Reviews for North Hollywood Theatres, Burbank Theatres and shows now playing in Los Angeles and Hollywood theatres. Theatres include: Los Angeles Valley College, J.E.T. Studios, El Portal Theatre, Actors Forum Theatre, Madrid Theatre, ZJU, and many more.
Having seen Improv in many forms before, I must say I really enjoyed North Hollywood’s production and performances of “Tell My Secret” at Actor's Workout Studio. It literally is a play production where you (and I) wrote the details, character quirks and settings for the entire second half of the production.
Secret Rose Theatre has a production that I would be more apt to describe as an Insane “Opera-stylization” of Caligula. Author Kai Cofer was attempting to make a forceful comedy but with the productions tempo, musical score and pacing for me it was more of a forceful operatic piece. The producers tried truncating the life of Emperor Caligula into a series of events using his immediate personas around him to eventually lead up to his timely demise.
By Lorenzo Marchessi
Yes, I understand why this production received the 2010 Best Musical of the Year Tony Award – it was energetic, it was upbeat, it was passionate, it was colorful and it was fun! This current production at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood of Memphis contains some of the most amazing vocal talent I have ever seen on a live stage.
Director Christopher Ashley (Director of the Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the first Broadway run of Xanadu) along with writers David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (lyrics and book) made a toe-tapping, hand-slapping, energetic musical based loosely on a real Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips who is one of the first white DJs to play "black music" in the 1950s.
First I want to say – still not completely gone even today – racial discrimination was mean, sometimes brutal and often slow to change. This show makes a real issue very clear that there is always an upside to accepting people for who they are and what they believe in. This includes love itself – a love that knows no boundaries, no limits and especially knows no skin color of any race.
The talent abounds in this entire production and let me start with Bryan Fenkart, playing Huey - the man who changed the ‘sound’ of radio by introducing the white community to the ‘soul’ of Rhythm and Blues (and the heart of Rock’N’Roll!)! His spot-on southern accent, superb timing and acting chops and especially his vocal talents spark a musical explosion of emotions toward his love for a black woman and the music that moves his very own soul. He amazingly delivers the hysterically written song “Hello, My Name Is Huey” and sets the tone for his whole mission. But, his most amazing solo number is “Memphis Lives In Me,” a heart-wrenching cry of his inner soul.
His girlfriend Felicia, played by the beautiful Felecia Boswell, is sassy, smart and full of passion with her desire to move up and out of the slums of Memphis and pursue a musical career. Ms. Boswell performance is amazingly sharp and ever-present with passion and her vocal talents will amaze you. She can sing with power and range and duration that I have not seen on stage live in a long time. She shines with her song “Colored Woman.”
Bryan and Felecia, when singing together, have amazing vocal harmony and timing with their combined musical numbers like “Ain’t Nothing But A Kiss,” “Make Me Stronger” and “Love Will Stand.” They made the audience roar with applause.
Another standout and show-stopping performance came from Huey’s ‘Mama’ played by the amazingly talented and vocally stunning actress/singer Julie Johnson. She literally stops the show to a thunderous applause with her musical number “Change Don’t Come Easy.” Not only can she sing, harmonize and scat like no one I’ve ever heard before, but she has comic timing and strong witty deliveries that make you cheer for her character throughout the production.
All of the supporting cast had amazing vocal talents, from the deep vocal stylings of Quentin Earl Darrington playing Felicia’s brother to the large janitor with the amazing song and dance moves played by the talented Will Mann, and to the amazingly charming and funny station manager Mr. Simmons played hysterically by William Perry.
The rest of the ensemble keeps the energy high with their vocal talents and energetic dance moves which were designed by the choreographer Sergio Trujillo and associate choreographer Edgar Godineaux who created some of the most entertaining and original steps for this time-sensitive play.
Some of the most amazing numbers include, “Underground,” “The Music of My Soul,” “Radio,” “Stand Up,” “Tear Down The House" and the showing stopping finale of “Steal Your Rock’N’Roll.” A special note to the scenic design by David Gallo and lighting design of Howell Binkly who created a set and look that was not only candy for the eye, but simplistic and yet functional to make us believe in this story and characters. It included live video feeds, color set pieces and a stage that moved in and out to create locations – musically – in seconds. Special note as well to the time-accurate details and colorful costuming done by Paul Tazewell too!
This musical is MUST-SEE. Nominated for nine Tony Awards and winner of four, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Orchestration and Best Score, this is a really great show, with an extremely talented cast and musicians. It’s worth the price of the ticket to see the performances of Bryan, Felicia and especially Julie and it’s exactly a production like this that reminds me why I really love musicals so much!
the GROUP rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre presents
Written by Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Jules Aaron
When you hear that a play written by Jon Robin Baitz is currently being performed locally, your ears perk up and you want to know where. The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, that’s where! And the amazing Jules Aaron is directing which makes your ears perk up even more. THE PARIS LETTER has success written all over it!With decades long denial of his sexuality, Sandy Sonnenberg, performed by the wonderful Larry Eisenberg, now has to face the truth. Entangled in a disastrous financial crisis with his secret lover, Burt Sarris (the superb Alex Parker), and realizing that his clients depended on him and that he must right the wrongs that have occurred, Sandy runs away to Paris to try to work out his next steps. Sandy had his first encounter with Burt decades earlier in the 60’s, and the attraction is still strong.
