls at the Pasadena Playhouse, Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, and during the Hollywood Fringe Festival in the world premiere of Recorded in Hollywood, among many other productions.

I was so looking forward to seeing him take the stage in Hamilton at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre soon, but unfortunately the national tour in which he was appearing had to shut down along with the rest of the world’s theaters. So what’s he up to now?


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

John Devereaux as Collins in "Rent"

John Devereaux (John): I grew up in Houston, Texas and moved to LA in 2012 to continue my career in performance, beginning with studying Improv at The Groundlings. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a number of professional productions working with some of the best in the area, including McCoy/Rigby Entertainment, Center Theatre Group, and 5-Star Theatricals. I’ve also toured with the 20th Anniversary Tour of Rent and currently with the Angelica Tour of Hamilton.

John Devereaux on the Angelica Tour of "Hamilton"

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

(John): I was in Miami with the Angelica Tour of Hamilton when we got word that our shows would be postponed/cancelled 

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(John): I do believe our company managers did the best they could in the moment with everything going on and there is probably nothing more challenging than managing a touring theatre company. After we had two meetings after two of our evening shows, we were implementing new procedures to keep the company safe (not doing backstage tours, not signing at the stage door, etc.), which left us wondering what was going to happen to the rest of our tour schedule. Then the cancellation of our next city, Jacksonville, was announced publicly on the Hamilton Instagram story before we found out ourselves. Knowing there was work to be done during that time, including the spread of information, I can see why we might have been the last to know. It was just a sad moment personally for me.

John Devereaux backstage in "Dreamgirls" at the Village Theatre

(SB):  Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(John): Dates are being rescheduled as word comes in. It may not be the company/tour that was originally supposed to do the engagement, but Hamilton will still happen in those cities at a later time.

(SB): That’s great to know that I may get the chance to see you in the show then! Were there other future productions on your schedule also affected by the shutdown?

(John): None as of yet. As of March, I’m scheduled to stay on the Hamilton tour at least through June 2021. But for now, I am coping with all of this by creating bits of humor online. Funny videos mostly on Instagram.

John Devereaux in"Spamilton" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

(SB): I have been enjoying many of them on your Facebook page! It’s great to see so many creative people bringing humor to the forefront during this pandemic.  

(John): To members of the Los Angeles Theatre community and those across the country, please remember our industry will bounce back. Ours is a business of escapism, people are going to need something else than a screen to entertain them once this is all done. We’re going to get through this.

In the meantime, take a breath. Spend time with the people you love or doing the other things you love or finding new things to love! To those for whom performance was their escape, it’s okay to feel that emptiness. It’s okay if there’s nothing there to replace it right now because this is a time to focus on the other parts of our lives that inform our performances; our art. Life is but an opportunity to be and as long as there is breath in our lungs, we can breathe life into anything.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Andrea Stradling, an Actor Formerly in Health Care Public Relations


This Spotlight focuses on Andrea Stradling, a Los Angeles-based actor formerly in health care public relations who fully understands and appreciates the dedication and sacrifices being made by those on the frontline treating patients in the CoViD-19 pandemic. And like so many other actors, the show in which Andrea was performing had to end its run earlier than expected, opening up unplanned time in her schedule to fill with online theatrical opportunities.


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

Andrea Stradling (Andrea): I have acted in productions throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding communities since the 1980s. In 2012, I was able to retire early from a career in health care public relations, enabling me to concentrate full time on my theatrical endeavors which has been an absolute joy. However, my heart is with my many close colleagues who are still courageously working the front lines of this terrible pandemic.

(SB): I remember first meeting you when I took publicity photos for the Kentwood Players production of Clybourne Park at the Westchester Playhouse in which you portrayed the dual roles of Bev and Kathy. What production were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

Harold Dershimer and Andrea Stradling in "Clybourne Park" by Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse

Andrea: On January 2, I was cast as Dotty Otley in Noises Off at Long Beach Playhouse. It was a fantastic opportunity to do a show that is traditionally performed, and usually rather dependent on, a proscenium stage, rather than it was being stages on a deep thrust with arena style seating. It was a puzzle to figure out, and an amazing cardio workout to perform! But our talented and creative director, Gregory Cohen, marvelously staged it and we opened February 22 to rave reviews.

