Spotlight Series: Meet Kelly Brighton, an Actor, Singer, Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer


This Spotlight focuses on Kelly Brighton, an Actor, Singer, Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer who has appeared in theatrical productions his entire life. As a member of DOMA Theatre, Kelly has received accolades for his roles in several company productions. He is also preparing to take a new musical he has written to the stage, and as a Recording Artist works with some of the finest producers and recording engineers in Hollywood.  So what’s this always-busy guy up to while quarantined at home?  But first, Kelly shares a bit about his theatrical background.


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

Kelly Brighton (Kelly): I’m a Composer/Lyricist, Producer/Arranger and Writer, which keeps me very busy. I started early in Theatre when I did two shows as a kid with Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, sang with LA Opera and the UCLA Opera Workshop. Those were really fun, busy times. I’m very grateful to my parents for supporting me to do what I love to do. Thanks to my Mom and Dad, I’ve been in the Theatre my whole life. Flash forward to today. In January I performed at the 2020 LA Ovation Awards. It was an honor to perform for our LA theatre colleagues, many of whom are my friends. It’s always a grand, black tie event at the beautiful Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

I’m a member of DOMA Theatre and played the conflicted Pontius Pilate in our production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Our superb cast and show were unanimously praised by critics and audiences, so much so that we extended our sold-out run twice at The Met Theatre in Hollywood. I received a Robby Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical as Pilate from L.A. Theatre critic, Rob Stevens.

Kelly Brighton as Lord Henry Wotton in "Dorian's Descent"

I had a great time as Lord Henry Wotton in DOMA Theatre’s Dorian’s Descent, the new musical written by Christopher Raymond and Marco Gomez, based on Oscar Wilde’s Gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I led Dorian into a life of debauchery in our beautifully produced show.

One of my favorite productions was Octavio Carlin’s hilarious farce, Hollywood Party, at the Hudson Theatre. It was mad-cap romp that audiences loved in which I played Rodrigo De Altamirano and spent the entire show looking for Lilyan Tashman. Movie star shenanigans.

I’ve written the music and lyrics with my writing partner Jane Stuart and we also co-wrote the book for a new musical farce titled Kiss Me, Quick! We’ve had two hilarious table reads with my DOMA friends and we’re planning a workshop production, making it a very exciting time for us. DOMA is developing a multi-use Arts Studio with a performance space in the Arts District in DTLA which will allow for immersive experiences as we develop new musicals in association with Behind The Mask, Inc. Stay tuned!

I’m also a Recording Artist and work with some of the finest producers and recording engineers in Hollywood. My pop/soul music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and most digital platforms. I invite you to check them out at KellyBrighton.com

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

(Kelly): In mid-March this year, I was in pre-production to direct/act in Seminar by Theresa Rebeck for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We did a staged reading at Theatre Palisades in August 2019 which was such a success, we decided to put it up for Fringe. I was also rehearsing new material for Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, and was in pre-production with my good friend, Jim West (Weird Al), to co-produce a new single I’ll be releasing. Of course, everything is on hold now. And after years of not seeing The Book of Mormon, I finally had tickets but it was cancelled. What a disappointment!

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

(Kelly): While at home now, as a member of SAG-AFTRA Singers, I’m a studio session singer and have a home studio, and work is being offered remotely. We download the tracks, record our vocals at home, then send them back. It works very well. I just did a fun, Zoom online “Radio Play” reading with the Quarantine Players! It was a live, Facebook event and we had a blast. More to come! I’m also using this time at home to compose and arrange, which is my full-time job at the moment. I’m thankful to be focused on the positive and in the zone of creativity. I recommend it! And I love vocal coaching and am considering using Zoom to coach online. It’s an amazing media tool which many of us are discovering for the first time.

(SB): That’s very true. I am on the Board of Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse and we held our April Board meeting on Zoom, which was a really fun way to get together without having to drive to a meeting. I’d love to keep doing it that way even when the quarantine is over.

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?