Anton Kilgalien is a New York cognoscenti and long time friend of Sandy’s, and we are lucky to have him as our host and storyteller to take us through the events which lead up to current day. But we are even luckier to have the talented Lloyd Pedersen in this great role. He is absolutely superb. In a flashback, we meet Young Anton (again the great Alex Parker) and Young Sandy performed by the wonderful and talented Dan Sykes in a dual role as Sandy’s son, Sam. We see the intimacy between them, and begin to understand their relationship and how their lives developed through the years from rejection of the truth with visits to Dr. Moritz Schiffman (dual role for Larry Eisenberg) to “cure Sandy of his homosexuality”. In the 60’s, being “gay” meant you could marry and have children, and that would “demonstrate” that you were straight. To round out this wonderful cast, the always terrific Julia Silverman plays Katie Arlen (who Sandy marries) and Lillian Sonnenberg, Sandy’s mother, as well as Paul Cady as the waiter. Each and every member of this remarkable cast is FANTASTIC. They are all wonderful actors.
Jules Aaron, once again, has given us his expertise and talent, guiding the actors through this well written play. Set Design, Lighting, Costumes, Sound, Stage Managing, you name it. All of these make this production a must see, and one not to be missed.
For those of you familiar with Jon Robin Baitz, you don’t need any further encouragement. For those of you who are not: Baitz is recognized as one of the foremost playwrights. To name just a few…1987 off-Broadway production with Nathan Lane of THE FILM SOCIETY, and in 1991 wrote/directed the two-character play THREE HOTELS, both of which earned him Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding New Play; a Tony nomination, plus numerous additional stage credits. In 1996, he was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for his semi-autobiographical play A FAIR COUNTRY. And, 2004 creator of TV’s BROTHERS & SISTERS. Need there be any more accolades?
THE PARIS LETTER takes us to a time when being gay was kept quiet and covered up. It was the “don’t ask, don’t tell” syndrome. Being honest and secure with oneself, understanding our own identity, becoming self aware, and having the “right to choose” our own life’s path. I love this play. CONTAINS NUDITY. MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
Cast: Paul Cady, Larry Eisenberg, Alex Parker, Lloyd Pedersen, Julia Silverman and Dan Sykes.
Director: Jules Aaron
Assistant Director: Sherry Netherland
Producer for the Group rep: Patrick Burke
Stage Manager: Matias Ponce
Set Design: Chris Winfield
Lighting Design: J. Kent Inasy
Costume Design: Liz Nankin
Sound Design: Steve Shaw
Original Music: Max Kinberg
Lightboard: Jimmy Ogburn
Prop Mistress: Michele Bernath
Running Crew: Emily Doyle, Heliana Martinez
Public Relations: Nora Feldman
Graphic Design: Doug Haverty – art & soul design
Program: Sherry Netherland
The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601
July 20 – September 2, 2012
Friday, July 20th at 8pm
Talkbacks after show: August 5th & August 19th
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Tickets/Reservations: www.thegrouprep.com or 818.763.5990
Tickets: $15 - $22 (Admission: $22; Senior/Student: $17; Group 10+: $15)
Friday Night Ladies Night – Tix ½ price for ladies
Running Time: Two hours plus one intermission
Parking: Ample street parking and early-bird lot parking available.
CONTAINS NUDITY/ Mature audiences only
Macbeth Is Shakespeare ‘Light’ – Done Right!
Once again small theatre triumphs big! Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood off Lankershim Blvd. has an immensely fresh (and shortened) production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
In staging "Macbeth" for the Antaeus Company, director Jessica Kubzansky offers a different explanation for the title character's swift transformation from hero to murderer; profound grief. Neither the scheming of the witches (Fran Bennett, Susan Boyd Joyce, and Elizabeth Swain) nor his own previously disguised lust for power finally prompts this Macbeth (Bo Foxworth) to turn evil, but the unbearable pain of having lost an infant child.
Tragedy Done Well! Denmark is Done Proud!
North Hollywood has a wealth of small theatres and they all are in their own right proud places to perform the many works of various playwrights – but none more so than the Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet!
Storytelling on stage is at its theatrical best when all the technical elements utilized blend together so smoothly that you take for granted that they are there at all. Such is the case with the amazing War Horse, based on a children's novel by Michael Morpurgo in which a young boy Albert (Andrew Veenstra) attempts to groom his foal Joey to adulthood as a farm horse, only to lose him to the ravages of World War I in England and France. Boy gets horse, boy falls in love with horse, boy loses horse, but... If you love animals and understand and respect what transpires deepdown between man and beast, you will love War Horse, as, in spite of the war horrors depicted, love is at the very core and champions above all else. Now in its US tour, War Horse is fortunately with us at the Ahmanson through July 29 only, and this beautiful production must not be missed.
Yes – it’s Shakespeare. Yes – it’s done in his original text. Yes – it might not be one of his more well-known plays, but The Porters of Hellsgate's production at North Hollywood's The Whitmore Theatre of Shakespeare. The Merry Wives of Windsor is a fast, fun farce of comedy energy!
The Colony Theatre presents
Written by Evan Smith
Directed by Cameron Watson
The Colony Theatre opens its 38th Season of wonderful theatre productions with the Los Angeles Premiere of THE SAVANNAH DISPUTATION, a funny and thought provoking play written by Evan Smith and directed by award-winning Cameron Watson.