Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 25 – March 10, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar.
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Trojan Women

“Archway Theatre’s immersive post-modern retelling of the aftermath of the Trojan War. Priam, Hector, and Paris are all dead. Queen Hecuba and the women of Troy are now the spoils of war, and must await their fate at the hands of the conquering Greeks.”

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Cemetery of Tortured Souls

“Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly presents their All-New Horror-Theatre Spectacular haunted by The Golden Age of Hollywood in 1930’s. While the only escape from The Great Depression were the movies, there was no escape for those entrapped by the glitter of Tinseltown: These restless spirits of stars and villains from yesteryear rise from their forgotten graves – to wander their final resting place and re-live their final moments in eternal damnation!”

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What Matters Now?/! (Another Political Pop-Up of the Theatrical Kind)

“Open Fist’s annual “political pop-up” features a rotating roster of short plays by writers from across the country that explore our nation’s current social and political climate and how the past year has affected us. Finding it hard to get off the couch and get to the theater? ”

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CATS!

“The record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages, is now on tour across North America! Audiences and critics alike are rediscovering this beloved musical with breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater—”Memory”. Winner of 7 Tony Awards® including BEST MUSICAL, CATS tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. The original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom, School of Rock, Sunset Boulevard), original scenic and costume design by John Napier (Les Misérables), all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (Aladdin), all-new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (Phantom) and direction by Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables) make this production a new CATS for a new generation!…Now and Forever.”

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THE MEATBALL CHRONICLES

“The Meatball Chronicles follows one woman through humorous and sometimes heart wrenching meals that align with stories of her childhood, her relationships with men, and in particular, her complicated relationship to her mother.
Mansini crafts this piece in a way that transcends her own story into universal themes that anyone who has a family can love. As she kneads the dough and thickens the sauce through each Italian recipe, the stories associated with those recipes reveal the complex ways that families cope, laugh, grieve, and show their love through food.”

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The Judas Kiss

“In spring of 1895, Oscar Wilde was larger than life. His masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, was a hit in the West End and he was the toast of London. Yet by summer he was serving two years in prison for gross indecency. Punished for “the love that dare not speak its name,” Wilde remained devoted to his beloved, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. The Judas Kiss revolves around two pivotal moments in his life: the day when, cajoled by Bosie into an ill-fated trial, he decides to stay in England and face imprisonment, and a night when, after his release two years later, the lover for whom he risked everything betrays him again. David Hare’s masterful play pulses with the ecstasy and anguish of an enamored heart.”

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Native Voices at the Autry Presents Pure Native

“Brewster’s back! Rising from the ashes with a slick plan for a bottled water plant on reservation land. There’s mixed agreement and opposition from family and friends, including an old flame with a grudge—but is he the secret ingredient for success? This play was workshopped as Corn Soup. Native Voices at the Autry is devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights..”

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THE ELEPHANT MAN

“’The Elephant Man’ is based on the life of John Merrick who lived in London during the latter part of the 19th Century. A horribly deformed young man who has been a freak attraction in traveling side shows, John is found abandoned and helpless and is admitted for observation to Whitechapel, a prestigious London hospital. Under the care of the famous young doctor, Fredrick Treves, Merrick is educated and introduced to London society. Through their eyes, he is changed from sensational object of pity, to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati. It his dream that he will become a man like any other…but unbeknownst to him, he exceeds even that.”

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JOAN and WHAT DID THEY SAY – An Evening of One Acts

“An Evening Of One Acts: JOAN and WHAT DID THEY SAY
JOAN is an imaginary tale of Joan Crawford’s journey through the Bardo and her adjustment to the fact that her soul will move onto the unknown. During this dream state Joan reflects on–her life–her career–her enemies–her loves–those that helped create the film legend she became.
WHAT DID THEY SAY explores gender and sexuality in an unconventional family dramedy, taking place in Los Angeles today. As experienced in today’s rough political climate, families don’t always share the same values. Family members can be rough among themselves, and where Julian’s dad is gay, and his older sister Harper identifies as a dyke, his twin sibling Felicia struggles to understand Julian’s gender identity.”

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LA DRAMA CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS

“The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC), which presented its first awards for excellence in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Ventura County a half-century ago, has begun the gala celebration of its 50th anniversary by announcing its nominations for the year 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018).
The LADCC is further thrilled to announce that this historic occasion will take place on Monday, April 8, 2019 at one of the region’s most historic and beautiful theatres, Pasadena Playhouse, at 39 S. El Molino Avenue in Pasadena.”

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The Mother of Henry

“In the working class melting pot that was Boyle Heights in the 1960s, five diverse employees in the return department at Sears form a tight bond as they cope with upheaval in their personal lives, their community and the rapidly changing world around them. Connie, a Latinx single working class mother, realizes her agency and discovers her true identity when the anxieties of war, civil unrest and political assassinations plaguing the country tragically affect her own life. Infused with period music and magical realism.”

