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.

 


Writer/Actor Matthew Scott Montgomery Mashing Up Disney Millennials With Seasoned L.A. Theatre-Goers

Expanded and polished, Matthew Scott Montgomery's multi-award-winning DEAD BOYS begins at the Celebration Theatre July 1, 2018. Matthew's one-act on two millennials trapped alone in their old high school basement morphed into a full-length dark, but comedic piece. Matthew most amiably agreed to answer my probing inquiries.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Matthew!

How did you originally come up with the premise of DEAD BOYS? You weren't in a trapped situation somewhere before, were you?

Well, it started because I love two-person shows! I got addicted to the idea of working on one after acting in a workshop of a two-person play called COROMANDEL, by Nick Johnson with EST LA. It seems like the purest form of acting to me - just two people for 80 minutes. There's no hiding! So I definitely set out to write a two-hander, and knew I wanted to tackle race and sexuality, and the first draft happened very quickly. I basically took a long weekend marinating with these two characters in mind and I just went with where they were taking me. And the "trapped" aspect and the bit-of-horror element that came along with it kind of happened organically. My personality is really upbeat and find myself doing comedy a lot, but underneath, I'm actually more drawn to dark side of things - and I love a good twist. One person who saw DEAD BOYS last summer called it a millennial Brokeback Mountain meets Moonlight meets 10 Cloverfield Lane, and that feels really apt!

Your 2017 production of DEAD BOYS won a number of awards. Can you give us a run-down of your various initial reactions to being notified of your honors (City of West Hollywood: One City One Pride Scholarship Award-winner, Best of Fringe, Encore! Producers Award, and a Diversity in American Theater Award finalist)?

The scholarship grant I got as part of WeHo's One City One Pride was TOTALLY unexpected and really exciting. That was also awarded before we opened, it was just based off of the script, so I thought, "Maybe I'm onto something here!" It definitely helped build anticipation to give us that boost of buzz before we had our first performance and I felt like I had a lot to prove to live up to that scholarship. At the same time, I didn't think ahead too much, mostly just focused on putting on the best show we could each performance at a time, so the fact that we got extended so many times thanks to the Encore! Award was a thrill. To be recognized by Fringe specifically felt very COOL, like I was at the cool table, and to be a finalist for Diversity in American Theatre was really special too. DEAD BOYS poses some tough questions and is really frank in the character's points-of-view, but it's actually a celebration of diversity; I'm really glad it was and is continuing to be seen as that.

This isn't your first dance at Celebration. You acted in revolver in 2013 at their former location on Santa Monica Blvd. Was revolver your first collaboration with Celebration?

revolver was my first time ACTING with them. DEAD BOYS is my first time co-producing with them and my first time on the Lex stage! I feel like I'm in great company with a lot of the actors and shows. I'm such a big fan of that have come before me. I love the whole team at Celebration and revolver was a lot of fun. When I did DEAD BOYS as part of Fringe, multiple people commented that it seemed like a good fit for Celebration, and I agreed. And I had been talking with Todd Milliner, who has worked on several shows there, for a few years about potentially working on something together. He and the literary director Nate Frizzell and one of our producers Tom DeTrinis have always been champions of my work and they're great friends; they came to see it last year, we stayed in touch about it and the timing worked out great. Tom and Jay Marcus, our other producer, are incredible and have been really enthusiastic about it.

Tell us what factors led you to exercise your creative chops at the Celebration.

I couldn't be happier that DEAD BOYS' first official home is at a place that is known for being a beacon in Los Angeles LGBT entertainment. The show has definitely evolved since last year - it was a one act then and now it's a full-length. I had invaluable help working on it in The Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre; Beth Bigler and the whole team over there really brought DEAD BOYS to life (pun intended). I consider both theaters homes of mine, but it was important to me to embrace the queer aspects of the story as much as possible, so Celebration was a perfect fit. Celebration is such a great name for the company because it's exactly that - celebrating all things LGBT. They do such respected and important work and are always telling colorful stories; I'm really honored to be co-producing with them.

When did you become a company member of Celebration?

2013 when I did revolver. I was hooked!

