Spotlight Series: Meet Anzu Lawson - an Asian-American Actress, Playwright, Stand-Up Comic, and Yoko Ono Doppelganger


With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series of interviews with some of am the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the arts alive in the City of the Angels. And like all of us, how are they dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved?

This Spotlight focuses on Anzu Lawson, an Asian-American Actress, Playwright, Stand-Up Comic, and Yoko Ono doppelganger who I first met during the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival.


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

Anzu Lawson (Anzu): I’m an Asian-American Actress, Playwright, and Stand-Up Comic who has been performing my One Woman Show called Dear Yoko to sold out theatres here in Los Angeles. It was an official selection for 2019 Binge Fringe Festival, the 2020 SOLOFEST & the 2020 Crazy Woke Asians Solo Performance Festival.

I also penned & starred in an all-original musical called Dear John, Why Yoko? which garnered my first Best Actress nomination at the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival for my role as “Yoko Ono.”

(SB): And I am happy to share links to my reviews of both your shows during which you absolutely amazed me with your authentic portrayal of a woman so erroneous hated the world over for her involvement with John Lennon.

(SB): Were you involved with any production(s) when word went out that you needed to immediately postpone/cancel a show?

(Anzu): I was playing the role of YEN opposite Al Pacino with a huge, talented cast in a Benefit Staged Reading for Al Pacino’s charity in the David Rabe play called “The Basic Training Of Pavlo Hummel” that garnered Al his first Tony Award on Broadway in 1977. Al Pacino and director Robert Allan Ackerman revived it on stage to help raise funds and awareness for one of Al’s charities to help war veterans. We performed it Sunday, March 8th at The Wallis Annenberg in association with The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. There were talks of doing it again, but the very next day the Wallis Annenberg closed its doors due to the Corona Pandemic. Here’s a link to a Broadway World article about that amazing production

(SB): How has the shutdown affected your current and future production plans?

(Anzu): I had to make some hard decisions. This has been an extremely unforeseeable event affecting every single human on this planet and not knowing how long we will be quarantined, has many artists unsure if they can even afford to do their show, even with rescheduled dates. I feel bad, but I am canceling all my show commitments until there is a vaccine.

I heard the remaining solo artists involved in the 2020 SOLOFEST dates at The Whitefire Theatre, in which I have participated, have been offered to have their performances streamed online. Personally, as good a solution as that may sound, performing to an empty theatre is not the ideal situation when a) audience interaction and response is a huge part of the experience as a solo performer and b) the main world focus is on live coronavirus news updates. I appreciate everyone trying to rally together to find a solution but I think people everywhere will need more time. Every person is processing what is happening very differently.

As for my future plans, I was about to fly to Chicago’s Cinespace Studios to film another episode of Chicago Med on which I have a recurring role, and I was counting on that money to pay for my 2020 Fringe solo show dates. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my entire participation in the 2020 Hollywood Fringe and am trying my very best to get my invested monies and deposits back. Even though 2020 Hollywood Fringe has been moved to October (much like Stage Coach and Coachella) at this time, I do not have the heart to ask my friends to hurry and get over their Coronavirus/social distancing fear by October to buy tickets and sit in a crowded theater while there is no income coming in for most, nor a readily available vaccine on the horizon.

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

(Anzu): Thank God for the internet and the free classes being offered by so many teachers and studios. I am also grateful for the funny memes on social media keeping me light-hearted and smiling through all this uncertainty. This pandemic has given all of us a “pause button” to reassess our beliefs, our tribes, our creative visions for ourselves as well as for the world. We are being forced to look at our individual contribution to humanity, not only as humans but as artists. This will forever change us as a society, hopefully for the best.

Personally, I’m in research mode. I started revisiting scripts and thinking deeply about what I want to say as an artist from here on out. I am forced to sit still, get grounded and put pen to paper.

(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?

(Anzu): Never forget there is always a silver lining and now more than ever, we artists are being called upon to be the beacon for a new humanity. We will get through this but only together and only by thinking of each other. Feed your soul now and get ready to create! Inspire! And be daring with your artistic voice. We have a huge responsibility ahead of us to shine bigger light and tell new stories that will ever remind us there is nothing more valuable than our ability to care for each other. As Yoko Ono always said, “We are all connected together. We are all one.”

I invite everyone to follow me on IG/FB/Twitter @AnzuLawson and read more about my credits on my IMDB profile. I also want to give a shout out to my director Jessica Lynn Johnson who offers free Solo show creative writing classes now on ZOOM.

(SB): Thank you Anzu. I am hoping to focus a spotlight on Jessica Lynn Johnson in the near future so more people learn about her outstanding contributions to the L.A. Theatre world.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



The Show Must Go Online: Registered this week NEW Online Virtual and Future Shows on Better Lemons Calendar!


Calling all Artists


Better Lemons will now include all Online Live Events and Online Pre-recorded Events in our Calendar!

The first virtual event has registered on the Better Lemons! Be sure to register your virtual theater or performance events that are streaming at a specific time and date on our Event Registration page.

Better Lemons has over 75 shows NOW registered! If you have pre-recorded art since practicing social distancing, please send us the link and we will add your show to our Video page.

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page!


Online Live


Victoria Gordon

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Future Upcoming Live


Hearts for the Arts

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A Chorus Line

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Always...Patsy Cline

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The Holiday Gem

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THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)

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THE BETTER LEMONS "I LOVE LA" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

 PAUL MYRVOLD - Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

The "I Love LA" Award goes to the critic who did the most to promote LA Theatre in 2019.

Congratulations to Paul from all of us!

Paul Myrvold, has been writing theatre commentary for over thirty years, first in the Bay Area covering every kind of performance including plays, musicals, ballet, opera, circus, and even a Portuguese-style bull fight. He has written about theatrical performances at all levels in all kinds of venues from the premiere theatres, such as A.C.T., Berkeley Rep and TheatreWorks, to smaller, high quality venues such as San Jose Stage Company, City Lights Theatre Company, and Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel. He has also covered community theatre productions, college and university productions and, on occasion, high school productions.

Now residing in Southern California, Paul has been commenting on shows throughout Los Angeles County and has stretched his beat to Orange County and South Coast Repertory.

An Equity actor for over forty years, Paul played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in San Jose Stage Company’s award winning production of The Three Penny Opera and the dual roles of Sir Walter Elliot and Admiral Croft in the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Persuasion also at San Jose Stage Company. He earned a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding Performance” in the supporting roles of J. V. “Major” Bouvier and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in the musical Grey Gardens at TheatreWorks (2008). In the summer of 2018, he appeared in the highly acclaimed Open Fist Theatre production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood as Reverend Jenkins and Narrator. Paul has performed on Broadway (most notably in the hit show Shenandoah with John Cullum), off Broadway, off-off Broadway, in regional theatres, summer stock and as a Guest Artist at colleges and universities from coast to coast. He has performed his signature role Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha eight times over four decades, the latest of which was an intimate, theatre-in-the round production at Pacific Repertory Theatre. Some other favorite roles include King Lear, Fred Graham / Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate, Trigorin in The Sea Gull, Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music and Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown. Paul is never happier than when he is in the theatre, either on stage or in the audience, and he hopes to see you at intermission or after the show.

To view all of Paul's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Enlightenment" Award - the critic who did the most to inform and educate in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Shari Barrett from Broadway World.


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

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

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

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

 


Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar – December 2 - 9, 2018.

Theatrical shows, Musical Concerts, and 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.