Spotlight Series: Meet Dana Weisman, A Musical Theatre Actor Who Longs to Get Back Onstage ASAP


This Spotlight focuses on Dana Weisman, a musical theatre actor who longs to get back on the stage and entertain audiences as soon as possible!


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

Dana Weisman (Dana): It seems like I have been involved with theatre my whole life. Originally from New York, I began taking dance lessons at around 7 years old and then became a company member in a local children’s theatre troupe when I was around 10.  Like many young girls at the time, I was captivated by the musical Annie when it opened on Broadway and would have given my right arm to be part of that experience. In my mid-teens I attended a performing arts camp called French Woods in the Catskills and further fanned my musical theatre ambition.

Roy Okida and Dana Weisman in "Somethings Afoot"

Then, after the movie Fame came out, I was given the opportunity to audition for the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia) and was accepted as a Vocal Arts major. We were classically trained, but for me one of the most fun and fulfilling parts of my high school years was being a member of M&A’s acclaimed Gospel Choir. While at M&A, I was also a part of a professional theatre company in Manhattan called The First All Children’s Theater. With this troupe, I had the opportunity of performing at the Kennedy Center in an original musical called The Trip when I was 16 years old.

After high school, I attended Northwestern as a Theatre major for a couple of years before transferring to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (Circle-In-The-Square) as I had decided I wanted to earn a BFA. After college followed long years of waiting tables at MANY restaurants up and down Manhattan. You can definitely “Betcha your life a waitress earns her pay!”

In between waiter gigs and other odd jobs, I took classes and built my resume doing lots of regional and summer stock theatre. I made lifetime friends at all these jobs and seemed at times to move closer to my goal of a Broadway gig - but then would slide back. It became frustrating as I saw many of my friends move on to Broadway and my confidence eventually began to erode. I learned there is no question one needs to have an unflagging, burning desire coupled with talent and being in the right place at the right time in order to succeed in this biz. But I seemed to never have all three at the same time.

Dana Weisman as Frau Blucher

Eventually, after a break-up, I decided to move to Los Angeles where my brother was living and try out a change of scenery and maybe pursue the TV/film side of the biz. Shortly after being in LA, I met my husband Jon, a native Angelino, and my fate to become a West Coast transplant was sealed. After getting married, I decided to pursue my other strong interest - psychology - and in between raising a family of three, I earned my graduate degree and became a licensed MFT.

However, as almost any theatre person can attest, once you are bitten by the theatre bug, it is impossible to truly get rid of the itch to be involved in the business in some way, shape or form. After years of singing lullabies to my children, I decided I wanted to get back to singing in another capacity. A few wonderful years singing with the famed Angel City Chorale was followed by my LA theatre debut with Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Since then, I have been performing in many other venues around LA, The Blank Theatre, The West Coast Jewish Theatre, and the Cupcake Theatre, to name a few, and also trying to break into the television / commercial / film / VO side as well.

Dana Weisman in "Broadway Bound"

(SB): I remember being amazed at your performance in Broadway Bound with The West Coast Jewish Theatre, quoting from my Broadway World review: "And what dedication to her craft was on display by Dana Weisman (understudy for Maria Spassoff), taking the stage with a broken leg in a boot and walking on crutches as Kate's sister Blanche Morton. But as soon as the initial surprise wore off in a matter of seconds, the lovely scene with Blanche visiting the family home, dressed to the nines by Shon Le Blanc in a lovely dressy suit and fur coat, reflected how well she has done for herself." A truly masterful performance! What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show? 

(Dana): Luckily, I was in between shows at the time the “Safe At Home” quarantine began. I had recently ended a run at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center as Donna in Mamma Mia and was auditioning for my next opportunity. I had a callback in the works but unfortunately, the show was postponed as we started to see the ripple effect all over LA of theaters closing and schedules being put up in the air indefinitely. Post show confidence is always a great booster for moving forward to one's next goals. So while I wasn't part of a show in the works at the time the quarantine began, any momentum I was hoping to build upon post Mamma Mia has had to be suspended indefinitely.

Dana Weisman as Donna in "Mamma Mia"

(SB): If you missed Dana in “Mamma Mia” in Simi Valley, here is my review of that fabulous production.

Regarding that callback, how was the shutdown communicated with you?

(Dana): News of this particular shutdown was communicated online via Facebook, emails, and other social media. That said, I knew it was coming and had contemplated perhaps not even attending the original audition because by that time, shutdowns were already taking place all over town. But I am glad that I did though as it always feels good to get out and turn in a mini-performance and get to do what you love, even in nerve-wracking audition circumstances.

(SB): Do you know if plans are in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Dana): As far as I know, this particular production will commence in the future but no dates have been announced as yet. I certainly hope and pray that CoViD-19 and future precautions do not effectively “kill” live theatre, and I look forward to the day when auditions and live performances can resume. But I know that smaller theaters and theatre companies will have their budgets affected by the shutdown, and that all shows will be pushed back and schedules will have to be altered and reworked. I have a daughter who is attending Northwestern University in the fall as a freshman but, as with theatre, schedules are up in the air and may look like something completely new that we have not yet seen as we get closer to the start of the next semester.

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

Dana Weisman with "Sunday in the Park" cast

(Dana): So far, I have taken advantage of this time by cocooning at home with my family by resting, cooking, baking, watching TV, taking safe distancing walks, meditating and attempting to get some much-needed sleep. Lots of self-care. However, I will say that it can be difficult maintaining motivation as lethargy is not easy to stave off when the rule of the day is to stay at home and mostly indoors. As a theatre person - and generally a “people person” - the distance created by interacting onscreen is not always as fulfilling as the live experience. But if this is the new normal, we will all need to adjust.

Moving into this next phase, I hope to begin keeping up personally by honing my audition songbook, learning monologues, and reading plays. There are so many online classes for just about any aspect of the theatre -- auditions, dance, acting -- I hope to begin taking part in many of them. Some groups I participate in are doing online play readings, and I am planning to also take part in those. Keeping up with my fellow actors in Zoom chats is also a much-needed balm.