Kelly Brighton and "Kiss Me, Quick!" cast

(Kelly): I ask everyone to remember that this is temporary. Focus on what you can do at home. Engage your creativity. Read those scripts you’ve been meaning to get to. Learn that monologue you’ve had on your desk for months. Bump up your self-tape submission game. Work on your website. Go through your archival photos and update your news page. Encourage your friends to do the same. Lift each other up. And if you’re hurting, reach out. It beats being pre-occupied with worry.

There is nothing like the magic of live Theatre. It transports us, teaches us, moves us, riles us. That’s what keeps us in love with it. I know what it takes to put up a show and sustain a run, and when I’m an audience member, I’m pulling for everyone on stage to knock it out of the park! Always remember so much of what we do as actors happens backstage. I like that graphic that shows top 10% of an iceberg – what the audience sees - and the 90% below water is what we do in rehearsal. Truth!

(SB) That’s for sure! It’s the reason I appear in a play or musical every five years or so, just so that I remember all the work that goes into bringing a production to the stage when I am in the audience reviewing a show.

(Kelly): I love our community and it means a great deal to me. Some of my dearest friends are those I’ve done shows with here. You’re in the pressure cooker of production, and you bond quickly because you count on each other to bring it every rehearsal and performance. The shows go up with a bang, you have your run, and inevitably you say good-bye to your cast mates and production crew. Post-show blues are a real thing. Right?!

And so we take our friendships with us and support each other. Texts, phone calls, and lunches. None of us are doing this alone since the very nature of theatre is collaboration. How nice is it that we can continue to help each other along the way.

When we’re up and running, please go see a show! Continue to support your fellow actors and theatre companies. Get back out there and audition. We can do this!


Kelly is repped by The Movement Talent Agency

Visit Kelly at his YouTube Channel, listen to him on iTunes or on Spotify and connect with him on Facebook or on Instagram.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(SB): I am so sorry I missed that one. I am sure your impersonations were spot on! What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

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

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


This article first appeared on Broadway World.


Susan Stangl

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – March 2 - 8, 2020


Better Lemons currently has over 140 shows NOW registered on the Better Lemons Calendar!

Registered NEW this week are Art Shows, Musicals, Comedy, Cabaret, Solo, Readings, and more:
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Wait Until Dark

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Bernhardt/Hamlet

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One Way Ticket to Oregon

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The Pack

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Darkness Comes Alive: Discover Your Neon Eternity

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Muse of Fire (Henry 4/5)

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Divorce

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Scintilla

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2nd Annual NOT REAL ART Creators Conference

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Bakersfield Mist

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ANTIDOTE TO NOISE: FOUR VOICES

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Poor Clare

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Alice in Wonderland the Musical

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Señorita Julia - Staged Reading

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Alta Abbott Reflects on Directing Ruthless! The Musical for Theatre Palisades (Now Playing), and the Complexity of Doing a Genre Piece

“I’m very new at this,” director Alta Abbott jokes, noting that she’s been “in theater” in one way or another since childhood (she’s now 55).

“I started ushering with Long Beach Civic Light Opera at age 11! They took me under their wing and taught me everything, from rails to costuming. One day, the conductor came to me, and said ‘Come on you’re coming into the pit with me’ — in the middle of West Side Story, he hands me the baton! I was scared to death! But of course the orchestra knew what they were doing. That was the beginning of my education in theater.”

Like any good ingenue, Abbott did do some acting earlier in her career. She recalls, “I was always terrified at auditions. I’d be fine by opening night, but I thought, ‘Why am I doing this to myself? I can do other things in the theater.'"

“So, I started directing.”

At at time in her career when Abbott was working as an executive assistant to a Vice President in reality TV, she asked her boss, “‘What makes you see in someone that ‘thing’ you think is going to pop on TV?’”

Abbott realized she could ask the same for the stage and pay attention to that special
something she herself can “just see” in people.

“I call it ‘pixie dust,’” she says. “I see this pixie dust, and it clicks; let’s pull him out and see where we can go from here.”

