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.



Spotlight Series: Paul and Alicia Luoma - Two Actors, Who Met in NYC and Moved to LA to Pursue Their Mutual Passion for the Performing Arts


This Spotlight focuses on married couple and soon-to-be-parents Paul Luoma and Alicia Luoma who met in NYC and moved to L.A. together to pursue their mutual passion for the Performing Arts.


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

Paul Luoma (Paul): I’ve been doing theatre since I was a kid, around six or seven, growing up in Metro Detroit. I performed all throughout childhood and into high school. I went to college at Western Michigan University for Musical Theatre Performance and, right after graduation, I moved to NYC. I was performing professionally in town, and also regionally. I actually met my wife Alicia at our day job during that time. She was the hostess at a restaurant that I was waiting tables at. And here we are together, in all, going on ten years. We moved out to LA in late 2012 and have been involved performing in the local theatre scene. We’ve had some amazing opportunities to perform together on stage in some great roles, and also apart. We’ve made the greatest of friends because of this theatre community. We’re extremely fortunate. So lucky.

Alicia Luoma (Alicia): I was bitten by the theater bug "waaay" back in elementary school when I went to see a production of “Annie” at what is now the Maltz Jupiter Theater. My mom bought me the cassette tape, and we played the soundtrack in the car non-stop, as I sang along to all of Annie's songs! I slowly began to come out of my shy shell in high school, when I became a theatre student at the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. I was fortunate enough to venture on to Elon University, where I earned a BFA degree in Music Theatre. After graduating, I performed professionally in different parts of the country and even around the world on a cruise ship. I moved to NYC and did the "actor thing" for a couple [of] years, which is when I met my wonderful husband Paul—who just happened to share the same passion for the performing art as me. We then moved to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of performing in several amazing productions locally, some of them alongside my husband. We made an incredible group of talented friends doing theater out here.

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

(Paul): At the time of this crisis, Alicia and I weren’t part of any productions. We’re actually expecting our first child, a girl, in July. That’s a whole other bag of tricks in this current climate, trying to figure it out and manage. But we were really looking forward to seeing productions Downtown this summer, but more importantly, to seeing so many friends in productions that sadly are now postponed or have been canceled. My fingers are crossed for their entire creative team and cast, that their productions get to see the light of day that they so deserve.

(Alicia): I was not involved with any current productions, as my husband and I currently expecting our first child, a daughter, which is the only current and future production on our schedules at the moment. However, I have many, many artistic friends who were in productions that had to be postponed due to COVID-19. I felt terrible and heartbroken for them. As actors, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into these projects. There is no greater feeling/reward than transporting an audience to a different world with your work. We were also looking forward to attending several touring productions coming to LA, which also had to be canceled/postponed.

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

(Paul): I read the theatre and Broadway trades numerous times a day, keeping an eye on things and looking out for friends. And, just the other day Alicia and I watched the entirety of “The Rosie Show” revival and donated to The Actors Fund. It’s so important to support the arts and artists at this time.

(Alicia): Many people I know have been sharing their talents via social media, whether it be singing a well-known tune a-Capella, teaching a dance class from their living room, or playing an original song on piano or guitar. I think it's wonderful. Just the other day, my husband and I watched all 3.5 hours of “The Rosie O'Donnell Show,” which streamed live for the Actor's Fund. Artists supporting artists is crucial, as we're all in this together.

(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?

(Paul): Alicia and I both cannot wait until we can see so many friends back on the stage, and also have a chance to get back up there too. It’ll be a hot minute as we’ll have a newborn baby girl on our hands come mid-July, but I know I can’t wait. I’m definitely itching to get back on stage. Hopefully, in something Sondheim.

(Alicia): Things will get better. Paul and I are looking forward to seeing all our talented friends back onstage in the productions they worked so hard on!