Andrea Stradling as Dotty Otley in "Noises Off" at Long Beach Playhouse.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

Andrea: Our fourth weekend began Thursday, March 12. The day was ominous, dark and rainy, with news reports emphasizing the importance of social distancing (especially in crowds) running all day long. I kept checking my phone, but hearing nothing to the contrary, I left for the theater as usual. At approximately our half hour call, the theater’s artistic director, Sean Gray, asked us to assemble on stage. He was there with Madison Mooney, executive director, and together they shared that, after a grueling day of conversations with city officials, it was decided that that night’s performance would be our last. In total, we lost being able to perform our last five shows.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent? 

Andrea: Sean and Madison were absolutely lovely and just as gutted as we were about having to close the show early. There was talk of a possible remount in November, but that would be dependent upon so many variables, least of which involves the Playhouse getting the rights to the show again and the cast’s availability at that time. I think it is very much up in the air.

Andrea Stradling and the cast of "Noises Off" at the Long Beach Playhouse.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

Andrea: The only other definite job I had was performing in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Story this November/December 2020. But now, SMP has put their entire season on hold because of the pandemic. I was so looking forward to being in the show, as this would have been my third time appearing as Mother, and the production is to be directed by the wonderfully creative Christian Lebano, the Playhouse’s artistic director.  I am heartbroken about this, both personally and because of the devastating financial impact for the theater.

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

Andrea: Like everyone, I’m sure, I’m doing my best to continue submitting myself for work, and I appreciate the latitude casting directors have given regarding self-taping via cell phones. I sent in one monologue where I held the phone with my left hand and tried not to breathe too loudly, but my husband said my face looked too big!

(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?

Andrea: I appreciate so much watching friends share their incredible talent via social media with lots of online monologues, beautiful songs, dancing, impressions -- it’s all wonderful.  Theatrical organizations all over the world are being so generous offering up free streaming of their productions. I enjoyed a staged reading via Zoom of IVRT’s recent production of A Streetcar Named Desire. I saw Kevin Kline in Present Laughter and just watched a fantastic production of Jane Eyre streamed on YouTube by London’s National Theatre. Bravo!!

(SB): I agree with you. It’s incredible all the wonderful productions from around the world that are now available for free online. I am especially enjoying watching all the Broadway musical productions as it has been a really long time since I was able to get to New York to experience them in person.  

Andrea: Despite the quarantine, I feel blessedly connected to my theatre family thanks to the connectivity of social media. I pray for everyone’s good health and resilience, and especially that the theaters that have been my havens for the last 30 years receive the support they need to reopen and thrive.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer


This Spotlight  focuses on Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer who met in a theater as teenagers, reconnected in college, then married and have done over 20 productions together in Los Angeles and Denver. But now with the shutdown, everything is on hold for both of them regarding their future production plans, so here is a bit of their theatrical history.


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

Jeremy Palmer (Jeremy): Lyndsay first saw me on stage in a production of Treasure Island when she was 13 and I was 14. Then she recognized me when we met five years later in college. Since then, we got married and we've done over 20 productions together in LA and Denver.

Jeremy and Lyndsay in "Little Women"

We most recently appeared onstage together in Little Women The Broadway Musical (as Amy March and John Brooke) at the Westchester Playhouse, directed by Jennifer Richardson, which Jeremy co-produced with Rocky and Victoria Miller. He also appeared as Max Halliday in Dial M For Murder there, while Lyndsay has been featured in many of their musicals including playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Fastrada in Pippin which they co-produced together.

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

Lyndsay Palmer (Lyndsay): When the current shutdown happened mid-March, I was midway through the run of Noises Off at the Long Beach Playhouse, which luckily got to open but not finish as planned.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Lyndsay): We were at the theatre Thursday night, March 12, to do a private performance for a business group and were told it would be the final performance. Of course, we were all heartbroken, but glad we at least got to perform half the scheduled run. They do plan to remount the production in the fall and they invited the original cast to return if available.

(SB):  What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Jeremy): Lyndsay was also midway through the audition process at that time for the musical Fun Home by Kentwood Players, and I am scheduled to produce 9 TO 5 The Musical there this Christmas. But there is no way of knowing right now when either of those shows will go up since everything depends on when the Westchester Playhouse can open for audiences again. So like everyone else, it’s a waiting game for the time being.