Ruthless! The Musical is Abbott’s first time directing with Theatre Palisades, but not her first experience with the script.

She recalls, “I saw Ruthless! at The Canon in 1994. That was the only time it was produced here in Los Angeles, professionally. The show never got to Broadway, it was an Off-Broadway show. And after it ran here, it kind-of disappeared. But I saw it then, and I fell in love with it and it has been a show that has stuck in my mind ever since. So when I saw that Theatre Palisades was planning to produce it for their 2019 season, I jumped at the chance to direct it.”

Abbott is thoughtful about any criticism her production might receive. “I think this type of comedy is not everyone’s cup of tea. Ruthless! is — you think at first it’s a very simple musical, and it’s not. It’s very complicated. It’s a spoof and a farce referencing so many different movies and theatrical shows. If you don’t know them, you won’t get some of the references."

“We showed the cast The Bad Seed, and All About Eve, and that helped them understand the script. Most of them were too young, had never seen these great old movies!”

Because of the specificity of the genres referenced, and the humor, Abbott notes, “This is a show that you can’t just cast anybody. They have to be suited for very specific roles, to behave in very specific ways."

“I really enjoyed casting this show!” she adds. “And of course, getting a child who could not only act and sing but also tap dance at a young age to play the 8-year-old lead character was an accomplishment! I was so blessed to get Benni Rose. She is amazing. She is so talented and mature, I forget sometimes that she’s actually only 14 years old. And John Sparks, when he turns into Sylvia, he embodies her so completely, we all use the feminine pronouns without even thinking. Every one of the actors in this show, I just love and adore; they are a joy to work with!”

About casting Sparks, she adds, “I’ve known John for years. In the back of your mind, you are always casting... I had cast him in my head, but I’m not a director who just casts my friends; I cast what is best for the show. Another friend of mine also auditioned for Sylvia, and we had to say ‘No’ to him. But he agreed with our choice. He said, ‘I would have picked John, too.’”

Abbott’s history with Theatre Palisades before this came mostly through her husband, Greg Abbott, an actor who has performed in several of the community theater’s shows over the years (The Fantasticks, Lend Me a Tenor, Bark! The Musical).

She says, “I would always drive my husband to rehearsals, and depending on the director, they’d let me sit in. Sherman Wayne would let me sit next to him, and he would teach me about what he was doing. And when I had ideas, I would tell him, ‘...there’s this… Do you see? ...that actor’s pants aren’t looking right…” little details like that."

Her attention to detail and ability to see the pixie dust are just two of the many reasons Theatre Palisades reached out to Abbott to direct one of the company’s shows.

She recalls, “The Theatre Palisades Board first approached about directing Mousetrap, and I said, ‘Agatha Christie isn’t my type of thing.’ When I told them I’d like to direct Ruthless! — they hadn’t found a director for that yet. They had already decided to produce that show for the season, but I could tell that some of them were worried; like, ‘I don’t know… there’s a lot of killing in this....’”

She laughs. “I said, ‘But you guys are doing Mousetrap! There’s lots of murder in that, too. In Ruthless!, I’m murdering people with a pink sparkly gun!’ — and then they said, ‘Okay, that’s funny!’”

Ruthless! The Musical runs Friday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm, through December 8th, at Theatre Palisades. For Information and Reservations call 310-454-1970 or click here to purchase tickets online.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – October 14 - 20, 2019

Theatrical shows, Staged Readings, and Musicals now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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

ORRY

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Romeo and Juliet in Hell

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A History of World War II

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Siblings

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La Vie En Rose

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Relics of the Hypnotist War

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More Beautiful for Having Been Broken

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Unraveled

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Ruthless! The Musical

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Silence! The Musical

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Once

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Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Interview With Multi-Talented Marc Antonio Pritchett About Directing Mousetrap at Theatre Palisades

Director Marc Antonio Pritchett is currently rehearsing his cast for the next main stage production Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at Theatre Palisades. I sat down with this classically trained actor, singer, and stunt combatant to learn more about his take on this classic crime script and uncover a few details about this multi-talented entertainment industry professional.