How do you address Celebration's four Michaels (Kricfalusi, Matthews, O'Hara, Shepperd) when they're in the same room? Nicknames? Last names? Michael #1, #2, #3, #4?

Ha, ha! GREAT question! Michael Kricfalusi is "Kric." Michael Matthews is "Michael Matthews." I'm not sure why this is, but for me; it's always the full name! Michael O'Hara is "O'Hara." And Michael Shepperd is "Shep." Please don't ask me to pick a favorite!

Did you grow up wanting to be an actor or a writer? Or both?

I've always wanted to be an actor, even if at the time I didn't know how to articulate that. Like the character Levi in DEAD BOYS, I didn't grow up in an environment with a lot of obvious outlets to act, so if you kind of trace back and look, that's what I was always trying to do. Writing came hand-in-hand with that a lot because I wanted to perform, but didn't know how to get started. So I'd write stuff for myself. One time in school, I wrote a musical for me and friends to do just in a classroom - guerrilla style - like we met there at 4PM and kind of just did it for ourselves. After working on TV for a few years, I was so surprised how many of my co-stars didn't do theater or know much about it, and I was like, "That's it! I'm taking you to a play so you can see what it's all about!" And they weren't always enthusiastic about that - but if I was in and/or wrote something, they were more prone to see it. So honestly, that's kind of what I did. So writing has always come from the immediacy of wanting to act.

Who were your writing idols growing up?

I'm a huge fan of Kevin Williamson and Joss Whedon. And R.L. Stine.

Would you say you have two distinctly different groups of fans - those of your Disney Channel shows and those of your Celebration and Del Shores work?

Ha, ha, I definitely think that's true. Doing YELLOW with Del was my big break really. That got me recognized by Disney Channel. I started working on the channel while the show was still running. Then, literally the day after it closed, I was full time working for Mickey Mouse for a couple years. It was a strange transition. I had a lot of grown, mostly gay men recognizing me around town for my theater work, and then overnight, it became mostly teenage girls recognizing me for the TV work.

Have the two groups ever mash-up?

Sometimes! Theater helps them mash-up actually. It's always really fun and means so much to me when fans of my work on Disney or people who follow my social media come to see me onstage. For some, DEAD BOYS was their first play they had ever seen. There were adults from the traditional theater world and young adults who know me from TV or Instagram/YouTube who travelled to see the show last summer and were there in the audience together. And I think they both identified with it in different ways, both equally rewarding. Because DEAD BOYS deals with the emotional fall-out of high school, I think millennial audiences can identify with it because of the freshness of that experience. Older audiences can appreciate the things that have never really changed about school and being haunted by it. There's something so volatile and intense, and sometimes sexy, and sometimes heartbreaking about high school that stays with everyone, I think.

Describe the evening at the LADCC ceremony in 2010 you won Best Actor for your role in Del Shores' YELLOW.

That was pretty surreal, one of the best nights of my life probably. I actually on set that day, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it on time to the ceremony. We were filming a scene where I got ketchup sprayed in my hair. I raced to take a shower in my dressing room as soon as we wrapped and barely made it on time. YELLOW was the most rewarding job. Del and the whole cast was really a family, so that night was a blur of pure love. I brought the award with me to work the next day to show a friend, and it was at our table read and our show runner asked me, "What was it that?" And I did a little show-and-tell. That felt cool. I was like "See! This was that thing I kept talking about!"

Any plans for taking DEAD BOYS on the road, or to another city?

You know I was just talking about that with Del Shores the other day. He thinks Palm Springs could be a good fit! I'm also a big fan of Diversionary Theatre in San Diego. I love Los Angeles and the theater scene here - when stuff is good here, it's REALLY good - and so I'm proud to be a part of the scene here for the time being. But I do want to share it with a lot of people, and I do have followers online who live all over. Any excuse to perform it anywhere, or to have it performed anywhere, is a gonna be a good excuse for me!

Can you share what your next script will be dealing with?

I have a couple ideas, and they're equal parts sexy and spooky. There may be a ghost involved... I told you I'm drawn towards dark side of stuff!