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The Shape of Things

“Neil LaBute’s 2001 drama “The Shape of Things” is set in a small university town in the American Midwest and centers on the lives of four young students who become emotionally and romantically involved. How far would you go for love? For art? What would you be willing to change? What price might you pay? Such are the painful questions explored in the play. A young student drifts into an ever-changing relationship with an art major while his best friend’s engagement crumbles, unleashing a drama that peels back the skin of two modern-day relationships.”

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The MisMatch Game

“For a record-breaking 15th year, it’s time once again to “get ready to match the stars” with a new edition of Dennis Hensley’s The MisMatch Game. The side-splitting parody of the ‘70s game show has set the rafters ringing with laughter since its debut in 2004. The show the LA Times calls, “witty, ribald … an adventure in surrealist era bending” returns to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre for two hilarious shows.”

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Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival

“The overall theme of the Festival will be I, Woman and the theme of the Opening Night GALA will be In Tribute To. The Champagne GALA and Awards Ceremony will take place on March 22, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. nd will be directed by Denise Dowse (Imposters) and hosted by Starletta DuPois (The Notebook) and Kym Whitley (Young and Hungry). The event will honor five women of exceptional achievement and contribution to the world of theatre (Eternity Awardee- Jenifer Lewis; Integrity Awardee- Leslie Ishii; Maverick Awardee- Sandra Tsing Loh; Rainbow Awardee- Whitney Weston; and posthumously, Infinity Awardee-Carol Channing. There will be special live performances in addition to the awards presentation.”

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IN RESPONSE: Year of the Woman (Still)

“Past and present issues of women including current the #MeToo movement are explored through a collection of dramatic, humorous and thought-provoking, monologues, poems and dance. All the material is written by women. Sunday performances are followed by an audience talkback.”

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Church Basement Ladies

“Church Basement Ladies, a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the show and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as we see them handle a record breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other. Funny and down to earth, you will recognize these ladies as they begin to see the Church year unfold from below the House of God.”

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The Sunshine Experience

“So do a little dance! Make a little love! Get down tonight with The Sunshine Experience – the nation’s premier tribute to KC and the Sunshine Band. “Shake, Shake Shake Your Booty” to their funky tunes and fall in love with KCSB’s triple-platinum sound all over again! ‘Cause “That’s the way–uh huh, uh huh–I like it!” The Sunshine Experience delivers a high-energy, adrenaline-pumping show with spot-on musical arrangements and amazing choreography.”

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A Terrible Show for Terrible People

“A Terrible Show for Terrible People is a raunchy and rambunctious, non-verbal solo clown performance that is both boner- and vomit-inducing. Physical comedian Bonnie He takes the audience through a voyeuristic window into personal tragedy, triumph, and titillation. Mostly titillation. Hehe. TIT-illation. You’re not just watching a Terrible Show – you’re participating in the destruction of common decency.”

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HEISENBERG

“LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE is thrilled to present a co-production with the Rubicon Theatre Company, the critically acclaimed (LA Times Critics’ Choice) production of HEISENBERG, written by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) directed by Katherine Farmer (South Pacific, Gulf View Drive) and starring Faline England (Valentine’s Day) & Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues and NCIS). Comments Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard, “What a special opportunity to co-produce this critically acclaimed production with the Rubicon Theatre Company. Simon Stephens has written a funny, tender and quirky love story that celebrates human relationships in all their complexity. Faline England and Joe Spano are giving masterful performances under the brilliant direction of the gifted Katharine Farmer.”

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The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski

“Fresh off an LA Stage Alliance Ovation nomination for Lead Actor in a Play, WTFN brings back Andrew Perez in the Encore Award-winning THE SECOND COMING OF KLAUS KINSKI!…resurrected for 3 consecutive Friday nights — March 22, 29 & April 5 at the Pico Playhouse…Klaus Kinski is one of the most celebrated and controversial actors in the history of world cinema. The reckless abandon with which he approached both life and art left him tortured, demonized and worshipped. He now resurrects to shake your souls with one last command performance. THE SECOND COMING OF KLAUS KINSKI.”

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🍋


Audio Interview: Bryce Charles staring in “RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL” at the Pasadena Playhouse

The great American musical returns to LA for its first major production in 20 years. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Ragtime tells the story of three families at the turn of the 20th Century in pursuit of the American dream. The award-winning score uses ragtime rhythms to paint a portrait of the people who built this country with the hopes for a brighter tomorrow.*

Enjoy this interview with Bryce Charles staring in “RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL” at the Pasadena Playhouse, running until Mar 9th. You can listen to this 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.


*taken from the website


The Pasadena Playhouse To Host This Year’s Drama Critics Circle Awards

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has begun the celebration of its 50th anniversary by announcing its nominations for the year 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018). The Awards will take place on Monday, April 8, 2019, at the historic Pasadena Playhouse, in Pasadena’s Playhouse District.

Although the Pasadena Playhouse will be hosting the LADCC Awards for the very first time, returning once again is onstage host Wenzel Jones of IMRU, the LGBTQI Radio News Magazine on KPFK 90.7, as well as local composer-conductor Christopher Raymond as musical director for his second consecutive year. The entire production will be in the hands of stage manager Heatherlynn Gonzalez, veteran of more than a decade’s worth of LADCC service.