The Mousetrap is truly a classic of the whodunnit genre. What is your take going to be?

How are you directing this production for Theatre Palisades?

It’s amazing to break into this material and really see how detailed Agatha Christie was - which she had to be, as the queen of crime! She put all of these little details, all of these “Easter eggs” into places that will pay off later in scenes. In rehearsal, it’s a challenge. But the payoff is worth it. We just have to cross all of our t’s and dot our i’s, and manage to act in there as well, to pull off this amazing show that’s been done more than any other show ever.

There will be some fun discoveries and connections for those who watch and listen very closely. We are definitely honoring the original script, and we are making it as digestible for a modern audience as possible.

Why did you choose to direct Agatha Christie?

I’ve always been into the genre! As a kid, I was into Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, and Sherlock Holmes. I loved to try to figure out what was going on before the ending. So this is a really unique opportunity to help shape that experience for other people.

What inspires you as a director?

Probably the most impactful experiences have been working with the classics - working with Shakespeare in particular, where, in addition to the normal things you have to work with in a play, you have this heightened language that you have to make seem commonplace. You have to get the actors to emote through the language, and to get them to be able to communicate in a way that modern people can hear.

I also have a background in Opera, which is very helpful, because in many cases with that genre, the audience is just looking at supertitles and may have no idea what’s going on! So you really have to make sure the performers are communicating physically and emotively for the audience to be able to follow the story all the way through.

We know directing is only one of your many skills and talents. What are some of the others?

I’m a session singer. Recently, I sang on the new Lion King movie soundtrack, which was an amazing experience! I also do fight work, sword work in particular. I’m a fight coordinator and I run a stage combat school.

So it’s a weird, eclectic mix but it all comes together when I'm directing or acting.

I went to the University of Georgia where I was a double major in Music and Drama, and I also studied Martial Arts and Fencing. A counselor there directed me to go into entertainment where all of these skills could come together. No one cares if a concert pianist can throw a side-kick, but an actor who can play piano and throw a kick is more valuable. And this is true with directors as well. So I changed my music focus to film composition, and fighting into stage combat.

What shows are on your future wish list? Besides all of Shakespeare, of course...

Hamlet was one of my first professional gigs, which I did 170 times! I’d like to do something like David Ives (All in the Timing) again, an evening of one-acts. I love hilarious one-acts like that, so either specifically David Ives, or someone who is similar. Also, some of the parodies to the classics are fun, like Fortinbras. I’ve always wanted to direct that. So maybe have a run of Hamlet on a double bill with Fortinbras.


The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie, is performing at Theatre Palisades from August 30 through October 6, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm.

You can purchase tickets via phone at 310-454-1970 or via http://www.theatrepalisades.com/ Tickets are $20-22.

Address: Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Cyn. Rd., Pacific Palisades.

For cast and crew interviews, join their facebook page at facebook.com/theatrepalisades.

The Mousetrap is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.


Sherman Wayne, at 83, Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Article written by Julie Feinstein Adams

Sherman Wayne is a lifelong participant in nearly every aspect of the production and performance of live theater, from stage management, to directing, set building, and teaching. Most famously, he was the stage manager of The Fantastiks on Broadway for five years. Wayne is 83 years old and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Currently, he is all-hands-in-all-pots at Theatre Palisades production of CLYBOURNE PARK, having built the set, wrangled volunteers to help change it at intermission (five people are needed to transform the entire set from the 1950s to the 2000s at intermission for each performance), co-producing the show (with Martha Hunter), AND stepping in as director when Tony Torrisi fell ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized, also while two actors had to be replaced — just two weeks before opening night!

“The other day I came here at 10 o'clock in the morning because my lighting man is here and I want to talk to him about lighting." he says as he describes a typical day during rehearsals. "And I left here at 11 o'clock at night after rehearsal, which means I got stuff out of the refrigerator, cooked up something in the microwave.”