(Paul and Alicia): Local theaters need help now more than ever. We both encourage everyone, who is able, to donate if they can.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Kristin Towers-Rowles - Award-Winning Director, Triple-Threat Actress, and Granddaughter of Screen Legend 'Kathryn Grayson'


Today I spotlight Kristin Towers-Rowles, an Award-Winning Director, Triple-Threat Actress, and Granddaughter of Screen Legend Kathryn Grayson.


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

Kristin Towers-Rowles (KTR): I am a born and raised LA Arts girl, and grew up in and around the Theatre and Film industry. Some families have Law Practices, Accounting Firms, Car Dealerships—my entire family is a Performing Arts family who has made their living for generations because of Film, TV, and Theatre.

My grandmother was MGM leading lady Kathryn Grayson, who starred in over 20 musicals in the Golden Age of Hollywood. (“Kiss Me, Kate,” “Showboat,” “Anchors Away.”) She also took over for Julie Andrews as Guinevere in "Camelot" on Broadway, and played the role on the 1st National Tour. My Grandfather, Johnny Johnston, starred in movies (“Rock Around The Clock,” “Unchained”), was a recording artist, and was on Broadway in “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” My father, Robert Towers, starred in “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” and has played hundreds of character roles in Film, TV, and Theatre.

After attending Hollywood High Performing Arts, I went to AMDA in NYC and trained as an actress, singer, and dancer. Even after moving back to LA from NYC to focus on Film and TV. I never stopped doing theatre; in fact, it was truly all I cared about. Not only was it what I loved most but it was also where I found my chosen family. I was very active in L.A. theatre but also did 7 national tours, worked almost an entire year at Sierra Rep in Northern California, worked in Asia, Europe, on Cruise Ships. I was truly living the dream! I had an apartment I saw a few times a year that was little more than an expensive closet. I would come home, re-pack and be off again.

After sustaining a life-altering back injury on tour in 2002, I stopped performing for 7 years, got married and had 3 children, now all accomplished young artists in their own right. Since returning back to work as an actress, singer, and director in 2009, I have been very fortunate to be onstage playing incredible roles in musicals and straight plays. Since then, I've been splitting my time onstage with also being a director at the helm of many award-winning productions, both musicals, and straight plays.

As a woman in a field still dominated by men, it has been wonderful to have the many opportunities I have had to be on stage as an actress and to direct, and have often been employed doing both at the same time. For me, the two go hand-in-hand since I'm a better actress because of my 360-perspective as a director. My understanding of direction comes from being an actress and knowing, first hand, what actors need to hear. And, quite frankly, rarely having had a director that has known how to communicate what they want and how to get me there, I try to be that director to the actors with whom I work.

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

(KTR): We had just finished an insanely difficult tech week for Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party" at The Morgan-Wixson Theatre (MWT) in Santa Monica, which I directed. The entire production team, including Choreographer and Assistant Director, Michael Marchak, Musical Director, Daniel Koh, Stage Manager, Ryan Rowles, Producers Spencer Johnson, and Kristie Mattsson, and cast had been working ourselves sick to have a phenomenal show for opening night and we were more than ready. The show one of the toughest in the Contemporary Musical Theater canon and we had pulled no stops: gorgeous set design by Yelena Babinskaya, phenomenal lighting by Derek Jones, Jazz Age spectacular costumes by Ovation Award-winning Michael Mullen, Scenic Design by Orlando de la Paz, Props by Maggie Randolph, Intimacy Coordinator, Mia Schachter, a stage combat director, Amanda Newman–all designers new to the MWT–and we were excited our show was to be the flagship production for the new direction that theatre is moving in with more daring, broad, and diverse artistic choices. I have only directed one other show at The MWT before, "Company" in 2017, and was so elated to be back and entrusted with this rarely produced theatrical gem: a sexy, slick 20s musical for the 2020s. And everyone was ecstatic we would soon be opening.