One or more plaques will be presented in each of 18 categories and seven special awards will also be presented. Topping the nominations, the Antaeus Theatre Company has a total of 12 in various categories, including for the McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1993) for their productions of both “The Hothouse” and “The Little Foxes.”A Noise Within has 10 nominations, including for Production for “A Picture of Dorian Gray.” The Center Theatre Group has a total of nine nominations, including for Production of “Come From Away.” Both the South Coast Repertory and East WestPlayers have seven nominations each. And the Celebration Theatre and the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, each with seven and six nominations, respectively, are uniquely both up for the McCulloh Award for Revival for their individual productions of “Cabaret.”

Sergio Trujillo, is nominated for Choreography for both “Ain’t Too Proud,” Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre and “On Your Feet,” Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Allison Dillard, is nominated for her work in Costume Design for both “Bliss, Or Emily Post Is Dead,” Moving Arts and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” Celebration Theatre. Set Designer John Iacovelli, a winner of multiple LADCC awards for Scene Design, is nominated for “The Little Foxes”, Antaeus Theatre Company.

The LADCC special award recipients are as follows:

  • The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre will be awarded to Echo Theater Company.
  • The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play goes to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, originally produced by South Coast Repertory.
  • The Kinetic Lighting Award for distinguished achievement in theatrical design goes to sound designer Robert Oriol.
  • The Milton Katselas Award for distinguished achievement in direction goes to Cameron Watson.
  • The Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community will be presented to Native Voices at the Autry.

More of the complete list of nominees for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for theatrical excellence in 2018 is here.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 S El Molino Ave, in Pasadena. Standard general admission tickets (a small service fee applies) are $40 and are now available. All purchased tickets will be held at Will Call and tickets are also available at the door. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show reception in the courtyard. The show will commence at 7:30 p.m. and nominees will receive instructions via email regarding how to claim complimentary tickets.

For all other inquiries, email: criticsawards2019@gmail.com.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 11 – 17, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar.
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Accidental Death Of An Anarchist

“In this piece of classic international theatre from 1970, Fo writes of a madman, who invades a police station interrogation room where an anarchist accused of bombing a railway station has recently “accidentally” fallen out of a window. Donning various disguises and voices, the madman manipulates policemen into a truth-inducing hysteria. This world-renowned farce is produced in honor of one of The Actors’ Gang inspirations and mentors, Dario Fo. Famed artist Ralph Steadman, known for his iconic images a lifetime of illustration, magazine and other work, including his longtime collaboration with Hunter S. Thompson, has created a logo that helps to bring this production context. Also, a Dario Fo – Ralph Steadman exhibition will be on view throughout the run of Accidental Death of an Anarchist.”

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Anderson Lena and the Things That Don’t Matter

“In 2012, researchers at Northwestern University concluded that when we recall a memory, we’re not actually the recalling the memory, but rather the memory of the last time we remembered it, thus irreparably distorting our perception of the past. This is a play about that. With an offbeat yet authentic voice (and a structure to match), “Anderson Lena and the Things That Don’t Matter” explores the unsettlingly distinct possibility that objective truth is about as real as a fluffy pink unicorn. It starts off simply enough: a girl dancing alone in her bedroom. But, much like life, this story is nowhere near as simple as it should be. Three characters, two timelines, and one room later, you’ll leave questioning every memory you ever held dear. But, you know, in a cool way.”

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RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL

“The great American musical has returned to LA for its first major production in 20 years. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Ragtime tells the story of three families at the turn of the 20th Century in pursuit of the American dream. The award-winning score uses ragtime rhythms to paint a portrait of the people who built this country with the hopes for a brighter tomorrow.”

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Ohad Naharin/Batsheva Dance Company: Venezuela

“Batsheva returns with Venezuela, a new work which explores the dialogue and conflict between movement and the content it represents. Venezuela is a multifaceted piece where the endless possibilities of a choreographer’s craft are at play and compel the audience to challenge their own notion of freedom of choice.”

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Attack of the Second Bananas

“Who killed beloved stage stars Ruby Moss and Andrea Hammond? Find out as the LAPD detective on the case pieces together the clues. Attack of the Second Bananas is a comedy noir about the ultimate price of fame. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. WORLD PREMIERE.”

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Fifty Words

“Adam (Eric Larson) and Jan (Olga Konstantulakis) are alone together for the first time in almost 10 years. Without the buffer of their nine-year-old son (who is away at his first-ever sleepover), this smoothly scripted multi-layered play reveals how closely love and hate can be linked in marriage … how with each problem experienced as parents, each subsequent layer that’s revealed shows yet another problem in their marriage. The play is an incisive close-up of the emotional battleground of contemporary relationships and the lengths to which a couple will go to save it.”

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How We’re Different from Animals

“Over three years in the making, ÉLAN Ensemble’s inaugural production is the culmination of the company’s work, adapting Miranda July’s book of short stories No One Belongs Here More Than You. The show breathes life into July’s quirky, lonely, odd, lovable characters in an oddly hilarious tapestry that reflects the complexity, isolation, and unexpected connectivity of life in Los Angeles.”