(SB): It’s been fun being in a few of the Zoom meetings with you! Any more thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the LA Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Dana): It is difficult to maintain hope and positivity during such unprecedented and anxious times. But theatre isn’t going anywhere. I think it’s best to just take a little rest and time to recalibrate and emerge with renewed vigor once it is safe to again “go live.” As we have all seen, the Arts in all forms are what people are turning to in these crazy times to keep going and to be inspired. They provide solace, laughter, a creative outlet, and catharsis even when shared via distance and online.

Forgive my corny sign-off but it’s true: “The sun will come out tomorrow!”


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Elizabeth Adabale Who Studied Pre-Med at USC Before The Stage Called Her Elsewhere


This Spotlight focuses on Elizabeth Adabale, a dedicated musical theatre entertainer who studied public health and theatre at the University of Southern California and taught high school biology with Teach for America, until the stage pulled her elsewhere. I first met her in 2013 when she began to audition for productions in Los Angeles and knew with her talent and stage presence, Elizabeth was destined to “hit it big” on stages across the country! I reached out to her to find out how is she dealing with the cancellation of her national tour in The Color Purple after 111 performances.


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

Elizabeth Adabale (EA): My musical theatre career has been a windy road, beginning with my claim to fame, "starring" as Passenger #3 in my middle school's production of Anything Goes. From the age of 11, I realized that my happy place was on stage singing and dancing in front of an audience. So much so, I begged my parents to let me go to a performing arts high school, but instead went to a medical magnet school that would prepare me to study medicine at the collegiate level. I was still able to participate in some children's theatre in high school, and went on to study public health and theatre at the University of Southern California.

During my time at USC, I realized that there were a lot of opportunities I missed out on because I wasn't a theatre major. I was able to perform in a few shows, but felt I didn't have the training to pursue a career right out of college. Though I was pre-med throughout my time there, I decided at the last minute to pursue another career and joined Teach For America as a high school biology teacher. During the day, I would teach 11th graders about photosynthesis and eventually helped found the theatre program at my school. At night, I would audition and pursue regional theatre in the greater Los Angeles area.

 

(SB): I do remember you were teaching during the day and doing theater at night when I first met you when you walked into the Westchester Playhouse to audition for Little Shop of Horrors in 2013 and blew us away with your voice and stage presence. As I recall, it was one of your first community theatre shows in Los Angeles.

(EA): And my first paid performance was in the ensemble of Queenie Pie, a Duke Ellington opera, with the Long Beach Opera. Realizing I could get paid for my passion lit a fire in me to take things to the next level. My turning point was participating in a musical theatre competition called LA's Next Great Stage Star. It was a 6-week process where 19 contestants and I sang audition cuts to a panel of judges (think American Idol) that included casting directors, agents, and directors.

I signed with Across the Board Talent Agency in 2015, and went on to book shows at various regional theatres in LA such as 3D Theatricals (Parade and Oklahoma), 5-Star Theatricals (Evita, Children of Eden, and Hunchback of Notre Dame), Performance Riverside (Sister Act), The Cupcake Theatre (Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, and Urinetown) and the Taylor Performing Arts Center (Sister Act and Joseph...Dreamcoat).

In January of 2019, I took the big leap and moved to New York City to further pursue my career, and waking up at 5am to stand in mile-long lines in 30-degree weather paid off! Within 9 months in the city, I made my Off-Broadway debut in Revelation The Musical, played Jan in Grease at the Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival and played a Dynamite in Hairspray at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. I also made my national tour debut as a Church Lady and Sofia in The Color Purple. It was a dream job, working with Tony Award-winning director John Doyle and the original set and costumes from the Broadway revival.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be postponed or cancelled?

(EA): I was on the beautiful island of Key West, Florida and had just completed my 111th performance of The Color Purple. We were making the drive to Cutler Bay, our next tour stop, when our company manager notified us, first by email and then later in person, that we would be laid off for a month. Our tour bus was pretty silent as the weight of the situation dawned on all of us.

Truth be told, we hadn't felt the effects of COVID-19 yet because Key West was such an isolated place that hadn't put any stay-at-home measures in place as yet. It wasn't until we stopped at a Walmart on our way into Miami that we realized the severity of the virus, amazed that lines were irrationally long and it was impossible to purchase simple things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and gloves.

Our company of over 35 people were on planes home 2 days later. Originally, we were to resume performances in mid-April and finish the rest of our tour, which was due to run until the end of May. But 2 weeks later, we were informed that Key West was indeed our final performance and the rest of our tour dates had been cancelled. It was devastating to say the least. But while I am unaware of any plans to pick the tour back up in the future, I would love the opportunity to continue telling this story across the country as part of a future touring company.

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

(EA): I was in the audition process for a lot of projects that would have started after my tour ended in May. It's so difficult to be unsure of when I'll be able to perform again, but know that everything will work out exactly the way it's supposed to!

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

(EA): I am so grateful for the wealth of resources that have been available to artists during this difficult time. I am in a Facebook group called No Marking which is led by casting director Kate Lumpkin. From Tuesday-Friday, the group provides various Zoom calls on topics ranging from audition tips to meditation to financial literacy. 3D Theatricals also has a similar program called 3D+U that provides virtual classes geared at supporting the artistic community. I've also been a part of a few virtual cabarets and readings that have helped raise money for The Actor's Fund. But then sometimes, I need to just unplug and take the time to rest. But I am grateful that I know where to go and get resources should I need it.

(SB) Any other 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?

(EA): Stay strong! These are unprecedented times and it's easy to find the bad in all this, but focus on the good. I am using this time as an opportunity for self-reflection and preparation. I've been ruminating on why I've chosen this profession, and what I want to accomplish. I've also been taking the time to update my resume, fine-tune my self-tape skills, read, and network. We will get through this, and can't wait to see how our industry evolves once this is over.

Let's stay in touch! Follow me on Instagram and Twitter or check out my website at ElizabethAdabale.com


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Christine Joëlle, a Versatile Actor Who Also Runs a Successful Pet Care Service


This Spotlight focuses on Christine Joëlle, an actress I first saw onstage in the summer of 2004 as Madge Owens in Picnic, directed by Gail Bernardi for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Christine and I went on to work together in many productions for the community theatre group, both onstage and on production teams. Since then, I have been fortunate to follow her path across the stages of professional theatre companies all over town, always enjoying her ability to transform herself into a great variety of characters – often during the same show!  And I am also a very happy customer of her pet care service, Movin’ Paws.