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

(KTR): The President of the MWT Board, the wonderful Michael Heimos, along with a small group of invited friends and family, were present at our final dress rehearsal (for which we received a full standing ovation). Before that rehearsal, he chatted with our cast and team in a truthful and frank with us that the board was meeting that night to discuss the possibility of postponing the opening. This was March 12, [2020], and at this point, there was news every hour about new guidelines for public gatherings. Everything was changing all the time and the board wanted to make the correct call for everyone: the audiences, the cast, and in light of everyone's safety.

At intermission, he told me the board had decided to halt the opening. I sat through the 2nd act with tears streaming down my face, watching the beautiful work we had all created, and then watching the audience jump to their feet at the curtain call. I wanted the audience to understand what they had just witnessed so I asked the President of the board to come up and tell the cast and the audience the news of our being postponed as I felt it would be better if we all heard this together to be able to support each other. Of course, everyone was in tears, the cast, the team, the audience, since we all were heartbroken that this incredible piece of theatre would have to wait. But mixed with that heartbreak was the feeling of joy for what we had all just experienced.

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

(KTR): At this time, The MWT still plans on opening our show when the bans are all lifted and it is safe to do so. However, they have an entire season that will most likely need to shift so we have no idea what any of that will look like. It is surreal to think that our sets, costumes, lights, props--everything is just sitting there, frozen in time... waiting. Just like a Ghostlight awaiting our return to the stage.

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

(KTR): I was supposed to be directing the North Carolina and National Tour productions of "The Lost Virginity Tour (TLVT)," a play by Cricket Daniel. I directed the L.A. Premiere last year at the McCadden Theatre and it was picked up by Jeanie Linders, creator of "Menopause The Musical," and I was brought on to direct. I've been told the show’s tour will have to wait until at least November. I had turned down other acting and directing work to do "TLVT," but now that we are in this crisis, none of it would have happened anyway since all theaters are dark.

I'm still in shock. I wake up and it takes me hours sometimes to wrap my head around the devastation to my own work and the work of all my colleagues. All of us are out of work. All of our projects are shelved. Everyone I know is suffering a collective grief. And I know that everyone is out of work right now, no matter what field you are in. But the devastation to the Arts, a field that constantly has to beg for money to stay afloat as it normally is, is just absolutely unfathomable. I know that many theatres I've loved and called home are hanging on by a thread and some may not make it through this. It's just unbearable.

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

(KTR): I am not very savvy at Zoom or any of the online platforms but I have been happily supporting others. I'm part of an LA Arts Collective having virtual think tanks and meetings to figure out ways to get our work online. But in all honesty, I don't think theatre transfers well to being filmed and I don't enjoy the idea of taking something meant to be experienced live and reducing it to a flat-screen. Just my opinion.

That's where my grief really comes into play. My heart breaks because what we do, as performing artists and performing arts designers, is meant to be experienced in person, with others in attendance. It is a meeting of human beings all creating that moment together, either as the performer or as the audience member. It's symbiotic and that cannot happen watching something on a screen.

(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?

(KTR): As I said earlier, I was injured for seven years and was unable to work. It was hard, depressing, and felt like the end of the world. And then the seven years ended and I was back with my tribe; and for the last 11 years, I've been creating nonstop.

The LA Theatre Community has been through a lot and here we all are. We are the storytellers, the dreamers, the music makers, and the world is beige without the color we bring. We will get through this, and through our unique voices, we will be the ones to teach future generations about it. But in the meantime, stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands! Let's make this end so we can all be back doing what makes our hearts sing.


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.



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.



MONIQUE A. LEBLEU TO JOIN BETTER LEMONS AS EDITOR

The Better Lemons commitment to supporting arts and entertainment in Southern California continues with the addition of Monique A. LeBleu as Editor!

On Monday, March 30, 2020, Monique A. LeBleu will take the reins of Better Lemons, L.A.’s premiere arts and entertainment hub, where she will serve as Editor, bringing her unique sensitivity to all that is unique and wonderful about Southern California’s arts, entertainment, and dining scene.