Lyndsay and Jeremy during "Pippin"

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

(Lyndsay) Both of us have regular video chats with our theater friends and have played Scattegories and other games with them and some of our theatre friends in Denver, too.

(Jeremy): The Arts have been around long enough to have lived through multiple plagues and pandemics and come through stronger than ever! People need the Arts to pull them through times like this.

(SB): Any other thoughts about how the current pandemic is affecting the two of you personally?

(Lyndsay): We are taking the "stay at home" plan very seriously, especially since Jeremy has only one lung and has to be extra cautious about contamination. So thank you to everyone for being extra careful on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions like him. Please do what you can to #FlattenTheCurve by staying home and wearing a mask if you must go outdoors for any reason.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.


Better Lemons - Phil Brickey

Spotlight Series: Phil Brickey – Actor, Director, Rock Musician, and an Elementary Theatre Teacher


This Spotlight focuses on Phil Brickey, an actor, director, rock musician, and Elementary School Theatre teacher who was one of the first directors for whom I produced a 2006 show for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. That show was George Washington Slept Here which required a double level set to be constructed as the home being renovated had to look totally dilapidated in Act 1 and beautifully restored in Act II. Quite a feat of stagecraft thanks to set designer Grant Francis.


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

Phil Brickey (Phil): I have a BA in theatre from the University of Arkansas and have acted in and/or directed 100+ shows, mostly in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

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

(Phil): I was scheduled to hold auditions on April 11 for a show I am directing at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton called Fly Me to the Moon, a world premiere comedy by David Macaray. However, we are indefinitely postponed. Updates will be posted at

(SB):  How did you find out about the postponement? 

(Phil): My producer informed me of the postponement over a week ago.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent? 

(Phil): I believe they are planning to reschedule this season at Stages as soon as it is safe to have live theatre performances.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown? 

(Phil): My next scheduled gig is directing The Laramie Project for Whittier Community Theatre. But it's not scheduled to hold auditions until January, so I don't believe there will be a problem.

(SB): I adore that play and worked as the Stage Manager for the Kentwood Players production, directed by Michael Allen. The intensity of the piece got me crying backstage during each performance. The true and incredibly sad story about the murder of Matthew Shepard based on his sexual orientation is an important one to keep telling in light of the ongoing equality issues which still persist in our society.

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

(Phil): I am an Elementary theatre teacher for LAUSD and am trying to plan for lessons that can be taught using distance learning.  I'm also writing and recording music for my band, The Relaxatives.

(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? 

(Phil): Hang in there until this crisis passes. Be there for each other. Take the time to read a new script or reread an old one. Donate to your local theatre, if possible. And thank you for including me in this article!

Better Lemons Phil BrickeyPhil provided the photos for this article from a few of his prior shows: The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Same Time, Next Year.  But I could not pass up this opportunity to share my favorite photo I ever took of Phil channeling his inner Marilyn Monroe during our search for costumes for George Washington Slept Here. Stay positive and keep smiling everyone!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Peter Miller – a Musical Theater and Voiceover Actor Who Spends Time as a Theme Park Carnival Barker


This Spotlight focuses on Peter Miller, a Musical Theater and Voiceover Actor Who Spends Time as a Theme Park Carnival Barker.


Kelsey Nisbett, Left, Peter Miller, as the Padre, and Susan Stangl. in The Kentwood Players production of "Man of La Mancha" at the Westchester Playhouse. Photo by Shari Barrett.

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

Peter Miller (PM): I've been doing local theater in LA County since 1984.  I've also dabbled in stand-up comedy and I'm presently working as a voice actor. And I also run carnival games at a theme park for money.

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

(PM): I was not actually involved in any stage productions at the time as I had mainly been submitting voiceover auditions.  There was a show set for this summer at Theatre Palisades, A Comedy of Tenors which was to feature members of their original Lend Me a Tenor production in which I participated as an opera singer. I had my eye on it and I had cleared my schedule to be a part of it, but who knows if/when it's going to happen now. I can only hope it's still going to get done. Unfortunately, that's not for me to predict.  Maybe I'll consult my Magic 8-Ball.

(SB): I know you attend a lot of theatrical productions around town. Did you get to attend any productions just prior to the citywide shutdown?