“I'm very lucky. Knock on wood!" he adds. "I've had my problems (with my health), but I've been able to overcome them. I moved from Torrance to the Palisades, so I didn't have to take the 405. I live about a half a block down the street from the theater now. I walk here which makes it much easier. I'm the kind of guy that says if you do it, you do it. I said I would build the set. And I told Tony I would cover for him. So that's what I did.”

When asked about the challenge of the set change in the script, Wayne says: “The way the play is written, the set is a very nice house in the Chicago suburbs in 1959. It gets abandoned, and 50 years later, a couple is trying to buy it, but it's gone to heck! And so, during the intermission, we have to change a nice set to one that's been basically destroyed by squatters or graffiti or whatever. And it's a big job because the author really wants a major change — so both houses are characters in the show!”

When Wayne came to Theatre Palisades, he was looking to direct, but when he was not chosen for that particular play, he offered to build sets instead. Over time, he has built nearly all of the sets, roughly 45 sets in 15 years, and has directed many shows.

“You don't just don't direct, you are a shrink." he adds when asked about directing. "You have to handle the people and help them and encourage them. You need to be a people person!”

Wayne will also direct the next production at Theatre Palisades, LEND ME A TENOR.

Wayne came to Theatre Palisades after a long career that started in high school, where he directed a drama production and he also put on variety shows at his local church. Wayne attended college at San Jose State University, where he majored in Drama and worked as a stage manager during his four years. He also acquired a teaching certificate to ensure he “would always be able to pay the bills.”

“When I got to San Jose State, I auditioned for a show." he recalls. "I did not get it, but the director who was very pragmatic — he just was marvelous — and he wanted to know if I wanted to be a stage manager. I thought, ‘What the heck is that?' But, I did. And from then on, I became the major stage manager at San Jose State University for my four years at college. After graduation, a local director and I then opened a theatre in Sausalito where we presented musicals and plays. Unfortunately San Jose State did not have a management class in theatre, so I didn't know anything. I knew nothing! So, we failed. And then I was broke, living on the Sausalito side of San Francisco. One day, I was in a park and there was a newspaper on a bench, and in there was a help wanted ad for a drama teacher in San Francisco.”

Wayne spent a year teaching drama, but then decided to move to New York, to “see if he could compete with the ‘big boys,'” stopping along the way in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to take stage director jobs in summer stock productions, and where he also began work in set design. Once in New York, Wayne worked in several off Broadway productions and soon, nearly by luck, he was hired as stage manager for The Fantasticks, a dream gig that lasted five years.

“When I moved to New York, I worked very hard and got several jobs as a stage manager Off-Broadway. Another student and I formed a company to supply Off-Broadway producers with technical help. We would supply everything they needed, from directors through lighting people and all that stuff! So I was running around doing stage managing and running this company. Then I was in my attorney's office one day, and the attorney was being told that the general manager of The Fantasticks was being fired. And fortunately the attorney said, ‘hey, I've got a great guy, he's sitting in the lobby.' So I interviewed and got the job.”

Wayne also stage-managed several other shows on and off Broadway. Eventually he decided to move to the West Coast, where he then worked in several “round houses” such as in Anaheim, where the 3,000-seat venues usually had an audience for musicals. Next, he got a job teaching high school, a role he enjoyed for the next 25 years.

When Wayne retired from teaching, he still wanted to keep his hand in theater, which led him to Theatre Palisades.

And so, with Wayne's considerable contributions, Pulitzer-Prize-winning play CLYBOURNE PARK opened at Theatre Palisades on Friday April 5th for a five week run, every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through May 5th. (Box Office: 310-454-1970)

The play features a complete scene change between acts, as the script tells the story of a neighborhood undergoing demographic change twice, first in the early 50's and then again 50 years later. Like a character aging in the play, the complete set change demonstrates the effects of the decades that lead to the deterioration of the home.