“Monique has long been a significant part of Better Lemons and her willingness to step up as Editor is exciting for all of us,” said Publisher Enci Box, “This is especially because she is such a great storyteller and is such a driving force for promoting local productions, and delivering fresh and creative content from L.A.’s finest cultural critics and creators.”

“As Event Editor, I have looked forward to opening up Better-Lemons.com every day to see what new shows are published on our calendar for what’s new and upcoming in Los Angeles theatre,” said Editor LeBleu. “Reading stories by our Lemon Brigade of contributing writers, listening to their podcasts, and finding new venues to see shows has been part of my daily routine. As the Editor of Better Lemons, I am very excited to be sharing that daily adventure with our readers as Better Lemons continues to grow and provide the Greater L.A. Theatre Community with even more great stories, podcasts, award events, seminars, business-of-theatre tools, production resources, and more!”

LeBleu is a freelance writer, photojournalist, and podcaster. She has been a contributing weekly columnist and podcaster on Better Lemons since March 2018 and is currently Co-Editor on The L.A. Beat's online magazine, The L.A. Beat. Hailing from L.A.C.C.’s Theatre Arts Academy and the Cinema Arts Program at the Cinema/TV Department at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Center, her life-long passion for theatre, film, and the performing arts also comes from her background in L.A. theatre as an Assistant Director and Stage Manager as a member of the Knightsbridge Theatre Company from 2003 - 2006.

Working in production and post-production film throughout the ‘80s, LeBleu had paused in order to reflect and decide on what she wanted to be when she grew up. After 25 years, that decision was finally made upon earning her degree in Communications - Journalism at Pasadena City College in 2017. In addition to writing on theatre, as a freelance journalist, writer, video maker, and consummate foodie her subject interests of greatest focus also include film, documentaries, food and hospitality, music, art, and Greater Los Angeles' ever-evolving community landscape.

Better Lemons exists to celebrate all that is creative and innovative about L.A.’s arts and entertainment community and has a Lemon Brigade of over 48 local writers and critics who promise to engage audiences, share stories, and support the artists who make L.A. the center of the cultural universe.

Better Lemons is solely owned by Founder and Publisher Enci Box and all creative and editorial is under the supervision of Editor LeBleu’s direction.


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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'Hollywood Fringe Festival' Postpones Until October 2020


2 minute read

The 2020 Hollywood Fringe Festival (Fringe) scheduled for June 2020 has been postponed until October 2020 for the safety of the community and to help halt the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing.

The annual festival, whose venue partners span throughout Hollywood and Theatre Row, has tentatively set the new dates for October 1 through October 25, 2020. Final confirmation of all dates will be made by August 1, 2020, based on pending updates by federal, state and local health officials in the coming weeks.

“With the directive to cancel or postpone in-person events and meetings, we are working to provide safe solutions to keep our community active and engaged. We know how necessary the arts are in times like these,” The Hollywood Fringe Festival said in a statement.

The festival is offering reimbursements of paid registration fees where needed at this time, which are refundable up until September 1, 2020, and officials suggest that all current Fringe participating productions contact their individual venues for rescheduling arrangements or cancellations.

For those who can and wish to, the Fringe is also asking for the donation of registration fees to help them maintain operations and that these, and any gifts, to the festival are tax-deductible.

Plans are in development for a program to support shows with the "Fringe marketing/technology infrastructure" and there is a call for anyone who wishes to participate in the development process, and volunteers can sign up here to join their ongoing efforts. A survey has been posted as well to help inform the festival producers going forward.

The Fringe is currently developing plans to provide its ongoing networking and promotional opportunity events as virtually as possible through Virtual “Office Hours” Networking, a virtual Cabaret, Twitter chats, online workshops, and other activities.

Complimentary registration will soon be available on their website for any free online meet-up, workshop or project that relates to the festival and any collaborative related efforts.