(PM): The night before it was announced, Susan Stangl had invited me to her final dress rehearsal for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Westchester Playhouse and I almost didn't go. Thankfully my circumstances changed, I found someone to sit for my pet octopus, and I was able to go after all. And that was the last dress rehearsal and only performance open to the public before the production was forced to close just before opening. That and The Full Monty in Orange County were the last shows I saw before the shutdown.

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

(PM): Well the biggest laugh I ever got on a stage was when I took my clothes off in The Full Monty, but I'm not sure the internet is ready for that (you think Kim Kardashian broke the internet?). So I'm occasionally going live and reading excerpts from famous plays with some oddball casting.  Last week I read part of The Odd Couple with Boris Karloff as Oscar and Bela Lugosi as Felix.

(SB): I am so sorry I missed that one. I am sure your impersonations were spot on! 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?

(PM): While I haven't done a lot of stage work lately, I've been seeing shows almost every weekend before all this went down.  Part of it was to enjoy a good theatrical experience but it was mainly so I could spend time with friends and loved ones.  I almost looked more forward to the time hanging out with friends afterward than the shows.

All I'm gonna say is folks, once the proper authorities (and I mean the CDC as opposed to politicians) decide that it's OK to uhhh... (hey what's the opposite of Social Distancing?) … well, whatever they wanna call it, once this is all over, don't be too afraid to go out and enjoy one of the best communal experiences in the world – live theatre!  Trust me gang, it's worth it. All I can say is stay strong everyone; we will get through this!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.


Susan Stangl

Spotlight Series: Meet Susan Stangl: Director, Sound Designer, Actress, Singer and Medical School Professor


Today I am spotlighting Susan Stangl: Director, Sound Designer, Actress, Singer and Medical School Professor.


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

Susan Stangl (SS): I started acting when I was 5 and was involved with plays at my local neighborhood park and in my school. I wrote, adapted, directed and acted in plays in elementary and middle school as well as writing and performing background music for some of the shows. My favorite productions from that time were an adaptation of some Winnie the Pooh stories as well as a murder mystery I wrote in 8th grade. I continued to act in high school and college and helped run a theater group for middle and high schoolers where we performed skits written by the students and a production of Our Town. Although I wasn't an official theatre major, I spent so much time there that people thought I was, even though I was also pre-med. Then I went to medical school. I kept up my music but wasn't able to get back into theater until some years later when I became a medical school professor at UCLA. I studied theater with a wonderful teacher for a few years and started auditioning for local productions about twenty years ago. Since then, I have acted in and directed numerous local shows as well as doing sound design for 120+ shows as well as writing some original music. And I have been in TV and film projects as well.

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

(SS): I was directing Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Kentwood Players and working on sound design for Wait Until Dark and A Comedy of Tenors at Theatre Palisades when things shut down.

(SB): How did you communicate the shutdown with your cast and production team?

(SS): I kept in touch with the theater board and my cast via email and text. Sadly, we had just performed a joyful and well-received invitational dress rehearsal for a small audience of designers, crew and their families the night before we closed our doors for what would have been our opening night. The cast was so excited to get some audience reaction and it was definitely the best show I have ever directed, and it felt like one that had been up for a few weeks and had not just opened. Ironically, the director's job is generally pretty much done when the rehearsal period ends, but I feel an obligation to the theater, the cast and crew and our audiences to bring them this terrific show. I only hope we don’t lose our momentum with the enforced break.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(SS): As far as I know, Kentwood Players would like to open the show when it is deemed safe to do so. The sets, costumes, lights and sound are ready and the actors want to keep the show alive. We had our first online ZOOM meeting to keep the production fresh and ready for an audience until we get the all-clear. Five out of the six cast members were part of the Zoom group chat where we ran through the lines and scheduled future sessions. There is a chance that due to schedule changes everywhere, I may need to arrange for double casting or understudies for some parts, which I am in the process of doing. So much is up in the air, but I want to be as ready as I can. And of course, I am hoping that everyone stays healthy in the coming weeks.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(SS): I was planning on auditioning for a few shows that are now postponed. In addition to the two sound designs I am already working on, there are at least three others coming up for me this year.