Set building is hard, physical, and demanding work. However, Wayne notes, “Fortunately, we never hammer and nail anymore. We just put screws in, so that the wood won't split. One of my things here is, of course I reuse stuff. I've got a whole storage area which is packed full. I get a lot of static about storing all of that stuff, but I can save hundreds of dollars per show by pulling out or planning with something that I have. For this show, I'm using the same staircase that I used in the last show. We don't tear sets apart, we just try and store them because I can use them again!”

In 1963, Theatre Palisades was founded by three television writers; Ken Rosen, Sheldon Stark, and Jacquie Chester. By 1967, Theatre Palisades had become a community theatre. From 1967 through 1975, the theatre produced shows in various venues including Palisades Park and Rustic Canyon Park as well as a few touring productions around Southern California.

In 1975, Kate Ahrens of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society brought an offer from Lelah and J. Townley Pierson to Theatre Palisades to donate land to build a theatre. Lelah, along with her husband, Townley, donated the property on which the theatre now stands. In November, 1988, just in time for the 25th anniversary of the group, Theatre Palisades opened the new 125 seat theatre, which was named Pierson Playhouse, in honor of Lelah and J. Townley Pierson who had not only generously donated the property but also contributed extensively to the Building Fund. The current busy schedule of Theatre Palisades includes five major productions per year, with a run of 18 performances per production. TPYouth produces two shows a year by children for a total of 13 performances a year. The theater also offers chamber music concerts, special shows and membership meetings. Theatre Palisades hosts many Palisades Historical Society presentations throughout the year.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – March 10 - 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.

Tangerine Sunset

“Every paradise has a tragic, uh, comic, no, dark side (yes). This homegrown play will close the 22nd Season in the Broadwater Main Stage. In the vein of Absolutely Filthy, Watson, A Kind of Love Story and Beaverquest!, Sacred Fools brings you another show created in its late-night comedy cauldron, Serial Killers. TANGERINE SUNSET tells the story of several unlucky souls who find themselves the involuntary guests of a palatial estate on a mysterious private island. These celebrities, billionaires, madmen, and innocents desperately try to survive the night with their lives and sanity intact. Somewhere in the dark intersection of murder, mayhem, and laughter lies the Tangerine Sunset.”

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Faith Healer

“Brian Friel's mysterious, humorous and unforgettable work about the life and times of an itinerant Irish healer. Is Fantastic Francis Hardy a miracle worker — or a showman in search of a dollar?.At once a Rashomon type mystery, a delving into talent versus sham and, ultimately, a uniquely metaphysical view of life .March 23 – May 12: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with 3 additional weeknight performances on Wed., April 10; Thurs, April 18; and Wed., May 10, all at 8 p.m. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025; For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.”

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The Sound of Murder

“Charles Norbury is a wildly successful author of children's books. He hates children, and pretty much anyone else, too. He's petty, cruel, vindictive, and treats his unloved wife like a slave. He also refuses to have children with her. In short, he's the sort of fellow who would make the world a better place if only he would just die. Anne, the wife, has found some solace in the arms of her handsome lover, Peter. Charles won't grant her a divorce: It would damage him professionally with the parents of his juvenile fans. The one person who has real regard for Charles is his loyal secretary, Miss Forbes. She is infatuated with Peter.
Anne and Peter deduce that the only way they will ever be to be together forever is if they kill Charles. They come up with a scheme to effect his murder. But things just don't go according to plan…
The plot of The Sound of Murder has more twists and turns than the Arroyo Parkway. Surprise follows surprise, and you'll be kept guessing as to what exactly the heck is going on until the very end.”

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Clybourne Park

“Pulitzer Prize winning family drama inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Act One, set in 1959, shows nervous white community leaders trying to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act 2, set in 2009, the same house, the same neighborhood, shows the now-predominantly African-American neighborhood battling to hold its ground in the face of white gentrification. How the world turns!”