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Home

“Writer/performer Nancy Ma’s coming-of-age tale about growing up sandwiched between two cultures. Desperately seeking approval from her Chinese Toisan immigrant family, Nancy journeys away from her home in New York City’s Chinatown in search of the American dream — only to learn that you can only find “home” when you accept where you come from. Feb. 28 – March 24 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013; $24- $38; For reservations and information, call (866) 811-4111 or go to http://thelatc.org.”

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The Joy Wheel

“Life is changing for Frank and Stella. On the day of Frank’s retirement party, this once loving and simple couple find themselves pulled in different directions as the winds of change blow through Joy, Illinois. The world is not what it was. Joy is not what it was. Stella is shaken, but inspired, by her best friend becoming a liberated, sexualized, independent woman, while Frank decides to emulate his doomsday prepper friend by building an underground bunker that once was the family swimming pool. It’s as if all of them are riding the Joy Wheel, hanging on to someone else so they can stay their ground.”

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Church Basement Ladies

“The Glendale Centre Theatre is America’s longest-running continuously family-owned theatre in the round. Now in its 72nd year, GCT has just opened its second show of the 2019 season: Church Basement Ladies!”

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The Pack at The Pico

“The Pico will be presenting a monthly reading series of original short comedies by Emmy® nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning writer Eugene Pack. Every month, The Pack at the Pico will feature a new evening of material and a revolving noteworthy cast.”

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Geronimo: Life on the Reservation

“Return engagement of the critically acclaimed seldom told story of Geronimo’s life as a POW on the Fort Sill Indian Reservation. Starring veteran performer Rudy Ramos (Yellowstone, Ironsides, The High Chaparral, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movie, The Enforcer, Defiance, Colors), helmed by respected actor/director Steve Railsback (The Visitors – dir. Elia Kazan; Helter Skelter, From Here to Eternity, The X-Files), and written by award-winning novelist Janelle Meraz Hooper (As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries, Custer and His Naked Ladies), GERONIMO focuses on the resiliency, humor, and genius of the great Apache leader, bringing his final years to life on the stage in a dramatic recounting of a fascinating, largely forgotten chapter in American history. Two shows only!”

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Pirates of Penzance

“The Gilbert and Sullivan classic Pirates of Penzance sails into Glendale Centre Theatre March 15!”

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Rex & Bob’s Excellent Misadventure

“Rex & Bob’s Excellent Misadventure is the story of The Music Man’s and My Fair Lady’s two leading men. What happens when they switch lives?”

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Nunsence

“The mega musical returns to the Glendale Centre Theatre! Pure nunsense!”

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Four Weddings and an Elvis

“Come enjoy four weddings in Las Vegas with the King himself! This musical comedy is a treat for the whole family.”

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More Guns! A Musical Comedy about the NRA s

“The National Rifle Association is here to save the day – through song and dance! Praise the lord and NRA-men! Ron Barkley is the head lobbyist for the NRA, and his life is real tough — his daughter is a liberal socialist with a penchant for protests, and for some reason, the entire country is up in arms about gun control. But when Ron prays to God for divine intervention, he receives a magical gun that turns people – into guns. Because after all, if you’ve got problems, the solution is always More Guns! With songs like “Semi-Automatically”, “Everybody Do The Lobby!” and “Liberal Love”, MORE GUNS! is a satire of the NRA, the “woke” left, and all those boring moderates in between. This is a show for the whole family, and by whole family we mean adults only (16+)”

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Birdland Blue

“At Broadway and 52nd Street in New York City, the nightclub Birdland was the legendary center of the jazz world, where the glitterati of Broadway, Hollywood and the sports world regularly filled its 500 seats. In August, 1959, the biggest star in jazz was Miles Davis, who earlier that year recorded Kind of Blue, regarded then and now as the most innovative and best jazz album of all time. The Miles Davis Sextet, as constituted that summer, was regarded as the best jazz combo ever. Birdland Blue is a behind-the-scenes look at Miles on one evening that August. He flirts with a beautiful reporter for a jazz magazine. He copes with division within his ranks, as two of his musicians (Julius “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane) are on the verge of leaving the Sextet to start their own groups. He deals with substance abuse problems, his own and that of one of his musicians. He argues with the club owner/manager over proper compensation. His biggest challenge may be coming from a violent, crooked, racist cop.”

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Julius Caesar

“From the presenters of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, join us indoors at the ISC Studio at Atwater Crossing.
Beware the Ides of March! Rome teeters on the brink of civil war as Caesar’s ambition for a crown threatens the stability of the Republic. Part ghost story, part political murder thriller, ancient Rome comes to vivid life in ISC’s first ever mounting of one of the greatest hits of the Elizabethan stage. Inspired by Orson Welles’s 1937 Mercury Theater production, this pared down version of the text immerses the audience in the multiplicities of the conspiracy to save Rome and even gives the spectators a voice in the action. Audience participation encouraged (but not enforced!)”

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The Apple Tree

“When the Winslow sisters are forced to return home to confront their past, they must choose either to hold tight to anger or open their arms to change. ‘In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.’-Deepak Chopra. This is the world premiere of The Apple Tree and the inaugural production of Firefly Theatre Group.”