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

Christine Joëlle (CJ): I graduated from James Madison University and attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have worked in several theaters all around the city, having performed in over 60 stage productions. I am a proud theatre company member of THE ROAD and THEATRE 40 and union member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

Jennifer Laks, Lary Ohlson and Christine Joëlle in "Night Watch" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger

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

(CJ): I was currently working on Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Jerry Mayer at The Santa Monica Playhouse. We were on its 4th extension before having to postpone until a future date.

Christine Joëlle in “Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Photo by Evelyn Rudie

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team? 

(CJ): Via emails and phone calls. Ultimately, we came to a mutual decision to close the theatre for our and our patron’s safety.

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

(CJ): Our producers, Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo will most likely resume running the show. I have no doubt that all the cast members would be delighted to return.

(SB): I really enjoyed Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda and all the characters you played in it. It’s so much fun to attend a show that keeps you laughing - and crying - at the same time from start to finish at such universal human foibles! Here is my review on Broadway World.

What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown? 

Christine Joëlle in the immersive theatre show “Delusion”

(CJ): I was not planning to be in other shows at the moment. But I do have a strong feeling many fall shows and activities may not happen either. For example, the Haunted Play production staff of the immersive theatre show Delusion will most likely not take place this year because it’s the type of show where you must secure and rent a location by May/June in order for production planning to commence.

Caleb Slavens, Alison Blanchard, Christine Joëlle and Christian Pedersen in "Flare Path" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger(SB):  How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(CJ): I’m definitely becoming a master of ZOOM chats! Ha! And am putting my self-tape skills to good use as well.

I am also the owner and CEO of a successful pet care service called Movin’ Paws. So, I’ve been busy keeping it movin’ during these crazy times. If you need any dog/cat care for your furry ones, we’d be delighted to lend a helping paw. Check out our services at MovinPaws.com 

(SB): My dog Cody, bird Ernie, and I all highly recommend Movin’ Paws for their excellent service and personal care of your pets! 

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?

(CJ): Stay Strong and Safe. Without our health, our return to the stage shall take longer. The Arts and our creative community shall never die. We shall need it now more than ever. Keep that creative flow going!

(SB): And in closing to you personally, Christine – windmills!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Andrea Stradling, an Actor Formerly in Health Care Public Relations


This Spotlight focuses on Andrea Stradling, a Los Angeles-based actor formerly in health care public relations who fully understands and appreciates the dedication and sacrifices being made by those on the frontline treating patients in the CoViD-19 pandemic. And like so many other actors, the show in which Andrea was performing had to end its run earlier than expected, opening up unplanned time in her schedule to fill with online theatrical opportunities.


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

Andrea Stradling (Andrea): I have acted in productions throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding communities since the 1980s. In 2012, I was able to retire early from a career in health care public relations, enabling me to concentrate full time on my theatrical endeavors which has been an absolute joy. However, my heart is with my many close colleagues who are still courageously working the front lines of this terrible pandemic.

(SB): I remember first meeting you when I took publicity photos for the Kentwood Players production of Clybourne Park at the Westchester Playhouse in which you portrayed the dual roles of Bev and Kathy. What production were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

Harold Dershimer and Andrea Stradling in "Clybourne Park" by Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse

Andrea: On January 2, I was cast as Dotty Otley in Noises Off at Long Beach Playhouse. It was a fantastic opportunity to do a show that is traditionally performed, and usually rather dependent on, a proscenium stage, rather than it was being stages on a deep thrust with arena style seating. It was a puzzle to figure out, and an amazing cardio workout to perform! But our talented and creative director, Gregory Cohen, marvelously staged it and we opened February 22 to rave reviews.

Andrea Stradling as Dotty Otley in "Noises Off" at Long Beach Playhouse.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

Andrea: Our fourth weekend began Thursday, March 12. The day was ominous, dark and rainy, with news reports emphasizing the importance of social distancing (especially in crowds) running all day long. I kept checking my phone, but hearing nothing to the contrary, I left for the theater as usual. At approximately our half hour call, the theater’s artistic director, Sean Gray, asked us to assemble on stage. He was there with Madison Mooney, executive director, and together they shared that, after a grueling day of conversations with city officials, it was decided that that night’s performance would be our last. In total, we lost being able to perform our last five shows.

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

Andrea: Sean and Madison were absolutely lovely and just as gutted as we were about having to close the show early. There was talk of a possible remount in November, but that would be dependent upon so many variables, least of which involves the Playhouse getting the rights to the show again and the cast’s availability at that time. I think it is very much up in the air.

Andrea Stradling and the cast of "Noises Off" at the Long Beach Playhouse.

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

Andrea: The only other definite job I had was performing in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Story this November/December 2020. But now, SMP has put their entire season on hold because of the pandemic. I was so looking forward to being in the show, as this would have been my third time appearing as Mother, and the production is to be directed by the wonderfully creative Christian Lebano, the Playhouse’s artistic director.  I am heartbroken about this, both personally and because of the devastating financial impact for the theater.

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

Andrea: Like everyone, I’m sure, I’m doing my best to continue submitting myself for work, and I appreciate the latitude casting directors have given regarding self-taping via cell phones. I sent in one monologue where I held the phone with my left hand and tried not to breathe too loudly, but my husband said my face looked too big!

(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?

Andrea: I appreciate so much watching friends share their incredible talent via social media with lots of online monologues, beautiful songs, dancing, impressions -- it’s all wonderful.  Theatrical organizations all over the world are being so generous offering up free streaming of their productions. I enjoyed a staged reading via Zoom of IVRT’s recent production of A Streetcar Named Desire. I saw Kevin Kline in Present Laughter and just watched a fantastic production of Jane Eyre streamed on YouTube by London’s National Theatre. Bravo!!

(SB): I agree with you. It’s incredible all the wonderful productions from around the world that are now available for free online. I am especially enjoying watching all the Broadway musical productions as it has been a really long time since I was able to get to New York to experience them in person.  