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Social Media Tips and Tricks for Creatives

“From Beefing it Up to Navigating Algorithms...This workshop is specifically for anyone who is promoting a theater production, venue, film, documentary or short, writing, or is looking to self-promote in general on social media. In this 1 hour presentation with a Q & A following, writer Monique LeBleu will share tools on how to beef up your social media presence—or start one—find your target audience, make the best use of online event calendars, create a timeline for promoting your project, and learn to use social media algorithms to your best advantage. You will learn how to: Determine the best times to post on social media to reach your audience Find Groups and public event postings Use open online calendaring forms Find where you can post press releases online for free Use hashtags, tagging, and other tools that aren't just exclusive to social media Attendees will receive handouts of information to take, along with a completed flowchart to help jump-start the process guiding you forward, and networking and idea sharing will be encouraged at Studio C thereafter.”

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Stuart Little

“Stuart Little is a mouse born into a human family in New York City. Though his stature is appropriately small for a mouse, he displays a wit and intelligence far beyond his years. He engages in a variety of adventures: Winning a sailboat race in Central Park; Befriending a beautiful bird and protecting her from a malicious cat; Attempting to court a diminutive human female from a wealthy society family; Being rescued from a garbage scow; Learning to drive a car; Working as a substitute teacher; Searching for a missing friend; Making his way (rather successfully) in the world.”

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LACKAWANNA BLUES

“A magical, musical, and deeply personal work written and performed by Tony Award® winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues is a reminiscence of his 1950s childhood in a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Santiago-Hudson takes on more than 20 colorful characters—from would-be philosophers and petty hustlers to lost souls and abandoned lovers—in a brilliant celebration of the eccentric boardinghouse he grew up in. Santiago-Hudson returns to his roots in this tour de force performance with live blues music by composer Bill Sims Jr., performed by Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist, composer, and actor Chris Thomas King.”

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Nude Art LA's Spring 2019 Art and Fashion Show

“Nude Art LA is an event unlike anything you have ever seen. Exploring the artistic expression of the nude human form, the show combines a carefully curated collection of world-class, traditional fine art (photographs, paintings, sculptures, etc.) with interactive exhibits and jaw-dropping live performances that include body painting, burlesque, live figure sketching, nude yoga, pole dancing, and so much more. And, new for Spring, 2019: a “naked fashion show” with some of the most amazing and revealing examples of wearable art and fashion you have ever seen...The Fall 2018 show featured 65 artists and a dozen live performers, and admitted over 1,000 guests in just four hours!”

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Fuddy Meers

“Rubicon Theatre continues the company's 21st “Coming of Age” season with the hilarious and harrowing, politically incorrect comedy FUDDY MEERS by playwright DAVID-LINDSAY-ABAIRE. In this outrageously funny roller-coaster ride of a play, Claire, an amnesiac. wakes up each day having forgotten the details of her life. This morning, like all mornings, her seemingly devoted husband Richard greets her with a cup of coffee and a scrapbook of memories. But when he steps away, a limping, lisping man claiming to be Claire's brother pops out from under her bed and says he is there to save her. He takes her to her mother's home in the country, where Claire meets a naïve man with a foul-mouthed puppet, discovers her husband and son have kidnapped an aggressive lady cop, and comes face-to-face with her past.”

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Leaving Prince Charming

“Follow an unorthodox fairy godmother as she travels down the rabbit hole of intimate partner abuse, manipulation, and trauma bonding. This IS a love story, but not the kind you're expecting.
A one-woman serio-comedy told through multimedia and fifteen unique characters, “Leaving Prince Charming” is an unconventional fairytale of one damsel's journey to a different kind of Happily Ever After. Content Warning: Triggering sexual content and usage of prop gun. Not kid friendly.”

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SIMPATICO

“Sam Shepard puts his spin on noir, where he exposes the underbelly of the horse track world. When a couple of grifters, Vinnie and Carter, are caught by a prominent horse racing official, they conjure up a blackmail scheme that involves some scandalous photos and hush money. Now, twenty years later, the past catches up to them when Vinnie decides he's done with being hushed. Colorful characters and juicy dialogue make Shepard's obscure little comedy a wild ride to remember.”