Garry Marshall Theatre Announces Call for Submissions for Third Annual New Works Play Festival, Developing Work by Emerging Playwrights

March 9, 2020 – BURBANK, CA – Garry Marshall Theatre launches submissions for its third annual New Works Festival slated for September 14–16, 2020. Submissions open today, March 9, 2020 and will close April 15, 2020.

The 2020 New Works Festival will pair five playwrights with professional LA-based directors and actors for readings of the selected finalists. Following the readings, moderated talkbacks with the playwright, the audience and Garry Marshall Theatre’s New Works Producing Team allow those in attendance to be part of the playwright’s process. All finalists will be considered for future development and production at the theatre.

Back for his second year as Producer of the Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival, Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx shared, “Garry Marshall Theatre is committed to being a home for diverse, brave new voices. It's through the annual New Works Festival that we engage our citywide community.”

Garry Marshall Theatre is interested in new work that is uniquely theatrical, authentically voiced, and has a strong point of view. Most importantly, the theatre is interested in the plays that writers are passionate about working on right now.

“The varied and exciting plays that have been submitted in the past have been remarkable. We know that the 2020 New Works Festival will be as compelling and provoking. This festival is at the heart of what Garry Marshall loved most: new voices, new ideas, and new stories. His passion for storytelling is the main reason he built this live theatre,” said Joseph Leo Bwarie of the GMT. “We look forward to opening our stage to the third year of innovative and unique voices who have stories to be told.”

Muñoz-Proulx added, “By sharing new scripts with our dedicated team of readers, matching local directors with the most innovative playwrights, welcoming diverse casts of our city's most skilled actors, and then ultimately, sharing all of this artistry with Los Angeles's dedicated theatre audience, this process places the audience and the playwrights at the center of the new play development journey.”

The 2019 New Works Festival finalists will be chosen through a blind submission
process. Applicants will submit their play as a blind PDF and fill out an informational form on the Garry Marshall Theatre website. Plays should be full-length and their form should offer a complete evening of theatre. Plays submitted should contain up to only six actors, and should not have received a previous professional production. Submissions require a $20 fee, which supports the submission and review process. Selected finalists will receive a small honorarium.

Submission guidelines can be found at garrymarshalltheatre.org/new-works-festival-2020. Submissions are open March 9, 2020 through April 15, 2020.

ABOUT GARRY MARSHALL THEATRE

Garry Marshall Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing innovative performances, educational opportunities, and storytelling activities for all ages, year- round. Located in the heart of Burbank and Toluca Lake’s media district, the critically acclaimed and Ovation Award-winning 130-seat theatre was founded in 1997 as the Falcon Theatre by Hollywood legend Garry Marshall. Reestablished as the nonprofit Garry Marshall Theatre in 2017, the theatre continues to cultivate new artists and experiences that spark ideas and build community.

CALENDAR DETAILS

WHAT and WHEN:
Submissions Open for 2020 New Works Festival
Submissions Accepted: March 9, 2020 – April 15, 2020
New Works Festival
September 14, 15, 16, 2020

WHERE: Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 W Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505
SUBMISSION FEE: $20
MORE INFORMATION:
Box Office: (818) 955-8101
Website: GarryMarshallTheatre.org
Facebook: facebook.com/GarryMarshallTheatre
Twitter: @GMTheatre_org
Instagram: @garrymarshalltheatre


JOAN OF ART: The L.A. Art Show, A Poignant and Important Musical, Sneakers Everyone and The Constitution

There are a lot of super fun things happening this weekend in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas starting with the L.A. Art Show.

The L.A. Art Show continues to lead the way with innovative and one of a kind experiences for an expanding audience. The show is the unparalleled international art experience with over 120 galleries from more than 20 countries exhibiting painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation, photography, fashion, design, video, and performance.

More than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space is committed to today's prominent galleries. I've been going to this event for the last 20 years and I'm never disappointed. Besides great people watching, the eclectic art displayed here is some of the best.