Andrea: Despite the quarantine, I feel blessedly connected to my theatre family thanks to the connectivity of social media. I pray for everyone’s good health and resilience, and especially that the theaters that have been my havens for the last 30 years receive the support they need to reopen and thrive.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer


This Spotlight  focuses on Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer who met in a theater as teenagers, reconnected in college, then married and have done over 20 productions together in Los Angeles and Denver. But now with the shutdown, everything is on hold for both of them regarding their future production plans, so here is a bit of their theatrical history.


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

Jeremy Palmer (Jeremy): Lyndsay first saw me on stage in a production of Treasure Island when she was 13 and I was 14. Then she recognized me when we met five years later in college. Since then, we got married and we've done over 20 productions together in LA and Denver.

Jeremy and Lyndsay in "Little Women"

We most recently appeared onstage together in Little Women The Broadway Musical (as Amy March and John Brooke) at the Westchester Playhouse, directed by Jennifer Richardson, which Jeremy co-produced with Rocky and Victoria Miller. He also appeared as Max Halliday in Dial M For Murder there, while Lyndsay has been featured in many of their musicals including playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Fastrada in Pippin which they co-produced together.

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

Lyndsay Palmer (Lyndsay): When the current shutdown happened mid-March, I was midway through the run of Noises Off at the Long Beach Playhouse, which luckily got to open but not finish as planned.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Lyndsay): We were at the theatre Thursday night, March 12, to do a private performance for a business group and were told it would be the final performance. Of course, we were all heartbroken, but glad we at least got to perform half the scheduled run. They do plan to remount the production in the fall and they invited the original cast to return if available.

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

(Jeremy): Lyndsay was also midway through the audition process at that time for the musical Fun Home by Kentwood Players, and I am scheduled to produce 9 TO 5 The Musical there this Christmas. But there is no way of knowing right now when either of those shows will go up since everything depends on when the Westchester Playhouse can open for audiences again. So like everyone else, it’s a waiting game for the time being.

Lyndsay and Jeremy during "Pippin"

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

(Lyndsay) Both of us have regular video chats with our theater friends and have played Scattegories and other games with them and some of our theatre friends in Denver, too.

(Jeremy): The Arts have been around long enough to have lived through multiple plagues and pandemics and come through stronger than ever! People need the Arts to pull them through times like this.

(SB): Any other thoughts about how the current pandemic is affecting the two of you personally?

(Lyndsay): We are taking the "stay at home" plan very seriously, especially since Jeremy has only one lung and has to be extra cautious about contamination. So thank you to everyone for being extra careful on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions like him. Please do what you can to #FlattenTheCurve by staying home and wearing a mask if you must go outdoors for any reason.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.


Better Lemons - Phil Brickey

Spotlight Series: Phil Brickey – Actor, Director, Rock Musician, and an Elementary Theatre Teacher


This Spotlight focuses on Phil Brickey, an actor, director, rock musician, and Elementary School Theatre teacher who was one of the first directors for whom I produced a 2006 show for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. That show was George Washington Slept Here which required a double level set to be constructed as the home being renovated had to look totally dilapidated in Act 1 and beautifully restored in Act II. Quite a feat of stagecraft thanks to set designer Grant Francis.


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

Phil Brickey (Phil): I have a BA in theatre from the University of Arkansas and have acted in and/or directed 100+ shows, mostly in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

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

(Phil): I was scheduled to hold auditions on April 11 for a show I am directing at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton called Fly Me to the Moon, a world premiere comedy by David Macaray. However, we are indefinitely postponed. Updates will be posted at

(SB):  How did you find out about the postponement? 

(Phil): My producer informed me of the postponement over a week ago.

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

(Phil): I believe they are planning to reschedule this season at Stages as soon as it is safe to have live theatre performances.

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

(Phil): My next scheduled gig is directing The Laramie Project for Whittier Community Theatre. But it's not scheduled to hold auditions until January, so I don't believe there will be a problem.

(SB): I adore that play and worked as the Stage Manager for the Kentwood Players production, directed by Michael Allen. The intensity of the piece got me crying backstage during each performance. The true and incredibly sad story about the murder of Matthew Shepard based on his sexual orientation is an important one to keep telling in light of the ongoing equality issues which still persist in our society.

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

(Phil): I am an Elementary theatre teacher for LAUSD and am trying to plan for lessons that can be taught using distance learning.  I'm also writing and recording music for my band, The Relaxatives.

(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? 

(Phil): Hang in there until this crisis passes. Be there for each other. Take the time to read a new script or reread an old one. Donate to your local theatre, if possible. And thank you for including me in this article!

Better Lemons Phil BrickeyPhil provided the photos for this article from a few of his prior shows: The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Same Time, Next Year.  But I could not pass up this opportunity to share my favorite photo I ever took of Phil channeling his inner Marilyn Monroe during our search for costumes for George Washington Slept Here. Stay positive and keep smiling everyone!


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.



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 – December 18 - 22, 2019


Theatrical shows now registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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


The Water Tribe

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Supportive White Parents

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The Giver

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Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Mike

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – August 19 - 25, 2019

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

Grumpy Old Men The Musical

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Stage Raw + Play La Theatre Festival Weekend

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Puffs

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King Lear

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Fool For Love

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Ask A Black Woman

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The Trouble Is, You Think You Have Time

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Tales From The Powder Room

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Little Women

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Dial M For Murder

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Give Up The Ghost

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Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – May 13 - 19, 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.

Always Open

“Nothing happens. Everything changes. 11:45 pm on a Sunday in 1994 at an all-night diner where a group of friends idle their lives away. Two new additions make them reflect on who they are. Told first inside the diner, then the same time period from outside.”

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The Rat Mentalist

“He reads minds! He sends thoughts! He eats cheese! He's a rat! Sprinkles, the Clairvoyant Rat, (with the aid of his handler and partner Christopher T. Magician) will gnaw away at your preconceived notions of reality as he demonstrates his uncanny extrasensory abilities. The impossible will seem possible as you witness him receiving thoughts from audience members, transmitting specific numbers into others' minds, swapping brainwaves with a human, and perfectly predicting future events. The unbelievable will become believable when you experience The Rat Mentalist!”