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

(SS): I am in a country rock band, Dreamers and Drifters, that is hoping to rehearse online starting this weekend. I am working on some monologues and scenes, as well as writing and recording some music and sharing it with other friends online. There is another theater where I work that is meeting online weekly to read plays and scenes to stay in touch. In some ways, we may well have a chance to get together more since we don't have to drive for over an hour to get to rehearsal! And the cast of my show is eager to keep things fresh with online meetings and line-throughs.

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

(SS): I hope that many of the remote technology options may continue to bring people together, and they may well be better for the early stages of rehearsal when we are doing work that does not require us to meet physically or when we just want to run lines. I also hope that we will appreciate the gift that we have in being able to present and attend live theater - it is even more precious now that we cannot have it.

As a trained health professional, I urge us not to rush into any situations that may put our actors and audiences in jeopardy. This is an unprecedented situation and we need to be patient and safe. Write, connect in any way you can, and use this time to develop projects you haven't had time for because you are always at the theater - be the experience artistic or personal.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.


Sydney Holliday

Spotlight Series: Meet Sydney Holliday, a College Freshman and Actress Studying Theatre, Media and Communications at Muhlenberg College


This Spotlight shines on Sydney Holliday, a college student who I first met as a Mira Costa High School student when she performed in the Kentwood Players productions of The Imaginary InvalidThe Crucible, and 12 Angry Women. Here is her perspective on how the shutdown has affected her Arts education as a freshman at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.


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

Sydney Holliday (Sydney): Hi everyone! I'm a current freshman studying Theatre and Media & Communications at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. This past year, I was in two one-acts (one being The Long Christmas Dinner) and joined a sketch comedy and improv group, Damsels In Excess, at Muhlenberg. I'm originally from Manhattan Beach and have been acting since I was five years old. I started with school plays, then moved into community theatre in high school. I was in three productions with the Kentwood Players, including The Imaginary InvalidThe Crucible, and 12 Angry Women. I also began acting with the Phantom Projects Group and was in their production of The Outsiders. At Mira Costa High School, I was in The Drowsy Chaperone and won 2nd place at the Fullerton College High School Theatre Festival.

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

(Sydney): Muhlenberg had a lot of productions in the works, like a Fringe Festival and a Greek tragedy just to name a few. I was beginning to direct a one-act play, The Seussification of Romeo & Juliet, that would have been performed in April.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Sydney): As the Media Coordinator of the Muhlenberg Theatre Association, I was in charge of creating promotional videos for three of our student-directed productions and was at their rehearsal to get some videos and photos. In the middle of our tech rehearsal, we got an email from the President of the school saying that we would have to leave campus for at least a month and move to online classes. It was as if time stood still; then suddenly, loud conversation erupted inside and outside the theater. Within two hours, the Theatre & Dance Department arranged immediate performances for two of the productions. Pertaining to my one-act, I let my cast know my outlook on the situation and potential ways for us to perform a staged reading of the show.

Sydney Holliday at Kentwood Players

Sydney Holliday at Kentwood Players. Photo by Shari Barrett.

(SB): Have plans been put in place to present that production at a future date? What happens if you can’t return to college to finish the semester?

(Sydney): With the big announcement coming out on a Tuesday, the department had the two productions perform on Thursday with one show right after the other. I was tasked with filming the entirety of the student-directed shows, which performed one after the other. Then, The Bacchae had their one-time performance right after. The show was meant to open on March 27th, but they were able to put it together three weeks early. We also had a senior organize a showcase of other shorter performances like shows in the Fringe Festival and acapella performances. Damsels In Excess was able to perform two improv games and a sketch, which was our first and last performance of the semester.

Sadly, I won't be able to put The Seussification of Romeo & Juliet onstage. With the inevitable busier schedule during my sophomore year and more intense theatre classes, I will not have the time to dedicate myself to the production next semester. It's devastating having to even say that, but I know I wouldn't be able to immerse myself in the process of developing a show due to being weighed down by other extracurriculars.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Sydney): I was excited to come back to Los Angeles and audition for shows all over the county and was preparing monologues and audition songs for at least two auditions. But they have been postponed. I am hoping to audition for shows with groups I've acted with before, and possibly find some student films that are holding auditions. If I don't get to act in any shows, I will be looking for any assistant stage management or sound design jobs, given they are still open and shows are actually happening.