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🍋


EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

W.C. THORNBUSH AND THE GREAT AMERICAN SHOW – CHRISTMAS EDITION @ Bootleg Theater

December 12, 2018 7:00 pm

Once again, W.C. Thornbush is bringing his musical revue to Bootleg Theater to celebrate the Christmas Canon in the only way this group knows how. With bells ringing, birds singing, and all the cheer …read more


IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY @ Pasadena Playhouse

December 12, 2018 8:00 pm

The holiday classic we all know and love takes the beloved George Bailey on journey to renew his spirit and restore his faith in mankind on one fateful Christmas Eve. Join George and all …read more


SPECIAL @ Theatre of Note

December 13, 2018 8:00 pm

Special is the World Premiere comedy that commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the worst variety show in television history with a behind-the-scenes imagined look of how The Star Wars Holiday Special came to be. …read more


BETTER LEMONS – “MEET THE PUBLICISTS” @ Thymele Arts

December 15, 2018 10:00 am

On Saturday, December 15, from 10 am to 12 noon, Better Lemons and Thymele Arts will be hosting “Meet the Publicists!” which will be featuring several of LA’s premier performance art publicists for a …read more


JULIUS CAESAR IRREVERENT SHAKESPEARE PROJECT @ Hudson Loft

December 15, 2018 7:30 pm

Irreverent Shakespeare Project presents Julius Caesar, directed by Heather Ann Gottlieb, produced by Steven Brandon, Mark Laird, Bradley Gosnell, Rachel Rios and Ari Stidham. An all-female cast of eleven tackles the Bard’s political drama, …read more


MEASURE FOR MEASURE @ New American Theatre

December 15, 2018 8:00 pm

The New American Theatre presents Shakespeare’s story of impassable moral dilemmas, religious hypocrisy and he said/she said. …read more


HERE’S JOHNNY @ Theatre West

December 15, 2018 8:00 pm

Johnny Ferretti in Here’s Johnny! A Colorado boy whose first job was as a ranch hand, then became a newspaper reporter… then found himself working as an engineer in California. And then, suddenly, he’s …read more


AS ALWAYS, JIMMY STEWART @ Theatre West

December 16, 2018 2:00 pm

Steve Nevil in As Always, Jimmy Stewart. It’s two-thirty in the morning at 911 Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, and Jimmy Stewart can’t sleep. Steve Nevil’s acclaimed one-person show presents the film legend late …read more


Novel Entertainments – Part 2

This is a three part series.

To read Part 1 of this series, which discusses the recent production of The Picture of Dorian Gray that was performed at the Pasadena Playhouse, please go to Novel Entertainments – Part 1.

In a short run recently at Red Cap, co-presented with Center Theatre Group, the members of The Gob Squad fashioned Creation (Pictures for Dorian Gray). It’s a fascinating thematic exploration of The Picture of Dorian Gray by the seven-member, Anglo-German “arts collective” based in Berlin.


In the program the Squady quotes Wilde from the preface to the novel: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” Which speaks to the endless reflections of looking into the mirror, which is what The Portrait is for Dorian. So, as one of the members told me, the work is based on Dorian’s reaction to first seeing the portrait of himself, his contemplation of what he sees – and what he makes of it as it ages and he doesn’t.

There is no attempt to bring its story, even its characters, to life. It’s not an adaptation. But it is theatrical, albeit more didactic than dramatic. All seven members of the Gob Squad are self-identified as middle-aged. They employ three local actors over eighty and three in their twenties to assist in making their Dorian-esque exploration of youthful hopes and beauty versus the elderly value of memories and experience – the dreams of youth in the light of the value of aging. Beginning with an Ikibana floral display which they put under a heat lamp to see the effects, they continue discussing the theme and creating examples using the young and the elderly singing and in confessional self-revelation.

It was an intriguing astringent amongst a group of dramatized novels, related to but with no attempt at capture the novel on stage.

***

Another offering in Pasadena this fall (at The Pasadena Playhouse) is Susan Hill’s acclaimed novel, The Woman in Black. It’s one of those English Christmas stories of ghostly gothic horror set in the very early years of the 20th Century. Written in 1983, it was dramatized in 1987 and presented in London’s West End in 1989 where it’s still (almost 30 years on) playing eight times a week. Mostly to tourists, I suspect.

Hill’s book tells the tale of a young lawyer who encounters horrific visions in an isolated windswept mansion set amidst the eerie marshes and howling winds of England’s forbidding North Coast. Brought to the stage by virtue of Stephen Mallatratt’s minimalist two-characters script, it is now touring the US in a re-creation of the London production. And it’s come for Halloween. Good timing. We colonials like our ghosts in their proper time slot – on All Hallows’ Eve or Dia de Los Muertos. Generally, we want our Christmas stories warm and toasty, infused with the exhilaration of a brightly wrapped present, not served on a plate of misty gloom with spine-tingling chills and startling thrills.

In the Playhouse production two excellent American actors (Bradley Armacost and Adam Wesley Brown) successfully capture a handful of the book’s idiosyncratic characters with consummate skill, and the technical production, the design, lighting, and special effects all work to create the novel’s mood. It is all one could ask for.