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A Streetcar Named Desire

“In the sultry streets of New Orleans, passions flare and cultures collide in Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece. Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, searches for refuge at her sister's home, only to collide with reality in the form of Stanley Kowalski, her brutish brother-in-law.”

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You Win or You Die: Tales of the Seven Kingdoms and Beyond

“Celtic Arts Center friend Becky Bishop is coming into town from Portland to play a live performance of Game of Thrones-inspired songs — both original and song covers from the series. The music is in the Celtic/world/folk and folk rock styles and featuring some fine LA players.”

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PRETTY, WITTY NELL

“HE'S BACK! Hollywood Fringe International Award Winner 2015 & 2016 – Comedy Award Nominee 2016 – famed British playwright, Ryan J-W Smith, (“The Bard Mark Two” - BBC) returns to LA with his celebrated theatre company, Rogue Shakespeare®, to present his latest comedy, PRETTY, WITTY NELL, penned in his iconic, award-winning iambic verse. PRETTY, WITTY NELL is an outrageous farce that retells the history of scandalous English actress/courtesan, Nell Gwynne – the famous mistress of the wild British monarch, King Charles II. Like all of Smith's plays, PRETTY, WITTY NELL is written entirely in rhyming iambic pentameter.”

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Swipe Right: The Musical!

“'Swipe Right: The Musical!' is just as silly and stupid as you'd hope. The story follows one woman's bold decision to swipe right and take a chance on “Mike,” a fuckboy with a heart of gold. Will they end up together? Or just bang one to three times and never speak again?... Swipe Right details the rise and fall of one brief, insignificant, dating app love affair. If you've ever been single, then you'll understand. 'Swipe Right: The Musical!' is purely about having fun and laughing at our pain. Think 'My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' meets every bad date you've ever been on. It'll leave you screaming, 'no he didn't!' and, 'I can relate, honey.'”

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Tethered

“Tethered is a furiously paced and whip-smart tale set in the world of mid-market mayoral politics. At its core, it's a Sorkin-esque blistering portrayal of the characterizations that can both define us and hold us back. Tethered asks difficult questions and explores their implications in a manner that combines tense exchanges with astute cultural observations. It's a story about individuals that resist and embrace the labels applied to them, and the expectations placed on us in complex circumstances. How these characters navigate their values and what's politically expedient will define their moment, and ultimately ours.”

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HARVEY

“It is a spring afternoon at the Dowd family home when Elwood P. Dowd starts to introduce his imaginary friend Harvey, a six-and-a-half-foot-tall rabbit, to guests at his sister Veta's society luncheon. Horrified that the embarrassing family secret is now exposed, Veta decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium, but a mistake is made when Veta is committed rather than Elwood. French Stewart (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Mom”) and real-life wife Vanessa Claire Stewart (Laguna Playhouse's “Keely” in Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara) star in Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy that has everyone questioning what exactly is real, and who is really crazy?”

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The Pirates of Penzance

“Gilbert and Sullivan's musical comedy is packed full of sentimental pirates, blundering policemen, absurd adventures, and performed by some of the San Gabriel Valley's most talented juvenile actors and singers.”

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Hoboken

“Jack and Erica find love after a one-night stand leaves them hopelessly trying to uncover more of each other. She wants to be a famous actress and he's a mysterious Irishman who has the money to make her dreams come true – until a Russian screenplay, two million dollars in unmarked bills and taboo desires threaten to tear them apart. How much is too much?”

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Edward: Black Psycho

“After 'Edward James' is slain by police, he rises from the dead and wreaks havoc on America. Edward: Black Psycho is a one-act solo play that explores why the marginalized riot. It believes that Suppression and Oppression lead to Pain and that pain leads to revenge. The play blends horror; drama; satire and spoken word to explore the many facets of marginalization and the cycle of hurt it perpetuates.
It’s Edward’s riot … don't take it personally.”

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BECOMING PEACE: A One Woman Dramedy about Power, Culture, Violence and Nonviolence

“'BECOMING PEACE,' [is] a One Woman Rhythmic Dramedy about Power, Culture, Violence and Nonviolence - explores the little known Power and Possibility of Nonviolence (Satyagraha/Ahimsa/Peace) - and just how much Life and the World can transform when we 'attack the wrong and not the wrongdoer!'”

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Dead Accounts

“Quick-witted Jack, a banker from New York, unexpectedly returns home to Ohio after several years in the Big Apple. His smart, acerbic, and yearning-for-more sister, Lorna, and his worried and talkative mother, Barbara, immediately suspect he is in some kind of trouble. Their suspicions are confirmed when Jack's estranged wife, Jenny, comes to town and reveals that Jack has stolen 27 million dollars...this comedy tackles the timely issues of corporate greed, small-town values, and whether or not your family will always welcome you back, with no questions asked.”

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Kentwood Players Presents Pippin

“The award-winning musical PIPPIN tells the story of a young prince who longs to find passion and adventure in his life. PIPPIN originally debuted on Broadway 1972 with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. Bob Fosse, who directed the original Broadway production, also contributed to the libretto. This beautiful and thought-provoking musical uses the premise of a magical and mysterious performance troupe, led by a Leading Player, to lead the audience through Pippins adventures.”

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Food For All

“A 412-pound man sitting in a 4-wheeled chair glutting his gut for more becomes dismayed that more is not enough. His chair rolls him nowhere but where he's always been, a prisoner in his own rage-cage, beating its bars to be free of who he is and those who put him there. It is when he stops rolling and tilts his chair backwards, seeing the audience upside down, does he see his life in true perspective and understand that more has never been enough, that enough is not in chitlins, sowbelly, and ‘lasses but just possibly in the small bite of an apple.”

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UNDERTOW

“In Bruce Ducat's play, Undertow, the crosscurrents of Jake's and Shelly's lives pull them into the depths from which there is no escape except the choice to live or not to live. To live is liberation from despair. Not to live is suicide. Can Jake find life in death? Is Shelly struggling to live, or is she already dead?”

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Mormon Playgirl

“CC Sheffield presents the many characters that make up her world- sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious, always unpredictable. From Mormon teen to the Babylon of Hollywood. Charlie Sheen, Harvey Weinstein and endless nights in the club. All the big and little triumphs that make a Mormon Playgirl.”