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

(Sydney): Since I have to watch one film per week for my Film Analysis class, I'm trying to watch movies that have been on my watch list for a while now. I'm also a part of two theatre classes and I get to meet with them online at least four times per week.

On campus, I was part of a club called Magical Memories and we would visit elementary schools and care centers as characters. Now the club is trying to make health videos for schools to send to their students, so I have been dressing up as Captain Marvel and Ariel for those. I've also started to learn more about photography and hope to do some fun photo shoots very soon. Finally, I host a radio show at Muhlenberg during the school year and am always looking for and listening to interesting movie soundtracks.

I think "the Arts" can expand even further than what we usually think of as the stereotypical artistic activities. For example, I want to learn more about interior design and cake decorating while I am social distancing!

(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?

(Sydney): I'm excited to throw myself back into theatre once we are able to do so! It's sad to come back to Los Angeles and see no shows being performed.  I know I speak for everyone when I say that I am itching to be a part of a show and hope that time comes very soon. And I cannot wait to see what some were working on prior to the shutdown.

And to anyone that needs someone to listen to a rant or to, I am always here for you! So, look for me on Social Media sites. And please know that you are not alone during this wacky time. To any high school seniors, I understand how hard it is to choose where to go when you can't visit the college. Let me know if you have any questions, not only about Muhlenberg, but about anything pertaining to that process since I went through it myself not that long ago. I have a unique perspective since not only am I an actress, I am also a tour guide and now know way too much about the admissions process.

Good health and good spirits to everyone and see you all soon!!


Kentwood Players photo credit: Shari Barrett


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Brandon Ferruccio – Fulfilling Every Actor’s Dream to Direct Plays


This Spotlight focuses on Brandon Ferruccio, who started out as an actor, only to discover his real passion was to direct plays, especially with all-female casts or with a strong feminine lead character. He has directed many productions at Theatre Palisades, Westminster Playhouse, Whittier Community Theatre, The Warner Grand in San Pedro, El Camino College, and the James Armstrong Studio Theatre in Torrance. And soon he will be adding the Westchester Playhouse to the list of theaters in which he has directed productions.


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

Brandon Ferruccio (BF): I was first involved with Theatre through my high school Drama Department. After I dappled in sports for some time, which clearly wasn’t a fit for me. So I decided to throw my energy into something creative and was hooked into acting after appearing in a play on stage. From there, college exposed me into the realm of directing and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. Although the Arts is not my career path, it is very much my passion and my ultimate stress relief from work. Living in the South Bay is nice too, because I’m between LA County and Orange County, so I’ve been able to spread my Director wings to a pretty wide net.

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

(BF): The last production I directed was “Steel Magnolias” at Theatre Palisades. It closed in the middle of February when things were really heating up overseas before the situation was not classified as a worldwide pandemic. Luckily, we were blessed that it did not hit the U.S. during the run and everything was marching along as normal through the show’s closing weekend. However, I remember having conversations about it that weekend because news broadcasts about the Diamond Princess Cruise ship and the people infected aboard it was all over the media. I felt those broadcasts, while timely and needed, sent more of a panic into people who were traveling. It was a sad conversation then, and looking back at it now, I wouldn’t have ever guessed it would have gotten to this point.

(SB): I don’t think any of us did. And importantly, so many are still not heeding the warning to just #StayHome to #FlattenTheCurve.   But since your last show did not have to shut down during the run, have you ever experienced a similar set of circumstances during any of your other productions?

(BF): The current issue reminds me of my production of “Parfumerie” at Theatre Palisades which was running during the 2018 L.A. Firestorm. So much tension was riding on “Is our show going to close because we are located too close to the fire zones?” since so many highways were closed, perhaps preventing cast and audience members from even getting to the theatre which is on Temescal Canyon just south of the hills above Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades. I remember one night, we performed in front of an audience of maybe eight people because no one was venturing out. But since the decision was made that the show must go on, those few got the same quality show as if we had a packed house.

Tension was high, but we reassured the actors that if our theatre became a dangerous area that we would close the production for the weekend. Thank goodness it never happened and everyone was safe. I just remember how much anxiety I had over simply one-weekend possibility closing, and I can’t imagine what it must feel like for a whole production to go dark on which you have worked diligently for so long. It breaks my heart for every single artist who has volunteered so much time and effort into a passionate project, only to have the opportunity to present the final product pulled out from under them.