What reactions would you like the Celebration audiences to leave with after the curtain call of DEAD BOYS?

There's a part of the show that's in Spanish, and even though a good portion of the audiences may not speak the language, I think they'll "get" what's being said. Also, even though I mentioned the darkness in it and the logline is fairly dramatic, it's also a really funny show. Tragedy and comedy can be so close to each other. So I hope they laugh with, and fall in love with the characters like I have - they're both complicated and imperfect, and the show is a lot of fun. When we did it at Fringe, I was blown away by how different types of people identified with it in different ways. I had a friend who is a straight white woman that was very moved by it. I have a younger friend who is biracial and bisexual and she was very moved by it. And we've had a lot of return audience members who've brought friends. That has been a gift that's kept on giving.

Thank you again, Matthew! I look forward to seeing your BOYS.

No, thank YOU! Insert a "dead" pun here that's in REALLY good taste! I'll knock 'em dead? I don't know!

For DEAD BOYS ticket availability and schedule through July 31, 2018; log onto CelebrationTheatre.com


"Meet the Critics" Panel Podcast

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

The following critics attended:

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


Audio Interview: Richard Fancy - Mr. Lippman of Seinfeld stars in “Daytona” at Rogue Machine Theatre

Enjoy this interview about “Daytona” By Oliver Cotton (Cesare Borgia in the BBC's 1981 drama series The Borgias) staring Richard Fancy (Mr. Lippman in a recurring role on Seinfeld) at RogueMachine Theatre, running until Oct 30th. You can listen to this YouTube interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage.  For tickets and more info Click here.


Bryan Rasmussen On His Visions for His Whitefire Theatre - The SHORTS & the Long-Reaching

Whitefire Theatre will be presenting their latest edition of their SHORTS series, FALL SHORTS, opening September 26, 2017. Whitefire Theatre has been a reliable San Fernando Valley fixture providing countless entertaining theatre pieces and workshops.
Whitefire Theatre's artistic director Bryan Rasmussen took some moments from his creative multi-tasking to chat with us.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Bryan!
This is your fifth year of presenting your evenings of original short comedy plays. What was the genesis of inaugurating this series?
When Jake O'Flaherty (the producer) and I started the company; we still didn't know exactly what material we would be presenting as a company. Because the choice of the material you do is your reputation usually for the company itself. I had already been working in the 10-minute format for a while and thought it was just amazing. And then it all came together, being able to use every actor in the company for every show. And they would basically get cast as leads in their short pieces. So everybody got great roles, and we could use 25-to-30 actors for a show. So we started using that format. It worked so well, we just kept using it, and we use it now exclusively for the company.
How do you select what shorts become a part of each production?

We have a core group of writers that we work with on a regular basis, both within the company and outside of the company. Many award-winning comedy writers are involved. It takes approximately 16 weeks to find the plays, rehearse and develop them. Because these are plays and not sketches, it needs that kind of rehearsal process. We pick the nine or ten best plays we can find, and we cast them that way rather than the opposite way of finding plays that fit the company. But it happens anyway every time. Amazing!
Have any of the 100-plus shorts you've presented in the last five years grown into full-length plays?
Some have, but that's not necessarily the reason this is happening. The 10-minute play is its own genre. It's not just a short clip in order to get the long-form produced, etc. And many great things can happen in that arc of 10 minutes. I did one that covered the characters from babies to Alzheimer's, and it was incredible! The format that these lend themselves well to is the web series. And we are developing many of those as well.
Any specific success stories to brag about?
Well, we have many great relationships with artists, but collaborating with Academy Award-winning writer (Crash)/director/producer Bobby Moresco for over eight years is a great one! Many of our projects that we developed in the Gym have gone on to full-length play productions, feature films, scripts and other projects. We've been developing a new work inspired by Studs Terkel's WORKING but with completely new characters and written by members of the Actors Gym and Bobby Moresco who conceived the project called WORKING 2017, starring a world-class cast that we will be streaming live worldwide.
This is the 35th anniversary of Whitefire Theatre. What made you decide to stake ownership in Whitefire eight years ago?