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No More Toys

“No More Toys follows Todd, a local college recruiter, who, after a successful presentation, returns to a high school classroom to retrieve his forgotten baseball cap. Upon his arrival, Todd realizes that something is off - and doesn't take the hint to leave and suddenly finds himself held hostage by a disgruntled student in the room.”

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

“Step into the enchanted world of Broadway's modern classic, Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, an international sensation that continues to amaze and delight with its captivating story of soaring romance, bright humor, and thrilling adventure. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature, the stage version includes all of composer Alan Menken's (The Little Mermaid and Newsies) memorable songs from the film, plus delightful new ones. Nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, it's a tale as old as time… given a fresh, inventive, lively new production you won't want to miss!”

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Fifty Shades of Melania

“Fifty Shades of Melania is a deep-dive comedic take on the various faces of the FLOTUS who doesn't really care – or does she? – and the complicated spectrum of stereotypes women constantly fight, exploit, or reverse. Victim or accomplice? Trapped or willing agent? Melania Trump is an enigma; her actions and words contradictory. As both the media and public speculate about the First Lady's true emotions concerning her husband and the presidency, she maintains an air of mystery - perhaps on purpose.”

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The Long Gravel Road

“Conjuring the spirit of Court Jester, Clown, Fool and Harlequin, The Long Gravel Road is part mythology, memoir and part invention and tells the story of thoughts inside just a few seconds in a person's mind while retrieving the morning paper. Accentuating essence of experience over rational text this work invokes French actor/director theorist Artaud's famous radical manifesto on ‘Metaphysical Mise en Scene' in which a noise, glance, gesture or touch when combined can create a feeling of unity with all things and dovetails into space where movement and sounds are more predominant than plot.”

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SPEAK I WILL: A FRACTURED SHAKESPEARE

“By piecing together some of the Bard's most famous texts, the performers create their own unique Fractured Shakespeare monologues. Don't miss Fractured Shakespeare as they combine the words of Beatrice, King Lear, Lady Macbeth, Henry V, Katherina 'The Shrew' and more, to explore issues of gender, power, identity, and love.”

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Ragtime

“Famous historical characters and a rich score propel Ragtime through a spectacular re-creation of turn-of-the-20th-century New York. Based on E.L. Doctorow's acclaimed novel, this 13-time Tony-nominated musical paints a nostalgic and powerful portrait of three people — a stifled married woman from the upper classes, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young musician from Harlem — whose fates become unexpectedly intertwined.”

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Stranger Things 2: The Musical Tribute

“Before "Stranger Things 3" premieres on July 4, come recap with "Stranger Things 2: The Musical Tribute!" It's a sequel to the sold-out live show at El Cid with a book adapted from Season 2 of the Netflix mega-hit and 13 original songs inspired by the sounds of 1984 from Van Halen to Prince to Run-DMC. Fast-paced and high-octane, the ensemble cast of seven plays 21 characters.”

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Wigfield

“Wigfield — the can-do town that just may not — is shadowed by the Bulkwaller Dam, a structure the government wants to tear down. Since the 'residents' (squatters) of Wigfield have built ramshackle structures that violate all ordinances of the fire code, the government has no plans to pay for their relocation and the 'town' will be flooded. Wigfield must prove they are a town worth saving and maybe … even recognizing.”

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The Producers

“When a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and his mild-mannered accountant come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop in history, things go awry when the show is a hit. THE PRODUCERS skewers Broadway traditions and takes no prisoners as it proudly proclaims itself an 'equal opportunity offender!'”

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A Terrible Show for Terrible People

“You're not just watching a Terrible Show – you're participating in the destruction of common decency. A Terrible Show for Terrible People is a non-verbal solo clown performance that Stage Raw calls 'hilarious, irreverent.' Let physical comedian Bonnie He bring you on a fun, flirtatious journey…A Terrible Show for Terrible people is winner of the 'Craziest Solo Show' from the Crazy Woke Asians Solo Performance Festival at the Santa Monica Playhouse.”

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The London Rose

“'The London Rose' tells the story of Edward, a transgender man. It's 1895 and Edward Kingsley returns to London after escaping his former life as 'Emily.' He builds his new life with help from the quick-thinking Lee, the sardonic Rosanna Winchester, and the tortured, closeted John Collins. When Oscar Wilde's conviction for homosexuality turns life upside-down in Londontown, Edward must fight for the safety of his loved ones and for his own human dignity.”

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Birthday by Michael David Ker

“After a shitty year – losing both parents, then his home in the Woolsey fire – one man attempts to rise from the ashes and celebrate LIFE in a new way. Imagine if a raging fire was outside your door, about to burn your home to the ground. You have only minutes to grab a few items and get out before everything goes up in smoke. What would you take? What would you leave behind? What do you treasure the most? This one-person-show is a comic reexamination of what's really important in life. It's about holding onto humor, hope, and trusting that something bigger is at play, even in the midst of tragedy.”

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Anne, A New Play

“In celebration of what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday this June, the Simon Wiesenthal Center presents a unique play that reframes Anne's story through an unconventional lens. In this new adaptation of the immortal Holocaust story, 13-year-old Anne Frank imagines her life as a young woman — safe in a post-war world. When she meets a publisher who expresses interest in her story, Anne looks back on the two years she spent hidden away with her family during the Nazi regime. This innovative production eschews traditional sets and costumes to place the audience and actors on the same dramatic plane as the characters — all real people under real circumstances — fighting for their lives, sanity and dreams of the future.”

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How To Be A Rock Star

“Artist Sam Pocker takes songs from his catalog (he recorded 7 albums in one year) and combines them with some of his large-scale performance art pieces to create an all-new show. The performance will include elements of rock, pop, opera, country, dance, musical theatre, magic, illusion, mime, spoken word, puppetry, circus arts, and glow sticks. As the self-proclaimed 'Robert Wilson of dive bars.' Pocker is looking forward to using this festival to try out some new routines along with popular favorites from his band 'The Pretty Colors.'”