But as a piece of spooky stage drama? Adapted from a novel? Well, the play-within-a-reading concept seems at odds with itself. For this viewer, it never really achieves the “scary” heights the book provides, and the theatrical promos promise. Indeed, it seems that the brilliance of the theatricality and the clever direction work against it.

In the most recent film of the novel, Daniel Radcliffe played Arthur Kipps the central character, as a young troubled lawyer, whose unease was affecting his career. So, his journey to the haunted house was meant to give him a reboot. Hah! In this stage version Arthur Kipps is a middle-aged man (not the youngster of the novel) needing to share the horrors of his past with friend and family (so the action is in flashback). He’s written it down, and he starts the evening by reading it us. That he’s hired a never-named actor to help him with his presentation provides a wonderfully entertaining, charmingly humorous opening that leads the two of them to “act out” what Kipps has written down. This cleverly tips its hat to the prose origins of the story. Yet the rollicking entertainment of the opening sets an expectation of comedy. And as the tale unfolds, the stage script frequently breaks in on the intended mood of otherworldly eerie-scary. It shatters the illusion, mostly because the humor doesn’t flow from the tale but reminds us that the tale is being enacted on a stage.

The result is a production greatly to admire but ultimately a less than effective transmogrification of a top-notch ghost story into a spooky coup de theatre.

***

Another classic piece of ghostly English prose brought to the stage this fall in Los Angeles is another two-character reduction, this time of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, by noted playwright-screenwriter Jeffry Hatcher (screenwriter of the sublime Mr. Holmes and the lavish The Duchess). There are three characters if you believe you see the lady in Black.

Of the handful of adaptations viewed for this writing, even with its less than effective production values, this was the most satisfying – because the script hones to the intent of the novel and the actors were so convincing. Both actors made the experience of the novel’s legendary ambiguities palpable.

But it’s Hatcher’s script that, even if reduced to a handful of characters, quite successfully captures the tone of the novel, reducing the action to its essentials. Hatcher vividly brings key passages to life in mostly short effective scenes that sweeps the audience into and through the story. Like The Lady In Black, it takes place in a house haunted by past horrors. This time it’s about a young governess determined to care for two young children, but in over her head. Is the naughty boy playing a spooky game intent on driving her mad? Are there two spirits haunting the house, jealous of the governess’ presence? Is the all too knowing creepy housekeeper working to maintain control over the house by driving her bonkers? The questions, as per the novel, remain long after the curtain calls. And the mood lingers in the memory.


Novel Entertainments – Part 1

Ever read a book and wish you could experience it, live? That’s what playwrights are in business to do, isn’t it? But how can the hundreds of pages of a novel be captured in “the two hours’ traffic of the stage?” With nearly 600 pages, The Cider House Rules by John Irving needed two plays (well, one play in two parts for a five-hour encounter) to do it justice. The movie version reduced it to just over two-hours, leaving out so much, but wonderfully capturing the essence of Irving’s intent. Shakespeare worked mostly with short stories and historical accounts, not whole novels – a chapter of Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, one of the tales in Boccaccio’s Decameron or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a section of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. But The Bard was mostly interested in plot points and character, not mood, tone, or style.

And most theater-goers in the 16th/17th Centuries hadn’t read the story or poem that was crafted from the “best sellers” or important literary works available in their day. Today, books are often evaluated before publication for their dramatic potential with an eye to the commercial value they bring to a project. (“Everybody’s read it.” “They’re dying to see it on stage!” “It’ll sell like hot cakes.”) And the dramatizations are usually (too often, perhaps) evaluated for their “faithful” representation of the source.

Of course, in the limited a space of a theater, with less than a tiny portion of the army of collaborators that’s scrolled at the end of a film, what can you do? Obviously, it ain’t easy. We’ve had five (and a sixth “inspired by”) such productions in Los Angeles this fall. Let’s look at how they fared.

Let’s begin with Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, recently presented in a relatively large-scale, rather complex production at Pasadena’s popular classical repertory theater, A Noise Within.

There is a mythic conceit at the center of Oscar Wilde’s late-Nineteenth Century novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. A trope that taps “into a root of Western folklore” according to the author of a recent study of the poet John Gray, who is believed to be the real Dorian Gray.

The conceit of the tale is the painted image of a beautiful young man that suffers the corrupting ravages of age while its living subject physically retains the bloom of youth. Hence, the vanity of beauty is made visibly dramatic by a Faustian bargain – a bargain that leads the living Dorian Gray to regret the deal he made, for it brings him a loveless life and the corruption of his soul. With this conceit, Wilde the novelist sets out to plumb the cost to the spirit of rampant narcissism. Originally made available to the public as a homoerotic magazine serial, the critical reception to Dorian Gray was typically Victorian – the wit and the writing were praised but it was deemed “unclean,” “poisonous,” “heavy with the mephitic odors (noxious vapors) of moral and spiritual putrefaction.” Sometime later, Wilde “cleaned up” the prose, extended the tale by a few chapters, and published it as a novel. That was 1890.