It was actually a very serendipitous event. I was an actor at the time bartending with no real ability to start a business whatsoever. But a friend of mine stepped in and put up a little money, and then I was able to get a few others to do the same. Amazingly, it all took place over the course of a six-month period. Then after about three years of steady bookings, the recession hit and changed everything drastically. 
I had run spaces and produced before but having my own theatre was not a realistic goal of mine. I think everybody would like one, but it was certainly not on my goal list. I was on full steam ahead for an acting career, and had already done a lot by the time this came along. But it came along in my life when I was at a crossroads trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life and, Boom!, this came into my life. It's been an amazing ride!
Your Whitefire website pictures a core group of eleven company members. Do you choose the plays Whitefire produces to fit their talents? 
Actually, our core group is 25 company members. The biggest difference is most casting is the actors becoming characters that have already been written. But in film and television, it's very important to understand what your 'personal' essence is, as opposed to your 'casting' essence. So these parts are all customized for each of their individual talents and diversity or ethnicity. And it's worked just fantastically that way!
Do company members get first crack at new roles? Or do they have to audition at your open auditions?

Yes, they do...we always consider our company members for other shows playing at the Whitefire. Theatre company members read all the submitted plays and are then cast based on who can represent the characters best as written. We have open auditions after the close of each show for any new company members who would like to join for the next show. Our producer Jake O'Flaherty arranges the audition process. 
How does one become a company member? 
Auditions are held on the week after the current show closes. The actor needs to prepare a two-minute comedy monologue of their choice to perform, and bring a headshot and resume.
You, Bobby Moresco and Jessica Lynn Johnson offer classes at Whitefire. Does one need to audition to enroll in your classes?
Yes, but they aren't as much classes as they are workshops. Bobby's are by referral and he has writers, actors, and directors in that. Jessica's is a free ongoing workshop developing solo shows. Mine is an ongoing on-camera, working-actors class for all pro-actor needs. Bill Chott (This is Us) teaches an ongoing improv workshop on Saturday and Sunday 11am-1pm. Portia Scott runs a Sunday morning voiceover workshop. Jake O'Flaherty has commercial and business of acting classes as well. The rest of the time we are in production.

What are your long-term goals for Whitefire?
We are launching our live-streaming program as we speak. We are very excited about what this could all mean!
What's in the immediate future for Whitefire? 

I'd love to make the Whitefire the Netflix of theatre. Broadcasting our content nightly live out of the Whitefire, and creating a stream of income for theatre artists so they can make a living doing theatre in LA!
And in the future for Bryan Rasmussen, acting or directing?

The Company show FALL SHORTS that opens Tuesday, September 26 at 8pm. Then, I am acting in a feature film in October, shooting in New Orleans about the aftermath of Katrina. Jake O'Flaherty and I are also doing multiple web series together. So life is good when you get to do what you love. That is true success. After my heart attack a year ago, it helped me hyper-focus on what is important, and who I wanted to work with. I'm the luckiest guy in town.
Thank you again, Bryan!
For FALL SHORTS ticket availability and schedule thru October 31, 2017; as well as, ongoing Whitefire Theatre class schedules; log onto www.whitefiretheatre.com


Examining Mark Blanchard On Balancing His Zen With Directing

Samadahi Entertainment and The Lounge Theatre will be presenting John Patrick Shanley's THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW beginning August 25 at The Lounge theatre. We took the opportunity to chat with director Mark Blanchard on  issues of the theatre, coastal differences and his unique dual careers.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Mark!

You're most welcome. Thank you.

What convergence of fortune brought you to this production of THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW?

One of my best friends for over 25 years, Sal Landi, told me to read the play, and if I was interested in doing it, he wanted to play "Dad." I read it that day and the game was on!!!

Which of John Patrick Shanley's prolific work are you already familiar with?

I've been a fan of Mr. Shanley's works on stage and screen since the 80's. Twice almost directed SAVAGE IN LIMBO and DOUBT, but the stars had something else in mind for me both times. Oddly enough, I did not know this particular piece. All I can say is "Shame on me."