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Mandy Picks A Husband

“Mandy, nearing 40, living alone in LA with her 13-year-old cat, takes the audience on a hilarious 60-minute rollercoaster ride as she relives her odyssey to find the perfect life partner while simultaneously searching to find herself. Through twists and turns, laughs and tears, Mandy continuously spins from boyfriend to boyfriend, from self-help coach to healer, on a quest to unearth the magic elixir for her unmarried soul. 'Mandy Picks A Husband' is Amanda Broomell’s new raw and witty autobiographical solo comedy of self-discovery and lifelong commitment.”

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The Notorious M.O.M.S.

“Before Seinfeld. Before Eddie Murphy. Before Robin Williams. Before Andrew Dice Clay. Before Whoopi or Wanda Sykes, there was Moms. From her start in the Vaudeville “Chitlin Circuit” to her groundbreaking political and gender-bending stance in an ever-changing world throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the spirit of Moms Mabley’s voice echos in the world of comedy today and forever. Introducing The Notorious M.O.M.S!”

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Danny and The Deep Blue Sea

“Violent, vulnerable, yearning for something. Two strangers find their way to each other in a dark and dirty bar. They are both in deep need but without the wherewithal to help themselves. They do, however, attempt to reach outside of their broken exteriors and connect. From the moment these two share the same air they engage in what Shanley refers to as, ‘An Apache Dance; a violent dance for two people’. The push/pull between them is palpable, hungered for, and may burn out as quickly as the flame was lit.”

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What I Never Told You

“An adult dramedy that reminds us why it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Alysha and Nick have been together for 7 years, never married and no children. After Nick arrives home beyond fashionably late for a much-needed date night out, he and Alysha begin down the road of discussing their relationship. Through arguing over things all couples can relate to, laughing at old memories, sharing secrets, insecurities, and honest thoughts of how their life could be, they ultimately remind themselves how deep their love is. A knock on the door, however, brings the world crashing down around them.”

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The Blank Theatre 27th Annual Young Playwrights Festival

“Professional actors and directors present 12 winning plays by young playwrights from across the nation during this prestigious four-week festival. Three different plays are presented each week.”

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To Richard!

“An older white lady, Carol, and a younger Latino man, Andrew, cross paths deep in the woods of Connecticut. Carol carries a monogrammed L.L. Bean canvas tote bag. And Andrew … shouldn’t his name be Andrés? After sufficiently freaking each other out, this comedy of errors quickly devolves into a soul-baring, truth-revealing tête-à-tête that both magnifies and transcends Carol’s and Andrew’s differences, proving that sometimes polar opposites have more in common than meets the eye.”

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She Kills Monsters

“How do you connect with your sister when she's dead? By ass-kicking your way through Dungeons and Dragons, of course! Qui Nguyen’s play is re-imagined with shadow puppets, soundscapes, and swords. And monsters. Lots and lots of monsters.”

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🍋


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – February 25 - March 3, 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.

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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Light's Out: Nat “King” Cole

“In this electrifying exploration into the soul of an American icon, Tony and Olivier Award nominee Colman Domingo and Patricia McGregor imagine Nat “King” Cole as he faces the final Christmastime broadcast of his groundbreaking variety show and weighs the advice of his friend Sammy Davis Jr. to “go out with a bang.” Cole's hit songs, such as “Nature Boy,” “It's a Good Day” and “Smile,” underscore this boldly original homage to the renowned performer who struggled to break through America's color barrier in the early days of television. A feast for the eyes, ears and soul, the musical incorporates lively choreography by Broadway veteran Edgar Godineaux and dazzling tap dance steeped in politics and pizzazz created by renowned hoofer Jared Grimes.”

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1=0

“An unemployed, divorced theoretical physicist has an online relationship with a man claiming to be a Syrian refugee. When the relationship goes offline, it paradoxically becomes less real.”

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FRIENDS WITH GUNS

“You think you know your friends, your neighbors, your spouse, but what happens when you suddenly find out they have a garage full of guns? This new dark comedy explores the complicated issue of gun proliferation when two young liberal couples are forced to confront their assumptions about who should own a gun and why. The time of easy answers regarding this issue is long gone. In the wake of current events, we are all forced to reexamine our strongly held beliefs about gun ownership. Friends With Guns explores the question of what we can compartmentalize…and what we can't. It examines what happens when guns enter the conversation. It pulls the curtain back on liberals with guns. It asks what happens when suddenly one person in a marriage does a 180 on the gun issue. And it does all of this through a female lens.”

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The Journey of the Little Prince

“A sensory experience that follows the Little Prince in his interplanetary journey that will leave audiences inspired to explore their inner child for we all have one deep inside.”

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Blue for Mister Charlie

“A sensation in its New York premiere at the Actor's Studio, this searing drama by one of America's leading writers retains all its power to this day. Richard, a black man who is a former junkie returns to his parochial southern town and infuriates the denizens with his incendiary talk and actions. When he is killed by a poor, illiterate, white man, the murder, the eulogy, the trial, and the acquittal are presented in an abstract dramatic form of time, fury, and passion.”

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Portrait of a Soul - workshop performance

“Featuring Corryn Cummins, James Hal Hardy and Maxi Witrak, PORTRAIT OF A SOUL is the story of a young woman whose life is shadowed by sexual assault experienced in her teenage years. The encounter with her abuser, a now famous artist, gives her a chance to confront him face to face, and she'll find unexpected closure from the unusual relationship they develop.
A new way of making theatre that'll catapult the audience into a world of art, mental illness and broken relationships, while offering a chance to meet other creative souls.”

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Disaster! The Musical

“Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the ‘70s take center stage in Broadway's side-splitting homage to classic disaster films. Disaster! is a new musical straight from Broadway, featuring some of the most unforgettable songs of the ‘70s. “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” Sky High,” “Mocking Bird” and “Hot Stuff” in a “hilarious tribute to the era of bell-bottoms, platform shoes and the hustle. With larger-than-life characters, snappy dialogue and some of the most recognizable songs of the ‘70s, Disaster! will have you dancing in your seat and rolling in the aisles.”