Five years later, 1895, Wilde was defending himself in a court of law against the charge of “gross indecency,” for which the main exhibit against him was his novel. He insisted that The Portrait of Dorian Gray was “a highly moral book decrying the pursuit of pleasure devoid of empathy or personal responsibility.” Does that mean that by portraying the sin of vanity as it inevitably corrupts the soul, one is forearmed against the commission of that particular sin? Isn’t that like showing you the effects of excessive fatty food intake as a cure for the ills of obesity?

It is with a deep appreciation of Wilde’s intent that one of the Southland’s most talented directors, Michael Michetti, has created his own stage adaptation of Dorian Gray. Originally produced at the Boston Court in Pasadena, Michetti’s newly revised adaptation, in a no-holds-barred, visually fascinating production aptly achieves the homoeroticism of Wilde’s work.

Okay, but does Michetti’s unquestioned artistry (and A Noise Within’s restrained-lavish production elements) succeed in creating an effective stage work? In this case, it depends upon what one thinks is the purpose of the novel. Michetti, as director, has an abundance of theatrical ideas, filling the stage with Wilde’s wit, strident music, and a wide-ranging cast of Victorian characters. At the center is, of course, the handsome youth, Dorian Gray. But there is also a loquacious Wilde stand-in, Sir Harry Wotton, the enlightening goad to Dorian’s tragedy. Do these two characters give us a satisfying performance version of the novel’s essence?

Unfortunately, except for a stunningly-staged finale, the real drama, the raison d’etre of the novel, seems veiled behind the verbal onslaught of Wilde’s notorious wit and some over-wrought modern dancing.

While director Michetti fills the stage with movement and adaptor Michetti with a full evening’s helping of the Wildean excess, “the mephitic odors of moral and spiritual putrefaction” – the corrosive effects of vanity on the soul – seems to get lost in the theatricality.

Even more than Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an internal drama – the soul as the battlefield between social values and naked impulse, the need to hold on to one’s youth being at odds with the richness of experience and age. In Michetti’s version, what seems to be lacking is the interior of the character. We are given a blank picture frame instead of being able to see the painting age, as Dorian’s soul is increasingly devastated by the corruption of immortality.

Michetti, the ever-inventive director, has a penchant for countering expectations. In Michetti the adaptor’s version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (also for A Noise Within, but many years ago) he eliminated the Ghost of King Hamlet. Why? Because, I think, Michetti the director wanted us to believe the dead monarch was not a ghost, but a deep-seated construct within the psyche of young Hamlet. So, his Hamlet is both characters, speaking the lines of the revengeful spirit facing a mirror (or really any reflective surface, for that matter). An intriguing idea that didn’t always work.

Oscar Wilde, the novelist, is exploring the internal agony of Dorian’s external vanity, but in Michetti’s Dorian Gray, it’s largely (not completely) missing – presented off-handedly, an observation here or there, buried in directorial business, or presented enigmatically in a Martha Graham-esque dance with extensive narration read from the novel. How much more moving would it be, how much more dramatic to hear – in private moments – Dorian speaking to himself, first recognizing, then denying, eventually trying to manage, finally being overwhelmed by the inner corruption that forces him to put a violent and tragic end to the conceit. But where Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a tragedy, Michetti’s Dorian is melodrama.

Of course, there is a more contemporary way of handling Wilde’s novel. It would require some modest changes to the plotting, but it would realize the hidden drama – Oscar Wilde confronting his own beliefs. What adaptor every worried about a little dramatic license? By positioning Sir Henry as the central character and Dorian as the object of Henry’s influence – just as Salieri, the lesser composer in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, sets Mozart, the better composer, on the road to destruction – it would allow the book’s deeper concerns to be dramatically realized. Sir Henry would for all intents and purposes be Oscar Wilde, the narrator/novelist, living through the experience he’s relating. And like Dr. Dysert, in Shaffer’s Equus – a tame if wise psychiatrist, trying to cure the very pagan passions (in a young patient) he only wishes he was brave enough to experience – such a dramaturgic approach would allow the audience to experience the tragedy Wilde’s novel give us.

Either approach would allow the stunningly-staged climax to bring Wilde’s confrontation with the dangers of beauty to a more successful conclusion. Destroying the Picture of Dorian Gray would be the only way out.


EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

EMMA @ Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center

November 23, 2018 3:00 pm

Jane Austen’s enduring love story is brought to life as a romantic-comedy musical. The story revolves around Emma, a well-meaning, but disaster-prone matchmaker, who ignores her own romantic feelings while setting out to find …read more


VENDETTA CHROME @ The Lex

November 23, 2018 8:00 pm

Vendetta, a late bloomer at a Victorian girls’ school, must save her friends and family from a legacy of trouble — and it’s all in the dance moves. Oswald’s melodrama–farce takes a female and …read more


A CHRISTMAS STORY @ Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 23, 2018 8:00 pm

Back in the 1960s, humorist, writer, raconteur and TV and radio personality Jean Shepherd (1921-1999) was the undisputed king of late night radio on the East Coast. His live broadcasts from the Limelight Café …read more


BOB BAKER’S NUTCRACKER @ Pasadena Playhouse

November 24, 2018 2:30 pm

Bob Baker’s adaptation of the ballet classic and one of Bob Baker Marionette Theater ’s most beloved shows since it’s opening in 1969! For the first time outside of its original location, the imagination …read more