What elements of this particular Shanley play resonate with you?

Where do I begin? I honestly feel it may be his most poetic and visceral piece. It's both deliberate and patient at the same time. Hysterical and poignant simultaneously. It has definite elements of poetic license, while also seeming like a kitchen sink drama. It's slimy and full of grunge, while never losing its sex appeal. It's FU%$%^ GREAT!!!

What aspects of a script attract you to devote your time and energies to tackle directing and/or producing?

The question above's answer, and if I can coordinate the perfect cast and crew at the particular window of time. OOOOh and I did!!

Your directing education (American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Hofstra University in New York, and USC Film School and AFI in Los Angeles) and experience (i.e.; A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Long Island Shakespeare Festival  and TRUE WEST at L.A.'s Zephyr Theatre) span both coasts. What major difference have you found between your east and west coast theatre experiences?

It's funny because I came out here, LA, with the intention of continuing my education in film. This I did both at USC and AFI. However, my love for theater only became stronger as my days in La La Land grew. I produced and directed and acted in a night of two one-acts, ACTION by the late great Sam Shepard (hard to fathom) which I produced and played "Shooter." Actually, Sal Landi directed it. I directed MEMORY OF TWO MONDAYS and all you need to do is look up the L.A. Times' review and you'll get the gist of this production. Although doing shows in NY will always be where my heart lies, and I intend to return. My dream is to do an original musical starring my two oldest children. Both actresses - Rowan Blanchard, (look her up) and Carmen, who is the lead in my first feature (in post now that I co-wrote and singly directed). They are both triple-threats of absurd proportions. That is not Daddy talking, that is the director in me, I promise!!  

Do you find you 'gear' your productions in distinct ways for the opposite coasts?

The one great difference in an audience in LA than NY is patience. In the east, the audience will ride the wave a bit longer and more gradually. In LA, you have to be on the crest immediately, and fly off within minutes. Strange since surfing is so prominent on this coast.

As a director/producer/yoga master, would you characterize your directing techniques as 'Zen'?

Let's put it this way, well, two ways. First, it certainly helps having practiced yoga nearly all my life to deal with actors' ups and downs and in-betweens. Secondly, yes, I slip as much Zen into my message in directing every show as I can fit in. Actually, it was at the recommendation from many of those thespians I was directing at the Met Theatre that I decided to teach yoga as well. It turned out to be quite a nice little suggestion.

You describe your True Power Yoga principles as 'No gimmicks.' Is your directing approach stripped down also?

I have many a time been accused by new members of a cast as to not directing at all. "When is he gonna block? When is he gonna correct me? When is he gonna tell me what to do?" Answer from the members I have worked with before, "Oh, he never blocks. He expects us to know our way around, and he rarely tells us what to do. But, holy shit, does he ask and push you to your absolute limits. You will feel like you have used every ounce of life in you by the time we go up, and you will somehow find your second and third winds." 

Do you receive similar satisfaction/gratification whether leading a yoga class or directing a cast of actors?

I love to see people grow, I love to see people laugh and cry. I love honesty, so yes, there are many similarities.  (That was a great question!)

Would there be a dream project in which you could combine your passions of yoga and theatre?

Actually, I use yoga in every piece I direct. I always relate the two. Yoga is about exploring your personal balance in life without judgment. Releasing your fears, and exceeding your expectations. I ask the same of my cast and crew every time.

What's in the immediate future for director/producer Mark Blanchard?

Wake up every day full of Love and Light. Kiss my wife and three children (yes, I have a little boy, too). Finish post on my film A World Away and create such a memorable piece of art with Mr. Shanley's brilliant THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW,  we take it all the way to NYC!!!

What feelings and reactions would you like The Lounge audiences to leave with after your cast's curtain call?

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered!!!!

Thanks again, Mark!

For ticket availability and schedule of THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW thru September 24, 2017; log onto www.plays411.com/dreamer


Audio Interview: Sequence @ Theatre 40

Enjoy this interview with the cast of SEQUENCE at Theatre 40, which closes Aug 20th. You can listen to this YouTube interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage.  For tickets and more info Click here.