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Nine

“Nine is the story of a celebrated film director Guido Contini and his attempts to come up with a plot for his next film as he is pursued by hordes of beautiful women, all clamoring to be loved by him and him alone. Flashbacks reveal the substance of his life which will become the material for his next film: a musical version of the Casanova story. Based on Italian director Federico Felini's comic masterpiece of biographical filmmaking, 8 1/2. Maury Yeston's sultry and enchanting musical follows the life of this world famous film director as he prepares his latest picture and balances the numerous women in his life. Contino is also, after recent box office failures, drifting towards a nervous breakdown, from which he is held back only by the support of his wife, Luisa.  As his sanity disintegrates, he drifts into nostalgic reverie, eventually focusing on the formative sexual encounter of his life, which occurred at the age of nine.”

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In the Penal Colony

“An explorer visits an island where blind conformity has no rational connection between crime and punishment. Kafka's ingenious metaphor about man's inhumanity to man is heightened by Glass' hypnotic score. Witness the internal conflict of the innocent bystander; to act or to do nothing.”

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Life Beyond Prison

“Experiences of formerly incarcerated persons. The Rising Scholars Justice Lab comprises individuals who are now pursuing academic degrees. They will discuss the trauma of being in jail, their personal trust issues, and having a criminal record. The California Innocence Project takes on cases of wrongful incarceration. The event also includes performances by artists affiliated with LBO.”

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent

“Mr. Tyler was the youngest person ever convicted of the death penalty and was incarcerated in Angola prison for 41 years before having his sentence overturned and being released in 2016.”

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Black Lives, the Arts, and Mattering

“Acclaimed composer Anthony Davis shares his inspiration for writing The Central Park Five, which will receive its world premiere at LBO June 15, 2019. He is joined by performers from the opera. The panel explores how music and art are used in activism and how classical music can more effectively participate in activism.”

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The Central Park Five

“World premiere opera composed by Anthony Davis. In 1980's New York, five African American and Latino teenagers were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were unjustly convicted of a Central Park crime but exonerated through DNA evidence thirteen years later. Davis' opera is a passionate story about an issue that still rocks America today.”

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Crazy Woke Asians Solo Performance Festival

“Crazy Woke Asians, the sold out comedy show presents a Solo Performance Festival at Santa Monica Playhouse. This year's festival showcases over 15 Asian American comedians, actors and writers. The shows range from touching autobiographical stories to stand-up comedy acts, from clown burlesque to magic with music, poetry, and more Thursdays through Sundays, March 14-24, 2019.
Each night will feature two or three performers, with special guest stars to round out the evening. All tickets come with a complimentary glass of wine, and there is a Festival Pass ticket available for those who want to attend several (or all!) shows. Plus, the first Friday and final Sunday of the festival will have post-show celebrations featuring food from Ish Kitchen.”

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The Wolves

“Left quad. Right quad. Lunge. A girls indoor soccer team warms up. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, these 16- and 17-year-olds navigate big questions and wage tiny battles with the ferociousness of a pack of adolescent warriors. New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley calls Sarah DeLappe's extraordinary debut play “theater that keeps you on the edge of your seat.” Co-winner of the American Playwriting Foundation's inaugural Relentless Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Yale Drama Series Prize.”

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I'm Jennifer Mother F*cking Lawrence

“Actress Jennifer Lawrence has some pretty intense fears, and she's about to tackle her first one; a spider. ”

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ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL

“Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, Tony Award-winning MATILDA THE MUSICAL will dazzle audiences of all ages at the Civic Arts Plaza this spring! With inspiring and fun songs and lyrics written by Tim Minchin, this extraordinary girl will show you how a sharp mind and vivid imagination can help you change your destiny!”

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Kentwood Players Presents Sunday In The Park With George

“Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and multiple Tony Awards, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, was inspired by the life of French pointillist, George Seurat. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, the plot revolves around the creation of his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” George, an intense and passionate artist, struggles to not only create his paintings but also to maintain a relationship with his long-time mistress, Dot. The second act connects to the first while focusing on another George, Seurat and Dot's great grandson, also struggling to find meaning in art and the need to connect to the past, present and future. A white canvas, so many possibilities.”

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STEEL MAGNOLIAS

“Actors Co-op presents Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, directed by Cameron Watson, produced by Lauren Thompson. Set in a small town beauty salon in Louisiana, Steel Magnolias celebrates the bond of friendship between six women in the midst of life's challenges. Based on the playwright's upbringing, and later adapted into the critically acclaimed film, Steel Magnolias is a humorous, yet devastating journey of friendship, loss, and love.”

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THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS

“The Group Rep presents a long-lost Agatha Christie play The Secret of Chimneys, directed by Jules Aaron, produced by Kathleen Delaney & Kevin Hoffman, Jr. In this mystery, a cosmopolitan adventurer on a mission discovers more than he bargained for when he arrives at an English country house and finds himself in the center of a murderous international conspiracy. This sinister plot of stolen diamonds, secret oil concessions and exiled royalty unfolds under the purview of both Scotland Yard and the French Surete. Chimneys is Christie at her best: a comedy of manners laced with murder!”

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BRUSHES: A Comedy of Hairs

“MB Artists and the Whitefire Theatre present the world premiere of BRUSHES: A Comedy of Hairs, written by Cathy Hamilton and Carol Starr Schneider, directed by Kevin Bailey. BRUSHES untangles the hysterically complicated relationship between women and their hair since time immemorial. Brushes with disaster, vanity, envy, self-doubt, sex, death – even the law – are explored in hilarious and poignant style. In a series of vignettes, the follicular follies flow from the Bad Hair Days Inn to a new salon on the block called Blow Me Now.”

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Mean Gays

“It's survival of the fiercest when Kimmy Chi (RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8 finalist Kim Chi), a home-schooled transfer student from South Korea, moves to an American high school ruled by drag queen girl-gang The Plastics, led by the terrifying Willam George (RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4 firebrand Willam, currently stealing scenes opposite Lady Gaga in Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born), and her ignorant band of loyal followers, Peaches “Swallows” Wieners (Peaches Christ) and stoner dingbat Laganja Smith (RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 standout Laganja Estranja, also seen in the Netflix series Dancing Queen). Will Kimmy fit in with these mean gays, or will they throw her under the school bus? Mean Gays is a hilariously irreverent live musical parody of the 2004 cult classic film Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, and Rachel McAdams.”

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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