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Small Little Safe World

“Small Little Safe World is the story of Dave, a middle-aged lonely man with no living family and only one friend. He works as a motel desk clerk and eats his meals in a diner. One day, Erin, a much younger woman, strikes up a conversation with him in the diner. They hit it off and enter a relationship, but Erin is looking for a very specific type of relationship, one that will walk the fragile line of reality and fantasy.”

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EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

THE MANOR: MURDER AND MADNESS AT GREYSTONE @ Greystone Mansion

January 10, 2019 6:00 pm

The Manor- Murder and Madness at Greystone is by now a Los Angeles/Beverly Hills institution. The play, now in its seventeenth year, surpassed its 200th performance in 2014. The show is a roman a ...read more


JOHN SEBASTIAN@ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

January 10, 2019 8:00 pm

As the founder, singer, and songwriter of The Lovin' Spoonful, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee John Sebastian has made an indelible mark on the American musical fabric. Boasting numerous Top 10 hits ...read more


JOCASTA: A MOTHERF**KING TRAGEDY @ The Broadwater

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

An alcoholic tattoo artist, a kid who's been swimming laps for 25 years, an ex- con, and a woman who believes she can see the future help Jocasta when she is awakened from a ...read more


THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK @ The Complex

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

LATINX “THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” RETURNS FOR LIMITED SIX WEEK LOS ANGELES RUN Directed By Stan Zimmerman Saturday, January 12, 2019 TDOAF - New Main Graphic - 12.13.jpg Best Selling Book - Pulitzer ...read more


LAST CALL @ Atwater Village Theatre

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

In this semi-autobiographical dramedy by writer/producer Anne Kenney (Outlander, Switched at Birth, L.A. Law), the Vaughn family's go-to defense mechanism of sarcasm and mordant humor falls short when the aging parents hatch a not-so-funny ...read more


BENDING THE SPOON @ Santa Monica Playhouse

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Three generations of a family prepare to celebrate the upcoming birthday of the youngest member. Doing so, however, forces them to come to terms with past relationships, past decisions and past actions involving a ...read more


OUR TOWN @ Westchester Playhouse

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

The production is directed by Stanley Brown and produced by Kathy Dershimer for Kentwood Players with rights secured from Samuel French, Inc. Featured in the cast in alphabetical order are Dan Adams, Stephen Anthony ...read more


TWELFTH NIGHT @ Theatre Palisades (Pierson Playhouse)

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

This is Illyria, folks! Our heroine is shipwrecked. Her brother presumably drowned. Disguising herself as a boy, she joins Duke Orsino's court. She is sent as his emissary to the Countess Olivia, who's mourning ...read more


SOUL CRUSHING DISCO BALL @ Hudson Guild Theatre

January 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Anarchy Pictures and Gia Paladino are proud to present a World Premiere play by an award-winning playwright team, Travis Perkins and Chambers Stevens. Opening January 4, 2019. The new play will be at The ...read more


SHOW UP, KIDS! INTERACTIVE FAMILY COMEDY @ The Complex

January 12, 2019 2:30 pm

Following a sold out, critically acclaimed, 7-month run in NYC, Peter Michael Marino's interactive "Show Up, Kids!” makes it west coast premiere at Complex Hollywood, January 12-20. This entirely unique, improvised, family show for ...read more


JEFFREY OSBORNE @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

January 12, 2019 8:00 pm

Dubbed "the number one hit maker of the 1980s" (Radio and Records), R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne has unequivocally made his mark on contemporary music. With hit singles like "Stay with Me Tonight," "Only Human," ...read more


INDEPENDENCE @ Theatre West

January 12, 2019 8:00 pm

Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919) was the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army, a suffragist, an abolitionist, a prohibitionist, endured four months in a Confederate prison and remains, to this day, the only woman ...read more


ALASDAIR FRASER & NATALIE HAAS @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

January 13, 2019 2:00 pm

The musical partnership between consummate performer Alasdair Fraser, "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling," and brilliant Californian cellist, Natalie Haas, spans the full spectrum between intimate chamber music and ecstatic dance energy. Over the ...read more