THE WORLD IS MY HOME: THE LIFE OF PAUL ROBESON @ Santa Monica Playhouse The Main Stage

November 24, 2018 8:00 pm

Actor/Playwright Stogie Kenyatta returns to Santa Monica Playhouse for Black History Month with his acclaimed one-man show about the life of Actor/Activist Paul Robeson. For the past 15 years – from its first performance at …read more


THE HOLIDAY GEM@ The Gem Theatre

November 24, 2018 8:00 pm

Ring in the holidays at The GEM Theatre with a ‘fun for the whole family’ holiday review! Backed by live musicians, stunning costumes and a whimsical set; Santa Claus, his tap dancing elves and …read more


A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS @ Camino Real Playhouse

November 24, 2018 8:00 pm

Originally broadcast in 1947 as part of the Archie Andrews radio show. We invite you now to join Archie and his pals Jughead, Veronica and Betty in another comic adventure from Riverdale. Performed as …read more


KING LEAR @ Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre

November 25, 2018 7:00 pm

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is proud to present KING LEAR, Shakespeare’s dark and insightful tragedy about a great King’s agonizing descent into madness after making an arrogant and prideful error in judgment concerning …read more


Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar – October 29, 2018 through November 4

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

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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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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 Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit <https://better-lemons.com/production/the-big-event-sunny-afternoon/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.
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Audio Interview: The cast of “American Hero” at The Pasadena Playhouse

A darkly comic celebration of the power of teamwork and unity to overcome adversity. At a toasted subs franchise in the local mall, three up-and-coming “sandwich artists” — a young woman, a single mom and a downsized refugee from corporate banking — are perfecting the mustard-to-cheese ratio according to the company manual. But when their shot at the American dream is interrupted by a series of strange events, they must become unlikely allies in a post-recession world.*
Enjoy this interview with the cast of “American Hero” at The Pasadena Playhouse, running until Oct 21st. You can listen to this 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.

*taken from the website


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics’ and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

The Gin Game

A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN

SWEAT

SWANSONG

Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Martians – An Evening With Ray Bradbury

“BLACK!”

A View From The Bridge

The Rescued

Fallen Saints: Dark

Gloria

ROMEO AND JULIET

BREADCRUMBS

FIRE IN A DARK HOUSE

UK Underdog

Brimstone

26 PEBBLES

Showpony

A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

PARADISE – A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

The Marriage Zone

What Happened When

Old Clown Wanted

ROPE

All Night Long

THE CAKE

I AM CHARLIE

American Hero


PODCAST: An Interview with Mary Bridget Davies of 'A Night with Janis Joplin'

In this podcast, Tony-nominated Mary Bridget Davies of the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment Production‘s A Night with Janis Joplin talks on becoming a mother, performing from an early age, her work with Playwright and Director Randy Johnson, the evolution of the show from its roots to its Broadway stint, playing with Robby Krieger from The Doors, working on a new album with her band, bringing enigmatic and iconic Janis Joplin back to life once again at the La Mirada Theatre, and “singin’ the blues.”

Photo by Jason Niedle
Mary Bridget Davies stars in her Tony-nominated performance as Janis Joplin in the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment Production‘s A Night with Janis Joplin.

A Night with Janis Joplin features a healthy selection of Joplin hits—especially those with Big Brother and the Holding Company – as well as songs by such irreplaceable artists as Bessie Smith, Odetta, The Chantels, Nina Simone, and the late Aretha Franklin – the latter icons all interpreted by four additional vocalists in the show, along with a live band and horn section to help recreate a repertoire of blues gems.

Although she enjoys singing fan favorites like “Piece of My Heart” or “Cry Baby,” Davies said in the interview that she finds her best challenge with Joplin’s version of “Maybe,” which she sings in the second act, and with “Ball and Chain.”

Born eight years after Joplin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles, Davies has been interpreting Joplin since she was in her teens. Like Joplin, whose Port Arthur, Texas vernacular Davies has mastered – she studied hours of archival footage of Joplin’s interviews – she began with listening to and singing Joplin’s songs and vocal stylings with her mother in her native Cleveland Ohio. Later, she would do more research and read the collection of Janis Joplin’s letters and other correspondence that say so much more about Janis Joplin than any journalist ever has. (Did you know she was a painter?)

The award-winning actress has studied improv at The Second City (in Cleveland at the time) and is a member of the Something Dada Improv Group in Cleveland as well. In 2005, she toured with the production of Love, Janis, and has toured in Europe with Janis Joplin’s original band, “Big Brother and the Holding Company.”

Davies has since received a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance as Joplin in A Night with Janis Joplin at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway in 2014, as well as winning the Theater World Awards and Theater World Awards for that year. Davis’ band, The Mary Bridget Davies Group, released their album “Wanna Feel Somethin” in 2012, where she is currently working on writing songs for their next album.

A Night with Janis Joplin opens Friday, September 21, 2018, and runs through October 7, 2018, at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.  Visit their website for showtimes and tickets.

For more podcasts like these visit Better Lemons on Soundcloud.