The show takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA, 90015. It runs from February 5th through the 9th. Hours are 11am-5pm. For more information and tickets go to LAArtShow.com.

As you know I absolutely love musical theatre and one of my favorite shows Ragtime (which I've seen twice) is back in Southern California at The Carpenter Performing Arts Center February 7th through the 23rd in honor of Black History Month.

This five time Tony Award Winning musical is based on E. I. Doctorow's acclaimed novel which tells the story of three families trying to find their way during the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Each family is struggling with the changing cultural climate in America and each facing the promise of hope and new beginnings in the midst of prejudice and bigotry.

Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally wrote the book and features a score filled with memorable songs. The music is haunting and memorable. If you see one musical this year, I highly recommend Ragtime.

For tickets go to Musical.org or call (562) 56-1999. The Carpenter Performing Arts Center is located at 6200 East Atherton Street in Long Beach 90815. It's definitely worth the trip.

Now if you're a fan of sneakers and think of it as art, then SNEAKERTOPIA; SNEAKER AND STREET ART EXHIBIT is the place to be this weekend.

Sneakertopia is the new massive sneaker and street art exhibit, transporting you through a series of immersive, mind-blowing galleries celebrating the art and culture of sneakers. This is a story of creativity, expression, and innovation.

You will witness the sneaker's epic ascension through sports, music, film, fashion, and fantasy.

There will be a 15,000 square foot indoor playground packed with priceless kicks, oversized sights and sounds and interactive street art masterpieces.

SNEAKERTOPIA takes place Friday February 7th through March 1st at 6081 Center Drive, Suite 222, Los Angeles 90045. For tickets go to Sneakertopia.com or call (323) 546-5950.

Lastly there is a powerful, important, and extremely moving play at the Mark Taper. The play is called What The Constitution Means To Me and this is a definite 'must see.'

In fact every man, woman, and mature teenager should see it. At a time when the Constitution is being assailed by those who have sworn an oath to defend it, this buoyant and often stirring civics lesson is the theatrical curriculum Americans desperately need now.

Actress Maria Dizzia brings to life the maddening, mournful history of how women's bodies have been abused by laws and the male dominated courts imperiously interpreting them. And don't worry about the play getting too heavy. It is infused with humor...lots of it.

For tickets to this extraordinary theatrical event go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. The Mark Taper is located at 135 Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, 90012. The show runs through February 28th.

Whatever you do this weekend people, have a great one.


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 BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

ERNEST KEARNEY - The TVolution

The "Director" Award goes to the critic who is most likely to write reviews that inform the artists.

Congratulations to Ernest from all of us!

Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note. He has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His play Peddle was selected by the Midwest Theatre Network as one of the best plays of 1997. His most recent work 'The Salt Prince' was awarded honors from the Nathan Miller History Play Contest as well as the Fremont Center Theatre Play Contest. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.

To view all of Ernest'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.

On Monday we will announce the winner of the "Up Late" Award - the award that goes to the most prolific critic 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 "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

VANESSA CATE - Stage Raw

The "Silver Tongue" Award goes to the most persuasive critic, capable of enticing anyone into a theatre seat.

Congratulations to Vanessa from all of us!

Vanessa Cate is the Assigning Editor for Stage Raw and former Editor-in-Chief for @thisstage.la. Vanessa is a performance artist, writer, and jack of all trades, and they can be found on stage, in strange audiences, and in interesting situations. Vanessa Cate’s passion for theatre and reverence for fantasy blinds them to how to best live a normal life. Apart from their work with Stage Raw since its inception, Vanessa is the Founder and Artistic Director of the feminist performance-coven known as TheatreWitch, as well as the fantasy dance group Cabaret le Fey. Vanessa performs, writes, directs, and generally creates however and whenever they can.

To view all of Vanessa's review excerpts, visit their 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 "Director" Award - the most persuasive critic, capable of enticing anyone into a theatre seat.

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.