(SB): In what ways do you think theaters can still present their pulled productions?

(BF): I think something valuable would be to do a Podcast/Live Stream of the shows that were going to be running, although right now that would not be feasible due to all theaters being closed.

(SB): Or perhaps using an online service such as Zoom to present a reading or the production online, especially since some theaters use that format to hold rehearsals right now.

(BF): Perhaps local theatres could create a link on their websites and send out mailing list emails to let all of their members and anyone else interested, especially those who have already purchased tickets, to let them know when a Stream or Audio Recording of the performance will be available for a small donation. Sure, it might not work for bigger productions, but I know I would personally tune in to support my fellow local artists. And since there are unabridged musical recordings out there, no doubt the concept works. Of course, I am not sure how licensing would work in a situation like this, BUT a donation is a donation!

Another great way to help would be to donate the ticket money patrons have already spent on the show that got canceled, rather than getting a refund. In fact, I encourage everyone to consider donating the cost paid for that ticket to the theatre, and simply repurchasing a new ticket when the show finally does open. Or better yet, snag up a Season Pass/Membership this year. All theatre groups need the funds to keep going, especially right now.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(BF): This fall, I will be directing my first show for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse – the suspenseful thriller “Night Watch” by Louise Fletcher. No decisions have been made about whether or not the production dates will be changed or the run shortened. Either way, as an artist I think it is only fair that all of the scheduled shows this year get their chance to shine, even if it’s just for one or two weekends. I encourage all my fellow directors to be flexible and supportive, whatever decision is made on their scheduled shows.

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

(BF): Technology is great isn’t it?! I’ve been able to help out some of my actor friends who have needed coaching and notes for auditions they have done recently or were planning to do, thanks to being able to Skype or Live Stream which is extremely valuable right now. I can watch their monologue without any distractions at my home, give notes via Skype, all the while keeping a safe social distance from each other.

Also, I have written a few one-act plays, which have been produced in the past at the college level. But now I’m trying to flesh them out and possibly turn one into a full-length play about Greek Goddesses living in modern-day New York. I have been gathering a few actors to jump on board with table reads (digital table reads of course via ZOOM or similar platform) to assist me in refining the script. That way we can stay creative without having to gather everyone together. The other show we will be reading is called ‘Restroom Confessions’ about six diverse women from different backgrounds and walks of life, who have gathered together to gossip in a luxury restroom. Both shows are with all-female casts, and that is a real trend in my work when it comes to supporting the female presence on stage. My husband teases me saying that I’m a sucker for a damaged woman who may or may not be a martyr for her loved ones by the time the final curtain falls. And I suppose that is very true!

(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?

(BF): While it’s hard for many of us who volunteer our time for the arts, I can’t imagine what it is like for those who are making their living from it. I simply hope that when everyone comes back, these theatres have more bookings then they can handle, so they can fill up their calendars and keep their doors open to thrive. I think communicating and reaching out to each other is probably the strongest thing we can do now and lending a hand when possible. Also, I would encourage even more patience with each other because as things start to ramp up, it could get very stressful. Lastly, to all of the designers out there! Now is the time you can work on the things you have put to the side because of overwhelming schedules. Sound Design, Record Demos at home, Finish some Set Designs, Style Wigs, Build Costumes! In a way, many designers can play catch up.

(SB) Tell me a little more about your interest in directing “Night Watch” for Kentwood Players, which I am sure you are greatly looking forward too and crossing your fingers all will go as planned.

(BF): One of the biggest reasons I was drawn to Lucille Fletcher’s dramatic thriller “Night Watch” was because of the strong female presence in it as well as it is written by a female playwright. As I have already shared, I try my best to get involved with scripts that have strong female characters; and no, not to push a ‘message’ or fill a quota with casting, but because the female mind is so complex and so captivating. And unfortunately, I find a majority of plays simply lay off their backstories and characterize them in a way that means their true presence gets lost in the script. That is definitely not the case with this play.

(SB) I look forward to experiencing that production with you.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar - November 12 through November 18, 2018

NEW! Theatrical shows, Musical Concerts, and Film Festivals registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.